Patrick Stump didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He may have bared quite a bit of his soul in that blog post, but he just didn’t know what else to do. He was just frustrated and maybe a little bitter. He’d been thinking about going to college, thinking about it so much that it was starting to seem like an actual possibility. Something that he was considering actively and not an idle thought. But all those thoughts of doing something concrete with his future was terrifying and not doing something was even worse.
So, instead of doing anything, he crawled into bed and burrowed in the covers. A blanket fort would have been better, but he just didn’t have the energy and they somehow weren’t the same if Pete hadn’t helped. He rolled over and put all thoughts, especially Pete shaped ones and ones that looked like being a proper grown up with student loans and went the fuck to sleep.
He dreamed of flat land and too much sky like something out of the Midwest and it was all quite blurry and unfocused and not helped by the racket of his cell phone that pulled him out of his slumber.
He answered without out looking at the screen and barely even got out a garbled greeting.
"Trick! Trick hey! Ya busy? Or not busy? It's Tuesday. I can never remember how busy you are on Tuesdays. If you are more or less busy than usual or--."
"Pete," Patrick fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. It was too early in the afternoon for Pete to being so, well, Pete at him. "Wasn't there a rule about the amount of coffee you're actually allowed to consume. I seem to recall Mikey making a rule. Andy witnessed."
"Well, yeah," Pete dismissed. "But I've only had a salad. No coffee at all. Well, since way earlier. It's been hours. And. Well if you can consider a salad made from a few tomatoes that I grew. Which, holy shit. I grew a tomato. It's kinda awesome. And I threw some garlic and olive oil with a bit of salt on it. It was really fucking good. There's some left for when you come over. You're coming over right?"
Patrick was use to the over-the-top, very enthusiastic, mile-a-minute Pete. He was often that all the time. Especially when Ashley had Bronx and he was trying to fill the hours when everyone but him was busy with something else. Patrick just didn't have the energy for Pete right now. Or maybe that was his desire to stay in the nice burrow of covers in his bed. It had been a nice place since he'd kind of put his soul in that blog post and everyone was all sympathetic now. He was too tired to deal with that shit. He should not have answered his phone.
"Pete," Patrick started.
"C'mon! You can watch paint dry with me!" Pete insisted.
"Seriously? What the fuck are you doing Pete?" Patrick asked, sitting up and tossing back the covers. This called for pants. Pete was going to break something major in his house, if he hadn't already, through the very idea of home improvement. Maybe even catch himself on fire.
"Painting! You know that window in the guest bathroom right beside the bathtub?" Pete explained. “It’s kinda been permanently damp from all the water that hits it and needed to dry out and a couple coats of paint in the worse way. It’s probably my fault that the window is in that shape anyway. But that’s the best shower in the house. Just the right amount of water pressure, you know?”
"You better not have any appliances perched on the tub drying anything," Patrick warned, slipping on his shoes and grabbing a jacket.
"Well, how am I supposed to dry out the pane?" Pete asked, then back-peddled. Patrick could hear the guilty lift of his eyebrows over the phone. "I mean. No, Of course not." He made a scoff. “That would be silly and dangerous.”
"Try not to electrocute yourself or glue yourself to anything before I get there." Patrick warned.
"I'll try." Pete sounded like he had his fingers crossed.
"I'm not completely reassured." Patrick admitted.
"This is that one time with the wood glue talking. I told you that wouldn't hold."
"No I told you."
"Well, maybe." Pete conceded. "Maybe a little."
"Yes, I'm unplugging it right now." Pete assured. “Very carefully.”
"Be there in half an hour." Patrick promised and hung up.
Aside from the overwhelming smell of paint fumes and somehow getting wrangled into helping Pete replace a few curtain rods and actually watching paint dry, Patrick would be hard pressed to remember having a better afternoon. He sat beside Pete on the back patio, their shoulders brushing, sharing a bottle of Coke. Pete had a splotch of paint on his cheek. It made him look like Bronx, all boyish and messy and impossible.
Patrick bumped Pete's shoulder with his own and said, "Thanks."
"You're welcome. And yes, without your vast wealth of expertise, I'm sure I would have electrocuted myself and then burned my house down all after glueing my hand to something." Pete was trying for serious, but the corners of his eyes were crinkling.
"No doubt." Patrick smiled and it felt right on his face.
Pete smiled back, warm and delighted , then put his head on Patrick's shoulder and they watched the sun go down.
“I’m going to go back to school,” Patrick said and it sounded like he meant it. Actually, he realized he did mean it. That it was something he wanted and maybe he was even ready for it.
“Yeah?” Pete asked. He sounded like it was inevitable.
“Yeah.” Patrick nodded, fighting that little piece of him that hated anytime Pete sounded like that about him ever.
“What are you going to be when you grow up, Trick?” Pete asked, tone serious, but without the finality of before.
Patrick smiled. Leave it to Pete to phrase it that way. Pete had one foot in Neverland anyway. Never grow old and never surrender. Patrick was just trying to put away some childish things and do something new, something different. Something even more terrifying than putting out an album or fighting pirates, mermaids and pixies.
“I’m not sure yet, something to do with music,” Patrick mused. “Maybe band, actually learn a few more instruments.”
“You’re going to be Mr. Holland when you grow up. Like Mr. Holland’s Opus. You’ll totally have an opus, Trick. Totally.” Pete said, sagely, only poking fun at him a little.
Patrick laughed. “Sure, Pete. That’s exactly what it’ll be like.”
“Don’t be a stranger,” Pete said finally. He’d been quite so long, Patrick had suspected that he’d fallen asleep.
“I won’t.” Patrick promised.
“I mean it,” Pete said and it sounded an awful lot like Don’t leave me behind. Patrick had always been pretty sure that it was the other way around. That he’d never wanted for Pete to leave him behind. But this wasn’t that. Not at all. This was just the beginning of another story.
Patrick decided there was a special level of Hell reserved for people who decided there should be so much paperwork to get into a university. A very special hell with typewriters that had missing keys and a photocopier that never had toner in it and empty supply closets and phones that never stopped ringing or something.
Lots of evil. Very special ring of Hell for them.
But school was kind of great, aside from how lost he was the entire first semester (campus is really big and maybe some stuff happens, like the making of friends after the initial second looks or maybe I skip over college entirely. But everything is cool. Patrick really likes it. He’s even learned to play the bassoon. And like the last year he’s there, his half-great aunt twice removed or somebody leaves him a house on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. I don’t know just go with it. And the house is a real fixer upper. A tiny little house with a terrifying front yard (scary due to the vines EVERYWHERE with ivy AND honeysuckle vine) and the back yard that looks like a prehistoric wasteland. So he calls Bob. Because Bob is handy. Patrick remembers him being handy. The conversation goes something like this:
“Hey Bob, you busy for the next coupla weeks?”
“Why do I get the feeling that this isn’t purely a social call?”
“Because I’m getting ready to ask you if you own a chain saw?”
“Does your house have a zombie infestation?”
“Lizards actually. At least, I’m hoping those are lizards. And a few toad frogs.”
“Toad frogs? How do you know they’re toads and not just frogs. Or like tree frogs?”
“Because my neighbor told me that they probably were.”
“Why do you have toads in your backyard?”
“Because there use to be a coy pond, apparently.”
“Trick, did you even look at the house before you bought it?”
“I didn’t buy it. I inherited it. And the house itself is in fairly good repair, it’s just that it looks like it is sitting in its own enchanted wood. Seriously, there might be gnomes. With pointy little hats and everything.”
“So, I should also see about borrowing a flamethrower and check about Ohio laws regarding such. And probably also a weed-eater. Because you probably don’t have one either.”
“Well, there is a shed that might have tools in it.”
“Yeah, I think.”
“I’m pretty sure that is a shed shaped thing and that’s probably tin roof. I’ve been afraid of trying to bushwhack my way over.”
“And I guess I’m bringing a machete, too.”
“Oh, I already have a machete.”
“You do?” Bob was totally lifting his eyebrows now. Being in a band with the Ways must have given him more tolerance for weird conversation than ever before.
“Yeah, Gabe gave me one to deal with the natives. But it’s the midwest so, no undead hordes.”
“Of course Gabe gave you a machete.” Bob was back to sounding just this side of patronizing.
Then Bob comes up from Nashville and there is the drinking of beer and the clearing away most of the enchanted greenery surrounding Patrick’s house where Patrick proves to be quite handy with a chainsaw much to the surprise of Bob.
