It's Patrick who calls him, on a rainy afternoon in Dublin in November, three hours before they're supposed to be on stage. He's curled up on his hotel bed, half-asleep, dreaming of summer and bass chords, and he almost doesn't answer his phone—wouldn't, except that it's Patrick.
"Hey Mikey," Patrick says, and then, without any preamble at all, "Pete's writing a song about you."
"Huh," Mikey says slowly, blinking awake. His fingers pull and tap on his thigh: I found the cure to growing older. "Huh."
"I thought you should know," Patrick says, "and I wasn't sure he would tell you."
"Is it—" he starts, but then he's not sure which question to ask.
Patrick answers the important one, though. "Yeah, it's a good song. Maybe even a great song." He pauses, and Mikey can hear the affection in his voice. "Although it's Pete, you know, so he's calling it 'Summer of Like' and hatching plans to confuse the press. But. Yes."
"It's a good song," Mikey echoes, and it must be, because Patrick's the best possible judge. "Well. Carry on, I guess."
"Would've anyway," Patrick says dryly, "but thanks. Give our love to the guys."
"Right," he says, and Patrick hangs up.
He stares at his Sidekick until the screen goes dark, thinking of texting Pete, thinking of calling Alicia. Fall Out Boy is in Colorado, or maybe Missouri, somewhere sunny and autumnal and familiar. He hadn't thought that "parting on amicable terms," meant song material, but Pete is all about breaking arbitrary rules, and "just friends" is the oldest misnomer in the book.
Gerard comes in as he's putting away his Sidekick and stares at Mikey intently, forehead furrowed. "What's going on?"
"Pete's writing a song about me," Mikey says. "Patrick called to warn me."
"Well," Gee says slowly, drawing out the long vowel, "I guess we should have anticipated that."
"Patrick says it's a good song," Mikey offers, cautiously. He's not sure how he feels about it, not really, not yet.
Gee frowns, entirely serious. "It better be, because otherwise I will punch him in the face for writing a bad song about my little brother."
Mikey laughs, and Gerard changes the subject, and when Alicia calls, later, they talk about furniture and carpet colors and Ireland, From First To Last and the thirty-year-old bass guitar Alicia is refurbishing, and Mikey doesn't mention Pete at all.
He doesn't think about it for almost a week—European tours are all-consuming, and over the last few months he's taught himself not to dwell on thoughts of Pete—but in Copenhagen he rips his hoodie in a way that can't be passed off as intentional or artistic, and swaps it out for the Clan one balled up in the bottom of his suitcase. It hasn't been washed since August, and he can still smell Pete in the soft folds, sense memory and sensation and glorious sunsets, sweat and sand and music and long summer nights.
He plays their Berlin show in the hoodie, too hot under stage lights, and doesn't take it off when he falls into bed. He's still too wired to sleep, and it's almost automatic to slide his hand down the front of his jeans, wrap his fingers around his cock and imagine they belong to another bassist, someone with dark hair, eyeliner-ringed eyes, and a wide, wicked mouth.
There was one night on Warped, in Peoria or maybe Marysville, somewhere too hot for coherent thought, and he and Pete had gone out behind the buses, sprawled out in the scrubby grass and stared up at the stars. He remembers Pete's mouth on his sticky skin and Pete's hands under his shirt, Pete's long, sweat-slick fingers on his cock, and he barely manages to shove his jeans out of the way before he's coming hard and fast across his hands.
Ray is snoring softly in the other bed, and Mikey lies there for a minute, shaking. It's two in the morning in Berlin, and 7 pm in New York, and it's not the first time he's gotten off thinking about Pete Wentz. But there are three months and thousands of miles between then and now, Alicia and domesticity and something approaching adulthood, and Pete should be consigned to the long summer nights of dreams and memories.
He leaves his jeans on the floor and goes into the bathroom, splashes water on his face and digs his Sidekick out of the pocket of the hoodie. Alicia answers on the second ring, "Hey, babe. Everything okay?"
"I don't think I'm over Pete," Mikey blurts, and winces. He really prefers to leave the emotional word vomit to Gee.
She's quiet for a long moment, and he stares at himself in the mirror. His eyes are wide, blurry without his glasses, and his pupils are dilated.
"Well," Alicia says eventually, "Pete's not easy to get over."
"Mikey," Alicia says firmly, "Relax. Play your shows. Try not to freak out. You don't have time to freak out, right now. We'll talk about it when you get home, okay? And you'll seriously feel a million times better if you get some sleep."
He takes a deep breath. "I think I love you."
"Yeah, yeah." She sounds fond, though, and he does feel better. He forgets, when she's not around, how solid Alicia is, how he would give up almost anything to keep her in his life. He misses Pete desperately in the few dark, silent moments when he lets himself think about the things he's lost, but he has Alicia, now, and she fills empty spaces he didn't even know he had.
"Thanks, Alicia." He breathes out on a long sigh.
"Anytime, babe," she says. "Is everything else okay? How are the guys?"
"Good. Things are—yeah, good." He's still pale and red-eyed in the bathroom light, but he's not shaking anymore. "I like Berlin."
"I'd like to go there, sometime." She sounds like she's smiling, and he can picture her: stretched out on their new couch in their new apartment in New York, her feet up on the coffee table, her eyes closed. "I miss you," she says, "but you should sleep. We'll talk tomorrow?"
"Definitely," he says, "I'll call you in the morning. Sometime. Somebody's morning." She laughs, and blows him a kiss across the phone line, and he hangs up.
He slips back into bed, careful not to wake Ray, and he falls asleep thinking of Alicia, and if he dreams about Pete he doesn't remember it in the morning.
They get home from Europe on the shady side of midnight, after what feels like years of international travel hell. No one is awake enough to drive, and Bob's flight to Chicago has to be rescheduled, anyway, so they pile into a cab and crash at Mikey and Alicia's apartment in Brooklyn, Ray and Gerard in the guest room and Bob and Frank in a many-limbed pile on the couch. Mikey crawls in with Alicia and passes out before even kissing her hello, all wrapped up in the still-strange comfort of home.
He wakes up, once, to say good-bye to his band, and stays awake long enough to make out with Alicia for a while before sliding back into sleep. When he wakes up a second time the afternoon sun is shining through the curtains and he's alone in the bed. He stretches, rolling out the travel kinks in his back and shoulders, and reaches for his glasses.
Alicia is curled up in the armchair across the room, typing lightly on her laptop. She's wearing pajamas—a black tank top and Nightmare Before Christmas pants that she stole from Gerard—and no make-up, and she looks fantastic.
"Hey," he says, voice still crackly with sleep, "It's good to be home."
She looks up, smiling. "Does that mean you're awake enough to have sex?"
He laughs, startled, and her smile widens into a grin. "You might have to do all the work," he suggests, but the truth is he's half-hard already.
"I think I can manage that." She sets the laptop aside and tugs her shirt off over her head. She really is gorgeous, all long lines, curves and angles, and he hasn't been away for that long—barely three weeks—but they haven't been together that long, either, and her body is still new to him, still breathtaking.
"I could call you on the ogling," Alicia says, hands on her hips, "but I think you're probably allowed."
"It's appreciative and respectful ogling," Mikey says, shoving back the covers and sitting up against the pillows.
"Damn right," she agrees, grinning, and steps out of the pants. She's not wearing any underwear, and she leaves the pants on the floor, climbs onto the bed and straddles him, warm and soft against his skin.
He runs his hands down her back, up her sides, cups her breasts and tilts his chin up to meet her mouth. She kisses dirty, the sharp bite of teeth on his lip and her tongue rough and quick in his mouth.
