Mega thank yous to idktbh — for all the hand-holding, encouragement, flailing and generally being amazing ♥. For — for being so patient with the time it took to get this finished. And to boobookittifukk — and gee4president — for the amazing beta job - I know it was a lot to ask and I really appreciate it.
Legalities of the Heart
My Chemical Romance; Frank/Gerard
Mikey knew that the one thing that exasperated his brother even more than the far-more-frequent-than-they-should-be phone calls due to Mikey sticking a fork in the toaster again, was when he visited Gerard at work.
However, Mikey managed to safely make himself two pieces of toast that morning, and in his humble opinion, that granted him one free pass to see his brother. The glass doors swung open without a sound as he stepped inside, his Doc Martins clicking along the shining marble floor. It had been cold outside, and Mikey had been counting on the inside of the building providing him with at least a little bit of warmth. He was sorely mistaken, and really, with the amount of time Mikey spent in the building, he should have known that by now.
Alicia, the young girl who worked at the front desk, was in her usual place. Mikey was rather fond of her. With a wide grin, he strode across the entrance towards her.
Suave as he was, Mikey leant casually against the desk, elbow propped up on the smooth oak surface and shot her his winning smile. Ever the charmer, that Mikey Way.
‘Your brother is in a meeting. Kindly get off my desk.’
‘You love me, Alicia. One day, I'll be famous and making millions of dollars and you'll wish you had expressed your undying love when you still had the chance.’
She looked up at him for the first time since he’d entered, one sharp eyebrow raised sceptically.
‘Famous doing what, Mikey? You work in a comic book store. Though work probably isn't the right word. It's more a case of being employed, but never turning up to your shifts. You spend all of your time here, making my job, and my general existence, far more difficult than it should be.’
Unfazed, Mikey grinned again. ‘And this is why we're such good friends, Alicia! No one can insult me like you can.’
With a frustrated groan, Alicia turned back to the pile of papers in front of her, knowing all too well that Mikey Way was the last person to try and reason with. She sometimes wondered how he’d made it this far in life without being strangled to death by anyone unfortunate enough to have to live with him. Dealing with him was becoming part of her job description, but at least she was paid for it. When she thought about it though, he did seem to liven the joint up a bit and really, she’d gotten so used to him being around, she almost couldn’t imagine her job without him bothering her.
‘So is this meeting of his important?’ Mikey questioned, casually lifting various items from her desk -- pen, stapler, hole-punch, calculator -- and examining them briefly and pointlessly before putting them down again, always in a different place from where he had taken them.
Reaching out to prise the calculator from Mikey's curious fingers, Alicia scoffed. ‘It hardly matters what my answer is. We both know you're going to storm on up there making as much noise as you can regardless.’
‘You have a keen eye, Alicia.’
‘Mr Way won't be happy. You know that.’
Mikey shrugged, standing up straight and flashing another wide smile. ‘I'm his brother. I have special privileges like that. He's under strict rules that he has to love me unconditionally, no matter how many meetings I interrupt. Besides, this is important.’
Not bothering to argue with him, Alicia picked up the phone and began to dial. ‘I'll let him know you're here.’
‘I was in the middle of something, Mikey. Couldn't you have waited at least ten minutes?’
Gerard had been working too hard again. At that moment in time, he certainly didn't look like the head of a prestigious law firm he was supposed to be. Dishevelled hair, tired eyes, loose tie... he looked a mess.
Mikey had always known it wasn't the lifestyle Gerard was cut out for, but any arguments were quickly extinguished. Gerard both hated and loved his job with a fiery passion. It ran him down, kept him on his toes, took over his life and ruled out any chance of a social life, but Mikey knew Gerard wouldn't give it up for the world. The firm had been started by their father, and as the eldest child, Gerard was intent on running it until he retired. Despite what may have happened with a certain Bert McCracken.
‘I was bored, Gee. The shop was dead and I've already read Batman ten times over today.’
Mikey leaned back in Gerard's chair, making himself comfortable as Gerard stood in front of him.
‘You can't just pull me out of meetings with important clients whenever you get bored! You said it was important. This isn't rating very high on my priorities list so far.’
‘I know. Which is why I only do it every second day,’ Mikey retorted, steepling his fingers in front of him.
Gerard groaned, running a hand through his hair and making it stick up even more, then splaying his hands on the desk in front of him and leaning forward, staring across at his younger brother.
‘Please, Mikey. Things are really crazy around here at the moment.’
Mikey Way was never quite as thick as everyone made him out to be. Contrary to popular belief, he did know where to draw the line. He just preferred not to, most of the time. He knew that Gerard was under a lot of stress, and that it frustrated him when Mikey showed up without any prior warning. But Mikey Way also knew his brother better than anyone else, and he knew that while Gerard put up the usual act of being tired, exhausted and fed up with Mikey's visits, to his younger brother, it was clear as day that he didn't really mind as much as he pretended to.
Mikey walked over to the office most days for one sole purpose: to save Gerard from himself.
There was a knock on the door, and Gerard was cut off half way through preparing to kick Mikey out of his office.
‘Come in!’ Gerard called, and Mikey leaned further back in the chair, kicking his legs up on the desk and crossing his ankles.
‘Mr Way?’ a head popped around the corner of the doorframe and Mikey beamed.
In seconds he had shot out of the chair, wrenched the door all the way open and threw himself at the girl. Despite his thin stature, the force sent the two of them flying backwards, the girl's head clunking into the doorframe with a loud thud.
‘Sorry, sorry!’ Mikey rushed, stepping back and glancing at his brother guiltily.
Gerard was watching, his arms crossed against his chest, one eyebrow raised, a bemused smirk adorning his lips.
‘Mikey, if you're going to come here just to be a pain in the ass, please refrain from knocking out my employees in the process.’
Rubbing the back of her head with one hand and wincing playfully, Hayley giggled. ‘Yeah, hi Mikey.’
‘It's really saying something when you're on a hugging -- or tackling -- basis with my secretary,’ Gerard continued. ‘Maybe it's time that you actually got a life and stopped invading mine.’
It's a difficult thing to make Mikey Way feel ashamed, and his brother's words did nothing more than make him laugh. ‘More than just your secretary, really. You know Alicia, down in reception? I'm going to marry her one day.’
‘Get out of my office Mikey.’
‘Alright, alright. I can see when I'm not welcome.’
‘So why are you still here every day, huh?’ Gerard opposed.
Hayley stood awkwardly between the two of them, her eyes darting from one to the other and debating on whether she should just come back later.
‘Because you need me to be,’ Mikey answered shortly, all the teasing and humour gone from his voice. Gerard faltered, and Mikey didn't give him a chance to come up with a witty reply.
‘See you later Gerard,’ he grinned, bounding out of the room and shutting the door behind him.