Anyway, Patrick gets a job in the greater Columbus area as a band director and really loves teaching. Insert some nonsense about getting along with his coworkers and having strange late night phone conversations with Pete (which is just par the course) and sharing observations about arrangements to Spencer, inappropriate thoughts to Gabe and the most random happenings to Andy, but sometimes Brendon.
For instance, Patrick sent Brendon a text, because he figured Brendon would give him the least amount of crap, with the following:
This morning before 8 I had students visit to show me their
1) 7 foot walking stick
2) light saber
“Did you try to ride the unicycle?” Brendon asked, calling instead of sending back a text message. It sounded windy where he was, like he’d been riding his bike in the hills and pulled over with the wind still chasing him.
“No, I’ve learned that I don’t possess that skill.” Patrick admitted.
“That shit’s fucking hard,” Brendon agreed. “Was it a carved walking stick? Like whittled?”
“Whittled? Who the fuck whittles?” Patrick asked.
“Old men and Jon Walker,” Brendon answered. “So, whittled?”
“Um carved. The kid might have carved it herself, in woodshop.” Patrick answered, remembering.
“She sounds like a badass.”
“The top of it looked like a wizened, bearded man.”
“That just reminds me to shave while sounding awesome.” Brendon said. “Maybe I need a walking stick. Maybe Ryan needs a walking stick.”
“Things still cool between you two?” Patrick asked and felt like he was opening a can of worms.
“Yeah. It’s,” Brendon took a breath. “It’s good actually. Like, we’re actually friends now. Better than we were. Who hang out and like each other.”
“That is nice,” Patrick said, and a little bit of wistfulness slipped into his voice.
“You know, if you just call Pete, he will show up,” Brendon said, seeing right through him.
“Yeah, but I don’t know if I want him too,” Patrick admitted.
“He’s very Pete,” Brendon agreed. “There’s always a chance that he’ll bring a pony and then just kind of exist on your couch.”
“Sometimes, he actually brings things you need though,” Patrick said.
“Yeah,” Brendon agreed. “He’s kinda magic like that. All the more reason to call him and invite him to Ohio, if just so he’ll stop calling me.”
“Are you saying the indelible Brendon Urie can’t handle the philosophical inner workers of Wentz?”
“If you consider concerned whining about how it’s like you won’t even let him think of asking to come over because he has cooties or something philosophical, then yes. It’s far too much. I’d much rather let Gerard Way explain Doom Patrol to me for a fourth time.”
“But Gerard explaining Doom Patrol is kinda great though,” Patrick said.
“Well yeah and I’d totally volunteer to listen to Gerard ramble about comic books, especially when I don’t have any idea what he’s talking about. But you’re missing the point here, Trick.”
“Which is Pete misses me,” Patrick sighed. “Yeah. I heard that.”
ALL the music stuff. He'd end up somehow teaching Choir and the Glee Club alongside his Marching, Concert, and Jazz Band stuff and ultimately getting wrangled into Drama somehow. I don't know. He's like a regular Mr. Holland or something and it’s totally his Opus. Pete was TOTALLY right about that.
Anyway, he'd want to have kids excited about music. He'd want them to learn. And he'd want to fill the hours because the busier he is, the less he thinks about, well, everything. And he's good at this teaching thing and even the kids who are most reluctant, who was just taking music/choir because they needed a credit okay god stop being so inspiring and making me like this Mr. Stump (they totally call him Mr. Stump. I've just decided) eventually like him and *get* him--get that his enthusiasm and love for music is genuine and that he actually, truly gives a shit. Even though most of them have a vague idea of who he is and have their suspicions confirmed via youtube, but they don't give him any crap about it because he doesn't make a big deal about it and he gives a fuckton of homework, so they just don't have time to give him shit about singing precisely and asking if allllllll of Pete’s lyrics are actually about Patrick because awkward.
And he's doing fine with that. He is. Really. He's barely even paying attention how he's sad sometimes and can't quite pinpoint why. Because he LOVES teaching and he LOVES these kids. They inspire him. He's happy in Bumfuck, Ohio. But yeah. And he still writes songs that some people on the radio even sing, but he's quite about it. He's not making a flash about it. He’s never been flashy and he’s not about to start. Sometimes he even produces a thing during summer vacation when he's not busy with Marching Band stuffs. But, he's not sad, he's not.
