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Work that week is contract negotiations, demos, demos, and more demos. Gerard drags his feet the whole week, pretending he doesn't know what one thing is getting him through it.

Sure enough, Frank is back up on the same stage when Friday rolls around. He sits on the edge with his feet dangling again and doesn't even bring the microphone with him, so Gerard is forced to abandon the bar and linger up towards the front instead just to hear him.

It's worth it. Frank's voice isn't conventional, but it's still good, and it pairs perfectly with the way he plays guitar — Gerard's gut tells him, once again, that this is it. And Gerard's gut is never wrong. Demos be damned.

The best part, though, is towards the end of Frank's seven-minute set when he looks up and catches sight of Gerard. His entire face morphs into surprise for just a second before he schools it back into nonchalance, but it's enough. Frank remembers him. Gerard knew he made the right call to come back.

"I thought I told you I wasn't interested," Frank calls out to him once he's off stage, heading away from Gerard and towards the bar. Gerard follows, shouldering through the weekend crowd, but only because he could use a drink himself.

"I know you're not interested," Gerard says as Frank gets his guitar situated. "But I still am."

Frank catches the bartender's attention and holds up one finger. "You're not wearing sunglasses," he tells Gerard without looking at him. "That for me?"

"No," Gerard lies. "That's just so I don't look like a dick. What you played tonight was good. You wrote that stuff?"

"Yeah, I did." Then, with a little more indignation, "You wanted to sign me last week without even knowing if I wrote my own stuff?"

"Even if you didn't, we have lyricists who could work with you," Gerard says flippantly, not noticing until it's too late how appalled Frank looks at that notion. Fuck. He forgot how annoyingly sensitive the singer-songwriter type can be. "I figured they were originals, though," he covers quickly. "You seem like that kind of guy."

"Thanks," Frank says dryly.

"So I'm assuming you've reconsidered my offer?" Gerard tries to flag down the bartender but is unsuccessful. He pretends he doesn't notice Frank's mocking smirk.

"What, to be a bigshot star and make shitty t-shirts with my name on them?" Frank says all faux-coy. This fucker actually looks up at Gerard and bats his eyelashes. "Geez, I don't know. You know I've got a good thing going here."

Gerard eyes the rapidly emptying bar in his peripheral. A broken glass glints on the floor. "I think I could treat you better than the open-mic circuit."

"Now it sounds like you're making a whole different sort of deal." Frank smiles widely and leers. Gerard is starting to think he preferred the cold shoulder from last week. This is just some tactic to drive him off, though; Gerard is never one to be out-stubborned.

"We can get to that stuff later," Gerard says. "For now, I came to tell you that my offer still stands."

"As does my refusal." Frank pulls out cash and puts it next to his half-empty beer, grabbing his guitar. He says, "Take a cab home if you need one, yeah?" and then he's gone.

*

On Monday morning, Gerard drifts back and forth from his desk to the break room as he cycles through demo after demo, drinking his entire body weight in coffee just so he doesn't fall asleep from boredom.

"I thought we told people we're looking for solo acts," he bemoans to Ray when Ray takes a break from mixing tracks on the other side of the office. "I'm getting band after band after band, and every time I think I hear something with potential, I can't even use it because it's like, five people and their dog."

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