"Hey," she says, licking at his lips, "blowjob?"
His knees fall apart of their own accord and she laughs, wriggling backward to rub her ass against his cock. "I'll take that as a yes."
He nods and captures her mouth again, running his tongue along the full bow of her lower lip. She kisses back for a long, breathless moment and then pulls away, pushing up to her knees and sliding down the bed, kissing her way across his stomach and nibbling on the arch of his hip.
Alicia doesn't really mess around, which he appreciates—especially since he's hard and leaking and verging on desperate. Instead, she licks a long stripe up the side of his cock, dances the tip of her tongue around the head once, twice, and then wraps a hand around the base and goes for it. He loves her mouth, all wet heat and wicked tongue, and it's not long before he's arching up, groaning into the pillows.
She pulls off, flicking her tongue across the slit, and he gasps, "Alicia—"
"Shh," she says. "Lift your hips."
He obeys, and she shoves a pillow under his back. "What—" he starts, but then she's reaching around him to grab the lube off the nightstand and he thinks he knows where this is going. She smiles at him as she slicks her fingers, and then she's bending down, swallowing his cock and sliding one long finger up his ass. "Jesus—" he moans, and she laughs around him, adds another finger and fucks him in slow counterpoint to her mouth on his cock. Between her mouth and her fingers he loses track until he's coming, sudden and hot as she swallows him down.
He lies there, boneless when she pulls away and goes into the bathroom to get a drink of water, still boneless when she comes back and curls up around him, trailing kisses along his neck and jaw. "Thanks," he says eventually, still raw.
"Mmm," she says, nibbling on his earlobe, and then, "Can I fuck you?"
"I thought you just did." He certainly feels fucked.
"Sex makes you stupid," she says, rolling her eyes, "I mean with the strap-on."
That's certainly worth snapping out of the post-orgasm stupor, and he nods, "Oh, yeah."
She sits up, and he doesn't know why he's surprised that she's already wearing the harness, why he didn't notice it when she came back from the bathroom. "You're kind of a sure thing, Mikey Way," she says when he raises an eyebrow, and he laughs.
"How do you want me?"
She taps a finger against her lips and smiles, close-mouthed and wicked, "You can stay on your back, I think, but help me with the dildo, first."
They haven't done this a lot, but he loves the way Alicia looks in the strap-on, the way the stark curves of harness and dildo echo the long lines of her body. He's still open from earlier and she slides in slowly, slick with lube, careful until the head of the dildo brushes against his prostate and he gasps, "Okay—good—" His cock stirs as Alicia pulls out and pushes back in, rougher, and then he's getting hard again.
"Pretty good refractory period for a 25-year-old," Alicia remarks.
Mikey grabs her ass with both hands, "Shut up and fuck me, bitch."
"I'm gonna tell Gerard you called me a bitch," she says, but then she does fuck him, fast and deep, and he pushes down on the dildo and up into her hands, moans against her mouth and sucks hard on her tongue.
She pulls away to slide her mouth across his jaw, down the side of his neck to his shoulder, and his eyes slide shut until he's all sensation: cock in his ass and mouth on his skin and long, skilled fingers on his cock. "God—" he gasps, and thinks, Pete, and Alicia says, "Okay, so, I think we should have a Pete clause."
His eyes snap open, and it's Alicia above him, Alicia's hands and mouth, and he brings one hand around to slide two fingers into her cunt—Alicia, not Pete. "A—what?"
She clenches around his fingers and fucks him harder, slower, "A Pete clause. It's not—fuck, Mikey—it's not cheating if it's Pete."
"But—" He's not at all sure this is the right time to have this conversation. "I don't—"
"You do," she says. "You want to fuck him again, he wants to fuck you again, hell, I want to fuck him again. It's Pete, he's—he's not exactly someone you can have a normal relationship with."
"I don't want a normal relationship with Pete," Mikey says. He feels like he's missing something, plus Alicia is still fucking him and it's really distracting. He twists his fingers, rubs his thumb between her clit and the edge of the dildo. "That's why I'm dating you."
Alicia tightens her hand on his cock, "What I mean is you don't have to choose."
He thought he'd chosen already, back in August, or in Chicago in September when "hanging out" had meant "going to the mall," instead of "fucking like bunnies." Autumn had crept in, inexorable and devastating, and he'd chosen adulthood because summer flings weren't meant to last, because he was turning twenty-five and falling in love with Alicia, because Pete had shut his mouth and kept his hands to himself and given Mikey and Alicia his blessing before there was anything to bless. But Pete had never really given him a choice, never said, "what if," or "maybe again," and Mikey hadn't either, and now Pete was writing songs and Mikey was longing for summer and Alicia was fucking him, deep and desperate, and talking about having everything he wanted all at once.
"Alicia—" He's a second away from orgasm, and all it takes is one more push and twist and they're both coming hard. She pulls out quickly and slips off the harness, and they collapse together in the damp sheets, sticky and sated.
"The thing is," Alicia says, after a while, "that we all deserve to be happy. And maybe we need Pete for that. Maybe Pete needs us."
"He's writing a song about me," Mikey says.
Alicia wraps an arm around his waist and pillows her head on his shoulder. "I know."
She laughs, lightly, "I saw him when they were in Chico, a couple weeks ago."
Mikey blinks. "I—um. Wow, okay." He forgets, sometimes, how close Pete and Alicia really are, and it gives him a strange sort of hope. What Alicia and Pete had was different, simpler and less devastating when it ended, but they're still friends—friends again—and Mikey wants that, too.
"Anyway," Alicia adds wryly, just a little bitter, "Pete only writes songs about people he's in love with."
"We were never—" Mikey starts, but it's a lie, because they were, summer-addled and short-lived though it always had to be. Only maybe it didn't have to be that way. They had too many broken hearts between them, already. "Okay," he says, instead, and Alicia smiles against his shoulder, "Okay, let's try it."
The problem, of course, is that they don't have any time. From First To Last's tour starts on November 25th, and Alicia flies back to California a week early to practice with the band. She's played with them before—most recently in the studio—but never like this, never as a performance bassist instead of a stand-in tech, and it's almost as terrifying as it is exciting. Mikey has a few more days with her, sexy, quiet, and domestic, and then he's kissing her good-bye for another month and taking the train up to Belleville for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving at the Way household is the same as always, too much food and too much family, loud and boisterous and amazingly Jersey. Holidays without Elena are still hard, but their Mom invites the Ieros and Jamia and the entire extended Toro-Ortiz clan, and they spill out of the house and into the yard, wrapped up in heavy winter coats and cradling plates laden with five different kinds of stuffing and cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and turkey—or tofurkey, in Frank's case. When they're home, it's easy to forget that they're rockstars. Not to regress, exactly—regressing is too dangerous for all of them—but to relax, to smile more and put the campaigns aside, to worry less about what they say and do and represent.
Mikey leans against Ray on the back steps and eats turkey with his gloved fingers, watches Jamia do Frank impressions and Gerard alternate food with cigarettes, and loves them all immensely. His heart is full, but bursting is the wrong sort of a metaphor, because hearts aren't limited in their capacity. He thinks maybe Gee should write a song about that.
"Did Alicia go home?" Ray asks.
"California," Mikey says, "From First To Last starts touring tomorrow. She said something about trying to have a turkey on the bus, but I think it's a recipe for disaster."
Ray laughs. "I love your girlfriend, man, but she is scary in the kitchen. I think the turkey would take her out."
"Plus the bus part," Mikey agrees, because it's not like there's anywhere on a tour bus to brine a turkey, much less, like, cook one.
