theficisalie (theficisalie) wrote,

The Evolution Index 3/7

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Frank shrugged out of his jacket, and then his scarf. He stuffed his knitted cap in the pocket of his coat, and put his gloves in the other pocket, squishing them down so they wouldn’t fall out. His sweater he put over the whole mess, which he zipped up to make sure nothing fell out. The girl at the coat check counter snapped her gum and looked at Frank like he was the biggest nuisance on the planet. “Is that all?”

Frank tried not to smirk, but he’d worked eight hours today and he was not in the mood to deal with snarky adolescent girls. “Yes, that’s everything. Thanks.” He was still hot, even stripped down to his t-shirt and jeans, but he wasn’t about to take anything more off in front of the annoying coat check girl.

“My pleasure,” she drawled, rolling her eyes before turning back to the magazine she’d been reading when Frank had walked up to her.

Frank tapped a finger on the counter. “Don’t I get a number?”

The girl glared at him. If looks could kill, Frank would probably be murdered in the alley behind the club by now. “Sure, if you’re a picky fucking freak.” She snapped a ticket off a roll of red paper.

“Didn’t your mom teach you to use better language?” Frank asked, accepting the red piece of paper, which said 41 on it.

“Fuck you, I’m 21,” the girl said. “What’d you do to get in here, pintsize? Suck our bouncer’s dick in front of the rest of the people out there? You’re the tiniest fuckin’ slut I’ve ever seen.”

Frank was a secret agent. He worked for the government, and snuck into restricted areas and ignored ‘no trespassing’ signs and he was a ninja. He had goddamn superpowers. But he did not have a snappy comeback for the girl with the stupid red streak in her dumb brown hair. So he just stuck out his tongue and pushed his way into the club.

He had actually been carded at the door, which was bullshit. The bouncer had even passed over his ID with some kind of fucking black light scanner before he’d pronounced it as legit. If Frank hadn’t been undercover, he would have flashed his fucking government tags at the big black-haired asshole who’d given him a once over and demanded that four other people from the club check his driver’s license.

Fuck everyone in this stupid place. Bryar’s club was small and kind of dingy; the paint on the walls was cracking and the lights were dim, and the main room was packed from wall to wall with bodies. There was barely any room for Frank to walk: he had to actually elbow people out of his way to get anywhere, because nobody would move out of his way. Mikey had said they were meeting at the bar, but he had conveniently forgotten to mention the fact that there was no way Frank was ever going to make it to the bar. The music playing through the club was some kind of dance beat, but the couples that Frank pushed through were standing around more than dancing, and yet, he still almost got stepped on about a billion times.

The sight of people on the edges of the club making out made him irrationally frustrated: Gerard had needed to fly off to Institute Headquarters in New York a week ago for what were supposedly some very important meetings with revision boards or something. It all sounded necessary, and Gerard had cited something about their living budgets being declared to the government for tax purposes and something else about having to take a closer look at what their team was specifically doing, and needing Sarge’s approval for some game changers and new tech...

But he had been gone for a week and he hadn’t come back. He’d been texting Mikey, apparently, but he hadn’t sent so much as an email to Frank. Jacking himself off in the shower had once been enough to satisfy him, but now Frank found that he really, really missed Gerard, and not just because the man fulfilled all of Frank’s sexual needs, but because now he didn’t have anyone to cuddle with on the couch or bring coffee to in the morning. Well. He had Mikey, but Pete had dropped by at the beginning of the last week, and Frank was stuck on the arm chair while the loverbirds took up the rest of the living room.

Frank and Gerard hadn’t been separated for more than a handful of days in almost three years, and it felt like losing a limb. He kept walking into rooms and saying something that he’d been thinking about all day because he was pretty sure it would make Gerard laugh, but of course, only Mikey was there, with a scathing, you’re-a-fucking-idiot look on his face. Best friend, schmest friend. At least Mikey had been happier when Pete had been around. Frank imagined that, for Mikey, Pete going away was probably somewhat similar to what Frank was feeling right now, and he felt a bit guilty about all the jealousy he’d been harbouring this past week.

Frank ducked to avoid a wildly swinging elbow and then yelped when he almost got crushed beneath a giant, clearly already drunk elephant of a man. “Watch it, you stupid fuck!” Frank snapped, trying to shove the guy away.

“Oops, sorry lil guy,” the man said, snorting. He reached a hand out and tried to ruffle Frank’s hair. “Didn’t see ya there.”

