Gabe has never been an idiot. A douche, a moron, a vortex of bad decisions, but never an idiot. So he knows his run with Bianca is almost over when she stops bothering to call him on his bullshit. Their whole relationship, she'd never stepped back from him -- but now, now that Gabe makes good girls go bad, Bianca's done. She lasted through the end of Midtown and him staggering through the desert out of his mind on peyote and the beginning of Cobras and she was even there for him when he couldn't follow doctor's orders and stop drinking and singing after surgery. But fame...
Yeah, Bianca could deal with douchey artistically unfulfilled Gabe and douchey poverty-stricken Gabe and douchey drugged up Gabe and douchey drunk Gabe, but douchey famous Gabe? He doesn't blame her for peacing out, but he won't take 100% of the blame. Maybe 95%.
He feels like a dick, but he doesn't even miss her ("Because you actually ARE a dick," Pete points out) -- and sometimes thinks she probably could have stopped him from being too douchey, stopped all this bullshit from happening to him if she'd really wanted to or tried harder.
He totally believes in personal responsibility. HE MADE HIMSELF FAMOUS. Doesn't he take responsibility for that?
His therapist is all, "You have to take responsibility for the negative stuff AND the good stuff, Gabe," so he peaces out.
"You have to put in a lot of effort for therapy to work," Pete tells him that night. "You have to actually want to change, want to do the work. Seriously. It's not just sitting back and talking for an hour."
Gabe snaps, "Oh, you mean like how you want it to work? Tell me, Pete, are you all fixed now?" Then he goes crashing out to get drunk.
Pete texts him: "i am living proof that therapy as performance art doesnt fix shit"
Gabe doesn't really... get it. He can't figure out if Pete's trying to tell him something about himself or about Gabe or what. Gabe decides he has to pull himself together; he says fuck it, stops trying to kill himself, and... and he abandons what he thought he might have finally been sort of starting with Pete again after all these years to hook up with Erin. He's kind of miserable, but he's also kind of happy; it's amazing what making the decision to leave most of his self-loathing behind does for his everyday life. It's not easy -- it's actually really fucking hard -- but the further away from his downward spiral he gets, the better it feels to have pulled himself out of that.
Erin is very clear with him: under no circumstances should he embarrass her publicly. He is otherwise free to do whatever. Erin is very nice and sweet and makes him happy and everything is FINE. GREAT, EVEN.
He doesn't even WANT to do embarrassing shit, because he likes when she pets him approvingly and introduces him to her friends. Plus: access to all the fashionistas; finally, people who appreciate Gabe's quirky sense of fashion. And sometimes he can snub Bianca at fashion shows.
(One night, when he's had a little too much to drink, when he bumps into Bianca at the bathrooms, he sneers, "Yeah, Bianca, Erin isn't ashamed to be seen with me in public." Bianca rolls her eyes and pushes past him into the ladies' room; Gabe has epically missed the point.)
Meanwhile, Pete's like, okayyyyy, I'll find myself a model, if this is the game we're playing.
Every time Gabe sees Pete and Meagan, or reads one of Pete's tweets about her, he grits his teeth and takes calming breaths.
Pete insists on double-dates when he and Meagan are in New York. Gabe never backs down from a challenge. And OBVIOUSLY this is a challenge, why else would Pete want that?
When they go out with Erin and Meagan together, Gabe acts like a fucking adult. He can fake it better than anyone. Take that. He's fine. Everything is fine. Obviously PETE is fine, since he's being all cutesy over there with his girlfriend. And it's not like Gabe is a total asshole, anyway. He DOES want Pete to be happy. So... whatever.
Finally, Travie can't deal with how tragic this shit is, so he sits Gabe down and is like, "Do you have any idea how sick I am of getting wangsty calls from both of you? All the time? Variations on the same theme? I've got shit to do, you know, my career is all successful."
Gabe scowls. "Whatever, if Wentz is gonna be a whiny bitch, talk to him about it. I'm HAPPY. I'm GREAT."
Travie plays his trump card. "He thinks you're looking for an out, you know. Like, out of his life. Ditching him."
"That's just his drama bullshit," Gabe says dismissively. "He knows we're brothers. He's the one not picking up the phone."
Sometimes Travie is very tempted to hit Gabe in the face. "When was the last time you picked up the phone yourself?"