Gerard stood, staring at the door his brother had just exited through and hating him for knowing him so well. He blanked out for a few minutes, lost in his own thoughts until a voice snapped him back to the situation at hand.
‘You know, he's just trying to help.’
Gerard turned to see his secretary looking at him pointedly, clutching a folder full of papers to her chest.
‘Haven't you got something you're supposed to be doing?’ he sighed, running a hand through his hair and walking around his desk. He settled himself in his chair and leant over the desk, moving aside a mountain of papers in search of one sheet in particular.
‘Adam asked me to give this to you. He says it's important.’
She shrugged, stepping forward and making her heels clack against the floor. Gerard held out his hand for the piece of paper she was offering, frowning as soon as he saw the first line.
‘Is this his idea of being funny?’
Hayley grinned. ‘Everyone else can see it except you. Just do it, for all of our sakes.’
Gerard stuffed the paper into his drawer, refusing to look at it. She rolled her eyes, muttering something about men and their self-righteous values.
‘As much as I love you and all, I'm sure you could be doing something more useful than hassling me about how I choose to run my own firm. Go, I don't know, file some things, or something. I don't care.’
With a mock salute, she turned on her heel and left. Gerard put his head in his hands, thinking for the millionth time that he'd be far better off with some employees who actually treated him like their boss.
‘It looks like you tried to cut yourself.’
Frank was sitting across from her, holding her hand lightly in his own and inspecting the white bandage wrapped around her right wrist. At his words, Jamia snatched her hand back, cradling it to her chest and glaring at him.
‘As tactful as always,’ she muttered. Frank shrugged.
‘Well, that's what it looks like!’
They were sitting outside the tattoo shop, Jamia just having put up with a great deal of pain for the intricate design that was currently hidden by the gauze. As part of their deal, Frank himself sported a brand new tattoo in the shape of a scorpion on his neck.
‘Come to think of it, this was actually a really stupid idea,’ he mused, indicating to the bandage on his neck.
Jamia frowned at him, shaking her head firmly. ‘Hell no. That is the coolest tattoo I have ever seen. How can you possibly even think of calling that a mistake?’
With a scowl, Frank stood up, holding out his hand for her to take. She did so easily, her fingers interlacing with his as he dragged her back down the street towards his car. ‘You know how hard it is for me to get a job already. Now I have a fucking scorpion on my neck. You can't cover this shit up.’
Jamia pressed a finger to her lips, her eyebrows screwing up in thought. A disobedient strand of blonde hair fell into her eyes and she swiped it away in annoyance, contemplating as she stared at her best friend's new tattoo.
‘You have a point. But I still stand by what I said before.’
‘I’m feeling like coffee. You in?’ Frank grinned as he started up his car, Jamia sliding into the seat beside him. He pulled out of his parking space easily, watching out of the corner of his eye as she fiddled with the CD player.
‘Always,’ she answered quickly without having to think.
Jamia climbed out of the car, Frank following quickly and locking it. She headed straight towards the entrance of the coffee shop but Frank held off a bit, glancing across the road.
‘Jamia? I'm just going to go into the comic store real quick, okay?’
She didn't even bother to turn around, continuing on her way into Starbucks.
‘See ya later, geek!’ she called back. Frank couldn't help but laugh again, watching her for a moment as she pushed the door open, striding in and letting it shut behind her.
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Frank checked each way -- proof of his mother's good parenting -- before he crossed the street, dodging the traffic with practiced ease. There was a tiny bell above the door that tinkled lightly as Frank stepped inside the shop. Shelves and shelves of old and new comic books, collector's items and crappy cheap ones lined the store, and Frank grinned, immediately feeling at home.
He wandered aimlessly for a while, not really having a particular thing in mind as he strolled up and down aisles. He couldn't spy any salesperson yet, and he was grateful. He wasn't in the mood to be hounded; Frank just wanted to spend a little time to himself, in a place surrounded by one of his many loves.
Soon enough, a tall, thin body appeared from the back room, seemingly startled when he saw Frank. He jumped, a pair of glasses sliding down his nose and he dropped the stack of comics he had been holding. The boy blushed furiously, bending down to pick them up in a rush. Frank reached out a hand to offer his help but the boy brushed him off, collecting the comics off the ground and throwing them onto the desk before straightening up.
‘Er, hi,’ he greeted Frank, pushing his glasses back up to where they belonged.
With a wry smile, Frank nodded in acknowledgement, reaching out a hand. ‘Frank,’ he introduced himself when the guy took his hand lightly. It wasn't a strong grip by any means, and Frank grinned, his eyes running over the guy's frame quickly. Long legs were covered in a pair of blue jeans that looked too big for him, a plain black t-shirt covering his chest, and old Converse on his feet.
‘Mikey,’ he answered when Frank let go of his hand.
There was an awkward silence, a hesitant shuffle of feet before Frank realised that he was staring. He dropped his gaze immediately, disappearing back amongst the shelves.
He roamed the aisles aimlessly for a few more minutes. Every now and then his eyes would catch something that looked interesting, but nothing that really sparked the urge to pull his wallet from his back pocket. Eventually, he made his way back to the shop front, ready to leave.
‘Tattoo?’ a voice said suddenly, and Frank looked up to see the boy -- Mikey -- looking at him, his eyes fixed on the bandage on Frank's neck.
‘Oh,’ Frank nodded, his brain catching up. ‘Yeah. A new one. Scorpion.’ He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, narrowly avoiding said tattoo. He felt a little strange in the shop, as if the boy was looking straight through him.
‘That's cool,’ Mikey nodded his head in a similar fashion, propping his glasses further back on his nose.
Frank shuffled his feet again, wanting to leave but for some reason feeling as though there was something more this boy wanted.
‘Well, I uh. I'm off, I guess. Thanks for um,’ and he waved his hand around the shop, stuck for what he was meaning to say in the first place.
‘No problem,’ Mikey answered before he went back to sorting out the comics on his desk. Frank hesitated once more, still not sure exactly what he was doing. The boy in front of him intrigued him for God only knows what reason, and he didn't want to leave just yet.
‘Hey, uh, Mikey, was it?’
Mikey looked up again, eyes narrowing behind his glasses as he nodded.
‘Yeah, that's me.’
‘You wanna maybe go for coffee? My friend and I are just going across the road, and I thought-’ Frank trailed off, because really, he doesn't know what he thought.
Mikey cocked his head a little in confusion, and slowly, he nodded. ‘Um, okay, sure. Just give me two minutes to pack this shit up, and I'll be with you.’
It struck Frank that the shop really mustn't get a lot of business then, and he felt a little better for inviting Mikey out. It was obvious that the boy was near going out of his mind with boredom.
Frank nodded, waiting patiently. Mikey looked back down at the stack of comics on his desk, sighed, and turned his back on them, stepping around the counter and towards Frank.
‘Fuck it, I'll do it later,’ he said with a careless shrug, and Frank grinned.
It wasn't something that Frank did often, inviting strangers out for coffee, but he was glad he did it. The three of them sat in a small booth in the corner, sipping coffee and talking about nothing, and Mikey actually seemed like a guy he'd like to get to know.
‘So Frank, what do you do, then?’
It's a question that Frank still felt uneasy answering, even after the millionth time. It wasn't that he was ashamed of what he did, or that he didn't want anybody knowing - it was more that they never took him seriously.
‘I'm uh. I'm an attorney,’ he said at long last, and there was a sudden shine to Mikey's eyes.
‘Oh? What firm?’
Frank looked down into his mug, feeling the shame rising in his cheeks. ‘None, at the moment,’ he answered quietly.
Frank was good at his job. Really good at his job. The problem was, it was hard to be a successful attorney if no law firm would even look at you twice. And it wasn’t that Frank lacked the skills. Far from it. It was always his appearance. People were never willing to look past the haircut, the tattoos, the clothes. As soon as they found out he liked playing the guitar it was a lost cause.
He looked up only to find Mikey staring at him intently. He shifted a little under the heavy gaze, but Mikey didn't relent.
‘You work privately or something?’ he questioned, and Frank drowned a little further in his shame.
‘No... I uh. I haven't found anywhere to um, take me in, just yet.’
And finally, Mikey understood. A small 'oh' of realisation sounded from his lips, and Frank wished he could just hide, right then and there.
‘They don't know what they're missing out on, really,’ Jamia cut in, determined to defend Frank's honour no matter what. He smiled gratefully at her.
‘You know, my brother runs his own law firm,’ Mikey started, a slow hint.
Frank looked up, and he couldn't help but hope, maybe just a little bit. ‘You mean...’
Mikey nodded, taking a sip of his coffee patiently. ‘He’d never admit it, but he’s drowning under his own creation.’
Frank bit his lip, wondering whether Mikey really was hinting at what he thought he was.
‘He’s trying to handle too many of the cases himself, see? The idea of snatching some new guys in to help him seems foreign...’
And surely, surely Mikey wouldn’t be that teasing. Frank leant forward a bit, eager not to ruin his first opportunity in forever.
‘What would I have to do to say, get an interview?’
Mikey grinned. ‘Now you’re getting it. Come with me, right now. The sooner, the better really.’
There was a twinkle to Mikey’s eyes that made Frank wonder whether he had his own motives for doing this, but really, he didn’t care too much. This was his chance, and he wasn’t going to blow it.
‘Alright, let’s go,’ Frank said quickly, draining his mug and getting to his feet.
He threw Jamia a worried smile, and she gave him a reassuring one in return. ‘Go get ‘em.’
Frank couldn’t help but grin. This was better, so much better than he had envisioned. When Mikey had so easily offered him up an opportunity, he was sure the place was going to be run down, some shitty firm in the backstreets that nobody had heard of, with Mikey’s brother struggling to keep it together.
But here he was, and he was officially impressed. He’d only just set foot in the lobby, but with marble floors, high ceilings and bright sunlight streaming in, it looked perfect. To the side, there was a large desk, a girl sitting behind it and clacking away at the keys of her computer. Mikey grinned at him, and Frank was given just enough time to raise one eyebrow before Mikey was bounding over to the desk.
She looked up, a heavy sigh escaping her lips. Frank could tell that this was obviously almost routine.
‘What now, Mikey?’ she asked, exasperated, turning away from her computer as if it was pointless trying to work with Mikey around.
‘Where’s Gerard?’ Mikey questioned easily, ignoring her tone.
Frank hung back a little awkwardly, wondering what the hell he was supposed to do in this place.
‘Busy,’ she answered shortly, going back to her computer.
‘He’s always busy. In his office, right?’ Mikey continued, and she nodded finally, reaching for her phone. She dialled the familiar number quickly, with expertise gained only through practice, waiting for the other line to pick up.
‘Mr Way? Reception...yes, I’m afraid so...okay. I’ll send him up.’ She hung up moments later, smirking at Mikey. ‘Seems he knows you too well.’
Frank watched as Mikey winked at her before he was heading down the hall, beckoning for Frank to follow. Eventually, they reached a large door, and Mikey turned to Frank.
‘So, just a warning. Gerard...he’s...he’s stressed. A lot. Okay?’
Frank nodded, getting what Mikey was hinting at before the other man reached for the doorknob and swung the door open easily, not bothering to knock.
‘What’s the problem now, Mikey? Read Batman so many times you want to puke?’ a tired voice greeted them, and Frank walked in the room to find a man younger than he expected sitting behind a large desk, drowning in papers.
‘Well, yes, actually, but I have other motives as well,’ Mikey retorted, and the man behind the desk looked up.
‘Mikey I don’t have time-- Who are you?’
Eyes fixated on Frank squarely, and he opened his mouth and closed it again uselessly. Yes. He definitely wanted this job. Hell, he’d have the shittiest job in the entire firm if it meant he got to stick around and stare at that face all day.
‘This is Frank. He uh...’ Mikey trailed off, looking at Frank and realising that the man was struck still.
Frank fumbled, seeing that he was expected to talk. ‘I uh. Yeah. I’m Frank.’
He cursed himself. Fucking pathetic.
Gerard frowned, going back to the mountain of papers in front of him. ‘Look, I have work to do, Mikey. I don’t have time for you to bring friends in here just to annoy the fuck out of me.’
Frank immediately felt guilty, though he wasn’t sure why.
‘He’s not a friend, Gerard. I mean, well, sorry Frank, but...okay, never mind. Let’s start over,’ Mikey laughed, turning back to his brother. ‘He’s an attorney, Gerard.’
Gerard looked up sharply, his eyes narrowed. ‘Have you been talking to Adam? Because I swear, I’m going to rip that man’s throat out next time I see him...’
Mikey rolled his eyes tiredly as Gerard stood up, his fingers clenched into fists. ‘Would you just shut up and listen, for once?’ Frank could tell that he was infringing on private matters, and he had the urge to walk out of the room right then and there. This was a mistake, he was sure of it.
‘You need help, Gerard. Everyone can tell. The firm’s going to go down the drain and it’ll all be because your fucking pride got in the way.’
Frank slowly began backing out of the room.
‘This has nothing to do with you, Mikey. I’ll run this place how I think it needs to be run. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’
Gerard turned to Frank suddenly, and Frank was stuck like a deer in headlights. ‘I’m sorry that my brother dragged you all the way down here, but we’re not looking for anybody new. My secretary will show you the way out. Hayley!’
As if tuned in to appear at his every command -- which Frank reasoned, she probably was -- a young woman appeared in the doorway behind him.
