Actions

Work Header

It's Raining Somewhere Else

Chapter Text

Living the good life is all nice and well until it accumulates in ceremonies and galas and you spend more money on suits you wear once to impress people than you do on that pool you’ve been dreaming of since you were five.

Being the CEO and sole remaining co-founder of one of the biggest auction-houses in California qualified Pete for the good life (and, in fact, a pool), he felt he deserved it, he’d gone through the trouble and expense of art school, after all, and felt he didn’t deserve the torture that was the annual arthouse gala, back to ruin his January every year. At least the champagne was free and good enough for him to be able to drink so much it made his brain fuzzy. It would be needed if he had to put up with Jordan’s chattering for one minute more.

The Armani suit – or was it Gucci? – hadn’t been tailored correctly. Either that or he’d put on a considerable amount of weight in the last two weeks, enough for his shoulders to be restricted in the tight jacket.

He hated them. He hated their smug faces, their snobbish attitudes, the way one tried to out-do the next. The Dutch impressionists spoke to him in low voices about how Spanish cubism wasn’t art, the Spanish cubists didn’t consider the Italian Renaissance innovative enough and the Italian Renaissance hated the lack of realism the Dutch impressionists so admired.

Pete just liked art. He didn’t care for eras and styles and categories, he liked colours and shapes and brush strokes and carvings and the ideas, hopes and dreams people poured into these reflections of their reality in a seemingly futile attempt to reach out to somebody who might understand.

Unfortunately, the world liked its boxes too much and Pete’s dream of creating a borderless platform for art was cut short when nobody came to open auctions and nobody could appreciate the idea more than the novelty. Maybe that why he was old and bitter despite only being 31.

Pete knocked back the rest of his champagne and pushed past the short, fat, grey-haired man without even trying to excuse himself. His reputation as a person didn’t matter, people would want to work with him whether he was a dick or not.

He wandered over to the canapés, they were elaborate and expensive, a total waste of money when pizza was a thing that existed. Might as well eat what was paid for, though. He stood away from the crowd of people doing their best to crawl up each other’s arses. It was pretty pathetic. The same pathetic scene as every year at this godforsaken party.

“Not one for mingling?” Pete turned to his left in search of the source of the calm, melodic voice. The guy could have been anything between 17 and 27, dark blonde hair parted neatly on the left so it fell across his blue eyes. Or were they green? “Mh…” Pete felt at loss for words. He didn’t know this guy, who he was, what he wanted, he’d never seen him before. “Me neither. Too many wannabe artists who have no talent so turn to making a profit off somebody else’s hard work. Kinda sad if you ask me.” He took a sip of his drink, eyes not leaving the crowd of people in front of them. “I didn’t ask you,” Pete all but snapped, not much in the mood for small-talk or a business deal or whatever else the goal of this cosying-up might be. The guy just shrugged and popped and olive in his mouth, still scanning the room. He didn’t look like your typical art collector, small, skinny, young, sure, there was the expensive suit and the neat hair-do, but he was confident in his appearance, not afraid to openly bad-mouth the flock of sheep he was moving in and not boring Pete with gossip on Flannigan’s latest cock-up at the last Christmas auction. If he had to listen to that story one more time, he might be sick.

“What’s your name?” The blonde raised an eyebrow and with it, his glass to his lips, “are you asking?” he muttered, the accusation not lost on Pete. “Yes.”

He knocked back the rest of his drink before setting it down and turning around so he was facing Pete head-on. He was pretty. Milky white skin, splattered with light freckles. His lips were plump and curved, they looked as well-cared for as his slender hands. Pete still couldn’t quite make out the colour of his eyes though, were they blue? Or more of a green? He extended his hand with a clear, sharp “Martin. Martin Vaughn.” Pete hesitated for a second before taking it. “Pete Wentz.” Vaughn had a firm grip, a good handshake. It was something important to Pete. “Why haven’t I seen you at any of these before? New to the industry?” Vaughn shrugged, “I’m here with somebody.” Oh? “You don’t seem the type.” Pete’s gut clenched when Vaughn almost sneered at him for that, admittedly inappropriate, remark. “The type for what, relationships?”

“Attaching yourself to old, boring men to get into exclusive parties. Come on, you can do better than that.” Why was he flirting with this guy? “How did you know it was Jordan?” Oh god, he was picking up on it, what had he got himself into? “Well, I could have been talking about 80% of this room.”

“Oh, yeah, my bad!” Vaughn winked, he fucking winked at Pete. “So, tell me, Pete,” first-name basis, eh? “What are you doing surrounded by old, boring men?” Nice one. Stepping carefully, he let a smirk draw across his face. “Well, Martin, seeing as I own the auction house these old, boring men are trying to get their shit into, it’s expected of me to be here.” The unsubtlety with which he let his eyes glide over Martin’s body was not an accident. “Besides, it’s not only old, boring men.” The uncharacteristically flirtatious comment earned him a suggestive wiggle of eyebrows and Pete watched Martin’s teeth sink into his bottom lip. He knew what he was doing. His right elbow was propping him up against the trimming along the wall, his hands interlocked in front of his black button-down shirt. The suit he was wearing looked smarter than it really was, Pete suspected, although, if Jordan had bought it for him… he tried to ignore the pang of envy he felt at the thought that the sleazy rat had got his dick sucked for it. Those lips would look perfect wrapped around a nice, hard-

“So how did you end up here?” Completely startled out of his fantasy, Pete’s eyes shot back up to Martin’s face, decidedly away from the area he’d subconsciously been staring at. If he had noticed the brown eyes fixed on his crotch, the guy sure as hell wasn’t showing it. Maybe he had got away with it. “Car.” Which, strictly speaking, was true. It had been in a car. He just hadn’t been driving it.

The little laugh Pete got in response shot right down his spine, making him shift uncomfortably. “No, I mean… how did somebody so young” had he moved closer? He seemed closer, “end up in such an important position?” His voice was low now. Yes, the distance between them had definitely lessened. When had he moved closer? “O-oh…” just act like he’s another guy trying to sell you his art “Umh, got lucky, I guess.” Again, strictly speaking true.

“’Got lucky’ is usually a different way of saying ‘nepotism’” wow, was he still moving closer? “Uh, well, not in this case. My dad’s a teacher and my mom’s a vet’s assistant. Just me.”

“Impressive. Are you going to let me into your secret to success?” Pete’s mind was working frantically to bring them back onto level ground, he wasn’t used to the power-imbalance swaying this way. A smirk spread across his features. “I guess it’s somewhat of a longer story and one I don’t necessarily want to discuss around potential competition.” A glint of something mischievous shot through Martin’s eyes, his smile widening. “Well,” he glanced towards the mass of people, “my date seems to have… found some other form of company,” Pete pointedly didn’t look to see whose arse Jordan was currently creeping up, “so as far as I can tell… I’m free to do as I please.” Pete would be lying if he said the near-growl didn’t shoot straight to his dick.

“Well,” he managed to keep his exterior calm, despite his insides desperately knotting, “we wouldn’t want to anger Jordan now, would we? He is, after all, my best client.” Martin just shrugged it off, “he said it would only take three hours. It’s been five now. Can’t keep a guy waiting that long, especially not when there’s a better offer in the room.” Their exchange could no longer be described as flirting really, it was too intense, too obviously heading towards a specific destination with both passengers having made their minds up that they were headed to the same station.

What harm could it do?

Pete held out his elbow and Martin wrapped his arm around it without hesitation, hand loosely hanging down, occasionally brushing against the expensive suit.

 

 

 

Pete’s hands slammed against the white wall, caging in the man pressed against him as their tongues collided with a shared desperation. Martin’s hands were tugging at Pete’s tie, undoing it step-by step before pulling it out from underneath the white collar. Ugh, the things Pete could do with that tie. With no time to waste, he rid Martin of his bowtie and unbuttoned his shirt enough for him to be able to bite down his neck. As Pete sunk his teeth into the pale skin above his pulse point, the most delicious sound escaped Martin, it rang around Pete’s head, leaving him dizzy and delirious as he sucked a mark into his flesh. Martin’s fingers were tangling in his gelled, black hair, getting caught in it, tugging lightly at the glued strands, egging him on, urging him to go further.

But instead, Pete gripped his hips and turned them, slamming his back into the bookshelf against the wall next to them as his fingers fumbled with Martin’s fly, desperate to get it open. A near pathetic whine filled Pete’s ears when he tugged down the blonde’s trousers and boxers down to his thighs and his already fully hardened cock sprang free, hitting the skin above where his shirt had ridden up with an ugly splat.

Pete’s position was non-negotiable, he wouldn’t even waste time explaining it, wouldn’t risk getting involved in an argument. He didn’t have the patience. He pressed himself back against the other body, one hand at the base of his neck, pulling him in for another hungry kiss, the other tugging at the red, hot dick resting against his thigh.

“You wanna be fucked, kid? You wanna be fucked real hard?” Martin’s eyes were screwed shut, his face contorted into something that might be pain if Pete wasn’t aware of the dampness on his fingers. He let out a breathy moan that could either have been “please” or “Pete”, he’d take either gladly. “You got a condom on you?” Martin nodded, his hand shooting to the wallet in his back pocket. Pete moved to take it off him, but retracted his hand when Martin’s face suddenly dropped. It was like he hadn’t just been writhing below Pete’s touch a second ago, like he wasn’t standing in Pete’s apartment with his balls and ass out, like Pete wasn’t jerking him off when the warning look as dark as storm clouds made Pete physically recoil.

And then, just like that, it was as though nothing had happened as he tore the foil open with his teeth and handed it to Pete. He was pretty glad it fit. That was the thing with other people’s condoms, you could never be 100% sure they were right for you, but it sat around his dark cock just nicely. “I don’t have any l-“ the words caught in Pete’s throat when he looked back up to see… to…

Martin had shimmied out of his trousers and boxers and they lay in a heap on the floor. He’d somehow managed to lift his feet – still covered by black socks – up onto one of the shelves, one higher up than the other, so his legs were spread wide at an odd angle without looking anything but… fucking amazing. Pete was chewing his lip again, staring at the man standing in front of him, open and inviting. “It’s fine, I can take it.”

“What?”

“I said I can… I can take, it, please, just…” A hand on his shoulder pulled Pete closer until he felt spit-slick lips against his own again and a tongue pushing for entrance. Martin moaned into his mouth as Pete let his fingers circle his rim, gently pushing against the muscle to open it up an-

“Fuck, just…” before he knew it, Pete’s hand had been pushed away impatiently and his hips had been tugged closer, impossibly close, almost. He felt the head of his cock pressing against Martin’s hole and paused, uncertain of whether just going in dry was really a-

His head snapped up at the sharp hiss that escaped the blonde as he pushed himself down. Somewhere between his desperate expression and his body engulfing Pete, inching down gradually, Pete felt dizzy. He couldn’t help it when his hips snapped forward and provoked a startled yelp, he couldn’t help the way his fingernails dug into that milky white ass and he certainly couldn’t help the low moan he hummed against Martin’s throat. He managed to still himself long enough for the other man to regain his composure, his breathing returning to the same heavy rate it had had before it had shortened into sharp gasps. Pete pulled back slowly, making sure Martin felt every inch of latex-clad skin rub against him until just his head was remained inside. “P-please…” he keened, trying to push himself down onto Pete again, but he just backed away some more. “You want this?” he growled, letting his hips slide forwards a fraction of an inch. Martin whined loudly, hands grabbing at Pete’s waist. “You want this? Say it. Fucking say it.” Their faces were pressed up against each other, noses touching, lips brushing. Pete could catch every single desperate little emotion in his eyes that Pete had decided were blue, though in that moment, they were blown so wide they looked more golden than anything else.

“Fuck me, please.” He was begging. Good. Pete liked begging. “What. Do. You. Want?” Every word was punctuated with a nip at Martin’s pale skin and his plump, red bottom lip. He let his eyes drift upwards again, trying to concentrate on that rather than the need to let his hips surge forwards. But Martin’s expression had darkened, taken on a more serious note, still fucking hot, still obviously into this, still obviously playing along but more… in control. “I want your dick. I want you to fuck me until I’m sore and hurting. I want you to fuck me so I can’t sit for days.” Okay. Okay, that was hot. Pete let out a low, animalistic growl and finally allowed his hips to snap forward, burying himself as deep inside Martin as he possibly could.

Pete couldn’t feel the dryness of it, his dick comfortably wrapped, but it was fucking tight and he could almost feel the friction through the way Martin clawed at his suit jacket. He must seem like the epitome of the rich and powerful, fucking a blonde against his rosewood bookshelf in his LA penthouse, fully clothed, save his dick burying itself in a nice, tight ass. The only thing that didn’t quite fit the image was the decisive lack of tits on his partner, but Pete had never been choosy when it came to sex or gender.

Martin would have long bruises across his back tomorrow from where the shelves dug into him, and bruises on his ass that perfectly lined up with the pads of Pete’s fingers, not to mention the red marks leading all the way down to his collarbone. With a bit of luck, his voice would be shredded to, thanks to his cries of “fuck, Pete!”, “harder!” and “Please, fuck, yes!” that all fed right into Pete’s already oversized ego. He bit down hard on Martin’s throat as he came, heat unravelling and shooting through him like fireworks as he filled the condom. He didn’t know if Martin had come, he didn’t really care much, merely glad he hadn’t released his load on his suit. He was going to fuck him and leave him, that was his usual stint, anyway, he didn’t owe the guy anything, he wasn’t his partner or his friend, he was just a hook-up. However, one glance at the fist wrapped around his pink and throbbing cock, one look over that blissfully expressive face and Pete was crossing the room again, walking away from the bin he’d just thrown the used rubber in and towards the man jerking off by the bookcase.

Blue eyes snapped open to meet brown ones when Pete’s hand wrapped back around him and started slowly stroking along the shaft. He let his thumb flick over the slit, spreading the precum with his palm as he increased his speed and hardened his grip, all the while leaning closer so he could meet Martin in a hot kiss. He felt quiet whines against his mouth and teeth digging into his lip, just shy of drawing blood, as Martin panted heavily, his legs shaking so hard Pete had to hold him up with one hand.

He didn’t know what he was doing, he never did this for anybody, but something in Pete made him sink to his knees, never slowing down his right hand steadily pumping along the hard cock it was clasping.

Martin’s dick seemed much bigger from this angle, standing in front of him, heavy, angry red and wet, making sloppy noises against his palm as little beads of white consistently rolled off the tip. He wanted to taste them, he wanted to feel them on his tongue and against the back of his throat, hot and sticky. Pete leaned forward, hand never slowing down, the smell of sex drifting up his nose, deafeningly close. He opened his mouth and extended his tongue, pressing it to the underside, the heavy vein throbbing against him and he drew back to lick a broad stripe alo-

“No, stop!” With a harsh thud, Pete managed to catch himself before his head hit the floor. The second he realized what had happened, his face heated up in shame, burning through him like wildfire. Fuck. He never… Pete never…

“I’m- I’m so sorry, oh God, are you okay?” Martin was standing over him, still half-naked and hands reaching out for him, but not quite daring to touch. Pete stared at him in disbelief. “Did you just push me?” Hopeless gaping was all he got in return. “I go to suck your dick and you shove me away?” Martin took a step back, worrying his lip between his teeth. He looked embarrassed. Good. He deserved it. “I’m- I’m sorry, I really didn’t…” Pete scoffed at the softening cock hanging in front of his face. God, penises were fucking gross. “I should… probably go…”

Whilst Martin pulled on his clothes, Pete demonstratively soaped and washed his hands. Part of him wanted to scrub at them with a brush, just to make a point, but the thought of raw, hot flesh made his stomach clench.

“I, uh… thanks… for the… yeah…” Pete didn’t even turn around, let alone say goodbye, when Martin ducked out of his apartment and pulled the black door shut behind him, the click of the automated lock sealing him out.

 

 

Usually, Pete was in an ecstatically good mood the morning after getting laid. He’d feel energized and re-vitalized and a lot of other things that ended in -ized and equated to him not being a grumpy fuck.

But today, he was exhausted. It kinda started when he woke up with an aching wrist and didn’t get any better when he’d found the hickey on his throat he hadn’t even noticed was being left. It definitely didn’t get any better when he was greeted at the office by a pile of files up to his waist, he’d almost forgotten about the gala and with it about the paperwork that drifted in the day after when every Tom, Dick and Harry he’d come across decided to send him every detail about every damned painting they had in their collections.

Pete hated them, he hated them for their private collections, keeping art away from the public eye, away from where it should be. Yes, he sold the stuff, he was probably partly to blame but… all he wanted was to curate it. He just wanted to collect it all himself to gift to museums and galleries. That had gone hand-in hand with his dream of creating a borderless platform when he’d first started out, but somehow… the world didn’t work that way. Humanity loved profit too much.

“Morning, Pete.” Pete grumbled at his assistant – Joe – from behind his stack of self-promotions. It was Joe who always printed them out for him, probably because he was tired of the complaints about how much Pete hated staring at a computer screen all day, replying to endless e-mails. A little gratitude probably wouldn’t go amiss, but he’d already upped Joe’s salary. Besides, he wasn’t the type that needed his back patting. “Late night?”

“Not really.” He was faintly aware of the way he was being stared at, he felt like he was back at a job interview as Joe munched his way through the dry cake he always had for breakfast. “What’s his name?” Oh for fuck’s… Pete just rolled his eyes and pointedly bent further over the piece of paper he was trying to focus on, his glasses balanced precariously on the tip of his nose. “Come on, dude, the way you waltzed out, it didn’t look like you were trying to keep it a secret.” The thing about Joe was, he was utterly insufferable if you had something he’d set his sights on. He was a great friend, fiercely loyal to the point where Pete was sometimes scared for the person at the receiving end of one of his defensive outbursts. Good, trustworthy guy, Joe Trohman was, and funny as hell. But fucking insufferable. “Martin.”  He hoped that would shut him up, but alas…

“Was he… any good?” His speech was muffled through the cake and even then, it still had that distinctly annoying Trohman sound to it. “The fuck do you think?” Pete shifted uncomfortably, part of him actually more invested in the conversation than he cared to admit, but he pushed that aside. “Well, going by the fact that you’re Mr. Groucho this morning, I’d say no, but that’s why I’m asking, I’m kinda surprised.” There was something so intensely annoying by how smug Joe seemed to be, like he knew something Pete didn’t but ought to and it really, really got to him. The worst thing was, he knew Joe knew it got to him and he knew exactly that Joe was using that to his advantage. “Are you gonna tell me why you’re surprised some random twink was a bad fuck or not?” Pete was trying so hard to focus on the boring-ass letter he was holding it was giving him a headache.

“Oh, just, y’know, prostitutes are usually known for being good at sex.” Okay, fuck it. Pete slammed the file shut and whipped his glasses off his face in an attempt to look authoritative, but all that it achieved was causing Joe to snort. “What the flying fuck are you on about, Joseph?”

“Well, when you left with Martin hanging from you yesterday, Jordan – not best pleased, might I add, expect a pissy phone call about that painting you auctioned off last week – made a point of telling as many people as he could that Martin is, in fact, a… hooker.”

For some reason, everybody believes jaws dropping open is only something that happens in The Little Mermaid, which is total bullshit, as anybody who has been really, genuinely shocked at any point in their life can confirm. As for Pete, he couldn’t actually close his mouth anymore. He just stared at Joe in disbelief, gaping at him like he’d just shown him proof of a live zebra living in his backyard. “He… he said… Jordan… that?”

The bastard was grinning from ear to fucking ear. “Well, I believe he used the word ‘escort’, but you get the idea. Kinda dumb of him to admit he’d brought a hooker to a gala, almost worse than a sugarbaby, which is what I’d thought until that point.”

“Uuuuuuugh!” Pete dropped his head onto the desk with a loud thump that reminded him a little too much of the pain in his wrist. No. way. This wasn’t happening to him. Not to him, not to Pete Wentz. No way in hell had he fucked a who-

“I didn’t pay for him! He can’t be a whore, I didn’t pay!”

“Do you demand people pay you every time you go to look at art?” Pete scowled at his logic, not because it was flawed, but because it made too much sense for him to like it. The sympathetic pat on the shoulder was the last thing he needed. “Don’t take it too hard, see it this way: You got to have sex with a prostitute for free!”

Pete glared after Joe as he swaggered out of the glass door. As if that was any consolation. He’d fallen for Martin’s tricks, he was a gullible idiot who had flirted with a whore and taken him home with him.

The sex hadn’t even been particularly good.

Chapter Text

Okay, okay. So maybe Pete had been exaggerating when he’d said the sex hadn’t been particularly good. And maybe Pete had told Jordan to “go shove his superiority complex up his tight ass” when he’d been told off for not getting the lousy-ass painting he’d brought in a month ago a bid as high as Jordan had hoped, like that was his job (that totally wasn’t what the discussion had really been about, but there was no way in hell Pete was going to admit to fucking his whore). And maybe Pete had made Joe find out how exactly he could find this prostitute again (Joe had obliged, but not without an eye-roll and a “yeah, sure” when Pete had said he just wanted to have a word with the guy). He just needed to know what the kid’s deal was. Not, as in, how much he’d have to pay to get him to suck his dick or anything, that just… it wasn’t happening, he just wanted to… ask him a few questions. Yes, that was all. Just to sort his head a little.

Or that was what he told himself as he approached the dark and dubious street he’d been directed to. He knew he’d driven past here, he must have driven past Martin a few times, he’d just never paid the grimy lads lingering about under the ancient, dim street lamp much attention. Now, however, as he scanned the area, taking in every cracking wall, every corner stinking of piss, he could see three figures, two of them leaning against the wall, one kicking the curb with tattered converse. They all were pretty skinny and dressed in varying degrees of inappropriate clothing, certainly not made to keep the cold off their bodies, showing off thighs and shoulders and asses and abs, so much so that Pete couldn’t really imagine Martin in his little, neat suit and tidy hair-do standing among the tattered and stinking boys. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t spot the guy he was looking for anywhere.

Maybe he could put his foot down and just drive straight on and nobody would even notice the way he had slowed down when he’d come up to the group of young men, he could leave with no answers but his dignity intact.

Of course, it was just his luck when the boy pacing around had spotted him and started sidling towards him, hips swaying suggestively as he leaned against the car door. Just here to ask some questions. Pete wound the passenger side window down and leaned over so he could see who he was talking to. The boy had messy, red hair that reached down to his chin. He was wearing a much too small, tight blue and white baseball shirt and even tighter black jeans that looked like they might castrate him if he made a wrong move. His smile might be charming if Pete weren’t so aware of what he was.

“Hey, handsome. Can I help you?” he slurred in a decidedly not Californian accent. More North-East, Pete guessed. “Uh, does… do you know Martin?” The redhead nodded, “sure, I know Martin. He’s out on a job right now, honey, but I can take care of you if you like? I’m Gerard.” Gerard? Didn’t sound very… sexy. It was probably wrong of him, but Pete pitied the man. He was more like a stray dog, actually, picking up scraps people would throw him. No, it was worse than that, he picked up scum that would take advantage of his weakness. “No… no thanks.” His smile was so sickeningly sweet, not like eating candid sugar behind your mom’s back, but like syrup and buttercream when you’ve already had too much cake. It was perversely out of place in this gritty back alley of the forgotten part of the city. “When will he be back?” The boy shrugged. “Okay, when did he leave?”

“20 Minutes ago, maybe.” 20 minutes. Couldn’t be that much longer, could it? “I’ll wait.” Of course, he couldn’t refuse, as far as he knew, he’d be driving away a client. Pete caught himself wondering if they all worked for the same guy. Not that it mattered, really.

He let his black car roll a little further down the road where he turned off the engine and pulled the hand break. Safe parking, even around prostitutes. Maybe especially around prostitutes, who did an awful lot of climbing into and out of strange vehicles while their friends took note of the number plates. At least they weren’t completely stupid.

It took another 30 minutes before the door of a red Ford opened and a small, blonde guy came stumbling out. Pete straightened up as he watched Martin bend back over to look into the passenger side window through his rear-view mirror. He was shaking his jean-clad hips playfully, the bared strip of pale skin above them flashing white below the lamppost. The car didn’t hesitate for a second once Martin had moved away from it and as it disappeared, so did his cheeky, teasing expression. Pete could have slapped himself, of course! The way his body language changed from one second to another when he’d reached for his purse? The way he’d gone from panting and moaning and writhing to standing over him all concern and worry? It was a fucking act and Pete had fallen for it. Was he that easy?

“What a nice surprise to see you here.” The sudden sound of a familiar voice laced with a strange tone made Pete all but jump out of his skin. “I uh…” Martin’s shirt was hanging loosely off his torso, meaning Pete could look right down it whilst Martin was in the forward-leaning position that allowed him to see into the car. He tried very hard not to focus on the sweet, white skin and dark nipples he could just about make out.

“Come back for more?” Martin’s legs were shifting slightly, causing his bulge to move with them. Every single motion was carefully calculated and had been filed to perfection, Pete could tell. A part of him wanted to say yes. That tiny, animal part that had allowed him to take the kid back to his apartment in the first place, but he couldn’t let it win, not tonight.

“No, I… I just wanted to talk. To you. About stuff.” Martin raised an eyebrow and twisted his mouth into something resembling a pitiful smile. Was he pitying Pete? Pete didn’t need it pity. “I’m working, darling. If you want a chat, you’re gonna have to find me some other time.” Pete huffed in annoyance, the audacity of it! He was owed an explanation, or an apology at least! He didn’t know shit about this guy. He felt utterly taken advantage of in the most humiliating way. “I’ll pay for your time, just… get in the fucking car.” The pitiful smile turned into that mischievous smirk, “that’s more the line of business I’m in. Do you have the cash on you? Payment first, non-negotiable.” This kid was gonna end up dead in a ditch if he didn’t watch it. Pete flourished his wallet and even opened it when Martin prompted him to. “How much?”

“Depends what you want.”

“I want to talk, I told y-“

“Mh, how do you want to talk for?” Christ, did he know? How long would it take for Martin to explain himself? “An hour.” His lips quirked into something almost mocking, like he knew Pete wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of his soft, warm skin against his own and his hands a-
No, Pete wasn’t like that. He just wanted to discuss what had happened. “$100. One hour. You can… talk about almost anything you want. You’ll know if there’s something I’m not comfortable with.” $100. Not really a lot to Pete but a lot, he suspected, to Martin, more than he deserved for a simple chat, anyway. The right thing to do would be to kick him to the curb and drive off with his $100, but he didn’t really have much choice…

Pete kicked open the passenger door with a roll of his eyes and Martin climbed in, sweet smile spread across his features. His hand was held out beside him as he fastened his seatbelt and Pete reluctantly handed over the two nice, crisp $50 bills he’d only withdrawn the day before. The unwavering confidence with which Martin held himself had something unsettling about it, something Pete did not like at all.

It didn’t even change when he started driving, when he was absolutely in control of anything that happened. He could kill them both and Martin wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Why didn’t he feel in control then?

He dared a quick glance over to his right where the blonde was sitting, unmoving save the fingers of his left hand tapping out a steady rhythm on his thigh. Pete tore his eyes away. “So, you’re a whore?”

Martin did not flinch or frown or hesitate, simply replied “yes.” Well, no point in sugar-coating it, Pete figured. “Was Jordan paying you?” The little chuckle was annoying, at least Pete told himself that. “Well, I’m not supposed to talk about clients, but yes. He was paying me.” Sleazy old goat. “So you took his money and fucked somebody else?”

“I’ll remind you that I didn’t do very much fucking. Besides, I told you: He paid for three hours, he got three hours. I got bored, he can’t expect me to hang around, I’m not his lap-dog.” Martin was looking out of the window, at the lights passing by now they had hit the highway. He had no idea where he was being taken and was still so calm. “Why me? And why didn’t you… charge?” He just shrugged, “you’re cute. And, believe it or not, I do enjoy having sex just for the sake of having sex once in a while. Do you pay for your one-night-stands, Pete?” Blue eyes fixed on him, but he refused to return the favour. A part of him was still worried he wouldn’t be able to resist if he spent too long looking. Instead, he scowled at the road spreading out in front of him, not quite sure why he was on the route that lead him home.

“Jordan hates me now.”

“Don’t care.”

“You’re kinda forward, d’you know that?”

“It’s been mentioned.”

“Is that a good thing when you suck dick for a living?”

“Is being a rude old fart a good thing when you run an auction house?” For the second time that week, Pete’s jaw dropped and he couldn’t keep his eyes off the boy anymore. Martin’s flickered in his direction for a second, then focussed back on whatever he was looking at in front of them. Probably the wind. “It is, actually, chances of being taken advantage of are much lower when people think you’ll kick up a fuss.”

Made sense. In a weird, twisted, slightly sickening way it made sense. Pete didn’t really know which part of it was sickening, or if he found Martin as a whole repulsive or just what he did. He decided to change the subject before he got a headache from thinking about it too hard. “You might have told me you’re a whore before I stuck my dick in you.”

“Why, would you have changed your mind?”

“I might have, yeah!” God knows what’s been up there, he added silently. “And that’s why I didn’t tell you.”

“Yeah well you should have.”

“Scared of what’s been up my ass? I assure you, it’s nothing you can’t imagine.” Pete could imagine quite a bit if he was honest, not all of it pleasant. “Slut shaming doesn’t suit you. Would you be treating me differently if I had a nice, clean regular job and had just had a lot of sex with a lot of guys?”

That shut Pete up for a bit. Long enough for them to reach his high-rise. Martin seemed to recognize it, face lighting up at the familiarity of the building. Why did he bring a prostitute to his apartment?

Not seeing any point in sitting in the cold car when they were already here and it was kinda too late to turn back without seeming like even more of a cunt, Pete beckoned Martin inside.

“Nice place…” Pete spun on his heel to see the guy pacing around the room, pausing to inspect the photographs on the marble mantelpiece and the magazines on the rack next to the fireplace. Of course, he hadn’t been in here when the lights were on. Awkwardly, Pete scratched at the back of his head when he remembered being shoved onto the floor for offering a blowjob. In retrospect, it had probably been less about the blowjob and more about the lack of a condom, god knows what kind of shit the kid had.

“Uh, make yourself at home, I guess…” Something had changed in Martin’s demeanour, he seemed softer, a little less direct and… and cheeky… no that wasn’t the word… Pete couldn’t find the right one, though. Confident, maybe. Though he didn’t seem any less confident as he allowed himself to flop onto the black couch sitting comfortably in the middle of the large living area. The glance at his cheap watch didn’t surpass Pete.

Martin shook his head at the offer of wine, only hitching up his legs so they were curled up next to him on the sofa as Pete settled down at the other end of it. He was leaning his head against his hand, propped up against the back of the couch, and not taking his eyes off Pete. “So, anything else you wanna… talk about?” Very decidedly, he forced his eyes to not drift over his slim figure… which actually, now the lighting was reasonable and Martin wasn’t covered by a suit he probably couldn’t afford himself, was bony rather than slim. Unhealthily so. Pete found himself pitying the guy in a similar way he had the redhead and a surge of pride filled him when he realized his $100 were probably preventing him from starving.

He cleared his throat, trying very hard to remember his list of questions he had prepared, but the hand lightly brushing his thigh wasn’t helping his concentration. Nervously, Pete took a sip of his wine. “Why me?”

“We already had that question.”

“No, but why. Tell me.”

“I did tell you, because you’re cute and I was bored.” Martin shrugged like it was nothing, which, probably, it was. Pete had never in his life questioned a one-night-stand so much (save that one time he saw one of the girls he’d been with walking around with a very tiny child about a year after their hook up).

In the desperate attempt to find questions that would keep the conversation going, Pete must have zoned out for a bit, that happened sometimes, spells where he’d blankly be staring at the carpet for a solid ten minutes without registering the world around him. What made him come to was the sudden sensation of heavy warmth enveloping him, crushing his body into the soft sofa. It took him a moment to figure out what was happening, that Martin was straddling his lap, kissing along his neck and coaxing small noises out of him.

Fuck.

He should push him away, put a firm hand to his chest and just shove, the way he’d been shoved a few nights ago. Maybe Martin would crack his head on the coffee table, Pete didn’t know why that was such a satisfying thought and he pushed it down, not wanting a dead prostitute on his hands.

Instead, he let warm fingers flick open the button on his trousers, and relished in the feeling of somebody else’s hand on his dick whilst they were grinding down on his crotch with desperate moans. The skin on Pete’s neck felt hot and damp from where the man’s tongue was lapping against it, steadily making its way towards his ear. Fuck his ear. Pete’s ultimate weak spot. And Martin had discovered it, snickering proudly as he heard the whine Pete let out at the feeling of teeth sinking into the soft flesh.

Martin shifted backwards, lowering himself onto his knees in front of Pete as he tugged at the hem of his trousers. Pete obliged, lifting his hips enough for them to be able to be pulled down, allowing his throbbing cock to spring free. And fuck, the kid’s expression was nothing shy of desperate as he stared at the erection in front of him like it was a fucking popsicle.  

Suck it. Was all that went through Pete’s mind. He didn’t have the nerve to say it, though, wrapping his fingers into the boy’s hair and guiding him towards his crotch instead.

And fuck was he good. Pete tried to remember a blowjob that came close, but he really couldn’t. it took all his willpower to not come undone in a writhing mess as Martin alternated between loosely suckling at the head and sinking down the length until his nose tickled the tattoo on Pete’s belly. He came dangerously close to losing it when the muscles of Martin’s throat tightened around him as he swallowed, Pete just about managed to hold back with a sharp hiss not unlike the one he had heard when he’d first sunk his dick deep into Martin’s ass. Fuck, they were all just animals, really.

“Fuck, Martin, I’m gonna…” The second he’d panted out the words, Martin sat back on his heels, giving Pete’s dick a tight squeeze. Fuck, man, way to kill an o-

A long moan escaped him when he felt a tongue lick along the underside of his dick, right along the vein that must have been standing out grossly.

Martin’s eyes were locked with his own, threatening to drown him in the deep blue sea as he held Pete’s gaze, unwavering. Fuck, he was so pretty. Pete reached out and put his hand to Martin’s cheek, stroking his face with his thumb. Blue eyes fluttered for a second and the vibration of the moan shot right up Pete’s cock and through his whole body. “You look- ahh- so fucking good with your mouth full of dick.”

Martin’s lips curled into a smile around his cock and he sank down just that little bit further that allowed Pete to hit the back of his throat. The humming was driving him insane. It was the little subtleties, the way his tongue lapped at Pete’s cock like it was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted, the way his hand would sometimes squeeze the shaft just enough to bring him back down a little only so Martin could continue his torture, the way he made his mouth vibrate around him, the way his eyes never left his face… it drove Pete utterly insane.

It must have been the fourth time Pete felt close to coming when he knotted his fingers in Martin’s hair, holding him down so he wouldn’t pull away and make him wait for his orgasm even longer. When he felt the pressure uncurl in his gut, going off like an explosion, he let go of his head, giving him the opportunity to pull off if he wanted to, but he stayed put. Pete groaned loudly as he watched his come drip into the boy’s mouth, hanging open just below, like he was a thirsty kid waiting at a dripping tap.

Pete let himself fall back onto the sofa with a heavy sigh, the leather cold on his ass. He was faintly aware of the tongue cleaning him up, licking at every dampened inch of his skin until he was certain he wouldn’t have any problem with sticky thighs tonight. When Martin climbed back onto his lap, his lips were red and swollen, hanging open slightly. He couldn’t be sure whether the bit of white in the corner of his mouth had been left deliberately. Pete had the feeling everything Martin did was done deliberately. He put a hand to the back of the blonde’s head and pulled him in for a kiss, ready to taste the saltiness on his lips, the evidence that he’d been th-

“No.” Pete’s brow furrowed in confusion at the hand pressing against his chest, pushing him away. “I don’t do kissing.” Was he serious? “You just let me come down your throat!” Martin quirked an eyebrow, almost challengingly. “Nice observational skills you have there, Pete. I don’t do kissing.”

“Ugh, fine.” Not like he had much choice. Martin had said he’d know when there was something he wasn’t comfortable with.

Oh fuck.

No way.

With a heavy groan, Pete let his head tip back so he could stare at the blank ceiling above him. He’d fallen for it. Again. He’d paid a whore to suck him off. He’d paid for sex, how fucking pathetic.

Having said that, it was the best damned blowjob he’d ever had in his life.

“Don’t worry too much about it.” The sound of Martin’s voice echoing to him from what sounded like a good stretch away made Pete look up again. He was standing by the door, his leather jacket slung over his arm. “You’ll wake up tomorrow morning the same guy you were a few hours ago, believe me. It’s the same for everyone.”

He didn’t even say goodbye on his way out.

 

 

 

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Huh?” Pete looked up from his whiskey into light eyes that seemed to be boring through him. Andy sighed and shook his head, turning back to Joe. “Anyway, as I was saying, I have this thing coming up… this competition, so I’d appreciate it if you could house-sit for me for a while, I’ll be out of state.” Joe’s gaze was fixed on Pete, he could feel it burning into the top of his head, but he didn’t bother to meet it. “Yeah, sure, I mean, don’t see why not.”

“Awesome thanks. I’m just gonna-“ the sentence was never finished as Andy got up and marched off to where Pete suspected the toilets were. The second he was out of earshot, he felt a slap on his head. “Ow! Son of a b-“
“What’s up, man? You’re not yourself.” he just shrugged and took a swig of his golden drink. “Is it Jordan? He still giving you grief?” If presented with an excuse, take it. Pete nodded, hoping the questioning would end there. “Ah, he’ll come round, he depends on you too much. Hey, did you ever see that guy again?” Oh God. Act oblivious. “Which guy?”

“The prostitute? Michael.”

“Martin.” Not so eager, Pete. He hesitated for too long, however, which was his big mistake. Well, one in the line of many big mistakes he seemed to be making recently. “Oh my God, you did, didn’t you? How did it go?”

“Uh, yeah… well. I guess. As well as can be expected.” Stop talking.

“He sucked you off, didn’t he? I knew it! Andy owes me a tenner.” The glare Pete shot him would have left him stone cold if looks could kill. “You told Andy?”

“Of course I told Andy, we’re a team!” He leaned in closer, probably enjoying the juiciness of the gossip Pete was providing. “How was he? Still so bad?” not particularly comfortable with the situation, Pete fidgeted, rolling his shoulders and straightening his back before checking nobody was eavesdropping. Not that anybody cared. “I mean… he was never really bad per se, but… yeah, it was good.”

“Good. Good. You’re gonna have to give me more than ‘good’, Pete, gimme something to work with.” Pete scrunched his nose in faint disgust “Why the fuck do you want details about how I got sucked off that’s gross!”

“If it was good I might have a nosey myself, come on!” the look in his eyes wasn’t dissimilar to that of a kid at Christmas, waiting for Pete to hand him his next gift. “Joe, you’re straight.”

“So? Blowjob’s a blowjob.”

With a roll of his eyes – something else Pete seemed to be doing a lot lately – he sighed and let on as much as he could about the details he remembered. How talented the kid was. How good he looked with his lips sealed around his rock-hard, throbbing c-

“Okay, okay, enough, you’re good, fine.” Of course, Joe didn’t want the details. He always asked for then none the less. “Sounds to me like you’ve struck gold, though.” Pete didn’t like the implication of that, didn’t like where the conversation seemed to be headed. He was about to argue that he wasn’t going to turn into a regular when Andy noisily pulled out the chair and slumped back in his seat… not that Andy’s slumping was anything like regular slumping, he had too many muscles in the way.

“You owe me 10.” Joe demanded, hand outstretched and waiting for the bill to be slapped into it with a resigned huff.

Chapter Text

“So, Jordan came grovelling back.” Pete didn’t even lift his head when he heard Joe breeze into the office. “I’m not surprised.” A sneer crossed his face at the stack of papers dumped onto his desk. “Says he has an Amigoni he acquired in Tokyo, I’m not pressing for details, I’ll be one of the dead bodies buried under his maple tree.” An ongoing joke nobody really knew how seriously to take, “I’d bet my left ass-cheek it’s not authentic though, said he got it for 1.4Mil! No way in hell is that real.” Pete just shrugged. Jordan was a stuck up, pompous little twat, but he wasn’t a liar. He knew his art. Unlike Meriboyd, who frequently had to be sent away with some unconvincing fake he’d paid too much money for. He was young and dumb and didn’t understand these things yet. “You want me to have it checked?”

Stamping things was fun. It was one of the best parts of this godforsaken job Pete had somehow landed himself in. If you’re gonna violently smash ink onto a piece of paper, do it with vigour that makes the table shake. “Sure, can’t be too safe.” He didn’t like the way Joe closed the door behind himself when he walked across the wooden floor towards Pete, the seventh board from his desk squeaking underfoot. There was no point in looking up to meet the blue eyes hovering above him, if there was something that needed to be said, well… it didn’t take Pete’s sight to work. He set the stamped file aside and reached out for the next one, considerably thicker and probably just as boring.

“Are you okay?” There he was. Loyal, protective, gentle Joe. Joe the gentle giant. Maybe not in the physical sense – though he was certainly taller than Pete, not that that was an achievement – but his heart sure as hell was. His heart might just be the biggest thing Pete had ever encountered. He was glad it had a little space in it for him.

Long fingers, calloused from years of playing guitar, were close enough for Pete to be able to see them without raising his gaze, like an offer of comfort.

Did he need it?

Was Pete okay?

He wasn’t any less okay than usual, neither was he any less okay than the last time Joe had asked that question. That passed as okay. He was… okay. So he nodded. A firm hand clamped around his shoulder amicably, squeezing it once before pulling away. Why exactly his jaw clenched when he was left cold, remained a mystery to Pete.

He tried not to think about it too much as he turned back to the yellow sleeve on his desk. God fucking damn it, the pile wasn’t getting any smaller. It loomed over him like the Bottle Imp and no matter how much he ignored it, it was still there. Sitting right in front of him, always in his line of vision. Fuck, how he hated January.

The cold didn’t help with that. And whilst the inside of his nice, wooden office was warm and cosy thanks to the impeccable heating running through the entire floor and up all the outside walls, it made going out into the chill that much worse. True, this was LA, winters never got that bad, but… Pete had lived here as long as he could remember. The sub-zero temperatures of snowy Chicago were not something he recalled. There was one memory, he must have been very small though, it probably wasn’t even real, but he thought he had an image in his mind of playing in the snow in their old backyard with his dad. God, how long must that have been ago, 28 years? At least. It had been 27 since he’d last been up there. It was probably just something he’d made up. The memory, that is, not Chicago. Though at this point, Pete was honestly questioning his hold on reality as he read over the same paragraph for the fourth time before deciding he was bored and dumping it onto the “trash” pile without further ado.

He should adopt that method. If a report didn’t grip him within the first few sentences, he should just bin it.

It seemed like a solid enough plan and like something that would really save him a lot of time, but…

Great art isn’t dependant on its level of fame, its notoriety. It’s not based on what some old, white guy has to say about it and it certainly not got anything to do with whether or not Pete assigns a value to it.

The world doesn’t understand that.

Pete makes or breaks art, or at least has a part in deciding what lives on. Or maybe he was grossly overestimating his importance in this world. Who knows. Either way, he felt he owed the paintings at least a second glance.

Then again, what was he doing? He wasn’t making a difference, just referring what should belong to the public from one rich fuckwit to the next. Galleries couldn’t afford the prices, if Pete could, he’d buy all the paintings and donate them, but…

The buzz of his phone was a welcome distraction from the looming existential crisis disguised as paperwork.

“Hi, yeah, the painting’s authentic and I need to saw off my left butt cheek.” At least Joe was there to make it bearable.

 

 

It’s fine, this is fine, you just need to fuck somebody, it’s nothing personal, it’s just animal instinct, was what went through Pete’s mind the second time he pulled up to the curb later that day. There was a certain ego boost that came with picking up hot chicks in bars, Pete had always loved it. He knew it lowkey made him an asshole, probably, but it felt too good for him to be able to care. Besides, it was best when the picking up was mutual, when she was putting as much work into it as he was. He loved women. He loved their softness, their curves, their consistency. Men were a burst of energy, bright and blinding and beautiful, but always changing, always wavering, predictable in the most unpleasant ways. Not one man had ever been able to make Pete feel stability. Some women made him feel at home even only for one night.

Pete loved women.

Unfortunately, the older he got, the less women loved him. He put it down largely to the age ingrained into him by osmosis, which he blamed, in turn, on his work. He was a 31-year-old approaching 50 and sometimes, he felt like he looked it. The wrinkles on his brow, the strain in his jaw, that grey hair he’d found last week… Hopefully it meant he’d actually have to put up with this bullshit for 20 years less, too, otherwise, what was really the point?

He spotted Martin straight away this time, leaning against a hydrant as he chatted lightly with somebody Pete didn’t recognize. A tall, dark-haired boy with a long face and a glint in his eye, almost the polar opposite of the small, blonde guy in everything but his unhealthily skinny stature. Martin flashed him a large, toothy grin when he saw the car come to a halt and made sure to lightly sway his leather-clad hips as he approached the open window. The trousers weren’t real leather, that much was obvious, even if Pete was too distracted by the protruding collarbones to be paying much attention to anything else. “Hey there, baby, can I help you?” Pete bit his lip, taking in the sight of the skinny hooker leaning into his car window. All mine. It was so much easier than chatting up some brunette at a bar.

He flashed the $100 bill he’d withdrawn minutes before, earning himself a wink as the door clicked open and he was joined by the promise of a good lay. Warm lips nuzzled his throat teasingly before they pulled away and the click of a seatbelt broke the momentary tension.

Part of Pete felt the need to make conversation while another part was asking what exactly the point of that would be. This wasn’t a date, he’d picked up a whore, was going to stick his dick in him for a bit and then likely never see him again. No point in pretending he cared. Thankfully, he didn’t have to.

“I’m kinda grateful, y’know. For not pretending you care. Small talk can get terribly awkward when you only have one thing on your mind.” He was pretty certain Martin had his annoying little smirk set on his face, but he wasn’t about to look. He didn’t care, there was no point in looking. “Yeah, well, I don’t care”, was the only response he felt willing to give.

“That’s fair. I’d say I do, but I get the feeling you’re not the sort of j- guy to be fooled by my little act.” Pete just shrugged. There was a sense of pride that came with the confirmation that he wasn’t like the others, he didn’t need or receive some stupid act, he knew what he was getting. He wasn’t one of the sad, middle-aged men that needed a boy to pretend he cared about them, he had enough self-esteem to get by without external validation. Or maybe he was just past giving a shit.

