The first time Alicia meets Pete Wentz, she is poised and careful, shaking hands professionally and trying to look older than she is. She needs to make this impression work, to get this job, to meet these people.
She needs it and she wants it and she'll get it.
"Nice to meet you," she says, her voice clear and professional, hiding every piece of nervousness away.
Pete smiles, his grin stretching across his face.
"You're cuter than my last tech, that's for damn sure."
She breathes in deep and bares her teeth in what could be a smile.
And she gets the job.
Really, Alicia doesn't mean to be the other woman. It's not something that she plans – she actually tries pretty hard not to hook up with people who are dating someone.
The problem with that plan, of course, comes in two parts:
1) Pete Wentz
2) on-again, off-again relationships
Because, the thing is, she wouldn't do anything with a guy who she knows is in a relationship. Probably. Well, not anymore. She likes to think that's a lesson she's finally learned.
But ever since she'd started teching for Pete, she's caught him staring at her hands as she works his bass, at the edges her collarbones where they stick out of t-shirts, at the slope of her neck as she leans over to coil cables. He keeps staring and if it were someone else, it would be a leer, but it's Pete Wentz and that might actually be kind of the way his face is set.
It's kind of intriguing in a creepy way.
And then there's Pete's whole Thing with Jeanae. Alicia's sure that Jeanae is nice enough – they've met a couple of times when she joined Fall Out Boy for the tour, but they've never talked much. Part of that is the way that women have to travel on tours – Jeanae can be the band girlfriend, but Alicia has to be twice as much one of the guys to be taken seriously and she can't be hanging out with Girlfriends backstage. Not if she is going to survive this tour and the tour after that and the studio work after that. Because Alicia is many things that aren't stupid and she knows that the minute she becomes a Girlfriend or associated with the Girlfriends, she'll lose everything.
Because the Girlfriends are the people that smile pretty and look beautiful and shy when photos are taken. And that's half of the challenge of being a woman and a tech and wanting people to take her seriously – they're always convinced that she got hired for her looks or that she's fucking her way through the label to get a bigger, better job or something.
And while Alicia may wonder if a girl who smiled smaller or had a less impressive rack would have caught Pete Wentz's eye, she doesn't need to encourage everyone else thinking that. Beyond that, she's seen him watching the way she tunes his bass better and faster than he does or the way she can talk blues chord progressions with Joe for an hour. She's pretty sure that if she got the job for her looks, she kept it because she's fucking good.
So Alicia knows the Jeanae stuff is complicated and she knows better than to fuck the talent and she knows that she doesn't know shit, but sometimes she feels Pete's eyes on her back and she just kind of … wonders.
The first time they hook up, of course, it's all Pete.
Of course it is.
But it's not that Pete makes irresistible moves. He's pretty much the same dude he always is when there's nobody to impress around – stupid braying donkey laugh, awkward body posture, practical jokes and all. He doesn't really do anything different from what he does every other night, except that he also slides up behind Alicia and puts his hand on her neck while she's gathering up cables.
"This okay?" he says into her ear as he breathes on her neck. And the thing is, she could say no. She could say no and she could walk away and Pete would shrug and maybe pout somewhere, but he'd probably just go play video games with Andy or short-sheet someone's bed with Dirty. He doesn't need this and she could say no and there would be no repercussions. "You sure?"
Pete has no moves, they're not drunk, and she knows she could walk away.
So the only excuse that Alicia has for nodding her head and saying "Later" is that she momentarily lost her mind.
Or that Pete's grin is too bright and his arms are too warm and …
If she is going to be brutally honest about things, her only excuse is that she wants it. So she takes it. Because she can.
It's two days later when Pete shows up before a show with his arm around Jeanae.
"Hey, Alicia," Jeanae says, her smile lighting up her whole face. It's always pretty easy to tell when Pete-and-Jeanae are back on again.
Normally it is.
"Hey, Jeanae," Alicia says with a look at Pete that is supposed to convey what the fuck? without Jeanae seeing. Because … Alicia wouldn't have done it. Not if she'd known.
Pete squints his eyes and turns his head away. His face might look a little sorry, but she's pretty sure it's just how he looks in the light.
"Nice to see you back around," Alicia says distantly. She waves her hands at setup, smiling hard enough to break. "I have to go …"
"Sure," Jeanae says. "See you later?"
"Yeah, maybe," Alicia says, moving quickly away.
Alicia is a little surprised that it happens again, even more surprised that nobody beyond Joe seems to have figured it out.
It takes four weeks, six and a half hookups (a bathroom, three hotels, a locked storage closet, and Andy walking in while Alicia could be plausibly checking Pete's eyeliner), and a lot of time feeling like shit and drinking with the crew for Alicia to figure it out.
It's not better when she realizes that she and Pete only hook up when he and Jeanae are fighting and have broken up. She's not sure, but she thinks that Pete is looking for comfort or something and finds it with Alicia when he can. She's actually a little surprised by that, surprised that it makes her feel worse.
But, then again, nobody likes being a replacement. Especially a situational one.
Finally, after Jeanae and Pete end for real, so do Alicia and Pete. It's a relief, actually. The problem with all of it was really that Alicia actually likes Pete, thinks he's funny and sweet and kind of adorable. Some of that got overwhelmed in all of the craziness and vague guilt of fucking. Now, it's easier to watch Casablanca with him for the eighty-hundreth time, to stretch out on a bed in a hotel room and talk about Morrissey, when she knows she was going to leave with her pants on and her dignity intact.
Maybe she still helps comfort Pete, just in ways that don't tear them both up.
The first time Alicia meets Mikey, she is sweaty and pissy and tired and almost punches Pete in his stupid fucking happy smiling face when he grabs her arm, saying "Alicia!" with way too much cheer.
"Not fucking now, Peter," she hisses, her shoulders hunched as she spins around toward him. She doesn't have time for him right now. But Pete's not alone and he's not with one of the guys – that would all be in the normal course of things. Instead, he's with a tall, thin dude with thick glasses and messy hair that looks vaguely familiar.
"Alicia, stop being an ass," Pete says, grinning and bouncing on the tips of his toes. "I wanted you to meet Mikeyway."
Alicia squints. Ah. Right.
"Alicia," she nods shortly. "Sorry. I have to run." She turns and starts to walk away.
Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Mikey shrug, his lips quirking into a little smile. "No problem. You gotta make sure this asshole is in tune, right?"
Alicia stops and turns around again.
He's the first guy Alicia has ever met in the scene whose first comment to her wasn't about her tits or her tattoos or her face or her smile. He's the first guy who talked about her job.
"Yeah," she grins. "But I'm not so busy later."
"Really?" Mikey's smile widens a little bit more.
Even though Pete and Mikey have a lot in common, the Mikey that Alicia sees is completely different in every way from the Pete she knows. He sees the curve of her back as she leans over a bass and he sits next to her, watching what her hands are doing. He brings her bottles of water after she's finished setup and he always wants to know what she thinks about things.
The first time she and Mikey have sex, it's all Alicia.
Of course it is.
"But you … are you sure?" he asks, his voice excited but ready to be let down.
She is. She's sure.