And Bob Bryar shows up on occasion, because he's Bob and everything is better with Bob. And Bob isn't doing anything industry related anymore, unless you count doing sound at the occasional Nashville club, or playing drums for this jazz/country band that’s completely no pressure and just for fun, and Bob knows that sometimes you just gotta hang out with one of your twitchy friends until they calm down and drink their beer and bring new vegetarian recipes or something because that's how Bob rolls--with fresh veggies he's grown in his Tennessee garden and stuff. But on one of these visits, when Patrick's life has kind of settled and he's realized that he's sad, but he's not thinking about it, or at least he wasn't until Bob got there and Bob just kept looking at him like he gets it.
"I might be a little sad Bryar," Patrick admits on one of these visits. "And I don't know why."
"Yeah you do," Bob says, but not cruelly. Just matter-of-fact, voice of experience, sitting there being a quiet reassurance and strength knowing what it’s like when you’re no longer a part of something that was insane, and terrible and magical and all kinds of awesome all at once and no longer with your made family.
"Well, yeah." Patrick sighs. "But what do I do about it?"
Bob shrugs. "I moved to Nashville and took up gardening. I'm not sure that would work for you." He says wryly.
"Yeah, probably not," Patrick agrees and is able to smile, like a proper smile that he hadn’t been able to find and while, he's still a little sad, it's not such a weight on him. And he buries himself in his work and forgets about it a little. He shouldn't have forgotten, shouldn't have let himself get lulled into a sense of security.
Because as soon as he gets comfortable, Pete shows up, because that's just what Pete does. Pete shows up in the most unsuspecting of moments, usually when he's needed the most. But Patrick was pretty sure he didn't need him. Patrick has fully moved on, okay. Really. He's happy, for the most part. He doesn't need Pete to show up with his everything and the scent of L.A. sun clinging to his jacket. Especially right after Jazz band practice on a Wednesday in the Spring, standing there looking just this side of surprised and so fucking proud it nearly breaks Patrick's heart.
"Pete," Patrick knows that he lets too much into that word. He says more with the inflection of it than he means too. With it he says hi, i've missed you, i didn't miss you at all, where the fuck have you been, why aren’t you hugging me, oh god please don't touch me, i'll never let you go again but mainly what the fuck are you doing here go away-no-stay.
And Pete hears every unspoken word, because that's how they are even after everything. Because Pete says even more when he says, "Trick."
"Pete, what...." Patrick cannot finish. He's a little beside himself. They had only exchanged the occasional email or text and the totally not unexpected middle of the night phone call where Pete just needs someone to listen to his silences or listen to Patrick sleep, like a creeper, and Pete had been dropping hints about showing up and visiting but Patrick kept putting him off and kind of hoping Pete would and wouldn't show up. Because Pete is a glaring reminder of that old life. Pete's still very much in the thick of all that still. Very much being Pete and running his little label and making a pest of himself on the internet, same old, same old.
"So, BFE, Ohio. A little out of the way. I had to go through O’Hare, man."
And like I'm sure this is the part where the reunion tearfully/happily happens and Pete's all, "C'mon, let's do some Fall Out Boy stuff again."
And I'm not sure what Patrick would say to that. Whether he outright say, "No." Or he'd say, "Only in the summer and only if it doesn't interfere with Marching Band and only if it's not like it was before, not at all. Because, it has to be fun. It doesn't have to mean anything, but it can't break his heart his time.”
And I just don't know. I just want Patrick happy and sassy. And I think he could be either way. And I think that Pete would be a grown-up and supportive enough to want him happy either way.
And then Patrick lived happily ever after, possibly shagging Pete again-maybe and Bob is awesome. I don't know. Just all this.
Okay, scratch that. Patrick can totally say "no" and soon followed by "maybe later" because he doesn’t mean ‘no’. He means anything but no. And anyway, Pete totally hears yes anytime Patrick says no anyway, unless it’s really important or when Patrick actually means no. So anyway, Pete starts to wear him down and sleeps in his guest room and ends up checking out the music scene and the farmer’s market and dragging Patrick out to places that is not Patrick’s house and generally makes a marvelous and wonderful pest out of himself and totally tricks him back into everything. Probably. Idk. But I’m sure it’s a happy ever after kind of thing. The End.