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The first time Gerard ever saw Ryan Ross it was in a photo Pete had sent Mikey, clearly self-taken, of Ryan in a homemade My Chem shirt referencing the first album. Gerard had asked, "Pete's sending you pictures of pre-pubescent fanboys now? You really need to have a talk with him."

Mikey smirked. "This is one of the kids he's thinking of signing."

"He's Lou Perlman now?"

"Could you never, EVER again say that about someone I've slept with?"

"Probably not," Gerard admitted and went away to forget all about the kid with soft, intense eyes and hands the size of Gerard's head. All about him.


The first time Gerard ever heard Ryan Ross was on the album, which Pete sent to Mikey just before the release. Mikey said, "You should check these kids out. They're sort of insanely promising."

"Promising in a way that the album sucks but they show promise or promising--"

Mikey stuck Gerard's earbuds in his ear, plugged them into Mikey's iPod and let him listen.

They were promising in the way Gerard hadn't gotten around to asking about.


The first time Gerard ever met Ryan Ross was--bizarrely enough--at Ryan's twenty-first birthday party. There had been plenty of times, Gerard knew, when Panic and My Chem had been in the same place at the same time, but for one reason or another, they'd never actually been in the same space. Mikey got invited to the party, though, mostly through Pete, and he didn't want to go alone, so Ryan told him to just bring the guys and Mikey took him at his word.

Gerard got Ryan a gift because, despite not knowing him, it seemed rude to--for all intents and purposes--crash his party and not bring anything.

Gerard was outside, enjoying the dry desert heat and relative quiet when a low, monotone voice said, "Awfully nice present for someone you don't know."

Gerard turned around and looked at Ryan, silky and young and sharp in silkscreened jeans and a top that seemed to elongate every move his torso made. "You're already opening your gifts?"

Ryan shrugged. "Brendon got impatient. It's easiest just to set him loose."

"Ah." Gerard understood that. "Seemed like something you'd like."

"The guitar Frank Iero played on your first tour?" Ryan raised an eyebrow. "Like? Really?"

"Frank doesn't play her anymore. He feels bad, but his heart belongs to Pansy. She wasn't getting any use. I think you'll fix that."

"There are a million kids learning to play the guitar, some of whom can't afford one, who would give limbs for that guitar. Why me?"

"Because you'll know what to do with her. I've heard you play, Ryan Ross."

Ryan's eyes widened slightly. "It was-- Mikey provided a convenient way, but it was a birthday present to me, having you guys here. I wasn't expecting--"

"Us to be nice guys?"

"That wasn't what I was going to say and you know it, Gerard Way." His voice became softer when he said Gerard's name, more engaged.

"It's your birthday," Gerard said.

"Yeah." Ryan rolled his eyes. "That it is."

Gerard laughed, moving slightly to where he was almost in Ryan's space. Almost.

Ryan said, "It is."

Gerard moved in the rest of the way.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile