Out in the suburbs of Chicago sat a small independently owned pet store, nestled in between a nail salon and a small sandwich shop. This pet store didn't receive as many customers as the Petco a few blocks down, but had many loyal customers that came in week after week for years, keeping the business alive. One of those customers went by the name of Pete Wentz. He came in at least once a week with his dog, (or his baby really) Hemingway, an English bull dog, who "demanded" special dog food, and at least one new chew toy every week.
The owner of the Pet Store, who went by Larry, had been running it by himself, for the most part, for about twenty years. So he decided it was about time he hired someone to help him around the store. His back was just not as sturdy as it used to be, and he needed help stocking the shelves and lifting the heavy bags of dog food.
So he put out a want ad.
Within a week, he had a new stock boy. His name was Patrick. He was looking for a summer job before he went off to college in the fall. It was either this pet store, or the McDonald's down the street, and frankly, Patrick would rather spend his time cleaning out animal cages.
So, it was Patrick's first day on the job, and Larry was going over some small details when he walked in.
Pete Wentz, a boy, okay more like a man not much taller than Patrick stood, wearing a tight light grey hoodie, tight jeans, and expensive looking designer basketball shoes. On a leash, his English Bulldog wearing a decorative collar.
"...and that's Pete." Larry continued, gesturing towards the kid. "He comes in here a lot with his dog.. He's kind of... well, you'll see..." Larry trailed off, chuckling, and leaving Patrick confused and somewhat worried.
"Hey Larry!" Pete called with a wave, walking towards the counter.
"Hey Pete." Larry called back. Pete stopped when he noticed Patrick. He gave him a once over, and smirked. Patrick was uncomfortable. "I rearranged a bit." Larry noted. "I have Hemmy's food in the back. I'll get it for you." Larry said. Then he disappeared, leaving Patrick alone with the strange boy.
Pete was still looking at him, smirking. Patrick was so uncomfortable.
"So you work here?" Pete asked. That
attractive stupid smirk still there.
Patrick nodded and mumbled a "yeah."
"Yeah, Larry's getting old. He needs some nice, strong, young man to help him. You look like you fit the bill." Pete was grinning.
Patrick flushed deeper (if possible.) He didn't know how to respond. Was this guy hitting on him? He had to be what? 25? Patrick was seventeen, his mother would be furious.
...it didn't matter that Pete was really attractive.
"Here you go Pete." Larry said, placing a box of canned food on the counter. "You know, my dog Penny just had a new litter of puppies, if Hemmy here need's a buddy."
Hemingway perked his ears at the sound of his name.
"Nah, I can barely handle one." Pete said before his gaze averted back to Patrick. "Unless this one is for sale. How much? Must be pretty expensive, what with puppy dog eyes like that."
Patrick wanted to die.
Larry rolled his eyes. "Quit scaring the kid. Patrick, could you go unload the dog food for me out back?" He asked.
Patrick nodded, his eyes on the floor, before dashing out of the room.
"The kid's seventeen. I swear Wentz, one of these days you're going to end up in jail you pedophile." Larry laughed.
"Yeah, yeah. We'll see."
The following day, Pete came in again.
Patrick was stocking shelves when Pete creeped up behind him.
"Hi Patrick." He mumbled in his ear, causing him to jump, and drop the boxes of toys he was holding.
He cursed under his breath and bent down to pick them up. "Can I help you?" He asked, somewhat reluctantly, while doing so. He had to remember his etiquette, but he was a little scared of this guy.
"Nah." Pete said as he bent down to help. "I forgot to get Hemmy's chew toy yesterday. Thought I'd say hi." He paused and smirked. Watching Patrick get all flustered was his new favorite hobby, he decided. It wasn't that creepy.
"Hi." Patrick mumbled, standing up and resuming his work stocking the shelves.
"I also thought I'd see if you'd let me take you out to dinner. My treat."
Patrick looked at him, wide eyed, accidentally knocking the boxes off the shelf again. "I... uh.."
"Wentz!" Larry called from the front. "Quit harassing my employee before he breaks something!"
Pete smirked. "No harassing! Just harmless chitchat!" He called back. Patrick used this as his chance to make his escape. "So..." He turned his attention to Patrick, who had disappeared.
He could always try again tomorrow...
And he did.
This time Hemmy needed a new collar.
"Hey, Tricky." Pete greeted as he walked in. Patrick, who was in the middle of wiping down the windows, cocked an eyebrow at the nickname.
"Wentz, are you seriously back again?" Larry asked, from the front. "I should hire underaged boy's more often."
Pete glared at him.
"Hemingway needs a new collar." He stated. "He learned this new trick, it's called 'Make daddy do his angry dance by putting expensive things in the toilet.'" Pete explained.
"I see." Larry said. "Well the collars are on the other side of the store, so I suggest you go find one and let Patrick do his job."
Patrick was so greatful for this man, seriously.
Pete however, wasn't.
"Fine." He pouted, before sulking over to the collar corner.
He re-emerged about five minutes later, carrying about six or so. Patrick was sitting at the front counter taking a water break when Pete walked up.
"Larry is making a phone call in the back." Patrick said. "I'll go get him and he can check you out."
"No need, I haven't decided yet." Pete stated, setting the six collars out on the counter in front of him. "You should help me decide." Pete said. "I can't make up my mind."
"I... I don't know." Patrick mumbled. "The blue one?" He suggested, taking a sip of his water.
Pete held up the blue collar, inspecting it. "You know this would be a great color on you." He said. "You're probably not into that kind thing though..." Patrick choked on his water. "I mean if you are... then that's cool. We could have a lot of fun," he winked. Like Pete said, his new favorite hobby was making Patrick all flustered, and he was about as red as a tomato.
"You ready?" Larry asked, reappearing. Patrick was so greatful for his return.
"Yeah." Pete said. "I'll take this blue one."
So, Pete came back the next day as well, this time with Hemingway, who decided he didn't want to be on a leash, so Pete set him free once inside.
This time he spotted Patrick struggling to reach something off the top shelf. Pete chuckled to himself. "Need help?" He asked.
Patrick sighed. "I got it, thanks." He mumbled. It's not like Pete was that much taller than him anyway.
"Suit yourself." Pete said. "Hey, where can I find the dog shampoo?"
"It's right behind you." Patrick mumbled, not allowing himself to spare one glance towards Pete, as he finally grabbed what he was reaching for.
Pete turned around, noting the wall of shampoo products. "Heh, right, well then. What would you recommend for a nice shiny coat?" He asked just as Hemmy came waddling down the isle. "Hemmy here says he wants his hair to be as nice and soft as Patrick's." Pete crouched down next to his dog, then cooed in his pet voice, "Isn't that right Hemmy?"
"How do you you know how soft my hair is?" Patrick raised an eyebrow, finally sparing a look towards Pete that he hoped expemplified how creeped out he was.
"Just assuming." Pete replied. "It's nice and shiny after all. Do you use Main&Tail or something?"
"No." Patrick said flatly. "I have to work now."
"It's okay, I don't mind." Pete said, not leaving.
"What's this for?" Pete asked, pointing towards a small cage-like contraption.
"It's a racoon trap." Larry answered causing Pete to jump. He appeared out of nowhere and was holding a broom. He appeared to have been sweeping. "Those rascals have been out and about lately, we got requests for 'em."
"Oh." Pete answered. Silently cursing at the man. He really just wanted to be left alone with Patrick. Larry knew that. But Pete smirked anyway. "That's interesting, because the only rascal I see around here is this one." He stated, nodding towards Patrick. "What with having stolen my heart and everything."
Patrick rolled his eyes. Larry Laughed.
"You're running out of cheesey pickup lines." Patrick mumbled, before exiting the isle.
"Come on! It wasn't that bad!" Pete called after him.
Larry laughed again. "You're trying too hard, kid." He said, giving him a pat on the back.
Pete sighed and chased after Patrick.
"You never answered my question, you know." Pete pointed out, catching up with Patrick's hurried pace.
"I thought I made it fairly clear..." Patrick said. "I'm sorry, Pete... but..."
"Why wont you give me a chance?" Pete asked. Okay so he was sounding a little desperate now, but he didn't care. He pulled Patrick to a stop.
"I'm seventeen." Patrick said. "You're like, thirty. Aren't there more people around your own age? I don't understand why you're trying so hard." Patrick stated.
Pete raised an eyebrow. Thirty? Really? "I'm only twenty three, dude." He said. "See it's not that weird."
"I still don't understand why you're interested in me." Patrick stated, flushed.
Pete smirked. "Well, you're freaking adorable."
Patrick flushed again. "I... I don't... that's no reason to stalk me." He mumbled.
"Well you're also sexy as hell, but I wanted to avoid any kind of lawsuit, so I left that part out." Pete explained.
So that's where you draw the line. Patrick thought sarcastically. "I... No I'm not. Seriously, I'm sure there are much more attractive guys your own age."
"What can I say? I have a thing for short pale guys." Pete added.
"How do you even know I'm gay?"
Pete smirked. "You wouldn't have put up with me for this long if you weren't at least the slightest bit interested in me."
"Maybe I'm just a nice guy." Patrick offered. "And maybe you're conceited."
Pete smirked. "Well, are you gay?" He asked, ignoring the minor insult.
Patrick pursed his lips. "That's none of your business." He mumbled before attempting to walk away.
Pete followed him again. "I'll take that as a yes...?"
Patrick didn't answer. "Look," he said. "I'm sorry but... I just... I'm not... You're a lot older than me, and I just don't really think I'm your type."
"Of course you're my type!" Pete argued. "You're adorable, and beautiful and sexy..."
Patrick flushed, averting his gaze to the floor. "No I'm not." He mumbled. "You could just be some weird pedophile for all I know."
Pete sighed. "Don't... yes you are! You're lucky I'm not a dog, or I would be all up on your leg."
At this, Patrick cocked his eyebrow.
Pete mentally punched himself. "I... uh..." Not helping your "not a pedophile" case dude. "That... I didn't mean to... That came out wrong."
"You should go." Patrick mumbled before walking away.
Pete sighed again. "I'm such an idiot." He mumbled.
On his way out, he stopped to talk to Larry.
"What am I doing wrong, man?" Pete asked.
Larry chuckled. "Well, I'm no expert on your, uh, homosexual relationships, but you could try being a little less creepy."
Pete sent him a glare. "I'm not creepy." Pete argued.
"You told the kid you wanted to hump his leg." Larry stated.
Pete sighed. "Okay, fine then. What would you suggest?"
"Finding someone you're own age?" The older man offered.
"Besides that." Pete said, rolling his eyes.
"Alright, alright. Well," Larry paused to think. "He's a sweet kid. You could try something a little more romantic, like flowers or hot chocolate."
"Hot chocolate?" Pete questioned.
"Well, every day the kid goes down to the cafe around the corner during his break to get a hot chocolate, so I'm assuming he has a liking for it." He explained.
"When's his break?" Pete asked.
"Well it's usually around one, but Pete..." Larry trailed off.
"Yeah?" He responded, noting the drop in the older man's voice.
"The kid is sweet, but he might honestly not be interested. He's a little scared of you to be honest." He said cautiously.
"What?" Pete furrowed his brow.
"Just... don't get your hopes up, and don't pressure him." Larry warned.
He didn't want the kid to be scared of him. He just thought he was shy, or playing hard to get or something. He wanted the kid to like him, he didn't want to scare him off.
"Alright." He mumbled. "I'll see you around." Pete said melancholically exiting the store.
Pete decided Larry was right. He needed to give Patrick space. Being a creeper wasn't exactly working out for him, and he really didn't want to scare the kid. (He didn't like the idea of being scary.)
So he'd make one last visit, then he'd leave the kid alone. Unless of course there was that slim chance that Patrick would come around.
But again, it was slim.
If he still said no, then... he would just move on. He would deal with it and move on. It's not like he was in love with him or anything. Just... obsessed.
He was obsessed with a seventeen year old.
Larry was right.
He is creepy.
It was worth a shot anyway.
He walked into the store, carrying a bouquet of roses and a cup of hot chocolate. He didn't spot Patrick immediately, and suddenly worried if he had been too late, and Patrick had already left.
He walked around the store before he finally spotted him. He was up on a latter stocking shelves, and... singing.
He was singing softly, and it was a tune Pete didn't recognize, but he was mesmerized nonetheless.
His voice... it was smooth and soft... Pete compared it to an angelic choir. He wondered if the kid was in a band... if he pursued, a voice like that could make him famous one day.
Pete stood there, wide eyed holding a bouquet of flowers and just... staring.
He almost forgot why he had come to the store in the first place.
"Pete...?" He snapped to at the sound of his name.
He had completely forgotten the monologue he prepared in his head.
"You didn't tell me you could sing." He stated, instead.
"I... anyone can sing." He mumbled. "What do you want?" He asked, as he climbed down from the latter.
"Not like you." Pete argued. "Uh..." he paused. "I uh, brought you flowers," He mumbled. Fuck, where did that monologue go? "and, uh, hot chocolate." He held them out as an offering, and Patrick hesitated before reluctantly taking them.
"Um, thanks." He mumbled.
"Larry said that you like hot chocolate... so... uh. Yeah." Pete paused again, mentally slapping himself for being so awkward. "I... um, I wanted to apologize." Pete said. "I didn't mean to be so... uh... I mean I just wanted to... like..." Pete sighed and tried again. "Larry said that I, uh, freaked you out, and I wanted to apologize because that's kind of the opposite of what I wanted to happen. Um, I'm just... not very good at these things you see. But I get it if... like... I mean... I wont bother you anymore. I just... yeah. I'm sorry." Pete finished, not looking Patrick in the eye, and nervously scratching the back of his head.
"Um..." Patrick wasn't exactly sure what to say.
"Yeah. Uh, I'll see you around I guess." Pete exited the store in a hurry, leaving Patrick with flowers and hot chocolate.
He looked down at them, not entirely sure what to think.
Pete didn't come back the next day.
Or the day after that.
It's not like Patrick was looking or waiting for him or anything.
He was just noting the fact that Pete had kept his promise.
It's not like he missed him or anything.
That would be ridiculous. He didn't even know the guy.
All he knew was that he was kind of creepy. Also a little strange.
Okay fine, so the thing with the flowers and the apology was kind of sweet.
But the guy was like six years older than him, and it just wouldn't work.
Then again... what's age anyway?
Patrick shook that thought from his head.
What kind of guy goes after such younger guys anyway?
What kind of hot guy...
No Patrick don't go there. He scolded himself.
Whatever. Patrick decided he should just try and stop thinking about him. Pete promised to leave him alone, so this will all blow over eventually.
A week went by.
Patrick had managed to not think about him the whole time. (Or most of the time.)
But then, one day, as Patrick was stocking the dog food isle, a familiar shape materialized next to him.
Patrick looked at him, his heart rate increased.
Pete grabbed a flat of canned food, gave a wave and a smile to Patrick, then walked away.
Okay, so Patrick might have forgotten that Pete did in fact shop here for reasons other than Patrick.
So much for not thinking about him.
Patrick glanced down and noticed that Hemingway was still seated on the floor, looking up at him. He was wearing his new collar. The blue one. The one that Patrick piked out.
"Uh... hi." Patrick said, before realizing that he was talking to a dog. Pete Wentz's dog.
Hemingway wagged his tail before a whistle caught his attention.
"Hemmy!" Pete called from the front.
Hemingway stood up, and proceeded to lick Patrick's shoe before running to his master.
Patrick followed, though he's not sure why. Larry was fully capable of ringing Pete up himself.
"Hey Patrick," Larry said, once Patrick was in view. "Can you ring him up please? I gotta make a phone call."
Patrick nodded, mentally cursing.
He was silent as he ran the scanner over the box, though he could feel Pete's gaze.
"That'll be thirty-four, eighty seven." Patrick mumbled.
There was more awkward silence as Pete ran his card, and waited for stupidly slow machine to print out the receipt.
Once it finally spit it out, Patrick pulled out a pen and asked Pete to sign.
He didn't even write down his number like Patrick halfway expected him too.
"Alright thanks." Pete said, with a wave and a smile. "Come on Hemmy!" He called. His dog followed.
Then he was walking towards the door.
"God damn it." He mumbled.
What am I doing? He thought as he raced after Pete.
"Pete wait!" He called as Pete had one foot out the door.
"Yeah?" Pete called back, his expression alert, his arms full with the flat of dog food.
"Um..." Patrick hesitated, then exhaled before speaking. "Soymilk." He said.
Pete raised an eyebrow. "What?" He asked.
"Soymilk." He repeated. "I, uh, I usually get my hot chocolate with soy milk. You got regular milk." Patrick smiled. "I guess that means you should try again, and uh, maybe I should come with you this time, just to make sure..."
Pete was grinning. "Are you asking me out on a date?" He inturrupted.
Patrick felt the warmth pooling in his cheeks as he averted his gaze to the floor.
"I... Uh... Maybe." He mumbled.
Then all of a sudden there was something crushing him and lifting him off the ground. Patrick squeaked in surprise.
That something was Pete. The flat was on the floor, and Hemmy was wagging his tail.
"Yesyesyes!" Pete exclaimed in surprise as he continued the bone crusing hug. "Oh my god, I didn't think you'd come around."
Patrick was still slightly taken aback when Pete set him back on the ground. But he was smiling.
"I'll pick you up after work." Pete stated, placing a chaste kiss on the younger boy's cheek.
He then picked up his flat and nearly skipped out of the store.
Patrick was still red and biting down on his lip when he turned around, startled by Larry, whome he wasn't aware was standing directly behind him.
Larry laughed and ruffled his hair. "Good luck with that one, kid." He said.
Patrick shook his head, amused, then proceeded to continue his work restocking the dog food isle.