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Pete dug his cell phone out of his pocket. "I'm calling to complain."

"What?" Patrick yanked the cell out of his hand. "No you're not."

"Patrick." Pete flapped a hand in the direction of the pool. "They sent us a pool boy who wears clothes. That's against the Rich People With Mansions And Pools code!"

Patrick said -- much more quietly, because they were standing out on the mid-level porch opposite the pool, and it was entirely possible said pool boy could hear them -- "No it's not. Also, firing the guy for not dressing skimpy enough could probably get us sued for sexual harassment."

Pete 'pff'd and then cupped his hands around his mouth. "TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT, POOL BOY!"

The pool boy -- guy, pool guy, he was clearly in his twenties -- froze mid-algae sweep and looked up at them.

"Sorry," Patrick called. "He was just kidding."

He tried to cover Pete's mouth with his hand but Pete dodged. "NO I WASN'T! SHOW US SOME SKIN!"

Grabbing Pete's arm Patrick started dragging him back toward the house. "I'm really sorry!" he yelled over his shoulder. "Please don't sue us!"

*

A week later, Patrick was in the hammock in the sun room going over the draft film score that was due in a week when he heard voices outside.

"It's fine." The pool boy -- guy.

"No it's not, really, it's a mess, you should let me take care of it." Pete.

"Um. No. Really. It's really fine."

Patrick groaned and floundered out of the hammock.

When he got outside Pete had the pool guy a mere half dozen feet from the doors to the ground floor living room. He appeared to be trying to undress him while also possibly abducting him.

"Pete," Patrick said.

Pete looked up and grinned at him. "Patrick! Hey, I thought you were working in your hammock."

"I was, but I thought I'd come outside and see what you're doing," Patrick said through gritted teeth.

The pool guy was trying to pry Pete's fingers from where they'd twisted in the fabric of his hoodie -- and, okay, honestly Patrick did not know who in their right mind would wear a hoodie to clean pools in the summer in southern California; but still, it wasn't his place to criticize -- and not having any luck. Pete was like a leech. Or a tick. Or some other creature that would not let go once he got a hold of you.

The hoodie was black, but the blobs of melting ice cream smeared all over the front of it were still easy enough to see.

"What happened?" Patrick said.

"Oh, you know." Pete shoved discreetly up on the guy's hoodie while the guy shoved insistently down. "I thought Bob here looked a little warm, so I took some ice cream out for him. And then tripped. And got it all over him. Oops!"

"Yeah, oops." Patrick could feel his face turning red. "Pete. Let the guy go."

"You really should take this off and let me clean it up for you," Pete said to Bob.

"PETE. Let the guy go," Patrick said.

Since Patrick said it in his "or else I will HIT YOU, anger management classes be damned" voice, Pete looked disappointed but let go.

Bob started backing away immediately. "Okay, then, I'll just finish up and..."

"Yeah, thanks," Patrick said. He tugged on the brim of his hat, trying to pull it down over his face more. Up close Bob the pool guy had really nice eyes. And a lip ring. Patrick cleared his throat. "And sorry about that. Again."

"No problem," Bob muttered, and fled.

*

When Ashlee came by to pick up Pete for their date later, Pete greeted her at the door by burying his face against her neck and drooping all of his weight on her. She didn't even stagger. She was used to it.

"Ashlee," Pete moaned despondently. "The pool boy still won't take off his clothes."

"Aw, I'm sorry." Ashlee patted his back, grinning at Patrick when Patrick rolled his eyes.

*

The next week Patrick was heading toward the kitchen for an afternoon snack and intercepted Pete on his way to the back porch. Pete had a balloon; when Patrick got close, he pinched his nose.

"What the hell is in that balloon?"

Pete tried for an innocent expression. "Nothing."

"Pete." Patrick propped his hands on his hips. "Is that a piss balloon?"

"No," Pete said, shifting to hold the balloon behind his back.

"PETE. You are not going to throw a piss balloon at the pool guy to get him to take his clothes off."

"You are no fucking fun, Pattycakes," Pete said. "You want to see him naked too, don't even try to lie."

Patrick blushed just at the accusation, and then blushed harder when thinking about it for a second made him realize that yes, yes he did want to see Bob the pool guy naked.

Nevertheless. He wanted to not be sued even more.

Pete grumbled when Patrick pointed him to the bathroom, but went and disposed of the piss balloon anyway.

*

After that Patrick made a point to hang out by the pool whenever Bob came by. It mostly worked, except for that one time Pete came screaming out of the house at top speed and tackled Bob into the pool.

Bob still didn't remove any clothing that time, either. He just finished the day's work wet. Patrick tried not to be too secretly disappointed.

*

Patrick had no idea why Bob didn't quit or sue.

"I have no idea why you don't quit or sue," he said to Bob.

Bob was packing up his stuff. He had narrowly missed getting blasted by a Super Soaker full of vinegar about ten minutes ago. Patrick had seen Pete coming and pulled out his own Super Soaker full of blue Kool-Aid that he'd had stashed under the deck chair, and nailed Pete first.

Bob just shrugged. "You know. It's a job."

Patrick made a face. "I'm pretty sure you could find people to work for who weren't, I don't know, crazy."

"You'd be surprised," Bob said. But his ears had turned pink.

Patrick thought that was a little suspicious.

"Do you actually like working for Pete?" Patrick said.

Bob shrugged again. "Like I said, it's a job."

But the pink was spreading to his cheeks.

"No," Patrick said. "Don't tell me. You have a crush on Pete."

"What?" Bob looked up, startled. "No I don't."

"Yes you do." Patrick scowled. "Jesus, I should have guessed. How the fuck he does it I have no idea, but everybody always ends up crushing on Pete."

"I don't have a crush on Pete," Bob insisted, but he was blushing harder.

Patrick shoved up off the deck chair. "Really. Well, Pete's girlfriend will be so relieved she doesn't have competition."

He knew he was being a little bitchy, but honestly. Why was it always Pete? And Pete only wanted this guy to get naked because he had this idea in his head that pool boys were supposed to wander around scantily clad trying to seduce their employers, and when reality didn't match Pete's rich fantasy world Pete did his damnedest to fix that.

At least Patrick wanted to get the guy naked purely to take advantage of him sexually.

...something about that didn't sound right in Patrick's head, but he didn't have time to examine it.

"Pete has a girlfriend?" Bob snapped his chemical box closed and slowly stood. "I thought you and him were a thing." His eyes got big. "Um. Not that it's any of my business."

Patrick blinked at him. "God no, we're not a thing." Seriously, he loved Pete, and Pete loved him, but. "Hah. No."

"Oh."

And oddly enough, instead of looking disappointed, Bob looked...relieved. Patrick kept babbling while he tried to figure that out.

"No, no, Pete and I have been friends for years, and we got the house together, but no, that was just because he couldn't afford it on his own." He waved a hand awkwardly. "Plus, Pete's gayness is...well. It's mostly theoretical. And entirely above the waist."

Bob nodded, squinting away over the pool to the fantastic view of the valley below. He had his lip caught between his teeth and was worrying his lip ring with the tip of his tongue. Patrick tried not to stare.

"So are you saying that you have gayness that's --" Bob shuffled in place and cleared his throat delicately. "Not theoretical?"

Patrick's long pause after that question was partly due to knee-jerk self-consciousness, but also partly because he was attempting to add two and two and was, in fact, coming up with four.

"No," he said slowly. "It's completely factual, actually."

"Huh," Bob said.

*

Pete barged into Patrick's room later without knocking -- as usual -- to ask if Patrick wanted to go see "Iron Man 2" with him and Ashlee.

He didn't interrupt anything but the afterglow, and the bed sheet was covering all the important parts, but still.

"Oh my god!" Pete leaned back out the door and shouted, "Ashlee! Patrick got Bob's shirt off!"

Bob groaned and pulled a pillow over his face. Patrick threw another pillow at Pete. Pete ducked, grinning like a maniac.

"Out!" Patrick yelled, and this time threw his alarm clock.

Pete pulled the door quickly shut. After the clock thudded off it and fell to the floor, he poked his head back in. "We're leaving in about forty-five minutes, and going for sushi after. Bob can come to."

When he was gone Patrick sighed. He lifted the pillow off Bob's face enough to see one blue eye. "So. Want to catch a movie and have some sushi?"

Bob the pool guy smiled and shrugged. "As long as I can wear clothes."

***