Gerard turned to her, teeth gritted. ‘Could you please show this young man the way out? My brother and I need to talk for a moment.’
She hesitated, but did as she was told, beckoning for Frank and letting the door close when they were both safely in the hall. Immediately, there was shouting, and Frank was somehow glad he had left.
‘Sorry about that. What exactly are you here for?’ she questioned, adjusting the glasses on her nose and leading him down the hall again, her heels clicking against the floor.
‘Oh. Mikey. He...uh...he said that I could maybe apply for a position.’
She nodded, a look of understanding crossing her features. ‘That explains that then. I’ll talk to him about it, don’t worry. He does need you. He’s just too stubborn to admit it,’ she grinned, and Frank wondered how long she had been working there that she was able to discuss her boss with such ease.
‘Is he... Is he always like that?’ Frank asked, wondering whether he really wanted to work in a firm with a boss that was apparently intent on his own wishes, and well, stressed out of his mind. Scratch that, he thought. He wanted this job, regardless.
‘Gerard? Oh, no. He’s a sweetheart, really. He’s just… He’s under a lot of pressure, and he doesn’t cope too well,’ she explained with a frown, and just from the few glimpses he had gotten, Frank knew that Gerard appeared to be the only one who couldn’t see this.
‘Oh, there’s Adam,’ she said suddenly, her eyes veering off to the side. ‘Listen, come back tomorrow. We’ll try and talk some sense into him.’
Frank nodded absently, his mind still a blur from the sudden change of events before he found himself back at the front door. He stepped out, remembering the look of the man’s eyes, the way his hair tumbled around and framed his face, and Frank had to hold himself in check.
Yes, he would be back tomorrow.
‘Another one?’ Adam questioned disbelievingly. Surely Gerard wasn’t that ignorant.
‘Yeah. He’s so intent on doing everything himself, he doesn’t realise what he’s doing half the time,’ Hayley sighed, following Adam into his office.
He gave her a sympathetic glance, ushering her in and shutting the door behind her.
‘Forget about him. We’ll talk to him; he has to come around eventually.’
‘Yeah, when the entire firm goes under,’ she retorted, rolling her eyes.
‘Forget about Gerard,’ Adam repeated. ‘He’s just a stubborn asshole.’
‘Adam! Get out here!’ Mikey’s voice interrupted.
‘Fuck you, Mikey!’
Regardless, he moved towards the door, opening it to allow a disgruntled Mikey Way in.
‘Anyway, I should probably go and get some work done. I’ll tell you about this guy later,’ Hayley nodded to Adam, and he grinned in response.
‘Sure thing. I wonder if the poor bugger will even come back.’
Hayley shrugged her shoulders in defeat before slipping out of the office. As soon as she was gone, Mikey stepped over to the desk, shoving Adam’s stack of notes to the floor to make room for his ass.
‘Oh sure, Mikey. Make yourself at home,’ Adam said sarcastically, and Mikey just grinned, shifting on Adam’s desk to make himself more comfortable.
‘Okay, so I actually did have a point in coming here. We need to have like...an intervention for Gerard or something. I don’t know,’ Mikey sighed, picking up a sheet of paper from beside him and putting it back down two seconds later.
‘Last I checked, Gerard wasn’t an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or any of that shit,’ Adam replied, picking up a ruler and promptly hitting Mikey’s thigh with it.
‘Maybe not an alcoholic, but a workaholic and-- ow! What the hell was that for?’ Mikey flinched, jumping off the desk and rubbing his leg.
‘To get you off my desk. It worked. See?’ Adam retorted, and Mikey shrugged.
‘Anyway, we do need to talk to Gerard. After everything with Bert, I don’t think he trusts anyone else to step in anymore.’
‘Schechter offered, didn’t he? Y’know, from that firm in New York?’ Adam circled the desk and threw himself back into his chair, looking up at the younger Way.
‘Yeah. Gerard’s refusing. When Bert walked, he took half the fucking firm with him. He doesn’t want that happening again if he lets Brian in to help.’
‘Brian’s not Bert. Gerard knows that,’ Adam argued, and Mikey laughed.
‘Since when has Gerard ever heard the voice of reason for this sort of thing? Look. It comes down to this. He needs to get a new partner. You need some more lawyers before you all drown in the workload. Someone has to talk to Gerard.’
It wasn’t often that Mikey made assumptions about people, but when he did, he was usually right. It was through previous experience that Adam shut his mouth and nodded, knowing that when Mikey Way had a hunch, he was going to follow it through until the end. And really, if it helped them get Gerard back to living outside his office, it was bound to end well. The entire firm was sick of seeing Gerard locked away behind his towers of papers. Adam knew that he hadn’t left the office before midnight for two weeks.
‘So, time for you to do what you do best then,’ Adam smirked. Mikey laughed, raising one eyebrow in questioning.
‘And what would that be, Lazzara?’
‘Annoy the shit out of Gerard.’
As soon as Gerard opened the drawer, he regretted it. In all honesty, he had no idea why he even kept the damn thing in the first place, but there it was, staring at him mockingly. He had only wanted his favourite pen for fuck’s sake. Unable to ignore it now that he had been rudely confronted by the annoying sheet of paper, Gerard pulled it out, making a half-assed effort at smoothing out the creases it had sustained when he shoved it in there in the first place. Scanning his eyes over the words, Gerard re-skimmed the paper with a mixture of amusement and frustration. He wasn’t quite as oblivious as they all thought. He knew that he was struggling, that they were all struggling, and that if he didn’t figure something out soon, the firm would start going under. He groaned in annoyance, knowing that if it were to happen, he wouldn’t cope. As much as it killed him, he needed the place. There wasn’t anywhere he felt quite as at home.
The sheet of paper clearly instructed Gerard to ‘stop being an ass’ and ‘haul in some poor bugger to do your dirty work’.
Sometimes, Gerard hated Adam’s sense of humour.
Letting the paper fall out of his hands and onto the desk in front of him, Gerard ran a hand through his hair, not caring that it probably stuck up at various angles afterwards. It was time for him to get over himself and hire someone to help pick up the slack, he knew. It was easier said than done.
Fred...? No, Frank. Gerard felt a tiny twinge of regret for sending the kid away without even a second glance. There was another one gone.
It took her a few moments but soon enough, she was poking her head around his door. ‘Yes?’
Gerard let his head fall into his hands where he leant on the desk with his elbows. Splitting his fingers and tilting his head upwards, he peered up through the cracks in the fingers sheepishly. ‘That kid. Did you actually do what I told you to this time?’
She frowned. ‘You mean haul his ass out of the building and tell him not to come back?’
‘Not quite so blunt but...in effect, yes.’
Laughing, she shrugged. ‘Sort of. Maybe. Why? You thinking of hiring the poor guy, Gerard?’
‘It’s Way to you,’ he replied indignantly.
‘Whatever hot-shot. I told him to come back tomorrow.’
There was a God. Gerard thanked it profusely.
He suspected she was rather smug that she had caught him out. Bitch. Without waiting for an answer, she pulled a sheet of paper out from the pile of folders in her arms.
‘Here. Contact details. Call him.’
Gerard took the sheet reluctantly, setting it on his desk and looking back up at her.
‘I hate you.’
‘Love you too,’ were the words quickly shot out of her lips, before she disappeared out the door.
Once she was gone, Gerard glanced back at the paper. Frank Iero. Divorce attorney. Gerard skimmed over the qualifications half-heartedly, more interested in just getting some help as quickly as possible. On second thoughts, he looked back; no one would appreciate him hiring on the basis of...Gerard didn’t know if he even had a basis. Because he was sick of living his life in his office? Because the guy had a nice ass?
Email or phone?
He supposed he should call. Easier, quicker. No, email. Surely calling would make him look desperate? He had to at least act like he had tons of these applications handed in every day. Like Frank was nothing special.
Cut the shit, Gerard.
Still, he found himself pulling up a new email page before he even took a second glance at the phone.
From: Gerard Way < g_way@mccracken&way.com >
Gerard paused, glaring at the automated address. He still hadn’t gotten around to changing the damn thing. Bert fucking McCracken, ungrateful piece of-- Back on task, Gerard.
To: Frank Iero < email@example.com >
Subject: Job offer.
In regards to your application, I’d like to offer you an interview. This is awfully short notice, but if you could come by the office tomorrow at 11:00am, that would be much appreciated.
There. Gerard sat back, staring at the screen. One more lawyer, not a huge deal. He clicked send. Automatically, the page pulled him back to his inbox, and Gerard found himself glaring at the screen again. As if he couldn’t help himself, he pulled up an already read email.
From: Brian Schechter < firstname.lastname@example.org >
To: Gerard Way < g_way@mccracken&way.com >
Subject: Here to help.
I’ve been talking to Adam. Remember that day I was talking about leaving the firm? Gabe and William are going to be fine without me. You, on the other hand... Gerard, we’re worried.
You know that I’m always willing to help out. Even if you don’t want me around permanently, I’m happy to come in and try and ease the load. Forget about Bert and all of those dirty plans of revenge - I know that they’re there - and focus on what’s happening to your precious firm.
Drop me a line and I’ll be there before you know it.
With a groan, Gerard closed the window and leant back in his chair, shutting his eyes. Brian wasn’t Bert. Brian wouldn’t walk and take everything. But at the same time, Gerard was convinced that he could do this. He didn’t need their help. He just needed to hire this new guy, for starters. Get some new lawyers in. Get his feet back on the ground. It’d be fine.
Frank tugged irritably on the cuff of his suit. ‘I hate wearing these things,’ he muttered, and Jamia snorted from the kitchen table.
‘Suck it up, hon. It’s your big day!’ she grinned over the rim of her coffee mug. Frank flipped her off. The last thing he needed was her patronising him.
‘It’s not my first day of school.’
‘Look, you’ll be fine. Promise,’ she said reassuringly, standing up and holding her arms out. ‘C’mon. Gimme a good luck hug before you leave.’
He did so, embracing her gratefully for a few seconds before he pulled away. ‘Can you see the tattoos?’
Jamia snorted. ‘Your arms are covered, so is your back, your chest, obviously. Your knuckles? Not so much. Oh. And the uh...the scorpion,’ she giggled, sitting down again and hiding her face back behind her mug.
‘The scorpion. I knew it. I told you! He’ll never hire me. Oh shit.’
‘Frank! No hyperventilating. It’ll be fine. Go.’
When Jamia used that tone, Frank knew there was no arguing. He nodded meekly, kissing her on the cheek quickly before he left.
When Frank entered the building, he was unsure of what to do with himself. The sweeping foyer and marble tiles that had before looked delightfully impressive now served only to terrify him. He had aimed too high, surely. Cautiously, Frank edged his way over to reception, feeling uncomfortable in his suit, his briefcase too heavy in his right hand.
‘Uh, hi,’ he tried when he reached the desk, and the girl looked up.
‘I uh. My name’s Frank Iero, I have an interview?’ Frank couldn’t help the way it came out sounding like a question, and she smiled at him, seemingly sensing his nerves.
‘I’ll just let Mr Way know you’re here. Head right on through,’ she told him before picking up her phone and dialling. ‘Mr Way? Hi, it’s Alicia. Mr Iero is here to see you.’
She hung up moments later and nodded to Frank. He took it as his cue. Nervously, he headed up the hall until he reached the familiar door. There was a simple gold plaque attached, and Frank paused. With a deep breath in, he attempted to calm the racing of both his head and his heart, and knocked.
Frank took a quick moment to smooth down his suit, take in another shaky breath and open the door slowly. When he poked his head around the doorframe, the man wasn’t even looking up. His head was down, pen scribbling hurriedly and lips drawn into a tight line. Frank could see the way his shoulders hunched, tensed, and even as an outsider, he could tell that the man was stressed.
‘Uh, Mr Way?’ Frank questioned cautiously, feeling awkward and not wanting to interrupt. Immediately, Gerard’s head snapped up.
‘Oh! Iero, right? Come in. Have a seat.’
Quickly, Frank let the door fall shut behind him and shuffled towards the desk, seating himself in the chair offered to him. He glanced up and noticed that Way was staring at him, an amused lilt to his lips.
Frank couldn’t help it; he let out a breathy laugh, trying to expel the nerves in one go. It didn’t work. If anything, it only seemed to make Way more amused, smiling fully now.
‘So you’re a divorce attorney. Where’d you study?’ Way asked, settling back in his chair and eyeing Frank calmly.
Frank shifted a little. ‘Rutgers School of Law. Newark.’
The other man grinned. ‘You’re a Jersey kid, huh?’
Frank nodded. ‘Born and bred.’
There was a pause, and Frank was growing steadily more uncomfortable until finally, Gerard spoke again. ‘And you’ve worked in firms before this one?’
And here was the part of the conversation that Frank had been dreading. He had followed this same routine at countless firms, each of them turning him down as soon as they hit this block. He kept his cool, straightened up in his seat and shook his head.
‘Only much smaller ones. None like this, no.’
And Frank knew, here would come the inevitable question. Taking notice of his imperfections, his flaws, everything that they thought would ruin their reputation if they employed him.
‘Halloween?’ Gerard questioned, seeming to have forgotten his previous question as he gestured to Frank’s fingers. Instinctively, Frank moved his hands off the desk and settled them in his lap, out of view.
‘My birthday,’ Frank admitted, figuring that there was no point in denying what Gerard had already seen.
The older man nodded, pausing again, weighing something up. ‘And a scorpion on your neck. Is that all?’
Frank shifted again guiltily. ‘Nothing else that you can see when I’m wearing a suit...’
This seemed to delight Gerard more than anything previous. His eyes lit up and he chuckled, leaning forward. ‘You seem like a good kid,’ he started, and then his eyes dulled.
‘There’s a ‘but’, right?’ Frank sighed. There was always a but.
But you’re not exactly what we’re looking for, I’m afraid.
But we pride ourselves on looking and acting professional.
But I’m not entirely sure you’re the right man for this job.
This time, Gerard didn’t laugh, and inwardly, Frank started up with a healthy round of cursing. Fuck, fuck, fuck! He’d blown another one. Oh shit. What would he tell Jamia? He couldn’t lose another one. Not after it had looked to being set up so perfectly.
‘I don’t want to lie to you, Frank. Just between you and me? I’m already stretched tight here. I’m struggling to make sure that this firm keeps the reputation it’s got, no matter what. I’m just not so sure with...’ He gestured offhandedly to the tattoos.
‘I promise you, Mr Way. You hire me and I’ll wear gloves if I have to. And...a scarf, or. Just, please. I really need this.’
The last thing he wanted to do was look pathetic, but Frank was fast approaching desperation. Gerard was still staring at him, muddy hazel eyes sizing him up carefully. And Frank could understand, in part. From what he had heard, and what he had seen of Gerard Way, there was something going on behind closed doors. Something was already going under, and Frank knew that employing some guy who looked anything but professional could be the last straw. Still, he wasn’t willing to believe that he had no hope. He had to get this job. Had to.
‘I’m sorry, Frank. Good luck though,’ Gerard said finally, before he tilted his head down and scribbled another line of writing on the piece of paper in front of him. Frank stood up slowly, looking down at the older man. Another one. At this rate, he’d end up working at some shitty fast food place.
‘Thanks anyway then,’ Frank said, before he grabbed his briefcase and exited the office.
To his surprise, he collided with the girl he remembered as Way’s secretary, and another unfamiliar man.
‘So?’ the secretary prompted, her eyes shining.
Frank frowned. ‘No such luck,’ he told her with a shrug of his shoulders.
The stranger beside her shook his head and grabbed Frank’s arm as he was about to leave. ‘No. No, come with me,’ he said quickly, ushering him back to the door. ‘You’ll get this job. Trust me. Hayley, you go in first. He likes you.’
Hayley snorted but opened the door anyway, poking her head in. Despite the original plan, the stranger holding Frank didn’t bother to wait for an introduction. He merely shoved Frank inside the room and followed, the door falling shut behind him.
‘What the-? Adam, get out. I’m serious this time,’ Gerard groaned, but Adam just nudged Frank forward.
‘I think you have something you want to say to him,’ Adam said, and Gerard looked up, eyebrows raised.
‘Are you kidding? Get out or I’m firing your ass, Lazzara.’
‘Gerard, will you just-’ Hayley tried, and Gerard rounded on her.
‘Hey. Hey, you’re supposed to be on my side. I like you. Don’t you mess me around now. Adam, stop polluting her mind.’
Adam threw his hands up in defence. ‘I had nothing to do with it. But, she’s right. It’s time for you to get over yourself. Meet your newest attorney, Frank Iero,’ Adam informed his boss firmly, and Frank was again left in awe that none of them appeared to be about to get fired, despite Gerard’s obviously empty threats.
Gerard sighed, turning his eyes on Frank. ‘I better not regret this.’
Adam beamed. ‘We knew you’d come around!’
Ignoring him, Gerard continued, ‘9:00am tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.’
Frank was grinning widely. Oh thank God. He had a job. He had a job. He couldn’t wait to tell Jamia. ‘Thank you so much Mr Way. I won’t let you down,’ Frank gushed before Hayley led him out of the office.
‘You’re showing him the ropes tomorrow, I hope you realise,’ Gerard told Adam as soon as the other two had left.
‘I know.’ He turned to leave and as he reached the door he turned back to face his boss. ‘You did the right thing.’
From: Jamia Nestor < email@example.com >
To: Frank Iero < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Subject: Good luck!
Breathe in. Breathe out. Through your nose. That’s it, you’re doing great. Don’t forget to take your lunch. I’ve packed you a nice baloney sandwich and an apple. Have fun on your first day!
From: Frank Iero < email@example.com >
To: Jamia Nestor < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Subject: Re: Good luck!
I hate you. That is all.
Frank was more nervous than he could ever remember being. So far, he had tried on and abandoned two shirts, four ties and a pair of pants. For a brief moment, he entertained the thought that he should just go without any clothes at all. At least he would make an impression on his first day.
It was when Frank craned his neck to look behind him at the clock that a snap decision was made. He settled for whatever he happened to have on at the time and headed for the door. Already running late, shit. As he reached his front door, Frank hesitated, and on a whim, ran back to his bedroom and grabbed a grey scarf and a pair of gloves from the back of his closet.
‘He’s late,’ Adam noted with a hint of amusement.
‘Who?’ Ray asked distractedly, sorting through his pile of notes on the Whitman case. He was supposed to be in a meeting five minutes ago but he couldn’t find the damn piece of paper he -- oh there it was.
‘The new guy. Iero. I’m supposed to be showing him the ropes today.’
Ray flashed a quick grin. ‘Gerard finally came ‘round? About time.’
As Ray raced down the hall to his meeting, Adam did another lap of the foyer, quickly growing bored with his surroundings.
‘Not a great first impression, kid...’
He paused as the front door opened, and Frank Iero rushed in. Adam raised his eyebrow. Scarf and gloves with a suit. What?
‘Iero!’ Adam called, and Frank looked up, catching his eye and hurrying over.
‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry I’m late,’ he breathed out, and Adam held back a laugh, knowing that the guy had probably run all the way to the office. He shook his head and led Frank down the hall. Gerard had been run off his feet all morning -- if Adam didn’t tell him, he didn’t have to know. Besides, Gerard didn’t need a free excuse to get rid of this guy already.
‘It’s okay. Just don’t let it happen too often, alright? Gerard’s pretty lenient when he knows that you’re worth your place. Just don’t piss him off and you’re good.’
‘Don’t piss off the boss, got it.’
‘I’m going to give you a quick tour of the place. Make sure you know where you are and all that, and then I’ll introduce you to the main team. You’ll want to know who you’re working with, who you’ll need to see for certain things, etcetera.’
Adam glanced at him to check how he was doing. He looked fairly level-headed so far, nodding along as Adam spoke, eyes taking in the firm as they walked. Shoes clicked on marble floors and became casual background noise as Adam droned on, pushing out the usual compulsory welcome speech. We pride ourselves in blah blah blah. We hope you’ll turn out to be a valuable asset to our firm, blah blah blah. Adam was getting bored just listening to himself. He was expecting Iero to be half-asleep, but every time he looked over, he seemed relaxed, confident, listening to everything Adam said and taking it all in patiently. He had to give him points.
‘Okay, this is Ray’s office in here. He’s in a meeting at the moment, so you’ll have to meet him later. Ray’s pretty much been here since pre-historic times. Gerard’s right-hand attorney or whatever you want to call it. The best. No pressure.’ Adam winked, and Frank couldn’t help but laugh.
‘Hierarchy. And I’m at the bottom of the pit.’
Adam kind of liked this guy.
‘Afraid so. Okay. So, down here’s where all our nifty little helpers hang out,’ Adam continued as he knocked on the next door along. It opened to reveal a larger room, blocked out into three sections.
Two men and a woman looked up as they entered, and Frank offered a small wave.
‘Guys, this is Frank Iero, the new attorney. Frank this is Jon Walker, our trusty IT guy, Brendon Urie in finance, and Lindsey’s our marketing babe.’
Lindsey tastefully flipped Adam off at the pet name.
‘Don’t worry about her. She gets a little snappy,’ Adam said in a false whisper, and Lindsey rolled her eyes.
‘And Adam’s a bit of a douche but hey, you learn to deal,’ she retorted, turning her head back to face her computer.
‘So Way finally got a new guy in, huh? Welcome to the team, then. Things get a little uh...crazy, and people yell, and swear, and generally just insult each other. But we love each other, really.’ Brendon held out his hand with a grin, and Frank shook it, forcing a weak smile.
He would be the first to admit it - he was getting a little nervous.
‘Brendon, you idiot,’ Jon laughed, hitting Brendon over the head. ‘Don’t worry, Frank. It’s not all that bad.’
Frank found this all a little hard to believe, but he was willing to stick it out. Of course he was willing to stick it out. This was the first opportunity he had been offered in... Well, Frank couldn’t really remember the last firm he had been allowed to even set foot in. And so, Frank smiled at them all, the three newest people to add to the ever-growing list of staff to remember, and followed Adam back out of the room.
‘And now I’ll show you where your office is,’ Adam said finally, and Frank breathed a small sigh of relief, eager to get away and immerse himself in what he could tell was going to be a heavy workload. Frank wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in that respect. From what he had seen, there was something going on under wraps around the place that only Way, Adam and Hayley seemed to know about. His new boss was keeping something from the rest of them, and if Frank had learnt anything in his brief interview with Gerard Way, it was that the firm was in trouble. Frank had no idea why exactly, but that hardly seemed to matter. And if there was as much work to be done as Adam seemed to think, Frank would be swamped. Still, he thought, maybe he would have to wait until he gained Mr Way’s trust before he was properly brought into the team.
Frank wondered how long that would take.
It turned out that Frank’s office was two doors down from Ray. He felt a sudden burst of pride at the sight of the plaque on the door, already stating his name and job. They certainly didn’t waste time around here.
‘There’s a file there,’ Adam pointed to said file on Frank’s new desk, ‘that will brief you quickly on the case you’ll be taking up. The Johnsons are nice people. Simple divorce settlement. We reckon he’ll give her whatever she wants. Still hung up,’ Adam explained, and Frank nodded absently. He’d had cases like this plenty of times. He almost felt sorry for the poor bastard.
Adam grinned then, laughing a little and shaking his head. ‘Also? Seriously, what is with the scarf? And the gloves? You got like, skin diseases or something, man?’
Frank went red, ducking his head and fiddling with his hands. ‘I uh. No. I, yeah, uh, never mind?’
‘Whatever, kid.’ Adam shook his head again as he left, and Frank really couldn’t decide whether he liked the guy or not.
Taking a deep breath, Frank settled himself down behind his desk, the padded office chair seeming to mould into the shape of his ass as he sat down. He reached for the file and immediately began sifting through it, sorting through relevant information, and in the back of his mind, though he would try to deny it, wondering what Mr Way was doing.
‘No, Schechter. Look, I’ll talk to you later, alright? I’m busy. Seriously. I’m hanging up on you now, you persistent son-of-a-bitch. No, I’m not joking, asshole.’
Gerard slammed the phone down and groaned, letting his head fall into his hands. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately, and he hated himself for it. He needed out.
He could hear the clicking of her heels before he saw her, and then she was stepping through the doorframe into his office. ‘Yes?’
‘The new guy was starting today, right? How’s he going?’ Gerard questioned. He probably should have done the whole meet-and-greet thing with the kid, but frankly, he really didn’t want to leave his office. The rest of the building was full of people that he was terrified of letting down. Of Adam, who he knew would hassle him if he even set foot into the foyer. No. He was fine here, thank you. He had a comfy chair, a pretty painting on the wall and nice carpet. And yeah, Gerard needed out.
‘Fine. He’s stuck into the Johnson case at the moment. Adam didn’t say much, only that the poor guy’s wearing gloves and a scarf...?’
Gerard snorted, a smile creeping onto his face despite himself. ‘Good. I’m going to lunch. If anyone comes looking for me, tell them...tell them I died.’ He stood up from his desk and stuffed his cell and his pager into his pocket, shrugging on his suit jacket and heading for the door.
‘Will do, boss,’ Hayley replied. He barely acknowledged her as he made his way out of the office.
Gerard had successfully avoided the majority of his employees and was finally on his way to lunch when he spotted the kid in the foyer. He frowned, stopped walking, and tilted his head to the side. The kid looked out of place, nervously biting at fingernails and staring around the room like he didn’t know how he managed to get there. Bewildered, Gerard moved to the front desk, leaning over and lowering his voice.
‘Uh, Alicia? Any idea who that is?’ Gerard whispered, feeling decidedly ridiculous but ignoring it.
She looked up, a wry smile on her lips. ‘Ryan Ross. Your new apprentice.’ Gerard stared at her blankly.
‘You don’t remember, do you?’ she laughed and he grimaced, shaking his head. ‘He’s here for a year to start with. First year of law school.’
Looking over at him again, Gerard nodded. ‘Okay. And why is he standing in the foyer? Shouldn’t he be doing something?’
‘I told him you’d be down to greet him,’ she replied, smiling at him and going back to her computer, fingers clacking at the keys hurriedly.
Gerard hesitated a moment longer before he strode towards the kid. He looked up as Gerard approached, hearing his footsteps on the marble, and instantly, he was attempting to straighten his suit, stand up straighter. Gerard bit back a laugh.
‘Ryan Ross, right?’ Gerard began, holding out a hand. The boy took it gingerly, with a smile so strained he looked almost like he was in pain.
