"And what do I get out of the deal?" Vicky asked.
Gerard had anticipated, this, however. Vicky didn't seem like the kind of woman who gave out help on credit; at least, not unless you were Bob or Ryland or Greta or sometimes Gabe. Okay, maybe she was just careful about who she helped, and possibly she would have done it for free if Gerard just asked, but he didn't. Instead he pulled a picture tube from his bag and handed it to her. She blinked at it, which told him he had pretty much been right about pressing just a little harder. He didn't care. He had wanted to give her this anyway.
It was a drawing of Greta leaning against the side of the car, watching Vicky tinker under the hood. Greta was laughing--she laughed a lot--and watching Vicky with an appreciation both for her skills and, pretty clearly, her ass. Vicky was laughing, too, her hands gentle on the insides of the car, her body language relaxed. Gerard had caught the scene while waiting for Bob a few weeks earlier and had known right then that he was going to use it for payment. It was too rich for anything else.
Vicky unrolled the drawing and held it down, her hands at opposing corners. She stared at it for a long while, before rolling it back up and sliding it back into the tube. Then she hauled Gerard to her by the collar of his shirt, kissed his cheek and said, "So, what did you need?"
"Vicky?" Gerard asked, as calmly as he could manage.
"Can you let me go, please?" Gerard still didn't like being held, not if it wasn't by Bob or Mikey. Tommy probably could have too, and Linda was an exception to most rules, but other than that, it just hit all of his weak spots.
She let go of his shirt immediately. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize-- Sorry."
Gerard shook his head and smiled at her. "You like the drawing?"
She smiled back at him. He said, "I need you to help me find a car. It's a double Christmas/birthday present, which Bob probably got all the time as a kid, but a car's kind of a big thing, so, yeah."
"What kind of car were you thinking?"
"Jag. One that's not in great shape."
"I don't mean to sound like a doubting Tom, but you know you could probably afford a lightly used Acura or something decently schwank of that sort, right? He likes cars, he's not going to be disappointed that it's not his dream car."
"I looked. With a payment plan, I could probably afford a brand new Camry or something like that, but I want to give him his dream car."
"Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that in a few years you start getting hired on by some of the bigger studios, which, seeing as how Fall Out Boy's latest has been sort of huge and I've been seeing your art everywhere I'd say is a pretty good possibility. At the very least, let's say that they hire you on for another album and you ask for royalties. Eventually you could buy him a Jag that works. Why not get something a little more pedestrian in the meantime?"
"Because the dream includes the car not really working. C'mon, you've worked with him for what? Almost a year? Have you ever seen Bob give more love to a car that was fancy than one that really, really needed him? It's not just about the Jag, although, you know, Jags, it's about giving him something to make his own."
Vicky crossed her arms and considered Gerard for a few seconds. "Are we still talking about cars?"
Gerard shrugged and resisted the urge to wrap his hand around the jaguar tooth resting in the hollow of his throat. Vicky looked down at the floor and then back up again. "Okay. My expertise and my silence."
This time it was Gerard who pulled her in and pecked her on the cheek. He was pretty sure that if she wanted to get away he wasn't going to present any obstacles to that desire. She came easily.
"The tricky thing," Vicky explained when they were holed up in Brendon's office, using his internet connection, "is to find one that he can fix. A lot of the time owners try and sell off cars with problems that just run too deep to fix. We need something with engine problems, transmission problems, things that can either be fixed or replaced. Rust is a no-no."
Bob was at the shop, or else Gerard would have found his way there. Instead, Vicky had slipped out to "see Greta" on her lunch break. Gerard was a little overwhelmed by the semi-local listings for Jags with "minor problems," which, as Vicky told him, normally weren't quite so minor. She asked, "Does he have a year?"
Gerard had no idea. He threw out, "2000," just to narrow down the options. It was the year Bob had decided to rewire Gerard, so as appropriate as anything.
"Nice year," Vicky said. Gerard nodded like he had any clue. She said, "Right before they started getting all modern."