Finally he closes his eyes and sighs. "If he doesn't want to talk to me --" He jumps when Travie slams an open palm down.
"You are getting this shit backward on purpose, so whose drama bullshit is this now?" Travie demands.
Gabe hates it when other people are right. But Travie's always been pretty much the only person he can count on to call him out. Except Ryland.
If Gabe is gonna be honest about what he wants... But he's learned over and over that there's no fucking point to that, because being honest about what he wants only leads to being disappointed when he can't have it. Better to settle for something decent, something workable; he learned that the hard way with Midtown's last album. He'd rather have a chilly friendship with Pete that's slightly unsatisfying than crash and burn.
For his part, Travie flies to LA to do the same song and dance with Pete, with added "No, it's not true that you eventually wear everyone out and they leave you. Yes, I know you have a list of counterexamples. Put the list away."
The fact that Travie has a list of people who have NOT left Pete means Pete is automatically wrong, anyway. Plus, Travie says, rolling his eyes, "When has Gabe Saporta ever actually given up and settled? He might think that shit will fly like he's being some kind of adult, but it's pre-teen bullshit to expect to get what you want if you're not going to say you want it. And don't fucking smirk, because you're pulling the same fucking shit." Travie pauses. "Now go get me Bronx, we have to have a serious talk about the fact that his favorite My Little Pony is Applejack."
"Don't judge my son's choices." Pete makes his big-eyed sad face at him. "What if he just doesn't WANT it? Me. It."
"If you think that, then you're a fool," says Travie, and then he takes the stairs three at a time to find Bronx, and leaves Pete sitting on the couch, watching the Ghostbusters cartoon on mute.
Pete knows he's a fool. He has an entire lifetime of evidence. Times like this call for cryptic, woeful Tweets about losing your best friend and being all alone with the TV in the night.
And that is when Meagan breaks up with him, because hello? She's in the room RIGHT THE FUCK UPSTAIRS. Well, shit. He hadn't thought that one through.
For Meagan's part, she actually really fucking likes him, but it's like he doesn't even see her most of the time. She's no one's manic pixie dream girl. Plus, could he be more obvious about being in love with someone else? Until she overheard his conversation with Travie, she'd figured he was still hung up on Ashlee and/or Patrick. But Gabe makes sense.
Before she leaves, she texts Gabe: UR A DUMBASS. JFC COWBOY UP.
Gabe doesn't even have her number in his phone. Is this the UNIVERSE yelling at him? He needs to call his shaman. He has a drawer of awesome drugs, so he can just open it and free his mind. Instead, he opens it and stares... and feels bored.
The next day, Gabe's feeds are full of a whole series of Tweets and blog posts from Pete about how love is MEANINGLESS and EMPTY, just like his heart, and he gets a text from Travie that just says, "yur both idiots i give the fuck up jaysus."
Gabe takes this opportunity to indulge in an intense fit of self-loathing. He breaks up with Erin by Twitter DM (her PA will make sure she gets the message; that's way more reliable than calling her phone and waiting for her to listen to the voicemail), sends his dad an email apologizing for being a disappointment, and writes three songs that sound more like Midtown than Cobras. He uploads them to the FTP space where they put possible songs, and emails around a note that says only, "Maybe we should chng our sound."
Ryland wants to CRY. Pete has decided that even Travie has left him. Cobras buy a ticket to send Gabe's ass to LA.
Gabe tells them to fuck off, that he's going to break up the band and go solo, just him and an acoustic guitar. They send Nate to physically drag him to the airport and make sure he gets on the plane. Nate comes bearing a cup of coffee literally bigger than Gabe's head, with a selection of milks and creamers so Gabe can spend the taxi drive to JFK mixing almond milk with heavy cream for the perfect disgusting coffee drink. Nate spends the taxi ride with an arm around Gabe's shoulders, staring out the window as Queens rushes by.
Even if Pete ends up hating him forever, Gabe has a good crew. They are, in fact, the BEST crew. And Nate arranges for Spencer P. to pick Gabe up at the airport and shuttle him direct to Pete's door.
Spencer P. drops him off with the LA version of pizza -- even more of an abomination than Chicago -- and sits in the car until Gabe knocks and Pete's PA opens the door.
(The PA kind of wants to do a little dance and shout hallelujah. It has been a VERY LONG DAY of working for Pete. She grabs up Bronx and one of Pete's credit cards and FLEES, leaving Gabe and Pete alone in Pete's living room, surrounded by Legos.)
Gabe takes a deep breath, shoves the pizza at Pete, and sits down to start building the Taj Mahal.
There's a really long, awkward silence, until finally Pete's like "Ry sent me the demos you did."
"I'm thinking about writing a song called 'Pete Wentz is the only reason I have all this emotional turmoil.' Thoughts?"
Pete being Pete, his immediate reply is, "I don't know what I did to make you hate me."
Gabe drops the Legos and looks up; Pete isn't even looking at him. "What? I don't hate you, you fucking idiot."
"I don't know, you're saying you have turmoil because of me and you don't want to see me or answer my texts or whatever."
Gabe lets out a breath slowly. He could handle this any number of ways, but... "I always want to see you. I always want to talk to you," he ventures. Fuck a whole lot of being too cowardly to go for what he wants. His sixteen-year-old self would kick him in the balls for this shit. Fuck it. "I'm kind of in love with you, dude. You're the only one who didn't know."
When Pete's startled he makes a perfect :O face. "Wait, what? For real?"
Sometimes the truth is as good as a lie for hiding behind. Gabe shrugs. "For real. For years."
"Wait. YEARS? Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't ANYBODY tell me?"
Gabe grimaces. "We all thought you knew. I thought you knew. How could you not?" So this is what being for real heartbroken feels like. Gabe hates it, hates every moment that stretches out with Pete NOT saying he loves Gabe back. Being an adult is clearly for suckers.
Pete throws his Legos. "But you KNOW what a disaster I am. You know what loving me back leads to."
Gabe snorts. "Yeah, you're the only disaster in this room." Wait. Wait. "Wait. Loving you BACK?"
Gabe takes a deep breath, stretches out his legs, and stares at his shoes. They cost $600, and they're already scuffed. This time ten years ago, he'd've been wearing Chucks. Hell, five years ago. He's not sure he entirely likes this guy, this grown-up guy who's talking about his feelings and wearing Balenciaga and driving a Mercedes unironically. But he's got a savings account and he paid off his dad's mortgage, so there are definitely up-sides, and he's not entirely against feelings. He wants to know more about Pete's feelings, for sure.
"That kind of shit isn't helpful right now, Wentz," he finally says. "I'm telling you I fucking love you and you're being a douche."
“I’m not being a douche. I’m just...I’m SAYING. I wear my heart on my fucking sleeve, Gabe, my heart is my entire goddamn shirt, and I haven’t EVER been subtle about how I feel about ANYBODY, so if you loved me back I would’ve thought you would’ve said so before now.”
Gabe scoffs. "Sure, yeah, it's been completely obvious this whole time that you're in love with me. I've totally known. It makes perfect sense. That's why you're dating Meagan. That's why the last time I came close to kissing you, you MARRIED ASHLEE. Yeah, I can tell, you've loved me all these years, ever since the day we met when you punched me in the face."
“Okay, when we met you hated me too. We were both dicks. You can’t even act like that counts.”
Gabe considers his shoes again. Six hundred fucking dollars. He could have done something with that money. Maybe not donated to Invisible Children, those fucks, but something. He sucks in a long breath and thinks about what sixteen-year-old Gabe would have done with six hundred dollars. Well, okay, a shitload of strings for his bass and maybe a new guitar, but... he'd had a tzedakah box back then. And he'd had fucking balls.
Pete takes a deep breath and wraps his arms around himself. “Above the waist. Remember? I learned my lesson with Mikey, I’m not going to fucking consign you to above the waist.”
"First of all, I know that's bullshit," Gabe says. He doesn't bother to look over at Pete. "Above the waist my fucking ass. You forget that I saw all that shit; you forget Mikey is my boy. You want an excuse to avoid me? You want an excuse to fucking go -- go, I don't know, marry Ashlee again? Go. Do it. I'm an asshole. I'm not worth the investment. I can't commit; Bianca will tell you. No one can tell me shit. You think I want to consign YOU to that?"
“You’re not an asshole. You’re my best friend.” He swallows, hugging himself tighter. “And I don’t want to fuck that up by...being me.”
"Yeah?" Gabe looks up. "You think I'd want you more if you were someone else? Cause that's not working out too well for me and Erin."
Pete’s brow furrows. “What’s going on with you and Erin?”
Gabe shrugs. He tries to smile but doesn't think it works, judging by the look on Pete's face. "She's not you, bro."
“Oh.” Pete’s quiet for a minute, staring down at the floor. “Oh.”
"If I try to kiss you, are you going to run off and marry someone else?"
“Only if you bite me.”
Gabe leans over, grabs Pete's wrist, and tugs him down, onto Gabe's lap. Pete is tiny and fragile, which is such a stupid way to think of him, because he's also one of the strongest, most resilient dudes Gabe knows -- but his bones are small, and he doesn't weigh anything, and he lets Gabe arrange him so he's straddling Gabe's lap, his hands heavy on Gabe's shoulders. Gabe considers the merits of starting off by biting Pete, but decides he can make the effort to not be a complete fucking asshole just this once. He leans up and brushes his mouth over Pete's. He's got SOME moves.
Pete takes a startled little breath, his eyes widening as he gets used to the feeling. It’s not like he hasn’t been all over Gabe a hundred times, but this time it’s, like, for real. No fronting. No bullshit. He closes his eyes when Gabe’s mouth brushes his, then grits his teeth in frustration when Gabe keeps moving. Or maybe there IS some bullshit. Not cool.
Pete's wriggling on Gabe's lap; Gabe carefully takes his wrists and pulls them behind Pete's back, making him arch, making him press harder into Gabe. Above the waist Gabe's fucking ass. But he can go slow, as slow as Pete needs. He can go so slow that Pete won't even realize that he's the one who's speeding them up. Gabe keeps his kiss light, keeps his mouth mostly shut, keeps his hands tight around Pete's wrists.
Wrists, fuck. Pete wonders when exactly he gave that away, what the clue was. It’s hard to care, though, because Gabe’s *kissing* him. It’s been a really long time since Gabe’s kissed him, and Pete’s never let himself think Gabe meant it. He kind of wants to savor the moment.
When Pete's tongue touches Gabe's mouth, he gasps; he's kissed Pete so many times, and Pete's kissed him, and the last time Gabe meant it, seriously, Pete ended up leaving the club with Ashlee Simpson and fucking married her. And Gabe wouldn't trade Bronx for anything, not even a brontosaurus, but that really fucked Gabe up at the time, and is still fucking him up right now. No matter how tightly he squeezes Pete's wrists, no matter how sharply he bends Pete backward, he's still worried Pete is going to get up and run away and, fuck if Gabe knows, marry Meagan or knock up Gabe's sister. Gabe isn't too proud to admit that despite Travie's intervention, despite Meagan's text message, despite what Gabe... what he FEELS... he's fucking scared as hell.
“You’re thinking too much,” Pete mumbles against Gabe’s mouth.
"I can't turn it off." Gabe groans a little when Pete wriggles his hips.
Pete has to laugh at that, resting his forehead against Gabe’s. “I know the feeling. Shit. This is...”
Gabe tilts his head to kiss Pete again. "If you say fucked up, I'm leaving."
“Definitely not fucked up. Kind of...kind of really amazingly great.”
"What do I..." Gabe stops and reconsiders what he's going to say. He doesn't want to scare Pete away. He takes both of Pete's wrists in one hand and uses the other to cup Pete's face. "You know I'm fucking serious here, right? Stomp the glass, rings, tattoos, whatever you need."
“I’ve already got your face tattooed on my leg, remember?”
"I love you, but I'm not doing that shit." Gabe brushes their mouths together again. "I also draw the line at Scimeca's ugly-ass bat-heart. That shit is not going anywhere near my abs."
“What if it was on a necklace or a medallion or something?”
"Your face? Because I know you don't want me to wear that fucking necklace Bill has." Gabe considers it. Pete's face on a necklace would be fucking hilarious, plus a callback to the early days of Cobra Starship, plus HILARIOUS. "If it's your face, deal."
“I was thinking the bartskull, but not like Bill’s necklace.” Fucking Bill. No, he’s not going to think about that right now. “But my face...that could work, too. Or, you know. You don’t have to have a THING. Like. Unless you want one. I don’t know.”
"It doesn't just have to be just one thing." Gabe frowns. They're getting off track here, which wouldn't be such a big deal, but Pete's pulse is out of control, and Gabe doesn't want to lose control of the situation, doesn't want Pete to flip out, doesn't want... doesn't want to have to stop kissing him.
“Gabe Saporta,” Pete says, tracing Gabe’s lower lip with his thumb. “Would you wear a t-shirt from my clothing line?”
"Foul, already have." Gabe recaptures Pete's wrist and surges up to sink his teeth into Pete's neck, scraping them over his throat, sucking a mark at the hollow between his collarbones.
Pete squawks. “No biting! And I meant a CUSTOM t-shirt. One designed just for us.”
"We need to negotiate biting and marking," Gabe mumbles into his skin. "What kind of t-shirt? Pete + Gabe 4 EVA?"
“Maybe a little more subtle than that.” Pete squirms a little more, because fuck, Gabe’s MOUTH. “But not too subtle. I want people to...to know. If you want people to know. Um. Do you?”
"If you swear not to run away," Gabe tells him, tilting his head back to look into his eyes, "I will take out a fucking billboard in Times Square, Pete. I will send a mass text to everyone I've ever met. I'll post a video to YouTube, I'll change my Twitter name to Gabe Wentz -- okay, maybe not that, because it sounds awful, but I'll... Pete, anything, but I..." Gabe shuts his eyes, because, okay, maybe he's a little too far out on the line with this. He lets out his breath slowly. "Do you really want people to know?"
“If I’ve learned anything in the last three years,” Pete says, barely above a whisper, “it’s that no matter how hard I try to pretend to be anything other than who and what I am, people don’t buy it and don’t give a shit. So...so fuck it, right? I might as well try being for real. You’re something I want to be real for.”
"I like who you are when you're for real," Gabe tells him. "But I know you think I'm a fucking douche most of the time. Is that going to fuck this up? Because when I'm being real, I'm usually an asshole, even if I don't mean to be."
“You’re talking to ME. My name is listed as a synonym for douche on many major websites.” Pete moves closer to Gabe, resting against his chest. “And I guess if we get really stupid, we’ll just have Travie come out and mediate for us. Again.”
Gabe laughs, and runs his hands up Pete's arms. Some of his tattoos are shittier than others; he can feel the scars under his palms. He holds Pete by the upper arms, pushing his shoulders back, then pulls his arms up so they're around Gabe's neck; it only takes a second of moving before he's flipped them both over so Pete's under him, legs wrapped around his waist. "Fuck," says Gabe. "Fuck --" He pushes his lips against Pete's, mouth open, one hand going down to grab Pete's ass.
Pete gasps, arching up against him. “I see how it is. I agree to marry you and you decide to go for it.”
Gabe grinds down. "Under Jewish law, I'm required to give you pleasure, you know."
“Wait, seriously? That’s a law you guys should publicize more.”
"Jews rule," Gabe gasps into his mouth. "Later, I'll tell you all about how we're allowed to use birth control as long as we also eventually have kids."
“I’ve got some crazy news for you about how having kids works.” Pete kisses him as hard as he can. “But let’s not talk about that right now.”
"How freaked out are you going to be if I tell you I like stuff in my ass?" asks Gabe, because he might as well lay all his cards on the table now that Pete knows Gabe wants to have his half-Jewish babies.
“Stuff like fingers or stuff like...I don’t know, vegetables?”
Gabe lets Pete pull away, but fuck. That hurts. "I guess I'm not morally opposed to vegetables if you're into that, as long as we don't eat them afterward."
Pete chews at his lower lip, then nods. “Okay.”
Gabe licks his lips and props himself up on his arms. "I don't ever need to stick anything in your ass," he offers.
Pete smiles a little and leans in for more kissing. Kissing is better than heavy conversations. That’s, like, a Pete Wentz life rule. “Okay.”
"But if you want to," Gabe says between kisses, "I'd... stick anything into your ass. I'm good at it. I could give you references." Maybe Gabe will keep his Mikey Way reference to himself. Probably Spencer Smith and Travie will be enough to satisfy Pete.
“No references necessary. I know you’re good at everything you do.”