"Yeah. But I guess we're back on the road pretty soon, too." Ray sets his plate aside and takes out his cigarettes, lights one and passes the pack to Mikey. "Canada, get ready to rock."
"No rest for the wicked," Mikey says dryly, and Ray grins. Wicked, maybe, but they wouldn't have it any other way.
Gerard shoves Frank over into a pile of half-frozen leaves, laughing his high, hilarious laugh, and Frank swipes at his knees until Gee topples, landing heavily on top of him. Jamia steps out of the way before Frank can grab her, too, and laughs and laughs as Frank and Gerard wrestle in the leaves.
Mikey thinks suddenly of water parks and '80s movies, popsicles and diner breakfasts and long hugs and slow kisses and the inevitable slide of friendship into romance, brilliant and sunlit and safe, knowing that they fit together like long-absent puzzle pieces. He wants Pete desperately, abruptly, and Alicia was right, because he and Pete never stopped fitting.
His forgotten cigarette burns his fingers and he jerks, "Ow, shit." He stubs out the smoldering embers on the stoop and sucks on his fingers.
"Space cadet," Ray says fondly, and Mikey rolls his eyes. "Genius," he says around his throbbing fingers, and Ray grins. "Let's get you some ice, genius. There might even be pie by now."
In the yard, Jamia joins Frank and Gerard in the leaves, flailing wildly as they tag-team tickle her, laughing. Mikey stands and follows Ray into the house.
Later, though, in the silent darkness of his childhood bedroom, he sends Pete a text for the first time in months, two quick, half-hopeful words: miss you.
He doesn't hear anything from Pete, but the next couple of days are a whirlwind of tour prep and last-minute practice, rewriting set lists and packing the bus. He manages to disappear for all the heavy lifting, but he's still too busy to even talk to Alicia, much less worry about Pete's continued radio silence. Before he knows it, they're back on the road and headed to Canada.
The first few Canadian shows are fantastic. They're all in top form after a week of sleep and sex and home cooking and good coffee, and their fans are noisy and demanding, just the way they like them best. Mikey signs about a million shirts and napkins in Ottawa, and takes two million pictures in Quebec City. In Montreal they play four encores, and he calls Alicia to compare tour notes. They talk for an hour, giddy from doing what they love best for crowds who adore them, and he goes to sleep smiling.
And then, four days into the tour, at a sold-out show in London, Ontario, he spots Pete sidestage. He's leaning against an unused amp, hip cocked, hands in the pockets of his too-tight jeans, and he's watching Mikey intently, shadowed and unreadable. Mikey stares back, his fingers stuttering on the chords of "Ghost of You."
Pete looks exactly the same as he did when Mikey saw him last—in Chicago in September, on a cold, dreary, awkward day of half-touches and rough edges and not-quite-friends. In Chicago in September Pete had huddled in his hoodie and made self-deprecating jokes, the bottom arc of his swinging moods, and Mikey couldn't help but join him there, dark like summer had never been. He misses that Pete, too, though—the Pete who hurts like he hurts, miserable without reason, the Pete who exacerbates his highs and lows. He misses all of Pete.
This Pete—the Pete unexpectedly standing sidestage in Ontario—smiles broadly, all bravado, and Mikey snaps back into the moment and covers his mistake. Gee glances over his shoulder, eyes widening comically when he catches sight of Pete, but he doesn't miss a beat, just launches them into the opening of "Thank You For The Venom," and Mikey closes his eyes and plays.
He gets through the rest of the show that way, wrapping himself up in the music. When Frank comes whirling to his side of the stage, though, Mikey catches his arm. Gee's busy with crowd spiel, and they have just enough time.
"I need the bus," he says quietly under the roar of the crowd.
To his credit, Frank doesn't even blink. "How long?"
Mikey shrugs, "Couple of hours, at least." He doesn't look at Pete.
Frank nods slowly, "Food and maybe an emergency, then." He grins, "I can do that."
Little known fact about Frank Iero: he is excellent in a crisis. He's the go-to guy when you need something done—reckless, and a little crazy, and entirely devoted to his friends. Unlike Ray and Gee, he doesn't ask a lot of questions, and unlike Bob, the end always justifies the means. "Thanks," Mikey says, "I'll owe you one."
For the first time, Frank's eyes cut sidestage. "No need," he says softly, and winks at Mikey. "You'd do the same for me."
Up at the front of the stage, Gerard shouts, "Do you know what they do to guys like us in prison?" and Frank spins away into Gee's space, up against his side, yelling with the crowd.
Mikey catches Pete's eye and mouths "Stay." Pete nods, and for a second it's summer again, and they're arranging private moments with notes tucked in pockets and written across palms, complicated codes to keep their secret for as long as possible, to hold each other close against the prying eyes of the world.
They close the show with "I'm Not Okay," and clear the stage slowly, waving to their screaming fans. Pete, waiting for them, claps Bob on the shoulder and hugs Ray and Gee. "Still won't run away with me, Iero?" he says to Frank, and Frank laughs. "In your dreams, Wentz." He jumps up on Bob and grabs Gee's hand, "Come on guys, I'm starving."
Ray lingers, glancing worriedly at Mikey, but Frank yells, "Hurry up, Toro, or you don't eat," and Mikey says, "I'll catch up." The lie sounds pretty blatant to him, but Ray just nods and says, "Good to see you, Wentz"—ever unfailingly polite—and goes off after the others.
Alone with Pete, Mikey feels suddenly awkward. He rubs his hand across the back of his neck, shuffles his feet. He's sweaty and gross, but at least he knows that Pete's seen him looking worse. "So. Um. What are you doing here?"
Pete shrugs one shoulder in studied nonchalance. "We have a show in Detroit tomorrow." It's no kind of answer and they both know it. "Also," Pete adds, not looking at Mikey, "your girlfriend told me you wanted to fuck."
Mikey blinks. "Um." Brilliant. "I—yes."
"I've never been any good at saying no to booty calls," Pete says. He's smiling tightly, brittle around the edges. Mikey really hates that smile, so he steps forward and tucks his hands in the pockets of Pete's hoodie and bends his head to kiss it away.
Pete kisses him back, hard, teeth and tongue and take-no-prisoners, and Mikey gasps into his mouth. He hadn't forgotten how good this was, exactly, but Pete is—Pete. "I missed you," he says involuntarily, and Pete kisses him harder.
The crew is mostly gone—and Mikey actually kind of doesn't care—so he pushes Pete up against the wall of the venue, half-shielded by curtains and sound equipment, and shoves their hips together. Pete's hard against his thigh, and he strokes his tongue into his mouth, skims his fingers under the waistband of his jeans.
Pete bites his lower lip and Mikey says, "fuck it," and slides to his knees, undoing buttons as he goes and tugging Pete's jeans and underwear down to his ankles. He wraps a hand around Pete's cock and mouths across his stomach, tracing the lines of the tattoo with his tongue.
"Mikey—" Pete says, low and rough, "Come on." He digs his hands into Mikey's hair, knocking his beanie off onto the floor. Pete's blowjob manners have never been the best, but Mikey's used to him—even three months out of practice—and he sucks the head of Pete's cock into his mouth and opens his throat.
Above him, Pete moans, fingers tightening in Mikey's hair, "I'm not gonna last." Mikey shrugs and sucks him harder, and Pete says, "Oh, hell—" and fucks his mouth until he comes, fast and messy as Mikey swallows around him.
When he's finished, Mikey takes his mouth off Pete's softening cock and sits back on his heels. Pete slumps against the wall and runs a shaking hand through his hair, eyes wide and dark. "Come up here," he says breathlessly.
Mikey is really fucking hard, so it's good that Pete doesn't waste any time getting his hands down his pants, one hand cupping his balls and the other pulling tightly at his cock. He rests his forehead against Pete's shoulder and kisses his collarbone and comes embarrassingly quickly.
He breathes into Pete's neck for a long moment, taking in the smell of him, the feel of him under his hands, sweat and skin, ink and travel dust and somebody else's cigarettes. Pete is too tense in his arms. "Come back to the bus," he says in Pete's ear.
"What about the rest of your band?"
"Frank will keep them away for a while," Mikey says, and kisses Pete until he relaxes, and sticks his hands in Mikey's back pockets, and says, "Okay, dude, Jesus. I'll come home with you."
Back on the bus, they curl up in Mikey's bunk, crowded and close behind the curtains, and make out like teenagers in summertime. Pete tastes like sunshine and chlorine and paper hearts, and Mikey gets lost in his mouth, slipping away to somewhere warm and safe and far away. They're silent except for the soft slide of skin against skin, and they fall asleep like that, long before the rest of the band come back.
In the morning, Pete is gone, and the sheets are cold, and there's a folded piece of paper and a CD on the pillow, addressed to "Mikey Revenge." Unfolded, the paper is covered with lyrics, lines scribbled out and reordered in two different handwritings. The CD isn't marked, but when Mikey sneaks into the back studio and loads it onto his iPod, it turns out to be a rough demo of the song, just Patrick and a guitar and some uncertain parts in the middle where there should probably be another verse. He listens to it ten times in rapid succession, and then drops his iPod on his bunk and goes into the kitchenette for a cup of coffee, burning away the taste of Pete in his mouth with the sharp acid of caffeine.
He's on his third cup when Gee comes in, bleary-eyed, and he's nursing his fifth by the time Gee blinks away the last vestiges of sleep and says, "So?"
"It's complicated," Mikey hedges.
Gerard rolls his eyes. "No, really? Because I thought Pete Wentz was the least complicated person on the planet."
"Alicia and I have—" Mikey stops, downs the rest of his coffee. "She called it a Pete clause."
"Yeah, okay," Gee says. "So?"
"You don't think that's weird at all?" Not that Gerard thinks much of anything is weird, but Mikey had expected more of a reaction.
Gerard raises his eyebrows, and says, "Relationships in real life are complicated, ever-changing organisms that rarely conform to the societal standards of binary monogamy and heteronormativity."
Mikey blinks, and stares at his brother for a long, horrified moment, and then puts his head down on the table and laughs until he cries.
Frank comes in while he's wiping away the tears. "What's going on?"
"Mikey is having a monogamous freak out," Gerard says calmly, sipping his coffee.
"Ah." Frank pats Mikey on the shoulder on his way to get the cheerios out of the cupboard. "It happens to the best of us, dude." He sits down next to Gerard and gazes expectantly at Mikey.
"I'm really not," Mikey protests.
"Hmm," Gerard says. He has his thoughtful face on, his 'I will save your life face,' and Mikey is suddenly very worried, because he really doesn't want Gee to be his relationship counselor.
"Okay, seriously," Frank says abruptly, "just call him and talk about your feelings or whatever. Pete loves to talk about his feelings."
"Are you sure—" Gee starts, but Frank shakes his head, firmly, and Gerard says, "Okay, okay," and holds up his hands in defeat, and then Ray and Bob stagger in and it's time to get back on the road to Mississuaga.
Mikey doesn't call Pete, though, not at first. Instead, he listens to the song over and over, on the road and after the show and on the plane to Florida and back, and it becomes pathological, obsessive, Patrick's voice and Pete's words and a mixed bag of memories, confusions and contradictions. In the song their story ended, but now he's not sure if it has an ending, if he wants it to, if he should have let it be.
In Winnipeg, he watches Fall Out Boy on VH1, the song playing constantly under his skin even when he turns off his iPod. He thinks Pete looks a little haggard on the television, but he could be reading into it. When he calls Alicia, she says, "talk to Pete," and "I trust you," but it's not Alicia he's worried about.
He and Pete fit together too well, too right, lovers and friends. The song is transparent even for Pete, naked under a thin veneer of Wentzian metaphor and hyperbole, but Mikey doesn't want it to be true—not in Pete's terms, at least, and that's what finally forces his hand, late and exhausted and too worn out for judgment calls.
Pete answers almost immediately, "Hey."
"It's Mikey," Mikey says unnecessarily.
"Yeah." He pauses, expectant, but Mikey isn't sure where to start. "What's going on, man?" Pete says finally, filling the silence, "You're in Seattle, right?"
"We leave for Australia in the morning." He wonders if he should be surprised that Pete is keeping track of their schedule. "Ray and Bob are holding an all-night Guitar Hero tournament. It's supposed to help them adjust to the time difference."
"Why aren't you there?"
Mikey is actually too tired to move, flopped out on his bed and staring up at the institutional white of the hotel room ceiling. He hasn't been sleeping well. "I'm talking to you." It comes out coyer than he intended.
"I don't know, dude," Pete says, "I think Guitar Hero is probably more scintillating."
He's ready with a come back—something about how he'll show Pete scintillating, or maybe Ray's uncanny Guitar Hero skills—but he suddenly doesn't want to play the game, anymore. "Pete."
There's a rustle and a sigh on the other end of the line, and the sound of a door closing. "Yeah?"
"It's a really good song."
Pete laughs, dry and derisive, and says, "I'm sort of good at heartbreak." Pete is excellent at heartbreak, really. It's his bread and butter, his livelihood, and Mikey can't help wondering if Pete is so good at heartbreak because he doesn't know how to do anything else.
"Okay, but I—" Talk about your feelings, Frank had said, Pete loves to talk about his feelings, only Mikey is shitty at talking about his feelings. "I really kind of love you," he blurts. It's true, but maybe it's the wrong thing to say. "We're right," he adds.
"We were," Pete says, his voice expressionless, "but you have Alicia, now."
"Yeah, but—" That doesn't mean I don't need you, he starts to say, but Pete doesn't let him finish.
"I saw her in Denver, last week," he says, "I went to their show. She's good, with them, she's got too much talent to just be a tech and a merch girl, but I guess we knew that." Mikey has no idea where this is going. "You know I love Alicia, Mikey, right? She's an amazing human being, and she's really good for you, better than I was. And you're better for her than I was, too. You guys deserve each other. You deserve to be with—" He stops, and then he's barreling forward again, the unstoppable train of Pete Wentz. "I'm too jealous of both of you to pick one of you to be angry at, and you and Alicia—you're a fairytale romance, Mikey. You're not heartbroken and fucked up, and you don't cheat and make mistakes and write stupid songs and hurt people. You're—you should get married."
Mikey blinks. The hotel ceiling is still a steady, monotonous white, and he gets to his feet, walks across the room to turn off the overhead light. Pete is talking in his ear, something about weddings and happy endings and not sucking people off in Canadian venues, and Pete, for all his angst and darkness, has always been an incorrigible romantic.
"I don't—" Mikey starts, but it's not true. He does want to marry Alicia. "Pete. I want us to be friends."
"I do stupid shit when I'm jealous," Pete says. "I'm sorry for—" His voice is intense, focused, the way it gets at three in the morning when he's caught up in the impossibly tangled labyrinth of his mind. "I didn't mean it. Be with Alicia, Mikey. Be good to each other. Don't let me—don't let me fuck you up."
"I think you already did," Mikey says without thinking. "Wait, I—"
"I know." Pete sounds completely miserable, and Mikey can almost see him, knees against his chest, one hand clenched in the fabric of his hoodie and the other clutching the phone. "I'm so sorry."
He doesn't know what Pete is apologizing for, but he can't unravel it, not with his ears still ringing from the marriage bombshell. He loves Pete, but his heart is beating the triplet meter of Alicia, sudden and instant—because he could marry her, he could, and Pete's not wrong about fairytale romance.
"You're right," he says, wonderingly, "I should marry Alicia."
"Oh," Pete breathes, and then, louder, "I have to go."
"Yeah, okay," Mikey says. "Hey—thank you."
"Don't mention it," Pete says, and hangs up. They haven't resolved anything, but Mikey thinks they'll work it out later, when he's back from Australia, when he's talked to Alicia. Pete is part of them, written into the lines of their relationship, and he has nothing to be sorry for.
He starts looking at rings in Sydney, slipping away to see the sights and spending hours in jewelry stores, gazing glazed-eyed at diamonds until Ray calls him for sound check. Gee tags along in Melbourne, talking expansively about how Mikey has to buy a socially responsible manufactured diamond instead of a rock mined by starving workers in Africa, but he's smiling under the lecture, excited and proud, and Mikey's anxiety abates in the face of Gee's approval. He buys the ring on their last day in Australia, in Fortitude Valley, a big, glittering rock that Gee stares at with envy and admiration. "Worthy of Alicia," he says, and Mikey can't help but agree.
Back in the states, he spends a night alone in their apartment in New York and takes the first flight out to Houston in the morning, catches the final show of From First To Last's tour and gets down on one knee in Alicia's dressing room, high on love and jet lag and the constant, magnificent buzz of really exceptional music.
Alicia says "Yes," and grins, and glows, and kisses him so hard that he fumbles the ring, sliding it shakily onto the wrong finger. They go out with the band, dizzy and elated, and celebrate until dawn, collapsing into bed just as the sun is rising, too drunk and exhausted to do anything but close the curtains and fall asleep in each other's arms.
The next morning—for values of morning that equal four in the afternoon—they rent a car and drive to Grain Valley, and Alicia introduces him to her family. "My fiance," she says, and he smiles sheepishly and says, "Please don't hurt me," and they laugh and offer him Christmas cookies, instead.
In the whirlwind of romance and family and holidays, he almost forgets about Pete—does forget, until they're back in New York in January, after Christmas in Missouri and New Year's in Jersey, and by that point, Fall Out Boy is in Europe.
"We should make an announcement or something," Alicia yells from the kitchen. Mikey, sprawled out on the couch with Bunny and the Sunday Times, shouts, "What?"
The refrigerator door slams and Alicia comes into the living room, eating leftover Pad Thai out of a cardboard container. "We should make an announcement or something."
"About what?" He flips the paper open to the crossword, then back to arts and leisure. They've already demolished sports and comics, and he's not ready for the news.
Alicia sits down on the couch and swings her bare legs over Mikey's lap, dislodging both Bunny and the paper. "The getting married thing."
"Didn't we already tell everybody?" They'd told their families first thing, and Brian and Stacy and the band.
"I guess we told everybody important," Alicia says, "but we know, like, a million people between us, Mikey, and I—I want to tell the rest of them." She frowns, "It seems more real if more people know."
"That's a pretty real rock on your finger, there," Mikey says mildly, and Alicia laughs and looks down at her hand, where the ring is completely incongruous with the cardboard container of leftovers, with her tank top and polka-dot underwear and unwashed hair.
"We can take pictures of the ring and post them on the Internet," Alicia says gleefully. "We can make it a MySpace."
Mikey laughs, and rubs his thumb down the arch of her foot. "Maybe just a good, old-fashioned mass email?"
"Oh, fine," Alicia says, pouting, and curls her toes into his fingers. "Take all the fun out of it."
They do take pictures later, though, of the two of them together, matching and smiling, Bunny, their apartment, the ring on Alicia's finger. They title the email "Good News!" and go through their collective address books: tour mates and acquaintances and roadies and techs, label people and high school sweethearts and mentors and friends. We don't know when the wedding will be (or if you'll be invited) so don't ask, the email says, but we wanted you to know how happy we are. With love, and happy holidays, from Alicia and Mikey.
They get a lot of calls over the next few days, and they ignore most of them in favor of making out on the couch and having sex on the kitchen counter and watching zombie movies. Alicia's out running errands when Bob calls, though, and Mikey answers the phone.
"Why the fuck did I just get a call from Andy Hurley in Belgium?" Bob demands by way of greeting. He sounds pissed, and when Bob's pissed, Mikey sits up and pays attention.
Except when he has no idea what Bob is talking about. "What?"
"Andy called me from Brussels," Bob says, "because apparently Pete is freaking out and not talking to anybody. I cannot possibly have done anything to make Pete Wentz freak out, so I am calling you."
"Um," Mikey says, intelligently. "Andy thinks I did something to Pete?"
He can practically hear Bob roll his eyes. "I think you did something to Pete, asshole. Andy does not lay blame. He is too Zen to lay blame. Patrick lays blame, and Joe says that Pete is listening to Three Cheers on repeat."
"Did you talk to all of them?" Mikey asks, alarmed.
"They all talked to me," Bob says, aggrieved. "I tried to explain that I am not the emotional center of this band, but Fall Out Boy does not listen to reason."
"Did they—" Mikey starts, and stops. He doesn't know which question to ask first.
"I have no idea," Bob says, "and I do not want to know. Joe says congratulations to you and Alicia, by the way, and compliments you on 'the big fucking rock, dude.'" His voice is sandpaper dry.
They'd included Pete and Fall Out Boy in the email, of course, but Pete had really been the first to know. "I'm sorry?" Mikey says uncertainly.
"Yeah," Bob says, "whatever. Just fix it, okay? I am so over inter-band drama, Mikey. I love you guys, but seriously. Fucking Belgium." He does sound fond, though, even under his habitual shield of hard-ass exasperation, and Mikey smiles.
"Hey, I'll see you in a couple of weeks, right?"
"Provided we are all still alive by then, yes," Bob says, and hangs up.
"Huh," Mikey says aloud into the empty apartment. Bunny runs across his feet, into the bedroom, and Mikey sits down heavily on the floor. Marrying Alicia had been Pete's idea, shining and brilliant in the middle of a conversation Mikey can scarcely remember. Pete had to know that Mikey loved him, didn't he? That Alicia loved them both? He and Alicia had talked about having Pete over in February, when Fall Out Boy was back from Europe, talked about the things they'd done with him, the things they could all do together.
"Why are you sitting on the floor?" Alicia says from the doorway, keys jingling in one hand.
"Alicia," Mikey says slowly, "Did we—did we ever tell Pete that we had a Pete clause?"
"Didn't you—" Alicia says, "I thought when you saw him in Canada—"
"I thought you had, when you told him to come to Canada." Mikey had counted on it, because Alicia was far more fluent in the complicated, idiomatic language of Pete Wentz, candid and clear where Mikey was all pitfalls and riddles and misplaced notes.
"Oh, shit," Alicia says, dropping her keys and sliding to the floor. "And then you fucked him and then he tried to apologize and then we got engaged."
Don't let me fuck you up, Pete had said, I do stupid shit when I'm jealous, and Mikey Revenge, and ex-friends. "He thinks he—"
"I know." Alicia puts her head down on her knees, "Shit, Mikey, we fucked up."
"He thinks we don't know how to fuck up," Mikey says bitterly, "he thinks we're perfect." They're anything but perfect, and Mikey remembers the conversation better, now, remembers how everything had fallen away when Pete had said you should get married, how marrying Alicia was exactly what he wanted: perfect, stable, safe. Pete had said that Mikey and Alicia were right for each other, and they were, but maybe Pete couldn't see that they were right for him, too.
"Okay, fuck it," Alicia says, "give me your fucking phone."
He slides his Sidekick across the floor and it skids off the carpet, clattering onto the wood by the door. Alicia picks it up and dials, and a moment later Mikey hears Patrick's resonant voice, loud and furious through the speaker, "What the fuck, asshole?"
"Hi Patrick," Alicia says smoothly, "It's Alicia." There's a long, tense silence, and Mikey picks at the carpet and wishes he had superhearing.
"Okay," Alicia says finally, evenly, "Okay. Patrick. I am not that kind of asshole. Mikey is not that kind of asshole. We love him. Pete just never expects that of anyone." She's braver than Mikey would be, more direct. "Yeah," she says into the phone, "he brings out the defensive in all of us."
Mikey leans his head back against the couch and listens to the rise and fall of Alicia's voice. "I could refer you to Gerard for a lecture on non-binary relationships," she says wryly, and then, "Can I—no? Well." Her eyes cut to Mikey, dark and worried, as she says to Patrick, "Can you get him to New York in February?"
He wants to talk to Pete—wants, almost, to grab the phone out of Alicia's hand and demand that Patrick put Pete on the line—but he doesn't trust himself not to say the wrong thing. He doesn't know if there is a right thing. "Patrick," Alicia says, very serious, "you know me. You know Mikey. You know how we both felt—how we feel—about Pete. That hasn't changed. We fucked up. Seriously, we fucked up, but that doesn't mean we can't get it right. We're not—we're not them."
Alicia knows Patrick's language, too, because she was one of them, part of Fall Out Boy's crew where Mikey was only ever a much-beloved outsider. "Trust me," she says, and there's another long silence. Patrick doesn't trust easily when it comes to Pete.
"Yes," she says, at last, and her shoulders relax back against the door. "Yes, okay." She smiles, half a twist of her lips. "Yeah, you too. Thank you, Patrick." She hangs up and drops Mikey's Sidekick on the floor.
"What—" Mikey asks, "Um." He takes a deep breath. "So?"
Alicia props her elbows on her knees and runs her fingers through her hair, "Patrick will get him here," she says slowly, "but after that it's up to us."
The next few weeks are both wonderful and agonizing, because the more they talk about it, the more Mikey doubts. He trusts Alicia—trusts his heart's unlimited capacity, trusts Gee—when she says that it's possible to have them both, that autumn doesn't have to mean endings and adulthood is not entirely exclusive. The thing about possibilities, though, and stories without endings, is that he doesn't know what's supposed to happen next. Pete is a wildcard, uncertain and chaotic, and Mikey can't even take comfort in the limitations of a prescribed story, because he's already turned their ending on its head.
Mikey spends the last two weeks of January in Jersey with Gee and Frank and Ray and Bob, working on the new album—or more realistically playing a lot of video games—while Alicia and Jamia go on a mysterious road trip.
"What's up with that?" he asks Gerard, one morning when Frank is asleep on the living room couch and Ray and Bob are locked down in the makeshift studio.
Gee shrugs and takes a long swig of his coffee. "Comparing notes, probably." He leans back against the kitchen counter and gazes lovingly at the coffee pot.
Mikey blinks. "On what, exactly?" Alicia and Jamia are friendly, but he hadn't thought they were close enough to drive off together to parts unknown.
Gee raises his eyebrows, an expression Mikey knows far too well: don't be an idiot, little brother. "Being in polyamorous threesomes with Way brothers, I imagine."
Mikey chokes on his coffee. "I—you—what—too much information, Gee!"
"Did you think you were being original?" Gee says. "Seriously, Mikey, what did you think was going on with me and Frank?" His eyes narrow, "Did you think we were going behind Jamia's back?" He sets his coffee down on the counter, the click of the ceramic a sharp punctuation in the quiet kitchen. "That's what Bob thought, at first. But we wouldn't do that, that's not the right way to think about relationships. Honesty, and clarity, and, like, respect and shit. Jamia is fucking amazing, you know? And she and Frank really work together, so we talked about it, and we figured out how to keep everybody happy." His voice is sharp, "Isn't that what you did?"
It's what they should have done, but Mikey isn't Gee, and he hadn't thought to sit everybody down in a constructive circle and talk it out, hadn't thought to establish parameters or clarify meanings or explain anything to Pete—hadn't even told Pete in the first place. He'd just leapt in, blindly, full speed ahead, and then he'd gone and gotten engaged and deeply, horribly fucked things up.
"Um," he says to Gee, "Not exactly. We—kind of made some mistakes."
Gee looks at him for a long moment, eyes still narrowed, and then he sighs, and crosses the room to wrap Mikey up in a tight hug. "Okay," he says, "that happens."
"I don't really want to talk about it," Mikey says into his shoulder, muffled against the fabric of his t-shirt, and Gee laughs.
"Yeah, well, I don't want the details, anyway." He pulls away, his hands tight on Mikey's arms. "But seriously. Mikey. Do you know what you want?"
"I—" He wants to marry Alicia, and he wants to be with Pete. He wants to be friends again, and lovers, and he wants the three of them to fit together in a way that makes them all happy. "Yeah," he says, "Yeah, I think I do."
Gerard smiles. "So make it happen," he says, and Mikey nods, slowly, because the thing about being Gerard Way's little brother is that he knows that anything is possible.
After Alicia and Jamia get back, the band wraps up for a few more weeks—they'll meet again at the end of the month to get ready for recording in LA—and Mikey and Alicia go home to New York. In between work and relaxation and the continuous, nerve-wracking process of settling into adulthood, Mikey keeps tabs on Fall Out Boy's tour schedule and Alicia reads Pete's blog, and finally, one morning in February, Patrick calls with a hotel name and a promise.
"I trust you," he says to Mikey, deadly serious, "but if you fuck this up again I will hunt you down, and the quality of your music will not protect you from my wrath."
"Understood," Mikey says, and "Thank you," and Patrick says, "Also, I do not want to hear the details," and hangs up the phone.
Alicia is putting on eye make-up in the bathroom, shading the arc of her brow bone with silvery blue. "This is it," Mikey says, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. "Now we have to get it right."
She smiles at him in the bathroom mirror. "We will," she says.
He steals her pencil and lines his eyes, puts on his glasses and his black Misfits t-shirt and jeans and his pea coat, and then they're ready to go, out into the cold New York morning. They take the subway across to Manhattan, stop at a Starbucks for coffee and muffins, and find Pete in a corner of the hotel lobby, half asleep.
"Did they kick you out of your hotel room?" Mikey asks, dropping down on the arm of Pete's chair.
Pete scrubs his hands across his face and knuckles his eyes open. "I look like a hobo, is the thing."
"Have some coffee," Alicia says from Pete's other side. "You'll look less like a hobo with coffee."
Pete takes a long sip of the coffee, and asks, too carefully, "Did you guys come all the way from Brooklyn to bring me Starbucks?"
"We also thought we'd invade your hotel room," Mikey says, greatly daring, "and possibly ravish you. But if you're too poor to afford a hotel room you could come back to our place."
"Is this what they mean when they talk about the rockstar lifestyle?" Pete says. His voice is tight, and it belies the insouciance of his words. "Threesomes and free coffee?
"I think there is generally a lot more coke and booze involved," Alicia offers, "but you're too straightedge for that, baby." She slides her hand into the pocket of his hoodie and pulls out his key card. "Let's go upstairs before the paparazzi show up."
They take the elevator up to the fifteenth floor, not touching, and Mikey watches the three of them in the mirrored walls: Pete with his eyes on the floor and Alicia with her eyes on Pete, anxious and determined. Pete looks tired, restless and a little lost without his eyeliner and his panache, and Mikey wonders if he slept at all last night. In the mirror, his own face is blank, familiar, as if nothing about this is out of the ordinary at all.
Alicia lets them into Pete's room, and it's just like every other hotel room Mikey's ever been in: two beds and a TV and a minibar, marble bathroom and ugly artwork and uncomfortable armchairs by the curtained window. Mikey shuts the door behind them, and they stare at each other for a long moment, cataloguing and considerate, half lust and half bravado. Now that they're all here together, Mikey has no idea how this starts.
"Patrick said—" Pete says, and stops, fisting his hands in the hem of his hoodie. "I'm sort of horrified that I'm saying this, because you're both incredibly hot. Obviously. But this is so not a good idea."
"What did Patrick say?" Alicia asks. She crosses her arms and leans back against the hotel room door, and Mikey perches on the edge of the dresser.
Pete shakes his head, "I—something about non-binary relationships, but I don't think—"
"It is the point," Alicia says. "We seriously fucked this up, though, because we should have told you immediately."
"We have a Pete clause," Mikey says, and Pete blinks, slow and startled.
"It means that being with you isn't cheating," Alicia explains. She's watching Pete closely, the rise and fall of his breath, the clench of his fingers. "Being with you isn't wrong. We both—" She looks away, half-smiling, lost for an instant in a memory Mikey doesn't share. "We both want to be with you, again."
Pete sits down on the end of the bed. It makes him smaller, his shoulders tight and his mouth turned down. "Okay," he says, "but the thing is—I can't. Because." He looks at Mikey and then looks away, down at the ugly geometric pattern of the carpet. "It's a love song."
"And?" Alicia asks, perplexed, but Pete doesn't look up.
And oh, Mikey thinks. Oh. Because Pete is absolutes where Alicia is fluidity, certain he'll break them up, certain of the disaster and destruction he'll leave behind him. However Pete felt about Mikey, he'd never let himself believe that Mikey felt the same. Summer of Like, never summer of love, only ever something temporary and fleeting, glorious and gone. "Pete," he says, awkwardly, resolutely, "I feel the same way you feel."
Pete looks up. "What?" he says, helplessly, eyes wide, "I don't feel—"
"No, listen," Mikey says, and maybe this is the right thing, maybe some of Alicia's candor has rubbed off on him. "Life is complicated, that's why it's life. Summer ends, but we don't have to stop loving each other just because things change. We don't have to stop because we're supposed to."
"Write your own story," Alicia says softly, "Give it a different ending. I know this is a hard thing for you to grasp, Pete, but you can actually have the things that you want."
"Who says I want either of you?" Pete demands, but it's all bluster, his eyes sliding back and forth between Mikey and Alicia, hot and desperate. Mikey shoves off the dresser and gets to his feet.
Alicia grins, and Mikey recognizes her smile as one of Pete's. "I know you, Pete Wentz," she says, "I've had my hands all over your bass. And we both love you."
"Let us show you," Mikey says. He wants to reach out and touch, show Pete that he means it—that they mean it—with his body, and fill in the spaces where words have failed them.
"This is a good idea." Alicia crosses the room to kneel in front of the bed and takes Pete's hands, unfolds his fingers. "The thing is, you're kind of special."
Pete rolls his eyes, but he's starting to smile. "Just what every boy wants to hear."
"Let us," Alicia says, and kisses him.
They kiss for a long time, and Mikey watches Pete's hands on Alicia's neck and shoulders and tangling in her hair, watches the gorgeous curve of Pete's neck as their lips slide together.
"It's been a while," Pete says, when he breaks the kiss, and Alicia laughs. "Not for wont of trying on my part," she says, "but you're kind of difficult, sometimes."
"I was also an asshole." Pete pushes her jacket down her arms and onto the floor, and Alicia pulls her shirt off over her head.
"Make up for it now, then," she says, and pushes him onto the bed.
Alicia and Pete have different baggage than Pete and Mikey—different baggage than Mikey and Alicia—and sometimes Mikey gets so caught up in his own memories that he forgets that Alicia has her own, that she preceded him, that she and Pete were friends and lovers and exes first, are friends again. Pete trusts Alicia, trusts her with his bass and maybe even with his heart. The person Pete doesn't trust is himself, but maybe they can help him with that.
"Mikey," Alicia says, from where she's joined Pete on the bed, "do you want to come over here, or keep watching?" They're both naked to the waist, and Alicia's fingers are tucked under the waistband of Pete's jeans.
"I'll watch for a while." Mikey's been with both of them more recently than they've been with each other, and they're even hotter together than he'd imagined, full mouths and ink lines, hipbones and hands.
Pete undoes the button on Alicia's jeans. "Come watch from over here, then, dude."
Mikey takes off his coat and shoes and sits down on the other bed, across the narrow aisle, and watches Pete get Alicia out of the rest of her clothes and straddle her bare hips. He trails his mouth down her chest to lick her nipples, and Alicia hooks one long leg around his back and arches up against him, pushing their hips together until Pete gasps against her skin, "You always were demanding."
Alicia grins, wickedly, and bites his shoulder just under the thorns. Pete backs down the bed to kneel between her knees, shoves his hands under ass, and bends his head.
"Fuck," Alicia moans, her hands clenching in the comforter, and Mikey presses his palm to the front of his jeans. Fuck. He doesn't want to blink, doesn't want to look away from Pete's dark head between Alicia's thighs and the long line of Alicia's arched back, the graceful calligraphy of their two twined bodies.
Alicia turns her head on the pillow and smiles at him. "Enjoying yourself?" Mikey nods, dazed, "Fuck, yeah."
Pete laughs and pulls away from Alicia. His lips are glossy red, and Mikey is desperately, unbelievably turned on. "I could use some help, here," he says, and Mikey is up and across the aisle before he's even finished speaking.
Pete picks up Mikey's hand and sucks two of his fingers into his mouth, hot and wet and entirely pornographic. "Jesus," Mikey groans, and Pete flicks his tongue across Mikey's palm and lets his fingers slip out of his mouth. "Okay, now—" he starts, but Mikey knows how this goes, and he smiles at Pete and slides his wet fingers into Alicia's cunt. Pete grins back, and then he's bending his head again and sliding his tongue in beside Mikey's fingers.
"Oh my god," Alicia says, high and breathless. Mikey twists his fingers, brushing against Pete's tongue. He can feel Pete sucking on Alicia's clit, and he watches her eyes slide shut and her head fall back on the pillow, and then she's arching and moaning and clenching around them.
They pull out together and Pete sits up, licking his lips. Mikey stares, caught up in the view, in the obscenity of the moment, and then he's tackling Pete onto his back and kissing him fiercely, chasing Alicia's taste deeper and deeper into his mouth. Pete laughs and rolls them over, grinding his hips down against Mikey's until their cocks brush, hot and hard through their clothes. Mikey yanks at the zipper of Pete's jeans until he can get his hands on Pete's ass, and wraps a leg around his hips, shoving and pulling and straining for touch. He could come in his pants from this, rubbing off against each other, just Pete's mouth and the slideshow images under his eyelids of Pete's head between Alicia's thighs.
"Guys," Alicia says, "I could watch you do that all day, but I really want one of you to fuck me before you run out of steam."
Pete stills above him and leans back, knees bracketing Mikey's hips. Mikey snakes a hand down the front of Pete's jeans and cups his cock. "You should," he says breathlessly, "I'll fuck you. Um. If you want."
Pete's eyes are wide and dark, and his cock is slick in Mikey's hand. "Are you kidding?" He says, staring down at Mikey, "Yes, fuck."
"Good plan," Alicia says briskly, "I'll get the condoms."
Pete shoves Mikey's shirt off, and then lets him up so that they can both get out of their jeans. It's been a long time since Mikey's seen Pete naked like this, the tattoos on his ruddy skin, his short legs and long torso, the curve of his cock. Mikey wants to run his hands all over Pete's body. "You're gorgeous," he says, and Pete rolls his eyes and looks away. "Whatever, dude."
"No really," Mikey puts a hand on Pete's hip and tugs until they're skin to skin on the bed again. "I've missed this." He kisses Pete to prove his point, open-mouthed and hot and a little desperate, because they're not over—they're not ex-anything.
Alicia stretches out next to them, dropping the condoms and lube on the bed, and Pete turns in Mikey's arms to kiss her. She reaches around Pete to wrap her fingers around Mikey's cock, and Mikey jerks, his cock bumping up against Pete's ass. "Okay, come on," Pete says, gasping, "none of us are going to last."
"Multiple orgasms, dude," Alicia says, and grabs Pete's cock with her other hand. Mikey tosses her a condom and opens the bottle of lube, slicking his fingers and sliding them into Pete's ass. "Fuck," Pete says, his head falling back against Mikey's chest. Mikey grins at Alicia over Pete's head as he fucks him, twisting his fingers until he hits Pete's prostate and Pete moans, long and low, and says, "Okay, fuck, go ahead."
It's awkward, for a moment, the sticky, complicated business of fitting their bodies into a puzzle that works, but then Mikey pushes slowly into Pete's ass and Pete fucks up into Alicia and Alicia hooks her legs around Mikey's back to pull them all together, and they slide into place on one long, breathless note.
Pete is hot and smooth and fucking tight around him, and Mikey tries to move slowly, stilted and fragmented, until Pete says, "Seriously, Mikey, what the fuck?" Alicia kisses him over Pete's shoulder, quick and dirty, and Mikey fucks Pete faster, deeper, finds the right beat under his skin and tightens his arms around them both.
"Fuck," Alicia says, and grabs Mikey's shoulders, fucking down harder onto Pete. Pete clenches around Mikey's cock, and then they all have the rhythm, their bodies playing the baseline with push and slide and arch and touch, Mikey into Pete into Alicia and back. Alicia's the first to hit the bridge, and she sets off Pete and Pete sets off Mikey, and then they're all coming, hard and loud and long, together.
"Fuck," Mikey says softly, into the damp skin at the back of Pete's neck, and Pete laughs, a wet, exhausted almost-chuckle.
They disentangle themselves slowly and take turns in the bathroom, and then curl up on the other bed. Mikey is in the middle, this time, with his arms around Alicia and Pete against his back. He murmurs, "I love you," as he falls asleep, and it doesn't matter which of them hears him.
Mikey wakes up because his back is cold, the cool air of the hotel fan chilling his bare skin. He unwinds his arms from Alicia and rolls over into the empty space Pete left behind.
"Hey," Pete says quietly. He's sitting on the other bed, Sidekick open on his knees, and he's put his pants back on but not his shirt.
"You're still here," Mikey says, groggy around the edges.
"It's my hotel room, dude." Pete slides his Sidekick closed and sets it on the comforter beside him. "Also, I was watching you sleep."
"Oh," Mikey says. "Were you—you were writing." Something is niggling at the edges of his consciousness, scab-like and worrying, not quite right.
Pete shrugs his bare shoulders, noncommittal, and Mikey sits up against the headboard and rubs his eyes behind his glasses. "What time is it?"
"Do you have to—" Mikey asks, but Pete shakes his head.
"Not for a couple of hours, yet."
"Come back to bed," Mikey says, and Pete smiles, slow and sweet, but it doesn't reach his eyes.
"I don't know if I should." Mikey is suddenly angry, because they've been over this. He told Pete how he felt, finally, with the right words, and they sealed the deal with kisses. Pete loves him, and he's written a song to prove it, and it should be simple, should be easy to just keep having what they want, even after all their mistakes.
"Since when have you cared about should?" he demands.
Pete looks away. "I want to be with you," he says, low and dark and haunted, honest. "I want to be with both of you, like this. Exactly like this, and in all kinds of other ways. That's pretty clear, now. Happy endings and everything." He picks up his Sidekick and toys with the buttons. "But I don't know if I can."
Alicia stirs beside Mikey, slinging an arm across his lap. Mikey catches her hand as she shifts, and the glittering facets of the diamond fracture the afternoon light.
"You're getting married," Pete says, "and I'm a fucking jealous bastard. Even with your Pete clause, I don't know if I can—I don't really deserve either of you. And you're right, Mikey. I don't want to be ex-friends, and I don't think I can have both."
"I—" Mikey starts, and stops. He wishes he were wearing clothes. Marrying Alicia is right—he loves her, he knows that—but it changes things, and he isn't Frank, and Pete isn't Gee, and this isn't so simple, after all. "I'd rather we were friends again," he says. He wants to be lovers, too, but they're not better off that way, and nothing between them has ever been casual. "If we're going by the song."
"It's just a song," Pete says, sliding his Sidekick open and closed.
"It's not just a song," Alicia says sleepily, ducking under Mikey's arm to lean against his side. "If there's one thing I've learned in the music business, it's that it's never just as song."
The corners of Pete's mouth quirk, reluctantly. "I thought you were asleep."
"You fuckers woke me up," Alicia says. "But seriously, Pete, the offer doesn't have an expiration date. Our doors will always be open to you."
"Open doors are open-ended," Pete mutters, and Alicia rolls her eyes. "Our bed, then, whatever."
Pete looks at them, finally, his eyes anxious. "We're friends, though, right? For real? Even if I can't quite—not right now?"
"Of course, you idiot," Alicia says, and hugs him. It's a naked hug, which Mikey thinks might sort of negate the point, but Pete doesn't seem to mind. He keeps one arm around Alicia's waist and turns to Mikey. "Mikey?"
Mikey meets Pete's eyes, sober and serious. Pete can take his time, if he has to, because Alicia is right: their Pete clause has no expiration date, and now that they've all been together, they know how good it can be. Nothing about this is easy, really. They're complicated people, with layers and memories, histories and fears. They make mistakes, and they say the wrong things, and they have mood swings and mania and depression and self-doubt. They hurt each other, and they hurt themselves, but they love each other, too, and they can knit their hearts back together just as much as they break them apart.
"Yes," Mikey says, "yes, we're friends."
After they're dressed, again, they go out to eat at a place Pete likes in Greenwich Village, and talk about their band mates and their friends and their new songs, their recording plans and their wedding plans and Fall Out Boy's next tour. They eat too much, and drink too much coffee, and halfway through the meal Pete gets out his Sidekick and they take a lot of pictures—"nothing to hide," Pete says, and his smile isn't sad at all.
They walk Pete back to his hotel and say good-bye with long hugs and quick, friendly kisses. "I'll see you soon," Pete says, and Mikey nods, because it's a promise.
Sometime before midnight, the buzzing of his Sidekick on the bedside table wakes him. Pete's sent him one of the photographs—a black-and-white one Alicia took of Pete and Mikey—and a message: i cast a spell over the west to make you think of me the same way i think of you. this is a love song in my own way. happily ever after below the waist.
Mikey can hear the lines in the song, the missing verse, and he may not be fluent in Pete Wentz, but he knows the basics. