Pairing: Frank/Gerard, (Brendon/Ryan)
Disclaimer: Not real.
Summary: Prison is exactly as Gerard imagined it; cold food, strange cellmate, stupid guards. The one thing he didn't expect was the prisoner across the way. Spinoff/semi-sequel to Color of Insanity.
A/N: I know I talked about this one, like, months ago, but it's finally here. The MCR Prison AU. It didn't quite turn out how I'd imagined... but I kind of like this better.
Gerard’s eyes swept over the grey halls as he was shunted down, the handcuffs rubbing coldly against his wrists and the guard behind him none too gentle either. His fingers itched for a cigarette, but they’d all been taken from him when he’d first arrived and been forced to change into the ugly grey-striped pants and shirt. He hated grey.
The guard, whose name he didn’t know or care to know, shoved him forward when he slowed to glance in a few of the cells as they passed. Scowling, Gerard walked grudgingly forward.
Most of the cells were doubles with two prisoners watching with curious eyes, hooded and dark, not revealing any of their thoughts. Gerard didn’t look for long, tearing his eyes away before any eye contact was made. Muttering followed him as he passed.
The guard finally stopped near the middle of the row of cells and fumbled for a set of keys on his belt. Impatient, Gerard waited for the man to open the door and shove him inside. His handcuffs were quickly undone and he turned to the gate.
“What, no goodnight kiss?” Gerard asked, not even flinching when the door slammed shut and was locked tightly.
The guard’s lip curled. “You’re in our house now, Way. You got caught and now you’re getting what’s coming to you.”
“Can’t wait,” Gerard drawled disdainfully and watched as the guard turned and lumbered down the way.
Sighing, he turned around and surveyed the room. It was small, with a bunk bed on one side of the wall and a toilet in the other corner with a tiny sink.
Everything was varying shades of grey, and already, Gerard knew he was going to hate it here. Not that he’d been expecting to like prison, but he’d hoped for something a little less monochromatic.
He continued his sweep of the room and was surprised as he caught sight of another man. The man appeared to be in his mid to early twenties and was clothed in the same ugly grey uniform. He was sitting on the bed, his feet swinging a little as he watched Gerard carefully.
Raising an eyebrow, Gerard paused. “Who are you?” he asked finally when no one spoke.
The young man remained on the bed, quietly observing Gerard for a second. Gerard didn’t like the look and scowled slightly.
“I’m Brendon,” the boy said finally, his brown eyes sweeping up and down Gerard. “Who are you?”
“Gerard.” Gerard was cautious, eyeing Brendon carefully and sliding around him to the other side of the wall. Brendon merely watched him go.
“What’d you do?”
Gerard paused, evaluating Brendon closely. He didn’t look harmful, but looks could be deceiving. Gerard knew that well. And besides, he was in prison, so he must have done something.
“Killed a man.”
“Just one?” Brendon’s gaze was curious but careful as he watched Gerard carefully.
Gerard shrugged. “I don’t count.”
Brendon was silent for a moment, seemingly taking in Gerard. “How long are you in for?”
“A while.” Gerard paused. “What’d you do?”
There was a pause and then a smile crept across Brendon’s face.
“I’m a thief,” he replied quietly, scuffing his shoe on the floor.
“What did you steal?”
“Nothing.” Brendon’s smirk wasn’t reassuring.
Gerard hesitated, eyeing Brendon carefully. “Nothing? Then how’d you end up here?”
Gerard knew all about that. Sighing, he turned to the beds.
“Which one’s mine?”
“Top,” Brendon replied. “Unless you want to switch.”
“Whatever.” Gerard glanced at Brendon. “So how long are you here for?” He climbed on top of the bed, testing out the mattress.
“Three to five, but it’s already been one.”
“Planning on getting out on good behavior?” Gerard scoffed, staring down at Brendon, who just met his eyes and smiled.
Frowning, Gerard looked away. He wasn’t here to make friends with his roommate. He wasn’t here for any reason at all except that the judge had decided the state penitentiary system had been the best place for him.
Flopping down on his lumpy bed, he scowled at the floor. Brendon fell silent, settled on the bottom bunk. Gerard supposed this was what his life was going to be like for the next few years. There was no definite sentence since they hadn’t been able to prove much except that he was there during the murder and he wouldn’t tell anyone what happened.
He had his own protection from the legal system. Being in the New Jersey mafia had that benefit at the very least.
Sighing, Gerard looked around. There wasn’t much to see in the cell aside from grey walls and floor. There was absolutely nothing to do.
In the cell across, Gerard paused. A young man sat on the bed, propped against the wall, a book in his hands. Tattoos were scattered across his arms and neck and piercings littered his face. The man shifted, seemingly knowing he was being watched, and lowered the book half an inch, staring over it at Gerard across the way.
Gerard’s eyes widened only slightly and he saw the flash of recognition in the other’s eyes as well. Then the book was back up and Gerard leaned over to find Brendon messing with the hem of his grey blanket.
“You know that guy?” he asked, keeping his voice low, and Brendon glanced up, following Gerard’s nod to the other cell.
“Frank Iero,” Brendon replied promptly. “In for conspiracy for murder.”
Gerard nodded. He knew who Frank had tried to murder.
“What do you know about him?”
Brendon paused, looking long at Frank. “He’s been here two years, but he won’t say who he tried to kill. They convicted him pretty firmly, but he’s only looking at five to ten years.”
Gerard just glanced back at Frank, who had his book up stubbornly. Gerard couldn’t see the cover but his eyes narrowed slightly.
“You talk to him ever?”
Brendon shrugged. “He’s a nice enough guy, for a murderer.”
Gerard glanced back at Brendon, but Brendon wasn’t looking at him, instead picking at the hem again.
“We’re not all bad, you know,” he said finally, sitting back against the cold stone wall. “We’re not all cold-blooded killers.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Because I have a job and other people have their jobs and if they don’t do theirs, I get caught.”
Brendon was silent for a minute and then smiled. “Sounds familiar.”
Gerard settled back against the wall, his eyes on Frank across the way, watching him closely. Frank continued to ignore his eyes with the book hiked up high.
Gerard knew Frank, had known Frank for nearly ten years in fact. He knew why Frank was in jail with that book pressed against his face, why he didn’t meet Gerard’s eye.
Gerard just sighed then and sat back, wondering just how long it would take Frank to lower that book.
Prison was… not so interesting. Not as though Gerard had expected it to be. He was sneered at by the guards and shoved outside for “exercise” time with the rest of the inmates.
On the second day, after a breakfast of cold cereal served with a plastic spoon, Gerard found himself sitting in the exercise area. It was cold out and he chose to stand back against the wall of the compound. He wasn’t into talking to the other inmates, having his head bashed in because he was fresh meat.
Brendon kept him company for some of the time but couldn’t be stopped when another guy wandered over to them and looked Gerard up and down.
“Gerard, this is Ryan,” Brendon introduced them and Gerard saw the way Brendon’s fingers brushed against Ryan’s as he pushed him forward slightly.
“Ryan, huh?” Gerard asked slowly, looking him up and down.
“You’re Brendon’s new cellmate?” Ryan just asked slowly, taking in Gerard as well.
Gerard nodded once. “What you here for?”
Ryan glanced at Brendon and paused. “Got caught.”
“Something I shouldn’t,” Ryan just replied.
Gerard arched an eyebrow, but Ryan didn’t say anything more, only leaned into Brendon’s ear and muttered something Gerard couldn’t hear.
“I’ll be right back,” Brendon said after Ryan moved away. He turned with Ryan and disappeared through the sea of grey prison uniforms.
Gerard just scoffed to himself and pushed off the wall, wandering around the edge, careful to avoid the big guys on the other side who were talking big and gesturing wildly. At the other side of the enclosure he found Frank leaning against a wall, a cigarette in his hands. Frank’s eyes darted to Gerard as he approached but he didn’t move, only tensed a little, his fingers tightening over the cigarette.
“Frank Iero,” Gerard greeted him slowly and Frank took a long drag of the cigarette.
“Way,” he said by way of greeting, flicking ash off the end.
“You’re supposed to trade those for razor blades, you know,” Gerard offered, nodding at the cigarette. “Or didn’t Bert teach you anything?”
Frank’s gaze was sharp as Gerard mentioned the name of his boss. “You know better than to mention the boss’ name in prison.”
“He’s not my boss,” Gerard replied simply, turning and leaning on the wall too. He saw Frank’s body tense again but didn’t do anything.
Frank laughed, but it was low and tight as he took another drag of the cigarette.
Gerard scoffed, casting a dark look at Frank, who just smoked his cigarette and didn’t meet his eyes.
“Yeah, he taught me everything I knew and then I threw it away. Wait, I didn’t. You did.”
Frank’s mouth curved into a frown and he tongued the end of the cigarette. “That wasn’t my fault.”
“You could have said something,” Gerard hissed, his voice low so the guards walking around wouldn’t hear. “You could have stuck with me.”
“I tried,” Frank responded, his voice just as low. “But you know what he’s like. It was like fighting an avalanche with nowhere to hide.”
Gerard shook his head, his eyes still narrowed. “You didn’t try. You gave up, and then you tried to kill me.”
“Maybe you should have let me,” Frank hissed, finally turning and Gerard could see the tension in his shoulders, the way his fists shook. Gerard was surprised that after three years he still recognized all the signs of Frank’s temper. “Then neither of us would be here.”
“What? I’d be dead and Jepha would still be alive.”
“You killed—” Frank stopped himself as a guard strolled past, eyeing them suspiciously. He swallowed, raising the cigarette to his mouth again. “Why him? What did he do?”
Gerard shrugged. “Bert’s not the only mafia in Jersey, Frankie.”
Frank stared, his brown eyes hard and his mouth a straight line. “So you turned around and joined Ray and Bob?”
Gerard glared at him for saying the names with the other prisoners so close by. “Well, they weren’t going to kill me for sleeping with someone in the group.”
“It was a rule,” Frank muttered, taking out another cigarette and lighting it quickly, hiding the lighter as the guard passed again. It wasn’t as though they were going to do anything anyway.
“It was a stupid rule,” Gerard retorted. “And I didn’t hear you complaining when you crawled into bed every night.”
Frank blinked slowly and let out the puff of smoke. “It was clear. We shouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
Gerard watched him for a minute. “You never believed that, Frankie,” he whispered and Frank’s mouth twitched, but he stuck the cigarette between his lips and took a drag. “And I know you’ve thought about me since then. What about the night before you tried to kill me, huh? Did you think about me then?”
Frank’s mouth twitched harder and his eyebrows furrowed. Gerard watched him closely, taking in the scorpion tattoo on his neck. It was new since Gerard had last seen him.
“Yeah,” he said finally. “I wondered if you’d die quickly or take a long time.”
“You should know me better than that,” Gerard replied.
“You never give up,” Frank muttered, tapping the end of the cigarette again. “Unless you want to.”
“Were you going to make me want to?” Gerard asked, and he glanced over at Frank, who was staring at the muddy ground and watching the ashes flutter down.
“Thought about it,” Frank said after a minute, biting his lip ring.
“But you didn’t.”
Frank looked up at him then and Gerard saw a flash of the old Frank. It was only for a second but it nearly broke Gerard’s heart to look. Then Frank looked back to the ground and dropped the cigarette, crushing it with his shoe.
“Break time’s over,” was all he said before turning and heading to where the guards were lining them up to go back inside.
The book cart came around on Wednesdays, Gerard discovered, but they had nothing remotely related to comic books. He had to settle for a battered copy of Dorian Grey and flipped through the pages listlessly. He’d read the book in high school and really had no desire to reread it.
Brendon was in the bunk beneath, reading something called Focault’s Pendulum and Gerard wondered if he understood a word.