“Not gonna lie, though, it does make this part pretty boring. I’d offer to suck your cock, but I do think there is a certain safety hazard in that.” Fuck him for being good at his job, honestly. Pete’s jaw clenched a little at the image of it, pretty pink lips sealed tightly around him as he sped down the highway… not something he was averse to. Martin was a walking promise, a little package of pretty perfection completed with pouty, pink lips. If Satan was real, he might just be the impersonation of him.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take much to break any good mood Pete might be in these days. “How’s that nice little job of yours? Going neatly?” The tut that escaped Pete couldn’t be held back, “small talk doesn’t suit you, just shut the fuck up.” And he did.

Martin didn’t say another word the entire ride back to the apartment, didn’t make a sound as they stood in the elevator to Pete’s penthouse, didn’t open his mouth until he was kneeling on the floor between Pete’s legs, the hard dick muffling any noises he might make. Pete curled his fingers into the blonde hair, roughly moving Martin’s head up and down his shaft as his tongue flicked against the head every other stroke. Fuck, it felt good, the comfortable heat of the whore’s mouth, intense even through the layer of latex, the uvula hitting the tip of his cock every time he pushed forward, making the hooker’s throat clench.

Pete didn’t hold back, whining, moaning and cursing as he fucked the open and willing mouth in a steady rhythm, only pulling out when he got dangerously close to the tipping point. Martin sat back on his heels, wiping a bead of spit from the corner of his mouth before meeting Pete’s eyes in a dark gaze that he couldn’t quite read. He didn’t know if he liked it.

“Up here, on your back”, he instructed, sharply and the whore, obedient as ever, did as he was told, leaving the trousers Pete told him to take off in a pile on the floor. He could stop and stare, drinking in the sight of the little, blonde boy underneath him, legs spread, wide, two fingers already up his ass, just waiting for his dick. Patience could go fuck itself, though.

Pete roughly pushed the hand out of the way, making room inside for him and wasted no time, lining himself up before letting his hips snap forward, filling the whore up in one, sharp move. The sight of the body arching below him, even with the torso still covered, was more than enough to make Pete want to let go and come inside it with nothing but loud screams and desperate moans, but he held back. He didn’t want it to be over, not quite yet.

Martin let out a little mewl below him as he started thrusting, deeply and quickly, not allowing much time for adjustment… with that in mind, he let himself fall forward so his lips were hovering next to Martin’s ear and whispered, “is this alright?” The nod was all the encouragement he needed, not hesitating to pick up pace as best he could, tugging Martin’s hips up, just to change his position, just a little, just so he could…

Ah, there it was. Pete grinned to himself when Martin’s hand shot to his dick, roughly tugging at it as a yelp of pure pleasure tore through his body, making his back arch as Pete found his prostate. Her mercilessly pounded into it, coaxing an array of beautiful curses form those full, pink lips that looked so incredibly good around his cock… he put his hand on Martin’s face, wordlessly instructing him to suck on the thumb he put to his mouth. Blue eyes opened, the hint of a tear in the corner of one of them, but his gaze was nothing but lusting as he stared at Pete intently, humming around the finger in his mouth, his hips bucking every once in a while…

“Fuck, you’re pretty…” Pete fell forward again, desperately rutting into Martin, his unstifled moans bouncing off the walls and ceiling as he pushed himself, closer and closer, the heat building in his gut, driving him mad, making his hips snap forward frantically, desperate to undo the knot in his gut until-

Martin screamed under him, the tension his orgasm provided more than enough to send Pete toppling over the edge with him, gripping pale, pale legs tightly as he buried himself deep into the hooker’s ass when he filled the condom with a loud moan. He lay across Martin’s body, breathing heavily into the sweat-streaked hair as he tried to gather himself. If he kept his eyes closed and his mind shut, just for a bit, he could almost believe… A tap on the back of his shoulder made him turn his head to meet blue-green eyes almost too close to his own, carrying something he hadn’t seen in them before, a certain…. Concern? Maybe? Pete frowned. “What?!”

“Uh… condom… you gotta deal with yours…” With a sigh, Pete pushed himself up and slid his softening cock out of the whore, pulling off the condom with little care. He noted silently that Martin, too, had rubbered up. Seemed a little odd to him, but at least he wasn’t leaving any mess to clean up. Against his will, he held out a hand to take it, that being the polite thing to do, seeing as he was going to dispose of his own, anyway, but Martin shook his head, wincing slightly as he sat up himself. “Have it your way.”

There was something placid about the guy as he pulled his clothes back on, not making any snarky remarks or shooting Pete loaded looks. He just silently got dressed before disposing of his own condom in the same bin he’d seen Pete use. He offered a light smile when he met Pete’s eye, something warm filling his features and radiating from him. It made Pete feel out of his depth, out of control with the post-orgasm chill he always suffered beginning to set in.

It shocked him when bony arms wrapped around his body, pulling him into a close hug. He panicked. He didn’t do hugging, not with anybody, certainly not with a street whore he’d just paid for a fuck.  

He didn’t even say anything, just roughly shoved Martin away. He scrambled backwards, just catching himself on the island counter. A look of shock and maybe… maybe something deeper crossed his face as his palms smacked against the worktop, a second later, it was gone. He stood up, straightened his frame and swung his bag over his shoulder, giving Pete a last little smile that never quite reached his eyes before wordlessly breezing out of the apartment, leaving it empty save the man standing in the middle of it, seemingly lost in his own home.

 

 

 

 

 

The thing about smoking is, trying it once won’t kill you. Trying it twice won’t, either, that might just be the problem. When you’ve smoked your second cigarette and still haven’t dropped dead of lung cancer, you start to feel safe, start to think oh, this won’t happen to me, I’m fine, I won’t become addicted. Everybody else around you knows you’re lying to yourself, hell, even you know you’re lying to yourself, but once you’ve done it that second time, that’s it.

When you then smoke your third, fourth and fifth cigarette, every one becomes the last one until you find yourself no longer smoking one or two cigarettes at a party, but rather one or two boxes of cigarettes a day.

Pete was on his second box, drawing the toxins into his body without a second thought, not really caring much about the slow but certain suicide. The coward’s way of chickening out. Not that he wanted to, not that he had thought about it… well, okay, maybe he had, but it all seemed like too much fuss. No, Pete didn’t want to die, he just didn’t really care if he lived, either.

The other problem with addictions is the cost. And frankly, if he was spending $300 a month on lung cancer, the additional $100 every fortnight or so weren’t gonna kill him. $500 on making things bearable. Not too bad, right?

Joe shot him that look, the “you know those things are gonna kill you”-look as he breezed in with a stack of files – the end-of-the-month-you-have-bills type – a phone tucked against his shoulder as he babbled on about something Pete didn’t care about. The effort it would take to figure out A) who was on the other line and B) what they wanted wasn’t worth the information he’d get out of it. It used to excite him, the eavesdropping, but not anymore. They were all the same, really.

Between the “yes”, “uhu”, “mmh”, and “okay” Joe was throwing around, he was rolling his eyes and silently tutting at whoever seemed to be wasting his time. He did make Pete laugh. His job sucked balls, but at least he had his friend there with him, that was something. Could be worse. He found himself smiling at Joe’s increasingly annoyed tone and sharp answers as he carelessly threw a bunch of files in the rubbish pile, all the while trying to suppress the feeling of guilt at not giving the art a chance. A chance to rot in some other vault.

It was only February, but Pete could already feel the coldest weather giving way, he’d had to turn the heating down when he’d come into his office that morning, the stuffiness heavy on his lungs. Though that might be down to the empty box of cigarettes lying in the bin next to his desk. He tried not to think about it too much.

“Ugh, he could talk the hind legs off a donkey, honestly.” Pete chuckled lightly at Joe’s more than irritated tone and raised his eyebrows in question.

Joe waved a dismissive hand, “nothing important, just… y’know. Doesn’t matter.” Something about the smile he shot Pete told him there was something he wasn’t letting on, but he wasn’t going to push for answers. If it was important, he’d find out, he was sure. If it wasn’t, well, he was glad Joe was sparing him the stress of knowing.

“So, uh, any plans? For tonight?” Pete closed the file he’d just opened, Joe providing a more than welcome distraction. “What?” There was an uncomfortable shift in the atmosphere, the kind Pete had only become aware of since he’d been required to work around them. “Well… Valentine’s day and… and that.” Ugh. The worst holiday of the year. He’d nearly got by without realizing it, good job, Joseph. “No, not… exactly… I don’t have plans.”

“Hm… well, y’know how it is, plenty of singles out and about, desperate to not be alone for the night, eh?” He tried to put on his best smile, not quite being able to bring his head up enough for their eyes to meet. Not thinking about the empty flat awaiting him was Pete’s best option, really.

Joe’s tone was soft when he spoke again. “You’ll be alright, Pete, really.” With a comforting squeeze of his shoulder, he ducked out of the office, leaving Pete with a nice, big stack of paperwork and his half-finished box of Marlboros.

Chapter Text

He wasn’t quite sure what led him back to that grimy street with its dark alleys and its cheap boys after he’d locked up the office, why then. Maybe it really was the need not to be lonely for the fifth Valentine’s on a row, maybe he was just bored. It didn’t look any more harmless the second time, the lights were still dim, the figures still only just to be made out against the black of the night. He spotted Martin straight away this time, lingering in the shadows, not standing under the lamppost like most of his friends were. It almost seemed defensive, like he was hiding himself. Pete was aware of the crawling pace he was going at, living up to the reputation he feared he was beginning to acquire, the one the rational part of his mind was scolding him for, day in, day out, ever since he’d let a whore take his money and suck his dick.

That didn’t matter. Not right now. Pete had always done the right thing, the good thing, look where it had landed him. On a street corner at the back end of town even the dogs avoid. Martin was staring at the ground in front of him, one of his feet up against the wall he was leaning on as he waited for the next full wallet to pick him up, to offer him somewhere warm for a few minutes, at least.

If he didn’t look up, Pete would just drive on. He’d leave and forget about it, take it as a sign from the universe that he should stay the fuck away. Like he still needed that sign.

Working the streets apparently sharpened your senses somewhat, Pete must have been 25 yards away when Patrick’s head snapped up towards him. For a split second, he failed to put on his mask, forgot to play his part, maybe. Or he was just tired and a bit slow. It was even possible Pete had just imagined it, because as he came waltzing over to the car, he was wearing the same challenging, cheeky grin as last time. There were faint, grey bags under his eyes, aging him considerably and adding something… sincere. “Hey Pete, come here for me?”

His throat was too dry to be trusted with talking, Pete just nodded sharply. “What do you want, baby, same as last time? The full hour?” No. no, Pete didn’t want that. He wanted… he needed to get him out of his system, that was all. He didn’t need sensual blowjobs and long, meaningless conversations. He needed to fuck him and leave him, work out the frustration building up in him, get it out, feel in control, just for a bit.

He noticed he still hadn’t replied when he looked up to see Martin’s arched eyebrows, his expectant look, his bottom lip caught between his teeth.

“How much for a fuck?” Nothing about the prostitute’s expression changed. “$80.” 80. It didn’t seem like much to Pete, then again, Pete wasn’t exactly accustomed to picking up whores.

With a slight sense of apprehension in his gut and $80 less in his wallet, Pete aimlessly drove through the streets, not really heading home, but nor was he heading anywhere else. There was a stifling silence in the car that hadn’t been there last time, and Pete really wasn’t certain what he preferred – this or the snarky remarks he’d been expecting. Martin’s impatient fidgeting and his glances out of the window were made especially noticeable by the lack of conversation, reminding Pete that he was on a schedule, he wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as he could so he could get back on his street corner and find the next willing payer. He’d got his money, there was nothing left for him to want here.

A sudden wave of realization made Pete decide he was making too big a deal of this, thinking too much about the situation, investing too much time and effort, it wasn’t a big deal for Martin, he was just another client, he didn’t care where he got fucked, this wasn’t a fucking date. Pete shouldn’t care, either.

The next car park wasn’t far. Pete pulled into it, faintly registering Martin sitting up in his seat as he lined up so he was inside the space properly. He wasn’t sure why, it just… seemed like the right thing to do. For some reason, focussing on more than one thing at a time seemed to overwork his brain, so that Pete went through all the steps of parking his car before so much as glancing over to what his money had bought him.

It was still odd, even with a few weeks to work through it, to see Martin, cute, twinky little Martin, Martin whom he’d picked up at a party on a completely mutual basis, Martin who had come back to his apartment with him, Martin, whom he had fucked against his bookcase, to think of him as… a sex worker. Why had it all been so much easier before he’d found out? And why had he come back now he knew?

He just needed a quick relief, to get the tension out and to do something with a purpose and, yes, Martin was pretty. His pale skin, his big, blue eyes, his messy hair the colour of honey… yes, just his type. That was all.

Keeping his breathing steady wasn’t without any difficulty as Pete tentatively let a hand stroke along Martin’s side, catching the material of his t-shirt between his fingers to reveal a strip of bare skin. He wasn’t aware of his teeth sinking into his lip until it hurt, too distracted by the promise of a warm, soft body.

Evidently eager to get this over and done with, Martin demonstratively unbuckled his seatbelt so he could lean over the handbrake to let his lips connect with Pete’s hot skin. It was like something unstuck in his throat as a long breath escaped him in something that wasn’t quite yet a sigh. Martin was good. He was too good. With ease, he managed to climb across the car until he was straddling Pete’s hips, both his hands cupping a stubbled jaw as he licked at the shell of his ear. Pete couldn’t help his hands wandering up the back of the thin shirt, couldn’t stop the moan that escaped him when Martin started grinding his hips against Pete’s hardening dick, causing just enough friction to make him absolutely crazy for more.

There was a high little mewl that came dangerously close to escaping Pete’s lips when teeth sunk into his earlobe, gently gnawing before being replaced by suckling lips that made their way down his neck. Martin’s fingers were dancing around the buttons of his collar, but if he was honest, Pete couldn’t be bothered. This wasn’t sex, this was a quick fuck, two very different things in Pete’s mind. He roughly pushed the hand away from his shirt and moved to cup the nice, round ass instead, squeezing it with both hands and eliciting a small noise from Martin.

He needed him out of those damned jeans, he needed him out of them right now. With great impatience, he scrambled to undo the button, too many fingers, too much fabric, until he could tug the zipper down and worm a hand into those tight, tight trousers. It was with pleasant surprise he noticed that the guy was, in fact, half-hard himself. This was actually doing something for him, Pete could barely believe it when he looked down to find the hardening dick resting against his neat, white shirt. Not that it mattered, he was a whore. His whore. Just there to make him feel good.

Pete greedily tore at the trousers, desperately trying to get them down those beautifully thick thighs. Damn the hooker for wearing clothes so tight they couldn’t be removed, that didn’t seem like a smart choice in his line of work.

His face snapped up when he heard a tiny whine above him only for him to be met with the briefest hint of a frown before Martin lifted his hips and shimmied out of his jeans, his briefs coming down with them. Deciding there was no time for hesitation, Pete quickly sucked at two of his fingers before letting them glide down a pale back only to stop at the tight ring of muscle between equally pale legs. Martin’s breath hitched when Pete roughly circled around the edge, pressing slightly, before pushing in. There was the slightest hint of a flinch when he crooked his finger, searching for the spot that would make Martin want this just a little more, pushing and prodding experimentally before giving up and inserting a second finger to the third knuckle. He ignored the sharp hiss when he scissored his fingers, stretching him open, preparing him for-

Martin grunted when Pete was removed from his body, instead turning to fumble with the button of his own trousers that, thankfully, were considerably easier to remove. It was crazy how hard that bit of lapping at his neck and fingering somebody else had made him. But then again, there was that tension he’d been holding all day that had desperately wanted to break free.

Martin provided the condoms. Obviously. He was also the one to roll it onto Pete’s cock, faces brushing as he rubbed lube along his shaft. Why was he so fucking good? At hand-jobs?

Because he’s a whore, Pete. This is his profession.

With a silent moan, Pete’s head tipped back when Martin sunk down onto him, burying the hard dick inside his body. He gently rocked his hips, circling them on Pete’s lap, his lusting eyes fixed on the man beneath him.

Fuck, Pete knew it was an act. But it was good. It was almost authentic. If he closed his eyes, he could almost believe Martin really cared, wanted this, even…

No. no, it didn’t matter, he didn’t need Martin to care, he needed him to be a good fuck. “Back seat,” was the only instruction Pete grunted out and the whore obliged, climbing off and over Pete and lying down in the back of the car, legs open, hand stroking his cock. “Stop that.”

For the first time since he’d got into the black Mercedes, Martin spoke. His voice sounded a little off, like he had a cold. “But please, sir… it’s so uncomfortable.” Pete hated how the innocent tone went straight to his dick, how he was once again falling for this.

 Just to get it out of your system.

“I said stop.” He wasn’t quite sure whether the shudder that went through Martin’s body was voluntary, but his hand dropped to his side, where it lay lightly against the beige seat. His eyes were locked on Pete and carrying a pleading look, like he was begging for… for him. For Pete.

He hurriedly pulled the half-used condom off and stuffed himself into his trousers before getting out of the car. He wasn’t as young as he once had been, he didn’t want to embarrass himself by scrabbling through the vehicle when a whore had so elegantly climbed into the back. Opening the door to the back seat revealed a waiting Martin, legs spread as wide as the jeans around his knees allowed, a finger in his mouth, eyes foggy with want. Fuck. He was gorgeous, his beautiful, pink lips, his face Pete knew carried light freckles, those eyes…. No

No.

Pete climbed in, pushing all thoughts about the kid… the hooker aside. Once the door had slammed shut behind him, he tugged his dick out again and rolled on the new condom Martin had fished out of his bag.

A whore. Martin the whore.

He didn’t bother with words, grabbing the blonde by his hips, ignoring the slightly alarmed look as he flipped him over. Without hesitation, he slammed forward into the open and waiting ass, feeling it clench around him, a little tighter than it had been a few minutes ago, but still comfortably fitting around his cock. He groaned, long and low, as he started thrusting, sharply allowing his hips to tug out before snapping back forward, not trying to hold back or slow himself down. He didn’t care if he didn’t last long. He didn’t care about anything, he just needed to fuck, to feel…

“Shit.” He hissed as he fell forward so he was lying over Martin’s back, his palms pressed to the back of the hooker’s hands, desperately rutting into him. The tightness was insane, making him ache with want and a desperation to come, enforced by the little whimpers the hooker was letting out every so often. He scraped his teeth along the soft skin on the whore’s neck, licking over the irritation, nipping lightly where it turned a slight pink to make it more of an angry red or black or blue, all the while trying to go faster, pushing his body to do more, give him more, more than he could have, more friction, more depth, more intensity, more, more more-

It was with a loud moan he came, pressing his hips as close up to the man below him as he could as the sound of his orgasm filled the car, tore through him like the heat unwinding in his gut. It took a while for him to collect himself and get his legs to stop shaking somewhat, he stayed with his face and torso pressed into Martin’s back and made sure to blend out the squirming beneath him. After a few minutes, Pete pulled out, leaving Martin exposed and empty. He was trembling, his cock limp between his legs. Faint irritation gripped Pete when he registered the pool of sticky, white glob on his seat, internally cursing the boy for not wearing a condom.

“Clean that up.” His voice came out a little more harshly than intended. Not that it mattered, really. Martin awkwardly twisted around, revealing the same cheeky expression that always seemed to be plastered over his features, the one that confirmed what he was, what he did. “As you say, sir.”

Pete climbed back behind the wheel and leaned across to rustle through the glove compartment, only a little pleased with himself when he found the bottle of disinfectant he thought he remembered storing there. Carelessly, he threw it over his shoulder and heard a smack as it presumably hit Martin, who was doing his best to clean the leather seat of any evidence he’d been there.

Handbreak off, wheel lock off, first gear, ignition on, release the clutch, accelerate.

Pete pulled out of the car park, barely checking for traffic – it was 11 p. m. who the fuck would be out in this area so late? Whores and their clients. It was something of a thrill driving through the streets of LA with a hooker in the back of his car, cleaning his come off the expensive, leather seats. It felt…

Pete wasn’t sure how it felt, but it felt good, he felt in control, he felt he was the master of the situation, had been all night. Nobody he needed to cosy up to, nobody he needed to be polite to, nobody he needed to tip-toe around, just a warm body and a tight, tight asshole.

He stopped the car on the opposite side of the street he’d first picked Martin up on, offering him a half-hearted smile as the whore climbed out, bag slung over his shoulder, coat over his arm.  A sense of pride filled Pete when Martin bent down to look into the window, offering a smirk and a raised brow. The bruises his teeth had left were visible even in the awful lighting, angry and dark against the white skin. Fuck. He could eat him right up.

“See you next time, make sure to clean that seat,” Martin slurred, punctuating his words with a wink.

“Sure.”

A desperation to spank the living shit out of him overcame Pete when Martin wandered off into the night, hips swaying playfully, his shirt hanging loosely from his frame and revealing his sharp, bony shoulders to any desperate onlookers.

 

 

It was only when Pete had showered and crawled into bed later that night that it hit him. “Sure”, he’d said. He’d agreed he’d return. He’d admitted he wanted to.

He didn’t though, it had been the heat of the moment, the ecstasy of a good orgasm still fogging his brain and twisting his words, nothing more.

He wasn’t going back. He didn’t need to see Martin again. He’d had his fuck, he’d got out his frustration, he’d washed the hooker out of his system.

This isn’t going to be a regular thing.

It’s not.

You’re not seeing him again.

You’re not going back.

You. Are. Not.

 

 

 

 

The headache was bad.

It took Pete half an hour to get his eyes open in the morning, cursing the sunbeams for sending white pain shooting through him and cursing himself for never using the black-out blinds. He flipped over in his huge bed, burying his face in the purple sheets with a low groan. Fuck what had he had last night? He didn’t remember going out… no, he did, he remembered getting in his car with… with somebody else. Andy, probably.

Ugh his car, hopefully he hadn’t been dumb enough to drive back home with the level of alcohol that must have been coursing through his blood. Eventually, he managed to roll out of bed and made a beeline straight to his nearest pair of sunglasses, they might be his only friend right now.

He wasn’t really expecting anything when he thumped his way down the glass stairs leading to his living room, just thinking he’d be in his so very familiar apartment surrounded by familiar furniture and familiar walls and in general just stuff that was safe, that he had control over…

Control… he faintly remembered the frustration that had built up in him yesterday, triggered by… something. Jordan, probably. He was usually very frustrating with his ego and his snobbery. Fuck Jordan, honestly.

It came as something of a shock then when he reached the bottom of the stairs and found his place, well, trashed. Essentially.

Slight panic gripped him. Had he been burgled? He had nothing of value! Okay, that was a lie, but the obvious things – huge flat-screen TV, HiFi sound-system, paintings that looked more expensive than they had been – were still in place. His wallet was upstairs in his bedroom, he owned no jewellery. The stuff he’d really spent money on was immovable, namely his apartment and the furniture, all of which seemed to still be in its assigned place.

Then he saw. The bottle. Just one, but it was empty when last time Pete had seen it sitting in its glass case on the bookcase, it had been unopened. The Talisker Whisky. 30 years of sitting in a barrel, 5 years of sitting on Pete’s shelf, only to land in his gut on a bad day…

Why the fuck had he sat in his living room drinking $400 Whisky on a Wednesday night?

Shit.

Oh shit.

Pete tore back upstairs to check his phone. 16 missed calls and a fuckload of text messages.

He didn’t hesitate to dial Joe’s number.

“Wentzlet! Where the fuck are you, things are going wild here, you have four applicants for that curator position waiting, bitch!”

Pete groaned for what seemed like the seven-hundred-and-fifty-first time that day. “Fuck, Joe I… ah… where the fuck were we last night?”

There was a moment’s silence in which Pete could perfectly picture his friend’s resigned expression at the realisation that he had once again had a blackout. He needed to not drink himself into oblivion every time something went wrong before it turned into a bigger problem.

“We weren’t anywhere last night.” What?! “At least I wasn’t with you, no idea what the hell you get up to when you’re not moping in your office, I always just presumed you moped at home.” Well… kinda. Pete glanced around the room looking for answers to unasked questions burning through his brain.

“Get the hell down here, man, you can’t just bail on me, not in February! I’m in some modern re-interpretation of the seventh circle of hell!”

“I feel like shit, man.”

“Not my fault you’re developing an alcohol problem. I’m the one suffering here, get your ass over!” He didn’t leave any room for further argument, hanging up before he’s even really finished talking.

Reluctantly, Pete pulled on semi-smart trousers, a blue shirt and his trusty black jacket. He didn’t bother with a tie, for some reason the thought of something around his throat made him want to throw up.

 

 

 

 

There was an odd, sour smell in his car. The distinctive smell of disinfectant scratched at Pete’s nose the entire drive to work, niggling at his brain, forcing itself into the back corner of his memory, pulling the door shut behind it so he couldn’t follow. How drunk had he been?!

It was only when he pulled into his designated parking space outside of the neat, white building that he managed to get a proverbial foot in the proverbial door his intoxicated mind had constructed.

All it took was a second’s worth of blonde hair and blue eyes and it all came flooding back in a drowning wave.

The hooker.

Martin.

His forehead smacked against the leather-bound steering wheel as regret filled Pete’s gut. Regret that he’d picked up a whore. Again.

No, worse than that, he’d picked up a whore, driven to the nearest parking lot and fucked him in the back seat. Like a dog. Had he cleaned the car properly? He must remember to do that after work.

Needless to say Joe came close to committing murder when he saw the state his boss was in. Pete hadn’t actually looked in a mirror, he didn’t really want to, either. fuck first impressions, he was the employer, not the employee he could turn up in sweatpants for all they cared. He should probably have done that.

The interviews were pretty pointless, Pete couldn’t concentrate on anything but the occasional mental image that revealed itself to him. They were slowly being uncovered, one by one. The way Martin had skulked in the shadows. Then the way his body had trembled below Pete.

In the end, he ended up sending all four applicants away with a promise of letting them know if anybody had got the job. Joe would have him for him, but he’d get him to make the decision. He seemed to know more about the damned auction house than he did these days. Not that it mattered.

Martin’s face when he’d carelessly tugged tight jeans across soft flesh.

He blamed the guilt on the fact that he’d made the ‘trash’ pile a permanent feature of his working day now, dooming any piece of art burdened with an illiterate owner to a lifetime of dark cupboards. He didn’t care, he’d just be transferring it to another lonely room in another lonely house. What did it matter?

Martin’s whimpering as he roughly pounded into him.

“How’s things, Mr. Mope?” Pete scowled at the table when Joe cam waltzing in, thankfully not bringing him any more files. Maybe they were finally getting to the end of this nightmare. Not that Pete was actually getting any work done, he had retreated to tumblr, somewhat of a guilty pleasure considering he was 31, but then again, he was a pretentious artsy person, so it kinda was his demographic. These were the people he wanted to work with, people with real talent, not money-hungry wannabes. The fuck was he doing?

“Figured out what happened yesterday?” Joe settled himself against the edge of the wooden desk. “Huh? Oh. Kinda.”

“What was it?”

“$400 whisky and a load of regrets.” Joe nodded like he was weighing up Pete’s failure against previous ones. “That’s basically every day of your life, any specifics?” Pete clicked on the blog’s next page. “Nope.”

“Shame, I’m low on gossip.”

“Go talk to Billie, he’s always got something going.” When Joe would learn finger guns weren’t and never had been cool, Pete didn’t know. Or maybe he was fully aware of it and just enjoyed being a bag of dicks.

Martin’s panicked expression when he’d grabbed his hips.

With a huff, Pete shut off his PC and locked his desk drawer. Not like he was getting shit done, anyway.

He’d already smoked through nearly two boxes. It didn’t matter, he needed something right now and it was either this or a bullet to the head.

It was fucking cold up on the roof, the winter winds beating his clothes and tearing at his face, but it cleared his head. Pete leaned against the wall surrounding the staircase and took a long draw, squeezing his eyes shut as he let smoke fill his lungs and muffle the screaming for a second. It was self-destructive, almost more so than the bottle of Talisker on his cream carpet.

Better than taking it out on somebody else.

Better than finding a whore to abuse.

He’d grabbed and clawed and pushed and forced and ignored the little signs, the winces that were a little to sudden and vigorous to be pleasure, the whimpers that were filled with fear rather than lust, that look, the fear Martin’s eyes had held, even if only for a second. He’d bitten and bruised him and used him because he could. And Martin had said nothing for the same reason Pete didn’t call Obermann a gullible idiot. It was his job.

Fuck.

He really was an utter piece of shit.

He flicked the stub of his Marlboro into the snow in front of him and watched it burn a hole to sink through. There was a metaphor in there somewhere. Probably. It didn’t matter.

He should have been a lawyer like his dad.

Chapter Text

He managed almost a month. A month of suppressing it, a month of pretending that there wasn’t a hooker waiting for him on a street corner. He’d gone longer without sex before, of course, way longer, but… the month felt like a lifetime of abstinence and Pete didn’t know why, he didn’t know what was making him spiral out of control like this. It gnawed away at him, at his gut, making him feel sick and hollow and plaguing him until he couldn’t take it anymore. It was probably selfish, driving back along that road that was becoming a little too familiar, he should stay away from Martin, let him live his life, but he couldn’t. the drive was different this time, not energized and desperate, looking forward to a quick release, more pondering melancholy. He didn’t want to do it, but he needed to. More  bullshit excuses.

Martin was standing in full view, right below the lamppost. His trousers were still obscenely tight, but this pair had a shiny, leathery finish. Pete found himself wondering how hard they would be to peel off and quickly pushed the thought away. He just… he wanted to apologize, that was all. No more taking advantage of the kid. Fuck, he didn’t even know his age.

“Hey, Pete.” He was flashing a gorgeous, toothy grin, a different but equally loose shirt letting Pete catch a glimpse of his torso once again. Like nothing had happened. “H-hey-“ his mouth was dry.

“What can I do to help you, honey? Quick fuck or something…” his eyes slid over Pete’s body, taking him apart, leaving him feeling naked and exposed, “more interesting?” Interesting. One way to put it.

“I, umh…” he showed Martin the $100 bill, in turn earning a smile that made something in his mind shift. The door swung open to let his passenger in, who gave him a quick peck on the cheek before fastening his seatbelt. Pete didn’t hesitate to drive off the second the door was pulled shut.

“How was work?” Pete shrugged. Martin didn’t care, he was fully aware of that, he was only asking because, well, it was his job. “Why do you do it?” The question could have been casual, but there was something accusatory in his tone. “What?”

“Why do you do your job if it makes you drink?” Something sunk in Pete, something not unlike terror. How did he know? How could he possibly know? “It’s my job to find out who people are, what they want. Addictions are an easy thing to spot, no matter how much you might deny them.” His grip on the steering wheel was so tight it was hurting his fingers, the beige leather was rubbing his skin uncomfortably.

He didn’t want to talk about this. Two could play this game. “Do you enjoy being a whore?” Martin stayed silent. “Do you enjoy letting gross, old men stick their dicks in you for a few dollars? Is that your idea of a good life, Martin?” The only noise he got in return was the grinding of teeth trying to keep in words that couldn’t be allowed to escape. He knew, he was all too familiar with it.

“I don’t like my job, but I do it because it pays the bills. You and I might have that in common.”

He was used to Martin speaking back. If he was honest, he kinda liked it, somebody challenging him directly instead of trying to creep up his ass one moment and shit-talk him the next. He wasn’t used to the tone of utter and complete resentment that came with the words that were practically spat at him. “Mind your own fucking business, Wentz, or don’t come and fucking bother me.”

It stung a bit. Just a little, but still more than it should, the poison in his voice. Pete had never felt hated, but for a split second there… he had crossed a line.

 

 

 

“Uh, make yourself at home… can I get you anything?” Pete tried not to think too much about the fact that he was going straight for whisky again. He watched as Martin paced across the room with near-silent footsteps and settled himself on the black couch. “Just water, please.” Just water. Of course, yes, he was working. And not allowed to drink. Though Pete suspected the latter hadn’t stopped him in the past.

He knew he was being carefully watched as he prepared the drink. The subtlety of Martin’s glances would have been lost on him had he not been expecting them, fully aware that the guy was making sure nothing but the water he had asked for landed in his glass.

There was a sweet smile on his face when Pete sat down next to him, not the usual, mischievous grin, more of a kind and caring expression that made him feel safe…

No, it was just another act and he wasn’t going to fall for it.

Martin was on his knees, leaning toward Pete, his hands resting on his thighs. He wanted to kiss him.

Not for sale.

Fuck.

Martin’s eyes were dark and inches away from his own, so close… he could just lean in and… violate the consent? Sure, great going, Pete. It almost hurt to hold back.

“I want you, Pete. Pretty please?” He wiggled his ass a little as he put on his best puppy-dog eyes, all the while squeezing Pete’s thighs, who was painfully aware of his breathing becoming heavier. Martin’s lips brushed past his cheek on their way to his neck, making Pete’s breath hitch, he was so close to his lips, so, so close…

His eyes squeezed shut and Pete swallowed hard when a familiar tongue started making its way along his throat, teeth nipping, not quite hard enough to leave a mark, where his skin was damp. When exactly he’d twisted his fingers into the cotton of Martin’s t-shirt, he didn’t know, he was just suddenly aware of how incredibly obstructive the damned thing was. And how he had never seen him naked. Fuck, he wanted that. “Take this off?” Okay, that sounded desperate.

He was.

Desperate.

Martin pulled back a little and smirked, pushing himself up onto his knees so he was upright in front of Pete. He tugged at the collar of his shirt, pulled it over his head until his chest was bare and threw it somewhere across the room.

How did breathing work, again?

Pete was also scared to blink in case he missed anything. He grasped the naked waist in front of him and he leaned in, pressing his mouth to the pale, soft stomach. Martin was so warm, he felt so nice in Pete’s grip and he fit perfectly. A hand wounds its way into Pete’s hair as his mouth explored his torso, his tongue running upwards from his belly button, biting down – carefully – onto his perturbing collarbone. The grip on his head tightened as his tongue flicked over Martin’s nipple, coaxing a low moan from him.

Good. Pushing the right buttons.

Pete cautiously sucked and nipped at it before nuzzling his way across Martin’s chest and repeating his actions on the other one, all the while feeding off the beautiful noises he was harvesting.

“Fuck me, Pete, please.” He was good. He was way too good. One of Pete’s hands began trailing down until his fingers brushed the coarse hair leading to the waistband of those ridiculously tight trousers. A satisfied smile crossed his face as he proudly noticed that yes, this was making him hard. He palmed at Martin through the layers of fabric, making him rock forward and quietly beg for more.

Pete flicked open the button and gave the fake leather an experimental tug to see if he could get it to budge at all. Upon realizing he stood no chance, he resorted to staring at Martin, attempting to somehow convey meaning through his eyes. He didn’t want to have to beg him to crawl out of his trousers. Thankfully, he seemed to understand and Pete was 90% sure there was some trick he was missing, because in seconds, the piece of clothing lay on the floor next to him like it had never belonged to anybody.

Martin was straining against his briefs. They did nothing to hide the raging erection, the one Pete so desperately wanted to get his mouth on… but he remembered the way he’d been shoved to the ground the last time he’d attempted that and maybe it was best not to test it again. Instead, he just slid the last piece of clothing down Martin’s thighs until he could climb out of it, his cock stiff against his belly.

And yes, he was beautiful. Pete was a little scared of breaking the porcelain skin, for once not decorated with bruises and marks like he’d spotted poking out from below collars and sleeves in the past. He pushed Martin back with a hand against his chest until he was lying on the couch, legs splayed open, just waiting for Pete, inviting him in…

Pete leaned down, trailing kisses over Martin’s neck and down his body until he reached his lower stomach. He’d never been a fan of dicks, they were utterly gross, which was a real shame because men were so nice, yet he still felt the urge to lick it, to suck it, to plant a kiss on that tiny freckle on the head he’d never spotted before.

But he remembered the force with which he’d been shoved to the floor and he wasn’t so off his head he didn’t notice the way Martin’s body had tensed up in the last few seconds. He crawled back up until he was hovering over him again, so he could see into those blue eyes and watch as full, pink lips parted below him in a silent plead. He wanted to kiss them.

Instead, he tried to focus on the hand working his dick. Martin had rolled a condom onto him, generously slathered it in lube and was seemingly trying to massage it in, his right hand steadily stroking, gradually squeezing a little tighter as he did what he did best. “Return the favour?” His voice was almost hesitant and so quiet Pete only just picked up on it, but he obliged.

He wasn’t sure why Martin was so insistent on rubbering up everything resembling a dick in a three-mile radius whenever it came down to it, but Pete was also fully aware that arguing would not help his case, so he shut up and wrapped his fingers over Martin’s latex-clad cock. He drew a sharp breath as Pete allowed his thumb to slide over the head, pressing lightly to add to the sensation. He started slowly pumping, drawing it out long and slow just to see Martin writhe underneath him before picking up speed, giving in to the silent begging in his eyes. Martin’s back arched, neck curving backwards and pulling his skin taught over his Adam’s apple that bobbed as he gasped and moaned.

Pete didn’t know how much of it was an act, if it was an act, because if so, it was a damned good one. Almost real.

The hand on his own dick was still steadily stroking, as though it hadn’t registered what the rest of the body it belonged to was currently going through, the cries only occasionally bleeding through in the form of a tighter grip that made Pete bite his lip until the metallic taste of blood covered his tongue.

Hand-jobs weren’t supposed to be this good.

Pete let go of Martin’s cock and trailed his fingers down, past his balls, until he could press them against his ass. He whined pathetically, bucking into the touch as he circled the rim, making sure not to push in.

The hand on his own dick was excruciating, constantly slowing down and speeding up in time to Pete’s own actions, meaning he had to pick what he wanted: To get off or to tease Martin.

He leaned closer until his lips were brushing the blonde’s ear and whispered “what do you want?”

“You”, Martin choked out his reply, “please, please, please, Pete, just… argh-“ he finished with a strangled cry as Pete slid his fingers in – two at once – and watched Martin’s chest heave as he adjusted to the sensation.

It still took him a bit to find that sweet spot, experimentally prodding and poking, the hand on his cock all the while getting more hesitant until he managed to push into Martin’s prostate and illicit a loud cry from him.

“Aaah, fuck! Fuck, that’s… ugh…” Sweat was pooling on his forehead, sticking the blonde hair to it and turning it more of a dark brown in the process. His cheeks were flushed red, Pete could feel the heat radiating off them, his on face so close, lips still brushing his ear. Martin’s body was still writhing, his hips grinding downwards onto Pete’s fingers, desperately trying to drive him deeper than he could go. Tired of the slow pace, Pete jerked his own hips, pushing himself into the tight, slick fist provided at his own speed, building up his orgasm, brick by brick rather than wave by dodgy wave until he came, biting down hard on Martin’s neck as the pressure unwound to stifle his moan as he spilled his load.

Once again, he was amazed at how the hooker could coordinate his climax, always reaching it just when he was supposed to, letting out that high, mewling cry as his face screwed up in the expression that was becoming more and more of a familiarity.

Pete carefully retracted his fingers, not hesitating to get up and wash them. Anal sex was messy as fuck, nobody ever spoke about that aspect. When he turned back around, Martin was still lying on the couch, knees still in the air revealing just how much his legs were trembling. He was blinking rapidly, like he couldn’t get the world to focus, his ridiculously skinny body suddenly small and fragile, lost in the large room. He didn’t know why he did it, but Pete found himself throwing his super-fluffy, grey blanket over the kid, making sure it covered his whole body so just his frowning face was poking out. Hesitantly, he wrapped it around himself and made himself sit up. “Th-thank you?”

Pete felt a smile of sympathy slip onto his face before remembering himself. Just a whore. No need for sympathy.

But he looked so incredibly small and vulnerable. And Pete was kinda sick of… maybe he could…

“How much for you to stay the night?” the words were out before he could stop them. Obviously, he couldn’t see his own expression, but he suspected it was not unlike Martin’s, who looked rather like a deer caught in his headlights for a second before he managed to compose himself. He pointedly cleared his throat. “I, umh…” His subtle glance at the clock didn’t escape Pete’s notice, “500. Another 400.”

Okay, nice to know, be on your way. Pete couldn’t believe himself when he actually dug out his wallet and offered the hooker the last $500 bill he still had. Good job he’d been to the ATM a few hours ago, otherwise there’d have been no way in hell he would’ve had that kind of cash on him, he didn’t suppose credit card was an option in this case. Martin carefully took the money off Pete, the tips of his fingers brushing his palm left his skin cold. The way they were flung into the bag the boy always carried was almost careless, as if he had plenty of it to throw around. There was no way in hell this cold, grey stick of a guy had enough money to throw it around.

It wasn’t the first time Pete pitied him, but it might just have been the strongest. “You like spicy food?”

What are you doing?! Martin frowned at him, evidently trusting Pete about as much as he trusted himself at this point. His tongue licked over his lips, tearing Pete’s gaze down to it, before he spoke, “yeah…”

“Good.”

What the fuck are you doing?

For all the cleanliness the rest of the flat had going for it, Pete’s kitchen cupboard were a fucking mess. Piles of half-finished bags were strewn amongst food that probably should be on a dumpster somewhere, not in his pantry, pots and pans clattered loudly as he dug out what he needed, praying to god they wouldn’t fall on his in a tsunami of non-stick and metal. That would be comedic, being battered to death by an unwielded pan.

“Oh, no, you don’t, uh, you don’t have to…” Martin’s voice didn’t carry any off the sass Pete had become accustom to, instead sounding hesitant and a little intimidated, maybe. Just maybe. “I don’t know about you, kiddo, but I gotta eat.” Good job lentils and rice didn’t go off that quickly.

The silence was almost worse than the mouthiness. Pete found himself humming an off-key tune just to fill his ears with something other than the quiet breathing of the second man in the room, not quite sure whether pretending he was alone was making matters better or worse. He also wasn’t quite sure what the actual fuck he was doing, taking home a whore was one thing, asking one to stay the night… it was a slippery slope. He could just ask him to hand back the money and leave. Or leave with the money. Good deed of the day done.

Martin’s footsteps were silent as he crept towards the table he was being beckoned to. Still wrapped in the thick, grey blanket, he settled down onto one of the chairs that were probably comfier than his own fucking bed. If he had a bed, that was. Pete made sure to fill his bowl up as much as he could with the mediocre Dahl he’d prepared, the sight of the collarbone jotting out from beneath the grey fluff somewhat sickening.

“Eat.”

Enthusiasm was something else. Martin slowly picked up the spoon that had been set out for him, barely scooping up enough food for it to cover the tip, and lifted it to his lips. His nostrils flared, as though he was a sniffer dog at the airport. Pete wondered what drugs smelled like, if he’d really be able to tell regular food from danger. Maybe the way his eyes were fixed on his guest as he slid the metal past his lips was just a little creepy, just maybe, but his intentions were good. How wrong could feeding a street whore be? He was just trying to get some meat on those bones…

“Mmh, this is… good, this is nice.” That was a lie. Pete knew it, but none the less, the next spoonful was bigger, then came the next and the next and… “Aren’t, uh, aren’t you gonna eat?” Oh. Yeah. He was painfully aware of the blue eyes burning into him when he finally tucked into his own lukewarm meal.

“It’s, umh… thank you. I don’t, I don’t often get warm meals. I mean, well…”

Pete was a little amused by the attempt at small talk, specifically the choice of topic. “Yeah, you, no offence, like, but you’re pretty skinny.” Martin just shrugged, helping himself to another portion from the pan. “How often do you eat? At all?”

“More often than you’d think, actually, I, uh,” a violent cough interrupted him, the sort that rattled your ribcage and made you feel like you were going to throw up. Pete always dreaded those, they reminded him just how fucked up his lungs must be.

“Oh,God, you okay?” The arm Pete had extended toward him was batted away. “I’m fine, just, just swallowed something the wrong way.” Martin’s eyes were a little teary, but he was smiling reassuringly, “I’m fine. Yeah, no, I do eat, it’s fine. Thanks for, uh, thanks for asking, though, not… yeah.”

Pete kinda liked the way he was speaking, the half-sentences, the stammering about, so very distant from the over-confident, sharp tone he usually got from the guy. It felt more… more real. “So, uh… where do you live?” Well that was a fucking stupid question. Martin’s face pulled into a frown and he mindlessly poked around in his meal, obviously trying to get out of having to disclose his actual address. “I just meant, umh…”

“Block of apartments. Does the job.” Short. Precise. No more than anybody needed to know. “I can do the washing up.”

Pete wanted to protest, he really did, but his guest had snatched the plates and carried them into the kitchen before he could make the words leave his mouth. He couldn’t really find it in him to tell him to stop when he dropped the blanket either, so that his bare ass was visible across the room. It didn’t occur to Pete that he was just avoiding getting anything on it, he was too perplexed as he sat, staring, watching. Like a pervert.

No. he had permission. Martin knew he was being watched. Besides, hadn’t he been paid to do this?

Pete shook his head, making himself snap out of it and – before he could become enthralled again – he wandered into the living room and poured himself a glass of gin. Not whiskey. Gin. Maybe that wasn’t as bad. The painting he used to distract himself was one he’d bought years ago in Berlin. It had been a street artist. Not one painting pavements and buildings, just somebody taking commissions from passers-by. Most would ask for paintings or drawings of themselves in front of an artistic backdrop, an idealized version of reality, nothing even close to a snapshot. Pete had asked for him to paint the guy with the scruffy dog sitting next to the entrance to the underground, a plastic cup in his hand, a rotting blanket around him and a bag of dogfood in his arms. It wasn’t unheard of that the homeless would take better care of their dogs than themselves, it was all they had, after all. Their only friend. Somebody tp love them unconditionally.

Maybe Pete should get a dog.

“What do you want with me?” the sudden sound of Martin’s voice – somewhere between the professional directness and the rambling stammering – tore Pete out of his thoughts. He was standing, naked as the day he was born, in the middle of the room, looking at him expectantly, his blue eyes almost boring into him.

