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While You Were Unconscious

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Gerard's apartment isn't anything fancy. It's tiny, the fixtures are old and the heating doesn't always work, but it's close to the subway and his school, it gets good light in the daytime and there's a convenience store right downstairs.

All these details aside, Gerard didn't even know about the best thing until he moved in: his neighbor.

Gerard lives directly opposite a guy who is quite possibly the hottest guy in New York - at least, he is if the person holding the score cards is Gerard. He’s a musician of some sort, maybe in a band or maybe a session muso. Gerard knows because he has guitars, CDs and rock posters all over his living room. He keeps odd hours, he can't be much taller than five foot, he's covered in tattoos and he has the most amazing eyebrows Gerard has ever seen.

He also never closes his blinds. Gerard's beginning to wonder if he even has blinds.

Gerard should probably close his own blinds and mind his own business. The problem is, the hot neighbor is right there, only separated from Gerard by four giant windows and not all that much empty air, all cute and well-lit by what Gerard thinks must be the brightest energy saving bulbs in the world. The guy never stops moving either, so even when Gerard is trying to concentrate on other things, his neighbor will catch his eye as he darts from one thing to another - cooking, cleaning, rearranging his CDs. Even when he’s watching TV, he bounces all over the couch like he can't sit still.

Then there's the time he spends playing his guitar. Gerard's wished hard and long that the sound would carry, because whatever he's playing looks like it would sound amazing if Gerard could hear it. Sometimes the guy sits on the floor with his acoustic, all curled over it like he's returning to the womb, his face ecstatic. Other times he rips around the apartment with his pearl-white electric, spinning and bouncing and head-banging until Gerard fears for the man's body and furniture.

Not that Gerard spends that much time thinking about his neighbor's body. Okay, maybe some, but not in a creepy way. He can't see into his neighbor's bedroom - which is a good thing, because Gerard is honestly not sure he could resist that kind of temptation. There was one memorable incident where Gerard's hot neighbor stuck his hand down his jeans while he watching something on his laptop - right there on the couch in his living room. Gerard tried not to watch - he did - but he is only one man, and the way his neighbor moved and writhed and the look on his face as his body stiffened… well. Gerard's not proud of his behavior.

He's not proud of his behavior in the shower in the ten minutes that followed either.

Aside from the Couch Incident, which he maybe thinks about more than is healthy, Gerard doesn’t think his behavior is all that creepy. In the right light, he and his hot neighbor are kind of like housemates. They like a lot of the same TV shows, they keep similar hours, they both seem pretty alone in this big city. Even if Gerard never gets to talk to the guy, just having his neighbor in his eyeline makes him feel less lonely. It makes him miss Jersey, his home, and especially Mikey, less.

Tonight, Gerard's sitting on his kitchen bench, drumming the heels of his boots against the cupboards as he eats a bowl of cereal. Across yards of air and two panes of glass, his neighbor is on the couch, his feet propped up and tapping on the coffee table as he eats Lucky Charms from the box. Gerard sends a milky smile in his neighbor's direction and even though it's not returned it still feels nice.

The only warning Gerard has of Mikey's impending arrival is the jingle of keys in the door right before it opens. Mikey never calls before he comes over. He just lets himself in with the spare key Gerard gave him for "emergencies" ("It's always an emergency, Gee") and waltzes in like he owns the place. Not that Gerard minds, most of the time.

He doesn't mind today, until Mikey takes a long look at the cereal Gerard's eating at 8 'o clock at night, then pointedly turns to look across at his neighbor, just in time to see him stuff a handful of Lucky Charms into his mouth. He turns back to Gerard and tells him solemnly, "This is getting really creepy."

"What?" Gerard protests, "it's like we're sharing a meal."

"No, it isn't, it's like you're being a freaky creepy stalker. You don't even like Lucky Charms."

Gerard swallows another mouthful of the too-sugary cereal, milk dripping from his chin, "I think it's growing on me."

Mikey makes a noise like an unimpressed horse, stomps over to the window and yanks down the blind. Gerard can’t contain his whine of protest. "This is getting all Single White Female now."

"But he doesn't look anything like Bridget Fonda," Gerard protests.

"Yeah, and you don't look anything like Jennifer Jason Leigh, but that's not the point," Mikey argues, except Gerard's not really listening, he's thinking about Jennifer Jason Leigh. Sure, she was creepy in that film, but it was kind of in a hot way. And she looked good with red hair… hey, would Gerard look good with red hair? He's never thought about that, but he could-

Mikey claps really loudly right in front of Gerard's nose, startling him out of that thought. "Gee. You need to let this guy have his private life back. This isn't charming or romantic, it's really messed up, he could totally take out a Restraining Order on you. You're already a pain in the ass to come and visit, I think jail is going to make that even harder."

"I never said you had to come and visit me," Gerard grumps.

Mikey glares at him, "Your only friend in New York is a guy you stare at through your window who doesn't know you exist. Make some real friends so I don't have to keep coming to see you." The words are harsh, but Mikey has a way of saying them so they don't hurt. He shoots Gerard a level look and turns to poke through the fridge, "You better have something I can eat in here. Since when do you eat facon?"

Since Gerard figured out his hot neighbor is a vegetarian, but Gerard doesn't say that. "It's actually pretty tasty."

Mikey makes an unimpressed noise and turns on the stove.


It's not like Gerard's never considered trying to actually meet his hot neighbor in real life. He's played out a few - well, a lot - of scenarios in his head where they bump into each other outside the building having a smoke, or they end up next to each other in line at Starbuck's, or he happens to wind up at one of his band's shows. None of the scenarios involve Gerard actually going to the guy's door and knocking. That's so weird he can't even imagine it.

In the wake of Mikey's visit, Gerard keeps the blind down, more out of a misplaced sense of guilt than anything else. He spends the next morning battling with a new canvas, which commands enough of his attention that it isn't until he stops to make a pot of coffee that he wonders what his neighbor is up to. He doesn't look, though. Mikey can be really good at guilt trips and Gerard doesn't like the idea of jail.

It isn't until the evening that he cracks. It's dark out and Gerard's made some real progress with the new painting - it's almost like a reward to crack the blind open again. His neighbor probably won't even be home, he tells himself as he winds it up slowly.

His neighbor is home, of course, because Gerard's never right about anything. His neighbor also appears to be standing on a chair. It takes Gerard a moment to figure out that oh, he's changing a lightbulb. Or trying to anyway, the guy is not that tall and the chair isn't adding enough height for him to reach. Gerard watches him strain, put his foot up on the seat back and press up on his toes.

The next few moments are in slow motion. The chair starts to wobble. Gerard leans forwards until his nose is nearly pressed to the glass, he barely gets out the unheard words, "No, no don't, you're going to-" when his neighbor starts to fall.

He goes down hard and Gerard sees it all, the way his head smacks on the wooden floor, the way his body goes lifeless. Gerard's fingers are numb against the glass and he holds his breath, trying to will movement into the prone form with the power of his mind.

"Get up," he whispers, "get up." But his neighbor doesn't move, Gerard can't even tell if he's breathing. "Shit, shit, shit," Gerard spins around, hands flapping, what does he do? He should call an ambulance. Fuck, he doesn't know the guy's name, or his address, fuck, fuckity-fuck.

He doesn't even realized he's grabbed his coat and keys until he's halfway out the door, his feet sliding around in his unlaced boots. He nearly trips on his own laces running down the hall, down the stairs, crossing the patch of ground between his apartment block and his neighbor's.

Fourth floor, middle apartment, he reminds himself as he sprints up the stairs to the entrance of the building, trying the door. Of course it's locked, fuck, fuck. He's about to scream in frustration when a dude with a 'fro that's twice as big as his head comes up behind him, keys jingling. Gerard recognizes him - he's been inside Frank's apartment before. Gerard tries to contain himself and not look like a complete freak until 'fro guy gets the door unlocked. Gerard races inside the moment the door opens, taking the stairs two at a time until he gets to the fourth floor.

There are three doors off the hallway and Gerard races for the middle one. He tries the handle but of course it's fucking locked too and all he can think of is his neighbor's prone body, bleeding out on the other side of this fucking door.

He starts to knock. "Hi, um, hello? Hey, are you in there, please, please, please open the door!" he calls through the wood, thinking don't be dead, don't be dead, don't be dead. He knocks harder, "Can you hear me? Do you need help? Just yell if you can hear me!"

There's no answer. Gerard tries really hard to calm down. Maybe there's a key under the mat? He glances down. There’s no mat. There's a letter poking out from under the door though, addressed to a Frank A. Iero. Frank. His name is Frank. The giant poster of Frankenstein he's got on his wall suddenly makes sense.

"Frank?" he calls again, fist tapping on the door like a morse code signal, "Frank, please answer me! God, please, please be okay, if anything happened to you I'd- I'd- I don't know what I'd do. Oh god just please answer me-"

"You looking for Frank?" Gerard spins around at the sound of a new voice. The guy with the insane 'fro is at the doorway opposite Frank's, clutching his keys and regarding Gerard with interest. "I'm Ray, his neighbor, are you like, his boyfriend or something? He might be out."
Boyfriend? Oh god, Gerard wishes that were the case, what he says is, "You live here! Oh thank god. Do you know where the caretaker is or do you have like, a crowbar or something? Frank – he fell, I was -" Gerard quickly searches for a lie to explain how he knows what happened on the other side of this locked door, "we were on the phone and I heard him, he fell and then he stopped answering and I think he's in there bleeding out right now and you have to get me in there," Gerard grasps for a good reason, an undeniable one and grabs at Ray's incorrect assumption, "I'm his boyfriend!" he blurts, too loud, and feels his face flush immediately.

'Fro guy - Ray - doesn't even startle, he just nods and says, "Okay, that's cool, calm down. We exchanged keys a while back so he could get my mail while I've been away. I'll get them, hang on." The guy springs into action and Gerard tries not to pass out from relief. He turns back to the door, placing his hand on it, "We're coming Frank, just hang in there, please."

The moment Ray gets the door open Gerard races inside. When he rounds the couch, the sight of Frank's body makes his chest contract with a combination of panic and amazement at just how beautiful he is up close. Gerard rushes to kneel beside him, leaning down to hold his ear over Frank's mouth. He's breathing, thank fuck.

"Oh thank god," he can't help it, his hand comes up to touch Frank's face, trace over his skin for a moment before he presses two fingers at his neck to find a pulse. It's there, steady and fine. He runs his fingers gently over Frank's scalp, dark strands slipping through his hands as he searches for swelling - god his hair is so soft. He finds a big lump at the back of Frank's head where he must have hit the floor. Gerard moves his fingers over it lightly, drawing his hand away to check - it's dry, no blood. More relief pours through Gerard, but Frank's still out cold.

Ray kneels beside Gerard, patting gently at Frank's cheek, "hey Frankie, hey Frank wake up."

Frank doesn't respond straight away, and when he does his face screws up in pain, his hand coming up to cradle the back of his head, "Oh fuck, that hurts." He breathes through it for a moment, his eyes squeezed shut as his breath hisses in and out and Gerard can't help but match his breaths to Frank's in sympathy.

Then Frank opens his eyes and looks at Gerard and Gerard nearly chokes on his own tongue. He has the prettiest eyes Gerard's ever seen. Frank's looks from Gerard to Ray, and then back at Gerard, a deep furrow between his brows. "Who are you?" he asks, his voice thick and raspy.

"Um," says Gerard, the single syllable emptying his lungs. Fuck, it's all over now, he absolutely has no answer to this question.

"He's your boyfriend," Ray chimes in instead, and Frank stares at Gerard even harder, the furrow in his brow getting deeper. Gerard concentrates on becoming as small as he can, imagines his body shrinking to the size of an ant and slipping down between the cracks in the floorboards - anything to avoid Frank's completely uncomprehending stare.

"Boyfriend?" Frank asks, sounding genuinely puzzled. He pushes himself up to a sitting position, then sways, hissing in a breath as his face contorts in paint. Ray puts an arm around him to steady him.

"I don't know you," Frank says, his voice so rough it's barely there and Gerard wants to die. He's about to open his mouth to try some semblance of an explanation when Ray says "Woah."

Gerard turns his head to look at Ray, totally certain his cover's been blown.

"Oh my god," says Ray, staring wide-eyed at Frank, "You've got amnesia."

Frank blinks at Ray, swaying a little despite Ray's hand on his shoulder, "No I don't," Frank says weakly, waving a hand weakly towards Gerard, "I just don't know who this guy is."

"Oh fuck, dude," Ray says, turning his attention to Gerard, his expression concerned, "I saw a documentary about this - it's really common with head injuries to get memory loss and all kinds of freaky complications. We've got to get him to a hospital." Ray turns back to Frank before Gerard can even respond, asking him gently, "You think you can make it down to the parking garage? We can take my car."

"'S'fine Toro, s'fine," Frank says, his voice still wobbly and his words a little slurred, "It's cool I'm just a bit," he presses a hand to his forehead, his eyes scrunching shut, "I just don't know who that guy is," he sways for a moment, his breathing harsh, before turning back to Gerard, blinking, "Who are you? And like, why are there two of you now?"

Gerard can't help the way his face falls at that. This is why he never wanted to actually meet him. Because as well as Gerard might know Frank from afar he always knew the real Frank would never be interested in Gerard.

"Jesus dude, you're breaking his heart," Ray says. Gerard immediately tries to school his expression, but he's too late; Ray's already watching him with huge, sympathetic eyes.

"You're confused,” Ray tells Frank, earnestly. “You might even be concussed, dude. C'mon, let's get you to the emergency room and have a doctor look at you, I'm sure it's only temporary."

Ray hooks his arms under Frank's and helps him up. He's a little unsteady on his feet, but he doesn't fall. As he leans on Ray, Gerard has a sudden thought.

"Wait, we should take-"

Ray looks at him expectantly, but he doesn't finish the sentence, already on his feet. He grabs one Frank's canvas shopping bags from beside the fridge and fills it with ibuprofen from Frank's top kitchen drawer, the novel he knows Frank is only started reading, two bottles of water from the cupboard beside the sink (Frank doesn't like tap water, but he drinks the bottled water at room temperature, not from the fridge) and, on impulse, he grabs a box of pop-tarts from the cupboard above the stove, because if they get stuck at the hospital for a long time Frank might need to keep his blood sugar levels up, or whatever.

Once he feels like he's got everything he turns around to find Frank staring at him. "How did you know where I keep all that stuff?"

Gerard takes a breath to reply before he realizes he doesn't have an answer he can say out loud. Luckily, Ray supplies "boyfriend!" in an annoyed tone and starts to usher Frank towards the door.

Gerard tries really hard to control the blush he knows is spreading up his chest and over his cheeks as they guide Frank out into the hall, checking the door is locked behind them. Frank keeps glancing blearily back at Gerard on the way down to the parking garage, like he's still trying to figure this out but he hasn't got all the pieces yet.


They're halfway to the hospital, the engine of Ray's old dodge rumbling beneath them when Frank turns around from the passenger seat to look at Gerard in the back.

"So, how long have we been going out then?"

"Um, about… three weeks?" Gerard lies. Shorter is better, he figures, given that he hasn't actually met any of Frank's friends or anything. He's not entirely sure why it's so important to him that Frank believe him right now, but it is.

"Right," Frank says, still sounding more confused than convinced. "Where did we meet?"

"Um," Gerard hedges and then quickly jumps onto his favorite how-he-might-meet-the-hot-neighbor scenario and runs with it, "It was at one of your shows. The one at the, um, club."

"The Roxy?" Frank asks, looking like he's genuinely searching his memory for it.

Gerard just shrugs, "I'm not good with names of like, places and stuff," Oh god. Oh god, he's so obviously making this up. Frank is going to kick him out of the car. No. Frank's going to punch him in the face and then kick him out of the car and Gerard's going to have to find a new apartment and-

"Okay," Frank says, still frowning. He turns back around without asking any more questions. Gerard slumps back into his seat, limp with relief.


The emergency room is like hell on earth. There are so many people already waiting they can't even get three seats together. After registering Frank on the waiting list at the main desk, they squeeze into two seats at the end of an aisle behind a guy who's hand is bleeding so much it's actually dripping on the floor. Frank and Gerard take the seats and Ray hovers nearby.

"You guys don't need to hang around, you know. This is gonna take ages," Frank points out reasonably. He's starting to sound a little more settled and focused, which is both reassuring and terrifying to Gerard.

"It's a head injury Frank, you need to be careful with those," Ray says earnestly.

"Yeah," Gerard adds, "Aren't we supposed to like, ask you questions like-" he waves a hand trying to remember what he's seen in movies and episodes of Law and Order, "What's your birthday and who the president is and stuff like that?"

"I'm in a hospital, dude."

"Yeah and this guy is bleeding on the floor," Gerard hisses.

Frank sighs and casts his eyes around, no doubt taking in the number of people who are in desperate need of immediate attention and aren't getting it. "Fine, but you don't both need to stay. One of you should go."

"I'll stay," the words are out of Gerard's mouth without checking with his brain. Frank's eyes fall on him again, and they're sharper than before, somehow curious. Gerard wonders if he can stave off another blush just with the power of his mind.

"Is that okay?" Ray asks, and Gerard isn't sure who he's asking, but they're both nodding and something like relief crosses Ray's face. "Okay. I mean, if you need the car I'll stay too, but I am supposed to be somewhere about," he checks his watch, "Now."

"Go dude," Frank says, "We're cool," he glances at Gerard, "Right?"

"Right!" Gerard nods, forcing a smile. "We're fine." It's a lie, but apparently Ray buys it, because he checks they've got everything they need and takes off, leaving Gerard alone with Frank and an entire waiting room full of broken people. They've been sitting there for only a few minutes when Frank's leg starts to bounce. Then he starts shifting around in his chair and rubbing his hands over his face.

"Okay, so if we're going out and I can't remember you, you should probably tell me about yourself."

"Really?" Gerard blurts, because holy shit the last thing he wants to do is talk about their so-called relationship.

"Why not?"

"Shouldn't you remember things on your own? Isn't that like, I don't know, cheating, if I tell you?" Gerard's voice is getting higher in pitch with every word.

"This isn't a game show dude, this is my life. I mean," he pauses for a moment, just looking at Gerard, like really looking at him and Gerard starts to forget how to breathe as Frank's eyes trace down and back over him, his expression going thoughtful, "Yeah, you're totally my type. I just wish I could remember us getting together, or like, anything about you dude."

Gerard knows his face is on fire now. Thank god Frank takes that moment to look down. He picks up Gerard's hand from where it rests on the seat and studies it, his thumbnail tracing along a smudge of dried red paint on the back of Gerard's hand. "Are you an artist?"

"Yeah, well, sort of. Trying to be. I'm at SVU doing a BA in Fine Arts."

"And you came to one of my shows." Frank looks up from Gerard's hand, his gaze considering.

"Yeah, um, the way you play is like, amazing," Gerard says, totally falling back to the stupid fantasy scenario in his mind. "I went outside for a cigarette after the show and so did you and we like, got talking and stuff."

"Huh," Frank says, his forehead creasing up like he's thinking really hard, like he's trying to remember this and fuck if Gerard doesn't want to just fucking die right there. He is such a terrible person.

"So did you make the first move, or did I?" Frank asks, one eyebrow arching up god Gerard's not sure if he can take this.

"Um, you did." God, he's going to hell for this. Special hell.

"Wow, this is really weirding you out, isn't it?" Frank asks, and Gerard nods so fast he gets dizzy. "Okay, fine. We'll leave it for a bit." Frank bends down and starts digging through the bag Gerard brought, pulling out the battered paperback and the two bottles of water, handing one to Gerard.

Gerard opens the bottle and takes a swig of water, more to distract himself than because he's thirsty. Frank turns to the cornered page that marks his spot. He only started reading this book yesterday, and he's already pretty far in. Gerard manages to keep still for about three minutes before he finds himself leaning closer, peering over Frank's shoulder to read the words on the page.

"Have you read this one?" Frank asks, flipping the book so Gerard can see the cover.

"No," Gerard admits.

"Okay well, you haven't missed much. What you need to know is that this journalist guy Blomkvist wrote this article exposing this dude Wennerstrom as a fraud and a crook, but his source fell through so he's been found guilty of libel and fined even though he knows this guy's crooked he just can't prove it. Now he's ruined career-wise and this mystery dude Vanger out in the sticks offers him this job writing a biography on his family, except he really wants him to find his missing niece, right? And we're at the part where he's just decided he's going to take the job, you got it?"

Gerard nods. "Mhm,"

"Okay," Frank settles back into his seat, lifting the book back up to the open page. "Can you see all right?"

He tilts his head to meet Gerard's eyes and for a moment they're so close Gerard can't find the words. God, his eyes are pretty. He nods, giving Frank a tiny smile. Frank smiles back and turns his gaze back to the book.

They read silently, the chatter of the other people waiting and grumble of unhappy children fading into the background as Gerard lets himself get sucked into the intrigue in Sweden. Frank reads a little faster than Gerard, but he waits at the end of each page until Gerard signals with a touch of his finger or a nod of his head that it's okay to turn to the next page.

Gerard doesn't mean to end up pressed so close to Frank, his chin leaning lightly on Frank's shoulder, it just happens. Once he's there, it feels weird to back off just for the sake of it, so he lets himself stay, telling himself they're supposed to be boyfriends after all, why shouldn't they be close. Plus, Frank leans back into Gerard, too.

After a few chapters, Gerard's stomach makes an embarrassing noise; it's well past dinnertime and he's had nothing but coffee and a few handfuls of Lucky Charms to eat today. Frank gives him a sideways look.

"You brought Pop-Tarts didn't you?" he asks, looking hopeful.

"Oh yeah!" Gerard grins and digs into the bag. They split a pack and then another, sprinkling crumbs on the floor as they continue reading in tandem. It's really… nice. Distractingly so. Gerard sends a silent prayer up to the hospital gods that they'll wait a long time. He really doesn't want to move from this spot, even with the uncomfortable chairs.

Eventually a cranky looking nurse calls out Frank's name and they both scramble up out of the seats. Gerard grabs their scattered bits and pieces and puts them in the bag before hovering uncertainly by the seats. He probably shouldn't go with Frank − it's a private thing. Except Frank glances over his shoulder at Gerard with a hurry up kind of look and Gerard scrambles to catch up.

After waiting for such a long time, Frank's only in with the doctor for a few minutes. She's blonde, with a face that's aged beyond her years and she's about as straightforward as straightforward gets. She checks Frank's eyes, makes him follow her finger, feels around on his head and asks him a bunch of questions.

"So, could this kind of thing really affect my memory?" Frank asks, and Gerard tries not to make his abject fear of her answer completely obvious.

"Yes and no," she says. "It's not uncommon to experience some short term memory loss after a head trauma like this."

"Is it permanent?"

"Shouldn't be. Usually it'll come back in a day or two, just give it time. If it takes more than a week, come back and see me." She puts her little doctor light away and glances at Gerard and back to Frank. "I'd say you should stay here for observation but we don't really have the room. You should have someone with you tonight, just to be sure." She doesn't look at Gerard again, but it's obvious she expects that person to be him.

Frank's the one who asks, "Is that cool? Like, do you mind staying with me?"

"Um, no," Gerard shakes his head, the words coming out of his mouth too fast. "It's fine."

The doctor nods, satisfied, and tugs the curtain of the small booth open, letting them both out.


They catch the subway back to Frank's place and Gerard hovers uncertainly outside Frank's building until Frank pauses on the stairs and turns to ask, "You coming?"

Gerard rushes to catch up so much he nearly trips on the stairs.

It's weird to be back in Frank's apartment. Without the worry of Frank's impending death hanging over him, Gerard feels even more like an intruder. Frank doesn't seem to notice though, he just puts on some music and starts to dig through the fridge. "You want something to eat? Pop-Tarts aren't exactly dinner."

Gerard's nurturing instinct kicks in hard enough to give him whiplash. Of course Frank should eat something. "You got any facon? I could make sandwiches, or you know, the Chinese place down the road delivers."

Frank looks up from the fridge, he light casting a weird halo down the side of his face, his expression all… considering.

"What?" Gerard asks, fighting the urge to hide his face behind his hair.

"Sorry," Frank says, shaking his head, "This must be weird for you."

"Weird for me? I'm not the one with a guy he doesn't even know hanging around in his kitchen."

Frank shrugs, still considering, "I know you. I just don't remember you."

Frank closes the fridge and walks up to Gerard, so close Gerard is certain he must be able to hear his erratic heart beat. Frank's a little shorter than Gerard, so he has to tilt his head up slightly to meet his eyes, but that doesn't diminish his presence, the confidence in his motions as he slides closer to Gerard.

"So, we've been going out for nearly a month now," he says, the words thoughtful, measured.

"Mhm," Gerard says, nodding, fighting the urge to move backwards, because there's something almost predatory in the way Frank's inching closer.

"That's kind of a while," Frank says, "so that means we've…"

"We've what?" Gerard squeaks, and fuck Frank is so close now.

"We've probably already-"


Gerard doesn't get an answer in words. Instead, Frank pushes up on his toes and covers Gerard's mouth with a firm kiss.

Gerard squeaks in surprise, his back going ramrod straight, but Frank just hooks his arm around Gerard's neck, tugging their bodies together. Inside Gerard's head an alarm is screaming stopitohmygodthisissowrong but he can't help the way his mouth softens under Frank's, the way he opens up to him, the little groan that leaks into their lips as Frank's tongue licks into Gerard's mouth. It goes on, slow and gentle, just Frank kissing Gerard, and Gerard keeps his hands by his sides through sheer force of will when all he wants to do is reach up and haul Frank closer, rub against him, grind against him, holy fuck he's a good kisser.

Frank's the one who breaks it, easing back slowly, sucking on his own bottom lip like he's savoring the taste.

Gerard's legs have lost all their internal support structure. He grips the bench behind him to stay upright.

"Huh," Frank says, his eyes on Gerard, but they look unfocused, thoughtful.

"What?" Gerard asks, his voice coming out a little tremulous.

"I just, I don't know. I thought it'd feel more," Frank shrugs, "familiar, I guess."

"Oh. Right." Gerard answers dumbly.

"We've done that before, yeah?" Frank presses, the ghost of a smile tugging at his mouth.

"Of course, we ah," Gerard stumbles, "Yeah heaps, we do it all the time, and like, other things too, for sure." Gerard knows he's going bright red but there's nothing he can do about it. He just hopes he can wing this one. He has no idea if he wants Frank to back off or rush on. Actually, he knows what he wants, fuck, of course he wants more, but he shouldn't. Oh man, he really shouldn't.

Luckily - or unluckily - Frank doesn't kiss him again, he just turns and starts opening drawers and cupboards, pulling out a frying pan and a bunch of other ingredients. It becomes obvious pretty fast that Frank's going to make fake bacon BLT's, so Gerard fetches the butter from the fridge and the bread from the freezer, thankful for the brief respite. They talk about the book they were reading, trying to predict whether Lisbeth Salander will sleep with Mikael Blomkvist or not.

"I think she will, there's so much fucking sexual tension there, it'd be false advertising not to have something happen," Frank argues, flipping a rasher of facon over in the frying pan.

"Yeah, but she's really her own woman, she doesn't need to fuck the guy to earn her place in the story, you know?" Gerard explains, flapping a piece of lettuce through the air as he gestures with his hands.

"She's already earned her place in the story, dude. She can fuck the guy if she wants to." Frank peers into the pan. "Okay we're ready - bread me." Gerard hands him the plate with the buttered toasted bread on it, struck by how ridiculously domestic this is. All the meals he's supposedly 'shared' with Frank through two panes of glass and so much empty air pale in comparison. Gerard's stomach sinks when he realizes that when this is over, he won't even be able to go back to that anymore.

He pushes the feeling down. If he's only going to get one night of this, then he's going to enjoy it, goddamn it. He wonders just how long Frank's memory loss will last. He might even get a week of this. A whole week. He's still musing on it as they carry their plates and a couple of cold cans of Coke Zero and settle on the couch. Frank channel surfs until they hit an episode of Next Generation and glances sideways at Gerard.

"Cool?" he asks, still pointing the remote at the TV.

"Oh yeah, totally cool!" Gerard says around a mouthful of facon, nodding enthusiastically.

If it's a test, it's one that Gerard passes with flying colors, because Frank smiles and they settle in with their FLT's to watch the one with the two Picards.

Gerard makes it all the way to an ad break before he starts talking about the energy vortex time rift thing. He doesn't meant to blather on quite so long, but it's a lot to explain and he hates the way TV shows so often skimp on the details about things like warp power and temporal continuums. He's halfway through explaining his theory on cyclical time travel when he realizes he's talking over Counselor Troi and stops himself. "Sorry, sorry." He glances back down at his FLT, forcing himself to take a bite to try and stop himself from talking.

"Wait, what?" Frank glances at the TV and back to Gerard. "No dude, I've seen this one before, you can't just leave me hanging. So if the whole shooting the second Picard thing is bullshit, what actually does happen if you travel back in time and change something, and then travel back in time and change it again?"

Gerard has to work very hard to swallow, the food sticking a little in his throat on the way down.

"Um, well," he sputters, trying to find his place because holy shit, no one has ever actually been interested in this stuff before. Well, Mikey was the first two or three times, but Gerard wore out Mikey's enthusiasm for this shit long ago. Now when Gerard starts to bring up his theories on time paradoxes Mikey just parrots them back at him and turns up the volume until he shuts up.

But Frank… Frank is actually interested. It ties another little knot around Gerard's heart, something between happiness and pain because this is so good. They are so fucking good together and he's completely fucked this up. It's so much worse to know exactly how good. He should have just kept Frank at a distance, it would have been easier.

Or he should have grown a pair and actually met Frank in real life like Mikey told him to. Fuck, Mikey really is always right.

Gerard swallows down the feeling, puts it aside and just tries to enjoy the moment. It's actually pretty easy. The Sci-Fi channel is marathoning Next Gen episodes so they have endless adventures to watch, and Frank seems perfectly content to listen to all Gerard's stupid theories and bounce ideas back and forth with him about alien technology and temporal rifts. Gerard doesn't want to move from this couch ever again.

When they've finished eating and the plates and empty cans have been pushed aside, Gerard winds up with Frank pressed up against his side. By the time the Picard's riding a horse onto the holodeck they've moved on to what Gerard is pretty sure could be termed as snuggling.

When the theme music trumpets out over the end credits of their fourth - no, fifth - episode, Frank's body is a comfortable weight on Gerard's, his hand heavy and warm on Gerard's knee through his jeans. Frank shifts, and Gerard is suddenly aware that Frank is looking at him; he can feel the weight of his gaze. It makes his heart do weird pattery things in his chest. He takes a breath, turning his head slowly to find himself nearly nose to nose with Frank.

Even though he knew it was coming, it's still a shock to have Frank's face so close. He's looking at Gerard without curiosity this time, just a direct, comfortable desire that nearly stops Gerard's heart. They stay like that for long moments, just sharing breath, and Gerard can almost taste the kiss caught in the air between them. He doesn't bend his head, though. He just can't let himself do it.

In the end it's Frank who initiates it, leaning up to take Gerard's mouth, slow, warm and gorgeous. It's only kissing, Gerard tells himself as his mouth opens under Frank's, it's only kissing, he doesn't have to stop. Kissing isn't a big deal.

Except the way Frank kisses doesn't feel like just kissing. It turns dirty so fast. Frank presses closer until there's no room between them, he pushes his tongue into Gerard's mouth, sucks on his lips. Gerard groans, one hand coming up to push into Frank's hair as he strokes Frank's tongue with his own. It's going too fast. Frank crawls up Gerard's body, settling in his lap, warm and heavy and oh god, Gerard can feel Frank's dick pressing into his hip. He breaks the kiss, gasping, "Oh jesus, fuck. We have to, we have to-"

"I'm getting there, asshole," Frank says, cutting off Gerard before he manages to finish the sentence with the word 'stop'. His voice is throaty and it sounds like pure sex. Gerard tries again, but only manages a strangled series of "ah-ah-ah"s because Frank starts sucking on his neck, dissolving his spine.

"Frank, you don't - we have to -" Gerard can't get the words out. Frank rolls his hips, rocking down against Gerard and oh god, oh fuck he's grinding right on Gerard's dick now. Gerard makes a strangled noise, his eyes rolling back in his head, suddenly so fucking close to coming it's embarrassing. Frank doesn't stop moving. He shoves his hands into Gerard's hair and kisses him again, slick, wet and dirty, tonguefucking Gerard's mouth.

The noise Gerard makes is needy and way too loud. His fingers clutch in Frank's hair involuntarily and he humps up off the couch, rutting up against Frank before he can stop himself. It just feels so good. Frank's so warm against him and the way he moves, the little throaty noises he makes; Gerard can't think. It isn't until Frank gets a hand between them, his fingers curling over the bulge between Gerard's legs that Gerard manages to turn his head, breaking the kiss in sheer panic.

"No, Frank, no we can't, you don't -"

Frank doesn't let go, he just shifts his hand, rubbing Gerard's dick through his jeans. "It's cool," he pants, and god, his voice sounds like sex, his breath feathering hot down the front of Gerard's shirt as he shifts impossibly closer. "It's nothing we haven't done before, right? It'll be like the first time all over again." He presses his hand down and Gerard goes cross-eyed, his hips bucking up weakly under Frank's hand.

God, this is torture. He wants, he wants everything but he's so aware of how he completely doesn't deserve any of it. Every cell of his body screams at him to continue, but he just can't do it. He arches up, catching Frank's mouth in one last kiss, waiting for Frank's lips to soften, for his hands to relax where they're gripping Gerard's body, and then breaks it, rolling off the couch and nearly taking Frank with him.

He lands in a messy sprawl on the hard floor, breathing hard, his elbows shrieking at him in pain. Frank peers over the edge of the couch. "Dude, what-"

"We can't. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry Frank. I lied, we're not boyfriends, I made it all up. I'm just a creep who knows too much about you and I'm sorry, I'm so, so fucking sorry." The words rush out of Gerard so fast they leave him breathless. Frank stares down at him, his face the picture of incomprehension.

"I'm sorry!" Gerard repeats, scrambling to get up and nearly tripping on his own feet. He rushes for the door, limping from his hard-on, but he just has to get out. He can't deal with the next part - the rejection, the utter betrayal.

"Gerard, wait!" he hears Frank call after him, but he doesn't stop. He bolts down the stairs, crashes out of building and ducks around the back, the cold air hitting him through his clothes because he didn't stop for his jacket. He backtracks around the block to get to his own building, thankful it isn't far. He drops his keys twice trying to get his door open before he stumbles inside.

Before he can stop himself, he walks over to the window and looks out. Frank's apartment is empty. The lights are still on and if Gerard squints he can see Jean-Luc Picard on the television screen, but there's no sign of Frank. His heart twists up in his chest and he's mortified to discover that his eyes are tearing up. Frank went after him.

Oh man, has he fucked this up.

He stays at the window, staring into the empty apartment he's looked into so many times before, except now he knows what it looks like from the inside, he's opened those cupboards, he's sat on that couch. He reaches for his phone without thinking, hitting Mikey's number on the speed dial.

"It's three am. This better be an emergency." Mikey's voice is thick with sleepiness and more than a little annoyed.

"I fucked it up," Gerard says, "I fucked it up with Frank - um, I mean, my neighbor. It's all messed up." He turns around slowly, leans his back against the wall and lets himself slide down until he's sitting on the floor of his dark apartment.

"Oh god, Gee. Start from the start," Mikey says, his voice softening. And it all just comes out. Gerard tells Mikey everything, the whole stupid mess and Mikey just listens, because Mikey knows his brother and he knows sometimes he just needs to talk.

"So, where are you now?" Mikey asks, when Gerard's run out of words.

"I'm back home, in the apartment, god Mikey, I'm so fucked." Gerard knows he sounds desperate. He also knows there's nothing Mikey can do to fix it, but he can't help saying the words.

"Where's Frank?" Mikey asks, and Gerard pushes up on his knees, turning to peek over the windowsill into Frank's apartment. It's still empty.

"I don't know," he says, "he's not home."

"He's probably out looking for you, jackass."


"You need to talk to him. Explain, or at least apologize." Mikey sighs and it hits the receiver, turning into static. "You know, Gee, normal people date. They meet people they like and they like, talk to them and go out with them, they don't just watch them from a distance and get all, I don't know - attached."

"I didn't mean to, Mikes, he's just so-" Gerard's voice sticks in his throat, because he doesn't know what words he can use. Being with Frank just felt so right.

He's still searching for words when Frank's door opens and he comes into his apartment, shrugging out of his damp jacket. He looks more wound up than Gerard's ever seen him, pacing the floor, glancing around like he's searching for clues.

"Gerard?" Mikey's voice is a surprise, Gerard nearly forgot he was still on the phone.

"Sorry, he's um, he's back."

"Gee, you need to talk to him." Mikey sounds resigned.

"I know."

"Promise me."

"I know." Gerard says, and he means it, he does. "I'll call you later, okay?"

"Kay. Bye Gee." Gerard hangs up, puts down his phone and slowly stands, his eyes still following Frank's movements. Where Gerard stands is directly in Frank's field of vision, but Frank can't see him with the lights off like this.

Suddenly, he knows what he has to do. He waits until Frank's looking in his direction, then raises a shaking hand, his heart leaping up into his throat as he clicks on the lights.

The bright fluorescents that he usually never uses flicker to life, catching Frank's attention. When Frank looks over, when he sees Gerard, Gerard's heart just stops.

Even from this distance Gerard can see his reaction, the surprise melting into shock as Frank steps back, his eyes taking in Gerard's apartment, where he is, what he can see. Gerard just stands there, letting Frank see him, his hands shaking with nerves as he waits for Frank to do something - anything.

For the first time since he moved in, Frank pulls down the blind.


Gerard doesn't sleep. He doesn't even bother trying. He pulls his easel into the centre of the room where the light is best and breaks out his acrylics, mixing paints into a messy palette because it's easier to do that than to try and think about the other mess he's made.

He hovers in front of his half-finished canvas, rocking from foot to foot with his brush raised. He goes to paint a stroke, but hesitates, pulling back before his brush can touch the surface. He does that three more times before he realizes he has to stop. He can't paint while he's freaking out like this, he'll fuck up the whole canvas. He puts down his palette with a sigh and moves the canvas off his easel.

His fingers are still itchy, and he's got paint mixed and ready, so he casts about for a surface, any surface. His eyes fall on the window, his portal to Frank's apartment. Suddenly, it becomes clear.

He works for the rest of the night, not finishing until the sun is starting to crest over the building opposite. It's hard for him to assess the final product, he was really winging it as he went and his brain doesn't work that way, but he definitely knows when it's done. He finishes the piece by pulling down his own blind, creating a white backdrop for the paint on his window.

He passes out on his couch in his darkened apartment, paint drying on his fingertips.


Gerard's phone alarm is a rude awakening, set an hour before his four 'o clock class.

He groans and glares at his phone as he fumbles to turn it off. It's an effort to drag himself off the couch and even more of an effort to get himself dressed and out the door. It's only the thought of how much he’s already paid for this course that gets him moving.

Before he leaves, he goes up to the window and peeks out from behind the blind, checking Frank's apartment. Frank's blind is still down. Gerard's heart does a weird twist and his stomach sinks, but he still goes to class.


When Gerard gets home, he doesn't even kid himself that he's not going to check behind his blind as soon as he's in the door. Frank's blind is still down. It doesn't feel worse than it did before he left for class, but he doesn’t feel better, either. He makes himself ramen for dinner and eats it silently in front of the television. He doesn't call Mikey, even though he knows he should.


The next day he tells himself not to even bother with the blind. He needs to let this go, to move on. He's got a paper to write and he's going to run out of time to finish his canvas if he doesn't get some real work done today.

Despite all his resolve, he still checks behind his blind. His stomach drops to his knees when he sees that this time Frank's blind is open.

He leans in, the windowsill pressing into his belly and his nose nearly touching the glass as he stares into Frank's apartment. Frank's not there. Aside from that the apartment looks the same as it always has. Gerard's brow furrows, but no matter which way he turns it in his head he can't figure out what it means. Maybe Frank just wanted some sunlight and opened his blind.

Or maybe he saw Gerard's window.

Gerard leaves his own blind down. He doesn't manage to stop himself from periodically checking behind it but nothing changes. He goes to class and tries really hard not to think about it all day. He fails miserably.

When he gets home to his apartment that evening, he can't figure out if he wants to run at the window or avoid it completely. Either way, his feet take him straight to it from the front door and he peeks through the gap between the blind and the window frame.

Frank's home. His lights are on. He's on the couch watching television, eating Pop-Tarts out of the box. Gerard's breath rushes out of his lungs in a hiss, his hand reaching up to touch the glass.

This is it, the moment of truth. He slides out from behind the blind and reaches for the cord to pull it up. He goes slower than he usually would, his hands trembling a little, his heart firmly lodged in his throat. When he tugs the rope and gets only resistance, he knows he's open all the way. He reaches for the light switch.

It takes Frank a moment to notice, but he does. He glances over and then turns to look at Gerard and fuck if Gerard can read his expression. He watches Frank push himself up off the couch and walk up to the window, waiting for him to make an angry gesture, to flip him off, to hold up a sign telling him he's a pervert stalker who needs to leave him alone.

Frank doesn't do any of those things. He ducks out of sight for a moment and re-emerges with a piece of paper as wide as his shoulders. He presses it forwards to the glass. At first Gerard can't make sense of the numbers on the paper, until Frank brings his hand up to his ear in a fist, his thumb and pinky extended in the universal symbol for 'telephone'.

Gerard fumbles in his pockets to find his phone and his fingers are clumsy and slow as he dials the number, pressing it to his ear so hard he can hear is own rapid heartbeat beating back at him. He watches Frank pull his own phone out of his pocket and put it to his ear. Gerard closes his eyes and waits for Frank to say something.

"Hi." He doesn't sound mad. It's enough to make Gerard open his eyes.


"You know," Frank says, curling the paper with his number on it around his hand as he talks, "You're kind of a shitty liar."

"I'm sorry!" Gerard says too quickly. "I swear I didn't mean to," he flaps his hand toward the painted window, his message, "You know."

"Yeah, I saw. So um, how long have you been watching me?"

Gerard bites his lip. "When did you move in?"

He hears Frank's intake of breath. "The whole time, huh?"

"I'm sorry," Gerard says again. "It's just, you never closed your blinds and your lights are really like, bright and you're always moving and you watch all the same shows as me and you look so good when you play your guitar and-"

"Okay, okay," Frank says. "Well, actually no - it's not okay, not really, but... I don't know." Gerard sees him shrug even from this distance. "I feel like I should be more pissed off about this than I am, but maybe if you weren't such a creeper I'd be dead right now. I don't know. Maybe I owe you one."

"Really?" God, the sheer amount of hope in Gerard's voice is embarrassing.

"Plus, I kind of figured out that you were bullshitting about being my boyfriend. I was maybe fucking with you. A little."

"You were?" Gerard's voice pitches up embarrassingly high.

"Ah, yeah. I didn't actually lose my memory, you know? It was kind of confusing at first, but it's not like I don't remember getting up on that chair, and falling, and everything else before that, except for the part where we supposedly met at one of my gigs that you don't know where it was or even the name of my band."

"Um." Gerard should probably be defending himself right now, but he's got nothing, he's a shitty-ass liar. He's just relieved that Frank is still talking to him. "So we're both massive creeps?"

"I don't know. Is it massively creepy that even after I figured out you weren't my boyfriend I let you keep pretending you were 'cause I liked it?"

"Probably no more creepy than me knowing your favorite brand of cereal before I knew your name."

Frank, snorts out a laugh, "You did, didn't you?"

Gerard nods, flushing with a warmth that feels like happiness when he realizes that Frank can see him do it.

"Then I guess we are." Frank says, and Gerard can see his smile from all the way across the air.

"So I was thinking, since you like to watch so much," there's a sound of fabric sliding and Gerard's eyes widen as Frank pulls his shirt over his head. "I was thinking I'd just keep doing this…" He reaches down and flicks the buckle of his belt open and Gerard nearly swallows his tongue, "And you can either stay there and watch, or you can get over here and help me."

Gerard gapes at him for a moment, unable to raise his eyes past the doves inked on Frank's lower belly. When he finally manages to look as high as Frank's face, Frank is smirking at him.

Gerard's brain hasn't quite caught up with what's going on yet, but his dick sure has. Frank grabs hold of his buckle and pulls his belt from the belt loops, "so you're just going to stay over there, then? I can work with that."

"No, no I'm coming," Gerard stammers, suddenly sure that if he doesn't get over there, like right the fuck now, this is all going to turn out to be some kind of paint-fumes-induced hallucination. He backs up, nearly tripping over his easel. "Shit,"

"Don't hurt yourself," Frank tells him, and Gerard turns to take one look at him, his phone warm against his ear as he tells Frank, "I'll be right there," before scrambling for the door.


Gerard's breathless when he gets to Frank's door, having run the entire way there. He hesitates, not sure if he should go in or knock. He raises his hand and the door opens before he even makes contact, revealing Frank, who is still shirtless. All that skin and ink is even more breathtaking up close.

"Hi," says Frank, then grabs a handful of Gerard's shirt and pulls him inside, kicking the door shut after him.

"Hi," Gerard manages, in a somewhat shaky voice, because he's here now and he's still half expecting Frank to turn around and punch him in the face for being a creepy pervert with no sense of anyone's privacy.

Luckily, Frank doesn't do that. Instead, he presses Gerard up against the door and kisses him soundly. Gerard makes a really embarrassing noise and just hangs on, kissing back with everything he's got. It's not as dirty as it was last time, but it's not gentle either. It's like Frank's exploring, trying to taste every part of Gerard and by the time they come up for air Gerard's gasping, his fingers clutching Frank's shoulder. His naked shoulder. Fuck, his skin is so warm.

"Um, s-so," Gerard stutters, because he has no idea where to go from here. He knows where he would like to go, but he's not about to call the shots.

"So, you should probably tell me your last name," Frank says, and even though they're not kissing right now, Frank's still pressed up close to Gerard and his whole body is sparking from the contact.

"Way," Gerard manages to get out. "Um, Gerard Way."

"That's got a nice ring to it," Frank says with a heart-stopping smile and Gerard can't help it, he leans in and kisses him again, letting his hands slide down Frank's back, mapping his skin with eager fingers. They stumble backwards, nearly falling over the couch and Frank pushes Gerard onto the soft cushions and climbs into his lap.

"So I figure," Frank says between slow, lingering kisses, "We can call this a test run on the whole boyfriend thing. So far you're passing with flying colors."

He kisses Gerard before he can answer, which is good because Gerard really can't make words right now. He makes noises instead, encouraging moans as they slide horizontal, Frank's weight resting deliciously all over him. The kissing gets more heated as they rock against each other, Frank rubbing his hard dick into Gerard's leg.

Gerard breaks the kiss with a gasp. "Oh, fuck,"

Frank just hums low in his throat, trailing his mouth down Gerard's neck, sliding a hand between them to rest over Gerard's dick through his jeans. Gerard can’t swallow his whimper as Frank starts to shape him through the thick fabric and god, he's still grinding his own dick into Gerard's thigh. He starts working open the buttons on Gerard's jeans.

"Did you ever think about this when you were watching me? Think about being here with me?" Frank's voice is raspy, blowing hot against Gerard's neck.

Heat flushes over Gerard's face and down his neck but he forces himself to answer. "Yes, uh-" Frank gets his hand inside Gerard's pants, squeezing his cock through his underwear. "Oh fuck, Frank, yes," Gerard's voice is thready and desperate. He's so close, so fucking close already.

"Good," Frank says, with a wicked smile and Gerard loses a breath when he realizes that fuck, Frank is actually getting off on this, holy shit. He likes the idea of Gerard watching him. Gerard flails an arm and shoves it between them, groping for Frank's jeans.

He fumbles Frank's jeans open and there's nothing underneath but skin and oh fuck, it feels so good he whimpers, sliding his hand down to find Frank's dick, palming the slick head and finding his grip. Frank groans as he starts to stroke and Gerard looks down to watch his hand work Frank's cock, seeing the way Frank's tattoos move as his belly trembles. Frank groans and rocks into Gerard's fist, groaning in his neck and fuck Gerard's going to red out from how good this is. He never imagined he'd get to see it, feel for himself.

Frank shifts his hand, sliding it inside Gerard's underwear to stroke him skin-to-skin and fuck, this is going to be over so soon. Gerard doesn't realize he's speaking aloud until he hears himself babbling. "One night, on this couch you were- you were touching… and I didn't want to watch but fuck Frank, you looked so good-"

Frank's hand doesn't slow on Gerard's dick. He leans up so his face hovering above Gerard's, words hot on his lips as he says, "I was jerking off."

"Yes," Gerard whines, hips hitching up as Frank twists his hand, oh god, he's so good at that.

"And you watched me," Frank adds, his voice rough and shredded, not letting up for a second.

"Yes," Gerard breathes, feeling his face flood warm at the admission.

"And you jerked off, didn't you? Thinking about me, thinking about this." Frank doesn't say it as a question, but Gerard answers anyway, "Yeah, Frank. Yeah, I did."

Frank's kisses him hard and desperate, his rough nasal breaths pushing over Gerard's cheek as they fuck into each other's hands. It's all heat and motion as they rub and writhe on each other, racing to bring each other off. Gerard gets there first, bucking up off the couch as he shoots between them, moaning into Frank's lips as his body spasms.

He doesn't stop jacking Frank's dick, fighting his way through his afterglow to get Frank there. Frank moans and rocks into Gerard's hand, gasping into his skin, his body all sharp, stuttered motions and fuck, he's beautiful like this, so fucking undone. Gerard watches him pant, groan and then stiffen as he comes, his release striping warm across Gerard's belly as he collapses on top of him.

They lay like that, their bodies crushed together, until Gerard's breathing and heartbeat start to slow. Eventually, Frank lifts his head to look down at Gerard, the side of his mouth pulling up in an expression that's somewhere between a smile and a smirk.

"So, we're both massive creeps, huh?" Frank asks, but there's no venom in it. He looks relaxed and mussed and Gerard's falling for him so fucking hard it's making him dizzy.

"Yeah. Both of us." Gerard agrees, feeling weirdly okay about it all of a sudden. He trails his fingers down Frank's down Frank's arm, all warm and a little damp with sweat.

"Cool," Frank says, and pushes himself up off the couch, nearly elbowing Gerard in the face on the way. He hitches his jeans up and grabs Gerard by the arm, pulling him to his feet. Gerard manages to catch his own jeans before they slide down his legs and trip him. When he's done stumbling he looks up and finds himself looking out the window into his own apartment. The light is still on - he can see what Frank must have seen, his windows lit up, showing his living room with the easel in the middle, his messy kitchen bench scattered with coffee cups, his TV, his ratty old couch with the hippie throw over the top.

His eyes dance to the window, to the message he painted for Frank. It's strange, and yet somehow fitting to see it the right way around, finally. To see it the way Frank saw it. All the lines and shapes fit together and make sense. It looks like a tattoo on the side of the building, lines twining like vines around the letters at the centre, elegant shapes and angles framing the words he wanted Frank to read.


Frank tugs on his hand to get his attention and Gerard tears his gaze from the building opposite. "C'mon, I want to show you something you haven't seen yet."

"What?" Gerard asks, even though he's already following Frank anyway.

Frank stops and tugs Gerard close, pressing up on his toes to drop a swift kiss on his mouth. He leans back and tilts his head, smirking as he tells Gerard, "my bedroom."