“Fuck off,” Frank snapped. He grabbed the man’s wrist and twisted around so he could yank the man over his shoulder. The crowd in his immediate vicinity quieted down and parted when Frank moved away from the jackass, finally able to sit at the bar. There was even a space next to a skinny guy with stupid hair, and Frank slipped in, relieved. The leather covering the barstools was peeling around the bottom and the paint on the counters was chipped in some places, but Frank got the feeling like this place was really just well-loved. “Hey Mikes, did you order me something, ‘cos after that fucking dipshit of a crowd, I need something hella strong.”

The guy Frank had thought was Mikey turned to the side, and it was a forty-year-old woman who was missing three teeth when she smiled. “I ain’t Mikey, but I’m sure I can be somethin, sugar pie,” the woman rasped. Her throat sounded like it was one giant cigarette.

Frank just gaped, jumping with shock when a hand landed on his shoulder. He’d gotten better at keeping his power under his skin during work, but it was really inconvenient when he was used to seeing shit coming at him from a mile away.

“Frank,” Mikey said. His face was blank but he was laughing on the inside. Frank could practically smell it. And he was wearing the grey toque Frank had given him for Christmas a billion year ago in the sweltering heat of the club. “You’re gonna make my brother jealous if you’re not careful.”

Frank made a face and opened his mouth but the woman laughed. “All the best ones are gay, huh?” she said, coughing twice before slipping off her stool. “Here, you take this seat, fancy-boy. Come see me if you’re still lonely after you’ve had a few drinks.”

“Holy shit, that was fun,” Mikey crowed. He let Frank climb onto the stool and then pointed at his wrist. “They made you wear an armband.”

“If you don’t pour me a shot of whiskey, I am going to kill someone,” Frank promised.

Mikey wasn’t done laughing, apparently, so Frank waved down the bartender and ordered the drink himself. He got one for Mikey too, even though he was an asshole for making Frank go through all that hell just for work.

“Speaking of work,” Mikey said when the bartender poured two shots in front of Frank. “We really shouldn’t be drinking.”

Frank raised an eyebrow and downed a shot. It burned all the way down his throat, but he just winced and shook the small glass at Mikey.

“Ah, what the hell,” Mikey said, grabbing the other. “I’ve already had three.”

“You’re so fucking unprofessional,” Frank said, nodding when the bartender raised the bottle. “Aren’t you a lightweight?”

“No way, motherfucker,” Mikey giggled, shoving his glasses up his nose.

“You’re skinny as fuck, though,” Frank said, jabbing a finger between Mikey’s ribs before he downed the second shot. The warmth from the alcohol was spreading down and out, but it wasn’t quite enough to make his fingers tingly, so he knocked on the surface of the bar and got a third. “There, I’m almost caught up now,” he said, choking a bit when he breathed in too fast.

Mikey snorted. “Sure.”

“Fuck you!” Frank exclaimed. “I went to all the same Saporta-thrown parties as you did, jackass.”

“Bitch,” Mikey said, straight-faced.

“Jerk!” Frank shot back.

“Zing,” Mikey said, giggling when Frank poked him again. “Stop that! We’re super spies, remember? We gotta be cool. There are ladies here, Frank.”

“Yeah, and both of us are fucking taken, dude,” Frank said, scratching his nail at a chipped bit of paint.

Mikey shrugged. “Doesn’t mean we can’t look. Well. Doesn’t mean I can’t look. If I catch you lookin, I’ll kick your fuckin ass.”

“Yeah, with your bony feet, I’m so afraid,” Frank muttered. “You strike fear into my heart, Mikeyway.”

“I could, I’d kick your ass all the way back to Manhattan,” Mikey said, and then his eyes went blank. “Bob’s coming over. Did you knock someone out?”

“I just flipped one guy,” Frank said, sighing. “Are they really that mad?”

“Yes,” Mikey said, eyes flickering like he was reading an invisible book, which meant he was in someone’s brain. His face stiffened momentarily before he relaxed all over, back in his body. “But it’s Bob. I’m sure...we’ll be okay. Let your power go, keep an eye on our backs, wouldya?”

“Right,” Frank said. He breathed out, and let his power wash out from him, over a finger that was about to tap on his shoulder. Frank turned around, an eyebrow raised. “Yes?”

The big blonde man who had been about to touch him frowned.

That’s Bob, Mikey said.

I fucking know, Frank said back.

Whatever, you can’t complain that I don’t tell you things, Mikey said.

“I got a report of a disturbance over in this area,” Bob said. “Tiny guy with tattoos shoving people around. Was that you?”

Is Bob a security guy? Frank asked. “Yeah it was,” he said out loud. “Dude stepped on my foot and touched my head, and I flipped his rude fucking ass judo-style and walked away.”

No, he’s Bob, as in Bob Bryar, as in Bryar’s, Mikey said back. “Sorry, Bob. Frank’s new. And tiny.”

“I can see that,” Bob said. This guy owned a string of successful clubs in Chicago? He must be a big deal. “Now, you know Mikey here, so I’m gonna let you off on this one. But don’t be causing any more trouble, you hear me?”

“Bob,” Frank said. “Bob Bryar.”

Bob’s eyes narrowed. His beard was majestic, but that may have been the alcohol talking. “Er.”

“I’m Frank,” Frank said, reaching a hand out. “And you’re very tall.”

You’re not allowed to climb him, Mikey said, before Frank even got the entire thought into his mind. Frank pouted back at Mikey, but Mikey shook his head.

“Why not?” Frank asked, shaking Bob’s hand without looking at the man. Mikey kept his gaze steely, the effect of which was slightly ruined by the fact that his glasses were slowly sliding down his nose.

Because, motherfucker. We need Bryar on our side. Or have you not noticed the hoardes of supers in here? Mikey frowned, and pointed a finger at Frank. You haven’t! Oh my god.

Frank squinted at Mikey and then glanced around them, sweeping his power out like a wave. There - the bartender held his hand out and a bottle flew to him from a foot away. Three arms from the same body reached out to slam three shots back. A forked tongue slipped from a woman’s mouth to wet her lips. Outside, a man lit his friend’s cigarette using the fire that sprouted from his fingers. The bouncer held up a hand and a man attempting to push past him into the club encountered a solid wall. On stage, a man holding a guitar coughed and a small breeze made his microphone stand sway.

“Holy shit,” Frank said. He opened his eyes, which he hadn’t realized he had closed, and let go of Bob’s hand, which he’d still been holding.

“And I thought having one of him was spooky,” Bob muttered, glancing at Mikey.

“They’re everywhere,” Frank said, feeling Mikey nod behind him. “How...”

“Territory lines criss-cross right here,” Mikey said. “This is a neutral zone.”

“I don’t feel like I’m part of the conversation any more,” Bob said, clearing his throat. “I’m going to go now. And you are not going to tackle anyone else.”

Frank nodded and waved as Bob walked off through the crowd. The big blonde man probably had some kind of power, since everyone else in here seemed to, but whatever it was, it wasn’t anything visible. And asking someone what their superpower was...well, it seemed like a rude thing to do, unless you happened to be in an institute.

“Fuck,” Frank muttered.

Mikey nodded. “This place is pretty cool.”

Frank wished he’d been able to come out to Bryar’s a lot more than he had. They’d moved to Chicago a few months ago though, and while Frank had been able to go to shows and clubs with Mikey on their last few placements, this time he always seemed to have something to do. There had been the settling in, the moving of furniture, the finding of a job (with Mikey’s help), and then he felt like he’d been working since they’d landed in the windy city. Back in Baltimore, Frank and Gerard had followed Mikey from punk show to punk show whenever they’d had time off, but now Gerard always had paperwork, and the little time he could spend with Frank, neither of them were really ever in the mood, and they never quite had enough energy to leave their little apartment.

Even in this tiny club, with the bodies all pressing up against Frank and with his mild claustrophobia trying to work its way to the surface, Frank found he missed the atmosphere of a place that was just waiting to be filled with music.

“Let’s go find Alicia,” Frank said. His feet still hurt from standing on them all day, but he wasn’t tired any more, and he wanted to be up at the front, right in the crowd, when the band finished setting up.

We can’t talk to her until after the band’s done, Mikey said, using telepathy to beat the noise of the crowd as they shoved their way through it. He knew where Alicia was, probably from the sound of her brain, although Frank wasn’t quite sure how that all worked. “Alicia!” Mikey called, when they were about a foot away from her. She turned and her face was split by a grin. Her eyes were heavily lined with kohl, and she was wearing a band t-shirt. Frank silently broadcasted his approval and grinned when Mikey tapped his head. “You remember Frank!”

“I do!” Alicia said, practically shouting. “I’m glad you could come!”

It had been a few weeks since Frank had last seen her; with Starbucks and paperwork and Gerard and going from door to door, he’d barely had enough time to breathe let alone come down to Bryar’s with Mikey in his few precious moments of spare time. But she still looked as happy to see him as the last time, and Frank found himself drawn into a hug. “You look great!” he said, right into her ear.

Alicia laughed when she pulled back. “Wait til you see Linds!” she shouted. “They’re almost ready to go on.”

Frank raised an eyebrow at Mikey, who flashed an image of a bass guitar into Frank’s brain. “She plays bass?!” Frank asked, just as the lights dimmed.

“Heyo, how’s everybody doing tonight!?” a voice said, volume boosted through the amplifiers in the pitch blackness of the club. Voices cheered, and a spotlight came on, illuminating the lead singer, whose hair was bright pink and spiked in every direction. “I can’t hear you!” the man shouted into the microphone. “I said, how’re y’all doin’ tonight!?”

Frank found himself shouting along with Mikey and Alicia and the rest of the crowd, and the man grinned. “We are. Mindless. Self. Indulgence. And we’re here. To rock. Your. Fuckin’. Faces. Off!” He screamed into the mic, just as someone started pounding on a kick drum. The bass picked up right after, and a guitar filled in the empty spaces as the lights came on. The music was loud and electric, and it pushed into every corner of the room, lighting the place up with sound. Every body moved, and though Frank didn’t know the words, he pushed himself along with the music, elbowing anyone who tried to shove him away.

On stage, Lindsey was on fire, in the shortest skirt Frank had ever seen on a bassist. Her face was one big grin until halfway through the set, when she looked back at the drum set. When she turned back to face the crowd, her face was set. She didn’t miss a beat, but Frank could hear the difference. That didn’t stop him from moving with the crowd. By the time the band played their final chord, he felt like he’d been swimming in a pool made of sweat and elbows. He didn’t know where Mikey was, but he figured that if he picked a direction, Mikey would find him.

Sure enough, he was at the edge of the crowd when Frank emerged from the fray, an arm around Alicia’s shoulders. Ray was there, too, looking almost as sweaty and happy as Frank.

“Ray?” Frank asked, frowning. Ray had left with Gerard; as the two senior-most members of their team, the two of them had both been going to the meetings with the big government people together.

“Later,” Ray said, picking at the collar of his sweaty shirt. Frank didn’t even bother with his: the fabric of his shirt was pretty much completely see-through, and plastered to his skin. He just launched himself at Ray, ignoring the sounds of protest in favour of burying his face in Ray’s shoulder.

“I missed you, dude,” Frank said, even though Ray probably couldn’t hear him.

Ray ruffled the back of Frank’s hair, and then Mikey was tugging at Frank’s sleeve. “Backstage, Frank,” he shouted, shoving his glasses up his nose with the back of his hand.

Frank nodded, even though he was reluctant to step away from Ray. His skin felt like it was on fire, and not in the way it did when he was pretty sure he had a fever. That had only happened once in the last 10-odd years, but he was reluctant to repeat the process.

Alicia led the way, somehow weaving through the crowd with what looked like minimal shoving and damage to herself. Frank just barreled through with no regard for his limbs or torso. He could have put up his shields, but he was already going to be sporting some pretty nasty bruises: a few more weren’t going to make any difference. The room Alicia led them to was blessedly quiet and empty of people, which made no sense until a door opened and the band flooded in.

They looked tired, but in that kind of satisfied way that Frank knew followed being on stage and doing something creative. It was the same thing that was in the face of everyone Frank had ever seen who did what they loved. He saw it in Tim’s eyes when the man took drink orders, and he’d seen it in Bryar earlier.

“Hey, you guys were fuckin’ amazing,” Frank said, when the band caught sight of them.

“Frankie!” Lindsey exclaimed. Her face practically lit up, and Frank could feel Ray suspiciously looking at him when she bounded over and wrapped him up in a hug. “Mikey told us how you guys are gonna help us find Kitty, and I’m so fuckin’ thankful.”

“Yeah,” Frank said, hugging her tightly. She was nice and warm and just as sweaty as he was. “We’re pretty good at finding people.”

“She just disappeared,” Lindsey said, looking at Alicia. “She was coming home from work, she texted Alicia, and then she just never showed up.”

“Does she walk?” Frank asked.

Lindsey nodded, gesturing for Alicia to talk as she went to pack up her bass. “Every day,” Alicia said. “To protect the environment. Also because we had nowhere to put a car.”

“And she just...vanished,” Frank said. “Did she ever pass landmarks or stores or neighbours on her way home?”

Lindsey straightened up from the ground and slung her bass over her shoulders, reaching a hand out to squeeze Alicia’s when the woman bit her lip.

“Yes,” Alicia said, apparently gaining strength from Lindsey. “We asked them all. She made it all the way up to our house, according to the lady who lives across the street from us.”

“What a bitch,” Lindsey muttered.

“She said Kitty walked up to our front step and then when she looked away --”

“Probably to grab her creepy stalker camera or her notepad of grievances,” Lindsey muttered.

Alicia huffed out a breath. “You want to tell the story?”

“No, your highness,” Lindsey said.

“Anyway, Ms. Yates said that when she looked back, Kitty was gone. But both of us were home and neither of us heard her come in, so she was abducted in our fucking building.

“We’ve been going out in pairs ever since,” Lindsey said.

“We’re not safe in our own home any more. How did she disappear? There’s no way she would have left without coming up to the apartment.”

Frank looked at Mikey, whose face was still expressionless. Fucking telepaths were always so useless whenever anyone had to do interrogations. Sure, they always got the information, but they left their partners feeling super awkward and making small talk until they could leave. He looked at Ray instead.

“We’ll look into it,” Ray said. “Maybe there’s a rogue super out there who can teleport, eh, Frank?”

“Maybe the work of a gang,” Frank said. He caught Mikey’s eye when the man swayed a little and blinked his way back into his own body.

No ordinary gang, Mikey said.

“Thanks for your time, ladies. This information is invaluable,” Frank said.

“It was great to meet you, even if it wasn’t for very long,” Ray said, smiling as he shook Lindsey and Alicia’s hands. “And you guys fucking killed it up on stage.”

“It’s not the same without Kitty,” Lindsey said. “You’ll have to come to one of our shows when we get her back.”

Not an if. These girls believed that they could and would find Kitty. That was a lot of pressure.

“Definitely,” Mikey said.

“So you aren’t going to stick around for the afterparty, then?” Lindsey asked, nibbling on her lower lip. “I know some girls who are looking for a dark, mysterious stranger with friendly eyes and killer hips.”

“Uh,” Frank said, looking desperately at Mikey.

Mikey rolled his eyes. “Unfortunately for all the single ladies and for my sanity, Frank is banging my brother.”

Lindsey’s mouth formed a silent ‘o’ and Alicia burst out laughing. “I so told you he was gay,” she said, between giggles. “You owe me five bucks.”

“I’m not!” Frank protested, rubbing a hand on the back of his head. “I’m bi.”

“Oh fuck yes,” Lindsey said, flicking Alicia’s temple. “You owe me five.”

“But I am seeing someone.” Frank ducked his head and tried not to think about Gerard’s eyes. “So.”

“Your someone isn’t here right now, though, are they?” Lindsey asked.

“No, his someone is on a business trip,” Ray said.

Frank so badly wanted to ask why Gerard wasn’t back yet, but with civilians in the room, he figured it wouldn’t be such a good idea. “Yeah, business,” Frank said. “Speaking of which, we have to go. Duty calls, you know.”

“Well, thanks. In advance,” Alicia said.

“And if you ever get rid of your someone, you give me a call,” Lindsey said, with a wink.

Ray snickered when they walked out, slapping Frank’s back. “Hey, do you think if I went back in there and acted all mysterious, she’d want to go out with me?”

“She’s attracted to small people and artists,” Mikey said, piping up. “Black, straight hair. And big arms, so I guess she might go for you, but.”

“You’re saying I should shave a few inches off the top,” Ray said. “Fucking sucks. If only I could fit in her pocket then maybe she would love me.”

“Fuck you both,” Frank muttered as they navigated through the club. They made their way around the crowds without Frank shoving anybody. The girl at coat check gave them back their jackets with only one snarky comment about Frank being a twelve-year-old (fuck everybody, seriously). Once they were all bundled up and outside, Frank turned to Ray. He walked backwards, keeping time with them and avoiding obstacles by spreading out a net of his powers.  “Okay, seriously,” he said, shoving his gloved hands in his pockets. “Why isn’t Gee back yet?”

Ray glanced at Mikey, who shook his head a fraction. “He, uh. He had to take care of some business that only...upper level agents can participate in.”

“What was that,” Frank asked, gesturing at Ray and Mikey with his nose. “That look. What do you guys know that I don’t?”

“It’s nothing,” Mikey said, in his lying tone of voice.

Ray nodded.

“Both of you are lying to me,” Frank said, skirting around a fire hydrant without looking. He wanted to keep an eye on Ray, because it was pretty easy to tell when the man wasn’t telling the truth. Frank turned sideways to slip through a group of three people, watching Ray’s face the whole time.

“It’s creepy as shit when you do that,” Ray complained.

“Tell me,” Frank said. “I’m not a baby and I’m part of this team. You have to tell me what he’s doing if it involves the investigation in any way.”

“Birthday present,” Mikey said. “He’s trying to find you one.”

“Why couldn’t he come back and get it here?” Frank asked, frowning. “Seriously, you guys are making me worry here.”

“It’s nothing,” Mikey said. “Don’t make me use my brain powers on you to make you stop asking questions.”

“You wouldn’t,” Frank said. “Come on, what. Is it about me? It’s something you guys think I’ll freak out about so you’re treating me like a fucking baby.”

“No, it isn’t that,” Ray said, but his protest was half-hearted.

“Then fucking what?” Frank asked.

“He went to see someone who can find people,” Mikey said, eyes narrowed. “The person I went to when you and Gee disappeared.”

“And you think that’ll make me flip out?” Frank asked. “Why the fuck would I be mad about that?”

Mikey took a deep breath, looking up at the sky as though he was asking for strength. He had a huge scarf wrapped around his neck so many times so Frank could only really see his eyes, and his grey toque was pulled down to his eyebrows, but Frank could read the exasperated look on his face just fine.

“Because the person I went to is your mom,” Mikey said, finally, meeting Frank’s eyes dead on.

Frank tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and landed on his ass. “Your mom like haha, I banged your mom, right?” he asked, voice shaky even to his own ears.

Mikey shook his head, stopping so he was right above him. “Linda Iero, not registered with the Board of SuperHumans but possessed of a superpower all the same. Ability: finding people. Gee asked who I’d got to find you two and I had to give him your mom’s name because people are disappearing and probably dying.”

Frank was under five layers, but the chill of the sidewalk beneath him felt like it was seeping into his very bones. The cement was made of ice.

“So you were all just not going to tell me that we were dealing with her,” Frank asked. He felt kind of empty, like maybe someone had hollowed him out with a spoon. “Does she seriously have a superpower?”

Mikey nodded and crouched down. “I’m sorry. She said she never wanted you to go. Your dad, he...he was kind of an overpowering presence. She divorced him when he kicked you out and said she’s been trying to find a way to connect with you ever since.”

In his heart, Frank knew that his mom wanted him back. That she hadn’t ever had any bad feelings towards him. She had been the one to get him into sports, the one who had brought him to the meditation specialist. She cared about his well-being, she loved him, but. She also hadn’t lifted a finger when Frank’s dad had shouted at him and forced him to pack a bag of things before leaving.

Frank didn’t know what to do. Sometimes he missed his mom like crazy, and knowing that she was out there and probably just a few phone calls away made everything kind of shitty, but then he remembered how he kind of really didn’t want to talk to her, like, fucking ever.

“You don’t have to,” Mikey said.

“I don’t know,” Frank whispered, almost pleading, he knew. “I don’t know...anything.”

“I mean, if you want to talk to her, you can,” Mikey said. “She’ll be available. But none of us are going to make you, okay. We’ve got your back, even though you’re kind of a shit.”

“I just kind of put all that behind me,” Frank muttered.

“Frank, you don’t have to talk to her,” Ray said. “But you do have to get up, because you’re lying in the middle of the sidewalk and I think I might die of hypothermia in a few minutes.”

“Right,” Frank muttered. Mikey offered him a hand, but he could get up on his fucking own, thank you very much, and stay out of my head for good measure. He thought furiously of water and of steering his ship right into the wall of water coming for him, and he didn’t take any pleasure in the way Mikey’s face fell.


*


Gerard got back late. Frank had just managed to fall asleep, and he woke up briefly when the mattress dipped. He was lying on his back, facing the ceiling.

The sheets rustled, and Frank felt warmth move tentatively beneath the blankets. Gerard didn’t say anything, and Frank turned away.

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