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You Shouldn't Go With Him (When You Could've Had Me)

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The first text message arrives late one afternoon in autumn, apropos of nothing.

Patrick is fiddling with something or other inconsequential on his macbook, avoiding the load of laundry he should hang before all his clothes get that funny mouldy smell.

Pete texting him words out of nowhere is an age-old ritual. Snippets from his notebook, lyrics from a song stuck in his head, lines from a book he’s reading.

There are too many words in Pete’s brain, they have to come out somewhere.

The thing is, Patrick hasn’t spoken to Pete in months. He’s barely spoken to Andy and Joe since they all decided to take a break from the band, but there’s no bad blood there. Pete and him… they parted ways with the unspoken understanding that there wouldn’t be any communication between them for a while.

when we were kids, you were the sun to which my eyes would not adjust.

It’s been months, but Patrick is still entirely out of things to say to Pete.

He goes to hang his laundry.

--

Two days later, Patrick is helping his mother clean out her garage. She’s inside the house with his aunt, watching a travel documentary about Alaska. It’s too cold for the flimsy shirt he’s wearing, but the tedious work of moving and stacking and sorting has him sweating through the cotton.

When his phone beeps, he wipes his nose on his sleeve and pulls it out of his pocket.

maybe i’m a little depressed ‘cause i’m missing you to death.

--

The next one comes a few days after that. Patrick is in sweatpants on his couch, watching a mess of curls moving around on his laptop screen. Ray’s talking about Mikey and Alicia’s impending nuptials and contemplating which present would adequately convey “Congratulations on the wedding, please stop having sex everywhere all the time, I still don’t believe that was a coffee creamer stain on my blanket that time.”

Patrick is laughing in between sips of tea. Honey and ginger to soothe the cold he picked up cleaning out his mom’s garage.

His phone vibrates and he checks it out of reflex.

i can’t stop drinking about you.

After a few moments of silence, Ray says, “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Patrick says. “Of course. Isn’t a toaster the gift you get when you can’t think of anything else?”

“Mikey’s been banned from handling toasters since the Short Circuiting Incident of ‘05.”

Patrick laughs. “Isn’t his diet 80% pop tarts?”

“He’s learned to microwave them.”

“You nut,” Patrick says, feeling heat spread across his chest at Ray’s grin. “I miss you,” he says.

“I miss you. I’ve got four straight days off in a few weeks. I could get on a plane to Chicago if a sweet boy could pick me up at the airport.”

“Sweet boys abound in this town,” Patrick says, unable to hold back a giddy grin. “I’ll find you one with a driver’s license and a roadworthy car.”

“Yeah? I’ve got pretty specific requirements. The boy would also need to have the full Buffy box set, soft warm sheets, a mouth like a dream and a great Thai restaurant around the corner from his apartment.”

“I won’t let you down.”

Ray looks directly into the camera. “You couldn’t if you tried.”

--

Patrick’s just fallen asleep off when the next text comes a few days later. He groans, squinting at the too-bright screen.

a remedy for what you want does not exist.

He turns the sound off his phone and sets it back on the nightstand. He lies quietly in his neatly made bed, arms at his sides, staring at the ceiling.

--

Then there’s nothing for a few days. Patrick is in the studio space he has rented out for the weekend, laying down drums for a track he can’t quite get right. It’s sometime in the a.m. when his pocket vibrates. He thrashes out another few takes.

When a particularly vicious effort is rewarded by two thumbs up from James behind the soundboard, Patrick checks his phone, grinning in triumph.

i’m giving it my all but i’m not the girl you’re taking home.

Patrick stares blankly at the screen. He returns to the control room and tells James he’s happy with the night’s work and that he’d like to get some shut-eye before they return in the morning.

He contemplates responding.

Instead, he wraps his scarf around his neck, shoves his hands into his pockets and walks the twenty minutes home in the bone-chilling cold.

--

The night before he’s due to pick Ray up from the airport, Patrick is lying in bed listening to Miles Davis and buzzing with excitement. Just one more day until slow, decadent kisses and long walks around the city and grins across the table while they each dig into a bowl of pho.

i never was smart with love. i let the bad ones in and the good ones go.

Patrick can’t help himself. What do you want, Pete?

you shouldn’t go with him, when you could have had me.

--

It’s a little weird at first, the rush of adrenaline, the awkward crush of their bodies and the acute awareness that they are surrounded by people when neither of them care much for public displays of affection. They walk towards the car park with Ray’s strong arm around Patrick’s shoulders in a family-friendly embrace.

They’re mostly quiet on the ride to Patrick’s apartment, holding hands and exchanging grins.

When they’re inside the apartment, Patrick kicks his shoes off and asks, “Do you want a cup of-”

Ray’s mouth crushes against his and his hands are pulling at his scarf and jacket and jumper and everything falls to a heap on the floor as he maneuvers them both into the apartment. Patrick can barely breathe, trying to get closer and friction and more. They crash onto the couch and Ray’s body presses down on Patrick’s. He yanks Patrick’s pants off and his face presses against his neck and then-

“Oh god,” Patrick moans. “Please, fuck, please-”

Ray pulls back, watching him as he strokes Patrick’s cock. “What do you want?”

“Anything. Fuck. Your- anything-”

“What do you want?” Ray repeats slowly, mouth against his. Patrick is breathing hard and Ray’s hand is still moving and he’s- fuck, he’s so close already.

“Your mouth. Your fingers. Your- your cock. Please.”

Ray produces a tube of slick from the pocket of his jeans. “Under 100 ml,” he says, grinning. “Delta Airlines approved.”

“I think that’s only for international flights,” Patrick gasps.

He nudges Patrick’s legs apart and then his fingers are-

“Oh god, yes, god, that’s,” Patrick blabbers, head falling back against the couch cushions as he writhes on Ray’s hand. He grasps desperately at Ray, pulling at his hair, his neck, his shoulders. Ray’s mouth swallows him down while his fingers crook against his prostate and everything is too much and not enough.

Patrick rides the fingers in his ass and bucks up against the mouth on his cock and feels nearly overwhelmed by the assault on his senses and then-

Ray’s fingers withdraw and Patrick startles at the sudden lack of contact. There are a few moments of heavy breathing, Ray bent over himself as he sheaths his- his heavy, hard, full cock. Patrick licks his lips.

Then Ray is pressed up against Patrick, one hand warm against Patrick’s face and the other nudging between his legs. Ray’s mouth brushes over Patrick’s, dark brown eyes staring intently into his. Patrick runs his fingers softly over Ray’s cheek. Ray nips at his thumb.

It’s heartbreakingly intimate.

“Yeah?” Ray whispers.

“Yeah.”

Ray presses himself into Patrick, making his back arch off the couch as he groans. The stretch of Ray’s cock borders on too much, but he wants it too badly to slow down now. Ray watches him intently, face contorted in a ridiculous expression as he holds himself still. “Too much?” he asks.

“Good,” Patrick moans, hooking a leg around Ray’s waist. Ray is still mostly wearing his jeans. “Keep going.”

Ray pins Patrick down with a hand on his chest and fucks into him and Patrick falls apart beneath him.

Somewhere on the floor, Patrick’s cell phone buzzes.

--

The next morning, Patrick wakes to the sounds of pots crashing on the floor of his kitchen. He rolls onto his back, feeling the delicious ache in his muscles from last night’s… activities. He feels sticky and sweaty and blissfully fucked out.

He throws on a T-shirt and a clean pair of boxers, then follows the trail of hastily discarded clothing into the joint kitchen and living room area. Ray is his boxers, pots and pans and milk and eggs and mixing bowls everywhere. Patrick leans against the door frame, watching him cook.

“Am I gonna have to call the fire department on your ass?”

Ray grins at him before moving two pancakes from the frying pan into a plate in the oven, where several others are being kept warm.

“Shut your face,” Ray says lovingly as he pours Patrick a mug of coffee. “Just sit down and put your feet up. Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.”

Patrick makes a weak attempt at cleaning up their various clothing from the night before and picks up his phone when it drops out of the pocket of his jeans.

i stay wrecked and jealous for this.

Ray puts two plates of pancakes on the dining table. “Everything okay?” he asks, and Patrick realizes he hasn’t moved for a long moment.

He smiles. Or something like it. Ray has set the table with orange juice, maple syrup and napkins. “Yeah. That looks amazing.

“We should send photos to Gerard, he’s got this whole #weekendpancakereport thing going on twitter.”

Ray smothers their pancakes in maple syrup and Patrick sits next to him. “How is Gerard?”

“Oh, you know,” Ray says offhandedly, “Weird as fuck.”

Patrick laughs. “Oh, I know. Did you end up getting a toaster?”

“Nah,” Ray says through a mouthful of breakfast. “I’m thinking of getting them a jet ski. I thought maybe you’d want to pitch in.”

“For a jet ski?” Patrick says incredulously. “Why a jet ski?”

“Well, what do you get the couple that has everything?”

“....apparently a jet ski.”

Ray grins. He’s stopped eating, his body turned to look at Patrick. He’s all soft curves and golden skin. The flesh on his belly is in folds where it meets the waistband of his boxers. Patrick wants to nuzzle the hair on his chest. “So you’ll pitch in?”

“What? Yeah, sure.”

“Cool. I’ve told Mikes you’re my +1 for the wedding. I hope that’s okay.”

Patrick freezes a little. This is the first time either of them have discussed taking this- whatever this is- beyond the confines of bedrooms and hotel rooms and quiet restaurants where no one recognizes them. “Yeah,” he says finally, smiling a little. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

“Good.” Ray reaches for his hand and squeezes it. “I’m excited to show you off.”

I’m excited to fuck a groomsman.”

“Hah, joke’s on you. Gee smells like socks and Pete’s a little bitch, so you’re pretty much stuck with me.”

“That’s okay,” Patrick says, and he smiles over the rim of his glass of orange juice. “I’m willing to settle.”

--

The next four days pass in a blur of lazy kisses and Asian take-away and exploratory walks around the city. They ride the ferris wheel and eat greasy burgers on the Navy Pier. Patrick takes a photo of Ray with a group of Japanese tourists in front of The Bean, red-faced and laughing.

The last night before Ray flies out finds them curled up in bed together, pyjamaed legs tangled. They’re both damp and sleepy and and sated from a long warm shower and accompanying shenanigans.

“So are you ever going to play me your new stuff?” Ray asks, fingers tangled with Patrick’s against his own chest.

Patrick groans a little. “It’s not finished, it’s-”

“I’m a musician,” Ray says. “I’m used to rough cuts and demos and not-finished stuff. I’d like to hear it anyway. If you want to play me something.”

“It’s just… really personal.”

“I just ate your ass in the shower. I’m okay with ‘personal’,” Ray says, and Patrick flushes a little. “Trust me.”

“Okay,” he says after a bit of hesitation, reaching for his iPod on the nightstand. “It’s still- I mean, it’s a rough cut still, and it’s not been mixed and I’m not completely sure about the-”

“Patrick, for god’s sake,” Ray says, taking the earphones. Patrick sits up, crossing his legs underneath himself and hits play on Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia). He’s not sure whether to study Ray’s face for a reaction or hide his face under the pillow and so he reaches for his phone. He’ll google “How not to die of embarrassment,” that’ll distract-

Ray puts his hand soothingly on Patrick’s wrist and Patrick lowers his phone. When he looks up, Ray’s grinning at him and bopping his head.

“I fucking love it,” Ray says. “It’s playful and sweet and clever. I love the synth. Your voice is doing some seriously next level stuff. I love the way it builds and then when the bridge breaks… fuck. It’s so you.”

“Yeah?”

“Fuck yeah,” Ray says. “You’re so talented. Are these your words? ”

“Yeah, of course they’re my words.”

Ray hits play again and Patrick sits there watching him, anxiety dissipating slowly. He thinks he’s smiling by the end of Ray’s second listen. “So it’s okay?”

“It’s better than okay. My boyfriend is a fucking genius.”

Patrick wraps his arms around his knees, laughing a little. “Boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” Ray says, looking a little bashful. “I mean, if you want. If you’re into it.”

“I’m into it,” Patrick whispers before he leans in to kiss Ray’s mouth.

--

Patrick’s phone beeps as he’s driving back from O’Hare. He’s grinning from ear to ear, his chest full of some strange sweet joy he’s not quite ready to name yet. Ray sucked him hard and fast in an accessible toilet and gave him the longest, warmest hug before he went through security.

“I’ll call you tonight,” he’d whispered into Patrick’s ear before he pulled away.

Patrick glances at his screen as he pulls up to a red light, expecting sweet nothings from his boyfriend. Instead, he gets:

i knew you knew i liked you. but i figured desperate guys never had a chance with you.

Patrick’s hands tighten on the steering wheel. Pete has been texting him vague, random, melodramatic shit for years and suddenly Patrick is pissed.

He tries to keep his eyes on the road while he calls Pete. Unsurprisingly, it goes straight to voicemail. For someone who seems to be constantly on his phone, Pete is terrible at ever actually picking it up.

Hi, it’s Pete. I’m off hunting unicorns. Leave a message.

“What the fuck do you want, Pete? I’m serious. Use your own words like a normal person or leave me alone. Fuck.”

Patrick drives home, fuming. His phone is conspicuously silent until his mom calls to invite him over for dinner.

--

It’s another two days before Patrick wakes up in the early afternoon, after a particularly late night in the studio.

Mikey Way, of all people, has texted him a photo of what Patrick assumes is Ray’s bunk, with a magazine cut-out of Patrick’s face stuck to the wall. His face is surrounded by little hearts, likely from an issue of Tiger Beat or some other inane publication. This is the gayest thing I have ever seen. -Mikey.

Pete has texted him, i’ve tied my stomach in knots and i’m ready to know.

Patrick calls him again.

Hi, it’s Pete. I’m off hunting unicorns. Leave a message.

“Pete, you’re pissing me off. Call me.”

--

Patrick expects another few vague, nonsensical texts.

What Patrick doesn’t expect, however, is to come home to Pete Wentz sitting on the doorstep of his apartment building. He’s wearing a purple parka with ridiculously skinny black jeans and bright red kicks. His hair falls artfully into his eyes and his eyes have been lined. He looks ridiculous. He’s fiddling with his phone and doesn’t notice Patrick until he clears his throat.

“Oh, hey,” Pete says, standing up. He’s smiling strangely.

Patrick just stands there, holding his brown paper bag of groceries and feeling all the weirdness of the world descend between them.

“I thought I’d come by,” Pete says after a few seconds of heavy silence.

“In the neighborhood, were you?”

“Yeah,” Pete says, smiling wryly. “Give or take a few states. Can I come in?”

“I guess.” Patrick brushes past him to open the building door. They walk quietly up the stairs to the third floor. Patrick lets them both in and goes to the kitchen counter.

“Nice place,” Pete says. Patrick assumes Pete’s looking around, but he’s not about to look directly at him.

“Thanks.”

“You’ve lost weight,” Pete says.

“Yep,” Patrick mutters self-consciously. He unpacks his frozen Weight Watchers meals and bananas and cereal. He puts everything away into cupboards and drawers and the freezer. “Do you want a cup of tea?”

Pete laughs a little, short and misplaced. “Yeah, sure. Tea would be nice.”

Patrick turns the kettle on and grabs two mugs. “Green tea or-”

“Whatever you’re having.”

Patrick puts a bag of fennel tea into each mug and waits for the water to boil.

“So, speaking of My Chemical Romance,” Pete says and Patrick flinches. He knows where this is going and he wants to avoid it at all costs. “I hear-”

Patrick desperately interjects, “I’m getting Mikey a jet ski as a wedding present. Have you written your best man speech yet?”

“I’m not best man, his brother is. Why the fuck are you getting him a jet ski?”

“What do you give the boy who has everything?”

“Not a fucking jet ski, that’s for sure. Mikey can barely operate a calculator without electrocuting himself and you-”

Patrick snaps, “Why are you here, Pete?”

“You know why I’m here. And it’s the reason you’re talking to me about jet skis. What are you doing, fucking your way through the whole band? Should I warn Frankie that he’s next?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You and Bob?”

“Me and Bob what?”

“You and Bob and the buttsex.”

“Oh my god,” Patrick moans, attempting to cover his eyes and ears at the same time. “I did not sleep with Bob. We made out once at that dumb hot tub party and that’s it.”

“You sure? Because…”

“Yes, I’m fucking sure. Bob and I are friends. What do you want, Pete?”

Pete doesn’t respond until Patrick looks at him, and even then he seems to mull his words over before they come out. “I wanted to see you. Bronx misses you.”

Patrick exhales a staccato breath. “Is he here?”

“He’s in LA with Ash,” Pete says. He holds up his left hand, which bears a pale line where his wedding ring should be. “She’s divorcing me.”

“Shit, Pete.”

“Eh. It wasn’t right for either of us.”

Patrick knows that’s probably true, but Pete looks pained nonetheless. “I’m sorry. That’s. I’m sorry, that really sucks.”

“It wasn’t right for either of us,” Pete repeats. Patrick wonders how many times he’s given that soundbite to his friends and family and public relations team. It sounds rehearsed.

Patrick realizes with a start that he’s still holding two mugs of tea. He hands one over and leads them both to the couches in the living room. He sits on the end of one couch and tucks his legs underneath himself. “Have you told your parents yet?”

“Yeah,” Pete sighs. “Last night. They’re cool. Disappointed, but. I don’t think they ever really took to Ash, to be honest.”

Patrick thinks that’s probably also right. None of them ever really took to her. “I’m sorry,” he says, strangely softened. He’s not exactly sure why he’s been so pissed at Pete.

“So it’s serious, then?”

“What?”

“You and Toro.”

“Oh,” Patrick stammers, flushing a little. “Yeah- yeah, I suppose it is. He was here last week.”

“Didn’t think that was your type, to be honest. Big macho man dude.”

“My type? What did you think my type was?”

Pete shrugs. “I just didn’t see you with Toro, is all.”

“Well, I do. He’s great. Really great.”

“He’s a lucky dude,” Pete says, smiling that strange smile from the front steps earlier. “You seem happy.”

“Yeah,” Patrick says, taking a big gulp of tea. Tension seems to hang like a tangible thing between them. “I am.”

“How’s the solo stuff going?”

“Good,” Patrick says quickly, grateful for the subject change. “I’ve cut a few tracks I want to keep. I’ve been recording at a studio in Oak Park, not far from here.”

“Any songs about me in there?” Pete asks with a wistful smile.

“No,” Patrick says slowly. “There was a song called Irritating Bandmates Who Drive You Nuts, but it didn’t make it past the drawing board.”

“Shame.” Pete actually laughs at that. “I’ve been writing a lot. It’s weird not giving my notebooks to you anymore. I miss it.”

“We all needed some time apart.”

“Did we all need some time apart or did you need some time apart from me?”

Patrick doesn’t know what to say to that and thank god, his phone beeps at that exact moment and it’s Ray, saying, I’ve got a hotel room tonight. Naked Skype? Patrick texts back Yes please and puts his phone away.

When he looks up again, Pete is watching him. Has been watching him intently, from the looks of it. He says, “I don’t think I realized how I felt about you until you weren’t there anymore.”

Patrick swallows thickly around a mouthful of tea. “How you felt about me,” he repeats dumbly.

“Yeah. How I, present tense, still feel about you.”

Silence stretches between them again.

“What are you saying?”

“You know what I’m saying.”

“No, I don’t think I do.”

“What have I been telling you for the last few weeks?”

i’m giving it my all but i’m not the girl you’re taking home.

you shouldn’t go with him when you could have had me.

i knew you knew i liked you. but i figured desperate guys would never have a chance with you.

“....and the penny drops,” Pete says, not unkindly. He looks at Patrick from underneath his stupid lined lashes and his straightened fringe. “I’ve been in love with you for years, I was bound to realize it at some point.”

“Pete.”

“Trick.”

Silence yet again.

“So that’s how I feel about you,” Pete says, shifting a little in his seat. “How do you feel about me?”

“I’m with Ray,” Patrick says automatically.

“That’s a cop out.”

“It’s not. I’m with Ray. That’s how I feel about you.”

“Alright,” Pete says after a while, getting up. “Thanks for the tea.”

Patrick stands as well, suddenly unsteady on his feet. “You don’t have to leave.”

“You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t want to stay,” Pete says, and then he’s walking to the door.

“Pete, can we- fuck, can you wait? Can we talk about this?”

“We just did,” Pete says as he grabs his parka.

Pete. For fuck’s sake.”

Pete stops in front of the door, hand on the handle. He cracks his neck and lets out a breath and when he turns around, his lips are on Patrick’s so fast Patrick nearly stumbles backwards. But he doesn’t, because Pete’s arm is around his waist, holding him steady as he moves his mouth against his. Pete’s lips are soft and warm and wet and- oh god, Patrick is kissing back and Pete’s mouth feels exactly like Patrick always knew it would. Soft and safe and Pete’s hands are coming up to cup Patrick’s face and someone’s breathing hard and Patrick thinks it might be him and he wraps his arms around Pete’s neck and someone is moaning into the kiss, and oh god, it might be Patrick and he closes his eyes because it’s Pete and it’s so good he can’t-

“And that’s how you feel about me,” Pete whispers against his lips before he pulls away.

The door shuts behind Pete and Patrick stands in his hallway shaking, fingers brushing his own lips and something dark and twisted coiling in the pit of his stomach.

When the shock has worn off and he’s functional enough to text Ray, he sends, My mom needs me, sorry. Naked Skype next hotel night?

Anytime. Hope everything’s okay. Call if you need me.

Patrick goes to bed and can’t sleep. His phone beeps, as he knew it would.

i’m a wishful thinker with the worst intentions.

Patrick is so utterly fucked.

--

When Patrick checks his email the next morning, Ray has sent him photos of six different jet skis. He suggests ordering the red Kawasaki and getting custom made flames on the side.

Patrick thinks he might be sick.

Hi, it’s Pete. I’m off hunting unicorns. Leave a message.

“Hey Pete, it’s me. Can we- can we go for breakfast or something? Or lunch. Or dinner. Call me.”

Pete texts him back five minutes later.

the bristol on damon ave. see you in half an hour.

Patrick looks at himself in the mirror. He’s wearing a beaten up Descendents T-shirt, skinny black jeans and green Converse sneakers. He throws on a cream cardigan and doesn’t think about what it means that he wants to look nice.

He picks a table in the back corner and orders a soy cappuccino when he gets there. Pete is twenty minutes late, which Patrick knows is par for the course when it comes to Pete. He’s nursing his second coffee when Pete comes in, wearing dark sunglasses and a Bulls cap. He’s wearing a blue hoodie and ridiculously tight jeans. Patrick doesn’t know why he’s noticing any of this.

He also notices that his own hands are shaking. Pete orders a dirty chai and takes off his sunglasses.

“What’s a dirty chai?”

“Chai latte with a shot of espresso. It’s an LA thing. Very chic and gay.”

“Because you’re gay now, apparently.”

Pete smirks. “Hey, I slept with Mikey. Kind of. In a heterosexual dude sort of way.”

“I’ll never understand what the two of you were doing that summer. I’m not convinced the two of you even knew what was going on.”

“Just two sweet little dudes getting their groove on.”

“I don’t even know what that means.”

“Are you asking for specifics? I guess there were a couple of drunk handjobs and an aborted blowjob because Mikey gagg-”

Patrick raises his hands in self-defense. “PLEASE STOP.”

Pete gives Patrick a meaningful look and a sudden ease settles over them. It’s just Pete. “So what are we ordering?” Pete asks. “I feel like sausage.”

Patrick can’t stop the grin that spreads across his face. “Of course you do. Jesus.”

“Hey, if I’m going to be gay, I’ve gotta get down with the appropriate breakfast meats.”

“There are no gay breakfast meats. You can have any breakfast meats you’d like, or hell, you can even go the meat free option. You won’t be less of a queer if you have a tofu scramble.”

“I don’t know if I’m gay yet. Maybe I’m just gay for you.”

Patrick’s stomach clenches. “Bisexual is always an option,” he offers shakily. “Or maybe you’re entry level gay. Diet gay. Gay light.”

“What kind of gay are you?”

“What?”

“Like a muscle mary or a top or a bear chaser or what?”

Pete covers his face. “Oh my god, you’ve been on the internet.”

“What is felching?”

“Oh my god, I don’t even know, please stop talking.”

When Patrick looks up again, Pete is grinning. He’s always loved making Patrick squirm. “It’s gonna be okay,” Pete assures him teasingly. “Tofu scramble actually sounds nice, come to think of it.”

A waitress takes their order and another brings Pete his dirty chai. Patrick looks around the room, at the wooden beams and assorted plants. “I’m a... twink, I suppose? I don’t know. And I’m versatile. I mean, top/bottom-wise. I can do either.”

“Cool,” Pete says, nodding. “What do you think I am?”

“I don’t know,” Patrick says, shrugging. “That’s something you’ve gotta find out for yourself.”

“What’s Toro?”

Patrick looks away. “He’s… a top. Cub, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t spend nearly enough time on the gay internets to know the intricacies of gay social codes.”

“So you and him… do it like that?”

Patrick covers his face again, flushing. “Yes. Mostly.”

“Huh.” Pete hums into his coffee. “Do you miss doing it the other way?”

Patrick looks at Pete through the fingers covering his eyes. “What?”

“Like, you being on top. Do you miss doing it that way?”

“No… it’s good. It’s really good with him. And he’d let me if I really wanted to, but I’m not fussed.”

“What’s it like?”

“What’s what like?”

“You know. Being on the bottom. Bottoming?”

“It’s… intense. Good. Really good. I mean, haven’t you ever-”

“No,” Pete says immediately.

“Really? Not even-”

“Nope.”

“Huh. Maybe you should.”

“Maybe you should.”

Pete grins at him.

Patrick blushes and shifts a little in his seat.

“I’m kidding. I know you’re with Toro, and that’s cool, man. I’m not looking to get in the way.”

“Thank you,” Patrick says. “Thank you, that means a lot.”

“Anytime.”

Their food arrives and they spend the rest of the morning hanging out, conversation flowing easily between them. Pete makes a few lewd suggestions and insinuations, but that’s just Pete. He doesn’t talk about Ashlee and he doesn’t ask anymore about Ray, and it’s almost like old times again.

--

Patrick comes home to an email from Ray, detailing his life on tour since the last time they spoke. He’s included photos of Mikey’s stupid hair behind an issue of Modern Bride magazine, Gerard and Frank giving a thumbs up in front of a sign that reads “24/7 Lube Service,” and Bob asleep with penises drawn on his face. Classic tour stuff.

Patrick writes a brief reply about what he’s been up to. He mentions that Pete’s around and that he’s getting divorced, but doesn’t go into further detail than that. Somehow he doesn’t think Ray would understand. He doesn’t want to test that theory.

He signs it with My sheets still smell like you and it makes me miss you like nothing else. -P

He attaches a clip of a song he’s been working on.

He texts Joe, Andy and Pete. La Dispute at Beat Kitchen tonight? Doors at 7pm.

Joe texts back immediately. Fuck yes. Awesome hangs imminent.

Andy responds a while later, Hot date tonight. I’ll come by after.

And then Pete, I’m in.

--

The show itself is pretty terrible. The PA is in bad shape, making the bass crackle from the back left speaker. The kids probably can’t tell, but Patrick’s ears are offended by onslaught of bad acoustics.

Pete, Joe and Andy (whose date was an absolute failure and thus showed up roughly on time) have been throwing themselves around the mosh pit since the show started. Patrick’s been lingering near the back, nursing a beer and being slowly tortured by the sound system.

I swear that even with the distance slowly wearing out your name,
Your hands still catch the light the right way and our hearts still beat the same.

Patrick watches the mess of tattoos and arms and sweaty faces swirling around in front of the stage. When he catches Pete’s eye, they share a strange, prolonged moment before Pete takes an elbow to the face and rejoins the mayhem.

At some point Joe grabs Patrick’s arm and won’t let go, dragging him into the depths of the pit and screaming for him to move. Patrick catches a glimpse of Andy pogoing and Pete headbanging and suddenly he’s laughing hysterically and jumping up and down to the shitty, shitty, crackly music. Someone steps on Patrick’s foot and Pete pushes some kid out of the way and Joe launches himself into a throng of bodies. They thrash around in the sweaty mess and it’s exhilarating.

It feels like coming home.

--

Then some time in the wee hours of morning, Andy is driving them home in his Prius. The inside of the car is fogged over from the four sweaty boys within it. Pete and Joe are hilariously drunk in the backseat, recounting the events of the evening through fits of giggles. Andy keeps looking in the rear view and shaking his head and grinning from ear to ear. Patrick is leaning back in the passenger seat, feet on the dashboard. Happy.

They drop Joe off first and Pete sits in the middle of the back seat, leaning between Patrick and Andy. “You guys are awesome,” he says, giving them each a squeeze on the shoulder. “I fucking missed you the last few months.”

“Missed you too,” Patrick concedes, squeezing Pete’s hand on his shoulder.

Andy grins at them both. “We should hang again.”

“Most definitely,” Pete declares, hiccuping once.

“You fucking drunks,” Andy says, but with no sting behind it. “I’ll drop you off next, Patrick, then- are you staying at your parent’s place, Pete?”

“He’s staying with me,” Patrick says easily. He feels Pete’s hand stiffen a little on his shoulder and then Andy remembers the girl he accidentally punched in the pit and everything is hilarious again.

When Andy drops them off, Patrick leads Pete to his apartment on unsteady legs. Pete hasn’t said anything about Patrick asking him to stay over.

Well, he didn’t actually ask. But he wants Pete to stay.

He lets them inside and fetches a bottle of water for each of them. The apartment feels eerily quiet after the blaring noise of the club and the shrieking giggles of the car ride home. They stand in the kitchen, sipping their water bottles and grinning stupidly at each other.

“Fuck, that was good,” Pete says.

“Yeah,” Patrick agrees. He’d almost forgotten how truly devastating Pete’s smile is.

“So, do you have a guest room I can-”

Patrick leans in to kiss him, sweet, slow and hesitant. His mouth is soft and wet and tastes like beer. “Trick,” he whispers, before both his arms come around Patrick’s waist and his tongue presses into his mouth. Pete feels warm and damp and solid against Patrick’s body. Familiar.

Patrick gently pulls Pete’s shirt off over his head and gets his hands on his chest and shoulders and sides. They kiss again, all teeth and tongue and soft moans. Pete presses a leg between his thighs and Patrick gasps, “God, I want you,” surprising himself at how desperate he sounds.

“Fuck,” Pete moans in response, suddenly pulling Patrick’s T-shirt off and pulling him closer by the waistband of his jeans. He gets his hands on Patrick’s ass and grinds up against him. “Fuck, let me, I need to-”

“Anything,” Patrick whispers against his mouth, already undoing Pete’s fly. “Anything. Please.”

Before Patrick can grasp what’s happened, Pete has sunk to his knees and pulled Patrick’s jeans down with him. They’re skinny jeans and he’s sweaty and Pete’s hammered, so it takes longer than strictly necessary and Pete curses before managing to bunch the denim around Patrick’s ankles. He presses his face wantonly against Patrick’s boxers, nuzzling his hardening cock.

“Fuck, Pete,” Patrick gasps, fisting a hand in Pete’s hair. He presses his hips against Pete’s face and Pete moans in response. “Please.”

“I fucking love hearing you beg for it,” Pete mutters, pulling Patrick’s boxers down and giving his cock a few experimental strokes before-

“Oh god, Pete,” Patrick chokes out when Pete’s mouth wraps around him. It’s a sloppy wet mess and there’s no discernible rhythm - but it’s still the hottest fucking thing Patrick has ever seen, Pete on his knees for him with a mouthful of his cock, black-rimmed eyes looking up at him. Pete’s fingers graze over his balls and Patrick shudders.

“You like that?” Pete says, pulling off him. He looks young and vulnerable and his voice sounds wrecked already.

“Yeah,” Patrick breathes, stroking his cheek. “I like that.”

Pete gets his mouth on his balls and sucks gently. Patrick stops breathing for a few dizzying moments. He wraps one hand around the back of Pete’s neck and pulls softly at the hair there. Pete moans in response and closes his eyes. Patrick thinks he might actually, literally pass out from this.

When he can’t take anymore, he gently leads Pete’s mouth back onto his cock. Pete obediently sucks him back in and gets some semblance of a rhythm going. And then he fucking moans around his cock like it’s the most delicious thing he’s ever had in his mouth, and Patrick looks down to realize with a start that- oh god- Pete is jerking himself off as he sucks him. It takes an embarrassingly short amount of time before Patrick is doubling over, holding on to the back of Pete’s head and trying not to fuck into his mouth. He moans Pete’s name when he comes, undone and overcome and finally.

In the haze following, Pete kisses his mouth and brings Patrick’s hand to his own cock. Patrick’s breath is heaving and his knees feel weak. “I can’t believe you just came in my fucking mouth,” Pete mutters against his lips. Patrick licks a smudge his own come off Pete’s chin before Pete catches his lips in a biting kiss. Pete’s cock is hard and wet with precome and he tugs roughly at it while Pete moans against his mouth. “Fuck that’s, Trick, right-”

Pete bites down on Patrick’s bottom lip and groans exquisitely into his mouth as his body convulses against Patrick’s. Patrick holds on to him while he wipes his hand quickly on a tea towel. “Oh god,” Pete whispers, breathing hard. “Oh god fuck everything in the world, what just happened, that was amazing, I am so gay.”

Patrick laughs, holding him close as they both come down. “Come to bed with me,” he murmurs.

“Fuck yes.” Pete says throatily and he drags his mouth wetly over Patrick’s cheek. “We need to do that again right now. And then once more after that.”

“Jesus, Pete.” Patrick can’t help but laugh happily, cupping his face and kissing him again. He can’t get enough of Pete’s mouth. “Just come to bed with me. We’ll take it from there.”

They wriggle out of whatever clothes they’re still wearing and collapse haphazardly on the bed. Pete pulls Patrick against his chest and wraps his arms around him. The silence is heavy and peaceful and Patrick feels his heartbeat thrumming in his ears. He puts his hand over Pete’s heart and feels the thump against his palms. Pete stares up at the ceiling, his hand moving lazily in Patrick’s hair.

No one says anything for a while and Patrick starts dozing off.

Then Pete says, because of course Pete can’t sleep, “Bronx is learning how to ride a bicycle.”

“Is he?”

“Yeah,” Pete says, and his voice is a low murmur that brings Patrick back to hushed conversations on a moving bus while everyone else sleeps. ”I mean, with training wheels. He’s still little. But he’s figured out how to push the pedals, and now he keeps running into shit.”

Pete laughs softly and something tightens in Patrick’s chest. He finds Pete’s hand and links their fingers together.

“And Travie is dating-get this-Katy Perry.”

Patrick scoffs. “What the hell?”

“She’s actually really nice. Fantastic rack. Not that you’d appreciate that much, you big nelly queer.”

Patrick squints at him, incredulous. “You just had sex with this big nelly queer. What does that make you?”

“Adventurous?” Pete grins at Patrick. “Heteroflexible? Supportive of the arts?”

“Oh my god, you’re so full of shit.”

Pete pulls him into a soft, lingering kiss. It somehow makes perfect sense that this would come so easily between them. Pete kisses his nose before tucking him back into his arms. “You’re gorgeous,” he murmurs. “LA’s been pretty shit the last few months. It’s nice to see you.”

Pete pulls the blanket closer and rubs his feet against Patrick’s and lets him sleep.

--

Patrick wakes up to fuzzy vision and movement between his legs. It takes him a few seconds to orient himself before the evening’s events come crashing into awareness and-

“Oh fuck yes,” he moans, reaching down to tangle his fingers in Pete’s hair. Pete has his mouth and hand on Patrick’s cock and he’s finding a gentle rhythm of up and down and oh, and twist, oh god. He wonders hysterically if Pete has googled how to give head while Patrick slept.

“Your mouth was fucking made for this,” Patrick mutters, spreading his legs and and hoping he won’t freak him out if he asks for fingers.

Pete pulls off suddenly and Patrick opens his eyes to meet Pete’s. His hair’s in disarray and his eyeliner’s smudged, his lips swollen and red and spit-slick. He looks wrecked and beautiful. “Hey,” Patrick says softly, running his thumb over Pete’s plump bottom lip. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” He kisses Patrick’s palm. “Better than okay.”

“Good,” Patrick sighs, relieved. “Do you want me to suck you?”

“I want you to fuck me.”

Patrick has to close his eyes and groan at that. The thought of Pete writhing on his cock while he slams into him, sweat-slick and moaning, tattoos a blur against his white sheets… fuck. Somehow, however, he finds the willpower to not be a douche. “I don’t think… I mean, it’s kind of… advanced level gay. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t hurt me,” Pete counters, although Patrick suspects he has no idea what Patrick fucking him would actually entail.

“I can’t promise that. You can fuck me if you want?”

Pete shakes his head and nuzzles Patrick’s pubic hair. “Throw me in the deep end. I want it.”

“How do you know you want it if you’ve never-”

“I tried it earlier today, after we talked.” Pete smiles wryly. ”I’m into it. I know you’ll make it good.”

Patrick exhales shakily. Pete… tried it. Patrick can’t help but imagine it. “Okay, yeah, okay. On your back.”

Patrick rummages through his nightstand and comes back to Pete with a tube of lube and a condom. “We’ll go slow,” he says. “And you tell me if it’s good or if it hurts or if you need some time to adjust to stuff, okay?

“Don’t be such a girl about it.”

“Shut up,” Patrick mutters with a grin and catches his lips in a quick kiss. God, they’re still so drunk. This is going to be a disaster. “Bring your legs up a little like, yeah, like that. And tell me if it hurts.”

“S’good,” Pete moans.

Patrick can’t help but laugh. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Then fucking do something.”

Patrick slicks his fingers. Pete’s cock is thick and hard and leaking at the tip. Fuck, it looks delicious. Patrick can’t help but give it a few slow, greedy sucks while he presses a finger into him.

Pete goes still and Patrick kisses his hip. “Weird?”

“Yeah, feels kind of like-”

Patrick laughs again. “Shh. I know what you mean. It’ll get less weird, promise.”

“Can you, I mean, can you hit the thing?”

“This thing?” Patrick presses firmly upwards.

Pete gasps a little. “Oh fuck, that’s- yeah, okay.”

“Less weird?” Patrick asks, before sucking Pete’s cock down again. God, he can’t get enough. He takes the opportunity to add another finger and Pete tenses all over.

“Still fucking weird,” Pete breathes out. “Keep, keep hitting the thing.”

Patrick crooks his fingers so he hits Pete’s prostate on every thrust. He maneuvers himself so he can press his mouth against Pete’s while he fucks him with slowly his fingers. He’s so tight. Patrick feels dizzy with anticipation. “How’s that?”

“It’s- I think it’s good.” Pete’s eyes are closed, brow furrowed, mouth slack against Patrick’s. “I can take more.”

“You can jerk yourself off if you want. If it makes it easier.”

Pete wraps a hand around his cock and strokes himself slowly. Patrick watches the slide of foreskin over the red, flushed head, the way Pete’s wrist twists slightly on each upward stroke. Watches his best friend jerk himself off while he fucks him with his fingers, because apparently that’s a thing that he does now. He pushes in a third without even thinking about it, and Pete winces at the intrusion. Patrick goes still, giving him some time to adjust.

“Fuck, that’s a lot.” Pete gasps. His hand squeezes his own cock. “Fuck.”

“Too much?”

“No, more, c’mon, I want it.”

Patrick keeps loosening him up while Pete strokes himself. Hammered off his face and he still has the presence of mind to take his time with Pete, to ensure his first time getting fucked doesn’t put him off sex altogether. He’s impossibly tight and Patrick can’t wait to feel him wrapped around his cock. When Pete spreads his legs and starts grinding slowly down on Patrick’s fingers, moaning softly and easily, he can’t help but grin at him. “Good?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Pete grits out and it sounds breathy. He pulls Patrick down for a wet, messy kiss and moans into his mouth. “Yeah, really fucking good.”

Patrick thinks it might be safe to pull out.

“Okay, weird again,” Pete says, looking down at where Patrick is rolling a condom down onto his cock. Patrick slicks himself up with an obscene amount of lube, then wraps the same hand around Pete’s cock and gives him a few slow, firm strokes. Pete groans low in his throat, his head falling back against the bed.

Patrick gets himself into position over Pete, mouth brushing against his. “Bring your legs up a little,” Patrick says softly, and his hand gently pushes Pete into position. ”It’ll make it easier, promise.”

He takes a moment to savor the sight underneath him. Pete looks breathtaking; golden brown and shiny with sweat, legs spread impossibly wide, cock hard and glistening with lube, mouth open and eyes trusting. He couldn’t look away if he tried.

He pushes his cock carefully against Pete’s hole and Pete tenses again.

“Shhh,” Patrick whispers, kissing his jaw. “You’ve got to relax or this is going to fucking hurt.”

Pete leans into the brush of his lips. “Okay, I’m good.”

“Trust me,” Patrick whispers, nipping at his lips. “I’ll make it good for you.”

“Kiss me while you do it?”

Patrick balances on a shaky wrist as he tries to do both things at once. He claims Pete’s mouth in a biting kiss as he gently pushes himself inside of him. Pete whimpers into his mouth and he shushes him. “Breathe,” he says soothingly.

Pete’s lips have stopped moving, his brow is furrowed and his hand clenching Patrick’s bicep hard. Patrick pushes himself in until he bottoms out and he can’t fucking think straight from how tight and hot and amazing this feels. It takes everything in him to not hold Pete down and fuck him senseless. He keeps himself still and raises his head to look at Pete’s face.

“Shhh,” he whispers, reaching for Pete’s cock. He’s gone a little soft, which, fuck, that’s not good. He strokes him encouragingly. “Do you want to stop?” he asks, and Pete shakes his head.

“It feels, I- fuck, it’s just so much. Give me a minute. Your dick feels huge.”

“Yeah?” Patrick can’t help but laugh a little and the tiny movement makes Pete wince again. Patrick keeps stroking him through it and feels him growing harder. “You’re being so good for me. So fucking good.”

Pete meets his eyes and they share a long, tender look. Patrick sees him visibly relax, legs dropping to the side and arms coming around Patrick’s neck. “Okay,” Pete says finally. “Move.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, it’s better now.”

Patrick slowly moves in and out of Pete’s body, catching his mouth in a searing kiss on every thrust in. Pete keeps a hand around Patrick’s neck and starts moaning to the rhythm of his thrusts. “Yeah, that’s-”

“Okay?”

“Yeah, that’s good.”

Patrick pushes Pete’s legs closer to his chest and changes his angle a bit and Pete fucking keens. “Fuck, yes, that’s, there, yeah,” Pete mutters and then a litany of expletives follow. Pete’s pulling at him now, pulling him closer against him, pressing back against his cock.

Patrick grins, biting the inside of Pete’s knee and he folds him in half as he fucks into him. “Touch yourself,” he commands and Pete’s hand flies to his cock. His moans augment noticeably in volume and he bucks up against Patrick, his mouth a mess against Patrick’s.

“Fuck, I’m almost- Trick, fuck, a little more, please-”

“It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

Patrick watches Pete’s face when he comes, eyes unfocused, face contorted and a choked scream escaping from his parted lips. “Fuck,” he pants as Patrick fucks him through his orgasm, “Fuck, don’t, that’s, oh god, fuck, please.”

Patrick picks up his pace and Pete moans like an utterly debauched whore, babbling at him, “Come on, please, fucking come already, wanna see you.”

Patrick comes with a strangled cry, collapsing gracelessly against Pete in a sweaty heap. Pete catches him, arms steady around his body. He pushes Patrick’s hair back and kisses his face and somehow has the presence of mind to deal with the condom while Patrick just zones out.

Patrick vaguely registers the sound of running water and then Pete’s back in bed, pulling him flush against him.

“You okay?”

“Really fucking sore, but yeah,” Pete says, and when he kisses Patrick he tastes like toothpaste. “You sure know how to show a girl a good time.”

“God,” Patrick laughs, hiding his face against the damp skin of Pete’s neck. He feels blissed out, safe, spent. “I’m just happy you’re not traumatized.”

“Is that where we’re setting the bar?”

“Mhm.” Patrick hums contentedly. “Was it what you thought it would be?”

“It was… weird. Intense.” Pete laughs a little. He presses a kiss to Patrick’s forehead. “But good. I’m happy it was you.”

“I’m happy it was me, too,” Patrick murmurs and he’s smiling as he dozes off.

He hopes Pete will sleep.

--

The next morning, Patrick wakes up to a massive hangover and an empty bed. He squints against the harsh morning sun on his way to grab a bottle of water from the kitchen. He scans his eyes over last night’s debris: one pair of discarded sneakers, a Descendents T-shirt, a leather jacket, skinny jeans, one sock here and another sock somewhere else. The second bottle of water on the counter is the only evidence that someone was here last night.

Patrick looks around for a note. He grabs two advil and takes himself back to bed. He glances at his phone. There’s a message from Joe, Ugggggghhhhh.

He supposes he shouldn’t be surprised that Pete’s gone, but he is.

--

Hi, it’s Pete. I’m off hunting unicorns. Leave a message.

“Pete, I’m getting worried. Can you please call me when you get this so I know you’re alright?”

Patrick puts the phone back on the nightstand and flops back down against his pillows. It’s the third message he’s left today, in addition to two texts this morning.

He’s dozed off again when his phone finally rings and he sits up with a start. “Hey,” he blurts out.

“Hi handsome,” Ray says and Patrick feels a horrible anxiety blooming in his chest. “I’ve got ten minutes to talk before I’m due at a thing. How’s the hangover?”

“How-” Patrick freezes, disoriented. “How did you know I was hungover?”

“Joe called last night to tell me that he was going to live forever and that he wanted to chip in for the jet ski. There was a lot of slurring. I kind of put two and two together after that.”

“Oh god,” Patrick groans, his mind flashing back to a shouted conversation over shots of Fireball. “I told him about us last night.”

“He seemed delighted,” Ray says and Patrick can hear the grin in his voice. “Did you have fun?”

Patrick swallows down the paranoia that tries to convince him that Ray somehow knows. “Yeah. First time we’ve all seen each other in months and it was just like old times.”

Just like old times except I fucked Pete in a bed that still smells like you and now he won’t talk to me.

“I feel like utter shit today though,” Patrick says, convinced that if he just keeps talking there won’t be room for Ray to ask questions Patrick can’t answer. “Like I got pummeled in the liver by a brewery.”

“Hey,” Ray says. “Get yourself a big greasy hamburger and a beer, ride it out.”

Patrick groans at the mere mention of beer. “If only there was a bacon and egg McMuffin delivery service.”

“I’ll mail you one from the next truck stop.”

“So sweet. Where are you?”

“Uh… between Houston and Dallas, I think. I’ve sent you my schedule for the next two months. I was hoping you might be able to make it out for a weekend or something. The guys are cool with you staying on the bus.”

“The bus where Mikey comes indiscriminately on unsuspecting blankets?”

“Yeah,” Ray says, and now he’s laughing. “That’s the one. I’ll tell him to hold it in while you’re here. I’ve gotta go, okay? Tell me you can come out.”

“Yeah,” Patrick says. “Yeah, I’ll come out.”

--

Patrick still hasn’t heard from Pete the next morning so he calls Pete’s parent’s house. Pete’s mom tells him Pete’s had some unexpected business to take care of in LA and flew out last night.

Patrick calls Pete again. He doesn’t pick up.

Then sometime after midnight,

what’s so simple in the moonlight, by the morning never is.

Pete. Please pick up the phone, we need to talk.

Patrick calls Pete again and listens to his inane reference to unicorn hunting.

when he comes home, you’ll be in his arms and i’ll be gone.

--

Patrick flies in to visit Ray in Nashville, Tennessee. He reaches the venue in the early afternoon and is led to the band’s dressing room by a roadie who’s apparently been tasked with showing Patrick around and offering him assorted beverages. He’s never been a band wife before and feels strangely out of place, wasting time in a backstage area that isn’t his own. There are laptops and duffel bags and half-eaten takeaway containers scattered everywhere. The minutes drag on slowly.

Frank’s the first to reach the dressing room, and he greets Patrick with a shit-eating grin. “Fucking finally,” he says, before draining a bottle of water. “He’s been an utter terror the last few days.”

Patrick laughs a little, taken aback. “Sorry, what?”

“Patrick this, Patrick that. I swear, it’s like touring with a thirteen year old girl.”

The door opens again and in come Mikey, Frank’s wife, and lastly, Ray. Patrick stands up suddenly, wiping his hands on his jeans and unsure of what the protocol is for public displays of affection in the MCR camp.

“Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” Ray says and then he’s kissing Patrick softly and his strong arms are coming around his waist. Patrick lets out a relieved exhale against his lips.

Somewhere someone is whooping but Patrick can’t bring himself to care because it’s been so long, and Ray’s mouth tastes like coffee and he smells like fresh sweat and his arms are warm and solid around Patrick’s body.

“Fuck I’m so happy to see you,” Ray says when they break apart. “You should’ve been at soundcheck, Bob's drumstick got shat on by a bird and then he flung it into his own eye.”

“Hey dude,” Mikey shouts from the sofa he’s crashed on. “I’m not gonna come on any of your stuff, scout’s honor.”

“That’s all any of us ever ask,” Ray says with a laugh.

Soon the dressing room is full of bodies. Gerard does vocal warm-ups in the corner while Mikey plays something with explosions on an Alienware laptop. Bob comes in a while later with some of the dudes from the road crew and gives Patrick a high five that almost misses. Someone hands Patrick a beer and Ray keeps his arm casually around his shoulders on the sofa while they shoot the shit. It’s noisy and intimate and it’s not his band but maybe he has a place here anyway.

--

It’s the middle of the night, somewhere between Nashville, Tennessee and Columbia, Maryland. Ray and Patrick lie huddled in a bunk that’s way too small for them, sharing a pillow and wrapped around each other. Soft snores come from the other bunks.

“I think,” Ray whispers. “I think we should record something.”

Patrick smiles a little, nuzzling Ray’s jaw. “Are you propositioning me for a sex tape, Ray Toro?”

“One track mind, I tell you. Although that would be fucking hot, I meant music.”

“Music.”

“Yeah. My axe, your mouth. Are you into it?”

“Well, when you put it like that.”

“You are a depraved young man, Patrick Stump.”

“Only for you,” Patrick counters and kisses him.

--

News of Pete’s divorce break while Patrick is in Williamsburg, Virginia. He’s sitting at in the fifth row of seats during sound check, nursing a paper cup of coffee and reading emails on his phone. He follows a link to an article on People.com. The article displays a spectacularly bad photo of Pete and Ashlee leaving a Starbucks. Pete’s hair looks like a bird’s nest. It’s almost funny.

He reads their joint statement, issued through a spokesperson. Some words about the difficulty of filing for divorce, about their commitment to Bronx and a request for privacy while they sort their shit out.

Irreconcilable differences.

He knows Pete won’t pick up, so he calls Gabe.

“Patrick,” Gabe says cheerfully. “I thought I might hear from you. How are you, man?”

“Good, good,” he says, keen to get the pleasantries out of the way before he loses his nerve. ”How is he?”

Gabe is quiet for a little while. Then he says, carefully, “He’s a mess. He’s been staying with me.”

“What kind of mess?”

“I’m not letting him near any Best Buy parking lots, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Patrick exhales shakily. “Is he talking to someone?”

“No. He won’t write or sleep or leave the house. He’s barely seen Bronx all week.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, it’s like the dick pics times a hundred. Dude, there’s been actual paparazzi outside of his house.”

Shit.”

“And Ashlee is being a complete cunt about the whole thing.”

Of course she is. Pete sure knows how to pick ‘em.

“I need to talk to him. Can you- I mean, he won’t pick up my calls.”

“Patrick,” Gabe says, slowly. “Dude, no offense, but… you’re the last person in the world he wants to talk to right now.”

“Oh fuck.” Patrick covers his face with his hands. “He told you.”

“He didn’t need to.”

“But he did.”

“Yeah,” Gabe admits. “He did. Look, give him some time. He’s not in a good place right now.”

“I will. Thanks.”

“And hey, Patrick? Tell the My Chem dudes I said hello.”

Patrick looks at his phone after the call ends.

It’s okay if you don’t want to talk. I’ll be here when you do.

When Patrick looks up from his phone, Ray is watching him. He waves.

--

Patrick suspects he’s made the wrong decision when he turns up at Gabe’s doorstep two days later with a duffel bag full of dirty clothes. He hasn’t showered since Columbus, Ohio and he smells like ten miles of bad road.

He's seen Pete go through some spectacularly painful break-ups over the years and knows first-hand how feral he can get when he’s hurt. This is not likely to go well.

“Oh fuck,” Gabe says as way of greeting when he opens the door. “Bad move, Patrick.” He steps aside anyway. “He’s in the living room.”

Patrick puts his bag down when he reaches the living room. Pete looks up from where he is hunched over a laptop on the couch. He looks worse for wear than Patrick expected. He wonders just how ugly things have gotten between him and Ashlee.

“I was in the neighbourhood,” Patrick says. “Give or take a few states.”

“I told him not to come,” Gabe says apologetically from behind Patrick.

“It’s fine,” Pete says dismissively. “Do you mind...”

“Don’t be dicks to each other,” Gabe says before he leaves. “And don’t fuck on my couch.”

Then it’s just the two of them and the silence is deafening.

“Your hair looks ridiculous,” Patrick blurts out. “In the People.com article.”

“I was just getting some fucking coffee. I don’t see why that moment needed to be immortalized in tabloid media.”

“Your hair doesn’t look much better today.”

“Fuck off, I am sitting Shiva.”

“I think when you’re not Jewish, it’s just sitting around in track pants feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Ouch,” Pete says, looking stung. “I don’t know if my total lack of communication with you was somehow misleading, but I don’t actually want to talk to you.”

“Tough shit, you need to talk to me anyway.” Patrick stands awkwardly where Gabe left him, trying to think of the right thing to say. He should say something comforting. He should ask about Ashlee and Bronx and if there’s anything he can do to help. He should tell him that he misses him. Instead, he says, “We had sex, Pete.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” Pete says and now he’s looking away. “It wasn’t bad, thanks.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“What the hell do you want me to say? ‘Thanks for the pity fuck, don’t worry I won’t tell your boyfriend?’”

“Pity f- It wasn’t a pity fuck.” Patrick lowers his voice, disarmed. “I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Have you told him?”

“No.”

“Then it was a mistake at the very least.”

Patrick doesn’t know what to say to that. He doesn’t quite know what it was.

“Great,” Pete says after a few beats. “Thanks. I’d like you to leave now.”

“Pete.”

“Trick.”

Patrick sighs. “Can I take you out for lunch?”

“No,” Pete says, louder than necessary, standing up. “You can’t. Because you’re a dick and I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Why am I a dick? It takes two people to fuck and if I recall correctly, you were pretty fucking into it-”

“You’re a dick because you have a wife waiting for you at home and you fucked me anyway. I’m not interested in being your other woman.”

“Don’t-” Patrick starts but the words die on his tongue. Don’t call him that. Don’t raise your voice at me. Don’t push me away.

“Hey,” Gabe says, and his hand is on Patrick’s arm, startling him. Of course he was waiting right outside the door, prepared for the inevitable bloodshed. “I think you should go.”

“Yeah,” Patrick concedes. Pete looks wrung out where he’s standing, arms wrapped around himself. He looks gratefully at Gabe. “This was a mistake.”

“Give my love to Toro.”

“Fuck you, Pete.”

Patrick nearly knocks Gabe out of the way trying to get out of there.

--

Patrick is cleaning up after a microwave dinner in his apartment a few days later. After sleeping in hotels and bus bunks and airport benches for the last week, he feels sore and exhausted. He hasn’t been writing or going into the studio.

He calls Ray on Skype. He’s got a show in an hour, which means he’s most likely bumming around in a dressing room.

“Hey,” Ray says after a few rings. It takes a while for the video to start. When it does, he sees Ray’s mop of curls against a brick wall. He’s wearing the red noise-cancelling headphones Patrick bought for him when he was in Chicago. “How are you?”

“I’m wrecked,” Patrick sighs. “I need to talk to you about something.”

“Sounds serious.”

“It is.” He takes a fortifying breath. “Pete, when he was here a few weeks ago… he told me he has feelings for me.”

“Oh.” Ray looks around the room he’s in. “I was wondering when he was going to realize that.”

“You knew?”

“I’ve known since he was with Mikey. It’s pretty obvious to anyone but the two of you.”

“Oh.”

“But that’s not all you’ve got to tell me, is it?”

“No,” Patrick says, pushing down the anxiety rising in his belly. He is about to fuck everything up. “Something happened.”

Ray seems to mull that over a little bit, still not looking at the screen. Patrick wonders what he’s looking at instead. An empty room? His bandmates lounging around in the room with him? Patrick cringes at the thought of anyone overhearing Ray’s part of this conversation, but he can’t stop now. “Right.”

“We were drunk.”

“Right,” Ray says again. “That’s always a good excuse.”

“I didn’t mean to- I’m not trying to make excuses. It was fucked up and it shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”

“And why has it taken you this long to tell me?”

“I… I needed to process.”

“You mean you weren’t sure if you were going to tell me or not.”

Fuck. Patrick doesn’t have a response to that.

“So are you calling to break up with me?”

“No,” Patrick says desperately. “I’m calling because you deserve to know.”

Ray sighs. “I need to think. I’ve gotta go. I’ll call you.”

--

Ray doesn’t call for two days. It is utter, unadulterated torture. Patrick startles anytime his phone buzzes, only to be disappointed when it’s someone else. He goes into the studio and leaves his phone with his producer, instructing him to interrupt anything if Ray calls.

When he finally calls, it’s after midnight and Patrick is recording vocals for Allie. The music cuts halfway through a take and James says, “It’s your boy,” over the speaker.

Patrick nearly stumbles over himself getting to the phone. He takes it into the recording booth and sits down against the wall. “Ray, hey,” he says.

“Hey,” Ray says. “Is this a good time to talk?”

“Yeah, I’m just in the studio.”

“How’s it going?” Ray asks, infuriatingly, because why the fuck are they making small talk when the future of their relationship hangs in the balance?

“Fine, fine. I’m doing vocals for that clip I sent you last week. It’s called Allie.”

“What’s it about?”

“The first girl I ever slept with.” He feels suddenly embarrassed. ” It’s silly.”

“How was it?”

“It was... weird. She was Pete’s brother’s friend-” and why the fuck is he saying his name, fuck everything, “and she was older and more experienced and I basically just flailed like a drunk fish and then it was over.”

“Best 20 seconds of her life, I’m sure,” Ray says and Patrick doesn’t think he imagines the smile in Ray’s voice. “So will you play it for me when you’ve got a rough cut?”

“Yes. If- if you want me to.”

“I want you to,” Ray says, sighing. “I want you. I’m still furious about what you did, but it turns out I love you, so.”

Patrick lets out a shaky exhale and feels nearly hysterical with relief. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Ray says. “If you’re sure you still want this. I’m not interested in playing second fiddle to Pete Wentz of all people.”

“I want this,” Patrick says without hesitation. “I swear I want this.”

“Good.” Patrick feels like he’s going to implode. ”We’ve got a day off on Wednesday next week. I’m coming to Chicago. I’ll fly in Wednesday morning and out Thursday afternoon.”

“I’ll pick you up,” Patrick says desperately. “I’ll book some studio time for us.”

“Okay. And Patrick?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t ever fucking touch him again.”

--

I told Ray.

tell your boyfriend if he says he’s got beef, that i’m a vegetarian and i ain’t fucking scared of him.

--

Patrick keens into the mattress while Ray fucks him face down on the bed. His thrusts are rough, punishing, almost painful but so fucking good. Ray has pulled him apart slowly tonight, rimming him until he begged for it, fingering him until his thighs shook and now fucking him so hard he’ll be sore for days.

They both need this. It’s been a rough week.

“Please let me come,” Patrick moans desperately, sounding wrecked even to his own ears. He feels like he’s been hard for hours. “I can’t fucking take anymore.”

Ray’s hand fists in his hair.

“Please,” Patrick begs, letting Ray pull his head back. He’s drenched in sweat and he’s shaking from the exertion of holding himself up. He’s been thisclose to coming for so long and he feels like he’s going to lose his mind. “Please, I need-”

Ray pulls out of him suddenly and Patrick wants to weep. “Please,” he pleads pathetically when Ray turns him onto his back.

Ray’s eyes are dark and Patrick can’t look away. He pulls Patrick back onto his cock and when he finally wraps his fingers around his Patrick’s cock, it only takes a couple of strokes before he’s coming all over Ray’s hand and his own stomach.

“Fuck,” Ray says, catching Patrick’s lips in a biting kiss as he keeps fucking him. “You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Too sensitive,” Patrick whines, panting, pushing weakly at him.

“Sorry.” Ray pulls out of him, tears off the condom and jacks himself quickly until he comes in thick spurts all over Patrick’s chest and stomach.

He flops down next to Patrick, one arm thrown over his eyes. “Fuck,” he says, panting. “Fuck that was good.”

Patrick stretches a little, blissful and fucked out and covered in their come. “Way to Jackson Pollock my torso. Hand me a T-shirt or something?”

“As if you don’t love it.” Ray grabs something off the floor and wipes Patrick down. “Are you going to use what we recorded tonight?”

“Hell yeah,” Patrick says, grinning at him. ”And I’m keeping that panty-dropping guitar solo of yours in there.”

“Panty-dropping?”

“It was good.”

“That ad libbed thing you did at the end was fucking ridiculous. Best part of the song.”

“The Superbowl Shuffle thing?”

“Yeah. How incredibly random.” Ray laughs and rolls onto his side, draping an arm across Patrick’s chest. “You are one sassy motherfucker, Patrick Stump.”

--

Patrick drives Ray to the airport the next morning, entirely unsatisfied with the amount of time they’ve had together. Ray’s has a few more dates left on this leg of the tour, then he’s back in Jersey for a few days before everyone flies out to Cancun, Mexico for Mikey’s wedding. They part ways with a chaste kiss on Patrick’s cheek before Ray goes through security.

On the way home, Patrick listens to the rough demo he and Ray put together in the studio the night before. It’s good. Ray fooling around with chords and melody and Patrick letting the words spill out of him. Ray’s fingers on the synthesizer and Patrick’s arms around his waist. Neither of them getting emotional or frustrated or bitchy. Basically the polar opposite of writing with Pete.

Patrick suspects that his band might not recover from this hiatus and he feels, for the first time, like that might be okay.

He sits in his Honda Civic for a few minutes after turning off the ignition. The underground car park of his apartment building is deserted.

Maybe things with Pete are irreparable. Maybe he doesn’t need Pete in his life after all.

--

Cancun is stinking hot and postcard pretty, embroiled in an entirely untimely heatwave. Mikey Way, truly fantastic planner that he is, has decided to have his bachelor party, rehearsal dinner and wedding on three consecutive days. The whole shindig kicks off with a boozy breakfast at the resort’s beachside cafe and feels like a slightly upmarket version of Warped Tour. Elsewhere in the resort, assorted family members of the Way and Simmons clans are pursuing respectable activities like swimming and sightseeing, but down here it’s all alcohol poisoning and bad decisions waiting to happen.

It’s only 11am and Jack Barakat has already climbed on a chair with a bottle of champagne to declare this the best wedding of all time.

Patrick tucks into his vegetarian burrito while Brendon Urie reads out from the Lonely Planet guide next to his beer. Ray’s a fair way down the beach with Lindsey and Bandit, who’s running around in bright orange floaties and shrieking every time she reaches the water. Alicia is sitting on Mikey’s lap in a breezy sundress, looking blissfully happy. It’s a gorgeous day.

“So this is where the senior citizen’s convention is!”

Patrick turns to see Pete approaching the table with a beautiful brunette in tow. She looks about a decade younger than him. Pete’s type.

He isn’t wearing eyeliner and he’s cut his hair, short at the sides and a little spiky on top. He looks strange, unfamiliar, older. His eyes still crinkle when he smiles and the sight of it still does something to Patrick’s insides.

“You son of a bitch, finally,” Mikey says as he gets up and hugs him. “I think the only senior here is that pretty young thing on your arm. Or has she just graduated?”

“Fuck you,” Pete says gleefully, giving him a little shove. “Sorry we’re late, I had some last minute drama with Bronx and we missed our flight.”

“Hey handsome.” Alicia gets up to give Pete a peck on the cheek. “How is the little nugget? Is he here?”

“No, I left him with Ash,” Pete says nonchalantly and Patrick wonders how Pete is doing. Whether Ashlee is still being a cunt. Where Pete is sleeping at night. “He made you a present out of macaroni and glitter, you’re gonna love it.”

His date stands awkwardly beside him and Pete says, almost as an afterthought, “Bebe, this is Mikey and Alicia. And everyone else.” He waves his arm in the group’s general direction.

He catches Patrick’s eye, most likely by accident. Patrick immediately turns to his half-eaten burrito, appetite gone. Joe gets up to introduce himself to Bebe and let her know that he’s happy to show her a good time should things with Pete not work out. Gerard’s friend Shaun also volunteers, should Joe also be a letdown. Pete assures them all that Bebe is being well cared for and will not be requiring any other suitors.

Patrick has a big sip of his mimosa.

Next to Patrick, Brendon is talking about an underwater museum.

--

The bachelor party quickly descends into utter debauchery. After a somewhat respectable dinner at a Tortilleria, where Mikey gives an impassioned, though slightly slurred, speech about how wonderful everyone is for turning up, the party moves to a smokey, dark nightclub. Dark electronic beats assault Patrick’s ears as they walk down the dimly lit stairs to the venue. Half of All Time Low hits the dance floor with an excessive amount of gusto. The rest of the guys pile into a booth, where Andy of all people somehow organises for an obscene amount of tequila shots to appear in front of them.

“To Mikey’s last days as a bachelor,” Ray toasts, knocking his shot glass against whichever glasses he can reach. “May they be full of strippers and booze and bad decisions!”

“Can I- wait!” Mikey shouts before anyone has time to down their drink. “We need to raise a glass to the three best dudes in the world.” Mikey clinks his glass against Ray and Pete’s tequilas and Gerard’s water bottle. “Please don’t let me choke on nipple tassels or my own vomit. And please don’t take me to a donkey show.”

“Can’t make any promises,” Pete says apologetically before downing his drink.

The night passes in a blur of laughter and strippers and terrible dancing and increasingly slurred toasts. Somewhere in the blur, Ray grinds slowly against Patrick to a drugging, pulsing beat. Patrick feels loose-limbed and horny and lost in the movement and music and the press of Ray’s body against his. Ray kisses him hotly and Patrick doesn’t have the presence of mind to care that everyone in the club can see him doing it.

When he pulls away and wraps his arms around Ray’s neck, Pete is watching him from a dark booth. Patrick licks his lips and doesn’t look away.

--

The last men standing end up on on the beach, passing a bottle of tequila between them. It’s quiet save for the waves crashing against the shore. Mikey had to be carried back to the hotel at some point, a task Ray and Gerard took upon themselves as his groomsmen. The only guys left are Patrick, Jack, Pete, Frank, Joe and Mikey’s cousin from Cleveland. Patrick feels woozy and tired and like he might throw up.

Jack suddenly stands up and starts stripping. “Everyone get naked and in the water. Last one in is a lesbian!”

“Why are you always naked?” Joe demands, raising his hand to shield himself from Jack’s cock. This reveals itself to be a mistake when Jack presses his groin against his outstretched hand. Joe shrieks. “I’ve got slut on my hand!”

The other guys all shed their clothing and run head first into impending death by drowning. Pete pulls off his tank top, then lingers back when he sees Patrick still sitting there. “You’re not going?”

They’re the first words Pete has said to him all night. “No, you go.”

Pete sits down next to him, looking completely at ease with his bare, muscular chest and flat stomach and ink-covered golden skin that shines in the moonlight. Patrick feels a sick twinge of envy and jealousy and something else. “I forget you’re weird about being naked.”

“I’m not weird,” Patrick argues weakly. “I just don’t like it.”

“Shame. You look pretty fucking good naked.”

Patrick turns his head to look at him. Pete’s looking out at the naked bathing and takes another swig of the bottle, grimacing as it goes down. Somewhere Frank is screaming about sharks. “Why did you leave, Pete?”

“Always such a sentimental drunk,” Pete sighs, wrapping his arm around Patrick’s shoulders. His skin feels warm and safe and Patrick nuzzles against his neck. Everything is swimming in his head. He’s definitely going to throw up.

“I miss you,” Patrick whispers, trying to push through the nausea. “It’s like there’s this big hole where you used to be.”

“Okay,” Pete says dismissively. “You’re wrecked. We’re getting you back to the hotel.”

“You just wanna get in my pants.”

Pete laughs at that. “You fucker,” he says. “I want a lot more than that from you.”

Patrick leans his head up to kiss him, but Pete turns away.

“Okay, you. We’re taking you back.”

Pete helps him stand up and after a few woozy seconds Patrick falls onto all fours in the sand and throws his guts up. It tastes like tequila and stomach acid and he spits pathetically while Pete rubs his back.

“Why do all my dates always end like this?” Pete mutters, handing Patrick his own discarded tank top to wipe his mouth with.

There’s a joke to be made there about Pete dating high school girls, but all Patrick can muster is “Mmsorry,” as he leans limply back against him. He hopes he hasn’t vomited on himself.

“Shit, is he okay?” Frank comes up to them and pats Patrick’s back. His hand is wet and cold and Patrick wonders idly whether there are sharks in Mexican waters.

“Yeah, just hammered,” Pete says. “It’s cool, I’ll get him back to the hotel.”

“You sure?” Frank says, and Patrick can the hesitation in his voice. Fuck, Patrick realizes, Frank knows. That means Mikey knows and Gerard knows and Bob knows and Alicia knows and oh fuck, he’ll never be able to look any of them in the eye again. He can only imagine the humiliation Ray must feel about staying with Patrick when they all know he’s cheated on him.

Pete must hear it too, because he sounds irritated when he says, “I’ve got it, okay? I’m just going to get him back to his room.”

“S’okay, Frankie.”

“Alright,” Frank says finally, patting Patrick on the back again. “I’ll see you tomorrow, dude. Feel better.”

They walk quietly back to the hotel, Patrick leaning heavily against Pete and shuffling his feet. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles.

“Yeah, you already said that. It’s fine.”

“I’m sorry you’re in love with me.”

“Fucking hell, Trick. Stand up straight.”

“I’m sorry you’re in love with me,” he says again because it feels important that Pete understand. “You don’t deserve that.”

“I’m a big boy,” Pete says impatiently. “Don’t worry about me.”

They reach the elevator and Patrick wraps his arms around Pete’s waist while they wait. Pete’s still shirtless and his skin is warm and intoxicating. He gets his mouth on Pete’s neck and tastes salt and sweat. Everything in Patrick hurts.

“Knock it off,” Pete grumbles, ushering him into the elevator. There’s a full length mirror and Patrick watches himself hanging all over Pete. “And fucking stand up straight, it’s like lugging around a dead horse.”

“Pete,” Patrick sighs. “Can I sleep in your room?”

“Fucking hell. No, you can’t.”

When they reach suite 613, Ray opens the door in his boxers, looking mussed and sleepy. “Of course it’s you,” he says to Pete. “What the hell happened to him?”

“What the hell do you think?” Pete says, irritated, as he hands Patrick over to Ray. “Tequila in, tequila out. Simple math.”

Ray brings Patrick to bed and starts carefully undressing him. Patrick’s shoes fall to the floor with a thump and his bermudas are pulled down his legs.

Pete places a glass of water by his bedside table and a trash can on the floor near Patrick’s head. Patrick sees he has poured a bit of water in the bottom; so the vomit will come out easier in the morning. He’s done the same thing for Pete countless times.

Ray sits him up and eases him out of his shirt. Pete makes him drink some water and wipes at his mouth with a wet hand towel. It’s almost sweet, the way they care for him together.

Patrick tries to lie perfectly still when they stop touching him, shielding his eyes from the low light.

“Thanks,” Ray says. “I appreciate you bringing him back.”

“Just take care of him,” Pete says, and Patrick gets the sense that he’s isn't just talking about nursing him through a hangover. “Mistakes aside, he really cares about you.”

“Mistakes, right.”

There’s a long silence. Patrick wonders what they’re both not saying.

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning for the thing,” Pete says before the door shuts behind him.

The bed dips when Ray comes to lie beside him. Patrick feels a kiss pressed to the nape of his neck. He dozes off.

--

The next morning, Patrick is so hungover he can’t open his eyes or get out of bed. Ray brings him water and painkillers and keeps the blinds down. “Nggghhh,” he mutters against Ray’s neck when he lies down next to him.

Ray pecks his temple. “You don’t have to be anywhere until the rehearsal dinner tonight. Just stay in bed until it passes.”

“I’m sorry for being such a hideous drunk,” Patrick mutters. “I accidentally drank myself under the table.”

“It’s cool, happens to the best of us,” Ray says. He gently strokes Patrick’s back in what Patrick suspects is a soothing gesture but actually just makes him feel more seasick.

“It’s like I’m on a boat,” he muses. “Stop moving me.”

“Sorry.”

“You kissed me in front of everyone.”

“Yes, I did.”

Patrick wonders how he feels about that. He wonders if anyone will comment on it today.

“It looks like you and Pete made up?”

“Yeah.” Patrick freezes. He remembers the attempted kiss and the greedy press of his body against Pete’s and his mouth on Pete’s skin and the request to sleep in his bed. Fuck. “Nothing happened,” he lies, and he hates himself for it.

“I didn’t think anything happened,” Ray says softly. “I trust you.”

Ray gets up when there’s a knock on the door. Gerard and Pete appear in the doorway, the latter holding a tray of coffees. “Soy capp, Lunchbox?”

Patrick groans, making grabby hands. “Please, yes, please now.”

Pete puts the coffee down on his nightstand and sits next to him on the bed. He pats his back gently. “How are we feeling today, princess?”

“Utterly disgusting.” He squints up at Pete and sees he’s looking a little worse for wear as well. “Thanks for getting me home last night. I’m sorry for being heavy and uncooperative.”

Pete laughs a little. “It’s cool,” he says. “Drink your coffee. Feel better.”

The bed dips and he’s gone. Seconds later, Patrick feels Ray’s breath on his cheek, his fingers carding gently through his hair. Ray kisses him softly. “We’re off for groomsmen duties. Call if you need me.”

Patrick sits up long enough to down half of his coffee and goes back to sleep.

--

Once he’s recovered enough to stand up without dry heaving, Patrick heads downstairs to the poolside bar. He’s aching for an orange juice and something deep fried.

“Oy! Over here!”

Patrick turns to see Joe and Bebe sitting at a table under the shade with cocktails on the table. Bebe is wearing a see through dress type thing over a hot pink bikini. Patrick can’t help but notice that she’s hot. Pete’s type.

“Morning,” he mutters, pulling up a chair. He waves a waiter over. “How’d you pull up after last night?”

“I believe we call this time of the day ‘afternoon’,” Joe groans miserably, covering his face. “I have no idea. I woke up on Geoff Rickly’s floor spooning a piñata with no recollection of how I got there.”

Fuck,” Patrick says, grinning at Joe in sympathy. “What the hell did we drink last night?”

“My vote’s on ‘Mexican rat poison.’”

Patrick orders a chimichanga and an orange juice. “Sounds accurate. How was the bachelorette party, Bebe?”

He hopes he’s pronouncing her stupid name right.

“It was pretty sweet,” she says. “A lot of fun. I’m gonna go for a swim.” She puts her hair up and Patrick sees a fresh lovebite blooming on her throat. He thinks about how it might have gotten there, about Pete’s mouth on her neck while he fucked her in an air-conditioned hotel room. Something rotten and unfriendly coils in his belly.

“Fuck,” Joe says when she leaves. “Hot as hell. No discernable personality.”

Patrick glances after her. Definitely Pete’s type.

“So Pete,” Joe says and Patrick turns to him quizzically. Joe just looks at him, leaned back in his chair and clearly expecting some sort of response.

“Pete?”

“Come on, man. Don’t insult my intelligence.”

Shit. Patrick decides to err on the side of caution. “Nothing’s going on. We’re just… sorting our shit out.”

“Yeah, I hear fucking is a good way to do that.”

“I can’t believe he fucking told you,” Patrick snaps, blushing furiously. He is going to kill Pete and his big mouth. “Are you serious?”

“I suspected and you just confirmed it. You guys have been acting way weirder than normal.” Joe shakes his head, looking genuinely disappointed. “What the fuck are you doing, Patrick?”

“I don’t...” Patrick sighs. “It’s complicated.”

“I bet it’s complicated. Between Ashlee and Ray and whoever the fuck that person is-” he waves his hand in the general direction Bebe went, “-it must be real complicated.”

“It was just the one time,” Patrick argues desperately. “It was a fuck up. After he broke up with Ash. Before whatsherface. Ray knows.”

“Well shit.”

Patrick looks at his food. The cheese-covered, deep fried tortilla and side of rice. Avocado and sour cream. A fork and a knife. He’s lost his appetite.

“You two need to be careful with each other, Patrick, because this is not going to end well.”

“I know.” Patrick feels a sick, ugly silence settle.

“Hey dudes,” Andy says as he sits down and crosses his hands over his stomach. It’s hot as hell, and he’s still in all black. “How are we feeling after last night?”

“Pete and Patrick are fucking,” Joe says conversationally and Patrick wants to die.

Fucked. Once. Mistake.”

“Took you long enough,” Andy says nonchalantly, picking at whatever appears vegan on Patrick’s plate. “The night we saw La Dispute, yeah?”

Patrick looks up. “How did you know?”

“I wasn’t blind drunk?” He picks up Patrick’s glass of juice and smells it. “Nothing funny in here, is there?”

“No,” Patrick says weakly. “Just OJ.”

Andy has big sip. “So what’s everyone wearing tonight? I brought a suit, but fuck it’s hot.”

The conversation veers off and by some miracle or other, no one mentions Pete again.

--

Patrick misses the rehearsal dinner, lying in bed with made-up food poisoning. Ray doesn’t quite look like he believes him, but he goes to the pharmacy to get him some oral rehydration solution nonetheless. Patrick mixes it in a glass and pours it out in the sink, leaving the glass unwashed so Ray won’t suspect him of lying.

Andy and Joe know, he texts Pete.

fucking everyone does.

I think the entire MCR camp knows. We fucked up, Pete.

doesn’t matter. not gonna ruin the band (if there’s any of it left), not gonna ruin what you’ve got with ray. not gonna ruin that you’re my best friend. it’s cool.

I’m sorry for throwing myself at you last night.

i’m irresistible to drunk bitches. it’s a compliment.

Bebe seems nice.

she’s cool. toro just made a killer speech.

I heard him practice it. He’s a funny dude.

how’s the ‘food poisoning’?

I just couldn’t deal with being around people.

don’t blame you. g + mikey’s mom is drunk. think i can get in on that?

You are truly depraved.

i was sweet and virginal until you came along and buttsexed me.

Patrick barks out an unexpected laugh. He looks around the hotel room, at his and Ray’s things scattered around on various furniture. His suit hangs in the open closet with the two ties he brought hanging loosely from the hanger.

too far?

Nah. So what’s the verdict? What kind of gay are you?

gay as a choirboy for you.

The door beeps and Ray comes in, holding a keycard. Patrick quickly puts his phone aside. Ray looks a little flushed and his forehead bears a sheen of sweat. “God, it’s amazingly cold in here,” he rejoices. He crawls across the bed to kiss Patrick and his mouth tastes like wine. “Feeling any better?”

“Yeah, I think I just needed to get it out.” He wraps his arms around Ray and feels where his shirt is sticking to his damp back. “Hot out there, eh?”

“Inhumanely so. Can I get you anything?”

“No, I’m okay. I think I just need a rest.”

Ray runs his fingers over Patrick’s clavicle before pressing a kiss to his throat. “Amen, everyone’s pretty wrecked after last night.”

Patrick leans into him. “Is the dinner over?”

“Yeah, everyone’s just hanging out. I’m gonna go hang with some of the guys from Jersey. We’re going to a rooftop bar down the road with views of the entire city. Unless you want me to stay with you, in which case, fuck the Jersey boys, I’m all yours.”

“You’re all mine anyway,” Patrick murmurs. He feels sick to his stomach saying it, when he knows what he’s about to do. “Go, have fun. Get disgustingly hammered and I can repay the favour from last night.”

“I just might take you up on that offer.”

Ray changes into something more temperature-appropriate and heads off. Patrick looks down at his phone, knowing he’s about to fuck everything up.

was that too far? i don’t know where the line is anymore.

Where are you?

i’m around.

What are you up to?

hanging with the all time low dudes and the dude from neon trees. there’s weed and absinthe. i suspect i’m about to be in the hangover, part four.

Where’s Bebe?

who the fuck knows. come down. we’re by the pool.

Patrick writes the next message and his fingers hover over the send button for a few minutes. He takes a fortifying breath and presses it.

I’ve got a bottle of wine, some stolen time, a key to a room where you can be all mine.

quoting lyrics at me? that’s my move.

I actually have a bottle of wine. Well, two little ones from the mini bar

where’s toro?

Out.

not a good idea, lunchbox.

Patrick heads down to the poolside.

“Hey guys,” he says as he approaches. “I hear there’s absinthe and depravity about to happen.”

“Hell yes, this man understands our quest!” Alex shouts, handing over a green bottle. Patrick takes a generous swig and takes a drag of the spliff that’s pressed between his fingers.

When he meets Pete’s eyes, they’re dark and devastating.

--

A few hours later, Pete and Patrick stumble up to the hotel on wobbly legs.

“You’re not gonna chuck, are you?” Pete asks.

“Nah,” Patrick says, pleasantly tipsy and baked like a cake. The night is coming to a close and he feels reckless and desperate. “Let’s take the stairs.”

“Why the fuck would we take the stairs when the elevator’s right here? Are you not sweaty enough?”

Patrick follows him into the elevator. He sees himself in the full length mirror, his face flushed and shiny with perspiration. Pete punches the buttons for the fourth and sixth floors and leans against the wall as the elevator starts moving. Patrick launches himself towards the stop button and the vessel stops suddenly, suspended between the second and third floor.

When he turns to Pete, he’s shaking his head. “We’re not doing this, Trick. You made your choice and it wasn’t me.”

“I think I made the wrong one,” Patrick whispers.

Pete just looks at him for a while. “Then you end things with him and we take it from here. I’m not interested in being your other woman while you figure your shit out.”

“Pete.”

“Fuck you Trick, you don’t get to fuck with my head like this. You are literally it for me, do you understand that?”

“Pete,” he says again, and all protests aside, Pete pulls Patrick close and lets Patrick kiss him breathless. They kiss until they’re both hard and grinding against each other. Patrick gets his hand between Pete’s legs and squeezes and then they both scramble to get enough clothes out of the way to jerk each other off.

They put their clothes back on in silence afterwards. The front of Pete’s muscle tank is stained. Patrick’s hand smells like come and musk and sweat. He feels inebriated and emotional and confused. Pete presses the stop button and the elevator moves again.

Pete gets off on the fourth floor. Patrick gets a hand between the doors and says desperately to his back, “I don’t think think I realized how I felt about you until you were there again.”

“How you felt about me,” Pete repeats. He turns towards Patrick with his hands in his pockets. He looks mussed and flushed and hurt.

“How I, present tense, still feel about you.”

“What are you saying?”

“Please tell me you know what I’m saying.”

Pete doesn’t say anything for a while. The doors attempt to close and Patrick puts pressure on them to keep them open.

“It doesn’t matter how you feel about me,” Pete says finally. “Because you’re still going back to him and I’m still going back to her.”

The elevator doors slide shut and Patrick lets them. He shakily presses the button for the sixth floor.

make up your mind and stop fucking with mine.

--

When he comes back to his hotel room, Ray is sitting on the edge of the bed with his elbows resting on his thighs.

“Hey,” Patrick says, trying to remember how to look relaxed. He shuts the door behind himself.

“Hey,” Ray says, and his voice sounds hard. “Food poisoning cleared up, did it?”

“Yeah, I felt better so I…” His voice trails off, throat constricting. “Had a few drinks with the All Time Low dudes. And the guy from Neon Trees.”

“And Pete.”

“Yeah.” There is something foreign and aggressive about Ray’s body language. “And Pete.”

“Did you have a good time?”

“Yes.”

“What did you do?” Ray asks, and something sick and guilty in Patrick realizes that there is no right answer to this question. He is fucked no matter what he says.

“We had a few drinks.”

“That’s nice. Anything else?”

“We talked to some girls on the beach.”

“Nice. Anything else?”

Patrick swallows. He realizes he is stalling. “We smoked some weed.”

“Uh huh. Keep going.”

“We climbed on the roof of the pool bar. Well, Alex and Zack did.”

“Anything else?”

“No,” Patrick lies, his voice unsteady.

“No?” Ray repeats.

“No.”

“Okay,” Ray accepts. “Why don’t you come over here and kiss me?”

Patrick hesitates, lingering against the door. This is a trick question somehow.

“Or would you prefer to have a shower first? Wash off the smell of him?”

Patrick swallows thickly and wraps his arms around himself.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been cheated on, Patrick.”

Patrick starts to say something, but Ray’s vicious glare shuts him up.

“Don’t fucking lie to me.”

“Okay.”

“Did you fuck him?”

“I- yes, kind of.”

“You kind of fucked him.”

“Just- um. Just handjobs.”

“You’re delusional if you think that makes any difference. How long’s it been going on?”

“Just… that time in Chicago and tonight.”

“Do you have feelings for him?”

“I-” Patrick stops. He doesn’t know how to answer that. What he feels for Pete, what he has always felt for Pete, is different to anything he’s ever felt for anyone else. He doesn’t know what to call it.

“Let me rephrase that. You have feelings for him.”

“I- yes,” Patrick admits and the exhale that follows feels like it empties his lungs.

“I was wondering when you were going to realize,” Ray says, and for the first time since Patrick walked into the room, his voice sounds almost normal. Softened.

“You knew.”

“I’ve known since he was with Mikey. I don’t think you two realize how fucking obvious you are to anyone else.”

“It doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” Patrick argues, and he realizes suddenly that he’s crying, and shaking, and it’s some fucked up irony that this, of all times, would be the time that he tells Ray he loves him.

“No,” Ray agrees. “I’m sure it doesn’t mean that. But what it means, however, is that you take your shit and you sleep somewhere else.”

“Ray,” he says, his throat tight. “Ray, please.”

“I’ll help you pack.”

Patrick stands frozen in place, arms wrapped stiffly around himself, as Ray methodically packs his things into his gun metal grey Samsonite suitcase. He takes Patrick’s suit out of the closet. When every item is neatly pressed into the suitcase, Ray zips it up, pulls up the handle and hands everything over.

Patrick watches him through the blur of tears.

“I love you too,” Ray says, holding the door open. “But you’ve gotta go.”

Patrick walks through the door, stiffly pulling his suitcase along. He stops in the middle of the hallway, his body wracked with sobs, and fumbles to get his phone out. He puts his suit over his suitcase and it slides to the floor and gathers in a heap. He feels shell shocked and still so inconveniently intoxicated.

“Joe,” he gasps when he finally picks up. “Joe, I need somewhere to stay.”

“Shit, Patrick. Room 521.”

Joe is waiting for him by the elevator when the doors open. His face falls when he sees Patrick’s suitcase and he pulls him into a solid hug. “Come on, dude, I’ve got you.” He wraps his shoulder around Patrick and drags the suitcase to his room.

Once inside, Joe puts the suitcase aside and hugs him again. Patrick feels shocked and drunk and devastated. The image of a red Kawasaki jet ski with custom painted flames on the side come to mind and he feels sick with it. He cries until he has a sinus headache and falls asleep with Joe’s arms wrapped loosely around him.

--

The next morning, Patrick wakes up to a splitting headache. His mouth feels gummy and dry and there’s a heavy pressure behind his eyes. The blinds are drawn and he hears murmurs coming from the balcony, where the sliding door is slightly open. He feels like he’s just woken up from a coma.

He takes the two Advil on the nightstand and chases them with a gulp of water from the bottle placed next to them. He looks around for his phone, trying to ascertain what time it is. He knocks something off the nightstand and it rattles where it falls.

“You’re up,” Joe says, coming through the sliding door that leads to the balcony. The sight of Joe makes him suddenly remember why he’s here. He looks over to his suitcase where it’s propped against the wall. Joe has hung his suit on the back of the bathroom door. “How’re you doing, man?”

“He broke up with me,” Patrick whimpers, and he’s crying again. Pete follows Joe through the sliding door and then the two of them wrap themselves around him. Joe strokes his back and Pete kisses his temple and they both whisper promises that everything will be okay.

There’s a knock on the door while later, once he’s cried himself into further exhaustion. Pete keeps his arms around him while Joe opens the door to let Andy in.

He’s balancing a tray of coffees in one hand and a bag of bakery goods in the other.

“Hey, champ,” he says, giving Patrick a glum smile. “Cheer up, I brought you chocolate croissants.”

Patrick laughs until he’s crying again and Pete’s strong arms just carry him through it.

--

Pete leaves them pretty early in the day, citing groomsman duties. He kisses Patrick’s forehead and promises he’ll check in on him soon. Joe and Andy sit against the headboard of the bed, talking about comic books and horror movies and celebrities they would sleep with. Patrick zones in and out of the conversation, sleeping and crying and getting chocolate croissant crumbs all over the bed.

Pete texts him throughout the day.

mikey’s mom is already drunk. about to work some moves on the old broad.

mikey has diarrhea. this thing is literally a shitstorm.

gerard is reading love poems to calm mikey down. everything is gay.

mikey can’t get his hair the way he wants it. hold the ceremony.

hope you’re okay. thinking of you.

can’t wait to see you in a suit.

bebe and i are over. fyi.

Pete doesn’t say a single word about Ray, even though Patrick knows they are likely in close quarters in the lead up to the ceremony. By now, he expects Ray’s band must have heard what happened. The morning must be hell on Pete.

When it comes time to go, Andy and Joe force him to get dressed despite vigorous protests. His eyes look red and swollen and he’s not sure he can keep a lid on the crying once they’re in public. Joe fixes a pair of dark sunglasses on his face and declares him appropriately camouflaged.

They take their seats in the groom’s section, on white wooden seats with purple bows. The wedding is being held in the shade of a huge palm tree on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It’s picturesque and perfect and still so disgustingly hot. Joe and Andy sit beside him.

Mikey gets into position, flanked by Gerard, Ray and Pete. Mikey fidgets and pats at his hair and exudes a palpable nervousness. Pete says something to make him laugh and Patrick smiles fondly. Of course Pete’s making attempts to ease the tension.

The music starts and everyone stands for the bride. Alicia walks slowly up the aisle, holding on to her father’s arm. Patrick spares a glance at Mikey, whose body language has gone completely slack as she approaches. She kisses her father’s cheek and takes Mikey’s hand and his grin is ridiculously wide. She’s an absolute vision in a cream white dress. A gust of wind brushes past them and Mikey’s perfectly coiffed hair flies everywhere. He doesn’t seem to notice.

Gerard hands Mikey Alicia’s ring, Pete pats him on the back and Ray gives him a thumbs up. Alicia and Mikey exchange vows, kiss and walk hand in hand down the aisle as husband and wife. It’s sweet and intimate and Patrick almost forgets why he’s sad.

The rest of the afternoon passes in a blur of small talk and beer and waiting. The bridal party disappears to take photos and do assorted wedding party things that Patrick has no insight into. Patrick feels guilty and anxious and out of place. Around sunset, he sits with a beer on a bench outside, and Frank sits down beside him.

“Hey,” Frank says and Patrick freezes.

“Hey,” he forces out. He takes a fortifying sip of his beer, bracing himself. “Beautiful wedding, huh?” Patrick says lamely, desperate for the conversation to go anywhere but where he suspects it’s heading.

“Yeah, Mikey looks really happy.” Frank looks out on the people milling about them. Frank’s daughters chase another kid around the grass. ”Its nice to see.”

“It’s obvious that they belong together.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Alicia looks really stunning,” Patrick says and god, he is just method acting the shit people on TV say to each other at weddings. Next up he will likely say something dreadful about how their commitment makes him believe in soulmates. He’s torn between barrelling onwards on the wedding cliche train and just cutting his losses and walking away altogether.

“You really fucking hurt him,” Frank says gently, and Patrick feels the air leaving his lungs like he’s been punched. “I can’t remember the last time I saw him this upset.”

“I feel horrible,” Patrick says, looking down at his beer. “It’s so fucked up but I don’t think I could have stopped it if I tried.”

“Good thing you didn’t try then.” Frank smiles wryly. “What I wanted to say is that he’s heartbroken, truly utterly heartbroken by this. But he gets it.”

“What?”

“He’s not angry. He gets that it’s supposed to be you and Pete. That he never really stood a chance.”

“I...”

“I don’t think he’ll ever get around to saying any of this shit to you, but I thought you should know. And if he’s not angry at you, the rest of us aren’t either.”

Patrick exhales shakily. It feels something like mercy. “Thanks, Frank.”

“Anytime.” Frank pats him on the back and gets up. “And Patrick?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m hearing rumours that you’re fucking your way through my band. I just wanted to let you know I’m down if you are.” He winks and then he’s gone.

Patrick feels some of his anxiety lift. He pushes the rest of it down with copious amounts of alcohol.

When it’s time for the bridal party to speak, Gerard gives an intimate speech about how proud he is that Mikey has found someone that makes his world a better place. Ray talks about the first time Mikey told him about Alicia, about the glimmer in his eyes and how he said this one might just be a “game changer.” Pete gives a heartfelt and witty speech about how well he’s known the two of them (subtext: in the biblical sense) and how easy and honest and sweet their love for each other is. He raises a glass to them and closes his speech with, “And if anyone here’s in the market for a soulmate, I’m up for grabs tonight and I’ll pay for your cab fare in the morning.”

One of the bride’s maids asks Patrick to slow dance and he feels like he’s 12 again at the school dance. A photographer has Patrick take a photo with Gerard and Geoff. He bumps into Ray in a hallway as he looks for a toilet, and Patrick’s heart aches when he sees the dark bags under his eyes. Ray briefly squeezes Patrick’s bicep as he walks past and smiles a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. Alicia thanks him for the jet ski and says she’d always wanted one. She hugs him gently and it feels almost like forgiveness. Pete keeps his distance the entire night.

By the end of the night, Patrick finds himself on his back on the grass, looking at the stars with Brendon and Sarah, the maid of honor. He suspects Sarah and Brendon are holding hands. Everything is still so stinking hot and he’s been sweating through his shirt all night. He closes his eyes, relaxed and drunk and completely exhausted from the last three days.

When he opens his eyes again, Pete is looming over him. “Hey,” he says. Hie tie is hanging loosely around his neck and his shirt sleeves have been pushed up. He looks breathtaking. “Can I walk you back to the hotel?”

“Yeah.” Patrick nods and lets Pete pull him up. “Night guys.”

They walk quietly along the beach, listening to the waves hiss as they crash onto the shore. The streets are alive with tourists and vendors and children who should probably be in bed.

“Mikey seems really happy,” Patrick says after a while. “I mean, diarrhea aside.”

“He’s been a nightmare all day, I swear to God.”

Patrick stops walking. “I should have broken up with him.”

“Yeah,” Pete sighs, and he looks exhausted when he meets Patrick’s eyes. “You should have, and I think you would have. But we’re grown ups now and relationships are messy and complicated and I’m not angry at you anymore.”

"You're letting me off the hook too easily."

"We're too old for hooks. I know you're sorry."

Pete reaches for his hand and squeezes it once. His palm is warm and sweaty and Patrick can’t let go. They walk back to the hotel, hand in hand. Pete presses the elevator button for the fourth floor and they ride up in silence. Something sweet and tender hangs between them and Patrick realizes with relief that this might actually be okay.

When the door shuts behind him, Pete pulls Patrick flush against him by his tie and gingerly presses his mouth to his. The kiss is soft, chaste, lingering. Patrick’s hands rest gently on Pete’s side and Pete strokes his upper arms. It feels like they have all the time in the world.

“We don’t have to do anything,” Pete whispers, leaning his forehead against Patrick’s. “I mean, if you need some time. We can just sleep.”

“I want this,” Patrick murmurs and he hopes Pete understands what he’s saying.

He slowly unbuttons Pete’s shirt and gets his mouth on the necklace of thorns when he pushes the shirt off his shoulders. Pete undoes Patrick’s and the skin on skin contact feels warm and safe and intoxicating. Pete kisses his neck and backs them slowly towards the bed. Once he gets Patrick underneath him, he grinds a hip slowly between his legs and Patrick arches up to get more friction. “Pete,” he moans and reaches for Pete’s fly. He helps Pete get out of his slacks and shoes and socks.

He presses him gently onto his back once he’s naked. “Want to suck you,” he whispers and doesn’t miss Pete’s sharp intake of breath.

Pete cups Patrick’s face to plant a kiss on his lips, then lets him settle between his legs. Patrick nuzzles his cock, unhurried, luxuriating in the musky scent of him and the softness of his skin. He laps at his balls and Pete groans deep in his throat. He presses sweet kisses on the inside of his thighs and across his pubic hair and lastly on his cock.

Pete’s fingers find their way into Patrick’s hair, gently stroking, not pulling or directing. He takes whatever Patrick gives him, small moans escaping from his lips whenever Patrick’s mouth travels over somewhere especially sensitive. When Patrick’s mouth finally sinks down on his length, the moan he lets out is strangled and breathy. “Oh fuck, yeah, Trick, c’mon.”

Patrick sets a slow rhythm, taking his time in eliciting moans and curses from Pete’s lips. He brings his thumb between Pete’s asscheeks, just putting pressure on his hole while he works his throat around him. Pete moans, pressing against his finger. God, he wants to fuck him again.

“I want,” Pete says when he gently pulls Patrick’s mouth off his cock. Patrick looks up to see his flushed cheeks, the redness of his lips where he’s bitten them. “I want- Can I fuck you?”

Patrick feels something in his belly jerk almost painfully. “Yes, fuck yes. Do you have-”

“Yeah,” Pete mutters and then he pulls tube of KY and a condom out of the bag next to his bed. “You’ll show me what to do so I don’t hurt you?”

“Have you seriously never done this before? Not even with a girl?”

Pete shakes his head. “Never been with anyone who was into it. I mean, Ash and I tried. She thought it hurt, so we stopped.”

“Huh,” Patrick says and squirts some lube onto Pete’s fingers. “Give me two straight off the bat.”

“You big show off,” Pete laughs, rubbing his fingers over Patrick’s hole. Patrick wraps his arms around Pete’s neck and tries his hardest not to beg. When Pete presses two fingers into him, Patrick throws his head back, grabs his bicep and forces his fingers deeper. “Fuck,” Pete says, looking awed. “Fuck, you’re really into it.”

“Of course I’m into it,” Patrick says incredulously. His hand slips down Pete’s arm and he wraps his hand around Pete’s wrist. “It feels fucking- oh god, yeah, fucking, yes, there, just twist your hand like- ohhhhhh fuck.”

Patrick spreads his legs wantonly as Pete fingers him. He writhes against the sheets, riding Pete’s fingers in time with his thrusts. Pete bites at his side and nipples and neck and Patrick feels almost overcome. Pete keeps a slow, drugging rhythm and Patrick realizes that of course Pete would be good at this. He keeps firm, steady, brilliant pressure on Patrick’s prostate and Patrick can feel himself unraveling. He forms a half-thought about bass playing and rhythm sections before he realizes he’s going to come if Pete so much as breathes on his cock. “Okay, okay, wait,” Patrick gasps, digging his nails into Pete’s arm to still his hand. “Put a condom on.”

Pete frowns, pulling his fingers out reluctantly. “We only got to two. The internet says-”

“Oh god, you’ve gotta get off the internet. Condom. Now.”

Pete holds the condom in his hand, unsure. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Sometimes it’s good when it hurts a little,” Patrick whispers, tearing the condom wrapper and rolling it slowly onto Pete’s hard, gorgeous cock. He squirts some lube onto his hand and takes his time slicking him up. Pete’s face contorts and he bites his lip, groaning. “Makes it that much more intense.”

“Fuck,” Pete breathes, pushing Patrick’s legs apart and pressing himself against his hole. “I don’t know why that’s so hot.”

Patrick fights the urge to wrap his legs around Pete’s waist and forcing him inside. He wants Pete to have this, this hesitant, innocent moment where he’s finding his feet and trying something for the first time. Pete looks at his face as he presses himself inside and Patrick’s eyes roll back into his head. He arches up against Pete, whimpering at the intrusion, his fingers tight on Pete’s shoulder. He crushes his face against his neck and mewls.

“Shh,” Pete says soothingly, stilling his movements. “Do you, is it bad? Do you want me to-”

“It’s so fucking good,” Patrick groans and he can’t help but press up against Pete’s pelvis to get him deeper. “You feel amazing.”

Pete laughs a surprised little laugh and gasps, “Shit, you had me worried.”

“Fuck me,” Patrick begs. “Fucking move, please.”

Pete gets an arm under his shoulder and slowly moves his hips. “God, you’re so tight,” he whispers and catches Patrick’s bottom lip between his teeth. Patrick moans, pressing up against him. They find a slow, hypnotic rhythm, Pete pushing into him and Patrick pushing back. Their mouths meet in biting kisses as their bodies grind together. Pete keeps one hand hand under his shoulder and the other on Patrick’s jaw. Patrick feels crushed and restrained and euphoric.

“It’s so good,” Patrick moans again, running a hand across Pete’s ass. He gets a firm grip and feels the muscles tense under his fingers. Pete fucks into him a little harder when he does. “Oh,” Patrick breathes in response, reaching back against the headboard for leverage with his other hand. “More, please.”

The hand under Patrick’s shoulder clenches and it holds Patrick in place as Pete’s hips start snapping hard. “That’s so, fuck, oh god, you’re killing me.”

Pete leans down to kiss his mouth and their stomachs press against each other, trapping Patrick’s cock between their bodies. Patrick wraps his arms around Pete’s neck and holds on, relishing in the sweet friction. He lets Pete ride him, holding onto him as he’s fucked so thoroughly he can barely stay coherent. He gets his hand on his own cock and strokes it in time with Pete’s thrusts. Pete’s making these rhythmic grunting sounds and Patrick feels the crescendo build in his belly. Fuck, he needs to come before he loses his mind.

“Fuck me,” he begs again, feeling deliciously sore and impossibly full. “Don’t hold back, just fucking do it.”

Pete gets Patrick’s legs over his shoulders and lifts his ass off the bed and oh fuck, the angle is exquisite. Patrick keens desperately, so close he can almost taste it. His hand flies over his own cock, so close, so close, so fucking close.

Pete pants harshly against his mouth. “Not gonna last,” he says roughly and his rhythm falters as he-

Patrick gasps, coming so hard he nearly whites out. The continued stimulation as Pete fucks him sets off hypersensitive sparks and just when he thinks he can’t take it anymore, that he’s going to have to ask Pete to pull out, Pete makes a strangled sound and buries himself deeply in him.

When they’ve both regained their breath, Pete kisses his cheek sweetly before he gets up to grab a warm wet wash cloth. He cleans the come off of Patrick’s chest and gently cleans off the lube between his legs. He runs his hands reverently over Patrick’s skin once he’s clean. Patrick hums happily, watching him, letting himself be cared for. Pete pulls the covers over them both and nestles Patrick into his arms.

Once they're all warm and entwined, Pete gives a sudden, amused laugh. “You are such a nelly bottom.”

Patrick flushes a little, hiding his face against Pete’s collarbone. “I just like getting fucked, is all.”

Clearly.” Pete lifts Patrick’s head to look at him. “Because that was literally the hottest thing that has ever happened to anyone ever.”

“It wasn’t bad,” Patrick agrees with a cheeky grin. “I’ve had worse.”

“Hah. Just you wait, I’m about to bust out some serious moves on you. I’ve been googling.”

“Oh god, I am literally begging you to get off the internet.” Patrick groans, simultaneously turned on and horrified. “Wait. Like what?”

“Like rimming. Flip-flopping. Deep throating. Toys. Bagpiping. Facefucking. Prostate milking.”

Patrick frowns at him, growing increasingly horrified. He doesn’t know what half of those practices are. “Yeah, you are not straight.”

“I think I am though," Pete says pensively, with a small, odd smile. His thumb slides over Patrick's bottom lip. "Just not for you."

--

When Patrick wakes the next morning, warm sunlight is filtering through the blinds. He stretches sleepily, looking around the room. Looking for Pete.

He sits up and rubs his face. The hotel room is dead silent. A near overwhelming anxiety washes over him. "Pete?"

Of course Pete's left again. This was never going to be easy.

Patrick collects his clothes from where they're strewn on the floor and stops suddenly when he sees the money on the nightstand. 300 pesos. Cab fare, Patrick realizes hysterically when he remembers Pete's closing joke from last night. He sits on the edge of the bed, fingering the money.

He checks his phone.

you're the yellow bird that i've been waiting for.

When the door beeps, Pete enters with two iced coffees and a smile that nearly breaks Patrick's heart. "Hey," he says from where he's standing, bathed in sunlight. "I got coffee."

"Oh," Patrick whispers. He holds up the bills. "Cab fare?"

"I told you I was up for grabs last night," Pete says, and the look on his face makes everything in Patrick’s chest tighten. “I thought you should be duly compensated.”

“Come here,” he whispers, reaching for Pete.

Pete puts the coffees aside and drops to his knees in front of Patrick where he’s sitting on the bed. His arms come around Patrick's waist and Patrick wraps himself around him. They stay like that for a few moments. When Pete looks up at him with soft eyes, Patrick cups his face and kisses him sweetly, and Patrick thinks that everything might just turn out okay after all.