Gabe isn't expecting the glow of pride he feels when Pete says that. He doesn't bother to try to fight the grin.
“You are! You’re, like. Perfect.”
That makes Gabe feel cold, though. "But you know I'm not, right? Like. You mean perfect in the way that I'm imperfect and have a lot of flaws and you like me anyway, right? Because... I'll probably freak out the first time you leave a dirty dish in the bedroom," Gabe confesses.
“I shared a hotel room with you and your fucking anal-retentive t-shirt-folding ways in Japan. And many other places. I know that you’re not perfect. Also, you snore. But you’re perfect in the stuff that counts.”
"You snore, too," Gabe says, and lets the grin come again. "Okay. In sickness and in health, right?"
“Sickness, health, and the other thing.”
"Fuck a whole lot of poverty," Gabe tells him. "You'd better keep me in the style to which I've become totally accustomed since you made me famous. I want a lot of shoes."
“Dude. Our shoe collections are going to need their own bedrooms.”
"I'm not talking about your fugly high-tops." Gabe grabs Pete by the waist and resettles him on his lap. "I think there's a Lego under my back."
“Probably. You’ll get used to Legos in weird places.”
Gabe sighs. He's going to have to do everything in this relationship. "Are there any Legos in your bed?" he asks.
“No. That’s a Lego-free zone.” Pete’s eyes widen a little. “Oh! Oh. You want to go to bed!”
"Yeah. I promise you don't have to touch my dick if you don't want to, but... I want to touch yours. I also want to cuddle, so don't even think about sneaking out after I fall asleep, motherfucker."
“I live here. Where would I go?” Pete knows he’s being a jerk, dodging the “Gabe touching his dick” part, but he really kind of wants to cross that bridge when they come to it. Five minutes from now.
Gabe is a planner. He's a planner, and he can wait. He's got a shitload of fucking patience. Eventually, he's going to get to touch Pete's dick, if only because Pete's gonna get drunk one night and want a blowjob. So he lets it go, just shrugs and says, "Sure, we can play it like that. Come kiss me in a bed, okay?"
Pete nods and eases off Gabe’s lap. “Just so you know, I really, really like snuggling.” He knows that doesn’t make up for being a freak about the other stuff, but...maybe it’s worth SOMETHING.
"I am gonna snuggle the shit out of you," Gabe tells him, and because he's not a terrible person, just a douche, he turns his back to Pete before he readjusts his dick in his jeans so he can walk up the fucking stairs.
Pete’s got a big, roomy bed. Specifically for snuggling and puppy-pile purposes. He stops at the edge of it when they get upstairs, trying to decide if he should strip down or just take his jeans off or what. This is the most awkward first date he’s had in...ever.
Gabe isn't going to snuggle in his jeans, so he strips down. The look of fear on Pete's face is a total boner killer, so at least he doesn't have to worry about scaring Pete out of the room with his dick in his black boxer-briefs. He kicks his jeans to the side, pulls off his shirt and his undershirt, scratches his stomach, and doesn't look at Pete as he crawls into the bed, under the heavy comforter, under a super soft sheet.
"Come on," he says to Pete. "I'll stay under the sheet, you stay over. I'm not the kind of girl who puts out on the first date, so keep your dick away from me tonight."
“Whatever.” Pete strips down to his own boxers, biting his tongue in fast punishment for being a jackass and giving away his stupid anxieties.
When Pete crawls into bed next to Gabe, he totally stays on top of the sheet, and Gabe is weirdly relieved. Drunk blow jobs aside, he doesn't ever want to put Pete in a position where Pete feels... gross. Gabe slides over so he's close enough to Pete to feel his body heat.
"I actually really like you," Gabe says softly. "I don't just love you, you're not just my best friend, we're not just bros. You know that, right? I like you. I wanna be around you. I can't think of anything I want more right now. I'm so fucking glad we're doing this. If you're not in it with me, though... I don't want that, you know that, right?"
“I’m in it.” Pete finds Gabe’s hand and threads their fingers together. “I’m all the way in it.”
Gabe lets out a shaky breath. "Okay, dude, then come here. I'll let you be the little spoon tonight, but next time we flip for it."
“I’m an awesome spoon both ways. For the record.”
Gabe tucks his face into the back of Pete's neck, kisses it a little, shuts his eyes.