Bored, Gerard tapped his knuckles against the cement wall but that didn’t entertain him for long.
The guard was at the other end of the row of cells and talking with another. Gerard opened his book again but stopped at the first page. Sighing to himself, he let his eyes wander and wasn’t surprised when they fell on Frank across the way.
He didn’t appear to have a cellmate but kept to himself anyway. He had a book as well but Gerard couldn’t make out the cover.
He seemed to feel Gerard’s eyes again but only lifted his book up high and determinedly turned the page.
“Jepha wasn’t the target.”
Brendon was away with Ryan somewhere and Gerard wouldn’t ask. He’d found Frank in the same place as before, a cigarette between his fingers.
Frank didn’t make any motion that he acknowledged Gerard’s presence except the smoke that he exhaled quicker than normal.
Gerard leaned back against the wall, watching the rest of the prisoners who milled around, some talking, some fighting, some picking at the ground. Guards glared at them all.
“He got in the way.”
Frank lifted the cigarette back to his mouth. “Don’t they always?” he said coolly.
“Frankie,” Gerard said plainly and Frank’s mouth tightened.
“You can’t ‘Frankie’ me anymore, Gerard.”
Gerard paused. “Bert was the target.”
Frank crushed the cigarette and Gerard watched it disintegrate beneath his shoe. His only response was flicking another out of the pack and lighting it with a switch of his lighter.
Brendon gave up on his book two days in and Gerard only lifted his head when he heard it hit the wall and drop to the floor.
“Bad book?” he asked and Brendon just sighed.
“I hate being here,” he said finally. Gerard couldn’t say he argued with him.
“Not exactly Elysium,” he muttered and Brendon made a noise.
Gerard grunted as an answer. He’d spent too much time reading as a child. Everyone always said.
Brendon was silent for a minute and then sighed. “I just, I’m not supposed to be here.”
“Where are you supposed to be?” Gerard asked with a snort. It wasn’t as though they had a lot of choice in the matter.
Another pause followed, longer, and Gerard sat up slightly.
“What the hell are you doing in an East Coast prison, then?”
“Good question,” Brendon muttered. “Should ask Ryan.”
Gerard paused, thinking. “Ryan?”
Brendon was silent, but Gerard heard his muttered “shit.”
Leaning over his bed, Gerard looked down at Brendon, huddled on his bed.
“Relax,” he said, rolling his eyes. “It’s prison. That shit is expected.”
“No,” Brendon said, shaking his head. “You don’t get it. It’s not like that.”
“What’s it like?” Gerard could only imagine a few things they would be doing together alone every day at exercise time.
“Ryan and I are, I mean. Ryan’s my… partner.”
Gerard arched an eyebrow. “Yeah, I got that.”
“No, I mean.” Brendon raised a hand to his face. “I mean we work together, you know, when we’re not in prison?”
Gerard got it. “Business before pleasure then?”
“Not exactly,” Brendon muttered. “Kind of what got us in here.”
Gerard laughed once and scooted back on his bed. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Frank had to have a limitless supply of cigarettes but Gerard never asked for one even though his fingers itched for it. He just slid up to him on the wall and watched him exhale the smoke slowly and finger the butt.
“Take it you failed?” Frank said on the seventh day since Gerard arrived. His leg was up against the wall and he let the cigarette fall loosely in his fingers by his side.
Gerard let his head fall back against the hard stone. “Would I be here if I hadn’t?”
Gerard paused, taking a breath and letting it out slowly.
“You know, Frank,” he said after a minute. “I didn’t leave because Bert made me.”
Frank didn’t respond and his eyes ran down to the dirt. It was muddier than before thanks to the rain the day before.
“I left because when I said those things, you just stood there and didn’t say them back.”
Frank swallowed and remained staring at the ground.
At night, Gerard couldn’t sleep. He blamed it on the lumpy mattress, the fact that guards who hated him, who knew his name, were feet away, guns in their pockets and time on their hands. He heard Brendon snuffling into his pillow, muttering things in his sleep. Sometimes he caught words, like, Ryan, no, diamond, Spencer. Run, run. Other times it was silent.
The moonlight crept in the window and he heard the guards change, keys clinking in the dark and muttered words of warning about other prisoners.
Gerard shut his eyes, trying to block them all out, but when he shut his eyes, all he saw was darkness. His stomach twisted and he turned over, facing the blank wall, cold to the touch. He tried to block it out, to forget all the things that haunted his dreams, his waking hours.
He imagined he could hear Frank’s breathing from across the hall and wondered if he was lying awake too.
Gerard didn’t speak when he joined Frank at his usual spot on the wall. He just leaned back against it, head turned up towards the sky as he watched the bunches of grey clouds float in little pillows across the waves of blue.
Frank’s cigarette was out and smoldering between his fingers. His lip ring was in his mouth and Gerard knew he was rolling it around with his tongue.
The guards were particularly loud that day and were across the yard, breaking up a violent fight between two inmates.
“I didn’t say them,” Frank spoke finally, staring out at the mass of prisoners, “because if I had, we’d have both been dead.”
Gerard almost laughed but didn’t. “So it was better for me to die?”
Frank pulled his lip ring in again and Gerard recognized the sign of nerves.
“It was better that I be the one assigned to do it.”
Gerard glanced at him and found Frank staring at his shoes. He could see the flutter of his eyelashes when he blinked, the slight tremble to his lips, the way he scuffed the ground with his shoe.
Turning back, Gerard let out a breath, watching the fight across the way.
“Better,” he muttered.
Gerard sat in his cell, head against the cement and listening to Brendon flip through his book. He’d apparently decided to give it another chance.
Frank was across the way, lying on his bed and staring at the bunk above him. He didn’t look at Gerard and Gerard said nothing.
“Hey.” A gruff voice reached Gerard’s ears and he glanced up. One of the guards stood there, a sour expression on his face and a set of keys in his hands. “You got a visitor.”
Brendon didn’t even look up. Gerard assumed it had to be for him and slid off the bed.
The guard gave him a searching look before unlocking the gate and letting him out. The door was locked behind and Gerard followed the man to a separate room where he was checked for weapons and allowed to enter a small room.
Tables were set up here and Gerard was directed to one near a guard where someone Gerard recognized sat.
“Brian,” he said, sliding into the chair set out for him.
Brian nodded at Gerard, his eyes flicking to the guard nearby. “Gerard, you look good.”
“I’m in prison,” Gerard only said, setting his hands on the table. “Didn’t bring me a cake, did you?”
“Just came by to see how things were,” Brian replied and Gerard could tell from his tone that wasn’t all.
“Fine,” he replied. “Prison is prison. No war wounds to report.”
Brian paused and leaned forward. “Nothing funny’s happened?”
Gerard shook his head. “Why?”
“You never know,” Brian said, shrugging. “People have strange connections.”
Gerard was silent for a minute, then, “Frank’s here.”
Brian’s eyebrows came down and he paused. “You’ve seen him?”
“Talked to him.”
“And he hasn’t tried to kill you?” Brian laughed. “Amazing.”
Gerard just looked away, playing his hands on the table. Brian looked at him and paused.
“Gee, you remember what happened. It’s not a matter of talking it out. Things happened that can’t be taken back. Jepha is dead and Bert’s on his way there.”
Brian glanced at the guards again and leaned in. “Accident on the piers. Seriously, not even anyone’s fault. Of course, they’re looking at us, but there’s nothing to prove. Don’t worry about it.”
Gerard frowned, thinking of all the possible repercussions. “They’re not looking at me, are they?”
“Of course not,” Brian assured him. “You’re in jail. How could you have possibly?”
Gerard scoffed. “They could find a way.”
Sighing, Brian touched Gerard’s hand carefully. “When you get out, Bert’ll be gone. You should keep that in mind.” He nodded seriously at Gerard, who met his eyes slowly as he rose from the table. “I’ll tell the boys you’re doing all right, yeah?”
Gerard nodded slowly. “Yeah, tell them I send my love.”
Brian grinned and pushed back his chair, signaling for the guard. Gerard watched him leave as he was hauled in the opposite direction back towards his cell.
“So he’s gone.”
Gerard looked up from his shoes. Frank was smoking again, mouth quirking as he took a drag. Brendon was off wherever he went with Ryan and the guards were too busy to notice them in their usual spot.
“I still know you, Gerard. I could tell.”
Gerard scuffed his shoes against the dirt. “Yeah, he’s gone.”
Frank was silent for a minute until he let out a single laugh. “It’s funny, you know? I’ve spent the past two years in this place thinking that when I got out it would be just the same.”
Gerard could hear the change in his tone, see how he stared so hard at the ground. His fingers were tight over the cigarette.
“But now. You’re here and Bert’s gone.”
Gerard was silent as Frank stopped, raising the cigarette to his lips.
“It was a stupid rule.”
Gerard looked over and found Frank’s hand out, the cigarette extended. Pausing just a second, Gerard watched Frank, whose eyes were still on the ground, before taking the offered cigarette and lifting it to his lips.
Gerard had never noticed the alcove behind the yard, safe from prying eyes of other prisoners but not out of range for them to be uncounted.
Frank tasted of cigarettes but Gerard soaked in the taste, letting Frank press him against the cold cement, hands on his waist, squeezing almost too tightly.
“Gerard,” Frank muttered against his lips, gasping a little as Gerard moved his hips.
Gerard didn’t respond, kissing him hard and grabbing the back of his cotton prison shirt, dragging him forward and catching his lip ring between his teeth.
Frank moaned into his mouth and Gerard’s stomach twisted again, the same twist he had late at night when he thought about the past. His hand was under Frank’s shirt, running over skin he hadn’t felt in three years. He still couldn’t feel the tattoos like he always wished he could.
Frank’s mouth was hot and wet against his, lips sliding together, Gerard’s tongue dipping into the other’s mouth. Gerard pressed Frank forward, biting his bottom lip and feeling Frank pant against his lips.
“Gee,” Frank mumbled, kissing Gerard deeply and grabbing at his hair. “Gerard,” he panted when he pulled away, leaning into Gerard and keeping his strong hold. “I didn’t say it because I didn’t want to lose you.”
Gerard’s heart stuttered a beat and his stomach twisted hard, deep in his gut.
“Why are you reading that book?” Gerard asked when he heard Brendon sigh again and the book drop to the floor with a thud. “It’s ridiculous.”
Brendon groaned softly. “Because Ryan tried.”
“So you have to suffer too?” Gerard arched an eyebrow as he listened to Brendon’s sigh.
“I just wanted to try.”
“You can’t do everything everyone else can, you know.”
Brendon picked up the book again. “I can sure try.”
Gerard rolled his eyes and closed them to the grey ceiling above him.
Frank passed the cigarette to Gerard, who took a long drag, feeling the comforting slide of the smoke against his tongue.
“It doesn’t really matter.”
Frank sighed at the ground, letting his fingers brush against Gerard’s as he took back the cigarette.
“Matters to me,” Frank muttered, not taking a drag but letting it fall to his side.
“Why didn’t you?” Gerard asked suddenly.
Frank’s lip ring was in his mouth again and above, rain clouds were gathering.
“I already told you.”
Gerard was silent for a moment. He could smell the rain on the air and didn’t know where Brendon was.
“You were never going to,” he said finally and Frank’s mouth twitched and he raised the cigarette.
“Someone had to watch over you.”
Gerard felt the squeeze on his stomach and turned to Frank, seeing how he swallowed, as though swallowing back a million emotions.
“Frank, I, I still…” he said slowly and Frank cut him off with a nod.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “I know. Me too.”
Gerard watched him for a minute and then smiled slowly, taking back the cigarette and feeling the first cold drop of rain on his nose as the clouds opened up.