He was so fucking thin. His shoulders were the worst, near translucent skin stretched over harsh, sharp bones, it looked grotesque. But the rest of him… Pete could almost count his ribs, light ripples down his chest, not like those of somebody starving, but like somebody who hadn’t had a warm meal in a very long time. His stomach was red and blotchy, almost as though it was covered by a rash. God, did he have fleas? Did Martin have fleas?! Or mites, maybe. Either way, the thought made Pete’s skin crawl.

“Have a shower. Or a bath, I don’t care.” Martin nodded sharply, but stood still as though awaiting further instructions. “Then get dressed. I’ll, uh, put out some clothes for you.” He still didn’t budge. “What?”

A smile crept onto his face, cheeky, but not the sort he used when wandering up to Pete’s car window. “You’re gonna have to show me the bathroom.” Ah. Yes. Of course.

“Uh, follow… follow me.”

The fact that Martin made no sound at all when he moved around was pretty disconcerting. Pete felt like he was leading a ghost through his home, like he had an imaginary friend. Had he finally gone mad? Had he lost it? Probably.

He never left a trace of his presence anywhere. There were no clothes strewn on the floor when Pete went back down stairs after he’d left Martin soaking in the bath, the blanket he’d given him was folded neatly exactly, exactly where it had been. When Martin finally emerged, hair soaking wet, dressed in a Metallica shirt and a pair of jogging bottoms, and let Pete into the bathroom, there was no dirty laundry, no pool of water on the tiled floor, not shampoo bottle out of place.

It was pretty freaky.

“Umh…” Pete was only a little taken aback by the way Martin was standing stock still in the middle of his room, dripping wet and staring at him as he walked out of the bathroom. “You can, like… the guest bedroom is down the hall. If you…”

“D’you want me to sleep in there?” there was something innocently neutral about the tone of voice he used, not like anything Pete had heard from him before. “N-no… I mean, I don’t mind, I… just thought you might want your own bed? Because I’m, like…” a fucking john.

But Martin casually shook his head. “Nah, I don’t like sleeping alone much.”

“Uh, okay. Can you just,” he threw a towel at the kid, “dry your hair a little. Just a bit.” Martin did as he was told, rubbing the rough fabric over the dripping strands until the dark brown had come to look a little more like the natural strawberry blonde. Pete quickly whipped off his clothes until he was stripped down to his boxers before crawling into bed. Left side. It didn’t take long until the mattress dipped in the other direction and the duvet shifted, everything moving about uncomfortably until Martin finally settled down, inches away from Pete. He was lying on his side, face turned towards the centre of the bed. His eyes were open, but hooded, like sleep was welcome, though somehow, between the grey bags under his eyes and the way he dragged his feet when he walked, Pete figured it always was.

“Do you, uh, do you live with somebody then?” Martin’s sleepy expression turned into a dopey frown. “Why would you think that?”

“You like cuddling, I figured-“

“I said I don’t like sleeping alone… but… if you-“ the sentence was never finished. It didn’t need to be. A weight not as heavy as it should be settled across Pete, the soft, golden hair tickling against his chin as a warm cheek nestled into his chest.

Something unwound in him. A tension he hadn’t known he’d been holding. It was with great shock he realized it had been the better part of six years since he’d had anybody like this, not counting drunk Joe. Before he could stop it, his hand had settled into Martin’s hair, stroking soothing circles over his scalp. He wasn’t sure if it was welcome, but he didn’t get snapped at for it, so he just continued.

“I live alone. By the way. Not that, uh, not that you care, I dunno… why I told you that. Forget it.” The honesty with which it was said astounded Pete. He didn’t know what it was, what was different, but something about that voice, that beautifully, deep voice, sounded different. Just a bit, a tiny bit. Like it had during dinner. “Do you like it that way?” He didn’t see the shrug so much as feel it, but it felt like the conversation had been closed. He didn’t want it to be, but Pete wasn’t about to pry, and risk being sassed, he really couldn’t be bothered, so he tried to switch to another topic.

“Why are you a prostitute?”

Yeah, good going, Pete.

Great way to avoid a fight.

He was kinda waiting for a slap in the face, so when he was met with nothing but silence, he was surprised. Maybe not positively, but… surprised. Was he thinking about it? Was he going to tell him his origin story?

But after a few seconds, Martin just huffed. A deep, melancholy huff, the sort you let out when you’ve finished a chapter of your life and realize you need to let go. Pete hadn’t huffed in six years.

“I’m tired, Pete.”

There was something so bizarrely vulnerable about how he spoke, so soft and gentle, and for a moment, Pete realized how life must feel for him. A kid, under 20, selling his body to gross, old men like him… for what? A few bucks? What good were a few bucks when you had nothing to live for? Not that he knew Martin had nothing to live for, but…

“Yeah. Yeah, okay, I’ll stop asking dumb shit, I’m sorry, I just-“ he was interrupted by a sound barely detectable by human ears. Martin’s snore sounded more like a tiny kitten purring, endearing rather than gross. Pete found himself smiling down at the guy lying over his chest, preventing him from rolling over into the position he liked to sleep in.

He could push him away, but…

Pete pressed a kiss to the crown of his head, a faint smile playing on his lips as he whispered: “Night night, Martin.”

Chapter Text

The first time Pete woke up, it was 3 a. m. He was more than confused when he opened his eyes to the blackness, not a bit of light bleeding through the curtains, that silence only the night can hold sitting heavily on his chest. It took him a while a few blinks, a rub of his eyes and a minute or two, for him to notice what had torn him out of his unusually deep sleep. That was partly down to the fact that he’s completely forgotten he wasn’t alone in the first place.

The realization hit like a train, making his gut feel like he’d simultaneously stepped on the breaks and the accelerator.

Then he noticed the dampness. At first, his brain filled in the blanks by reminding him of the shower and Pete felt annoyance creep up on him because of course, Martin hadn’t dried off properly.

Then he noticed the little noises, the high whimpers and mewls, like a dog being abandoned or a kitten being thrown in a river. It sounded pathetic, it sounded scared.

Then, finally, he noticed the writhing. The relentless moving and jostling, the twisting and turning of his body, his cramping fists, curled into the pillow beside his head. And then Pete realized: He was soaking wet. All of him, head to toe was covered in a sheen of sweat, soaking through his hair and the bedsheets. The sickening smell that accompanied it might just have been even worse than what little Pete could see of the scene and the sounds that bled through to him. His nose scrunched in distaste, as if having a whore sleep in your bed wasn’t bad enough, they soaked it with their own sweat, too, whilst you were in it, none the less. He was in his right mind to throw him out, out of the bed and out of his flat. What had he even been thinking?

He was just about to roughly nudge him awake, when he caught sight of his face through the darkness. His eyes had just grown accustom to it, not being able to make out much more than shades of grey, but enough to see the agony painted across the boy’s face.

The boy.

He was just a kid.

Pete let his grip on Martin’s shoulder soften, changing his brutal jolt into a gentle shake just in time.

Martin didn’t react.

It sounded like he was crying.

Pete shook him a little more firmly, accompanying the movement with gentle calls to wake him up. Martin tugged his arm away, shook his head abruptly from side to side. His body clenched, muscles tight below pale skin and…

His eyes snapped open.

Dark and fearful, at least they seemed to be. It was hard to tell, really.

Martin’s breathing was heavy, more like he had just run a marathon than like he’d just spent three hours sleeping in what might just be the most comfortable bed he’d ever been in. his expression was distraught, like a deer that had heard a wolf, his eyes darting around the room, trying to pin-point the non-existent danger.

Pete knew night terrors. He used to have them as a kid. No words could express how grateful he was that he’d left them behind in Chicago.

People thought they were just bad nightmares. Just children over-reacting at slightly freaky images in their minds, but it was so much worse. It was not being able to breathe. It was running but never escaping. It was screaming so loudly it bled through to reality. It was lying in bed shaking and thrashing at anything and everything that moved.

Martin probably hadn’t had one. He was… disturbed, but not terrified out of his wits. He hadn’t hit Pete yet.

A tattooed arm as extended until then hand belonging to it could wrap around a pale bicep, almost standing out in the darkness as though there was some source of light illuminating it. Martin’s silhouette shifted until Pete was pretty certain he was the focal point of his world. It felt… odd. Comforting? Maybe?

He made sure to keep his voice low, “you okay?” There was a long pause, in which Martin’s head turned and turned and turned again, probably to assess his surroundings. Of course, it was like waking up in a hotel room to him.

“I- I… yeah. I’m fine…” the sound of skin against silk sounded through the silence, it sounded rich and hot and wrong in every way. “Sorry… your sheets…”

Yeah. The sheets.

Pete sighed and rolled off the nice, feathery mattress until his feet were on the hard, polished wooden floor. Martin did the same, if with a little more uncertainty. He stayed hunched over, his head bowed and when Pete flicked the light on, the sight of dark brown strands of sticky hair and shiny skin made a scowl creep across his face.

He stank.

Martin really stank.

“Go have a cold shower. Or hot, I don’t care.” The answer came in the form of nothing more than a nod and the sight of the tiny, crumpled figure slumping into the bathroom.

The sheets could be washed. It was irritating and kinda gross, but not the end of the world, Pete told himself as he tugged off the sweaty material and tried not to start throwing fists at thin air until he hit the target he was waiting for. This was fine.

He preferred the purple ones, anyway.

By the time the rushing sound of the shower had subsided, Pete was tucked up in bed again, duvet pulled up below his chin in an attempt to fight off the chill threatening to bite at his skin. He stared at the wooden door for a good five minutes before it cracked open, revealing a silhouette in the beam of light coming from the room beyond. Silent footsteps, light movements. The bed barely moved as Martin climbed in, carefully sliding below the fresh covers and settling down.

A thought crossed Pete’s mind.

“What are you wearing?” His words were followed by a sharp intake of breath, the other man evidently not having realized he was still awake. There followed a pause, in which Pete could clearly hear the sound of Martin’s breathing. Shallow. Calm. Soothing. “I… nothing…”

Nothing. Pete couldn’t help but smirk. “I can get you something. If you want.”

“If you want,” was the reply he got, “I mean, uh, like… you… I’m here for you. Your pleasure.” Fucking hell, he hated being reminded. Being reminded of what this was, was the last thing Pete wanted or needed. His loud sigh made that apparent, at least he hoped so. “I asked you whether you wanted clothes. Don’t fucking put this on me.” Part of him was certain Martin had been sent to punish him for something… torture here on earth followed by a one-way-ticket to hell. Nice.

He didn’t speak. Instead, Pete suddenly became aware of a strange heat close to his body, radiating warmth, comfort…

Slippery slope.

The voice that came with it, however, seemed perversely contrasted to the flutter of Pete’s gut, low and raspy and not at all sweet. “Well, you have a guy, naked in your bed… allowing you to do anything…” fingertips brushed the inside of Pete’s wrist, “anything you want.”

The lips were close to his ear, he could tell, not only because he heard the whisper clear as day, but he felt hot breath against the side of his face and a damp lip brush across his lobe.

He could roll over. He could just roll over and take it. It was being offered to him on a silver plate, no consequences, no regrets, just a warm body and a good orgasm. Fuck, he could pin Martin down, fuck him raw until he was screaming his name, writhing and jolting below him, Pete’s teeth marks covering his skin…

Pete tugged his wrist away decidedly, breaking the contact, leaving him cold… he was so cold. “Baby, don’t you want me?” that damned innocent tone, fuck. It was so… mocking, why did it go straight to his dick? That was so wrong. “No, Martin, I… please, not now.” He sounded weighed down, he was shocked by it himself. The desperate attempt to hold back was there, it was in his voice. No way in hell had the hooker missed it. None the less, the heat moved away, not much, but it decidedly distanced itself a little.

Even in the darkness, Pete felt like he was being watched. Suddenly he was painfully aware of the fact that he, too, was breathing.

In

Out

In

Out

In

“Do you often get nightmares?” Martin didn’t reply immediately, instead wriggling around below the covers, tugging them a small way down Pete’s torso. “Not…” there were layers upon layers stacked onto his voice, so many Pete couldn’t begin to determine what he was feeling. Suddenly, the question seemed way too intimate for it to be comfortable. “Only in the… in the last few months… dunno.” He probably didn’t want to give anymore answers, but Pete asked for them regardless. “Why? Do you know why?”

A brief silence, followed by a simple “yes.”

“Why?”

The duvet moved again. Somehow, it was the most irritating thing Pete had ever felt.

Why?!”

“Please!” The yelp Martin let out almost caused Pete to fall out of bed in shock, “please.”

Dumbfounded, Pete lay motionlessly on his side of the bed, staring towards the lump in the covers. “please… please don’t… don’t… I don’t… I’m sorry…”

Fuck.

Fuck, he’d overstepped. He’d overstepped again. “I’m sorry, but… I don’t think… I don’t think it’s any of your business. With respect.” The firmness that had returned to his words was nothing short of a relief. Fuck, he needed to remember… this was just a whore. Just a street hooker he paid for sex.

“It’s, uh… it’s okay. D’you… do you want anything? To, to make you feel better?” Martin all but scoffed at him and when he spoke, he sounded cold and defensive, the familiar tinge of snarkiness having made a comeback, “no thanks.” The reply was on the tip of Pete’s tongue, it really was, something about him not having to care, about being a generous host, about him being the paying client… but the words died in his mouth. The sigh he let out was almost pitiful and all he said, all he dared say, was. “Good night, Martin.”

 

 

 

The second time Pete woke up, his clock read 5.27 a. m. He groaned loudly, throwing his hand over his face, somebody upstairs hated him, they really must. In search of his reason to be awake at this ungodly hour, Pete switched his lamp on. Squinting through the sudden brightness blurring his vision, he looked around the room, trying to locate the source of whatever had caused the disturbance.

Or maybe he was just back on his bullshit sleeping pattern. God, please don’t let the insomnia make a comeback.

Pete flopped back onto the mattress, turning off the light once he’d determined it really was just his bitch-ass brain being a dick, as if it didn’t treat him badly enough already. He was already on an absurdly large dose of anxiety meds, he really didn’t have the energy for this bullshit on top of everything else. Hopefully, squeezing his eyes shut as hard as possible would help, just blacking out everything, counting his breaths… one… to… three… four… five… six… seven… e-

He wasn’t alone.

Brown eyes snapped open at the sound of a creaking hinge and were promptly flooded by the streak of light coming from the bathroom.

Fuck.

Fuck, somebody was in his house, somebody was here with him. He couldn’t sit up quickly enough, his body wouldn’t move… shit, he needed to….

A heavy weight dropped onto him, pressing against his lower stomach, something so very familiar about the legs around his hips… and when thin fingers tangled into his hair, everything slid into place.

Martin.

A low moan slipped from his lips when he felt a soft, round ass rubbing at him through his boxers, joining quiet whimpers and ragged breaths huffed into his ear. Tan hands found their way to a snow-white waist and firmly griped onto it, fingers digging into the soft skin until they were sure to leave bruises. His marks on the canvas of Martin’s body.

Pete didn’t have to do much. Martin seemed to have a clear vision of where this was going, and he was more than thankful that it didn’t involve him having to move if he didn’t want to. And he didn’t. He was way too comfortable lying back on his ridiculously soft mattress, his head against a ridiculously soft pillow, as Martin sucked and bit on the skin at the base of his neck, fucking himself on his dick like he needed it to live, sweet sounds shrouding Pete’s brain, letting him slip into a place somewhere between a dream and reality. And all Pete did as Martin rocked his hips and panted his name was twist his fingers into blonde hair and wish he could kiss those spit-slicked lips.

Martin came screaming his name. Pete followed silently, eyes squeezed shut and hips pushed flush against him.

It was intense, almost too much so, it took Pete a minute to realize that he’d been the one lying helplessly, he’d let the professional do the work and fuck had it felt good. It had been so, so good.

He also realized something way more crushing. Or, at least, it nearly crushed him.

He’d given up power. Let himself be pushed down, sat on and used… not that he hadn’t wanted it, fuck, he’d go again straight away if he could but… but that was the problem. Martin hadn’t just been on top of him, he’d been in charge. And Pete had liked it.

When the hooker came walking back into the bedroom, Pete couldn’t look at him. He wanted to, he wanted to see him, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn his head and watched the man who’d just made him give himself over by doing next to nothing. There hadn’t even been a kiss. Not even a quick, meaningless kiss.  

And Pete had no idea how lonely that made him until he felt hot skin press against his own and soft hair tickle his chin. Martin clamped an arm around him, laying half his body over Pete’s torso so his hand could wrap around his inked bicep. There wasn’t a second’s hesitation before Pete’s own arm snaked its way around white shoulders, the other wrapping around a bony waist. All he could do, was pull the warm body tighter, as tight as it would possibly go, until the weight of it threatened to break his ribs and crush his lungs and maybe, just maybe, his heart with them.

 

 

 

The third and final time Pete woke up, sunlight was bleeding through the curtains. The red material tinged the room the colour of blood, making the mid-morning rays seem like a sunrise, or maybe like the last embers of the day burning away on the horizon. He liked it.

One of his flings – he didn’t know which one – had laughed at the tone of his bedroom, said it looked like the set of a porno, like a whorehouse, but he liked it. It was warm, it was comforting, and it was the most at home he had ever felt. Which made his chest leap all the more when he saw Martin appear in the doorway, a steaming mug of… something in his hand. He greeted him with a smile, a warm, almost genuine one, and a light “good morning”, as he set it down on Pete’s bedside table. Fuck, he was so pretty…

Though suspicion crept into his mind when he settled down by his legs and started stroking along his calf through the sheets, hand gliding along the silk, sending ripples through the fabric. Pete cocked his brow as he posed the question he barely dared ask, “okay, why are you being so nice to me right now?” Martin’s smile dropped, turning into a pout that was… a little more what he was used to. “Oh, Petey, I’m always nice to you!” His hand slipped a little higher, “I eat your food, I sleep in your bed, I cuddle you, I lick your cock, I let you fuck me and, believe it or not, it’s always a joy to see you.” Pete didn’t believe it. Even if the smile settled on his face was so shockingly convincing, he didn’t believe it for a second, the $500 in Martin’s bag a harsh reminder of what this was.

“I pay you to be nice to me! Besides, even then, you’re a snarky little bitch.” The chuckle Martin let out really shouldn’t get him like that, fuck. “Would you want me if I wasn’t a snarky little bitch? Come on, Pete… you could have anybody else, anybody on that street corner… there’s a reason it’s always me.”

Something shifted behind his eyes, and Pete could all but watch as something warm crept into his expression, something he had never, ever seen before. There was… a sincerity… Pete had thought he’d dropped his mask yesterday, but now… no, yesterday had been a different one, this… this wasn’t real, it couldn’t be, but was there a chink in the armour? When Martin spoke, it was like he was a different person, like somebody else had taken the wheel. It was like that first night, the first time they’d met, when he’d been shoved to the floor, when Martin had stood over him, an image of concern. “I really do enjoy you, Pete. Trust me.”

All he could do was swallow sharply. There was so much he wanted to say, how he was just another fucking john, how he was just paying for a service, how he’d fucking abused him, how he didn’t deserve to even see him, let alone sleep with him let alone be served hot chocolate by him as he lay in bed and Martin stroked his leg, but the moment was gone the second Martin finished his sentence. Instead, a cheeky smirk, the cheeky smirk, found its way back onto his face. “Where’s your phone?” Pete couldn’t help but mirror his expression, “why?” he played along, reaching over to dig his phone out of the drawer. “Because,” it was plucked out of his fingers and held up to him a second later so he could hold his finger to the scanner, “I am going… to… give you my number.”

He was what?

“Uh, what- what?” Martin just bit his lip and twitched his eyebrows suggestively, but didn’t take his eyes off the screen he was tapping away on. He wordlessly handed the device back to Pete, still straddling one of his thighs like he had been for the last few minutes, and he read the new contact entry.

Martin followed by a string of tiny pictures

“Okay, who the fuck uses the baguette emoji as a dick?”

“I do!”

“You in particular should know the aubergine is the universal dickmoji.”

“Hey, why, why, why me in particular, what’s, what’s that s’pposed to mean?”

“Well… you’re the expert!”

His mouth dropped open in mock exasperation, causing Pete’s mouth to helplessly curl into a smile. “I only deal in, in hard dicks! Wouldn’t know much about, uh, limp, purple ones.”

“Oh come on, you must see plenty of limp dicks.”

“Sure, but only once I’m done with them, sweetie.”

“Come on, I highly doubt you’ve never had anybody who couldn’t get it up.”

“ExcUSE YOU!” Pete yelped in surprise as Martin lunged forward, tackling him back onto the mattress he’d just sat up from. “If you don’t…” Pete was laughing hard, stretching his arm as far out of Martin’s reach as he could as the small guy tried to snatch it away from him, “I’m taking… give me back my number!”

“Nah, you handed it over willingly!” His face and stomach hurt, he was laughing so hard. To his great pleasure, he wasn’t the only one. “I don’t even have to leave the house now, I can just call you and you’ll show up!”

Martin sat back, crossing his arms in front of him like a little kid, his expression, pulled into a stern frown, making him look very much like one, too. It was fake, Pete could tell that much. He knew when Martin was doing something seemingly genuinely and when he was just being his damned teasing self. He wasn’t sure, maybe it was just that, the fact that he was pretending to sulk because he’d lost a play-fight, that suddenly urged all the humour, all the childishness out of Pete. Maybe it was that that suddenly made him sit up, dragging his body towards Martin’s like they were polar opposites of a magnet, until he could take his waist and pull him in, closer, until their lips were almost-

“NO!” Fuck. Helplessly, Pete fell back onto the pillow behind him, a little dazed from the minor fall. It took him a second to register the dull pain in his chest that must have come from Martin’s outstretched arm, pushing Pete away from him as the other folded across his front. “No… please…” the sudden fragility in his voice almost broke some little part of Pete. He was cowering at the foot of the bed, arms up in front of his body as though he was shielding himself.

No, no… no, he’d… “I’m… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” Martin didn’t speak. He didn’t even look at him, choosing instead to stare at the purple sheets below them. Pete’s arm reached out without his permission, but he managed to stop it before it reached the trembling figure at the other end of the bed, so that it hung in the space between them. He wasn’t sure for how long, but he only dropped it when Martin suddenly got up and hurried into the bathroom, quietly locking the door behind him.

Fuck.

 

 

Pete was still thoughtlessly lying in the exact same position when Martin re-emerged. He was fully clothed in the same outfit as the night before – obviously – and looked like he’d washed his face. Pete didn’t want to think why that was. What threw him a little off-balance was the smile the blonde was wearing as he gathered his bag from the floor before walking back over the bed and settling down on the edge. Pete barely dared to look at him for shame. He’d promised to respect him, promised not to treat him like a piece of meat and then very nearly crossed the only boundary that had explicitly been set up. Martin perched himself on the edge of the mattress and placed a hand on Pete’s calf.

“Thanks for letting me stay the night. I… I really appreciate it. And thanks for, like, thanks for dinner, uh, I guess. It was… good. It was nice.” All he managed was a small nod. “I gotta go now, it’s, uh… yeah. But, thanks. And really, don’t… don’t hesitate to use my, my number, yeah? Pete?”

“Yeah.” Fuck his voice for betraying him. “Okay. I’ll be off. Bye, I’ll… I’ll see you soon.” Martin was already halfway out of the door when the thought suddenly crossed Pete’s mind, “how far away do you live? Do you… I can drive you. If you want.”

There was a hesitant silence made almost unbearable by Martin’s damn fidgeting. “I, uh… thanks, Pete. Really, but… I don’t… don’t like people knowing where I, where I live.” Of course. Yes. Hooker. “I hope you… understand.”

“Yeah, sure. Sorry.” He just caught the little smile from the corner of his eye before Martin left. Pete listened for a sound as he climbed down the stairs, but all he heard was the near silent click of the front door a minute or so later.

He was alone again.

 

Chapter Text

Pete didn’t call. Not immediately, anyway. Mainly because he’d been too distracted by the upcoming easter auction already looming over him despite it still being a good month away. He had no idea why they called it that, the idea of making absurd amounts of money off other people’s backs wasn’t his idea of good, Christian values, but whatever. chances were, God was a fabrication, anyway, and if there was no big guy in the sky to get pissed at them, then why the fuck should Pete care what they called it?

It was usually a big thing, a lot of rich people, a lot of expensive paintings, tonnes of money and even more stress. For Joe, that was, he was the one running around like a headless chicken, trying his very best to coordinate everybody and everything and make sure the right art would go to the right people who had the right amount of money to invest in the wrong things.

Pete, meanwhile, was sitting in his hot tub on his roof terrace overlooking the black of the LA skyline at night, a glass of red next to him, an Ishiguro in his hand and a mind that kept drifting off to the phone lying just out of his reach. Or, more specifically, the numbers in that phone. One. One number. He kept glancing over to the iPhone sitting on the wooden decking, lights reflecting off it almost mockingly. Occasionally, it would light up, almost causing Pete’s heart to skip a beat, but it wasn’t him. Joe, Fletcher, Davies’, Andy, his mum, never him.

Pete took a lingering sip of the expensive wine. He could almost feel it staining his insides red, changing his guts along with his mind as he flipped the page of his book. He tried to focus on it, he really did. but the sounds and lights of the city beneath him were too much of a distraction, the alcohol weighing down on his body was too much of a hindrance and the hot water against the cold of the air held something in it that made Pete’s guts clench.

How long had it been? The last time he’d touched another human aside from Joe and – occasionally – parts of himself, had been at the beginning of March. What, three weeks ago, now? Probably. Friday night… Friday night was a busy night for people. Going out with friends, partying, seeing a movie, getting dinner, getting drunk, getting into trouble, doing dumb shit you’d never do any other day… one half of the population let go of their working lives while the other half just got started. Friday night, the best time for bartenders, waiters and whores. It was getting to 9p. m., things would be kicking off in an hour or two…

His phone was cold and heavy in his hand, like the weight of his sins was attached to it. Pete knew where he was going, he knew which contact he was searching for, he knew exactly where the contact was, his thumb had hovered over it for long enough, after all, none the less, he still chose to scroll through the entire list rather than just get to it and skip right down to M.

And then there it was, sandwiched between Marlow and Mendez. Pete bit his lip as he stared at the call button, like that would make his choice any easier. It was… going to a street corner was one thing, ordering to your front door… sure, he’d joked about it, but…

“Don’t hesitate to use my number.”

The 21st century was wild, he could just order sex to his house like it was a takeaway. Well, it kinda is. Cheap and unhealthy and loved by many. Pete didn’t wanna know just how many…

After all that, all that deliberation and hesitation, the phone just rang. It buzzed and buzzed and buzzed, every sound making Pete’s heart sink a little lower. Was this the right number? Had he been given a wrong number? By a whore? Jesus Christ, that was a new l-

“Hello?” The lightning bolt that shot through Pete was not welcome. “H-hi. It’s, umh… I was wondering… are you free? Now?” there was an uncomfortable pause in which he could hear nothing but Martin’s heavy breathing, leading him to wonder just why the fuck he hadn’t come to the phone any earlier.

“Pete?” Oh. Yeah. He might have Martin’s number, but that didn’t mean… “Mmh. Yes, yes, this is Pete.” Why was he so fucking nervous? And why did he feel all dizzy?

“Uh, sure, yeah, I…” he sounded a little flustered, “I’m on the other side of town right now, I’m gonna…. I’m on my way, okay?” The other side of town. Pete knew what that meant. He tried not to dwell on it. “Yeah, sure, uh, take your time.”

“See you in, like, 20. I’ll be right over, just let me get my shit.” His bag. That ominous bag that carried god knows what. Condoms, yes, lube, yes, whatever money he’d made that night, yes, but aside from that… what else did Martin carry around with him? Handcuffs? Pete kinda liked the idea of that, though he wasn’t all too certain Martin would allow for his hands to be restrained like that, so probably not. Plugs? More likely. Fuck, how he’d love to fuck him and fill him and then close him up but…. No, he couldn’t do that, condoms were a very obvious must. Honestly, Pete got it. What else did hookers need for work? Toys? Did Martin carry around a dildo? Maybe a vibe. Fuck, maybe a ring. Jesus Christ, he had to ask about that…

The sharp buzz of his doorbell tore Pete out of his thoughts and back into the real world where the air was cold, the water was hot and his dick was hard. He sprang out of the tub and all but sprinted to the intercom.

“Martin?”

“No, this is a mass murderer, I’ve come to kill your wife and children.”

Why was he grinning like an idiot?

“I don’t have a wife. Or any children I know of…”

“Well I guess I’m just gonna have to find something else to entertain myself with, right?” Pete buzzed him in and went to pull on a pair of sweatpants as he waited for the elevator to make it to his level. The knock on his door came a few seconds later and when he opened it, a little too quickly, maybe, bare-chested and wet, he was greeted by a pair of raised eyebrows. “Am I… interrupting?” Martin sounded a little hoarse.

As always, Pete made sure to offer him a drink and, as always, Martin asked for nothing but a glass of water. He didn’t meticulously watch as it was being poured for him, though, the realization of which made Pete’s heart thunder just a little louder.

“So?” he asked as he’d taken the first sips, “what exactly did you have in mind?” That was… a good question, actually. Martin’s fingers were ghosting across the skin on his lower stomach, just above the waistband of his sweats, brushing against the muscle that was so unlike the skin and bone of Martin’s own body. But when a slender finger hooked into the trousers, Pete gripped his wrist. In return, he got one of those damned puppy-pouts and big, doe-eyes. “Outside.” It was a clear instruction, one that was followed without hesitation.

Martin looked even smaller out on the large terrace, the surrounding, tall buildings dwarfing him even more. Pete wandered up behind him, tempted to just grab a handful of that ass… “Christ, you have a hot tub and a pool?!” He couldn’t see his face, but he was pretty sure Martin’s mouth was hanging open just a little, eyes wide at the sight of the part of Pete’s flat he’d never seen. And then, just when he was feeling quite proud of the home he had worked so hard to get, he heard quite possibly the most heart-breaking little sentence he could imagine right now, barely more than a mutter, filled with awe rather than contempt. “I don’t even have a bathroom.”

It was an off-hand remark, one Martin probably wasn’t even aware of, but it hit Pete like a fucking train. He spun the kid around so he could look him in the eye. He seemed confused, evidently not having realized what he’d said. “You don’t have a bathroom?” Cheeks turned from white to pink and blue eyes began darting around the terrace, not resting anywhere longer than a few seconds. “I mean, it’s okay, it’s not like…”

“How do you… wash? And…”

“I share, dumbass. I have a shared bathroom, okay? It doesn’t fucking matter.” It did matter, it mattered to Pete. He opened his mouth to say something, to say it wasn’t a living, Martin deserved his own fucking bathroom, he didn’t have to- but he was cut off before the words could form in his mouth. “I don’t need your pity, I didn’t want to say anything. Forget about it now or I leave.”

Pete almost recoiled at the venom behind the words, the glare that finally met him, but he stayed quiet, doing nothing but give a quick, confirming nod.

Martin’s face lit up in a second, like storm clouds had miraculously cleared the sky and he pushed closer, hand sliding back towards the sweatpants. “So,” his voice was low and raspy, “you wanna fuck me in the hot tub or in the pool?”

Well. Pete hadn’t considered either of those options but now he thought about it… “Pool.” A smirk found its way onto Martin’s face, “good choice.” Pete watched him as he walked off, stripping as he moved towards the water, first his jacket, then his shoes, followed by the t-shirt, the trousers and… he only caught a glimpse of the shining, white ass before it dipped below the surface. Martin swam to the other end until he was at the edge, looking over the glass and down onto the street below. His shoulder blades were covered in water droplets, shining in the light as they ran down the pale skin. Red skin. The flesh near his right shoulder was inflamed, raw as though it had been irritated by… something. Pete shook it off quickly. He instead shrugged out of what little clothes he was wearing and rolled the condom he’d been handed onto his dick. Even if it weren’t one of Martin’s rules, he didn’t really wanna get a load of jizz in his pool.

He slipped into the water and swam up to Martin, still looking out over the city, his eye shining gold and blue like a dream of a better place. For a second, it was like he wasn’t there. Then he turned and curled his hands around the back of Pete’s neck, and into his hair, pulling him in… he waited for the feeling of teeth against his throat, the familiar suckling that would leave a mark, but all that came was… the pressure of arms around him and bodies pressed together, a face buried into the crook of his neck as a chest rose and fell against his own. Tentatively, his own arms wrapped around a fragile torso as tightly as they dared. They stayed there like that for a while, unmoving, breathing together, until Pete felt legs wrap around his waist. He didn’t pull away his face from its spot on Martin’s shoulder as he pressed even closer to him, for fear of seeing full, pink lips and not being able to…

The city was still far from growing silent, the rush of cars and trains and people below filling the silence of the night as lights flashed and shone and sparkled around them like stars on a black canvas.

They weren’t stars. You couldn’t really see the stars, not in a city this size. The odd white pinprick on the black blanket of the night, sure, but a starry sky? Pete hadn’t seen one in years.

Pete wanted to fuck him, he really did, or rather, his dick did but it just felt… wrong. He couldn’t just shove him against the glass and thrust into him like an animal, he couldn’t use him until his ass was raw and he was screaming, he couldn’t be hard and brutal and desperate, he just… couldn’t. not now.  So instead, he stroked a hand along the soft, blond hair covering the leg around his waist until the motion elicited a shiver from Martin. His other hand wrapped around the man’s waist, his thumb stroking across his ribs and his fingers pressing against his side, pulling him closer than he could ever go. Martin’s own hands curled into Pete’s hair, tugging and pulling at it as little whines filled Pete’s ear. He could tell he was hard by the pressure against his belly, Martin’s rubbered cock a strange weight against him. He was glad he’d thought ahead.

Gently, he shushed the blonde, the hand that had been on his thigh moving up, over his ribs and shoulders to stroke through his hair and press him further into his shoulder. Pete’s other hand moved down over his back, fingertips barely touching the skin and the resistance of the warm water slowed him down, but eventually, he brushed two fingers gently over the tight pucker of muscle. Martin tensed, lifting himself out of the water a little as his arms scrambled to lock around Pete’s shoulders, nails clawing into honey-coloured skin. Pete slowly slid one of his fingers in, pushing forward until his knuckle was pressed against Martin’s ass.

“This okay?” he whispered, turning his face slightly so he was looking at flushed cheeks. His reply came in form of a desperate little moan, stifled against Pete’s own shoulder and it made him chuckle to himself as he crooked his fingers t stroke against the walnut-sized bump, making Martin’s body tense up even more as blunt nails dug into tan skin even deeper.

Pete knew exactly what had been sighed into his ear when Martin finally managed to form words, he understood clearly, but took to teasing anyway. “What did you say?”

A low groan, whether of frustration or pleasure wasn’t clear, followed his question and it took Martin a moment to pant it out again, “m-moreee…. Plea- fuck, please….” Pete found himself chuckling again, which earned him a slap to the back of the head. “Oh, no, you’ve gotta be a good boy if you want more!” He teasingly brushed a second finger against the muscle, “apologize.”

“F-fuck you, P- fuck.” Martin’s body jerked as Pete pressed against his prostate a little harder, “fuck you!”

“Say sorry.” He bit down – hard – on Martin’s collar bone, leaving teeth marks, angry, red teeth marks. “Sorry, sorry, I’m… please, Pete…” He was so desperate, he was begging. For real, he was really, actually begging. How could Pete not give him what he wanted? He inserted his middle finger and let it join his index in rubbing against that sensitive spot, making Martin’s grip tighten and his breathing grow heavier.

fuck me.” It was barely more than a breath, only caught by Pete because it was breathed into his ear. “No.” A pathetic whine rung through his head. “I’m not gonna fuck you, I don’t wanna fuck you.” He pressed his lips against Martin’s ear so he’d hear his next words, “I wanna have sex with you.”

“That’s the- the same thing you fucking dumbass,” the last part of his sentence was strained, desperate. “No. I’m gonna have sex with you, slowly and steadily, so you feel every single inch of me inside of you, so you feel every muscle in my body against every muscle in your body, you got that?” he rasped. Martin nodded sharply. “Good.”

Pete retracted his fingers swiftly and all air seemed to leave Martin’s body with them as he relaxed in his grip. Wasting no time, Pete lined himself up, his now aching cock pushing against Martin’s entrance almost carefully, waiting to be let in. “Do it,” Martin panted, “please.”

That was all he needed. Pete slid in in one swift move, all the way until he was completely buried in hot flesh. He couldn’t withhold the whine that slipped past his lips and leaned his forehead against Martin’s wet shoulder as he slowly pulled his hips back, taking his time, making every inch count… it was torture, for both of them, but Pete enjoyed the desperate hands clawing at his shoulders and the pleas and begging too much.

“Pete, Pete!” Martin clung onto him like he needed him to live as Pete pushed back in slowly, the resistance of the water making his determination to keep it that way easier. Pete pulled his face away from its place against Martin’s shoulder until they were face-to-face, inches apart. He was glowing golden, the artificial stars catching in his eyes and his hair and tinging it the colour of sunbeams. He couldn’t stop staring. Their eyes remained locked as the motion of Pete rocking against Martin pushed up to the glass created waves that rippled across the surface of the clear water. It was silent save for the sound of water lapping against stone and skin and Martin’s low panting, the city so far away.

And then his eyes flicked down to those lips. Only briefly, not lingering, well, not more than he needed to see they were shining and parted, just waiting for him to-

“Don’t,” there was a sincerity in Martin’s voice that tore Pete’s eyes back up, “please, don’t.” His words were quickly cut off in a whine as he threw his head back and let out a staccato of a moan, but Pete was sickeningly aware of how it must have seemed, like he was going to… he wanted to, fuck, he did, but he’d never…. He wouldn’t… He dropped his forehead back against Martin’s shoulder so that his ear was pressed against his cheek and picked up speed, trying to bring himself closer… he needed to… he needed…

“I… I didn’t pay you…” the realization was sudden and Pete couldn’t stop the words before they were out. “Fuck, Pete, way to… ruin… fuck, pay me after, I don’t… ah fuck…”

Kinda desperate to finish, to get it over and done with, Pete tried to go as quick as the water would let him, the slashing and sloshing that had been such a fucking turn-on initially more annoying than anything now.

He steadily pushed forward, the tenderness he’d tried to set up gone and the utter ridiculousness of it crashing into him like waves, all he did was fuck Martin until he came, his fingers twisting into black hair as he didn’t hold back to let Pete’s name slip from his tongue.

Pete followed, seconds later, quietly and just… there weren’t fireworks or anything, it was just an orgasm. He didn’t hesitate to let go of the hooker, to let him drift off as he swam back towards the edge and pushed himself up and out. He didn’t look back once as he paced over to his trousers and pulled them on before he wandered back through the glass double-doors into his dimly lit apartment. Two $50 bills, laid out in plain view on the kitchen counter so they couldn’t be missed by somebody on their way to the front door, the last of his red wine and Pete was walking up the stairs and towards his bedroom.

The covers were warm and crisp around him, though he could feel them already dampening. His hair was soaking his pillow, his body his sheets and all he wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep and ideally never wake up again.

And then the bed dipped. Pete turned over onto his other side so he could look at Martin and found their faces inches apart. Again. He just steadily breathed as Martin did the same, silently staring at him.

“I… I didn’t ask you to stay.” It was pathetic, a ridiculous thing to say, but he didn’t know what else he could. “Do you want me to go?” the question was direct, dry, emotionless. A simple question, nothing more, no teasing, no suggestions, just a question.

And Pete should say yes, he should tell the whore to leave, to get out of his home and his life and leave him alone to fix what remained of his dignity.

But he didn’t. of course he didn’t.

“No.”

Pete rolled back onto his other side as Martin shuffled closer until his warm body was pressed up against his back. “Little spoon, are we?” he sounded amused. “I’m… small, Martin.”

There was a prolonged silence, one in which Pete settled further into his bed, tucked between duvet and mattress and framed by secure arms and a warm body and steady breathing against his neck. Brown eyes slipped closed and he drifted away, quietly and peacefully. And as he fell asleep, he barely even registered the hushed word, barely a whisper, more like the wind through the trees.

“Patrick.”

Chapter Text

If there was one thing worse than paperwork, it was cozying up to people he hated. Galas and dumb parties were one thing, fucking dinners at private homes, that was an utterly different matter. Originally, Pete had wanted to refuse, to tell Jordan to go fuck himself – again – but Joe might just have murdered him if he’d pissed off their best client any more. Actually, Joe looked pretty close to committing murder as they stood on the doorstep, waiting for somebody to be kind enough to let them in.

It wasn’t exactly your regular doorstep, more of a lavish porch, three marble steps leading up to a big, wooden door, hidden away at the end of a long and flashy driveway. There were three types of art collectors: The ones in the big, modern houses with huge glass windows and tidy pools and immaculately manicured lawns, those in penthouses in the city, looking out over the lights of LA from their infinity pools on their rooftops, and those in villas that were nowhere near as old as they were built to look, complete with neatly messy shrubbery, a few fountains and lots of pillars and statues. Pete was type II, most definitely, he fit the stereotype perfectly, whilst Jordan was his least favourite. It wasn’t that he hates the old look of the building, he rather enjoyed it, what bothered him was the false dishevelment. Basically, these houses were meticulously groomed, every day, most likely, so that the appealing, overgrown, slightly messy flare was lost in the attempt to try and make the controlled look uncontrollable. Bullshit. Total and utter pretentious bullshit.

Pete wasn’t even sure his smile was convincing when a woman who was undoubtedly some maid or other finally opened the heavy doors for them, waving them in with a sickening grin. He’d stood in the entrance hall before, a large, stone room, the cheapest paintings that could probably feed a family of four for six months hanging on the walls in an attempt to look impressive. The Amigoni wouldn’t be here, in fact, Pete doubted he’d get to see it today, unless Jordan’s ego was in need of a nice grooming.

They were led through to the dining room, though… well, Joe’s sharp intake of breath said everything. It was fucking huge. The walls were painted a light, minty green, finished off with a nice, white trimming with gold paint curling around it. There was a fireplace, marble, of course, along the long wall, right in the middle, sculptures of cupids sitting either side of it. The table looked a little out of place, the plate dark wood too small for the space it was meant to fill, though Pete suspected it was actually bigger than it looked. The floor underfoot was hardwood, shining as though it had been polished mere seconds ago, not a spot in sight. It didn’t look lived in, despite the array of men scattered across the room. Only men, obviously, Jordan was something of a sexist pig.

The man himself, however, was nowhere to be seen. Pete weaved his way through the mass of white-haired, balding men talking in important voices about unimportant things in search of his simultaneously most important and most hated client. Joe followed in close pursuit, his big mass of hair as out of place as a pink dress at a funeral and always just visible in Pete’s peripheral vision.

“You telling me where exactly we’re headed?” Pete blanked him, heading towards the big, French doors at the end of the room that didn’t seem to get any shorter. There were so many obstacles in his way, old men wanting to sell their paintings, older men wanting to sell their sculptures, men who weren’t as old as they acted just wanting to sell…. Just sell. Money-hungry vultures, the rich and not-so-powerful, the luckiest runt of society. Pete pushed past every one of them, the need to breathe greater than the need to do business. He was just grateful that Joe knew that.

It was with great relief he managed to slip outside, into the fresh air of the great outdoors. There weren’t as many people on the stone patio, the weather not exactly what LA men were used to, the early April morning chill still settling heavily on Pete’s lungs, but a part of him must still be hardened from spending his formative years in Chicago. He wasted no time in moving away from the small group of smokers standing just outside the door, faintly aware of Joe apologizing to them as he shoved past them to get to the steps that lead to the large garden.

Garden.

It was more like a park. Pete didn’t want to know how much water the upkeep of a lawn this size must take in the sweltering heat of Californian summers. Trees were surrounding the grassy area, tall and bare, save a few ferns behind the first line of foliage trees. The grass crunched as he stepped over it, already green and fresh, the arrival of spring apparent in the air. Joe was right behind him.

He didn’t ask questions, knew not to. Pete was silently thankful that he didn’t have to explain the sudden fist curled around his guts, dragging him dangerously close to a freak panic attack. He wanted to punch something, kick something, maybe jump off a cliff or speed down the highway or swim off a waterfall or

“Hey, dude, calm down, it’s okay.” A steady grip clamped his shoulders, holding him still. He realized he was trembling and he wished he could blame the cold. Pete shut his eyes as he tried to control his breathing, fists clenching by his side. Joe’s body was warm in front of him, giving him something to hang onto. “You’re alright, buddy, it was just a little scare.”

It took Pete another minute or two to get back down to earth, to steady his mind and manage to focus on anything but his spinning head. He gave Joe a sharp nod to let him know it was okay. A heavy hand gave him a reassuring pat on the back, maybe partly to hide the mumbled “did you take your meds this morning?” No. no, he hadn’t. he nodded anyway. Joe wouldn’t believe him, but that didn’t matter.

“Good to head back?”

“No!” Pete cleared his throat awkwardly when the word came out way more harshly than intended, “no, not just yet… please…” A nod from Joe let him know it was okay, he didn’t need to go back to the room of leeches just yet, draining him of the years he still had just so they might feel younger, more important.

Instead, Joe curled his hand around Pete’s arm and gently guided him into the trees, away from the open lawn and any potential prying eyes.

It was something of a small wood, little twigs cracking below their feet as they stomped through it, Joe filling the silence with empty babble that Pete was rather grateful for. He was grateful for a lot of things when it came to Joe. He might even call him his best friend if there weren’t something missing he just couldn’t put his finger on.

“Anyway, the end of the story is that, basically, when Andy got back, his friend was lying stark naked on the floor and there was this… Pete, are you listening to my, frankly hilarious, anecdote?” Pete wasn’t listening to Joe’s frankly hilarious anecdote. Pete’s ears had caught something way more interesting than Joe’s frankly hilarious anecdote. “You hear that?” he made sure to keep his voice quiet. “Yeah, dude,” came the reply after a few seconds, “sounds like someone’s having fun.”

It wasn’t Pete’s intention to comb through the trees in search of the source of the heavy panting and low moaning, but Joe was wearing that damned shit-eating grin on his face and that little boy spark in Pete never burned down once it had been lighted.

He often wondered what would have happened if he’d just turned back on that day, just left, gone back to the house, no questions posed, nothing. He could have wandered back to the old men with their old paintings and their old ways and the occasional visit from a little, white boy and not thought any more of it.

But he didn’t. and hence, it wasn’t up to him to know. Maybe things had always been headed in this direction.

The flash of white was the first thing that caught his eyes. It was odd, really, it wasn’t as if the surroundings were dark, the lack of green on the trees – save a few tiny leaves – not providing the shade that would make up the contrast, but still… that utter pale white, too familiar already.
The other thing was the rough hand tearing at strands of blonde hair that shimmered like copper in the light, twisting and tugging the head they were attached to into an almost unnatural position. Pete gaped dumbly at the sight of the whore bent over, blue eyes fixed on him in an intense glare as the man behind him… Jordan, fucking Jordan. Pete was gonna kill him.
The other thing he noted – regrettably – was the pang of jealousy in his gut, a feeling like he’d been hit on the stomach, not hard, maybe by a child, but still noticeable. Pete decided to push it aside and bury it deep down, blame it on the animal instinct that led him to drive any other male away from his lay… except, obviously, the lay himself. Details, details, biology didn’t care.
They were both fully-clothed, Martin’s trousers pulled down only far enough to expose what part of him was needed, everything else covered by that same suit he’d been wearing on the night of… when he’d…

The intensity with which those blue eyes stared at him was killing Pete, the contorted face of the man fucking him was making his blood boil. He was pretty certain Martin caught his sneer when Jordan gave his hair a sharp tug, pulling his head back to reveal even more of that immaculately white throat, not a mark on it. His stomach clenched when Martin let out a whine, one he recognized all too well himself and it suddenly hit him: This was how he looked. That desperation, those noises, that same, exact boy underneath him…

He felt a tug on his sleeve and spun around to find Joe’s face carrying an expression of something unpleasantly close to pity. Why was he being pitied? Pointedly, he frowned at his friend, trying to convey “don’t look at me like that”, but evidently not succeeding in doing so, going by the firm pat on the back he got. He didn’t fucking need-

Martin’s eyes were still fixed on him, carrying something unreadable within their blue depths. He was mercilessly grinding his jaw, the tension of his muscles apparent through his entire body, from the protruding vein on his forehead to the stiff neck and the grimace painted across his face, sometimes enforced by tightly knit brows, usually in time with one of Jordan’s more vocal thrusts forward. Pete didn’t want to watch anymore, he didn’t want to see the hand tearing at strawberry hair, didn’t wanna see the wince that shot through Martin every time things got a little too much, but he couldn’t… he couldn’t walk away. He stood, rooted on the spot, frozen, immobile until a hard tug from Joe caught him off-balance and he had to catch himself. “Come on dude,” his voice was soothing, “come on, let’s go…” and somehow, Pete found himself following, almost against his will. Or maybe not.  He didn’t know what he wanted. Worse, almost: He didn’t know what he felt. How should he feel?

They were barely out of the little woods and standing on cool grass again when Joe spoke. “You wanna go? Home?” Yes.

“No, don’t be dumb, why would I wanna-“

“You know why,” he dropped his voice, “don’t act like you don’t care, like this doesn’t matter to you…”

“It doesn’t!” And maybe the answer was a little too quick and maybe it sounded a little too desperate and maybe Pete’s voice did break, but it didn’t! It really didn’t matter to him at all, he knew what this was, he wasn’t dumb, it shouldn’t matter! But Joe’s eyebrow stayed raised, his expression remained sympathetic and the hand on his shoulder didn’t budge.

It didn’t. fucking. Bother him.

“Nah, fuck this dude, we’re going, we’ve been here for half an hour and you’ve already nearly had a panic attack and seen your crush getting fucked by quite possibly your least favourite person on the planet.”

Pete squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was done, he was so done with everything, he hated it and he hated himself for being here, in this position, for taking the wrong turn every fucking time. “He’s not my-“

“Sure. Yeah, no, you just have sex with him on a regular basis and spend half your life pining after him, but it’s just casual.” Pete wanted to argue back.

He didn’t. instead, he stayed quiet, fists silently clenching as Joe dragged him back through the house and out the front door, the image of Jordan’s expression replaying in his mind on loop.

 

 

 

 

 

“Dude, slow down.” Nope.

Pete tipped back the last of his third beer and didn’t hesitate to signal for another one, earning him nothing but a tut from Andy. “The fuck is up with him? It’s like he’s been through a breakup…” he turned to Pete, “you haven’t, right?” Joe let out an ugly snort and took it upon himself to reply, “worse, he caught his boyfriend with somebody else.” Not quite understanding the situation, Andy’s jaw dropped an he looked like he was about to say something along the lines of “dude I’m so sorry” or “no fuck that guy” or “forget about him you deserve better,” but Pete interjected quickly before it got any more awkward.

“He’s not my fucking boyfriend, Joe! He’s just…”

“Your fuckbuddy?”

“My whore! He’s just my whore, like my doctor is just my doctor and my therapist is just my therapist. He… he provides a service. I make use of that service, it doesn’t… I know it’s not exclusive to me.” It sounded rehearsed, but maybe it was. It was the truth, though, Pete knew it was.

“Why do you keep going back though?” Andy’s question was unexpected, mainly because it was Andy asking it, but it threw Pete off-balance.

“Because,” that was Joe, “his dumb ass has gone and got a crush on a hooker.” There it was again, that pitying smile, this time peeking through from behind a scraggly beard. “I don’t! It’s just… he’s just… why do you always go to the same hairdresser, Andy?!”

“Because she’s my girlfriend and does it for free?”

“That’s not the fucking point, here I-“

“Yes, Pete, yes, it is!” Joe firmly set his glass down. The teasing had disappeared from his voice, it was stern and serious now, “that’s exactly the point. Paying for sex isn’t normal! You can get that shit fucking everywhere, just wander into a bar and chat up some dude and get him to suck your dick, it’s not hard! You keep going back for him and you know it, stop denying it. It’s fucking bad for you!”

Pete chewed the inside of his cheek. It was already hot with sore flesh and painful to bite down on. He didn’t… He didn’t go back for Martin. He went back because of Martin’s ass, because Martin knew how to flick his tongue over his cock just right, because Martin knew when to make the right noise, because Martin knew where he had to bite down on Pete’s throat to hit that spot. Not because of Martin, not because of his pale skin or his shining blue eyes or his golden hair or his dumb jokes or his skinny arms that just reached around his chest perfectly…

“You’re in deep shit, Wentz.” Joe commented as he downed the shot he’d just ordered, “that’s the first rule about whores: You don’t fall in love with them, you dick.”

 

 

 

It was a rough night. Joe had offered to walk him home, even stay with him, but the idea of somebody else in his apartment right now made Pete wanna throw up. So he drank a bottle of wine, downed some painkillers in the hope that they didn’t only help with physical injuries and curled up in bed.

The duvet was heavy, a crushing weight on his small body. There was no comfort in the heat surrounding him and filling his lungs, he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He curled in on himself, pulling his knees up to his chest, and when he couldn’t blend out the sound of Jordan’s ugly panting and moaning, he tried covering his ear. All that did was amplify the noise.

How many people had Martin fucked? 50? 500? How many of them were just casual? How many of them were regulars?

How many of them were dumb enough to let themselves believe they were something special?

He tried not to think of how Martin had climbed into bed next to him, about how he’d wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close until he could fall asleep. He tried not to think about Martin trying to wrestle the phone off him or making his stupid jokes or speaking to him in that soft voice that was so very different from the one he used on the street corner, he tried not to think about what he’d said. He’d said he enjoyed Pete.

Enjoyed.

That was all. Not liked, not wanted to be close to, just enjoyed.

But he picked you, came that intrusive little voice, he approached you and he let you fuck him against your bookshelf. Because he thought you were cute. So? Pete couldn’t count on one hand the amount of times he’d fucked somebody because they were attractive with no intention of ever seeing them again.

It was nothing. It meant nothing. He was just a paying client, like anybody else who could just walk up, pay the price and have his ass for how ever long it took them to get off. Like Jordan. Like Patrick.

No, not like Patrick… he didn’t know who Patrick was, but… but if Martin thought about him when he was intimate in ways that went beyond sex, he must be special to him. Maybe his boyfriend? Maybe that’s why kissing was off-limits, because he had a boyfriend… Pete had never thought about that.

But then again, that first night… he didn’t think Martin was a cheater. A whore, yes, a hooker who sold his body to anybody with the right money, but a cheater? No.

Patrick wouldn’t let him go, those two syllables that had ghosted over Martin’s lips and had barely been caught by Pete had been haunting him for over a week now. He hadn’t shown it, of course, he’d not said anything to Martin when he’d woken up the next morning, hadn’t addressed it when the prostitute had declined the additional $400 Pete had offered for the night, had done his best not to think about it as he sat in his office staring at the wall because there was so much work he couldn’t even be bothered looking in the direction of the pile of papers.

But he’d been there, all the time. Like a cancer eating away at the back of Pete’s mind, something he could push down but not quite get rid of. He didn’t… the thought of somebody else meaning something to Martin hurt. It hurt more than he wanted to admit. More than he could admit.

He flipped over onto his back and stared into the blackness. Why did he feel so alone? It had been just him for years now, he’d not shared a bed for more than a night for so long he could barely remember what it was like having somebody fall asleep next to you every single one. So why did it hurt now?

He didn’t know what he was doing when he reached for his phone. It was dumb, it was inadvisable and if Joe had been there, he’d have chastised him for it. As it was, Pete held it to his ear and listened to it ring.

 

Beep

Beep

Beep

Beep

Beep

Beep

Beep

“Hi!” Pete’s heart skipped, “hey, can y-“

“I can’t answer right now, please try again in 45 minutes.”

Dead.

45 minutes. That was… rather crushing. How many people had he handed his phone number out to? He’d never thought about that…

The arm holding the phone slowly sunk back onto the mattress. Pete stared at nothing. He tried focussing on nothing in the hope that it would shut his mind up. He didn’t want these questions, he hadn’t asked for them and he wanted them to go away.

But they didn’t.

And, before he knew it, he was sitting in his car, driving along an all too familiar route on autopilot, his brain was telling him to stop, but somehow, his body didn’t care.

 

 

The street corner seemed… odd. He’d put it on not having been there for a while, after all, there hadn’t been the need. Martin was nowhere to be seen, though. Kinda figured, really. he, did, however, catch the familiar sight of red hair. Gerard was sitting on the curb, picking at his nails and not paying attention to anything around him until the car came to a halt.

“Pete!” It was odd seeing him from this angle, usually he was the one being looked down on. “Haven’t seen you in a wh-“

“Where’s Martin?” The cheeky smile slipped off Gerard’s face, barely noticeable, but it was enough for Pete to see. “Not here.”

“Working?”

“No.”

“Then where?”

The redhead pushed himself up from his spot on the pavement and opened Pete’s car door. No, nope, this wasn’t where this was going, he had no- “Come on, let’s… take a drive. Or a walk, if you prefer.” Pete frowned up at him, not really knowing what he was aiming at here… “No weird business, I promise, I just… trust me. Please.”

Pete didn’t trust him, but he also didn’t know what other option he had if he wanted to know where the fuck Martin was. He climbed out of his black Mercedes, leaving it just standing at the side of the road next to a bunch of prostitutes. In retrospect, it was dumb as fuck, but at the time… his brain wasn’t working properly, anyway.

Gerard led him down the street and onto a well-lit boulevard, away from the dim and dodgy atmosphere. It was odd seeing him like this. When he made no moves to start talking, Pete prompted him. “Where is Martin?”

Gerard’s eyes stayed fixed ahead, “at home.”

“Why?”

“Why?” he scoffed, making Pete cringe at himself. “He’s… not feeling up to it today. Believe it or not, this job is exhausting and-“

“I know it is.” He wasn’t stupid, he was fully aware of what Martin had to go through. Gerard just hummed, like he wasn’t sure he believed him. Pete took a deep breath in an attempt to regain some composure. “Is everything okay?”

He waited awkwardly as Gerard walked on in silence like he was trying to think of the right answer. It wasn’t comfortable. “Everything is rarely okay. He’s coping.”

“I could-“

“No!” it was a sharp, clear instruction. “No, he needs… he just needs the night off. Please don’t bother him.” They came to a halt and the redhead finally turned to face him. His expression was pretty blank, that unpainted canvas they all seemed to carry most of the time. Whenever they thought nobody was looking. “I know it’s hard, but you’ve gotta try.”

The fuck? Pete frowned at him, “try what?”

“You can’t fall in love with him.” What?! He wanted to say something, to correct Gerard, but he couldn’t, his mouth… it wouldn’t move. “You’ll deny it, I know, but you wouldn’t be the first. Martin doesn’t do relationships, don’t waste your time trying to get one out of him.”

“I’m… I don’t…” A hand clapped against his shoulder and he was met with that fucking pitiful expression once again fuck how he hated it. “It’s okay, it happens, just… I wanted to warn you.”

The hooker turned away and continued walking down the street. His hips weren’t swaying like they usually did and his shoulders were hunched. By the time Pete realized, he had to fall into a half-jog to catch up with him. “what about Patrick?”

Gerard froze. When he looked at Pete, there was something between alarm and confusion dancing in his hazel eyes. “How do you know about Patrick?” Pete raised an eyebrow, “he, uh… mentioned him. Why? Is he important?” white teeth sunk into a pink bottom lip as Gerard’s brow furrowed. It took him a while to reply and when he did, he sounded hesitant, like every word was a stepping stone he had to carefully place. “I think…” they turned a corner that took them back onto the grimy, dark street, Pete’s car was parked just a few houses down, “if you… you really love Martin, it’s Patrick you’ll… you’re gonna want to talk to.” The fuck did that mean? Any of it? “But please, don’t… don’t go looking for him.”

“I don’t.” Pete replied quietly as he climbed back into his Mercedes. “I don’t love him. He’s just… my whore.” Gerard nodded, almost sadly, before slamming the door shut and walking off, leaving Pete to stew in his thoughts alone.

 

 

He needed the shower. The hot water on his back burnt away any feeling of doubt he had, cleansing him to the bone. It washed away Gerard’s hand on his shoulder, it washed away Joe’s pitying look and Andy’s pitying words, it washed away Jordan’s face and Martin’s body, it washed away Patrick, it washed away anything he felt until all that was left was the deep desire that had driven him to that fucking street corner in the first place.

Pete reached down and wrapped his hand around his cock. No messing about, this was him, he could do whatever he wanted, whatever he needed, no dumb whore to cut off his orgasm or tease him until he wanted to cry. His fist stroked steadily over his dick, picking up speed quickly and filling the bathroom with the sound of skin shamelessly rubbing against skin. With nobody else to consider, Pete shouted and cursed, grunting heavily with every stroke, letting out every moan and cry that bubbled in his gut until he was almost shouting, just to fill his mind with anything but blonde hair, blue eyes and curved, pink lips.

But he couldn’t keep them away as he came, as the pressure in his gut unwound and ribbons of white landed on black tiles before they were washed away along with the shame and regret.

Fuck.

The tears came quickly, accompanied by loud sobs that couldn’t quite be stifled. Pete didn’t want to let them flow freely, wanted to repress that shit, but he couldn’t. it was too much. So much he found himself sitting in his shower with the water beating down on him like it was trying to drown him, hands tearing at his hair as his body shook and tears and snot dripped from his face.

He needed to stop.

He needed to stop before it was too late.

Chapter Text

The warm wind on Pete’s face was a clear indication that summer had arrived. Not that that was particularly surprising, it was almost June, after all, and this was L. A., as far as he – a lake-effect kid – was concerned, it was summer all year round. Save maybe November to March, that was more kinda autumn and spring all mingled into one, never quite cold enough for winter, so the trees kinda just lost their leaves and grew them back for no apparent reason. They didn’t even always do that. Even nature around here was lazy as fuck. Pete kinda missed being able to see seasons change around him.

As it was, he was standing on the pier in his beige chinos and his pale blue button-down with his jacket slung over his shoulder feeling terribly white. His overpriced watch he’d got himself for his 30th read 7:08, eight Minutes past the arranged time. Unfortunately, he didn’t even know what to look out for, so he just kinda stood around like an idiot waiting for stuff to hopefully happen. Or maybe nothing was going to happen? Not that that would be a problem, but he’d actually showered and spend a good deal of time fighting with his hair and was wearing his good cologne, an actual cancellation would have been nice. Unsurprising, maybe. Pete didn’t really expect anything of this, it what more to shut his utterly insufferable friends up. This dude had better be nice for keeping him waiting. If he wasn’t worth it, Joe’s head would be on a spike on Pete’s terrace.

By 7:20, Pete had pretty much given up. He’d already resigned himself to a lonely night with a bottle of… whatever wasn’t empty, a packet of crisps and Disney movies when he felt a hand on his elbow.

The guy was taller than him. Not that that was anything unusual or a particular achievement, just… not what Pete had become used to. Recently. Doesn’t matter. Not now. He had quite a long, pointy face, but kind eyes and a nice smile, a genuine smile. Like he was actually interested in getting Pete to like him. Dressed in a pair of black trousers and a dark-blue button down complete with a black blazer, he looked… normal. Nice, friendly and normal. Just what Pete needed.

“Pete I take it?” He took the hand that was being extended towards him, “Yes, that’s me, hi.”

“Call me Mikey. Or not, if you don’t want. But everybody does. So hey, I’m Mikey.” Pete couldn’t help but smile at how awkwardly Mikey was fumbling for words. Somehow he suspected he wasn’t as helpless as he let on, though, all just an act, maybe to seem less intimidating. Or maybe Pete looked like the kind of nerdy guy who needed speaking to in nerdy terms. He wasn’t about to complain, it was cute as shit. One thing was for sure: Joe knew Pete’s type.

“So, we, uh… gonna go in?” Mikey gestured to the little restaurant to their left, specifically to the little, blue door next to Pete. “Oh! Yes, of course, sorry, I got… distracted.” Pete offered an apologetic smile. “Ah, not by anything more interesting than me, I hope? I do try my best to be more interesting, believe me… what if I told you I play bass in a band?”

Conversation was easy. Once the thing about the bass was out in the open, they immediately had their shared interest. “I used to play!” Pete confessed between sips of his red wine. To his surprise, Mikey seemed genuinely interested in that. “Oh? Were you in a band? Why did you stop?” The questions were almost overwhelming, though Pete did have to confess, he somewhat enjoyed the attention, the actual desire to get to know each other. He’d kinda missed that, the last few months, not really having met anybody new. “Mmh, I was in a few hardcore things, but I was never any good. Like, I knew the theory of it or whatever, but bass was more my crowbar in?” He chuckled at a memory he’d considered long-forgotten, “one of the dudes, uh, a drummer, I think, he once told me I was too poetic for the stage. More of a writing guy than a performing one.” Ah, yes. John Elbe. What a dude he had been. Pete wondered if anything had ever become of that shitty little punk band. Probably not.

“And are you?” There was something so warm in Mikey’s gaze, so inviting and open and fucking real , it felt like a breath of life. “Am I what?”

“A writing guy?”

“Oh!” Pete chuckled to himself, “I dunno, how about I write you a poem and you tell me?” Smooth, Peter. A smirk slid onto Mikey’s face as he realized what Pete had just done and he drove a hand through blonde hair. “Nah. Takes too long, right? You can write me one and text it to me. Or email it. Or send it via carrier pigeon, I don’t know how one’s Edwardian writing is most authentically delivered to achieve the full effect.” He laughed, Pete genuinely laughed. It was nice. “You can read me something else, though? Something you’ve already written?”

Uh. Well.

The hesitation must have been apparent on Pete’s face, for Mikey’s demeanour immediately changed to something even softer than it had been god damn it . “You don’t have to! Like, I get it, it’s f-“

“No, no I uh… must have something I can… suitable for the first date.” He dug out his phone and opened his password-protected notes. He didn’t know why they were password-protected. It just made him feel safer. Don’t question it.

Pete scrolled through the long list of half-finished poetry, occasionally stopping when he thought he’d found something, only to dismiss it a few lines later.

And then, finally, when the atmosphere was beginning to shift to awkward, he found something that would do. As though he was addressing a crowd, not just a cute dude in a suit, Pete cleared his throat.

 

I’ll be as honest as you let me

I miss your early morning company

If you get me

You are my favorite "what if"

You are my best "I’ll never know"

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any of it

I just got too lonely, lonely

In between being young and being right

You were my Versailles at night

It was the fourth of July

you and I were fireworks

That went off too soon

And I miss you in the June gloom too

It was the fourth of July

You and I were fireworks

I said I’d never miss you, but I guess you’ll never know

May bridges I have burned light my way back home

On the fourth of July

My 9 to 5 is cutting open old scars

Again and again 'til I’m stuck in your head

And all my thoughts of you

They could heat or cool the room

And now don’t tell me you’re fine

Oh, honey, you don’t have to lie

I wish I’d known how much you loved me

I wish I cared enough to know

I’m sorry every song’s about you

The torture of small talk

with someone you used to love

 

Well.

 

It wasn’t quite what Pete had remembered. He didn’t look up from his glaring screen for a while, his eyes not capable of tearing themselves away from the words he’d written on a rough night two months ago.

He should have deleted them immediately.

No, he should never have written them down in the first place.

It was only when he felt a hand lay over his he managed to meet Mikey’s gaze. There was something sad in his eyes. Fucking pity. Pity again. Pete didn’t need pity, he was so tired of pity, he just wanted to scream. Instead, he swallowed a lump in his throat and tasted the copper tang of blood pouring from a wound he’d bitten into his bottom lip.

“That was…” his voice was low, sincere, “it was beautiful, Pete, thank you. For reading it out, I mean, it must… mean a lot to you if you can write about it like that. You’re very good.” He mustered a fake smile he hoped was more convincing than it felt.

Fuck he’d repressed this shit. He was doing okay, he didn’t need this. He tried to focus on the blueish-green serviette rather than Mikey or his damned memories. It was a pretty colour, like… like the sea. Sorta. A nice, clear, Caribbean sea. Not some stormy ocean with deep blue waves that came crashing in with a backdrop of grey storm clouds, ever changing. Comfort and warmth. Yes. That was that colour was.

“Who is it about? If you don’t mind my asking?” He did. he’d not thought about the recipient in a long while, deliberately steering his mind away from him the way he steered his body away from cigarettes recently. But he couldn’t let on how fucked up he was by hinting at the bottled-up emotions he was trying so hard to keep a lid on. He resorted to what he knew best: being a pretentious asshat.

“A… an expensive mistake.” Expensive in more ways than one. Mikey smiled apologetically and the way with which his thumb stroked over Pete’s knuckles was warm and soothing and made him feel more at home than he had done in a long time. He let himself sink into it, let his body relax just for a second and pretend this was something safe, something secure and known and permanent.

Then, all of a sudden, Mikey sat back, a certain positive determination dancing in his eyes that dragged Pete right in with him. “Let’s not dwell on the past!” Mikey lifted his white wine up to Pete, who reached for his red. They toasted as though they were old comrades in an 80s film. Or maybe 18th century renegades. Or maybe two old friends about to head off to war. “To everybody who fucked us over.”

Yes. That was good. Pete’s mouth twisted into a small smile, not unlike the one his date was wearing. “To everybody who fucked us over.”


Mikey was nice. Yes, he was charming and handsome and funny but he was nice , too, he listened to Pete, he said just the right things, he told good stories and he had an… interesting view on life. “If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it,” he manifested once they’d moved out of the seafood restaurant and into a small but cosy bar, complete with dark wooden panelling and old-looking pictures on the wall behind the massive bar, “like, fuck, if I don’t get money, I don’t get money, but what’s the point in living if I fucking hate it?” It was a compelling argument, and one Pete had heard before, of course, but never had it seemed quite so convincing as it did coming from Mikey’s mouth. Thought that may be down to the fact that it was Mikey’s mouth more than anything else now that he thought about it.

“I mean, like, I guess I could try and whore my way to the top of the industry, but would it be worth it? I think the fuck not.” Pete smiled politely as the tipsy ramblings continued, still a tequila shot away from being able to join in and, frankly, quite enjoying being talked at by a handsome stranger in a nice bar.

But it was nice. Even if he predominantly listened, it was good to talk about real life. About… stuff. And people. And relationships. And hobbies. And normal things. Regular stuff regular people did with nice, regular lives that weren’t riddled with lies and fake promises and bruised skin. It was nice to get to know somebody and Mikey was nice and Mikey was funny and he liked Mikey and he was pretty certain Mikey liked him. He was so, nice, in fact, Pete just grabbed the moment and did something potentially incredibly dumb by putting a hand on the back of Mikey’s neck and pulling him in until their lips touched. Only briefly, there was barely any contact, but it was enough to set fireworks off in Pete. Fuck, it was like he was awaking from a dream. How long had he been wanting to kiss somebody for? Maybe not Mikey, but Mikey was here and he was pretty and he was nice and he was normal and Pete could totally go with this.

“Well.” A smile way toying at the corner of Mikey’s lips as Pete questioningly searched his eyes for a reaction. He didn’t need to. Seconds later, he felt a hand on his waist and lips re-connecting to his. This time, they took their time, allowing Pete to find his way around, to figure out how to best slot his mouth against his date’s, even getting him a taste of the other man before they broke apart, breathing just a tiny bit heavier.

“I’m glad we’re on the same page here, Pete.” The grin Mikey gave him was big and friendly and beneath that cheeky, lusting surface there was something that could maybe be mistaken for actual interest. Pete found himself smiling at that realization.

A large part of him didn’t want their evening to end just yet though, so he put a little more distance between them, enough to signal he was still very much interested, but maybe… not quite now. Mikey picked up on it. Fuck, this was perfect.

“So, that Jack Skellington tattoo…” Pete glanced down at where his sleeve was rolled up to reveal the cartoon character etched onto his honey skin, “tell me a bit about it.”


It was no surprise, really, that Mikey ended up walking him home. Why exactly it was this way round was a pretty redundant question, Pete only so interested in an answer he wouldn’t ask unless it came up. Mikey was… maybe a little bit too drunk. Okay, no, drunk wasn’t the word, it wasn’t that bad, he was still fine. But jolly. Jolly was good. Pretty descriptive of his current state, the way he waved his arms about as he spoke and shamelessly raised his voice at the parts of the tale where it needed to be raised.

“And then my brother, god , my brother, he’s… quite something, y’know, anyway, my brother decides he’s just gonna, like… make out with him? In front of the whole club? It was wild , and I mean, I knew he was gay as a post, I didn’t know I was gay as a post at the time, but that doesn’t matter right now, and Gee, oh my goodness , he went for it! The poor kid didn’t know where up nor down was. Yeah, so his girlfriend was pretty shocked, but she deserved it, total bitch he was.” Pete was sure he’d thought this at least 78 times before that night, but it was nice , it was so nice to just have somebody to walk home with, to go out to dinner with, who’d tell him dumb stories about his family and his dog and who wasn’t fucking lying to him all the time…

So when Pete finally got his front door open and Mikey said his goodbyes, it came as a surprise, at the least. He turned round, frowning at his date. “Aren’t you… gonna come in?” There was something sincere about Mikey’s smile, the childish foolishness from a few seconds ago gone, replaced by something almost… sad. Though not that strong, but it was profound, poetic and probably beautiful were Pete not at the receiving end of it. “What is it?”

He looked the man up and down in the hope of finding any hint as to why the evening had come to this sudden halt. “We don’t have to… have sex or anything, just maybe-“

“It’s okay Pete.” A steadying hand was placed on his shoulder, “it’s gonna be okay.” What the fuck was he talking about? Pete frowned at him and he sighed. “You’re… still hung up on your fireworks-guy, I can tell…” what fucking… oh

Oh no.

“It’s fine, Pete, I get it. After my last…. It wasn’t… took me a while… doesn’t matter, really, I’m just… I like you.” I like you was never good. I like you was like can we still be friends? And Pete never kept in touch with any of his exes. He wanted to interject, to tell Mikey he was wrong, that was just a dumb poem he’d written weeks ago and he was over it, it was fine, the kid was nothing, and Mikey could be safe and secure. If they tried. If he’d let him try. But somehow, the words he needed to say that wouldn’t come out of his mouth. “I’d kinda like to give you a chance,” yes, good, give me a chance , “but in all honesty… I just came out of a relationship where somebody was still stuck on their ex. I respect myself too much to do that again. So…” He trailed off, there was no need for him to finish the sentence.

And all Pete had to defend himself with was: “He wasn’t my boyfriend… he’s just… a whore.” Why did he sound so uncertain?

It pretty much had the opposite effect from the one Pete had hoped in that it made Mikey scoff at him, his face was pulled into an ugly sneer. “Y’know, Pete… talking shit about your exes isn’t gonna score you bonus points with anybody. Slut-shaming certainly isn’t.” Of course. He wasn’t talking shit, but Mikey didn’t know that. Mikey didn’t know Pete had spent three months of his life paying for sex with a stranger because he looked a little too deep into a set of ocean blue eyes.

He kinda expected that to be it, for Mikey to turn and go, run for the hills to get away from the guy who hated his exes. He didn’t. he gently placed a hand on Pete’s shoulder. “Bad breakups are rough, man? Did he cheat? You don’t have to tell me, I just figured…” He didn’t wanna talk about it, he didn’t wanna talk about strawberry hair and white skin and pink lips. “Something like that.” He kinda wanted to be left alone at this point, really.

He also wanted Mikey to come inside, follow him upstairs and just fuck him hard and fast until it hurt and nothing else did. he hadn’t wanted to be fucked in a long time.

But the warm hand was retracted and with one last, sympathetic glance and a reassurance that he’d pick up the phone if Pete called him when he was feeling better, Mikey walked off into the night.

An overwhelming feeling of loneliness ate away at Pete’s gut as he flopped onto the couch and flicked on the TV. He didn’t care which channel, it was just background noise, something to concentrate on that wasn’t the empty pit in his soul where somebody else should be

31. He wasn’t supposed to be single at 31. This wasn’t how life was supposed to treat him, he was supposed to have a good job that didn’t make him want to kill himself and a gorgeous wife and some kids, maybe, a son, yes, he’d like a son. One that he could raise so differently to how he’d been raised; one he could teach the way of the world, how things worked, how dreams were best kept as dreams, bottled up until you had nothing but dreams inside because it was the only way to face the harsh fact that nothing ever worked out the way you wanted it to.

A dog would be nice. Or a cat. Or a fucking fish for all he cared, just… somebody. Somebody who depended on him.

Mikey could have. Had he been given the chance, he could have been so good for him. Romance had never come naturally to Pete, but that was mainly because he’d never had the time in the past, but now… fuck, all he wanted to do was wrap him in his arms, light dumb candles, play dumb songs and kiss his blonde hair. Fuck, Jesus, he couldn’t face the thought of his cold, empty bed.

His phone buzzed and when he looked down at it, the display was illuminated by the text message Joe had just sent him.

How’d it go? Or is it still going? ;)

Pete sighed heavily and picked up his phone. It weighed a tonne.

Not as well as I thought it was going.

He hit send before he could change his mind and watched the little typing… underneath Joe’s name disappear and re-appear until with a final woosh he sent the message.

Ah, sucks, man, you okay?

No?

Sure :)

Maybe the smiley was a little too enthusiastic. Or maybe it came off as sarcasm. Whatever.

Okay, txt me if u need anything

As if. Pete could barely admit what a sad excuse of a man he was to himself, let alone to his friend.

Pete Wentz, the hermit. The old bachelor. The weird old man next door who spoke to his potted plants and dreamed of days long gone.

Nah, fuck this. No. if there was one thing he wasn’t gonna be, it was that. He might be alone for the rest of his life but he’d be fucked if he made himself suffer through the whole thing like this.

Maybe he could go back to Chicago, hit restart on everything, talk to his mum and let her cuddle him until he fell asleep and when he’d wake up, the world would come around.

Wasn’t too late, was it?

Was it?

The rain started thumping against his window.

Chapter Text

Of all the days on which Pete thought his life would come to an abrupt stop, he would never had imagined it would be on his birthday. There was, he supposed, a 0.27% chance of that happening, but of all the coincidences in the world…

It started out with an early alarm. 6:30 because his dumb ass had forgotten to turn it off from the week before when he’d had to drive out of town for a meeting. Of course, he’d attempted to go back to sleep, but once he was outside of his dreams, that was pretty much it; it was a one-way door, a lobster trap. So he lay awake staring into the blue-ish grey of the morning sun until it turned purple and orange and it was time for him to actually get up.

It took Pete some time to figure out what day it was, he just went through his strict morning routine he’d had to implement recently: Shower, get dressed, eat breakfast (a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee), brush teeth and go to work. It was pure chance that made him glance at his phone, something he usually left until he was in his office, just so the day didn’t end up starting any earlier than it had to.

First, he nearly had a heart attack when he saw the string of messages plastering his notifications. Pete barely got a text from Joe on a good day, sometimes his mum would make sure he was still alive, but other than that…. Only when he opened it did Pete realize: June 5 th . Ugh, he was old, fuck.

Why wasn’t there an answer all option? It took him a good 10 minutes to reply to every fart who’d bothered to send him a half-hearted Happy Birthday! To get on his good side, or rather, to not get onto his bad side. As if he’d notice.

He tried to ignore the lack of a notification next to Mikey’s name, but… how the fuck would Mikey know his birthday? Besides, one date. That had been all, one date, some making out and an awkward goodbye. He’d even said he didn’t want to be with Pete! Fuck, he should really drop it.

There was another person in his contacts who hadn’t sent him anything, but they were somebody Pete very much wanted to push to the back of his mind. Besides, they had even less reason to know Pete’s birthday.

Not that he cared. It didn’t matter, it was just a regular day.

He drove to work like on any regular day, he stood in the elevator up to his office listening to terrible music like on any regular day, he pulled the door shut behind him like on any regular day and he slumped behind his desk like on any regular day. He didn’t have any meetings scheduled, no auctions going on for a while now that the summer opening one had passed and basically everything was boring as shit, dumb bird videos on YouTube his only pastime.

Until Joe came in.

It was pretty obvious that something was wrong, really, he had that look on his face, that dead-eye stare, that pulsing vein in his temple and Pete could almost hear his jaw grinding, but he admittedly hadn’t been paying enough attention to notice straight away.

He was so fucking dumb.

“Sup?” he tried to sound flippant and fine and a young, careless spirit that wasn’t at all bothered by the fact that he was 32 an s-

“Pete, turn off the Beach Boys and listen to me for a minute”, the tone of Joe’s voice was serious, way too fucking serious. Pete paused the video of the bouncing crow without hesitation and frowned up at his friend. He was white as a sheet and worrying his bottom lip to the point where red was already blooming from it. “Jesus Christ, Joe, what the fuck is going on? You okay?” the concern was genuine. Joe looked awful . Joe was also Pete’s oldest friend, they’d been through everything together. Everything. Shitty bands, shitty courses, shitty cities and towns and people.

If Joe was worried… well, Pete was worried for him.

He wasn’t aware of the fact that it was him Joe was worried about in the first place. All in all, it was an awful mess and when Joe finally spoke, Pete failed to wrap his mind around just what he’d said.

“Jordan lied. The painting was a fake. We’re in trouble, Pete.” Kinda as though he’d just been told the Cubs had been thrown out of the World Series or his favourite series had been cancelled, he raised his eyebrows at his friend in mild disbelief. No, it really didn’t hit him how dire the situation was. Not until Joe scoffed at him and threw his hands up in disbelief.

“You’re a fucking mess, Wentz!” Fuck. Pete jumped back a yard when Joe yelled at him. It was harsh, Joe never ever yelled at him. Not like this. “Do you know what this…. This is a fucking mess! We auctioned off a huge piece, a huge piece !! It was the CENTER of the fucking event and it was a goddamn fake! Fuck! Pete! DON’T JUST SIT THERE STARING AT ME! THIS IS YOUR MESS AS MUCH AS IT IS MINE! THE PAPERS ARE TEARING US TO SHREDS, THE CRITICS ARE TEARING US TO SHREDS! DO YOU HAVE ANY FUCKING IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE FUCKING HATE YOU?! THEY HATE THIS DAMN BUSINESS BECAUSE WE’RE THE BEST, PETE!! WE’RE THE BEST AND YOU’RE BETTER AND IF YOU’D TAKEN ONE FUCKING SECOND TO DO YOUR FUCKING JOB INSTEAD OF LUSTING AFTER A BACK-ALLEY WHORE LIKE A TEENAGE BOY, GOD, WE MIGHT… FUCK!”

He was red-faced and screaming, the anger in his voice real and palpable and his entire body was shaking as he pinched the bridge of his nose, in a desperate attempt to get his temper under control.

Pete, meanwhile, sat frozen in his ridiculously huge chair and just stared. He stared because he was afraid that if he did anything else, it would either result in him bursting out in fits of laughter or having a full-blown mental breakdown which, honestly, was a little overdue at this point.

Admittedly, he didn’t care about the business as much as he probably should. Sure, it was all he had, all he’d built up over the years, his life’s work, but it wasn’t like he enjoyed it… and he’d never made a mistake, he could handle the slip-up, it would be fine, totally, 100% f-

“Pete, I’m…” Joe was shaking his head as though he couldn’t quite believe what was happening around him, “Jesus, Pete, this might just cost you your job. And I’m sorry I… brought him up, but you know it’s true, you know it!” Pete bit the inside of his cheek at the mention of an unspoken name. Joe was overreacting, he had to be! Pete couldn’t lose this, it was all he had! Nothing else.

“Fuck, dude, I’m sorry, you…” he still hadn’t replied. Not said so much as a word, only stared at his friend in… shock? Bemusement? Surprise? Something along those lines, maybe?

With a sudden burst of determination, Pete stood up. His fists were clenched and his brow furrowed, the gravity of the situation had begun to smack into him like waves against a rock. Everything he had built, this whole fucking business, all the people he’d employed, all the art he had sold… it was all going to waste. And he knew why, fuck, he knew Joe was right.

He’d fucked up.

He grabbed his friend’s arm and dragged him out of the office, into the elevator, onto the ground floor and out of the building.

“Call Andy,” was the only thing he said, “it’s my birthday and we’re getting wasted.”



Frustrating. That’s how Pete would describe the atmosphere between them. He threw back drink after drink, not really paying attention to what he was pouring into himself, Joe, meanwhile, lightly nipped at his beer whilst Andy sipped his Sprite. There was a clear imbalance here.

“Joe, dude, come on, js…. Pleaseee… drink…” his head was only spinning a little, it was fine. “Pete, maybe you should sl-“

“Shut up Andyyy, you… never…. Mh fuck…”

“Jesus Christ, Pete how much have you had?” Joe sounded more mocking than concerned and it only stung a little bit. Pete shrugged. “Slow down, dude!”

“NO!” He knocked back the rest of his drink, but before he could signal for another, Andy firmly held his arm down. “And…y. let. Go. Now. I’m….. not good day. And I need…… please….” He tried to wrestle his limb free, but in his drunk state stood even less of a chance against Andy than he usually would. “pleaseeeee!”

“Okay, listen up, fuckwit!” Joe sounded so stern it made Pete immediately look up in perplexed shock. “stop. Just stop. We’re both in this shit, okay? You need to stop, lay off the alcohol, I don’t know what the fuck has happened to you, Pete, but whenever you feel slightly down in the dumps you turn into Barney fucking Gumble and I’m not having it! First the smoking now this?!”

“I d- on’t smmmmke anymore Joe.”

“I don’t care, drinking is just as bad! What the fuck happened, Pete?”

Fuck, he didn’t… didn’t wanna talk about it, any of it. He just wanted to live his life like the last six months hadn’t happened, like the last six years hadn’t happened, maybe if he just ignored them, he could and he wouldn’t have to face the fact that-

“I’m so fucking…. ‘lone.” No, no, no, he couldn’t start pouring out his heart, not here, not now, “fuck, Joe, ‘m sss… mmmh…” he tried to put his hand to his head but failed to pull it out of Andy’s firm grip. He was faintly aware of two sets of blue eyes boring into him. “I js want… wanted to feel. I don’t….. nobody wants mmme… Joe….” Jesus Christ.

“Hey no, Pete…” he thought there was a hand on his arm that wasn’t Andy’s, but Pete couldn’t be sure. “There’s someone, you know. Somewhere. You’re not alone.”

“Mmmmbut I ammm! I’m… loser… and like… mh, he ssaid I’mm too…. Still caught up an-“ no, no, nope, no, Pete, no, stop, “hhhe’s not… not true, ‘m not, butttt…. Mmmh.” Okay, the room was pretty lopsided now and his stomach was beginning to churn more than it probably should. “What?” he thought Joe had been speaking to him. He hadn’t. he’d leaned over to Andy and explained, “I think this is about the hooker.” It was. Pete wasn’t going to admit he still thought about blonde hair and blue eyes and pale skin and pretty, pink lips.

But fuck, it was all he could think about. Now the barrier had been broken down, it was the only thing on his mind, a raised eyebrow, thing, nimble fingers, bony shoulders, a dick with a freckle on the head, a warm laugh as two legs straddled Pete’s hips and tried to reach-

“I think we need to get you home.” Two hands hooked beneath his armpits and Pete didn’t even try to struggle against them as they did their best to hurl them to his feet. Hurl him. Hurley. Haha. He was pretty certain it was Andy he was leaning on, anyway, the body below his arm strong and muscly. “Mmmh, you’rrrre sssssuch a…. beast, Andy….”

“Do not.” Pete couldn’t stop himself from booping Andy’s nose, though, causing him to tut in annoyance.

He was dropped into the back of a car – Andy’s car – and buckled in by Joe who slid in beside him. “Why hooome? We cannn….”

“Because you just started crying in a bar at 7p. m., Pete. We’re taking you home.” He had? Oh… oh fuck… oh well? Did it matter? He felt like crying all the time so why should he repress it? Nah, gotta let those emotions out!

Maybe not in front of strangers, though. Maybe not over a whore. Although, the whore was just projection, it was his own, lonely existence he was crying about. Yes, that was it. It was… it was nothing personal…

The sun was low in the sky, visible from behind the buildings that were shooting past in a blur of grey. Downtown LA was so fucking ugly, people expected promenades and villas and celebrities, but they were all further out. Pete, too, was further out, obviously, no way in hell was he living here, but unfortunately, their favourite bar did. live here, that was. It was… an inconvenience. But at least the neighbourhood was alright-ish?

Joe knew the key-code to Pete’s penthouse. Obviously, he’d had to drag him up there plenty of times. And this time, as every time, he lugged Pete upstairs, stripped him down to his boxers and managed to lay him out on his bed. It felt weird , it was like he was floating… Pete started chuckling at the odd sensation and wiggled his limbs experimentally.

“Christ, Pete…” Joe muttered, but he didn’t care. It was funny.

“D’you want me to stay? I should stay. Is your guest b-“

“NO!” Joe actually took a step back and defensively lifted his hands, Pete had yelled so loudly. He cleared his throat, trying to find a more civilised tone “n-no, Immmmm… okay. Thanks, Joe…you’re a gr… goo… greafrien.”

“You really shouldn’t be alone right now, buddy…”

“Joe,” he did his absolute best to sound sincere and tried so hard to keep the slur out of his voice… “please. Go home, go to your… yr girlfriennnd and… ‘mm fine. Promise.” Obviously, he couldn’t be 100% sure, but he thought he could see Joe frowning at him, like he didn’t believe a word of what he was saying. Pete was actually convinced he wouldn’t leave until he felt a hand stroke across his hair. “Night, Pete. Try not to choke on your own vomit,” Joe said fondly, before doing as he’d been asked and leaving the room, at least, pulling the door shut behind him. Pete waited until he was certain he’d heard the door to the corridor slam shut before he flipped over, buried his face in the pillow and just screamed.

He screamed and screamed and screamed, hoping the feathers were muffling him, hoping nobody would call the police, hoping Joe wouldn’t hear. He screamed through tears and sobs and searing, white pain that made his whole body numb, he screamed until his lungs gave out and he could scream no more. Then he went quiet, curled up on his side and just wept. He didn’t even know what for anymore, only that it hurt, fuck, it hurt so much he thought he was going to be sick. Or maybe that was just the alcohol. Fuck, maybe if he could just…

He didn’t have to be alone, he couldn’t be alone anymore, he didn’t want to be. He was tired, he was so, so tired… he could just pick up his phone and go through his contacts until he hit M and just-

No. not there. Never again.

But good Lord, he needed somebody.

Pete barely managed to get to the bathroom in time before his stomach emptied itself, thankfully into the bath. Fuck, that was… a lot better already. He didn’t mind being sick, not when he was drunk, in all honesty, he barely noticed anything but the relief of the pressure off his stomach.

It stank though. Fuck, it stank.

At least he had the wits about him to rinse his mouth with mouthwash before he pulled on his denim jacket and headed back out.

 

It was dark. He hadn’t realized how long he’d been lying in bed for, but it must have been quite a while. Then again, time wasn’t a thing that worked when you were drunk.

It was something of a miracle Pete managed to get to the nearest bar without smacking his face into the pavement, let alone stay in something resembling a straight line relatively closely.

It was even more of a miracle that he managed to sit, precariously balanced, in the barstool and not let the hot, blonde girl notice he was pissed out of his mind. And how the ever-loving fuck he ended up making out with her at the back of the bar until she shot him the your place or mine line, well, scientists couldn’t tell.

He didn’t care about her, not the way he’d cared about Mikey. She was tall, she was hot and she had boobs and that was all Pete cared about when he pushed her through the double-doors to his bedroom, walking her backwards without detaching his lips from hers until she hit the bedpost of his California King.

It was a mess of limbs, hair, clothes until there was nothing but skin, bare, hot skin below Pete’s fingers. Fuck, he loved women. He stroked over her tanned body, the curve of her hips, sunk his fingers into the flesh on her thighs, soft flesh, smooth and lovely, until he moved his hands upwards until he was cupping her breasts, gently stroking over hardening nipples, tweaking them carefully before roughly grabbing a handful and just…

He loved women.

When he pushed her back, she fell onto the bed with ease, skin the colour of caramel pouring over blood-red sheets, jet-black hair forming a crown around her head. In his drunken state, he clumsily climbed over her, almost crushing her under his body weight, which he only realized because of the swearing and the shoving.

Pete kissed along her neck, down her body until she tipped her head back when he sucked on a nipple, nipping at it and licking over it before he moved on to the next one. She had a tattoo below her belly-button, one that was a little too much like Pete’s own. He quickly skipped over it, moving down to her thigh. He hooked one of her long, slender legs over his shoulder as he kissed along the inside, from the knee upwards until he was clouded with the strong, overwhelming scent of woman. Fuck, he’d missed this. It was so nice to look up and not have a dick in his face.

Pete did what he did best, at least he’d been told so. He sucked and licked and stroked until he felt her body tighten and heard her cry as he tasted her on his tongue.

And she could still go. Women were amazing. Pete climbed up over her until they were face-to face and wasted no time in wrapping his hand around his dick and desperately stroking it. It was fine, he was already a little hard and eating out had never been his turn-on.

Pete blamed the awkward three-minute pause as he violently jerked himself until he was hard enough for the condom on the alcohol rushing through his body. He climbed back on top and immediately eased into her.

And good god, did it feel good. Pete suckled at her neck as he started thrusting, the damp warmth of her cunt enveloping him completely. She had her hands in his hair and her legs around his waist, he didn’t really care, he just needed her to get off. He groped at her breasts, bit her ear and her lips, circled her clit with his fingers until she was all but screaming a name that might have been his, but might not, he didn’t care.

He was just painfully aware of the soft, feminine body writhing beneath him and the fact that his dick wasn’t getting any harder.

No, fuck he was doing this he was doing it . He desperately began rutting into her, trying to drive himself closer and closer to the edge of pleasure, thinking about how he was inside her, inside another human, this was something so primal, so instinctive, they’d claimed each other, left their marks and now he was fucking her. And it felt good, it was wet and warm and so much-

Pete let out a howl of frustration when he got to the point where he literally couldn’t do any more. His body was giving up on him, he didn’t deserve this! On top of everything else!

Fuck! ” he cursed as he made his last attempt at fucking her, “FUCK!”

But he had to admit defeat. Broken and embarrassed, he sat back, pulling the rubber off his limp cock. He didn’t look at the girl, just heard her scoff and her complaints and her insults and then she was gone.

There was a deafening silence filled only by Pete’s heavy breathing and his thundering heartbeat. His stamina was taking the toll, this was what he got from smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish. His knuckles where white from being balled into tight fists that clutched the dark blankets as though they were his only grip on the time that was speeding past so quickly he couldn’t fathom it.

Shit everything was dark and empty and silent, Mikey had gone, he’d sent Joe away and he couldn’t even fuck a girl, what was he?

Useless for love.

Useless for friendship.

Useless for sex.

What was the point? Fuck, what was the point? When had he let things get so bad?

He didn’t even realize he’d reached for his phone until it was ringing in his hand. He wanted his mum. All he wanted was his mum, to apologize to her to tell her she’d been right, she’d always been right and he should have listened and please would she take him back and cuddle him and sing him to sleep?

But the name on the display did not read Mom .

 

“Hello?”

“You’re a- a piece of shhhhit, you know that?” Pete heard a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line.

“Pete.” Fuck, it felt so good to hear his voice.

“Yes, Pete, nice t’know y’ssstill rem’ber me.” It hurt.

“Of course I- I remember you. What’s, what’s the matter?” he sounded confused. Bless the dumb idiot for not knowing the damage he’d caused. Dick.

“You fff-“ uck “you ruined me…. Martinnn.” He had to pause to catch his breath, “you ruined m-me. I thought…. It w’s dumb, but ‘m though’…. ‘nd then with Jordan ‘n’ I j’s…. ffffuck, Mar’n, why you do that? I liked you ‘n I wanted… wanted you to have s’mthing better ‘n’ I wanted to look after you ‘n’… you weren’t there ‘n’ Gera’d, hhhe… said I should llleave you….. ‘n’ you weren’t feeling well, but you…. Jordan…” he took a deep breath. He was trying so hard to keep his tears behind his eyelids. “Fuck, Mart’n, I l- you were good ‘n’…. I l- you were so nice, we could’ve…. But you had someone, right? Yyyou have Patrick? Yeah? Annnd ‘m not special, ‘m j’s like Jordan ‘n the others. ‘N you mmade me fel special, fuck, Mart’n, why you do that? Why you fucking… your number and…. I thought… but I’m j’s dumb and…. Fuck, you… you mess me up, Mart’n…..you messed me up real bad… and I ffuck’n hate you for it… I need you and I hate you for it… fuck you…” the last few words were barely a breath, all but lost as far as Pete knew. A tear had slipped down his cheek and dropped onto the back of his hand. He pretended he hadn’t felt it leave its trace.

For a long time, there was no reply, and he wondered if Martin was even still on the other end of if he was off sucking somebody’s dick. And then a voice rang through, so familiar, but so far away and with a roughness to it Pete had never heard before.

“I’m sorry.”

Pete broke down. He couldn’t help it, it was like before, but the sobs were stronger and the cries heavier. After all that, all he’d given, all he’d felt, all he’d fucking suffered… “I’m sorry.”

No. no, this was his damn fault. Don’t fall in love with a whore, how many times had been told? By how many people? And he’d always said he wouldn’t, he was fine, Martin was nothing but a selection of holes for him to stick his aching cock in when he needed comfort.

That wasn’t true. That hadn’t been true for a long time.

And no, maybe he didn’t love the little, thin boy with the pale skin and the honey-golden hair and the sea-blue eyes and the rose-petal lips, but oh god, did he want him…

I only want what I can’t have , he thought to himself as he remembered sincere words he’d read out to a stranger who could see his need clear as day when he hadn’t been able to himself.

And Pete cried and he sobbed and his body shook until his tears had run out and his muscles had given up and he’d drifted off into a dreamless sleep, a ball of dirty clothes and poisoned guts on his bed.

Chapter Text

Pete woke with a start. The first thing he noticed was his pounding head, the feeling of a hammer smashing against his skull present in his entire body and enrapturing all his senses. He could barely bare to look at the sunlight pouring through the blackout blinds, the brightness of it like a knife in his temple.

His throat was dry and painful, it burned like a thousand fires. He laid a careful hand to it to make sure it hadn‘t been sliced open only to find undamaged skin.

Literally what the fuck had happened?

Pete looked around the room in search for clues as to what had transpired the night before. His phone was on 2% battery. He picked it up to find it was showing his call log and the top entry made his heart miss a beat.

Martin 01:26:35

What? Oh god, what had he done? Fuck, this was like a relapse, it sure as hell felt like it as he read and re-read what his phone was telling him. An hour and a half. He‘d been on the phone an hour and a half. The distant memory of uncontrolled sobbing and tearing screams crossed his mind. It would explain the sore throat and his dry eyes.

What had they talked about for 86 minutes? What had they done?

His heart hurt and Pete pulled the blanket over his head to shield himself from anything outside of himself. Usually he couldn‘t bare anything much less than being stuck in his own mind, but right now he couldn‘t face the world, not even his bedroom. It felt like the painting on the wall over his chest of drawers was staring at him with a pair of judgmental, green eyes, even through the duvet. He reached back over to his phone, just to give him something to think about that wasn‘t... his thoughts. But the first thing that caught his attention was the notification on his messenger. He could ignore it. How important could it be? His business had gone down the drain, or was in the process of doing so, at least, so realistically, how urgent could it be?

Maybe it was Joe checking on him… he should let him know he’d survived the night. Somewhat.

But it wasn‘t Joe checking on him. His stomach made some kind of motion when Pete saw the name at the top of the list of chats, accompanied by a little 1. He opened it, his thumbs were only shaking a little.

How‘re you doing?

Fuck. He should… block the number. Exit the chat wordlessly, block the number and never hear from him again.

But somehow that seemed like it would be the most painful thing he’d ever have done.

Pete would just let him know he was okay, just a quick “fine” or something would be more than sufficient.

Of course he didn’t.

Can you come over?

He swallowed the heavy lump in his throat, uncertainty spilling through his body. Martin was simultaneously the last and only thing he needed right now. But he’d hit send before the functioning part of his brain had an opportunity to intervene and now he sat, staring at a blank screen, waiting for a green bubble to appear.

5 minutes.

10 minutes.

15.

20.

After half an hour of staring unmovingly at nothing, Pete, overcome by a sudden surge of frustrated energy, swung himself out of bed. For a terrifying moment, the whole room swayed like a cabin out at sea and he wasn’t quite sure that he hadn’t somehow ended up in one. He did his best to stagger out onto the landing where the blinding light from the full-length window at the end seared through his brain, and somehow managed to get downstairs. To his relief, everything was tidy and in place, nothing had been trashed or wrecked or stolen.

Yes, he remembered the girl.

He paced through the dining area and into the kitchen in search of something edible and preferably unhealthy. A vast array of pretentious food littered his fridge and pantry, kelp, quark, avocado, chia, quinoa, not a single box of lucky charms or a bar of chocolate in sight. He grabbed the carton of milk out of the fridge door and glugged it down because it was cold and it was fatty and it felt like the right thing to do. Then, silently cursing the fact that he was turning into a white hipster, he dialled the Domino’s he was certain made better pizzas than all the rest. So what if it was… oh. 3 p. m. That was actually an acceptable time for pizza. Especially one that would only be ready in an hour.

Pete turned on the radio. He didn’t care about the radio at all, it wasn’t what it once had been in the 80s and 90s, now, same-sounding, boring pop and half-hearted arena rock was all that filled stations’ playlists, graced by the odd band he’d adored 10 years ago but had since sold out. It was just to fill the silence.

He could call Joe! That was an idea! Call Joe, okay, yes…. Pete reached for his phone, trying to ignore the stab of pain he felt at the lack of a text, and pulled up his contacts.

Joeman

His foot was tapping relentlessly.

“Hey Pete, how you doing?”

He cleared his throat quickly to make sure he didn’t sound dead, “I’m fine! I was, uh… wondering if you wanted to hang out? Maybe come round, I’m a bit gross right now. I have… beer. Maybe.” Pete patted himself on the back for how jolly he sounded.

There was a noticeable pause before Joe replied. “Uh, I’d love to but… I’m kinda at work right now, Pete? Y’know, with how things are, I figured… y’know? Maybe after?”

Oh.

Oh, yeah. There had been a reason for hitting the bottle yesterday, hadn’t there? Pete swallowed heavily and tried not to let on that he’d just remembered his business was going to shit.

“Thanks, man, I don’t… don’t deserve you.” Joe laughed in disbelief on the other end. “Yeah well if this goes down, I lose my job, too. And I actually care about mine.”

“D’you uh… I’ll be in in about half an hour Joe, sorry, I shouldn’t dump this o-“

“No, dude, it’s fine, you were in… like, a really bad way, please, just take it easy today. Get a pizza. Find a puppy. Watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Or Drag Race. We’re… fine.” Well, not like Pete could make things any worse, was it?

“You sure?”

“Yeah, definitely, I’ll, uh… might show up later if I get the time.” Pete nodded before realizing that he can’t see you, you idiot. “Yeah, sure! I hope things go… well.” What a load of bollocks.

“Uh… yeah… see you round, Pete. Nurse that hangover.”

He decided to take some of Joe’s trusty advice and turned on his 55” screen. Let’s be honest, there was no other way one should watch Drag Race than sitting on an expensive, leather couch in a living room with a full-front window that overlooked the LA skyline on a giant LED-TV, was there? The only thing missing was a glass of Rosé, but the mere thought of alcohol made Pete wanna throw up.

He tucked his legs up next to him and did his utmost to focus on the queens gracing his screen, fixating on their outfits, their hair, their make-up, their one-liners, Ru Paul’s sassy comments, anything . Absolutely anything that wasn’t going on on the other side of his eyes.

It was 4:13 when the doorbell eventually rang. Trying to amplify the hint of joy he felt at the promise of a nice, warm Hawaii pizza, Pete leaped up and – not unlike a kid at Christmas – stormed towards the heavy front door that lead to the elevator.

He was expecting pizza. Delicious, hot, cheesy pizza with a thick, doughy crust and layers upon layers of sinful deliciousness. All the more reason for him to freeze on the spot, incapable of talking, let alone moving, when he opened the door and was faced by something – some one – who was, decidedly, not pizza.

“I-I came as soon as… I read your…” Martin sounded terrible. He sounded of 30 years of whiskey and cigars mixed with a bad cold and maybe out-of-date meds.

He looked worse. His already pale skin was white as a sheet, almost translucent, the colour of old porcelain and maybe just as fragile. It looked it, decidedly dry and cracking. His beautiful, blue eyes were sunken and bagged, grey lines streaking his face aging him by about 10 years and making him look like he hadn’t slept since the fall of the Berlin wall. But fuck, even like this… Pete hated the way his heart sped up at the sight of him.

And when he finally managed to speak, the only thing that would come out of his mouth was quite possibly the most ridiculously insignificant detail of this entire, fucked-up situation. “Y-you… grew a… you grew sideburns…” A small smile graced Martin’s features and lit up his face, the scruffy hint of ginger hair moving along with his cheeks. “You’ve gone blonde.”

Pete ran a hand through his own hair, shorter and more bleached since the last time they’d met… he’d done a terrible job of it, but it had been so long ago he’d kinda forgotten not everybody knew him like this. “Yeah, I… it seemed like the biggest change with the… least amount of damage and…” Martin nodded and awkwardly scratched at the sideburns that weren’t much more than a bit of stubble. “I get that.”

His mouth felt so dry. It was like he’d swallowed the fucking Sahara Desert. It was the second ringing of the doorbell that snapped Pete out of whatever weird half-trance the hooker on his doorstep had put him in. He buzzed the delivery boy in and instructed him to get the elevator to the very top because there was no way in hell he’d survive climbing the stairs.

“Expecting dinner?” Martin made an attempt at lightening the atmosphere. Pete just shot him a half-hearted glare he was pretty certain didn’t come across as one. “You’re not the only thing taking your time today.”

The mechanics of the lift whirred into life. “I’m sorry, I was sleeping.”

21 floors to go.

“Until 4 p. m.?”

17 floors to go.

“3. I needed a shower.”

12

“Who the fuck sleeps until 3 p. m.?”

10

“Some of us work nights, Pete…” there was obvious hesitation in his words.

6

Pete sighed heavily and nodded, almost in defeat. “I know, I’m s-“

Ding

They both turned to look at the kid in yellow overalls whose gaze questioningly flicked between the two as though he could figure out which one was Wentz just by looking at them. Pete showed mercy and reached out to take the box off him and handed over a $20 bill and, before the situation could get any more awkward, grabbed Martin’s arm and dragged him into his apartment.

He stood awkwardly by the door, looking around the room that must once have felt familiar to him, as Pete cut his pizza into slices. He didn’t look up, didn’t want to face the fact that he’d just literally dragged Martin back into his life, his weakness, his kryptonite . On the other hand, looking at Martin felt like the only thing he wanted to do. He kept catching glimpses of strawberry blonde hair and pink lips that made his heart hammer in his chest like a bird trying to break out of a cage, like it was telling him go on, don’t be a dick, just kiss him!

But he couldn’t. even if he wanted to give in, that was one thing he couldn’t do. Sure, for the right price, Martin would let Pete have almost anything he wanted. He could get him to suck his dick, get him to jerk him off, fuck him, even keep him for the night, but a kiss? He couldn’t buy Martin’s kiss.

He sighed heavily and, after a second’s hesitation, pulled two plates from the cupboard with a loud clatter. He could basically hear Martin stopping himself from interjecting, instead silently following Pete through to the living rooms and, as Pete settled on the couch, made himself comfortable on the rug on the floor in front of the fireplace, an arm’s reach away from him.

There was a certain awkwardness in sitting eating pizza with nothing but the sound of Drag Race filling their ears. Pete didn’t know how appropriate the programme was, but it wasn’t like either of them were watching properly. At least, he wasn’t, but…

“So, they’ve gotta do like… challenges to get through?” The amount of interest in Martin’s voice surprised Pete and when he turned his head, he saw the blonde sitting cross-legged, staring up at the huge screen with his mouth hanging open just a little. “Uh… basically.”

“And they, like, get into catty fights and shit?” Okay, he was really showing an interest… had he never seen this before? Or even heard of it? “Yeah…”

“Huh… cool!” He took a large bite out of his second slice. Pete regrettably noticed that he looked even fucking thinner than he had done, even his cheeks – usually well-cushioned by baby fat – looked hollow. “Have you… really never seen this?” Martin just shook his head, “no, when? Where? I don’t own a TV!” he exclaimed, gesturing at Pete’s huge flat-screen. It made him feel a little shameful, the reality of how much he had and how little Martin had and how much he complained, regardless. If he were holding a Chinese takeaway rather than pizza, he’d be poking around in it now.

“So, uh…” his eyes were locked on Martin, who was still staring at the TV as though it were the most exciting thing he’d ever set his eyes on, “how… have you been?” Something – though Pete couldn’t possibly have said what – changed in Martin’s expression. It was almost like he tensed up a little, except not a muscle in his body flinched. He forced a smile onto his face, “ah, y’know, same old, same old,” and stuffed his mouth with some more pizza.

“Same old?” Pete probed, not quite sure how far he could push just yet. Martin locked eyes with him. There was something burning behind those blue irises, something sad, something that had always been there but Pete just hadn’t quite… “Same old.” He nodded, picking up on the fact that that branch of the conversation had been cut off, even if he didn’t want it to be…

An unpleasant silence settled between them, a lack of conversational topics to blame for Pete’s dedication to his last two slices of pizza. He noticed Martin had picked the pineapple off his. “You not on the pineapple team then?” He got a scoff as a reply, as though he’d just suggested they fry a cat or something. “Dude, no, pineapple on pizza is, like, the fucking grossest thing, like, ever. Warm pineapple? Big no. and I’ve- I’ve tasted a lot of, of gross things.” The remark made Pete pull a face, he didn’t really want to have to think about- “as a fucking poor person, dumbass! Nice food isn’t- isn’t something I come by often.” That reminder wasn’t much better. “I thought-“ Pete began, but thought better of it. Martin, however, raised an eyebrow. “Go on?” he prompted as he took another bite out of his improvised prosciutto.

“It’s just, I thought… like, wh- prostitutes don’t…” he noticed the change in Martin’s posture, “don’t earn too badly. I mean…” he trailed off, not really knowing what he meant. It wasn’t any of his business, he shouldn’t ask. He shouldn’t have called him here in the first place. Martin let out a pointed sigh and set aside his empty plate. He leaned back on his hands and for a second, Pete though he was just gonna blank the question, but eventually he replied. “I earn enough to live somewhat comfortably. It’s not much, it’s not enough for luxuries, but it’s enough for my apartment, for food and for clothes. I’m just… I’m saving up for something.” He shrugged nonchalantly, like he’d just explained why he liked his favourite book.

Pete knew he should stop asking questions, fuck, he knew he did, but… he needed to know. It had been two months; two months of not being able to think of anything but Martin, how he was, where he was, what he was doing, if he ever thought of him. He hated it and he wished he could deny it, had tried to for so long, but he… he just couldn’t. And now he was here, Pete didn’t want to waste a single second. He rolled off the couch and sat down on the white faux fur rug opposite his guest. Martin smiled a little hesitantly, like he wasn’t sure what exactly to make of the grown man looking at him like he was a fucking Christmas present. “Why did- why did you call me here, Pete? And… what was that phone call last night?” Pete bit his lip when he saw how Martin moved to reach out for him, but stopped himself, instead laying his arm over his lap. “Are you okay?” His voice was so soft. It felt like a warm fire on a winter’s night or a hot cup of coffee early in the morning.

Pete wanted to nod, he wanted to tell Martin he was okay, he was fine, he’d just had a little too much to drink and said dumb shit – even if he wasn’t 100% certain what exactly he had said.

But he was so tired of lies.

“I’m, uh… I’m not sure, Martin…” he looked down at the hands folded in the lap opposite him and willed them to reach out, reach out and touch him, just… it didn’t have to be much, “my uh, huh… I made a mistake and now I might just lose my business and… I dunno, things haven’t been going all that well for me. Recently.” Martin’s face was still wearing the same, comforting expression. Pete almost believed it. “Look at me, complaining to you , of all people… I’’m sorry, I sh-“

“It’s fine,” Martin interrupted him, “believe me, it’s… it’s okay. I know, ah… I know what most people think when they find out what I… what I do, but really, it’s not… it’s okay.” This time, he couldn’t hold back the questions. He was being fed too many bites of information to be able to just let the topic slide. “Why do you do it, Martin? When you could do anything else, why do you do it?”

For once, he didn’t shrug it off or give some half-hearted explanation or tell Pete to mind his own business. He sat, staring down at his skeletal hands a muscle in his temple uncontrollably twitching as he fought to find the right words. It took him a while, a while that seemed like an eternity as Ru Paul cackled on in the background.

“So, uh, you want my tragic backstory, yeah?” The nod Pete gave in return may have been a little too eager. “Well, I… where do I start…” Martin nervously scratched the back of his head. “With a beer?” Pete offered after a few minutes of silence. Martin stared at him blankly for a second like he had to compute his words, but then answered with a simple, single nod. It didn’t take Pete a minute to get two cooled bottles, pop them open and offer one to his guest, who took it off him and immediately gulped down a good chunk of it like he was gonna depend on not being sober to tell the tale.

“I, uh, I came to LA when I was barely 16”, he continued once he’d drank himself enough courage, “My parents weren’t… they’re pretty homophobic and… like, I’m gay as fuck, in case you hadn’t noticed, so I found myself, I was… I had nowhere to go and, like, if you wanna make it, you come here, right?” there was a certain bitterness in his tone somebody his age certainly shouldn’t have and it broke Pete’s heart just a little. “I mean, like, I wanted to make music. I’ve always… I’ve always wanted to make music. I am music, I’m nobody without it. And, uh, to cut a, a long and very boring story short, whatever I did, I just couldn’t… get a deal, right? I tried to save up to self-publish but, shit, man, it’s expensive!

“Anyway, there… uh, there came a point where I was close to giving up and just… I was gonna get an apprenticeship or something, I mean, I can’t- can’t exactly afford college and I’m not… super-smart or anything, no way I’d get a scholarship or whatever… but yeah, somebody, uh, approached me. From a- a small label. He was genuine, like, totally could have swung me a deal, I checked him out, but…” he suddenly trailed off uncomfortably and Pete sensed this was where the story got ugly. Well, even more ugly than being kicked out at 16 because you like dick. He felt so guilty. Here he was, Mr. Rich-guy, who had always had everything spoon-fed to him, the most discomfort he’d ever experienced had been that two-bedroom-apartment he’d shared with Joe during art school. Martin lifted the glass bottle to his lips again.

“Basically, he was a middle-ages closet-case with a wife and kids. So, 80% of my current clientele. Except back then, I didn’t know that, and I didn’t… like, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I agreed… he basically said he’d sign my contract if I… if I sucked him off.” He shrugged as though it was nothing and Pete, for once, felt at a loss for words, “Problem was… like, this is nothing unusual in the music industry, right? But he didn’t sign my contract and… when I refused to let him… fuck me, he made sure to- to let as many people as he, as he could know that I was, like, well… a whore. So that’s what I became. A whore.” The words settled on Pete like ash on Pompeii and all he could do was stare at the kid sitting on his living-room floor in front of him. When he finally found his voice again – and became aware of Martin’s nervous fidgeting – he managed to ask the question he should have asked so much sooner.

“How old were you?” there was disbelief in his voice. And pity. Yes, this time, for once, he was the one pitying somebody else.

“Like… 16? I dunno, maybe just 17? All I remember is the first time I got paid for it was two months after my 17 th birthday, which- oh” he interrupted himself and stared at something behind Pete that wasn’t there, as though an old acquaintance had just appeared at the window, “that’s nearly four years ago now.”

Four years? Four years of living on street corners and in the backs of cars? Four years of letting strangers touch him and speak to him and use him however they wanted? Four years of not being certain whether he’d make it home in the morning as the same man he’d been when he’d left?

There were so many questions burning in him, questions he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answers to, and yet he somehow needed them. “What’s- is it always bad?” Martin shook his head, “it’s like any job. I mean… maybe not quite, but… I work three to four nights a week, make an average of 400 bucks a night… I really can’t complain? It’s just… I have… some expensive things I need to save up for and… yeah, but it-“

“That’s not what I meant”, Pete interjected. Martin’s expression faltered and in that second he failed to keep up the façade, Pete saw all of him. Every broken inch, every fracture in his porcelain skin, all of it. And fuck, if he weren’t a real person, if he were a sculpture or a painting, it would be so beautiful. As it was, it was heart wrenching.

He sighed heavily and kept his eyes fixed on the rug rather than on Pete as he spoke. “It’s… a little scary. Sometimes. I mean, you go your entire childhood learning not to get into strangers’ cars and then… there’s the way they look at you… like you’re a piece of meat or whatever…” Pete couldn’t help but wince, at himself as much as at the words, “but, like, it’s- it’s okay, the really… the really bad ones don’t… it’s not often. And it’s nothing- nothing I couldn’t handle. Like, I know what- what I signed up for.”

And Pete thought that would be it. He thought that would just be another one of those Martin Vaughn tales where he skirted around the horrendous edges but never elaborated, never let on more than he had to, never let himself get emotional or carried away or show weakness.

But then his lip trembled.

It was something so small, a little quaver of one single, treacherous muscle, but it might just have been the most honest bit of emotion Pete had seen from him and… well, it broke his heart.

“I, umh,” Martin’s voice was about as steady as his lip, “I can still… sometimes I’ll… it’s so fucking dumb, I- I.” His voice broke and Pete bit his lip to hold back the tidal wave of pity threatening to crash into him. “Sometimes when I’m- it gets bad and… I can stil s-see him, he was so… so old and…” he drew a shaky breath and looked up at the ceiling. Pete caught the shimmer of tears brimming in his eyes, “he p-pushed me to the ground and… and s-said… fuck, I shouldn’t have… shouldn’t have…” the empty bottle hit the floor with a hollow clang as Martin shifted so he was hugging his knees, face hidden behind them.

“’knew singing isn’t the only thing that mouth’s good for’, he said. I can… still hear it… it- it hurt so much and I couldn’t… breathe or…” Pete sat silently, lost for words as Martin drew another, shuddering breath. “He was the worst. The first is always the worst. That’s what- what Gee said… I was so fucking… so dumb and… naïve I just…”

Tentatively, Pete reached out for the blonde boy sitting on his living room floor, hair a mess, nails torn and sore… he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. Martin’s eyes flickered up to him, just for a brief second, like lightning in a thunderstorm, but it had an equivalent effect on Pete. Just a hint of blue and gold, a starry night dancing in those dying eyes, fuck, how he’d tried to forget them. He’d been just hopeless enough.

He put just enough pressure on Martin’s shoulder to let him know it was okay, he wasn’t weak and – maybe more importantly – he wasn’t alone. At first, it sparked no reaction, but then, all of a sudden, he had a bundle of warm, soft Martin in his lap, clinging onto his shirt like he depended on it. Pete pressed his face into honey-blonde hair and breathed in the scent of sweat and sex and cheap aftershave that he’d come to love more than he’d ever wanted to.

His arms protectively wrapped around Martin’s skeletal body and offered as much comfort as they might be able to give to the guy sobbing and trembling in his arms. He muttered reassuring confirmations that he was gonna be okay, the worst was over, he didn’t ever have to go back, though Pete couldn’t be sure they weren’t for himself. But Martin was shaking like a leaf and Pete felt like he was a scar away from falling apart, tearing into a million pieces and disappearing like tears in the rain.

He couldn’t help it.

He would have stopped himself had he noticed what he was doing, but once it had happened, it was too late.

Martin’s lips were so warm. He barely remembered them from that one night back in January, hot and flushed and full against his own was the memory he’d beheld, but they were nothing like that. They were hot chocolate on Christmas eve and a golden sunset over the Pacific, woolly sweaters in autumn and the smell of freshly mown grass. Everything exploded inside Pete until his hands were cupping Martin’s face, holding it close as he pressed their mouths together like he depended on it.

Maybe he did.

Fuck, maybe all those YA-novels were right and he’d been put on this world to kiss Martin. It felt like it when warm breath hit his face, a pointy nose pressed into his cheek, golden eyelashes fluttered against his skin and beautiful, warm, curved lips perfectly slotted against his.

He barely managed to pull away, hands still on Martin’s face, just enough for him to be able to open his eyes and mutter “I’m sorry”. Because, fuck, no matter how right it felt, he shouldn’t have. He knew he shouldn’t have.

But Martin just wound his hand around the back of Pete’s neck and, with a quick “shut the fuck up”, he pulled him back.

All colours came alive and they collided in a supernova of stars and fireworks.

It was the fourth of July…

Between all the desperate attempts to fill his lungs with air, Pete felt like he’d never been able to breathe before as he shared the air from Martin’s lungs. He wound his arms around his back, the ridge of his spine noticeable even through his shirt, and pulled him as close as he dared without crushing him. Cold hands were resting on his own face, gently guiding him with the motion, as if he needed it, as if he didn’t know exactly what to do from muscle memory he’d never had the chance to make. Fuck, if he’d just… kissed him earlier.

But he’d tried, hadn’t he? He’d tried, and he’d been stopped and pushed away and-

A shudder shot through Pete’s body when calloused finger-tips stroked against his bare waist below his Metallica shirt. “We don’t have to”, he whispered into Martin’s mouth as they pushed their way up, taking the thin layer of fabric with them. “I want to.” Pete wasn’t gonna argue with that.

He pulled away long enough for him to be able to whip his shirt off and discard it on the floor somewhere across the room before surging back towards the pink lips he seemed all but magnetized to. Before he knew it, he felt searing hot skin pressed so closely against his he thought he might choke on it and there was only one way, one single way, they could possibly get any closer.

But somehow, Pete couldn’t bring himself to reach for Martin’s belt, and he never felt fingers reach to undo his own and when Martin asked him, voice a little unsteady and cheeks a little red, if it was bad that he’d changed his mind, Pete just beamed at him and held him close.

He couldn’t stop kissing the crown of his head, his fingers raking through soft, golden hair as he nuzzled into it. “Wanna go to bed?”

Martin lifted his sleepy gaze, eyes still red and a little puffy. He looked up at Pete from his spot in his lap, head resting against his chest and Pete couldn’t help himself lay a hand against his cheek and gently stroke across it with his thumb.

He knew he was smiling.

He could feel it in his whole body.

“It’s, like… 5 o’clock…”

“5:30”, Pete interjected, but that didn’t make the frown disappear from Martin’s face. “I only just got up…” he muttered.

And then he yelped as Pete’s gym time finally paid off and he lifted Martin off the ground, carrying him in his arms like they’d just tie the knot. His arms scrambled to grab onto Pete’s neck. “JESUS CHRIST, PETE, LET GO OF ME! LET ME DOWN! PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW OR I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL CHOP YOUR DICK OFF! PETER!” but Pete just quietly laughed to himself whilst simultaneously marvelling at Martin’s cuteness. He did – of course – put him down eventually, but only once they’d reached the bedroom. Martin scowled at him and crossed his arms, he made for an adorable image, sitting all sulky in the middle of the huge bed as Pete flitted around him in search of night clothes and maybe a toothbrush.

His heart was hammering at 500 miles per hour and he felt like he was holding hands in the middle school playground with Marlene Abbott. And when Martin disappeared into the bathroom, he let himself flop back onto the bed, the shit-eating grin plastered onto his face like it had no intention of ever leaving again.

Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad, if he could convince Martin to stick around. He could somehow save the auction house, he was certain. It was like Joe had said, he wasn’t giving it his full attention, but now… well, maybe he’d have something else to focus on than the harrowing emptiness of his apartment and the chill of the sheets when he woke up in the morning. Maybe. Just maybe.

He propped himself onto his elbows when he heard Martin re-enter the room, fully prepared to tell him, to say how much he wanted him around and would he please just re-consider the possibility of a relationship, pretty please?

But his face fell the second he saw him. Martin was hunched over, not quite meeting his gaze. His arms were wrapped around his still-naked torso and he was shivering lightly. Pete wanted to tell him to put something on before he froze, but somehow, he doubted it was the cold causing him to shake.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I can… give you what you want… not… not like this…” Pete was enraptured by him. Even now, standing skinny and grotesque in the dim light, bones he wasn’t sure he should even have jotting out at every angle, skin stretched tight over his frame, grey and sickly… but he was so beautiful. Once in a while, a person is defined by nothing but their insides, they gleam through every inch of flesh and blood until they surround them like armour, or like a glowing halo and Martin was golden.

Pete reached out his arms towards him. “Come here”, he instructed. For the second time that night, he found himself with a trembling Martin curled up in his arms, except this time, they were lying under the covers, arms wrapped around each other and legs intertwined. It felt like Martin had something to say, but he didn’t know how to say it. So it was Pete who spoke first.

“Y’know, Martin, I… I like you a lot… in fact, I- I think I might just need you. I barely survived those two months and, fuck, I… What I’m trying to say is, I get it. I get if you can’t, but… if you wanna give me a chance… I’ll take it…”

There was a pause that lasted a few beats, a few breaths, a few agonizing seconds in which Pete had too much space to think over every single word he’d ever said to the man curled up in his arms.

When he did eventually reply, Martin’s voice was little more than a whisper, a breath on a breeze. “Patrick.”

Of course.

The ominous Patrick.

How could Pete forget?

He wished he could say he didn’t tense up or grow a little colder or feel that stab of envy and hurt.

“Yeah. Patrick.” For a bit, neither of them said anything, but then he couldn’t take it anymore. “Who is he? Who is he that he… he means so much to you?” Martin turned his head until he was looking directly at Pete, confusion glinting in those ocean eyes as his forehead pulled into a frown. “Is he, like, your- your boyfriend or something?”

He was prepared for the worst.

What he was not prepared for was the cute, little snort Martin let out. “Oh my God, you… I thought you… you really don’t know? I’m sorry, I thought- I thought it would be, like… obvious, but-“

“What?” Pete interrupted harshly, “tell me, what, and who is he?!”

He felt a hand on his cheek and a thumb gently stroking across his face, over the stubble he could feel scratching against it. Martin was smiling goofily, like he’d just seen a puppy trying to get through a glass door.

“I’m Patrick.”

Wait, that… made no sense. Pete didn’t really know how to put into words what he was feeling… how exactly he should ask Martin what the fuck he meant and who the fuck Patrick was. Thankfully, he didn’t have to.

“My name is Patrick Stumph and I was- I was born on April 27 th 1990 in Evanston, Illinois. I moved here, started th- started my… job and changed my name to Martin Vaughn. Unofficially… professionally… whatever.”

It felt like he’d been thrown into a pool of freezing water. Pete stared at Martin… no, Patrick dumbfoundedly, like he had two heads or a fucking tail or…

“Is that okay?”

Of course. That was why Gerard had told him to speak to Patrick. He’d wanted… well, this was Patrick. This, the guy curled up in his bed right now, the guy who’d been on his living room floor before and he- well, Pete didn’t really know what to think.

But if this was Patrick… and if… if Patrick was telling him he was Patrick, did that mean…

“Are you mad?” What?

“N-no… no?” Pete shook his head at him like he’d just been asked if he wanted to eat a brick. “Oh. Good. I just thought… y’know… ‘cause I lied…”

“Wait, you’re Patrick?”

“Yeah.”

“So you… don’t have a secret boyfriend called Patrick?”

“No. oh wow, is that what you thought? That’s…” Pete felt the laugh through his entire body. He pulled Patrick close, wrapping his arms and legs tighter than he’d thought they would go until he was dangerously close to crushing the little guy. He buried his face in the mop of blonde hair and inhaled the scent that was still sweat and sex and cheap aftershave, but now, it was so inherently Patrick.

“Patrick”, he tried the name out on his tongue. He liked it. Patrick. Pat. Trick. Rick. Rickster. Rickmeister. Pattycakes. So many possibilities.

He stroked through the blonde hair and down his spine. “Patrick.”

He wrapped his left hand in his right, twining their fingers together and gripping on for dear life. “Patrick.”

He put a hand under his chin and tipped his head upwards, just enough to be able to catch round, pink lips in his. It was so sweet. So soft and so sweet and so very, very loving.

Fuck.

And when he opened his eyes only to find the night sky inches from them, gold and green dancing in front of a backdrop of brilliant blue, filled with life and unmade promises, Pete knew. Fuck, he knew. He leaned forward again, catching those beautiful lips one last time as he turned off the light.

“Fuck, Patrick”, he muttered, more to himself than to anybody else, “I think I might just be falling in love with you.”

And Patrick smiled, his lips curving up against Pete’s into a grin that radiated warmth and comfort and belonging and fuck , if the feeling of it didn’t make Pete’s heart skip a beat.

“Y’know, Pete, you’re pretty dumb, ignoring the number-one rule when it comes to picking up hookers.” Pete raised an eyebrow Patrick couldn’t see. “Oh?”

Patrick hummed lightly before elaborating. “Don’t fall in love with them”, and then he leaned in for another kiss before he wrapped his arms around Pete, cuddling him closely from behind as they waited for a deep, peaceful sleep to overcome them both.

Chapter Text

Pete was smiling before he even opened his eyes. He’d shifted around in the night, the way he always did, and he could smell him before he saw him. The smell he’d so clearly identified as Patrick the night before was intoxicating, taking over his brain thoroughly and blocking out any other sort of thought he might be able to have. His arms had almost wrapped around Patrick of their own accord, or at least Pete couldn’t recall giving them the permission to do so. Not that it mattered. They knew what they were doing, and Pete liked it.

He heard a muffled little moan coming from the pillow beside him and cracked open his eyes to be met with a mass of sticky, blonde hair and a mouth that was hanging open, a damp patch on the bed below. He didn’t care. It was cute as fuck, watching Patrick sleeping like this, peaceful and cute and calm and wet and-

Wet?

There was a certain… rancid edge to the smell, Pete supposed. Had Patrick had another nightmare? Had he just slept through it or had Pete been too out to register anything going on around him?

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Patrick’s eyes opened gradually, squinting at the sun falling in through the window at first, before letting them focus on Pete. He felt his heart miss a beat when he watched Patrick’s pupils dilate, even if it was probably because of the contrast between Pete and the light. His expression was blank as he stared at Pete, but those sea-blue eyes held a serenity in their depths he hadn’t seen there before. How could he not kiss him?

Patrick’s lips were incredibly soft as they almost delicately pressed against Pete’s. “Morning, baby.”  Even in his sleep-drunk state, Patrick managed his notorious eyebrow-raise. “Oh, baby, is it?” Pete just shrugged. “We shared a bed for a whole night without even having had sex before, I think that qualifies you for the baby status.” Patrick hummed like he was actually contemplating it and leaned in for more.

There was something else though, the way he suckled on Pete’s bottom lip, the way he laced their tongues together, the way his arms wrapped around Pete… Pete wasn’t even aware of what he was doing until he found himself on top of Patrick, straddling his hips as they clung on to each other. He could feel Patrick’s morning wood through the too-large boxers Pete had given him the night before and when he moved against it, he elicited the most beautiful little sound from the little guy. Somewhat reluctantly, he separated their lips and took to instead kissing down Patrick’s neck, occasionally nipping the soft skin as he went. When he reached the collar of the old t-shirt, he hungrily licked over the skin poking out over it. It was musky and salty and Pete should probably have found it gross, but his dick certainly didn’t. He ruckedup Patrick’s shirt until it was under his armpits, so his snow-white torso was revealed. It was just as horribly dirty as his collarbones, but Pete took it upon himself to lick all the way down the middle, right until coarse hair brushed his tongue, shortly followed by worn elastic. He could see Patrick’s cock clearly pressed against the boxers, but acted like he was totally oblivious to it, letting one hand stroke over his thigh as the other pushed Pete back up until he could catch Patrick’s lips again.

They had a lot of catching up to do, after all.

And yes, he was very aware of that hand of his which kept brushing just shy of where Patrick wanted it.

Pete broke away again, moving down so he could suck a hickey onto Patrick’s neck like he was a horny high schooler, and he basked in the way Patrick’s body arched off the mattress and a long, stuttered moan fell from those pretty, pink lips.

“P-Pete, I’m… all gross, I… uhhhh…. I should sho- ah! Ahhh, fuck…” Pete had started mouthing at one of his nipples, letting his tongue roll over it before sucking and gently biting before repeating it on the other. Yes, he’d remembered the reaction it had cause last time and now, with his guard down, Patrick was squirming beneath him, an array of filth spilling from him as his hands fisted into the sheets; and Pete was just getting started!

He left butterfly kisses down his ribs as though his lips could bring some flesh to the bone or some colour to the grey skin. He let his fingers ghost over Patrick’s body, going everywhere but his dick. Pete smiled to himself once he realized that there was this spot on Patrick’s hip that made his whole body tremble and made good use of it, stroking over it again and again until he heard high whimpers mixed with pleas. His legs were spread as wide as the boxers would let them, he was so beautifully laid out for Pete, none of the bitching or snapping… none of the fake smiles and the sweet-talking and – Pete noticed – he was so much more subtle. Where he might have given him loud moans and desperate cries, Pete was getting little whimpers and choked half-sentences wrapped in nonsense.

He moved to the inside of Patrick’s thigh, nipping at the skin until it looked angry and red and then licking over it until Patrick was bucking his hips into nothing and almost sobbing with the frustration of it.

Then he moved on to the other leg.

“Pete, Jesus Christ, just… touch my dick!” Pete smirked to himself as he nuzzled through the soft hair on his thigh, “I never said you couldn’t touch it yourself.”

“Uuuuh, fuck you, Peter, just… please…” Pete stroked his face over sweaty skin and old cotton until he was placing light kisses along the hem of the boxers. Patrick was desperate.

“Don’t call me Peter”, he commanded, perfectly calmly, before taking the waistband between his teeth and pulling it down.

Patricks cock hit his belly with a splat that made him whine pathetically. Part of Pete wanted to take his time, but the other… the other wanted to fucking ruin Patrick, take him apart piece by piece until he was totally at his mercy. Fuck, he could do that.

He hadn’t had a dick in his face for a long time. Honestly, Pete wasn’t quite sure what to do, the last time he’d been on the giving end of one of these, he’d been in art school and that was…. a lifetime ago. He carefully nudged it, the tiny amount of contact already made Patrick tense up like he was about to come, but Pete knew, he knew how long Patrick could last if he wanted to. And the squirming, helpless, submissive façade he was putting up might fool anybody else, but not Pete. Pete knew Patrick was well aware of what he was doing.

He was also painfully aware of the fact that Patrick was considerably better at sucking dick than him – he could testify to that – when he fluttered a kiss against the freckle on the swollen head. Again, the contact was barely there, but it was enough to spark a reaction, enough for a low, breathy moan to shake Patrick’s body. Testingly, he licked a broad stripe up the underside of Patrick’s cock, pressing his tongue flat against the throbbing vein. He could clearly feel his own dick now, hard and too restrained in his pants. He could get off later. This was – for once – about Patrick.

Pete hoped the fact that he had no fucking idea what he was doing wouldn’t be too obvious to Patrick. He didn’t really know what else he could offer except gentle kisses around the tip and broad licks along the shaft; not that Patrick seemed to object to any of that, judging by the way he was clawing at the sheets and the noises he was making, he was in seventh heaven.

With not much else he could do, Pete decided to set to work. He made sure to collect enough saliva in his mouth to make it easier, to prevent him choking on dick he wouldn’t even be deepthroating (that was something for the pros, certainly not somebody who’d given maybe four blowjobs his whole life) and let a bead dribble onto the tip. Patrick hissed sharply when it hit his slit, sliding down slowly, closely followed by Pete’s lips.

He suckled a little on the head first, having to get used to the taste and feel of it because, honestly, it tasted fucking gross and felt fucking weird. He couldn’t be fucking up too badly, though, Patrick had now taken to chanting his name like a prayer, the single syllable rolling off his tongue over and over again like it could bring him any relief. Maybe I’m a natural , he thought as he rolled his tongue over the slit, or maybe I was just made to suck Patrick’s dick the way I was made to kiss him .

But then, just as he was about to really go to town and render Patrick a speechless, panting mess of limbs, he felt a hand on the back of his head. At first, Pete thought it was impatience pushing him on, but when he went to sink down, fingers wound into his hair so sharply it hurt and pulled him up and off.

Pete tried to look hurt, but it probably came off more as confused because, well, he was. It didn’t seem to him like he’d been doing that badly, not from his perspective. Their eyes locked and Pete spotted something like concern in the blue of Patrick’s. He was chewing his lip, like he had something to say but didn’t have the words; Pete knew the feeling. He’d been having it a lot more frequently lately, usually during late nights that involved a bottle of whiskey or maybe gin and usually it came hand-in-hand with a set of blue eyes and pale skin.

A small smile graced Patrick’s flushed lips and in the end, he only croaked out “condom”. Condom? Really? Pete raised an eyebrow. “You wanna rubber up for a blowjob?” Patrick threw him a pained, frustrated expression like this was a conversation he was almost embarrassed to have. “Okay, whatever, it’s your pleasure, not mine.” Pete almost sing-songed as he tore open the foil wrapper Patrick had just tossed him and rolled on the condom.

It was weird as fuck.

Pete couldn’t say he’d ever sucked a rubbered-up dick before, especially not one that was bright red and tasted of a chemical concoction that might be representing mouldy strawberries. He wasn’t even gonna ask where that thing had come from, he doubted it was one of his. Maybe Patrick had pulled it out of his ass. Maybe somebody else had left it up there, along with some blow and a $50 bill.

Laughing at that mental image probably wasn’t appropriate, but Pete did it anyway, so he ended up spluttering around a mouthful of dick he was barely taking in past the head.

A hand settled in his hair, gently pushing him aside – again – and when Pete looked up, Patrick’s expression read something between bemusement, confusion and shock. Pete wiped a hand over the corner of his mouth. “Take it easy, dude, I don’t need you choking on my dick…” “Excuse you I was not choking on your d-“

“Yes you were! You were… it’s… it’s fine, I’m… thank you”, thank you? Who the fuck said thank you for half a blowjob? “Just, uh… I dunno, come here, fuck me or- or something.”

“Wow, the enthusiasm , Patrick! I could almost think you want this!” He flushed a shade of red that made Pete’s heart leap. “Sorry, I just- umh… no, I’m into it, really. I’m really, really super into you.”

Well. A smirk spread across Pete’s face at the same time realization hit Patrick. “IT! I’m super into it! And you’re cute… I dunno… just…” That might just have been the best Freudian Slip Pete would ever get to witness. He flashed Patrick a large grin before his eyes wandered down to the dick still wrapped in latex.

Patrick was… well-endowed. Okay, honestly, he had a pretty big dick and Pete had always taken pride in his own. Well. Not always. When he was in high school. And college. And when whoever he was with commented on it. Patrick, well… he didn’t look too much longer, but the blood-heavy cock was considerably thicker than Pete’s. Certainly to the point it could become an annoyance for a gay guy.

It was a good thing Pete liked a challenge.

He leaned over until he could catch Patrick’s lips in yet another kiss, deep and loaded and full of promise. Patrick’s hand found its way to the back of Pete’s neck and he pulled him closer. Pete wanted to stay like that forever, to taste every last inch of Patrick he’d been missing out on, but… he had plans. His mouth tugged into a smile.

“What?” Patrick giggled. “What is it, what?” Pete stole another kiss, partly to convince himself that this was a good idea because, fuck, it had to be. He didn’t pull away properly this time, instead chose to mumble against Patrick’s lips: “I think you should fuck me. For a change.”

“Y- what?!” Patrick was staring at him with big, blue eyes and mouth hanging open. Pete couldn’t help but smirk. “I said…” his hand wandered south “I think… you should… fuck… me…” Patrick whined pathetically as Pete wrapped his hand back around his dick and gave it a few, slow strokes. “Would you be into that?”

“Y-“ Patrick tried to talk, but got cut off by Pete’s thumb stroking over his head. It was a little tricky with the condom but it seemed to do the job. He opted, instead, for a barely-there nod. Pete smirked at him, grabbed one more quick kiss and flipped onto his back. Patrick could prep him. Patrick knew best how these things worked. If he was gonna do butt-stuff with anybody, Patrick was a safe bet.

He watched as the blonde scrambled over to him on his hands and knees and crouched between his legs. It was weird having them this wide open, even with a layer of cotton still covering him but… well, that was gone swiftly. Once he was completely naked, he tried to look at Patrick, who was sitting at the foot end of the bed, staring at Pete’s crotch like he was about to dissect it.

“Patrick, I wanna have sex, not a medical check-up.” Patrick nodded. “Sure, I just… it’s uh… been a while. I guess. Like this.” He did that thing where he scratched the back of his neck when he was nervous. “Dude, you have the easy bit!”

“Opening people up is not easy, Pete, especially if they’ve not had anything up their ass for months.”

“Hey, how… how can you tell?” Okay, maybe the sarcastic stare he got for that question was fair. “I’m a sex-worker, Pete. I know my way around asses. And yours…” Pete’s breath hitched when he felt a cold finger press against the ring of muscle. “is rather tight… isn’t it, baby?” Patrick’s voice was deep and husky and so different to what it had been mere minutes ago. Pete bit his lip so he wouldn’t make any awkward noises. Patrick climbed back up the bed but kept his right hand where it was. “Where’s the lube?"

“Bottom drawer”, Pete just about managed to choke out. “Good boy.” The smell was overwhelming as Patrick leaned over him, that strong, musky smell that was completely intoxicating. Pete was faintly aware of Patrick uncapping the lube, heard the squelching sound as he dribbled it onto his fingers and then… his entire body tightened as ice-cold, wet fingers pushed against him. Fuck, it had been so long, he couldn’t… it felt so incredibly alien, having somebody press against his ass.

“Shh, relax”, Patrick cooed from his spot between Pete’s legs. Yes. Relax. Of course. He needed to relax. Pete bit his lip sharply as he did his best to let the tension drain at least from the lower half of his body, his thighs started trembling just a bit as he let go. “You’re being so good, Pete.” Patrick was still only circling the rim, tiny teases of what was yet to come that made Pete crave more .

“Ready?” He nodded sharply before he could change his mind and was almost instantly rewarded.

It was an odd sensation, having even just a single finger up there, carefully pushing in further and further until he felt a row of knuckles pressed against him. Pete let out a stuttered breath and dropped tension he hadn’t known he’d still been holding. Patrick was subtle, twisting and turning his finger ever so slightly, just enough for Pete to notice it without it being unpleasant. It was far from that, actually, there was something so bizarrely amazing about it.

He tried to look down as he felt a second finger push past the ring of muscle and just about caught a glimpse of blue eyes fixed on him as though they were studying his every move. He was being so fucking attentive. Pete felt something like an idiot, he was considerably older, he should be the one showing Patrick the ropes.

Okay, two was already a very different sensation to one. Pete dropped his head onto the pillow and stared up at the ceiling as he tried to bypass the barely-but-still-there pain registering somewhere at the back of his brain as Patrick flexed his fingers, stretching him just a little more. It wasn’t gonna be anywhere near enough if he was going to accommodate Patrick, Pete suspected there was another finger in store for him.

“FUCK!” Yes, there it was. Pete couldn’t stop the surprised yelp when calloused fingertips brushed against a long-neglected spot deep inside him. He’d forgotten how fucking good it felt and whilst he couldn’t get off on it, damn was it amazing. Patrick rubbed against it a few times, making Pete’s already hard and leaking dick twitch just a bit more. He felt a little pathetic as he grunted and groaned through the third finger being pushed inside him. It was sore, but less so than he’d expected. “You’re doing amazing, baby, you’re doing so well. You look amazing, so open for me…” Yes, he could handle this, he could do this, especially if Patrick was gonna brush against his- “AH! Shit , oh God…” yep, pathetic.

He opened his eyes when he became aware of a weight over his body, only to be met with a questioning stare. Patrick’s voice was gentle and calming, “you okay?” A sharp nod was all Pete managed and then – all of a sudden – the feeling was gone, leaving nothing but a gaping hole that made him feel more naked than he ever had before.

Almost immediately, he felt something considerably more substantial pressing against him, a heavy weight on his ass. He chewed his lip again, trying not to tighten up this time. Patrick bucked his hips a little, increasing the pressure but not sliding in yet and Pete could practically hear his heart hammering in its cage. “Good to go?” Fuck, why was he being so considerate? Faint memories of Pete unquestioningly pounding into Patrick, sometimes with no real prep, sometimes with nothing but the thin layer of lube the condom provided, flashed through his mind. He wanted to forget every one of them, bury them under a pile of regret and hide that below new, fond memories. But maybe having their… past relationship as a basis for a potential new one wasn’t a good idea. And maybe Pete needed the reminder once in a while.

“Go for it”, he sounded considerably less chill about it than he’d hoped.

Patrick wrapped a hand around his own cock, guiding it steadily to where he wanted it. There was pressure, pressure, pressure that made Pete’s eyes water and low groans rattle through him, dulling his senses until he could feel nothing else and then-

Patrick whined quietly and dropped his forehead to Pete’s shoulder as his head pushed in. It felt…. Odd. Not thoroughly unpleasant, but not great, either. When Patrick didn’t move for a while, Pete impatiently bucked up towards his hips, hoping it would egg him on.

Blue eyes snapped up to meet his and they held his gaze, searching for any hint of discomfort as Pete slowly felt himself filling up, inch my tormenting inch until…

“F-fuck…” Patrick gasped against his hot skin once he couldn’t go any deeper. Fuck, indeed. Pete was trying very hard to adjust to the feeling of somebody else inside him. Maybe Patrick wasn’t the best starting point after such a long dry spell… he was just a little too big to not be painful. “Can you move? Please?” Pete choked out. Patrick nodded and immediately began inching out again, too fucking slowly for Pete’s taste. It felt so wrong, the slow slide of a rock-hard dick… Pete shifted uncomfortably, hoping to find a better position. Jesus Christ, if this was gonna be the pace then h-

“HOLY, SHIT, AH!” He nearly choked on nothing when Patrick suddenly slammed forward again, hitting spots Pete didn’t know he had. “Ah, Jesus Christ on a- fuck…”

There was something dark in Patrick’s eyes, something dark and tempting and fuck, if it didn’t make Pete weak at the knees. “Alright?” He nodded sharply. “Great.” A smirk played at the corners of his mouth as he pulled out again, more quickly this time, the slick slide of his dick making tingles shoot through Pete. “You feel so good, Pete, such a good boy.” The porn-dialogue was doing more for Pete than he cared to admit.

Patrick set a steady pace and oh boy … he wasn’t giving Pete any more time now, relentlessly fucking him in ways Pete hadn’t known he needed. He wrapped his legs around a slender waist, changing the angle until every single thrust hit home and had him squirming on the bed. Fuck, it was almost too much.

Patrick was propping himself up over Pete, his eyes fixed down to where their bodies were meeting and he was panting heavily, occasionally replacing a breath with a moan when he shifted just enough to add another layer of pleasure. Pete wrapped his hands around the back of Patrick’s neck and desperately pulled him in for a kiss. He needed something, anything else to distract him from the fire in his groin and the sound of skin against skin, and the wet slide of Patrick’s tongue against his provided the perfect focus.

There was nothing sweet or tender about it, once the initial caution had passed, it was sweat and teeth and curses and nails and hot, pink flesh and Pete couldn’t feel anything but a complete overabundance of Patrick . He felt desperate, he felt clingy and his cock hurt so badly .

As though he could read his mind, Patrick wrapped a hand around Pete’s throbbing dick and began stroking it. It was a little too dry and a little too rough, but it was friction and Pete didn’t care. Shit, he’d never felt so utterly lost and complete at the same time.

“Gonna… ugh, shit…. Patrick… Pat… rick…. I’m…” he couldn’t get the words out, caught up too much in chanting Patrick’s name. he let if fall from his lips like water off a ledge as he felt everything within him tighten up, it felt like he was a time-bomb close to blowing up.

“No.”

What?

Pete whined pleadingly. “No, you don’t get to come yet… you don’t get to come before I tell you.” Patrick was red and damp and looked like he was about to pass out, blonde hair dark brown from the sweat sticking it to his forehead. But he didn’t so much as stutter, the perfect rhythm he was keeping up caused Pete to wonder if the kid was a drummer.

Teeth sunk into his collarbone, shooting yet more pain through him. Fuck, that was gonna leave a mark. Somehow, he didn’t mind that too much… Patrick bit up along his neck, sucking and licking as he went, not leaving an inch of skin unattended. His thumb was pressing against Pete’s Adam’s apple and somehow, fuck, he wanted…. More of that. Something unstuck in his throat and he let out a little mewl at the pressure of Patrick’s hand against it.

“H-harder.” Patrick’s eyes snapped back up to his, glowing with want and something much rougher, much more dangerous that made Pete shiver. “I- can’t... what? I’m…” Pete managed to lift his hand from where it was fisted into the sheets and trace it along Patrick’s arm laying over his chest. It was almost embarrassing, but the fucking dull pain and searing heat in his ass made him barely think about that. Patrick slammed in roughly, making Pete cry out and claw his nails into pale, white flesh. There was a moment’s hesitation, and even as bony fingers tightened their grip, they didn’t feel utterly confident.

It wasn’t nearly enough to cut off the air to Pete’s lungs, but even so, the pressure of Patrick’s hand made Pete shake and tremble even more than he already had been. Everything was way too fucking much, the hand on his cock, the one wrapped around his throat, and, oh yeah, the fucking thick cock pounding into his ass like there was no tomorrow. Fuck, he was gonna cry. He felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes and silently prayed for them to stay there. He couldn’t cry, not on top of everything.

Patrick’s words washed over him like a tidal wave. He spoke to him in a low, hushed voice that held so much determination it made Pete moan. “Come for me. Now.”

Come he did. Pete hit his orgasm like a car smacking into a wall at 100 miles and hour. It tore through him, emptied his lungs and made him yell, shot through every muscle in his body, made him shake and shiver and writhe and… fuck, it was… too much. But it was good. Oh, it was so good.

 

 

 

Pete didn’t know how long he was out for, but when he came to, the sun was high in the sky outside his full-front window. It took him a while to recall what was going on, where he was, what had happened, but the pain in his ass was enough of a reminder to let everything come flooding back. The kisses, the blowjob, the sex… fuck, the sex! He’d not had an orgasm that intense in… well, ever, probably. And then the cuddling. The way that slightly commanding spark had died from Patrick almost instantly and he’d cleaned them up with baby wipes, tucked Pete in and snuggled up beside him, whispering sweet words and unspoken confessions as he stroked through his hair.

The bed was empty now, nothing but neatly made sheets where he was certain Patrick had been before he’d drifted back to sleep. He was certain he hadn’t slept as much as he had in the last 36 hours in the last two months together. He felt good. So much so that the disappointment when he realized Patrick was not in the bathroom or the kitchen or the living room or anywhere else in his apartment wasn’t as big of a blow as it could have been. He was probably just… 1 p. m.... he’d probably gone home to get some peace and quiet before his night started. Pete couldn’t blame him for that. Nonetheless, a note might have been nice. Not that it mattered.

Pete would go into work today. Yes, he was fine, he felt good about himself, even if he couldn’t fucking sit down, but standing might do him good. Today was a good day to get his shit back on track.

He drank a cup of coffee just to wake him up properly before heading for a shower. The hot water against his sore muscles was nothing shy of a relief as it cascaded down onto him as though it had been sent from heaven. It steamed up his bathroom and his senses and left him feeling all dopey.

He even put on his nice suit, the light grey one. He skipped the waistcoat, that would be a tad too much, but still, when he looked in the mirror, for the first time, he didn’t feel utterly disappointed. Even if the blonde hair wasn’t particularly professional, but Pete liked it, so it didn’t matter. It was his fucking business anyway, not like anybody could sanction him for it.

Yes, today was the day he was gonna fix his life, he could feel it. He waltzed into the building smiling, wishing everybody a good morning and earning a collection of surprised to startled looks on his way to his little office in the back. It was pretty, the dark wood on the walls a little pretentious, maybe, but who cared? His job was art, he was pretentious.

There was a stack of files on his desk, higher than it should be, but bless Joe for still believing in him, still faithful that one day, he’d be enough of a functioning human to show up to work again. It wasn’t his dream job, it was far from it, even, but, well, he could have so much worse.

It was an hour before Joe showed up. He breezed in, nose buried in his phone, half-eaten apple in his free hand. Pete smiled fondly at his best friend who’d been with him through everything, he owed him the world and someday, he’d give it to him. Joe stopped dead when he looked up to see the big chair behind the oak desk occupied.

“Who are you and what have you done with Pete Wentz?” Pete laughed a good, hearty laughed, that left Joe smiling unsurely from his spot next to the bookcase. “Joe, I just realized… well… y’know.” He got raised eyebrows in return. “Good night?” Pete frowned at him and Joe pointed at his throat. Oh. Oh.

If Pete were one to blush, he’d be blushing. “Should’ve known you had a thing for choking, Jesus Christ…” Joe shook his head in disbelief, his wild curls flying everywhere. He’d not bothered tying them back today. Pete knew that couldn’t be what the bruises were from, Patrick had barely touched him, well, not in that way… but was there a point to arguing with Joe? Probably not. “I’m glad you’ve found… somebody else.” Ah. Yes. Pete just smiled sweetly. “They seem to be doing you good.”

“Yes, quite! I feel… I feel so much better, Joe, I got up and didn’t hate myself this morning, that’s good, yeah? Anyway, I’m here to save my business now, fill me in.”

On any other day, Pete might have picked up on the undercurrent of their conversation earlier. Maybe that was why Joe looked almost pained when he walked towards Pete, expression suddenly horribly serious and slightly apologetic. “I’ve, uh… been wanting to talk to you about that…”

Pete’s brow furrowed into a frown. What had come to ruin his mood now? Couldn’t he have just one day ? “Okay, here’s the thing, I… I’ve done my best, I really have, but I can’t… I can’t save this. Maybe you can, I dunno, maybe this sinking ship is yours to patch up, but… but I’m getting married, Pete.”

His ears picked up. Married? Joe? Joe Trohman who had once got his dick stuck in a cheap dollar-store fleshlight? “Oh, congratulations, man! That’s awesome, Marie’s so sweet a-“

“Yeah, thanks, I’m happy, really, but… like, I need a safe job, Pete. The wedding’s gonna be expensive and… we, like… I want a kid. I really want a kid and I can’t afford to have this… this thing where…”

He didn’t really need to carry on with his little tale, Pete knew where this was going. “You’re quitting?”

Joe hesitated, but then nodded. Once. Sharply. Decisively.

Fuck.

Not Joe. Of all the people, not… not Joe. If Joe quit on him… well, was there a point? “I got a job offer at the art gallery and, like… well… that’s more my kinda thing anyway, but I didn’t wanna leave you but now… I’ve gotta take it, dude. I… I have to.” Pete nodded. He didn’t like this. He didn’t want Joe to go, he wanted to beg him to stay, to tell him how much he needed him. They were partners, always had been; everything they’d ever done, they’d done together!

But Joe had already given him so much more than he should ever have asked for and Pete owed him the world. So he let him have it. “Okay.”

A silence settled over both of them, Pete holding back on everything he wanted to say whilst Joe seemed lost for words. “I’m… I’m sorry, Pete. Just… if you ever, uh… if you manage to get out of this mess or if you ever have anything new, just… let me know, yeah? I’d be glad to be your first employee. Again.”

Pete couldn’t look up at him. Not when a hand clapped against his shoulder, not when a kiss was pressed to his forehead. He kept his eyes fixed on the wood of his desk and refused to let them flit anywhere else.

“I’ll see you round, yeah?” Pete tried to answer, but he couldn’t, not quickly enough, and by the time his “goodbye, Joe” got past his lips, he was already alone.

 

 

 

 

At least he didn’t hit the bottle. Pete made himself keep his hands off it, it was a door he wanted to lock for good. Instead, he sat in silence on his couch watching the TV babble away. He’d trashed his office. Just a little. He might need a new PC. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, not without Joe.

It wasn’t like he’d walked out of his life, he was a phone call away, he was still his best mate, still his partner in crime, still his number-one buddy, but…

Pete needed to stay away. He needed to give Joe a break from his storm, his damaging nature. Joe deserved to be happy, he deserved a family and a nice house and a job he liked. Right now, Pete needed to give him space. But he couldn’t be alone.

He picked up his phone and scrolled through his contacts until he reached M…

But there was nothing.

No Martin in sight. Pete scrolled back and forth, all through every name on that letter but he was gone. The number was gone.

He moved down, through the whole contacts list in search of the number, a certain dread building in his gut, but…

Patrick Stumph

His heart fluttered at he read over it, again and again before selecting it. There were two numbers, that was the first thing he noticed. The one he’d been texting for months and a new one… he also noticed the little WhatsApp call button now gracing Patrick’s name. He exited the contacts and opened up the app in question, typing Patrick into the search bar.

Yes, there it was. The empty chat with the yellow box about encoding he’d never read. He just about managed to click on the little icon in the corner without accidentally hitting call, his thumb was shaking a little too much for this. It took a second for the picture to load.

It was – unsurprisingly – Patrick, sitting on a bench somewhere that must be LA, but not a part immediately recognizable. He had a black guitar balanced on his lap and was wearing ordinary clothes – battered jeans, a plain, black t-shirt and a zipper-hoodie, paired with a lop-sided knit cap sitting on his messy blonde hair. He didn’t have any sideburns. The most striking thing, though, was his smile. He was grinning at something – someone? – behind the camera, white teeth gleaming between pink lips and blue eyes alight with life and… fuck, this was Patrick. Not Martin, not the skinny boy waiting on a dirty street corner wearing way too little clothing who got paid for sucking people’s dicks, this was Patrick who made music and smiled and laughed and… fuck. Pete could feel himself tearing up. He looked so happy… Pete had never considered he might be happy. Maybe not with his job but… all in all.

Or maybe it was just a photo.

Maybe saving it to his phone was a bit weird, but he couldn’t not , he almost needed it.

He went back onto the chat and tried to sound casual as he typed out his message.

Nice photo ;) I take it this is your private number? Because, yes, of course Martin had a different phone to Patrick. How had he got into Pete’s, though? Did you steal my finger when I was asleep or something? Cheeky.

He didn’t know if the last bit was too much, but in true Pete fashion, he’d already sent it off. He quickly locked his phone and threw it to the other side of the couch to stop himself from looking at it every 10 seconds. It was late, Patrick…. Martin would be working, he needed to let him take his time. Did he even take his private phone to work?

And yes, Pete needed the attention. Desperately. He needed somebody here, somebody he could curl up to, somebody to cuddle, but… but. He needed to stop latching onto people like this, he’d turn into a nuisance.

However, he did feel his gut drop a little when there was still no reply after two hours. And when he went to bed at midnight, his phone still silent, the bed felt way too big for just one person.

Chapter Text

Hopeless is a big word. Being so multi-faceted and thoroughly subjective, it’s incredibly difficult to define, to narrow down to one specific meaning – or set of meanings -  it always adheres to. Whilst for some people the thought of there not being any chance for them to be able to intervene with the things happening to and around them is utterly and completely terrifying, some might be calmed by the lack of responsibility it brings. After all, once something is hopeful, are you really to be blamed when it doesn’t work out?

Unfortunately, much as Pete tried to convince himself of the latter, the fact that he’d essentially neglected his duties as a CEO was probably directly linked to the landslide his business was caught up in. Not that it bothered him too much, whilst he did have a certain emotional bond to the thought of what it could have been and what it should have been, he would in no way mourn his job were he to lose it. He had money, that was no secret, he was well-qualified for any job in the industry – though maybe bankruptcy and a loss of image weren’t great things to be associated with his name – and had little to fear. His employees however, they were the ones he owed a debt to. They weren’t rich, they couldn’t all rely on their name to get them notoriety. He could almost feel the sharp stares to the back of his head when he walked through the lower office floors, the further he got down the line, the worse they got, until he was at the reception desk with the secretaries who, admittedly, were probably very employable, but this was LA and there were way more people than jobs.

There was little he could do. He knew that, he wasn’t dumb. He’d seen, or been told, what Joe had done, how he’d released press-statement after press-statement, how he’d tried to trace the painting back until somebody was found who could be held responsible, he’d yelled at Jordan a few times, so much so that the ugly, fat fuck hadn’t come within two blocks of their building for nearly two months, despite his presumed urge to gloat. Yeah, Joe could be scary.

He’d also spent a lot of time defending and covering up for Pete, giving the press bitesize-portions of his state, explaining he’d been unwell, experienced some loss, not to be blamed… he was totally to be blamed.

Joe was in Paris. His wedding had been a week ago. It had been nice, small, homely, just close family and a few friends, yet it somehow felt like everything Pete wanted. He’d tried not to feel envious as he signed the register below Joe, he really had, but he couldn’t not feel that little niggling in his gut. There’d been two pictures to Instagram, one the cheesy American tourists kissing in front of the Eiffel tower, the other had been a picture of their interlocked fingers, loosely holding onto each other as they walked the streets of the city side-by-side, the way they’d live and die. And fuck, Pete wanted that.

Which was his second hopeless problem. He’d been so hopeful, so incredibly hopeful, upon finding Patrick’s number in his phone that day. Dumb and naïve and in love as he was, he’d believed it, he’d believed he had him, that things had changed, he’d won. But after there was no text back after a day, a week, Pete realized that he needed to stop getting his hopes up. He wasn’t sure what game Patrick was playing at, why he’d let him have him just for a few hours, a promise of love, only to take it all away without so much as a goodbye. Had it been a game? Had he just wanted to see how gullible Pete was? The dumb john who’d fallen for a whore. Patrick hadn’t ever replied, he’d never called, never shown up again and when Pete was lying awake at night, he tried not to picture whomever the hooker might be with, whose dick he’d be sucking, who he might have up his ass that very moment, twisting them around his finger, getting all his sighs and moans just right, reeling them in before beating them into the dirt.

Maybe it’s what Pete deserved.

He’d been so hopelessly hopeful, and Patrick had just been hopeless enough I to let him believe, but he’d never had it at all. So that was it. In Pete’s eyes, it was over, it had to be. What else was there to do? He couldn’t spend his life waiting for a boy whore, not anymore, he’d done it once before and it had been his downfall. So now all there was, was the pile of rubble he had to somehow construct into something more stable than what it had been left behind by.

It sounded easy, it all sounded so easy and it all made so much sense to Pete, he knew what he had to do and he knew how to do it, but he just… couldn’t. maybe that was why dragging Andy to bars with shitty lighting and cheap alcohol. Andy didn’t complain, he suspected that was because he knew that if he wasn’t there, the alternative was for Pete to indulge in his self-destruction in the solitude of his dark bedroom.

But today was particularly bad. Blame it on the tequila.

Andy was wearing a somewhat tired expression, probably because this was a story he had heard time and time again and it wasn’t one he was comfortable with, at that. He kept glancing at his phone. Even in his drunken state, Pete noticed it, but he couldn’t stop. “Y’know, Andy, jusss… ‘m lonely. And th- ugh, the house is gone and Joe’s left me ‘nd ther’s no point anymore mhhh…” he belched, although he did at least attempt to cover his mouth. “I kinda just wish I didn’t exist sometimes, y’know.” Pete stared into the bottom of his empty shot-glass like it held the answer to all his problems. He’d tried to ask for more, but Andy had clearly instructed the waitress not to let him near another drop of alcohol. He was a good friend, the sort that sometimes stopped you from doing what you wanted when it was clearly a dumb idea. Yes, Andy was the mum-friend. Though Pete suspected that if it were Andy in Paris and Joe here in front of him, he’d already have at least two stern lectures behind him. Interventions were Joe’s forté.

“Dude, don’t say that. Don’t ever say that!” ice blue eyes were softly staring right at Pete and he didn’t know whether to squirm away or comfortably settle into them. He went with a shrug. “Dunno, man, I just…” Fuck. He leaned forward until his head was resting on the palms of his hands and he was staring down at the table. He wasn’t that drunk… just a little numb. It was easier this way.

“I’m not one to say you need to get a girl… or, a guy would do, too, in your case, I guess… but. Well. You need to get a girl. Or guy. Somebody. You don’t do well on your own, Pete, you were made to be with somebody.”

He knew Andy was right, Andy was always right. Fuck, he told himself this often enough, but the same thought occurred now as it always did. I don’t want anybody else.

The table shook a little as Andy sat back with a heavy sigh. “You’ve gotta get over him, Jesus…” Well, apparently he was drunk enough for his brain-to-mouth filter to be even more defect than it usually was. “I know, I… fuck, I love him.”

No.

No fuck.

Oh God.

As soon as he realized what he’d said, Pete slapped a hand over his mouth, but it was too late to stop the words he’d all but muttered from falling out. Maybe Andy hadn’t heard? The way he was staring at the floor, like he was a million miles away, maybe he was so tired of Pete’s bullshit he wasn’t even listening, just going through a catalogue of answers he had pre-prepared for every time they met.

Pete prayed into the silence that only existed between them, surrounded by a wall of jeering and shouting and smashing glass.

Andy’s words cut like the broken shards littering the wooden floor, though Pete didn’t really know why they slit his stomach open.

“Have you been tested recently?”

Tested? What the fuck for, alcoholism or depression?

“STDs. Y’know. Specifically HIV.”

Pete found his entire face was pulling into a frown he’d never told it to show. Oh well. “Why the fuck? Like… Why? I’m fine.” Why was Andy raising his eyebrow at him like he was a dumb kid? Why was he looking at him like that? Pete was a fucking adult, he knew when he needed to go to the doctor’s. he’d got tested once when he was like 22 so he could fuck without a condom, but like, that was it. He was clean.

“Because you were sleeping with a prostitute for like 6 months? You have no idea what he had up his ass before you stuck your dick up there.”

“Andy, what the fuck? Joe’s the one who says shit like that.”

“Joe’s not here and you’re being an ass.”

“No, I’m not!”

“Yes, you are!” Sulking. Pouty sulking worked. Well, it worked for people who weren’t Pete, he had way too much to say to be able to waste his time with sulking.

“So have you been tested?” Andy’s tone held something of a parent scolding their child for not washing their hands before eating dinner and it really, really pissed Pete off. “No because I don’t fucking need it.”

“Yes, you do, Pete.”

“No, I fucking don’t! I always wore a condom, always . And besides, he’s not sick!” he can’t be.

What bothered him the most was how calm Andy stayed, like he knew he’d already won this fight. But he’d not , Pete wasn’t going to let him win, he was being stupid and paranoid! “Did you check every condom for holes? Did you always make sure you had no sores in your mouth when you sucked his dick? Did he ever tell you he was clean?”

“He… well, he… he didn’t…” fuck, he was so thin… he was so incredibly thin “he’s not… I mean I didn’t check condoms, but he’s not…” and so pale “like, he was always so careful with them and-“ fuck. Fuck, he was… but he… he couldn’t be. No, no, Andy was just… exaggerating. That was all.

He was so solemn, sitting firmly in his spot, arms crossed in front of his chest, staring at Pete with that fucking pity he’d come to hate so much. “He’s not, Andy, okay? He’d have told me, we were… he trusted me. And he might have ditched me without a word like a total asshole, but he wasn’t… no, he would have told me. It’s fine, really, I’m fine.”

And that was that. For the measly rest of the evening, the topic was not brought up again, never touched on, never mentioned. Andy sipped his Sprite as Pete settled for a Diet Coke because he was a desperate housewife and they talked about the wedding, about Andy’s girlfriend, about the kind of dog Pete wanted and the last season of Game Of Thrones (“no, they shouldn’t have hooked up, it was dumb as fuck and kinda gross.” – “but it’s EPIC, Pete! Everything’s coming together!” – “uh uh, no way, dude, not incest, not again.”).

And Patrick wasn’t positive. He couldn’t be.

Chapter Text

I’m sorry, I needed some time out. Come see me?

Pete had lost count of how many times he’d read and re-read the text since it had landed in his inbox with a chime that had cut through his and Joe’s conversation. It was as though something had been watching him, dropping that message just as he’d convinced himself everything was fine, hell, even that he could do this, he could get over the rent boy with the blonde hair and the blue eyes.

Come see me?

That had been more than a week ago. Oddly enough, it hadn’t been that hard to resist… it was like he wanted to go, he really did, fuck, his heart wanted to tear out of his chest and rush to that street corner the second he’d read the words, but every time he thought about it, what he would do, what he would say, what Patrick would say, he just couldn’t. it churned his stomach and made him dizzy with nerves. He had so many questions, so, so many and no guarantee he’d get any more of an answer than a silent departure which, honestly, he just wouldn’t be able to cope with. No, if he ever saw Patrick again, it would have to be a promise, a guarantee that this was them giving it a go. He didn’t have that guarantee, so he wouldn’t go.

That was what he had told himself last week. He was trying not to think of how much he’d let his past self down as he meandered through the dim back alleys of LA that had become so much more familiar than his mother would ever have approved of. The equally familiar churning in his stomach had also made a return, though the constant presence of it throughout the last nine days made it seem pretty insignificant, if not negligible. Pete opted to ignore it as he took the last turning that would lead to that dark, dirty street littered with boys too young to be out here alone like they were going out of fashion. It didn’t take him a minute to spot Patrick.

He didn’t stand out like he usually seemed to; didn’t have that glow about him that usually secured him customer after customer, hopping from one car to the next as other boys stood all night and froze. At least that was how Pete imagined his nights. Now, he stood hunched against a wall, almost concealed by the shadow it was casting onto the pavement. The light from the street lamp just touched his golden hair, but it didn’t shine. It looked dull and thin and ratty, like the kid it belonged to, cowering away from prying eyes in a much too small shirt  and much too tight jeans. Pete had to admit, had he come here for the first time tonight, he might have just driven on as though he’d been lost and hoped nobody would ever know about the street he’d been down, lined with hungry whores clawing at his window in desperation to get to his money.

But he hadn’t; he’d come here too early and now it was too late to go back.

The black Mercedes came to a halt right in front of Patrick. It broke Pete’s heart a little when he saw – even in the low light – how his shoulders (fuck, there was nothing left between the skin and the bone below) sagged. He knew Patrick was trying his best to lose himself, to forget where he was and what he was doing, to forget about Patrick and to become Martin. He could tell by the way he stepped forward, the flirty confidence back in his movements, even if it didn’t seem as convincing as it once had done. But he stopped dead when he saw the car. Patrick lifted his head slowly, eyes wide and sunken and brimmed with sleepless nights. His mouth was hanging open like he wanted to make a noise, but couldn’t quite get there. A sympathetic smile was all Pete offered in return and he couldn’t deny the leap his heart made when their eyes met.

“Sorry I didn’t come earlier.” Why was it so easy? Why could he just forgive Patrick from one second to the next, forget how he’d been ignored for weeks, how much he’d suffered, how scared he’d been? Why wasn’t he angry? Why was all he felt a soothing warmth spreading through his whole body until his face was nothing but a happy smile?

Because you love him and this is what love feels like.

“It’s fine”, was all Patrick croaked in return as he climbed into the passenger seat. Pete just sat and stared at him, grin plastered across his features and his heart as he took in the sight of the only fucking person in this shithole of a city that he cared for. Okay, Joe and Andy excluded. But Patrick was different. Patrick was sunbeams and puppies and first kisses and Sunday afternoons.

Patrick stared ahead.

The drive to the apartment was silent, which was a little unpleasant, but it meant Pete could dedicate all his focus to lacing his fingers with Patrick’s and stroking over his knuckles as he manoeuvred back through the city. Oh, and some to the road, of course, though that wasn’t a priority right now.

“I missed you.” Pete glanced at Patrick to see his reaction. Aside from downcast eyes and his grip tightening ever so slightly, there wasn’t one. “Why didn’t you call me?” His Adam’s apple bobbed below his pale skin, too prominent, way too prominent. “I needed… space. Not from you, just…” As he trailed off Pete knew he wasn’t ever going to hear the end of that sentence, if it even had an end. “Is everything okay?” Yes, everything is fine, it has to be. Patrick shrugged. “As fine as it can be, I guess.” Pete ignored the nagging voice at the back of his mind.

“So, uh, make yourself at home, I could put on some Doctor Who if you’d like? Do you know Doctor Who? Its super rad and very comforting, I think you’d enjoy it.” Pete was pottering around the kitchen, searching for the two large mugs that must be collecting dust somewhere at the back of his cupboard, in the hope that he still had tea-bags to warm Patrick up with a nice, hot drink. He was so immersed in his simple, little task he set himself he didn’t notice Patrick approaching. Or maybe that was down to the fact that the fucker had the stealth of a cat and was just about the opposite of him in that aspect. Therefore, he jumped about a yard when he felt a cold, much too cold, body press up against him. He wanted to relax into it, to sink into Patrick, but… he just couldn’t quite fit.

“Oh, are we skipping the Netflix part?” Pete teased as he turned around. Patrick was pressed up close to him, lips firmly set into something that was neither a smile nor a frown and blue eyes burning with something that wasn’t quite passion. He looked… ever so slightly off. Like Pete had taken off his 3D-glasses. He leaned forward, desperate to kiss Patrick, to taste him again after so long, fuck, he’d dreamt of gentle kisses and sweet I love you s in the darkness of his room late at night when the silence seemed stifling and the empty side of his bed was big enough to drown in. He wasn’t quite sure how he missed, but instead of warm, round lips, he felt his own press against a cold, dry cheek. He could go with this. It wasn’t the same, especially not when he realized he’d not missed at all, he’d been swerved, but with Patrick suckling at his neck like he was a fucking vampire? Well, he could just about tolerate anything like this.

He reached down, spreading his hands across the round curve of Patrick’s ass, and squeezed, again and again, kneading it between his fingers until he heard a little moan. Pete took that as his queue. And whilst he wanted to cuddle with Patrick and kiss him and talk about God and the universe with him until it was 3 a. m. and they were drunk on sleeplessness and dumb ideas, he also really, really wanted to fuck him. Or – and this was new territory for Pete – be fucked by him. Oh yes, he, Pete Wentz, was being turned into a switch. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t had his fingers up his ass in the last month, panting forbidden words onto cold shower tiles, wishing they were a little shorter, a little skinnier and a little paler.

He wanted to have sex with Patrick. Any which way he could.

A golden hand sneaked towards the waistband of much-too-tight jeans, capable of slipping under only because of practice. He clutched onto the bare ass again, digging his fingertips into the white skin before he moved one of his hands over, over the cheek, towards the middle, sliding in between and-

It took him by surprise when Patrick slid to his knees, panting a little and already working on opening his fly. His gaze was fixed on the trousers and, once they’d been dealt with, the dick poking out of them. Pete couldn’t help but groan a little when he wrapped a tight fist around it and began roughly stroking. Fuck, he gave the best fucking handjobs. Pete’s head fell back against the cupboard behind him and he screwed his eyes shut as Patrick worked his length, using all the tricks, pushing all the right buttons, reminding Pete over and over again that fuck I love you I love you I love you I love you . It took all the energy he had not to let those words slip from his lips. They didn’t feel right, not here.

And then fuck , his mouth. It was so much warmer than the rest of him and wet and nice and shit, Pete was so close to just blowing his load there and then. But he couldn’t; he didn’t want to. This was only supposed to be foreplay. Just a little longer, not to seem pathetic. He let his teeth sink into his lip to focus on the pain rather than the feeling of Patrick’s slack jaw around his dick… it was… it wasn’t what Pete remembered. It was good, yeah, definitely, fuck, it was good, but not the fireworks he remembered.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, just as it distorts old memories. Besides, wasn’t this fucking awesome ? It was enough to have him panting and writhing and crying out Patrick’s name. when he felt he couldn’t keep it anymore, he put two fingers to Patrick’s head, tapped it gently, enough to let him know that stop, stop or I’ll lose it here and now .

But Patrick didn’t stop. Patrick kept going, kept bobbing his head in a frantic rhythm, not quite precise but good enough, more than good enough. He shifted up a gear and leaned forward a little more, opening his throat around Pete and sinking down, further and further until Pete could see the outline of his dick through alabaster skin and feel muscles tighten around him and, fuck, it was so much, but… “Patrick, stop, please… stop, just… stop, I’m-“ he didn’t stop, pulling off before sinking down again and again, Pete’s hand carefully pressing against his shoulders doing nothing to halt him, the tears collecting in his blue eyes doing nothing to stop him, the trembling of his own body doing nothing to slow him down, at least, as he became messier and messier, more and more desperate until he was all but forcing himself over, choking as Pete’s dick slid down his throat, barely stifling sobs as Pete begged and begged him to stop.

And then he couldn’t take it. When Patrick sunk down again, not in rhythm, too roughly, too many teeth, until he was gagging and spluttering, so much so Pete could practically see the bile landing on his cock, he shoved him away. And shit, if that didn’t bring back a memory from a million lifetimes ago where their roles were reversed but not that much different… Pete pushed it aside before it could bloom.

Patrick was cowering on the carpet, small and feeble, so very vulnerable as he hugged his knees. With a sigh, Pete walked over to him and crouched down. Patrick wouldn’t meet his gaze, eyes fixed on the dark hardwood floor and refusing to look up. His face was fucking white , not pale, white as a sheet and sunken, those sharp cheekbones Pete had always adored standing out like knives, gross and horrific, especially coupled with the sunken eyes. And Pete hated to admit it, but, fuck… he looked…

“Hey, Trick” he wanted to touch him, to comfortingly stroke his back, but he couldn’t make his arm move, “you okay? Is everything okay?” The only reaction Patrick gave was to catch his lip between his teeth. And shit, he wasn’t okay, was he? He’d not been okay for a while, at least for as long as Pete knew him. Too thin, too pale, too weak, too careful… Pete failed to repress an involuntary shudder he hoped to God would go unnoticed, but he’s disgusting . “Open your mouth for me, Trick.” He tried to keep the calmness in his voice, but the stern undertone even made Patrick’s eyes dart in his direction, if only for a split second. His jaw clenched. “Open…” Pete put a hand on his cheek, a thumb resting against chapped lips. Fucking gross what the fuck had been down there? He pressed a little, just enough for there to be a bit of pressure, “… your mouth. Patrick.” Chill out, you’re gonna scare him… he’s just so frightened, don’t make it worse.  

His lips parted just enough for Pete to be able to slide his thumb in. He was going to use it to carefully open it up more, but… he felt it immediately. And it was enough. Enough of a confirmation. He’d been lied to, he’d been played, used, exposed to risks and Andy was… fuck, he was always… Pete withdrew his hand so quickly Patrick winced the second he brushed across the bumps inside his mouth. He didn’t need to look, didn’t want to. Didn’t want to see the gross, gooey ulcers lining his lips.

Fuck.

Fuck, no, it couldn’t… he’d fucking trusted

Stay calm, Pete, it’s not his fault, he’s scared, he’s-

“Patrick?” he managed to sound comforting, reassuring. Apparently enough so to make Patrick finally look up at him. And he wished he hadn’t. the trembling lip, the tears brimming in those ocean eyes, they broke Pete, shit, they did. he knew. He knew already and he’d been so blind … “Are you-“

He didn’t need to finish his question. Patrick clenched his bottom lip between his teeth as tears spilled down his face, cascading like raindrops on a window. He nodded, once, sharply, tiny, repressed sobs shaking his broken, little body.

Pete didn’t know what to do.

Half of him wanted to wrap Patrick up, to carry him to bed and make him a warm tea and read him bedtime stories because, fuck, how long had it been since somebody had cared for him? He wanted to kiss him and cuddle him and promise him it would be okay, it would be alright, he’d look after him and he wasn’t alone.

The other half was numb. Dumbfounded as the information sunk in, settled over this brain, mocked the part of him that had denied it, that had believed in Patrick. Not that he wasn’t sick, but that he wouldn’t lie. But he had. He had lied. He’d lied and lied and lied, from day one, he’d never done anything else, he’d never been anything else. And now Pete’s life might be on the line because of it.

“I-I’m s-sorry, I should… should have t-told…. But you…. I… Pete, I lo… I need you, I can’t…” his voice was as broken as his body, stuttered and raw and laced with ugly tears that soaked his red face.

Pete couldn’t stop the words before they were out.

“Fuck you.” The horror in Patrick’s eyes nearly killed him. “You should have fucking told me. I should have known! Why the fuck didn’t you say anything?! I could have fucking AIDS! Because of you! I fucking trusted you, everybody told me not to but I did! I fucking love you, you… And you lied! You lied to me! I trusted you and you used.. FUCK!” He was yelling, pacing around the room, tugging at his hair. Shit, he could be positive. He could be fucking HIV positive. Cold and grey and broken like Patrick, a wisp of a human, waiting out his days and…

“Get out.” Patrick screwed his eyes shut, his knees still pulled up to his chest. He’s so scared. “I said get the fuck out!” He tore across the room, grabbing Patrick by the arm, hurling him towards the door. He tried to ignore the yelp of pain. Uncaring, he shoved him out of his apartment, Patrick’s back hit the wall next to the elevator with a thud . His eyes were huge and frightened, tears were pouring down his face and he wouldn’t fucking stop whimpering like a fucking dog. “Fuck off! Go on, piss off back to your whore life and your whore friends! Find somebody else to lie to!” Shut up, Pete, shut the fuck up, he’s terrified, shut. Up.

The good side of him, the gullible idiot who was stupidly in love, slammed the door shut before he could cause any more damage. Even that didn’t quieten the sobs. Or ease the pain.

Chapter Text

It never really got cold in LA. Yeah, sometimes it was a little chilly , there might be a cool breeze, but cold? It was almost laughable when the Californians dug out their winter coats once it hit 60. Even those weren’t really winter coats. The climate certainly made life more bearable at the back end of summer, when you knew the heat was over but the freezing cold wouldn’t follow. He missed snow though. It had snowed every year in Illinois, there’d always be that day in January where a blanket of glittering white would have been spread across everything, it was pretty. It was home. Better times.

Obviously, the world was a little colder at night, but not yet at the point where being outside without a coat would kill you. It got a little unpleasant after two or three hours, but that could partly be down to aching legs. Not everybody, of course, had to stand around for two or three hours at once, but the red-head had mentioned that it can take a while for newcomers to get noticed. He was nice. He was soft and friendly and his smile was warm and inviting, even if it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He was a little bit of comfort, just enough to get him through the night. In all honesty, Patrick was scared. He was scared that one of the cars creeping by would come to a halt in front of them and that the driver – probably fat, grey-haired, middle-aged and at the height of a midlife-crisis – wouldn’t wave over… Gerard, that was his name, yeah? Gee. Sure, he knew what he’d signed up for and he knew that, sooner or later, it was bound to happen. It couldn’t be too bad, could it? It wasn’t anything different to what he’d already experienced, besides, Gee had said the first were always the worst. He’d be fine. If he just… closed his eyes and… pretended, just for a little bit. It was a means to an end.

And then it did happen.

It was always a little nerve-wracking when they came to a stop in front of their spot, but then they’d point at Gerard – skinnier, prettier, more experienced – and that would be that. So, obviously, that was what he was presuming would happen again. He was already leaning back against the wall and reaching for his phone when- “ Patrick! Go!” Gerard’s voice was a quiet hiss and when Patrick looked up, his eyes were swimming with sympathy. He frowned “wh-“ Oh.

All blood left Patrick’s head, making him feel dizzy as he slowly took a step towards the silver car, trying to make his hips sway the way Gerard’s did, but somehow he didn’t think it was working. He leaned over, resting his elbows on the car door the way Gerard always did and flashed his best smile. He was so painfully aware of the fact that the guy with the shoe brush moustache sitting behind the wheel of the Sedan could look right down his shirt. “Hey handsome”, how did Gerard make that sexy slur sound so easy? “You looking for me?” He wanted to glance over his shoulder, to get some reassurance from the only guy who seemed to give a shit about him, supportive words, life advice, a hug, anything, but he knew he had to keep the act on. “What… uh… what can I get you tonight? Some… some company? Or, or is it a, a, a… quick fuck you’re looking for?” His stomach churned at the thought and he hoped that please, no, let me keep my virginity just one more night . “I, uh…” God, the dude was half-hard already… how the fuck was Patrick supposed to act turned-on when he wanted to throw up just from talking to him? “Can you just… suck me off?” No. He smiled sweetly and slipped into the car, plucking the $40 he demanded out of the dude’s fingers and stuffing them in the back pocket of his jeans. He could feel the man’s eyes on him, boring into his skin as though they were trying to memorize every inch of it. How old was he? 30? 40? Closer to 40, Patrick figured. “What’s your name, baby?” Baby, he wanted to be sick. Actually, he was pretty certain he was going to be after this.

“R-richard.” He sounded nervous. You’re not alone there, buddy . “You?” Ugh. Did it matter? Patrick opened his mouth but didn’t speak. He didn’t want to, didn’t want this person to know his name, to know anything more about him than he needed to, he didn’t want this guy to be a part of his life. “Martin.” First name that came to mind. Martin would do. Fuck, he needed to do something… what did prostitutes do between getting in strange cars and fucking strange people? “So, Richard.” He watched as fat knuckles tightened on the steering wheel when he laid his hand on the dude’s lap. “Umh…. where are you taking me? Somewhere nice?”

“I, uh… just… there’s a- motel nearby and…” For a blowjob? Well… Patrick wasn’t gonna complain. He hummed contently, or at least he hoped it sounded content. “Nice. Just… you and me... private room… we can take all night”, please don’t , “if you want to, obviously.” He risked a glance down to Richard’s crotch and… oh, Jesus, he was already… oh God.

Patrick didn’t speak for the rest of the journey, just tried to calm himself down by completely shutting off his mind, telling himself that this guy wasn’t stinking and sweaty and just generally pretty gross. He needed to be calm. He needed to be somebody else.

The motel was at least as gross as the guy himself and Patrick squeezed his eyes shut for a second upon entering the room, just while the door was locked, which, honestly, made him feel so uncomfortable. Could he ask for it to stay open? Was that a thing he could do? He didn’t wanna risk it. Trying to collect and forget himself, he walked a few strides into the room, until he was standing at the window. The world outside was black, save a single street lamp down the road. They certainly weren’t in downtown LA anymore. A little daunting. Fuck, what if this guy was some sort of madman?

Gerard has been doing this for years, he’s fine. You’ll be okay.

Patrick drew a deep breath and twisted his face into something hopefully cheeky as he spun on his heel. The dude… the john was standing in the middle of the room, awkwardly fiddling with his hands. It was driving Patrick mad. He walked over and took them in his. Fuck, he hated it. They were fat and sweaty and, Jesus Christ, he didn’t want them on his body. He made himself lean in as close as he could possibly make himself. “Calm down. You’re shaking like a leaf.” He tried to keep his voice low and seductive, no idea if it was working but whatever. “What do you want me to do?” Fuck, he should probably not have to ask that… he should probably just know what to do, but he… he was so scared… “I, uh… mh… can I kiss you?”

“No.” Shit, that was much too harsh, oh God, could he even do that? Could he refuse kisses? Why was he refusing? His mouth had answered before his brain had had the chance to. “I, I just, umh… I don’t… really do kissing… much.” The john nodded. “Then, I, uh…” He really, really needed to get things going. How? “D’you want me on the bed? You could just lie down and… and enjoy it…” The way the dude bit his lip was decidedly not sexy. Christ almighty, Patrick didn’t even know the age of consent in California… he hoped to God it wasn’t 18.

“Or..” fuck fuck fuck he thought as he leaned closer to the dude’s sweaty neck. “You… uh, could stay standing…” he knew he should probably be licking across the skin or something but he really didn’t want to…. “and I get down on my knees… for you.” For your $40 . He had to squeeze his eyes shut when he heard a little moan. He just wanted to go home. “Y-yeah, that sounds… good…” Okay. This was happening then.

Patrick couldn’t bring himself to drag it out, just sunk to his knees so his eyes were at the height of a rather fat belly that stank of energy drinks. He focussed on that rather than on the outline of the hard dick pressing against the jeans he was trying to work open. His jaw clenched when the button sprang open and he could pull the trousers down to reveal a pair of StarTrek boxers and the cock pressed up against them. He wanted to cry. Fuck, he really did. Patrick swallowed the lump in his throat and, just to put off having to actually suck it, pressed his thumb against it through the fabric. God, if the moan the guy let out wasn’t half exaggerated. All he’d done was poke his dick and it sounded like he was about to come in his pants. At least that would spare Patrick some humiliation.

He tried to focus on everything else but his hand as he stroked along the hard cock, still covered by the boxers, earning noises that were really quite ridiculous. Sure, Patrick was a virgin in the sense that he’d never actually had sex, but he’d had his dick sucked and he was sure he hadn’t sounded as desperate as this dude. At least he hoped he hadn’t.

Patrick tried to keep his sigh as quiet as possible when he decided that this is it, I have to do this sooner or later. Best get it out of the way. He curled his fingers into the stretched-out elastic of the hem and went to pull the pants down. And fuck, the ugly noise of a dick slapping against a stomach made Patrick gag and pray to any God that would hear him that the dude hadn’t noticed.

Condom .

Patrick pulled out the one in his back pocket and carefully tore open the foil, checking it before he pinched the tip and-

“D-do you have to?” The fuck? Of course he had to! Gerard had said “Always, always use condoms. Even for blowjobs. If you have a cut in your mouth and they come in it, that’s it.”

“Yes. It’s for your safety as much as mine.” Patrick put on his best fake smile. “But… but I’m… I’m clean, I’ve, uh… never… never done this… before.” Of course he hadn’t. it was pretty obvious, even to Patrick. He was blushing bright red, poor thing. 30-something dude who’d never had his dick touched. Not that Patrick was judging, he guessed that was better than somebody who’d notice his incompetence. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have some gross-ass STD floating around his system. Patrick couldn’t tell him that. “Oh, that’s fine, baby” gag , “but, umh… this isn’t my first time doing this.” He hoped that would be enough to end the discussion. “If the choice is getting beaten up or risking not using a rubber, take the risk.” Patrick really didn’t want to have to.

But thankfully, he didn’t argue.

And thankfully, Patrick didn’t throw up on his dick. Oh, there were tears, for sure, especially when a hand wound into his hair and forced him just a little too far past his comfort point.

It could be worse . He told himself. It could be worse. At least he was finished quickly. He offered the room to Patrick, but he declined, asking to be dropped back at the street corner, please. He just wanted to go home.


Thankfully, Gerard was there. He gave him a sympathetic smile and a pat on the back once the john had pulled away with an awkward thanks and goodbye .

Patrick felt… fucking awful. Gee was right, it wasn’t as bad as the first time, but… fuck, he’d just sucked off some sad, sweaty nerd for 40 bucks. He’d had his actual cock in his mouth, his fucking genitals. Not in a million years would he have thought he’d ever blow somebody who wasn’t his boyfriend a year ago. Certainly not somebody he found repulsive in almost every way. Certainly not for money.

That was it, he was a prostitute. A rent boy. A whore.

Muttering a quick “excuse me”, Patrick suddenly ran off, his feet carrying him somewhere, somewhere that wasn’t the street lined with cheap boys, he ran and ran, tears spilling freely down his cheeks as he choked on his sobs until he found himself in a dark alley.

Patrick braced himself against the bare brick wall as he sicked up the entire contents of his stomach. It was sour and burning, the chemical flavour of latex making way for the acrid taste of vomit. He wretched onto the pavement that some poor fucker would have to clean until his stomach was empty and even then he didn’t stop. There was a lot of crying, too, his eyes were stinging and he wasn’t sure if he was coughing, gagging or sobbing and, fuck, he felt so totally, utterly disgusting.

“Shhh, hey, it’s okay, let it out.” The hand stroking along his back was more than welcome and coupled with Gerard’s words, almost calming. Patrick leaned back into his touch and twisted his head until his face was buried in the crook of his neck. “It’s okay, kid, it’s okay. You’re not disgusting, you’re not. They are. It’s not your fault. Shhh, shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay. Come on, let’s get you home.”

Patrick was grateful for Gee’s warm body curled up in his bed next to him that night, making him feel just a little less alone.

He felt sick when he woke up. He was cold and wet and everything hurt and it took him a moment to remember why. When he did, saying he wanted to die wasn’t an exaggeration. In fact, he’d considered ending it there and then a few times in the last 19 hours. He pulled his jacket closer around himself and tried to snuggle further into the corner. Maybe if he could just stay here, just lie here and then he could just… disappear…

It was so fucking cold, the Chicago wind never as much of a curse as it was right now. Three strange men had approached Patrick last night, two begging him to share what he had, one.. well, he didn’t want to think what would have happened had he not managed to run away. $10 was all he had. He wanted to spend it on food, fuck, he did, but… but it seemed a waste of his only cash. Maybe if he got to a bank quickly he would be able to withdraw what little money was still on his account before his dad thought of closing it. There should be maybe $50. No, fuck, $30. Shit, he knew he shouldn’t have gone to that concert.

“Hey, you, fuck off!” An unfriendly foot nudged against him, reminding him just a little more of the fact that nobody cared. Nobody wanted him. Not even his own parents. Tears welled in his eyes and Patrick gulped down the lump in his throat at the realization that he’d never see his family again. “Are you deaf? I said fuck off!” Patrick managed to turn and look at the man shouting at him. His eyes widened, probably because he was so dirty. Or so young. “I’m… I’m hungry… please… do you- do you have anything to eat?” fuck, he hated begging. He’d not even been doing it for a day and he hated it already. Grovelling in the dirt, looking up at people who thought they were so much better than him. Then again, maybe they were.

“Can’t give you anything. Be on your way before I have to get the manager. Come on, kid, you’re sitting in the doorway, you’ll scare off customers.” A hand clamped around his arm, firm but not painful, and tugged him to his feet. “Please, sir, please, I’ll… eat pretty much anything…”

“I told you kid, I can’t give you anything!” Patrick cast his eyes to the ground because of the harsh voice. No point in begging if he wasn’t gonna get anything. He’d just have to go hungry. Maybe he’d starve. A part of him couldn’t help but think it would serve his dad right. The man sighed. “There’s a soup kitchen five blocks east of here. Find some food and warmth there, will ya?” he was speaking so much more softly, not the corporate pawn anymore, but an individual, maybe with a son himself. Did he love him? Patrick hoped so. “I’m sorry, kid, but I don’t wanna lose my job, either.” Patrick just nodded. Of course he got it. Kinda. Even if he didn’t get why they couldn’t just give him an old roll from the day before. “Thank you sir.” It didn’t take much effort to free his arm and he turned to walk off. “Look out for yourself, kid.” He didn’t respond.

He felt so grossly out-of-place in the lobby. The tall, glass… things (were they statues? Decoration? Really rubbish room dividers?) provided a stark contrast to Patrick’s mussy hair and gritty clothes. He was wearing his only pair of not totally fucked-up jeans and a white shirt that was… probably too smelly considering the occasion. His guitar was balanced on his knee, the way it always was when he was sitting down, his time on the streets had left him with utter paranoia when it came to being robbed. He wished that were the only thing it had left him with.

“Patrick Stumph?” Yes. Him. He stood up and took the hand the lady was holding out and tried to ignore the way she frowned at the smell. He knew that was what it was. “It’s pronounced Stump and, uh, hi!” She smiled politely. Well-trained. “Follow me, please.” He was led to an elevator at the back of the building, where he stood, awkwardly and way too aware of how much he stank, next to the tall, skinny, pretty girl with tidy, brown hair that smelled of flowers. Not long now.

It was exciting, the promise of a job in music and a life off the breadline so tangible, so very close. He’d practiced until his fingers would have bled were it not for the thick layer of callous, all for this. Why exactly Mister… something had asked for him, he wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t going to turn down the offer of a steady income. He’d been approached whilst he was busking, strumming out a messy rendition of Love Will Tear Us Apart and doing his best to remember all the lyrics as he kept an eye out for cops wanting to fine him for making music. It hadn’t been his best performance, so he couldn’t really fail if that had already been enough to impress, right? He was so close to being able to pay rent and  a water-bill big enough to allow him to wash more than once a week.

The corridors on the 14th floor were even more intimidating than the lobby. It smelled of rich people, everything smelled of money, nice, crisp, dollar bills straight off the production line, ones that hadn’t been sitting in a teenage boy’s sweaty pocket for 12 hours before being handed over to a perpetually creepy landlord who didn’t hesitate to deal out a smack if rent was late. Patrick was pretty certain that, were he a little older, the smacking wouldn’t be limited to his face, either, but the old perv was just a little to frightened of the law for him to be at risk. Yet.

They twisted and turned through pristine white hallways over dark wooden floorboards until Patrick was certain they’d been walking for so long they were about to re-emerge by the elevator, when the woman stopped in front of a door the colour of the floor. M. T. Wills . Okay. Patrick ruffled his hair and made sure to straighten his shirt before the door opened and he was pushed inside.

The office was huge and light due to the floor-to-ceiling windows covering two walls. There was a long, glass table at one end, a desk at the other and not much else. Modern. Functional. Intimidating. Patrick had never felt less comfortable in his life. “Patrick.” He turned to the voice. Mister Wills was tall, very tall, a lot taller than Patrick and considerably older, too. His grey hair was styled, probably professionally, to perfectly hide the fact that he was gradually losing it and sharp, blue eyes burned behind rimless glasses. Patrick took the hand that was being held out to him. The smile he was offered was not sincere. “You’re interested in a record deal?” He nodded. A little too enthusiastically, maybe. “Have you brought any of your stuff? To play?”

What a stupid question, of course he had. Patrick slung the strap of his bashed old acoustic over his shoulder. “I, uh… it’s called Saturday and, yeah… I’ll just…”

It was, as far as he was concerned, his best song. Wills kept smiling at him all the way through it, even looked pleasantly surprised when he hit the falsetto he wasn’t sure about, even applauded when he finished with an awkward smile. “It’s not… perfect, obviously, I think a good… good instrumentation and a decent beat would make it so much better, but-“

“It’s good, it’s good, very promising.” His face split into a broad grin, he couldn’t help it. Aside from the occasional pitying passer-by, nobody ever paid any attention to Patrick’s work. Ever. “Thank you, sir, is there anyth-“

“Now, you know record deals are a big risk, yes?” Of course. Patrick nodded. “And we’d spend a lot of money promoting you with no guarantee we’d get it back.” Yes. “So, I’m gonna… need you to convince me of how much you want this.” Patrick bit his lip, preparing the you should give me a chance because speech he’d so carefully rehearsed this past week. A chair was kicked out for him. “Please, sit.” He did as he was told.

“So, Patrick“, Wills started pacing around the room, somewhat resembling a shark in its tank,  “you‘re the poor little busker who wants to get into the music industry?“ Patrick nodded “yes, sir. I know you have no g-„

“This industry is tough“, he spoke over him like he couldn‘t even hear he was talking, “everybody wants to give it a go, many give it a go, very few make it, most end up stamped into the ground like roaches.“ His tone of voice and domineering posture were making Patrick feel steadily less comfortable. “You wanna know what lets those who succeed, succeed?“

“Yes, sir.“

“They do whatever it takes. No matter what. Anything that is asked from them, they do it. This is a tough industry, Patrick, and when it comes down to it, musicians are all just whores.“ Suddenly, he was standing right in front of him, towering over him, putting Patrick in his shadow. He couldn‘t help but gulp. Wills cocked his head and let his eyes glide down Patrick‘s body. It was horrible. He squirmed a little in his seat, desperately wanting to get out but not being able to. A shudder ran through him when he felt a hand card through his blonde hair. He couldn‘t guarantee there weren‘t any lice in it. “You‘re pretty.“ No thanks. “A bit fat, maybe. Surprising for somebody living off nothing, but I guess cheap burgers are all you get.“ Patrick really, really wanted to get out. “Ready to whore yourself out, Patrick? Ready to show me you want this?“ Patrick‘s blood ran cold and he barely could bring himself to raise his eyes to meet Wills‘. “S-sir?“ Fuck, he hadn‘t misunderstood. He was reaching for the buckle of his belt. “You‘re too naïve, Patrick. Too young, too soft. I‘m gonna change that. And then we can talk about a record deal.“



“Can you teach me?“ Gerard looked up at him in mild amusement. The street lamp caught in his hazel eyes and made them glint golden, just for a second. “Can you teach me to be good?“ He kicked himself off the wall and took a few steps towards Patrick, close enough to be able to hold him by the shoulders. “You want me to teach you how to be a good whore?“ Patrick nodded. It felt a little ridiculous, him needing to be taught how to be good at sex like he couldn’t find out for himself. “I guess. I‘m not the best but, well…“

“You‘re better than me!“ he jumped in „and I like you, you‘re the only one who‘s nice to me.“ That earned him a sympathetic little smile. It was sad, but it was true. “I‘ll come round after work, yeah? I‘ll come back to yours and give you a few pointers.“ Patrick was about to thank him when the sound of a car engine filled his ears. “Ah, one for me“, he‘d never understand how Gee could be so casual about all of this. Patrick had sucked six dicks this week and had only stopped throwing up after the fourth one. “See ya later, Tricky.“


The place was a mess, he was considering asking Gerard to come back to his little room tomorrow, but he‘d already waltzed past him. “Cozy….“ the irony in his voice didn‘t go amiss. “Don‘t worry, two months of this and you‘ll be able to upgrade.“ Patrick followed him further into his tiny, messy room, hastily kicking a pair of smelly boxers under the bed. “It‘s hard, I‘m not gonna lie. You never quite lose the disgust, never. But you learn to turn it off  for a while. Come here.“ he took a few steps closer “Hey, baby.“ Gerard‘s expression changed in a flash, hungry and desperate all of a sudden, “what can I do for you?“ There was a hand trailing up Patrick‘s arm, “you need some company?“ Wow, he was good, so very good. “Awh, not talkative are we? Mh, I do love a challenge. What‘s your name, tell me that at least?“

“P-patrick.“ His voice was high and croaky and fuck why was this working.

And then, Gee stepped back. Suddenly the kind redhead he knew. „Cool, eh?“

“I- how do you do that?“ Gerard smirked at him and sent a wink his way that might have made him blush. “Your turn.“ Umh. What. “Come on, seduce me. I‘m your john.“ Patrick glanced over his shoulder as if there was an actual possibility of somebody else being in the room with them before he awkwardly wandered towards Gerard, trying to sway his hips. He felt fucking ridiculous. Even more so when he actually started talking “h-hey, darling… you coming my way?“ he put a tentative hand to Gee‘s shoulder, “what can I do for you tonight?“ He leaned in as close as he dared and then… well….. what then?

“Hmm… well, you‘re not the worst, I can tell you that much.“ that was… something. “Let‘s start with… the beginning let‘s start there.“ His hands dropped to Patrick‘s hips and pushed gently, guiding them from side to side. “That‘s how you to it. Turn around.“ Patrick spun in his grip so Gerard was up against his back. Hands still on his hips. Lips close to his ear. “Walk.“ And Patrick walked, with Gerard guiding him until he was pretty convinced he was moving his hips with the charm of a fucking Victoria’s Secret model.


“Hey, baby. What brings a handsome guy like yourself here? Anything can I do for you tonight?“

“Yes! Good! Much better!“ Patrick cracked a smile. Okay, a huge grin. „Cool, what n-„

It took his brain a while to figure out that what he felt against his mouth was Gerard‘s lips and, fuck… he liked it just a little too much, the warmth of it, the comfort, the intimacy that was so different to the kind he’d been experiencing, kind and caring and not at all desperate. And then it was over. “How much for a fuck?“

Patrick blinked, dumbfounded. “I‘m… I‘m sorry?“ A little chuckle shook Gerard‘s body and his face twisted into a smile. “I‘m your client, you mungo“ Oh. Yes. Of course. “I, uh… $60?“

“No. No, you make it $70 at least, if not $80. $60 is what Blake down the road charges for a blowjob. You‘re not selling your ass for $60, it‘s worth more than that.“ Patrick blushed again, this time due to his obvious inexperience. And then because of the hand on his cheek. Gerard was pretty much examining him, but his eyes were soft and it wasn‘t uncomfortable. “Hmm… I think… I have an idea, I‘ll tell you later. First, I‘m gonna fuck you.“

The… he… Patrick must have misheard “I‘m… sorry, what? What?“

“Not really, obviously, just… get on the bed, hands and knees.“ Patrick climbed onto his mattress, shaking a little as he balanced on all fours. He felt Gerard slide up behind him. “They rarely prep you“, he began explaining, “it hurts, a lot, but you‘ll get used to it. Try not to cry and if you wanna scream, turn it into a moan.“ Fuck. What was get getting himself into? They were both still fully clothed so it felt a little dumb when Gee started “fucking“ him. “Make some noise, they love that.“ He did his best. He couldn't help that he had no idea how people sounded during sex, real sex. He moaned and sighed and whined when it felt right. “No, no, no, it‘s… no. Have you done this before? With a client I mean?“ Patrick — glad he was spared the humiliation of having to admit to his virginity still being intact — shook his head. “Hmm… actually, maybe the exaggeration is good. See, I was thinking we can market you as the inexperienced little virgin, johns will buy into anything, seriously, and so many of them are desperate to ruin little boys like you a-” Silence. Silence.  Silence. Patrick shifted around until he was on his back looking up at Gerard. “What is it? What?“

“You… you aren‘t actually a virgin, are you?“ Welp. There is was. Patrick averted his gaze, hoping he’d get the gist from that without him actually having to admit to anything. “Jesus… did you think you’d just take the cash and go? No, no, you need to know what to prepare for. Believe me, if you’ve never been fucked, you shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Uh… okay“ Patrick awkwardly shuffled from one foot to the other, “so… what do I… do… I could just…“ what could he just ? Gerard sighed “the smartest thing would be to just not get into this job, but“ he cut in quickly before Patrick could protest “I know you‘re stubborn as shit. So you‘ve gotta let somebody fuck you.“

Patrick stared, dumb-founded. Sure, yes, he‘d presumed he‘d lose it sometime soon but… not in… not like this. With some sad dude in the back of a car, maybe but… “what are you suggesting? Are… are you gonna…“ he was only a little hurt by the snort the redhead gave in return. “Nah Stumpy, we‘re going out to get you laid tomorrow.“




Gerard had forbidden him from working that night, not until after he had “got laid“, so Patrick breezed out of his little room at 1 a. m. dressed appropriately in tight faux leather trousers and a baggy Bowie shirt he hoped to god would survive the evening. He was about a block away from the café they‘d agreed to meet in front of when his phone chimed in his pocket. Ugh, phone call. Patrick hated phone calls more than he hated barbecue sauce. Nothing good ever came of a phone call. “Yes?“

“Hey Rick“, it was Gerard, “I‘m… I‘ve had a bit of a complication and-“ The sharp intake of breath was not something Patrick could help “shit, you okay? Do you need help? I can-“

“No, no! Thank you, I‘m fine. I just… can‘t make it right now. But I‘ve sent my brother? He looks like me but, like, taller and skinnier and the whole deal. You‘ll like him. He‘ll watch out for you.“ Patrick couldn‘t deny the fact that he felt kinda disappointed, he‘d somewhat been looking forward to them just hanging out as friends without having to keep an eye out on crawling cars and creepy men. “He‘s called Mikey he‘s a great wingman. You‘ll be fine.“

A nervous laugh escaped Patrick “I hope so.“

“You will be. Good luck. Be careful.“

“Thank you“, he wanted to add, but Gee had already hung up.

When he finally rounded the last corner, he could already see a lanky-looking figure leaning against a wall not far from the designated meeting spot. Patrick prayed it wasn‘t a murderer as he approached him. Introductions to strangers. Okay. Also on his hatred list. “Uh, hi… Mikey?“

Fuck. Patrick took an involuntary step backwards when Mikey looked at him. He looked a lot like Gerard but… Gerard was incredibly pretty whilst Mikey was… Mikey was hot . There was no other way to describe it. He smiled warmly and passed on the hand offered to him, instead pulling Patrick into a tight hug. “You must be Patrick! Nice to meet you.“ Was it? Really? “Yeah, nice to… uh…” Good going there, mate, A* social skills. He awkwardly kicked the pavement.

For some reason, his total incapability to uphold any form of conversation didn’t bother Mikey too much, who gave him a hefty pat on the back that almost sent him tumbling. “So, there’s this bar where basically anybody looking to get laid ends up somehow. Yanno, one of those places.” Patrick did not know. Patrick nodded anyway. “It’s not far, just down the road. I believe it’s what Gee had in mind.” Oh God, the shame… Patrick couldn’t believe he was being dragged to a gay bar by a dude in his 20s to get his ass fucked by a stranger so he could dive right into the life of prostitution. It wasn’t too late to turn back yet.

But where would he go? He had no qualifications, no job, no family and his only friend was a hooker. He’d tried busking, that didn’t pay, especially not when they caught you. He’d applied for stuff, sure, even just picking up litter in the park for like five dollars an hour, but nobody wanted a street rat. So what could he realistically do?

 

The club was - unsurprisingly - dark, tight, loud and sweaty and everything Patrick hated, reminding him once again why he never ever went partying. Mikey had been right, this was evidently some place to hook up for a few minutes, from his spot by the bar, Patrick watched as people kissed and touched and… was that dude getting a hand-job? He couldn’t help but pull a face. The only thing that made him tear his eyes away from the spectacle on the dancefloor was Mikey’s soft chuckle. “Not used to this kind of setting?” No. No, Patrick wasn’t. He wasn’t even allowed to drink whatever the fuck had been pressed into his hand and he could already feel it clouding his senses. “It’s fine, this kind of place is only good if you’re drunk or high, really. Or with a really big group of friends so people leave you the fuck alone. „Patrick watched in fascination as he tossed back the rest of his bitter, burning drink like it was apple juice and might have just stared a little too hard at the way Mikey’s adam’s apple bobbed in his throat.

“You should go, though! You need to find somebody, come on, tip back another drink and get out there. I’ll pay for it.” Patrick actually still had half of his cocktail when the next one arrived, but Mikey seemed insistant.

He was nice. They sat and talked about God and the world, originally Patrick had been stalling, but once the forced conversation went over into casual chatting, he didn’t want to leave, laughing along to Mikey’s jokes because Mikey was, if a little macabre, very, very funny. Or maybe that was the alcohol. It made Patrick do some dumb stuff, namely order more of it, pour out his life story to anybody willing to listen and kiss Mikey.

He didn’t know what he was doing, he really didn’t, but he was there and he was all hazel-eyes and pretty smiles and Patrick just wanted to kiss him, so he did. What was worse, he didn’t apologize or try to break it off, he carried on kissing him. He carried on kissing him until he felt Mikey tug on his arm, he carried on kissing him as they stumbled through the streets, he carried on kissing him as they fell through the front door of a flat that wasn’t his, he carried on kissing him as his clothes were tugged off and he tried to do the same in return, he carried on kissing him as he was laid out on the huge, soft bed and Mikey whispered soothing words, he carried on kissing him as he pushed in, the sting and burn of it enough to make Patrick tear up, he carried on kissing him as sweat collected on their bodies moving just a beat out of sync but still so well, he carried on kissing him as a searing white light shot through him and he came, crying and shaking, he carried on kissing him as Mikey cleaned him up and tucked him in, making sure he was alright and felt safe, he carried on kissing him beneath the sheets until everything went a little dull around the edges and he drifted off into a dream where he could kiss him some more.


LA traffic was the bane of his existence. Patrick walked practically everywhere (he couldn’t exactly afford a car and public transport was risky if you could barely pay your rent), but having to weave your way through traffic speculating which red light he could shoot over before the cars started rolling and blowing horns at him was never fun. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been on time for something if he was honest. At least Gerard knew the struggle himself and just smiled his welcome when Patrick fell through the door of Starbucks a solid 20 minutes late. He didn’t even need an excuse, Gee knew. “How you doing?” Patrick felt himself being dragged into a close hug and nodded against his friend’s shoulder. “Alright. Still a little sleepy, I might need iron, I dunno… I’m fine, really!” he added quickly when Gerard’s face pulled into a frown. He’d become something of a brother to Patrick, somebody to look out for him, and he’d never trusted anybody quite the same way he trusted the guy with the fiery hair. It was a little odd thinking about how he’d had a crush on Gerard for the better part of six months when they’d first met, it was even weirder thinking about how he’d been fucked by his brother, so he didn’t.

“How was Christmas?” Gerard shrugged, “Christmas is Christmas, yanno. Annoying questions about my job and my girlfriend which is… great when you’re a gay hooker.” Patrick snorted, Gee’s dry sense of humour was something that never failed to make him laugh. “What do you tell them?”

“That I’m a gay hooker! They don’t believe me, though, which is… good. I guess.” Patrick had never quite managed to wrap his head around why exactly Gerard spent his nights selling his body when he actually had a family that wanted to spend time with him, but he’d asked before and only got half-answers and somehow he took that as a sign that it wasn’t any of his business. “How was yours?”

Patrick shrugged and took a sip of the black coffee he’d picked up on his way over. “Cold. Paid well, though, I made $2000 in two nights, that’s more than last Valentine’s. Might be able to afford a nicer apartment at this rate.” The expression on Gerard’s face made him prepare for a lecture about how he shouldn’t work so much, he should take time off, this was an exhausting job, he needed more than one night a week’s peace and quiet, he needed to spend some time with friends and doing stuff he liked, Patrick had heard it all before. But Gerard just sighed and drank his cappuccino. That might be worse, actually.

“Did you hear the new Eminem album?” Patrick tried to lighten the mood a little. “Sure, it’s fine, I guess… nothing special, really?”

“Oh. I thought it was quite catchy.” Gerard leaned back against the blue upholstery of the bench, arm stretched out along the back of it. “Yeah… it has good songs and all, just doesn’t stand well as an album for me.”

“Fair enough, I guess… I can kinda understand where you’re coming from.”

Their conversation turned into light gossip, somehow ranging from anything between Beckett down the street to Paris fucking Hilton, not that Patrick cared about her, neither did Gerard, for that matter, but hey, they were only human and a bit of celebrity gossip is just a part of everybody’s lives, right? Even if the other half of the discussion was much more interesting. “No way did he go up with his prices!” Patrick just nodded from behind his cup and Gerard flopped back in his seat with a huff. “That son of a bitch! He’s not even good, like! I don’t think he has a single regular? Not one that I’d have noticed.”

“Yeah he does. Grey Sedan.”

“Oh fuck I forgot about grey Sedan. Yeah, but look at him, he’d probably fuck his cousin if nobody else was available.”

“He probably has fucked his cousin to be honest…” it was added more as a mumbled afterthought, but it had Gerard barking with laughter on the other side of the table. “Honestly, why the fuck would people pay $150 for him though when there’s boys there for $60?”

“Because he’s all dark-haired and pretty? I mean, just going by his looks… I mean… I’m not saying I wouldn’t.” He was met with a set of raised eyebrows. “Not saying I would , just… pointing out the obvious! He’s pretty… fuck you, Gee.” Gerard was wearing his stupid smirk he usually sported when he was about to spill something juicy. “You telling me you have a crush on Beckett?”

NO, just saying, like… I’m just saying…” and fuck his pale-ass skin for making his blush stand out so obviously. “So that’s your type, huh? Dark-haired and pretty?”

“Well… it’s… a good look…”

“Beard or nah?”

“Uh… I mean… both? Either? Shut the fuck up.” Gerard had pulled his knees onto the sofa and was watching him carefully, god, he felt like he was being dissected. “Anybody specific?”

“No.” It wasn’t a lie, it really wasn’t, but somehow the eagerness in his voice told another story. “No, I really don’t.”

“Have you ever fallen for a j-... client?”

“No! Gee, have you… have you seen them?” he seemed unbothered by the implication. “Dude, everybody likes something else, as far as I know, you’re into really old dick.”

“Christ on a… dude, in two years, have I ever looked forward to a client? Ever?”

“Blue Mondeo.”

“Yeah because he actually gets me off”, Patrick hissed, “he sucked my dick, man, nobody sucks my dick, ever!” The way Gerard looked totally unimpressed by Patrick’s explanation that no, he was not crushing on a 47-year-old cameraman with a wife and three kids and a taste for young boys bothered him just a little.

Patrick pressed his palm to his forehead when it gave a particularly hard throb . He’d been battling this fucking headache for a week and it just wouldn’t shift. He needed to drink more. Water, just plain water. Maybe listen to Gee and get some decent sleep. “You okay, man?”

“Yeah, just… ugh, been having some problems with headaches. I’m fine.” When he looked up between his fingers, Gerard was frowning at him and looked like he had something to say. Probably about going to a doctor’s. “I’m fine, really! Just need to drink more.” He didn’t seem convinced.

“Oh hey, umh… you play guitar, yeah?” Yes, Patrick’s ears perked up at that and he may have sat up like a puppy waiting for a treat, but that was no reason for Gee to laugh at him. “Mikey has an old one, he said you can have it? If you want.” Mikey. He still checked in on him. Patrick had only seen him four times in the two years since, well… that, but he was still nice, kind and patient. Patrick felt a little greedy accepting gifts from him. “Oh… I… I…”

“Great, I’ll tell him you’ll take it!”

“No, I…”

“Patrick.” Gee leaned forward, his arms lying across the table. “Come on, dude, you’re practically family. Take the fucking guitar before he sells it.” Patrick’s chest felt tight, a knot having formed where he was pretty certain his heart was supposed to be and he had to swallow hard to make his voice work again. “I-I’m… thank you.” Gee’s smile was warm and sincere as he leaned over to ruffle Patrick’s hair. When his face pulled into a frown again Patrick couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “What is it now? I swear, you worry too much…”

“That a hickey?” Patrick squirmed against the fingers tickling his neck. “Hey, stop!” Gee raised an eyebrow and, of course, didn’t stop until his hand was slapped away. “Uh… guess it must be?”

“Hmm…” God, yes, he really did worry too much. Patrick could just about handle himself. Most of the time. Though he had to say, it was pretty nice having somebody who cared about him.



It hurt. It hurt so much. He didn’t really know what to do, how he could twist and turn so it didn’t . All he wanted to do was sleep.

Gerard had sent him right home when he’d come tumbling out of the pick-up, fake smile sliding off his face and immediately being replaced by hot tears pouring from dry eyes. He didn’t have to say a word for Gee to know what had happened. He’d made sure Patrick got home, spread out a towel on the bed beneath him and told him not to take any painkillers because they made the bleeding worse.

He’d been lying in perpetual darkness for over an hour now, the tears just streaming down his cheeks because he couldn’t be bothered to stop them. It was odd, this wasn’t the first time a john had fucked him, it had happened once before but somehow that had been almost okay. He’d not enjoyed it, per se, but he’d thought he could handle it, it could be worse.

Well, here it was: Worse. Patrick had seriously underestimated what difference a bit of fingering and the little lube provided by condoms made. Tonight he’d had neither. Oh, he’d tried to insist, but the guy was big, bigger than him and broader, too, and he hadn’t wanted him to smash his jaw. So he’d bit his lip bloody and tried to be anywhere else.

What did all those kids do that didn’t have a Gerard? Those ones with nobody to help them prepare at least a little and nobody to wash them down with a flannel and some warm water, how much worse it must be for them.

Like with any rotten job, anything soul-crushing, pointlessly exhausting and totally irrelevant, all Patrick did, all the time, every second, was remind himself that this was only an interim measure. He just needed the money. Just needed enough to be able to book a studio and record an album and send it off into the world. A few months and he should be good, yeah? He could do this, just for a few months.

At least that had been what he’d been telling himself for the last three weeks. But now? After tonight? He wasn’t so sure he’s come out of this as Patrick. He didn’t know how much of Patrick would be left after just a few months of Martin.

Maybe Martin was better. He was confident, tough-skinned, flirtatious, likeable, wanted. Maybe Martin had a shot at making actual friends, being popular or even just liked, maybe Martin would get signed to a label, maybe he had the stuff it took, not the naive, childlike innocence that would only get in the way as soon as the bad reviews came flooding in. Maybe he hadn’t let down his family.

Maybe Patrick wasn’t worth the trouble.




Even after all these years, the orange glow of the street light on pale skin felt a little too close for comfort. Oh, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it had been, he’d learned to blend it out, to ignore it, to focus on anything that wasn’t destructive. Actually, if he was honest, it was routine. Like any job, just routine.

Gerard was pacing like a tiger trapped in a cage near him, he was always so nervous and fidgety between johns, a stark contrast to the still apathy Patrick gave out, and he only knew he did this because it drove Gee mad. What could he say? He was past caring, it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. “I’m a dead man walking, Gee”, he’d explained once when he’d been confronted with how the fuck he could just lie and take it all without it giving him restless nights, “it literally can’t get any worse than it is.” And Gerard had just shaken his head and gone “aren’t we all?”

Yes. Weren’t they all? Every last person on this planet, every banker and artist and cleaner, they were all just here on a contract, though nobody seemed to know their side of the bargain, so what did it matter? He was over it, really.

He’d sucked three dicks that night and just climbed out of a car of a middle-aged, balding man who’d fucked him pretty hard, he’d even managed to orgasm, which made for a nice change. So what? His body was his commodity and it got the bills paid. Most of them. What was more, he was good. Real good. Maybe someday he could start charging proper money, who knew.

What did surprise him that night, though, was the car he hadn’t seen before, at least not on The Street.

They got new cars all the time, this wasn’t unusual, but he knew he knew it from somewhere! Patrick was good with cars, it was always important to know shit like model and licence plate when your job revolved around getting into them with total strangers. So yeah, he was pretty certain he’d never seen this car here, but he’d seen it somewhere . And it only came flooding back when the black Mercedes came to a halt right in front of him, in front of his little strip of tarmac. The dude from that art party thing Jordan had paid him a shitload for. The dude he’d gone home with and got fucked against the bookshelf by, the bruises across his back still testimony to that.

Pete fucking Wentz.

Chapter Text

“I’ll pay you!” Patrick rolled his eyes. He’d been begging since he’d picked Patrick up, bargaining with him desperately to try and get him to go to this stupid… whatever. “Oh, that was my understanding, I have my price, after all, baby.” Always keep up the act, even if they can’t see your face. It was something of a relief that Jordan was into the whole bondage and blindfold shit, it meant Patrick could pull whatever disgusted expression he fancied as long as those pug-eyes were covered. Dumb fuck for letting a hooker tie him up. Patrick should steal some of his money someday, it would serve him right; it wasn’t like he needed it, anyway.

Patrick sunk down to his knees between open legs and pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the head of Jordan’s cock. He didn’t insist on condoms for blowjobs, not anymore, and a few years ago, the gluttural moan Jordan let out might have made his stomach churn. He was a fucking pig, Patrick wasn’t fooled by his little “sad, fat, lonely man” act, he was fully aware of the fact that Jordan was a particular kind of jealous, manipulative asshole who enjoyed young boys sucking his balls. Patrick hated the way he always tore at his hair when he was blowing him, but he bit back the snappy comments and contented himself with pulling faces at the man. He paid well, more than anybody else for the promise that, yes, Patrick was his good boy and, no, he was his special client whom he allowed things he didn’t let others do to him. Gullible idiot.

“Please, please… come with me, it’s just… three hours, then you can go! I’ll pay you double!”

Patrick sat back and looked at him curiously. He really was a a class-A idiot. But $900 in three hours… was that an offer he could refuse? That was more than he’d been making a week recently (Except for Christmas. Christmas was always good for business). Yes, Patrick was fully aware of the drop in clients since he’d started visibly losing weight, the absence of baby-fat was a curse for his image of virgin boy. Thankfully, some guys seemed to like the “close to death” look.

Patrick stood up and straddled his john’s hips, taking a second to roll a condom on the pathetically small cock sink down onto it with the most convincing fake moan he could muster whilst praying the idiot didn’t notice he was only half-hard and probably wouldn’t be getting any harder, either. It hurt quite a bit, fucking somebody when you were nowhere near turned on, but hey, it was all part of the job and he’d learned to cope with it. Besides, he was on painkillers most of the time these days, anyway. He started rocking his hips in Jordan’s lap, putting on the little act he knew the old man liked to much. His arms wound around his torso and he pushed their chests flush together, closer than he would have liked. “Oh, yes… yes…” he panted, glad he didn’t have to pull off the open-mouthed, eye-rolling bullshit and very glad he didn’t have to look his client in the eyes. “Yeah, yes, daddy, ugh…” Yup, he fucking hated Jordan.

The only good thing about the sleazy, old rat was, he had zero stamina and within a minute, he was trying his best to buck his hips further into Patrick and came with a stuttered “Ma… rtin.”

It gave him some satisfaction, the fact that he didn’t know his real name, none of them did. They knew Martin the whore, they could have anything Martin the whore had, but Patrick? None of them would ever have Patrick.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he declared as he was being driven back to his street corner, “I’ll go with you, on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

He turned his head and smirked at Jordan, channeling all the Martin he had. “You fuck me real hard when we’re there.”


It was boring as shit. No surprise, really, Patrick hadn’t expected anything else. The three hours were up, Jordan had kept his word and fucked him in the bathroom, bent over in a cubicle, hands braced against the wall, staring down into the toilet below him, so he considered his duty done. Though he wouldn’t go home just yet, not with free food and expensive alcohol on offer. Maybe he could find somebody else to pay for his time.

Why was everybody here old? When he looked around the large room, covered mainly in marble and wood, all he saw was a sea of white and grey, old men with their old paintings and their old suits, outdated, not made for this world. Patrick lazily roamed the floor, searching for that tell-tale stare he’d become so good at reading. Oh, he knew his trousers were tight, that was deliberate. They’d also not been paid for by him, but by the lovely client who’d dragged him here in the first place, free food, expensive alcohol and a three-piece suit, all topped off with nine crisp $100 bills. Yes, this had been a good decision.

But, oh, who was that? Standing by the canapés looking perpetually pissed off? Dark hair, stubble, a nice suit, pretty face… promising. Patrick wandered over to him, unnoticed in the crowd. By the time he reached him, the guy had his back turned and was examining the food laid out before him.

“Not one for mingling?”



He felt… a little bad for having been so rough. He’d shoved Pete away for his own safety, sure, of course, but the look on his face… he couldn’t explain though, what was he gonna say? “Oh by the way, I’m HIV positive but I really enjoyed this and I’d love to see you again”? No, he was better off just disappearing, never to be seen again. Shame, really; he liked Pete.

Deciding he’d done more than enough that night, Patrick dragged himself back home and right into the shower. His back was painful where he’d been slammed into the bookcase, hot at the time, kinda dumb in hindsight. Patrick always made a point of not counting his ribs, easy as it would be, outlined clearly behind a thin stretch of skin that hadn’t seen the sunlight in years. He did, however, always examine his dick, checking for swelling, discolouration, anything. How he hadn’t developed any ulcers yet when the rest of his body seemed to be falling apart, he didn’t know, but he counted his blessings because of it - nobody wanted a hooker with an ugly dick.

Hair washed and body scrubbed clean of any traces of Jordan (not of Pete, those bruises wouldn’t wash away with hot water), he wrapped himself in a towel and braced the cold of his room. The heater was on low, just enough to prevent him from freezing in the night but not so high the bill would be higher than necessary. It was fucking ridiculous, he was making enough money to be able to live in relative comfort, he shouldn’t be locked up in a two-room apartment with the heating barely on in mid-winter, but alas… if he wanted to live, he needed to spend that money elsewhere. Maybe if he’d stayed in Chicago, or anywhere in Illinois, for that matter, he might have got support, but seeing as he wasn’t registered here, well…

Patrick climbed under his heavy sheets, something he’d splurged on the first time he’d made $200 in one night, before he’d had to put every cent aside. At least he’d spent it on this, at least then he’d had enough common sense to look after himself as best he could at rather than spend what little he had on drugs. Patrick dozed off, thanking his past-self for keeping him warm.





Wow, he hated it when people slapped his ass. As if fucking stinking strangers wasn’t degrading enough, when they felt to entitled they thought they had the right to smack him it really did send Patrick dangerously close to returning the favour. However, good little whore he was, he just turned around and bit his lip through a cheeky smile as the Golf pulled away.

Gee was back on the corner, illuminated by the golden glow of the streetlamp that Patrick knew didn’t feel as warm as it looked. He’d been on a job when the Golf had pulled up, for quite a while, actually, so it was a relief to see him leaning against the concrete wall covered in his drawings (as if illegal prostitution wasn’t bad enough, the bastard was risking a charge for vandalism, too).

He looked up as he heard Patrick approach. “Good night?” He shrugged. Yeah, it was a good night, he’d made as much in a few hours as he had in the last six days, but that was to be expected. It was February 14th, after all. “You were gone for a while…”

“I’m fine. There were three of them, had to take my time, no big deal. They gave me a big-ass tip so I’m happy.” Tips were always nice, unfortunately, not everybody had figured that out yet. “Everything fine with you?”

“Yeah, everything pretty normal, really… oh hey, no, I had a girl come up to me? That was a first.” Gee turned and frowned at him. “A girl?! Wow, I think I’ve only ever had one here… what did you say.”

“I said sorry, I’m not into girls and sent her to Ross.”

“Hey wait, you did what?!” The unexpected harshness that suddenly filled Gerard’s voice - a harshness he’d only ever used when talking about safety before now - made Patrick physically recoil and stare at him with bulging eyes. “You’ve gotta be careful when you turn people down, I told you. They get angry or aggressive, don’t do that with nobody else around.” Patrick was confused. Gerard had just disappeared into a red Mustang, like what the fuck should he have done? Asked her to please wait until his friend showed up so he could tell her to go away then? “I can handle myself, Gee! I’ve been doing this for over three years! I’m not the little kid anymore, I don’t need help! She was a girl , dude, the fuck should she have done? The fuck should I have done?”

“I bet she was still a damn sight taller than you!” Wow, that was below the belt… “And you should have gone with her.”

“Wait, if I don’t feel safe turning somebody away I should let them take me to a locked room?!”

“That way the chances of aggression are so much lower, dude, so much. Just… give them what they want.”

“And what if I don’t want that? What if I don’t want to give them what they want? I don’t like girls, Gee! I can’t!”

“Do you like the men who fuck you?”
“No, but…” Patrick leaned against the wall, face down. He hated arguments, hated them so much, he didn’t want to have to acknowledge Gerard.

“Then why can’t you close your eyes and pretend?”

“Because when I have somebody fucking me my dick doesn’t need to be hard!”

Make it hard! Think of, I dunno, Ryan Gosling or, or that client that makes you all high school or-”

“Who the fuck are you talking about?!”

“You know, b-”

Patrick’s head snapped up almost automatically when his ears picked up the sound of tired on tarmac and the soft stutter of a slowing engine.

Pete.

Gerard let out a heavy sigh and shook his head, Patrick tried not to read it as disappointment. “Go on, go make some cash.”

He pushed himself off the wall and waltzed towards the black Merc, making sure to summon up his best Martin. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t a little happy about Pete showing up. He’d known he’d come again, of course. Once was a slip-up, but twice was dangerous and twice was usually followed by a third time and then they were in Martin’s web. “Hey, Pete, come here for me?”

Pete didn’t react straight away, just stared at him, mouthing at nothing like a fish on land until he managed to reply with a sharp nod. “What do you want, baby, same as last time? The full hour?” He bit his lip. He knew Pete had a thing about his mouth, he hadn’t missed that, he hadn’t missed the part where his client had spent most of the last session staring at his lips hungrily, only to shove him away once Patrick had tried to go in for a hug. Dick.

“How much for a fuck?” Oh. Right. Patrick hoped he managed to hide his disappointment behind his mask and he pushed it down before he could think about it. Quick fucks were always better, right? No kinky shit, none of the emotional crap, just a quick fuck and - if he was lucky - an orgasm. Pete had managed to make him come last time, could he do it again? “$80.”

It was kind of cute, the way Pete wove through the streets instead of just pulling into a dark alley like most people did, was he looking for some kind of romantic hideaway? Patrick glanced at him from his spot in the passenger seat, his whiskey eyes fixed on the dark road, knuckles white against the steering wheel that was taking the toll of Pete’s guilt. Yes, the guilt, always the guilt, why did they all feel guilty for feeding a boy whore? Well, they were all gross but… Patrick didn’t mind Pete. He actually spoke to him, normal conversations - well, somewhat - instead of terrible porn dialogue that most definitely wasn’t sexy. Pete seemed… alright, actually. Yet for some reason he was the most guilt-ridden of all of Patrick’s johns.

He was about to tease Pete about where he was being taken when… oh. A parking lot. Wow, not what he’d expected, but okay. He could do parking lots.

Patrick liked the feeling of Pete’s eyes on him, usually that burning want was animalistic and repulsive, a gross old man looking as a gross little boy, but with Pete… a hand brushed along his ribs, tugging up his t-shirt to reveal a strip of milky white skin… no, now was not the time to enjoy this, Pete was paying for a service and he had to provide it.

He undid his seatbelt and climbed over the central console and onto Pete’s lap, not hesitating to kiss along his neck. At least Pete was pretty, he didn’t mind touching him. Patrick was good and he knew he was, the involuntary sounds and movements coming from Pete were enough to fuel his confidence. There were desperate hands on his jeans, tugging and pulling rather clumsily, yes, the tight jeans… quite an art to get into and out of, hence why Patrick usually saw to that himself. Pete kept getting caught on his soft flesh, the coarse denim rubbing against him uncomfortably, so he took pity and shimmied out of his clothes himself, admittedly too impatient to put up with Pete’s fumbling.

Oh, but he was kind enough to prep Patrick. That hadn’t happened in a while, a shame, really, he did enjoy it. And yes, fuck, it was pretty damn amazing when Pete’s fingers flexed and stretched him, missing his prostate by a hair’s width, Patrick tried to guide him towards it because, come on, he deserved a little gratification for his hard work, right? But then the fingers were gone from inside of him, leaving him open and gaping as he rolled a condom onto Pete’s hard cock and rubbed it a bit. He was so susceptible to hand-jobs, it was almost cute. But fuck, did he fit nicely.

Patrick rotated his hips slightly, ever so slightly, just enough to make Pete tip his head back in frustration. It felt nice, though, he didn’t know if that was down to specifically Pete or the fact that he was actually turned-on for once.

“Back seat.” The harsh instruction came as something of a surprise, but Patrick smiled cheekily and obliged, climbing to where he was wanted and lying down on his back, legs open wide and hand lazily stroking his cock.

“Stop that.” Ooh, bossy. Patrick could work with bossy. “But please, sir… it’s so uncomfortable.” The sharp breath Pete drew at the words didn’t go amiss, but they didn’t sway him, either. “I said stop.”

Pete was so easy to play, a longing look, a few moans, a bit of squirming and he was trapped, desperately rutting into Patrick with an unbroken passion, he could practically feel Pete’s frustration ripple through him on every thrust driving home, hitting his sweet spot and sending shivers through his body. Pete called his name, well, Martin’s name, as he came, hard and relentless, buried deep inside of him and Patrick noticed a second too late that he wasn’t wearing a condom. He never thought of it anymore, there was hardly ever the need, but with Pete’s dick up his ass, well…

“Clean that up.” Patrick thought about asking Pete how, if he should lick it up, but that just seemed… kinda gross. And inappropriate going by the way Pete quickly fled back to the front seat, like he- OW . Patrick glowered at the little plastic bottle lying on the floor next to him. Disinfectant. Great, yeah, didn’t at all make him feel totally filthy.  Thanks, Pete.

At least he took him back to his street corner, even if the ride was silent. He could practically hear guilt eating Pete up, gnawing through him. Really, Patrick didn’t know why he was so hung up on it, it was just sex, wasn’t like he found pleasure in murdering schoolkids or something.

Something flashed through Pete’s eyes as Patrick bent down to look into the car once he’d climbed out and back onto his bit of pavement, a look he knew so well but usually creeped him out. It was fine, though, right now he didn’t mind. “See you next time,” he teased and then added, just in case, “make sure to clean the seat.” Well. Please. “Sure.”

Gerard raised his eyebrow when Patrick made his re-appearance and nodded towards his throat. “Have fun?” And Patrick only turned a little red when his fingers brushed over the bite marks still caving his skin in.





Why? That was the one thing going through his head as he helped himself to Pete‘s mouthwash - no brushing teeth with the possibility of a blowjob in the new future - why? The dude was lonely, he could tell, lonely and frustrated and dumb enough not to walk away from a job he didn‘t need, certainly not going by the way he threw money around like it was going out of fashion. So Patrick supposed it was inevitable that he‘s be asked to stay the night at some point, but so soon? What was more, he‘d cooked him dinner. Fucking dinner. It wasn‘t particularly good, but… dinner!

Patrick splashed water over his face, despite having just spent half an hour soaking in the bath, an unfamiliar luxury, and rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his head of confusion. What was more, why was it bothering him? He‘d spent the night with people before, curled up in a nice, soft bed under warm blankets, essentially being paid to let old men pretend they weren‘t unloved and occasionally licking their cocks between hours of blissful sleep. It never… it was just another way to make money, he‘d never thought about it twice, but now, with Pete…

He slipped into the baggy clothes Pete had given him, obviously much loved going by the stretched-out elastic on the sweatpants and the faded Metallica logo on the t-shirt. Why was Pete giving him his own private clothing? It was kinda sweet.

Patrick walked out of the bathroom, no glance spared between them as Pete immediately disappeared into it himself, but the hitch in his breath when his eyes fell on Patrick in his clothes didn‘t go unnoticed. The boyfriend experience. How cute.

Pete didn‘t take nearly as long as he had, re-emerging just as the buzzing of what Patrick knew to be an electric toothbrush (seriously, vibrators sounded different) subsided. There was a moment‘s hesitation where he just stared, wide-eyed and practically drooling, until he said, “Umh… you can like… the guest bedroom is down the hall, if you…” Patrick wasn’t gonna lie, that came just a little unexpected. And, wow, should he be insulted? Good enough for a fuck but not good enough for the night or what? “D’you want me to sleep there?” He hoped his mild irritation hadn’t seeped through to his tone of voice. Pete’s eyes widened even more and he began stuttering about like a pre-schooler “N-no… I mean, I don’t mind, I… just thought you might want your own bed? Because I’m, like…” Cute. Naïve, but cute. Patrick smiled sweetly and shook his head, “nah, I don’t like sleeping alone much.” Fuck, don’t admit to stuff like that you idiot!

A towel hit him in the face and Patrick spluttered into it, what the fuck?!

“Dry your hair a little? Just a bit.” He had to hide a scowl as he rubbed the coarse cloth over his untidy mop of hair, doing his best to get the last of the droplets of water out. By the time he’d finished, Pete had already crawled into bed and, not knowing what else he could possibly do, Patrick followed, slipping easily under the warm duvet. Pete’s eyes flickered over his face, like he wanted to look but was too scared to, like staring at him for too long would somehow stain him. That’s what Patrick was there for, to be looked at, yet nobody seemed to want to acknowledge it.

“Do you, uh… do you live with somebody then?” Pete, Pete, Pete with his questions and his concern… Patrick stifled a yawn, “why would you think that?” He looked like a kid that had been caught stealing sweets, eyes never meeting his own. “You like cuddling, I figured-“ Ah, Patrick knew where this was going. Yes, the boyfriend experience. When was the last time Pete had had somebody, he wondered, somebody that really mattered.

“I said I don’t like sleeping alone… but… if you-“ He was warm, warm and soft, softer than the muscles across his chest would had Patrick believe. He settled against it, tucking his head beneath Pete’s chin and then there was nothing else in the world but them, there in that bedroom in Brentwood Heights. For a second, Patrick almost lost his footing.

“Why are you a prostitute?”

Why indeed. Big dreams, bigger than himself, bigger than he could ever be and a million miles away, the promise of bright lights and late nights, anything that wasn’t the cold, anything. That was why. He felt so much bigger on the inside. He couldn’t tell him that.

“I’m tired, Pete.”






“Trick? Can I come in?” Patrick’s head slowly turned to the disturbance in the form of Gerard poking his flaming red head around the door of his bedroom. He hadn’t heard him come in, so the unexpected addition of another person in his flat probably should have activated some kind of fight or flight response, but the guitar balanced on Patrick’s lap wasn’t abused as a weapon, neither did it crash to the floor as its owner sprinted out of the room in a haste. Insead, its hollow body continued to resonate with the vibrations of nylon strings below calloused fingers. Gerard took the lack of a reply as a welcome and he slid into the room and settled down on the creaky double-bed next to Patrick. He didn’t say anything for a while, just sat and listened to the soft melody being steadily plucked out, like it had been so many times before until it was perfect.

“You doing okay? I’ve not seen you in a while.” Patrick hammered his thumb against the low E. “Y’know, I sometimes find it odd that acoustic guitars are still a thing at all? Like I can emulate one almost perfectly with my electric, so why do I play this?” Gerard shrugged and Patrick felt it more than he saw it. His index and middle finger ghosted over the strings like they’d been created for it. “I mean I get why, why people start with it, like, it’s… it’s kinda... you don’t have to mess with amp, like, with amp settings when you’re already overwhelmed by… by the actual, by the instrument itself, let alone pedals and shit. And they’re usually cheaper, right? But once you can play…” he repeated the pattern, thumb, two, three, two four . Gee just watched in silence. “Maybe it’s a… a need for, like… for authenticity? Because, well, like, my Gretsch sounds pretty… pretty real, right? But that doesn’t make it real, so no matter how hard… like, it will never be an acoustic guitar, that… and there is a difference, if you, like, pay careful attention, but that’s the thing, like, that’s just it, if we like… if nobody paid attention, would they care, like? Y’know? So I can make it sound like the real thing but… but at the end of the day, you want acoustic, you should probably just…” two, three, two, four.

“Have you spoken to him?” Patrick nodded. Once. Sharply. Maybe Gerard wouldn’t see it that way. “And?”

Patrick cast his eyes down onto the dark wood of his guitar. It was worn, chipping on the edges and threatening to fall apart under his grip. It was the only thing he’d brought from home.

“He wants me to come over.” Gerard pulled his feet up onto the bed and hugged his knees. Patrick hated other people’s feet on his bed. “Are you going to?” He shrugged. “Maybe.”

“That means yes.” Arguing would be pointless, so he didn’t. Not even when he sensed the clear dissatisfaction in his friend’s tone. “You need to be careful, he’s still just a client… don’t… don’t get in too deep.” Thumb, two, three, two, four. “I think it’s too late for that…”

Too late.

His string scratched against the fretboard as he hit it too hard. “Well, how long has it been? You’ve gone this long without him, so how bad can it be?”

“Two months. It’s been two months and I can’t…” Can’t think of anyone else. “I told him my name, Gee… I told him I’m Patrick.” Gerard sighed. It was a long, heavy sigh, loaded with frustration and resignation, Patrick didn’t remind himself of the fact that he was the cause of that. “I know. He came looking for you when you were… when you took some time off because you weren’t feeling well.”

“What?!” His breathing and heart-rate had picked up and he hated it. “He asked where you were and he… well. He asked about Patrick.” He’d asked about him. Pete had gone to find him and asked about him when he hadn’t been there. “I told him he had to talk to you about it, but… well, I thought he’d just disappeared. I didn’t reckon you’d hear from him again.” It didn’t make sense, none of it made sense. Patrick stared blankly at the wooden slats on his floor, stained from years and years of messy inhabitants and a landlord that didn’t care to have them cleaned, let alone replaced. He wondered who they’d been, the people walking across them. Nurses? Teachers? Out-of-job actors? How many hopeless dreamers? How may whores?

“You’d better get going, then.”

The tune came to an abrupt halt along with his train of thought when Patrick smacked his palm against the strings. He couldn’t speak, didn’t have the words to say what he felt, so he just stared at his friend in the hope that he would understand… if not him, then nobody would. “Go, go on. I can’t drag you out of this mess, so you might as well go sort it out for yourself.” He didn’t move, just sat, open-mouthed and wide-eyed next to Gerard. “Go! Go on, get your Hollywood ending. One of us has to.”

Patrick only noticed he was wearing regular clothes when he was already halfway down the street.



Pete fell asleep first. His breath softly fluttered in his hair and against his scalp, his chest rose and fell with the motion, pressing into Patrick’s face, still pulled into a happy little smile. He wasn’t sure he’d ever felt like this before, like he, for once, didn’t need somebody to warm his bed because the heat was seeping through him already. But he wanted it, the comfort of Pete pressed close against him, the comfort of being wrapped in tattooed arms, the comfort of another heartbeat in his ears. His mind was still buzzing with the last few hours, his lips were still flushed from the kisses that he’d never wanted to end and his heart thundered in light of a declaration made between sheets in the dim of a room darkened by black-out-blinds keeping out the summer sun.

He couldn’t sleep. He’d only just woken up, for crying out loud and the sunbeams pouring through the slats of Pete’s blinds weren’t doing much to help him drift back off. He wondered if he could slip out from below Pete and into the shower, he felt gross.

The sweats weren’t getting any better, of course they weren’t. Every morning he woke up in a pool of the stuff, stinking and never quite convinced he hadn’t inadvertently pissed himself in his sleep. That might have been what he hated the most, the fact that it wouldn’t leave him alone when he was out cold, the fact that the first thing he noticed every morning was the reminder that he was a dead man walking. “Aren’t we all?”

He peeled himself away from Pete, carefully so he didn’t disturb his peaceful sleep. He looked so calm, all that tension and anxiety that he seemed to carry everywhere had left his body and his face was nothing if not tranquil. Patrick couldn’t help the smile twitching at the corners of his mouth and he knew if anybody were to see him right now, they’d be able to tell exactly what he was feeling as he watched his lover, his lover , sleeping calmly. He pressed a gentle kiss to Pete’s blonde hair - quite a look if you asked him - before slipping into the bathroom.

The water was hot straight away, no waiting for it to warm up in the pipes like he had to at home. Ah, the small luxuries. He hopped under the hot stream and just let it run over his body for a bit, drinking in the warmth of the dirt being burned out of him. He idly wondered if medication would stop the night sweats, if he’d be able to wake up and feel normal again.

Gerard kept telling him just to get on them, he could pay the bills of gradually and stop this before it got any worse. In truth, it couldn’t get much worse. This was stage three, the final destination. All he could do now was slow it down, put off his immune system being destroyed to the point where a cold would kill him just a little more. Gee thought putting it off was dumb, pointed out how his savings would be worthless if he was dead, but Patrick would rather be six feet under than loaded with debt on top of all else.

A part of it was fear. Patrick didn’t want to die, not yet, not like this. He could feel his body giving up on him, he could see it, for crying out loud, it wouldn’t be long before he was a pathetic, drooling mess, barely a human at all. This shouldn’t have gone so quickly, he’d read stuff, checked the internet, usually you had five to ten years, but somehow… it had all gone so quickly. What if it was too late for treatment? What if it wouldn’t work? If he didn’t ask, he’d never know. If he didn’t ask, he could still be helped.

What about Pete?

Patrick tried to push the implication of that question out of his mind as he coated his hair in a layer of shampoo that wasn’t his. What about him? He loved him. He’d done it, he’d gone and fallen in love with a john. As if he needed more proof that he was weak. As if he needed another person to care about.

He had to tell him, he knew that. He couldn’t keep exposing him to that risk. The others? He didn’t care about them, they got what they paid for, if that was a dose of HIV, well, their own fucking dumb fault for picking up a street whore, but Pete… he couldn’t give it to Pete, he couldn’t, he’d never forgive himself. Pete would never forgive him.

Would he? Would he forgive Patrick for not telling him? Even if he came out with it now, would he be forgiven? He thought so. He trusted Pete. he was dumb as fuck for it, but he did. He loved him.

He loved him.

He loved him.

Fuck.

Patrick clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a sob and screwed his eyes shut against the tears burning behind them. He wasn’t sure why he was crying, just knew it was all too much? What? Oh, everything. Of course, of course he’d go and fall in love with a fucking millionaire or something after he’d sold his body and got the death sentence in return. Sometimes he wondered if maybe there wasn’t a God and he was being punished for… for what? Was it something he’d said? Somebody he’d bad-mouthed? He’d not gone to church since he was five, maybe it was that. Or maybe his dad had been right and he was broken, disgusting, unnatural, a mistake, nothing more than nature’s fuck-up, a total disappointment to this world and useless to anybody.

But then wouldn’t Pete be all those things? And Pete was beautiful . Pete was beautiful and successful and amazing. Everything he wasn’t.

And suddenly it seemed so much less likely that the words whispered last night weren’t just the heat of the moment, weren’t just directed at him for lack of anybody else to direct them at.

Patrick leaned against the tiles as he let the water cascade over him, washing away the last remains of soap and sweat. The heat felt stifling more than comforting now.

Pete was still asleep. That was a good thing, really, well, it meant that Patrick didn’t have to be brave. He never was, never had been. He’d always been a coward. That wasn’t about to change today.

He paused in the door frame, suddenly remembering the second number he’d tapped into Pete’s phone late last night, his personal one. It would give him hope. More than that, actually. He should delete it, he wouldn’t notice. Pete hadn’t even realized it was there, best to remove it now, save him the heartbreak…

But if Patrick turned around now, if he saw Pete snoozing peacefully, stretched out naked on his bed, torso bruised from his mouth, he’d never leave.

So Patrick closed his eyes, drew a deep breath and stepped out of the life he couldn’t have. For now.







Fuck.

That was all, fuck.

He knew he shouldn’t have gone with him, he knew he shouldn’t have climbed into that car. He shouldn’t even have been on the street, he should be far away, so far away he could never be found again, not below the judgmental stares of prying eyes. Gerard had told him off for showing up earlier, but then again, Gerard told him off a lot these days. He’d stopped listening weeks ago.

But today, he wished he’d just done as he’d been told and gone back home, curled up in his bed and fallen asleep with the illusion that somebody cared about him, really, truly cared, still intact.

He wasn’t crying anymore, he’d figured there wasn’t much point with nobody listening, really. The tears were cold where the wind blew against them, drying them on his face. He hated how beautiful LA was from this angle, it wasn’t supposed to be beautiful. It was a shithole, a mess of the rich praying on the poor in their pampered mansions and shiny penthouses as the city below worked itself to death so they could get through the week without starving. Capitalism at its finest. Patrick knew which end he was at. He knew there were people in his line of work at the other end, too, and he also knew that would never be him. He could never be the escort, he’d always be the boy whore. He didn’t know why he’d ever let himself believe otherwise.

His phone was vibrating like crazy, his brain wouldn’t compute which one and his heart didn’t want him to check whether it was a friend trying to find out if he was still alive or an old man with a cock to suck. The old man could stick his dick elsewhere and his friend… well, he’d get over it. Eventually. Patrick youldn’t imagine he’d leave too big a hole in anybody’s life, they all seemed to have somebody else. All. As if he had more than one friend. Gerard had Mikey and Mikey had Gerard. They’d be fine. And Pete… well, Pete had made his position quite clear.

Patrick’s throat constricted at the thought of him and he fought back the tears welling up.

Not Pete, anything but Pete. There was a cat on the wall, a white cat, he could think about that. It looked so soft and warm… maybe he could… Patrick approached it slowly, hand held out for it to sniff. It looked at him suspiciously at first, like it had encountered him before and he’d been less than kind. Its back arched as Patrick came closer, a warning he ignored. What did it matter?

He stopped just shy of it, hand still held out, a peace offering to the fuzzy creature. To his surprise, it didn’t run away, but instead gave it a sniff before rubbing its tiny head against it. A little smile graced Patrick’s lips as the cat purred under his fingers rubbing its head carefully. It was pretty skinny and kinda dirty, a stray no doubt. Like him. Maybe they could be strays together. He could look after it and feed it and give it a home. Not much, but a home. He’d like that.

“How much?” The cat ran at the sudden disturbance. That’s what Patrick should have done. Patrick didn’t run. Patrick turned around. The man who had appeared behind him was tall, not just taller than him, but tall, fat, but not beer-fat, more like somebody who was actually pretty damn strong-fat. “I’m sorry?” Everything Patrick was doing was wrong, but he didn’t care enough to realize. “I said how much?” He heard those words often enough, but not here, not in this context, and they were confusing him. “I’m sorry, I’ve… I need to…” he tried to push past him, his escape blocked by the wall behind him and the man in front. “I can spot a whore from a mile off. How much?” Patrick’s heart clenched. Was that really all he was? Even to strangers? Even off The Street? A whore? “I-I’m sorry, sir I’m… I’m not working tonight…”

“You’re out after dark wearing leather pants and a skin-tight shirt, I’d say you’re working. I wanna fuck you, how much?” In a desperate attempt to find help - no way wa he shaking this guy off by himself - Patrick’s eyes flitted around the dimly-lit park. He wondered what it would be like to walk through with a lover, the old-fashioned street lamps illuminating tall trees along narrow paths framing them, hand-in-hand. Pete’s hair would be golden in the warm light.

He’d ignored Gerard’s advice once too often.

“$80.” Finally, something he was sure of. Except the man snorted. “$80? Sweetie, you’re not worth $80!” There it was. The declaration he’d been waiting for. The moment somebody realized he was damaged goods, not worth the price he charged. “I’ll pay you 50.”

50. That was only 10 more than a blowjob. 70 at least, that was what Gerard had said. Patrick shook his head. “I can do $70. Final offer.” It hit him for the first time in a while just what he was trading here. His body. The only thing in the world that was well and truly his, and he was selling it. Something to be shared with nobody but the people he loved, out here on display, to be bought by anybody who had the right money. He was selling himself to be used, there was nothing else to it, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself.

“Forget it,” the guy scoffed and okay, he sounded angry now… “you take my 50 or you get nothing for it.” Get nothing for it . Patrick’s heart-rate picked up at the implication. This guy wasn’t intending on walking away. Shit, he had nothing with him, his bag was… was… it was still at Pete’s… His hand was shaking when he reached out to take the money off the man. He shoved it in his back pocket like he always did, where it joined the $120 he’d already made that night.

He wasn’t surprised when he was dragged into a cubicle in the little public toilet nearby. It stank, it was filthy and Patrick prayed to God he wouldn’t have to kneel in whatever the fuck was swimming at his feet.

“You’re… gonna need to use a condom.” He didn’t sound as confident as usual, then again, he wasn’t Martin, was he? Not here. The guy scoffed and turned his around so Patrick’s hands were braced against the filthy tiles. He wondered how many boys and girls like him had been here. He could hear the tell-tale sound of skin against skin that let him know the guy was jerking off and squeezed his eyes shut, ready for the unpleasant burning.

But it didn’t come.

Panic gripped him when he felt something press over his nose and mouth, something coarse and damp and he tried to scream, tried to thrash out, but his cried were muffled and his hands restricted. Fuck, he could smell it, he knew what it was, Gee had showed him once, just so he knew, just so he could avoid it, but how did he avoid it when a rag drenched in it was cutting off his breathing?

He could feel his world going black around the edges, a vignette of unconsciousness draping itself over reality and suddenly… suddenly it didn’t seem so bad if he just fell asleep, if he passed out for a while, just enough for him not to have to witness it, so he could escape from it, just this once… was that really so bad? To be dead for a few hours? Just until the worst was over…



Patrick woke up in what he presumed was a pile of his own vomit, or he hoped it was his own, anyway. Everything stank of acidic piss, it clouded his already drowsy brain and madae the bile rise in his throat again. He didn’t want to think about what he was lying in, what was soaking through his thin t-shirt and through to his skin.

He was sore pretty much everywhere, his head was pounding as though a hammer was smacking into it over and over and over again, when he tried to push himself up, his body weighed a tonne and his arms were shaking beneath the weight of it. The worst - unsurprisingly - was his ass. Every movement sent spikes of sharp pain through his spine, making him screw his eyes shut and grunt as he struggled against it. Somehow, how he did not know, he managed to push himself into a sitting position, leaned against the wall, the pain in his backside telling him to move, to lie back down, to stand up, anything that wasn’t this, but he didn’t have the energy.

His throat was burning almost as much as his vision as he drew sharp breaths, trying to fill his lungs with air, but they weren’t cooperating. This had happened before, once or twice when he was a kid, but not in a long time. Back then, he’d panicked, it had felt like he was drowning on dry land, like there was no way to the surface. “Mommy, help!” he’d cried, “I don’t want to die!”

“You’re not going to die, baby” , she’d said to him, voice hushed and gentle, “breathe. You’re going to be just fine.” He missed her.

Asthma , his brain supplied. As if he wasn’t cursed enough as it was, his childhood fear had come to seek him out when his mother wasn’t there and the last of his medication was probably out of date and at the other end of town.

But he wasn’t panicking. It felt rather peaceful, the quiet of the outside nothing compared to the rushing of blood in his ears.

And before he knew it, he was breathing again. And suddenly his brain cleared, the fog lifted and he became aware of his surroundings, sitting in a pool of piss and vomit, naked from the waist down, bleeding, cold and filthy. Patrick looked down at himself, his skinny arms, his skinnier waist, his limp, warty cock, his trembling, wet legs… and asked himself what the fuck the point was. He was dead anyway. He was dying, soon, horribly and there was nothing he could to about it. He had no insurance, no support, no job, nobody who cared, not even a cat that needed him. Just a couple of dollars to pay the rent with and to keep him alive long enough for him to be able to make a few more dollars in the hope that, someday, the dollars would be enough to get him out of this mess and… and then what? It had been four years, he’d been saving for medication for two and still couldn’t afford it. And even if - by some miracle - he managed to finance it, then what? More whoring?

He hadn’t minded, it was a means to an end, nothing permanent, it hadn’t even been him, just a role he played, another person in his body. But he’d fucked up and got lost along the way and now he didn’t know how to get out

There was a broken bottle on the floor in front of the sink, he could see it beneath the thin cubicle wall, green and sharp. That would do the job. One last spike of pain and then he could sleep.

Pete.

He choked back a sob at the thought of him. What was he doing right now? He was probably asleep, locked away somewhere safe, surrounded by dreams that held him and cradled him until the sun came up. Patrick smiled at that thought. He wanted Pete to be safe. He was safer without him. He could get a proper partner, a wife, that would be best, and maybe a kid. That would make him happy. And maybe, once in a while, he’d spare a thought for his little boy whore, the one he’d spent a summer with. The one he’d thought he’d loved. And maybe he’d smile. That wasn’t a bad legacy, right? Leaving one person with memories to smile at, that wasn’t half bad. Patrick could live with that. It was enough for him.

He’d done enough.

He was so tired.

Chapter Text

done

It was so quiet.
Pete had spent the last three days in the confinement of his own flat, occasionally picking up the phone to some lawyer or other or collecting stacks of legal documents from some dog’s-body scurrying between him, the rest of his business and the attorney he’d hired. Oh, yes, he was closing the auction house.


It had been a long time coming really, Joe hadn’t lied about Jordan pretty much dragging them into the dirt along with himself - the man was bankrupt, no surprise, the way he was throwing money around - it made sense to Pete, he’d never treated him kindly. Not that the old toad deserved anything better, but…


It wasn’t easy, letting go of so many jobs. The business, well… he didn’t care much for it, save a slither of nostalgia, of times long since gone and friends long forgotten, of himself, the way he’d been back then. Young, dumb and naive. Not much to lose there. But the people who worked for him - not thousands, not even hundreds, but people, nonetheless - well, he’d taken their jobs from them, ground them into the dirt and blown the dust out over the remains of his dignity. It was them he mourned. What made it worse was they didn’t know. He’d not finalized it, not signed anything saying “Bye bitches”, just figured everything out. Or not. There wasn’t much left to figure out. He wondered how many of his employees knew things were going to shit. He wondered how many would hate him for what he was about to do. Supposedly. Again, nothing was finalized. He could still go back. It would take him a miracle to save this, but he could… somehow.


Joe was the biggest help. He didn’t owe Pete anything, not a penny, not even a spare thought, but he gave him everything he asked for. He’d found the lawyer, he’d agreed to help with the paperwork, hell, he’d even invited Pete to his wedding and laughed at him when he’d told him he hadn’t expected it. “Pete, you’re my best friend”, he’d said, “the fact that you’re bone-dead stupid doesn’t change that.”


Three days. Had it only been three days? Or already, Pete wasn’t sure anymore. It had been hours that felt like minutes that felt like weeks and it didn’t hurt any less. He couldn’t get rid of it, no matter how much he tried to distract himself, when the PC was shut down, when the lawyer left, when Joe hung up, when the record ended, it hurt again and he’d ask himself: What was more idiotic, falling in love or throwing him out? Either way, Patrick, Martin, both of them, they were his downfall and there were no two ways about it. He should feel glad then, that he was free of him, that he’d broken away, never had to see him again, could just get on with his life. A mistake, but one of his past. Patrick was gone. Martin was gone. He didn’t have to worry about it anymore, he could get on with his life, it was fine, clean up the mess.


Then why couldn’t he just let it go?! He was frustrated. With himself more than anything, this was all his fault, no matter which way he twisted and turned, it was his fault. And now he’d taken the first step to tearing away and he still wasn’t… fuck, he was still not able to let it go.


Patrick had lied, he kept reminding himself of that, he’d lied to him, he’d put his safety, his life at risk because… why?! If he’d just said something…


Pete knew himself. He knew he would have freaked out either way, he knew he would have panicked but… but maybe he wouldn’t have thrown him out. That was a lie, too. He knew it. He knew himself. He was a selfish piece of shit, always had been. There was a reason he was in his position at such a young age. No matter how much he tried to deny it. He was horrible, a horrible, selfish piece of shit, not worth the paper he was printed on, not deserving of his money, of his house, of his friends. Of Patrick. He didn’t deserve Patrick; soft, little Patrick with a heart of gold and music in his soul. A broken boy with nobody who loved him. He should be looking after him, not throwing him out into the cold.


More than once he’d yanked his door open, jacket thrown across his shoulders, twice he’d been in the elevator, ready to go down, three

times he’d stepped outside and drawn a breath of fresh air. He never made it as far as the street corner. Not until the fourth night.


Gerard was sitting on the curb, inspecting his nails like he’d discovered some new form of life beneath them, not that unlikely, really. His sudden rush of bravery was down to the three bottles of beer coursing through Pete’s system, there was no doubt about it; they made him go through with it, they made him round the corner, made him go up to the redhead cowered in on himself, made him tap him on the shoulder and did nothing to stop his blood from running cold when he saw Gerard’s expression.


His eyes were almost as red as his hair, underlined with heavy, grey rings. He looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. The rest, well… with no Patrick to compare him to, he looked like death. No Patrick… “When will he be back?” No ‘hello’, no ‘how are you doing?’, no kind words for a man who’s looked after him better than he ever deserved.
“He won’t.” somehow, that made sense to Pete’s alcohol-infused mind. His alcohol-infused mind didn’t like it, didn’t like how final it sounded. “Well where is he?” Gerard sniffed. It was wet and pathetic and totally and utterly heart-wrenching. For the first time, it hit Pete that he might be sick, too. Was he? He’d suffered through the same shit Patrick had, the men using him, the men abusing him, the pain, the fear… did they ever enjoy it? Any of them?


Gerard frowned up at him, hazel eyes swimming with disdain, something Pete had never seen him express before. Patrick was a sarcastic, snappy little bitch. Gerard was just kind. Gerard didn’t hate people. Pete suspected Gerard hated him. He deserved it. “He’s gone, Pete. He’s gone, he’s never coming back. Go home. Live your life.” Pete didn’t think he could hurt more, but it felt like somebody had twisted the knife in his heart. He should go. He should follow Gerard instructions and just… go home. Live his life. It sounded like a smart idea.


The pavement was cold even through his trousers and didn’t exactly make for comfortable, seating, but it seemed like the right thing to do when he dropped down to join the hooker on the ground. Sitting like this, he was even lower that Gerard. He was certain there was a metaphor in there somewhere. He needed to know where Patrick was, though in his heart he knew. He knew what “he’s gone, he’s never coming back”, meant, knew where h’d gone to and knew he couldn’t come back even if he wanted to. He wasn’t stupid, he knew he was too late.
But if he didn’t believe it, it was real and if he never found out, there was hope.


Gerard didn’t speak for a long time, just sat and stared at the tarmac at his feet and Pete began to wonder whether, if he sat there long enough, somebody would come and offer him 80 bucks for a quick fuck in a parking lot. It was cold. He was cold to his bones, the thin jacket not doing anything to keep out the chill. Pete didn’t think it possible to get cold in LA at this time of year, yet here he was, freezing his ass off sitting on the curb in a dodgy district with a hooker who hated him for company. How the fuck had he got to this point?


“How’s your business going?” Pete wasn’t gonna lie, the question took him by surprise. He hadn’t thought Gerard knew the first thing about him, other than he paid his friend to fuck him. That would also explain why he didn’t feel welcome. Maybe Patrick had said something. Would Patrick have told Gerard about him? “You meant a lot to that kid, y’know. He was dumb as fuck for falling for you, I told him you wouldn’t be there to catch him, I knew it. People like you never are.” It hurt. Words always hurt the most if they were carefully placed. Pete didn’t have a clever reply for him. He was right. He hadn’t caught Patrick. He hadn’t caught him and now he was past tense. His throat constricted when that realization his him. “I loved him. Not the way you did, not some bullshit fucked-up attraction you called love until it didn’t serve you anymore. I really loved him, he was like a brother to me.” Pete bit his tongue to hold back tears.


Every step of the way, he’d fucked up and now… He closed his eyes and wished himself back onto his balcony, in his pool, Patrick in his arms. Maybe if he wished hard enough he could undo this mess he’d created. Maybe. Maybe.


Pete was still sitting on cold stone when he opened his eyes again. Seeing the world from Patrick’s perspective was humbling, the shoddy building across the road was the back of a rather nice pizza place Pete had been to a couple of times and he was done with the metaphors the universe was throwing at him.


He didn’t even register the car pulling up until Gerard had gone from his side and began wandering towards it. He paused half-way and turned. Pete could feel his eyes on him, boring into him, taking him apart. He was the worst person here, without a doubt. Between the whore, the john and Pete Wentz, he was the most likely to burn in hell. He was undeserving of Gerard’s attention, let alone his concern or pity, but he received it anyway.


“He’s not dead, Pete.” He didn’t move, he couldn’t move, but his heart began speeding in his chest, hammering at 100 miles an hour, ready to spring free and fly away. He’s not dead. “Where?” The redhead hesitated, the answering teetering on his open lips, waiting to be teased out. “Please, Gerard, please. I’ll leave him alone, I’ll never… never look for him again, I just… I just wanna say goodbye. Please.” Gerard’s attention was turned to the car behind him when a skinny dude leaned out of the window, an irritated expression on his face. He sighed, defeated. Of course, he was losing a friend, too, even more so than Pete was. He didn’t think he’d ever find out, didn’t think Gerard would tell him, he was too loyal for that, too protective for all the right reasons. Not like Pete. But then the man in the car shouted something Pete didn’t care about and Gerard cracked.


“His bus to Vegas is leaving at 06:17 tomorrow morning. Tell him… tell him…” Pete waited for his instructions, for the message he was meant to deliver, but Gerard just shook his head and murmured something along the lines of “it doesn’t matter.”


A sudden bolt of energy made Pete spring to his feet and pull Gerard into a tight hug. He’d never appreciated his help enough, always used him to get where he wanted but never stopped and thought twice about how he was. “Thank you”, Pete muttered into his ear, “thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” And then he tore off, running back down the street, back to his flat, not staying long enough to see Gerard’s sad, little smile or to hear his “goodbye”.

 

 

 

 


Pete didn’t oversleep, though that might have been down to the fact that he’d never fallen asleep in the first place. He got up at 5 a.m. half an hour before his alarm went off because if sleep hadn’t happened so far, it wasn’t going to happen in the near future. This way, he could shower in peace, take his time eating breakfast and maybe figure the fuck out what exactly he was going to or, even better, convince himself that this was a dumb as shit idea and he should just go back to bed.


He put on a white shirt but left the first few buttons open, his best jeans and topped it off with a grey suit jacket to match the shoes he settled for. It was 5:47 when he left the house, giving him half an hour to get to the bus station and locate the Greyhound leaving for Vegas. He was worried he was cutting it short, LA at rush hour and all that, even if he had opted for the Metro rather than the crowded streets, but still… it was ridiculous how many people were in the train this early in the morning. He grabbed a bagel on his way, mainly to put off the inevitable that was… all he had to do was turn around and go home, fuck! Nobody in the crowd would notice, he could go back and not have to face Patrick again. Patrick who probably wanted him to disappear out of his life. Of course he did, he was fucking running away. There was literally no way he could spell out “fuck off and leave me alone” more clearly than that.


The huge, blue letters printed on the side of the building couldn’t possibly be overlooked, they stood out glaringly to Pete, big and threatening. His legs might just have been trembling a little as he walked across the road towards the station, rows of cars parked outside, parents seeing off kids and lovers embracing and… him.


The inside wasn’t much better, everything was very slow and dreary, the place was full, but didn’t seem it at all, everybody was half-asleep, clinging to their luggage as they napped in uncomfortable, metal chairs that would leave imprints on any patch of bare skin.


6:08. He had nine minutes. Patrick would already be on the bus, right? He wouldn’t still be sitting here. It didn’t take long to figure out where the bus to Las Vegas was departing from and it didn’t take long to find the exact spot, either but… what little courage Pete had had left the moment he saw the Greyhound parked up next to the curb, the last suitcases being thrown into the bottom of it carelessly. Did Patrick have any luggage? How much was he taking? How much did he own? He must have brought his guitar, at least. Pete couldn’t imagine him leaving his guitar behind. Or maybe this was a clean cut and he wasn’t taking anything but himself?


A sudden rush of determination was what made Pete approach the driver stacking suitcases. He was a short, brown guy with a kind face and a cap balanced precariously on his head. “Hi, I’ve come to see off a friend but… he doesn’t know I’m here.” The little man frowned at him, like he didn’t trust a word from his mouth. Wise. “He’s… could you maybe… could I see him?”


“No, nobody who isn’t a passenger on the bus!” He said in a heavily accented voice, sternly but not harshly. Pete nodded, “of course, of course but… uh… I dunno, could you maybe ask him to come out? Little white guy, Patrick Stumph… just… just tell him Pete’s here and… and if he doesn’t want to see me, I’ll go away, just… please…” The driver sighed and nodded in resignation before he turned and walked towards the front door to his Greyhound. “Thank you!”


Pete faintly heard the man call out for Patrick, once, twice, before he watched him walk through the bus to the second to last row where… His breath hitched as he watched Patrick tug his earphones out hurriedly, his heart stopped when he turned and looked straight at him. Pete couldn’t read his expression, had no idea whether he was happy or sad or angry or just didn’t care. When he slumped back in his seat, Pete’s heart plummeted, convinced that was it, that was all the goodbye he was getting. He tried not to let it get to him as he bit his lip and focussed all his concentration on the ground, but when he looked up, the seat by the window was empty and the sound of footsteps was sounding across the bus stop.


Patrick wandered towards him slowly, his feet dragging a little. Properly fitting clothes and a wide-cut jacket were hiding his figure, but Pete could still clearly see how thin he was from looking at his face. It made sense now, why he was so skinny and why it had always nagged away at Pete’s mind. He looked exhausted, pale and sickly, but not… not sad. Much to Pete’s surprise - and relief - he seemed… alright. He seemed fine.


“Pete,” it was more a sigh than anything else, “what are you doing here?” Patrick’s expression was so sad. Not pitiful, not the way he always had appeared below the orange glow of an old street lamp, but tired. Tired of this life, tired of this city, its people… Pete. he wasn’t quite looking at him. “I, uh… I wanted to see you off, y’know…” one last time. I’m sorry.
Patrick smiled politely, eyes still fixed on his battered shoes rather than his… his what?


What were they? Pete wasn’t just a client or a john, not anymore. He liked to think he’d been a lover there for a little while, cuddled up and hidden away beneath soft blankets and softer kisses. “As a friend. I just wanted to make sure you’re… you’re gonna be okay.” Patrick drew a deep breath and tipped his head towards the sky burning orange above them. It was his favourite colour, Pete remembered that much, he wasn’t sure when from, it had been tucked away at the back of a midnight conversation in the sweltering heat of California summers. It was getting cooler again now. Not by much but gradually cooler nonetheless. The nights would be chilly alone in that huge bed.


“Yeah. Yeah, I think so… are you?” Pete understood the implication when baby blues met his deep browns, the silent apology that went with the question. He’d forgiven Patrick, for his own benefit as much as anybody else’s. It was easier that way. His test had come back negative. Everything else that was falling apart at the seams was his own doing, not something he could put on a hooker who-
A kid, a boy. Not a whore. Patrick. “I’m gonna be fine.” Patrick nodded quietly and shifted his weight from one foot to the other impatiently as he looked out at the sky beyond.


“Where are you going to go?”


“All the way to Vegas.” Pete felt his brow furrow, “Vegas? Why Vegas?” The light caught his hair and turned it golden, like every fine strand was worth more than anything Pete owned, or could ever own. No matter how much he pretended, he didn’t own Patrick. Still, he wished he could capture the way it shone in the sunrise, reflecting the soul inside, just so he had something to hold onto on the days that forced him to his knees like he was the whore.


“Dunno… figured it’s a good place to get a head start, y’know, like… like for people like me, right? I can, like, make a… a good amount of cash there and then, like… I mean what’s stopping me? Not like I have… like I have anything to lose, yeah? See a bit of the world before… yeah. I‘d like to go somewhere it‘s raining...” He turned his head to the side and Patrick’s eyes flashed the same colour as his hair, burning like the sun in the early dawn, more beautiful than the world would ever give him credit for and so full of life… He had so much left to do. The world was his for the taking and it looked like he was finally going to reach out for it. A snowglobe ready to be shaken up, reminiscent of cold Chicago winters back at home in front of the fire. Pete wondered if Patrick had any fond memories of the place.


“You’re gonna be amazing. Truly, I believe it.”


For the first time since Pete had met him, Patrick looked almost at peace. There was a tranquility in his expression that hadn’t been there before, at least not around him, not even on early mornings and during nights spend tangled in each other. And it struck Pete that maybe, just maybe, Patrick had finally come to terms with his lot in life. And maybe this was for the best. Not for Pete, but for once, this didn’t have to be about him. Just this once in his life, he could sacrifice something for a person he loved. “Thank you”, he blurted out, though he wasn’t quite sure what he was thanking him for. For his body? For his smile? For his words? “For your time. Thanks for your time. I… I enjoyed it.” He was already gone, Pete could tell. He wasn’t the kid from three days ago, he wasn’t the kid from three months ago, he wasn’t that kid from the stupid gala in January. His mind had already left this beautiful shithole of a city. It broke Pete’s heart just a little bit, to see him having turned away already. He wondered if Patrick had any care left for him, even if he didn’t deserve an ounce of it. “Me too,” he replied. There were so many emotions in Pete, they threatened to boil over and pour out between them. Patrick stayed calm and collected. “It was a mess but I enjoyed it, too. So thank you, I guess.” Pete was relieved that his expression was gentle and kind, still, even after everything that had happened. Some people were just too good. Pete wanted to hug him, to touch him and tell him he was sorry, he loved him, he’d been stupid, he should stay, he could stay with him and Pete would look after him and get him anything he needed. But of course, he couldn’t say that. “We should have stayed in that pool, huh? That was good, you and me and the city beneath. I wonder what would have happened if we’d stayed in that pool.”


“Well, we’d have drowned at some point, probably…” Pete couldn’t help but blurt out a laugh at the deadpan comment. It sounded insulting, it sounded indifferent and harsh but he knew it wasn’t. He knew it was acknowledgement of a moment that had meant the world to Pete and, hopefully, at least a little to Patrick. He knew this was Patrick getting out of the dirt and moving on. He knew, as a heavy weight of a dark past, he couldn’t be a part of Patrick’s future.


Pete sighed heavily. “I’m gonna miss you, kid”, he said fondly with a gentle tap on Patrick’s nose that made his face scrunch up like a child biting into a lemon. His grimace turned into a smile when Pete stroked his knuckles across coarse sideburns and his smile turned into a little giggle that bubbled in Pete’s gut and threatened to spill out into his heart. He couldn’t let it, not right now. But he could let himself smile.


Patrick drew a deep, steadying breath, golden eyes turned towards the golden sky before he closed them so it looked like he had fallen into a gentle sleep. When he opened them again, they were looking right at Pete, who glanced down at the hand that was extended towards his amicably and he took it without hesitation, held it in a gentle squeeze. Such a small gesture to hold so much emotion.


“Goodbye, Pete.”


This was it. This was really goodbye.


It hurt a little, the thought of what could have been, the way life could have been so very different had it been a little kinder, had Pete not been too caught up in himself, had Patrick been anyone else…
No. Then it wouldn’t have been them. And then Pete didn’t want that. And everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds, at least for this moment before he went back to the quiet of his flat and the crumbling remains of his life’s work. For now, he was going to be alright.


“Goodbye, Patrick. And good luck.”


He offered a small smile in return, memories of gentle kisses and tender words swam in ocean blue eyes that were filled with kindness Pete probably didn’t deserve.
The last thing he saw of Patrick was a peaceful smile gracing his lips as he leaned back in his seat on the bus, music in his ears and the promise of a better future ahead. If only for a little while. Pete decided to focus on that rather than on the substantial hole in his heart. Then, maybe, he’d be alright.