‘Yes sir. It’s a pleasure to be here, Mr Way,’ he rushed out, and Gerard couldn’t help but grin.
‘Well, how about I set you up with my secretary, to start with? She’ll show you around and hand you over to Adam in Human Resources. He’ll be in charge of all of your training.’
Ryan nodded enthusiastically, and Gerard shook his hand quickly before paging Hayley. She appeared in the usual record time that he had come to admire and rely on, red hair flying around her face as she hurried into the foyer. From the corner of his eye, Gerard could see the boy’s eyes widen.
‘Hayley, this is Ryan Ross,’ Gerard introduced them once she came to a halt beside him, ‘Ryan, this is Hayley Williams, my secretary. Sorry to greet and run, but I’m going on this lunch break while I have the chance.’
As he continued on his way out of the building, Gerard groaned. Great. Another new guy hanging around the place. Gerard knew that this, in effect, could be something rather useful but at the same time, he loathed the fact that there were two extra people to learn to trust. Two new people to get used to.
Gerard thought of Frank Iero. The guy had seemed desperate, that much was obvious. Gerard suspected that he was not the first person to turn Frank down. Relief flooded his system at the knowledge that at least Frank had finished his degree. At least Frank should know what he was doing. Only time would tell. And oh, scarf and gloves. Gerard had to give him points for that, at least. The guy had a sense of humour. Also? He was really, really hot. That ass, and the eyes, and the tattoos. Gerard was even maybe beginning to regret the joke about covering them up. So what if Gerard couldn’t stand to have needles even in his vicinity. It didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate what they did to other people. People like Frank Iero. And-- Stop it. Stop it now, Gerard.
He was just about to step foot into the café across the road when his pager beeped.
Way - Need you in the office. Client complaint.
He hesitated, staring at the notice before glancing back at the café longingly. With a sigh, he stuffed the pager back in his pocket and turned on his heel, heading back to the office.
Frank kind of already wanted to shoot himself. It wasn’t that the job was horrible, or that he regretted the decision, or even that he was already being worked so hard. It was himself. No matter how hard he tried to stick his nose into the case and not resurface, his mind strayed to Mr Way. It was ridiculous, but in a way, Frank was almost disappointed that he hadn’t made any effort to greet Frank on his first day. Not that he was required to or anything, and Frank understood that he must have been overly busy, but still. It might have been nice. Frank fought images of Way smiling at him all afternoon until at 3pm, Adam appeared in his office.
‘Iero, what are you doing?’
Frank’s head snapped up, and he frowned. ‘I, uh. Working?’
Adam laughed, and Frank was beginning to think that Adam’s amusement stemmed entirely from other people’s stupidity. ‘Have you had a break yet?’
Frank thought back over the course of the past six hours. ‘Come to think of it, no.’
Shaking his head, Adam gestured for Frank to get up. ‘C’mon. Lunch break. Don’t want you dying on your first day.’
And okay, maybe Adam redeemed himself in Frank’s book just a little. He got up, followed Adam out the door and into the foyer, where they were suddenly met by Mr Way as he returned to the building.
‘Gerard! What are you doing? I saw you walk out of here five minutes ago.’ Adam frowned, and Way sighed, almost as if he’d been trying to avoid the very people now standing in front of him.
‘You mean you saw me leave, and didn’t try and annoy me?’
Adam raised one eyebrow. ‘Would you prefer it if I did, sir?’
Frank still couldn’t really get a grasp on how things were run here. It amazed him that Adam was able to speak freely in front of his boss, and Frank wondered just how long the two had been working together.
‘No. Frank, hi,’ Way brushed Adam off, turning instead to Frank. In return, Frank nodded, offering a smile and trying not to open his mouth because if he did, he was pretty much guaranteed to make an idiot out of himself. Way’s lips curved into an amused half-smile, and he looked from Adam to Frank, and back again.
‘Thought you said he was wearing the scarf and glove combination?’
Frank went red. ‘It got a little hot, Mr Way.”
He laughed then, a small, amused chuckle, and it looked like he was holding back. Frank wondered when the last time Way had laughed properly was, and then caught himself. Surely that wasn’t being very professional.
‘You’re surviving?’ Way asked suddenly, and Frank nodded, surprised. He thought he was surviving pretty well, really. If you don’t take into account the constant fantasising and dreaming about his boss.
‘Then welcome to the team, Frank.’
Frank couldn’t keep the grin off his face even if he wanted to.
She appeared immediately, a party blower in one hand and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream in the other. Frank eyed them both a little warily. ‘What’s this?’
She shrugged, lifting one and then the other, acting as a human scale. ‘I figure, party blowers if this new job is a hit... Ben and Jerry’s if it’s well...not so much a hit.’
Frank laughed, encircling his arms around her and hugging her close delightfully. ‘You’re the best, Jam.’
She sighed dramatically as she disentangled herself, a wicked grin on her face. ‘I know. So what’s it gonna be, Frank?’
He paused, eyes shining before he lunged for the party blower and blew it loudly, the sound squeaking through the air. ‘Definitely a keeper.’
Jamia squealed and hugged him again, and they jumped around the room like immature five year olds for a few moments. Frank revelled in the feeling of knowing that Jamia was proud of him. That he had a real job now, a steady source of income, and well...a pretty fucking hot boss. That didn’t hurt, either.
‘So, how’d it go?’ she asked, and Frank couldn’t help himself.
‘Way is the hottest specimen I have ever laid eyes on,’ he admitted, and she bounded into the living room, shoving the ice cream at him. He followed, grabbing two spoons from the drawer in the kitchen on the way, before they both collapsed onto the couch.
‘Okay, okay spill,’ she demanded, reaching forward and tugging the ice cream out of his hands, prying the lid off and digging her spoon in. Frank pushed his own spoon into the frozen desert and took a bite before he replied, choosing his words carefully.
‘You’ll have to see him, somehow. I can’t really do him justice with words. But god, Jamia. I don’t know whether I’ll even get any work done in that place with him around.’
‘Is he gay?’
Frank laughed, digging his spoon into the ice cream again. ‘How should I know?’
‘Well, I suppose you’ll just have to figure that one out. Flirt a little, see if he responds.’
‘And get fired,’ Frank reminded her.
And this was why Frank loved Jamia. He would have married her if there wasn’t the whole Frank-likes-boys thing. Back in college, there had been numerous rumours about him and Jamia dating, and they had entertained them for a while. Frank so that he could explain the lack of girlfriends without admitting to being gay, and Jamia so that she would stop being set up on blind dates by well-meaning classmates. It had worked well -- almost too well -- to the point where the two began to question their relationship themselves. One awkward fuck and an even worse morning after later, it was quickly decided that yeah, no. That was never, ever going to happen.
‘Just give it a go, Frank. What’s the worst that could happen?’