"Oh," Gerard said. Yeah, Bob would like that.
She smirked and clicked around, printing off pages here and there. In the end, she had about ten sheets which she pooled together and gave to Gerard. "Look through those, decide on five you like, and we'll go check them out. We're not buying anything until I've poked its insides a little bit."
"Stop," Greta said from the doorway. "You're turning me on."
"And that's incentive because?" Vicky asked.
"We're in a preacher's office?" Greta tried, only to be thoroughly denied by Vicky grabbing her by the waist. Greta squirmed ineffectually, laughing all the while.
"Mm," Vicky said. "We should sanctify it."
Gerard snorted. "I'll leave you two to that." He took his papers and closed the door on his way out. When he saw Brendon heading back he said, "Maybe not just yet, yeah?"
"Heathens," Brendon said happily, and offered, "Have tea with me?"
Gerard laid down his conditions: "Darjeeling."
Brendon high-fived him and continued on his way to the kitchens.
The first car was in worse condition than the listing had lead them to believe, and the second car was sold by the time they got hold of the owner. The third car just plain didn't feel right--which Gerard had been worried he'd have to justify to Vicky, but when he told her, she just nodded and told the seller, "Thanks, but no thanks."
From the moment he saw the fourth car, Gerard was a little bit in love with it. The feeling took him by surprise, even took him a minute to define, since Gerard fell in love with all sorts of things--leaves with unusual shapes, apples with unusual colors, a day with the perfect temperature--but not usually machines. Cars were Bob's thing to love, and that was just fine by Gerard. This particular Jag had been in an accident, which the listing had been upfront about. The owner preferred to buy a new Jag, rather than see to repairing this one. It was pretty banged up and needed slight structural repair as well as a fair amount of internal. It was definitely going to need a paint job. The owner let Vicky poke and prod to her heart's desire and when she straightened up she said, "Well, Bob's gonna have a fucking heyday, and you're going to spend considerably more on parts, but yeah, it's definitely salvageable."
Gerard grinned and asked softly, "You know how to haggle, right?"
Vicky rolled her eyes and brushed past him. When they walked out, Gerard had bought the car for fifteen hundred less than the asking price.
Patrick and Chris had an actual house with an actual driveway which they were willing to loan to Gerard as a place to keep the car until Christmas Day. Vicky took the tow truck and dropped it off. Christmas morning, Gerard let everyone sleep in until eight, but only because he hadn't been able to get anyone to drive them over to Chris and Patrick's place until after ten.
Gerard himself couldn't sleep, so he stole MG from Mikey's room and took her out for a walk. It was frigid out, but MG didn't seem to mind and Gerard was too excited to be bothered by such petty things as temperature. When he got back, Bob was waiting up for him at the table. He took Gerard out of his coat and mittens and pulled him into the bed again, lying on him and rubbing at his limbs until he warmed up slightly. Bob said, "A hat would have been too much to ask?"
"I forgot," Gerard admitted. There were other things on his mind.
Bob put them both in the shower, where the water burned until it felt good, and then Bob made them get out because, "It's Christmas, you really wanna make Mikey and Tommy take cold showers?"
"Fine," Gerard said, and put about three layers of fleece on himself. Bob managed to find a spot of open skin and tickled a little until Gerard jumped. It didn't take very long.
"Pancakes?" Bob asked.
"With canned peaches on top. Mikey loves canned peaches."
"'Kay," Bob said, and went to go make them. Gerard measured the milk and kept the griddle well-greased. They had a system.
When the pancakes were nearly done, Gerard told MG, "Go wake Tommy up," and slipped into Mikey's bedroom, where he climbed into bed right next to Mikey and sang, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."
Mikey cracked an eye. "But not actually seeing one?"
"Well. No," Gerard admitted. "But there are pancakes with canned peaches," he said, brightening.
Mikey kissed Gerard's forehead. "Merry Christmas, Gee."
Mikey was finishing up his pancakes and Tommy had just gotten dressed when Ilya came by with the Volvo. He came in and showed Bob the latest set of baby pictures while Mikey pulled some pants and shoes on. Then they all piled in Volvo and Ilya took them over to Chris and Patrick's with help from Gerard. Vicky and Gerard had put a red bow on the car--not as easy as car commercials probably wanted the populace to believe--so Bob could see it from almost a block away. He said, "Gee, is that-- Um--"
"Merry Christmas!" Gerard all but shouted. "Oh, and happy birthday, hope you don't mind, but if you do, I can always give you the parts for your--"
Gerard totally would have finished his thought, unlike Bob, except that Bob was kissing him, almost pulling Gerard onto him. Gerard tried, frantically, to find his seatbelt to make this easier. Someone--probably Tommy, he was on Gerard's other side--took mercy and undid it for him. Gerard wanted to speak, managed to get a few words out here and there, "Hope it's--" and "Would have gotten--" and "better, this," but that was about all he could do. Bob seemed to agree with just about anything that dripped out from between Gerard's lips.
After a bit, Mikey said, "Um, you wanna actually look at your present?" and Gerard realized that the car had stopped moving. Bob set Gerard back down on the seat and practically flew out of the car.
Gerard told Tommy, "Well, at least we know where his heart will always lie."
Bob could not stop talking about it on the way home. Gerard explained that Vicky would tow it to the shop later, where it would stay until Bob was ready to drive it out, but other than that, nobody could get in a word edgewise between Bob detailing everything he was going to do. Ilya was silently cracking up. When they reached the apartment, Mikey said, "Ilya'll just take us over to Linda's early, right?" and kept his hand on Tommy so as to anchor him in the car.
"Sure," Ilya said, and smirked. Gerard smirked right back, and followed his boyfriend, who was still talking, into the apartment. He didn't waste time once he was there, throwing aside layers from both of them until he had ridden them of just enough that he could say, "Think you can tell me what you're gonna do while having your brain sucked out of your dick?" and sink to his knees to make good on the threat.
Gerard deep throated him on the first suck, not really in the mood to screw around and Bob said, "Jesus, so fucking beautiful," and somehow Gerard knew that he had switched topics, wasn't talking about the car any longer. Gerard pulled off for just a second, long enough to reach up and brush his thumb over the letters on Bob's throat, long enough to say, "Still your favorite," and maybe he meant it to be a growl, but it was just a statement, something that Gerard knew deeper than he knew just about anything, except maybe that Mikey loved him.
Then he took Bob in so deep that Bob made a noise in his throat and grabbed onto Gerard's forearms. Gerard had been holding Bob's hips steady, but he gave into the grip, let Bob hold on, keep him up, keep both of them up. When Bob came it was with a shout and he just barely managed to stay upright while Gerard swallowed. He held up long enough to allow Gerard to pull off, help him to the ground. Gerard laid Bob out and Bob murmured, "Want me to return the favor?" his lips curling up at their edges
Gerard shook his head. "Lie still."
Bob's eyes took on a questioning glint, but he stayed where he was. Gerard worked them free of a layer more each and dragged his cock along Bob's thigh, his hip pressing against Bob's over-sensitized cock. Bob groaned. Gerard said, "Oh, maybe you'd better do this for me," guileless as you please.
Bob flipped Gerard right over, covering him with the length of his body, leaning down to bite at Gerard's lower lip, his jaw, his throat. The bites deepened as he went further down. Gerard knew he'd have marks on his throat. He arched into it. "Fuck, yes."
Bob inserted a thigh between Gerard's legs and provided friction even as he pushed back at Gerard's t-shirt to leave another mark on his shoulder, an imperfect half-moon, deep and just a little sore, sweet. Gerard pressed into Bob, up and down and then up again, and Bob panted, "Beautiful is a fucking stupid word for you," and Gerard knew that for Bob words were never enough, never.
Gerard would always take what he could get.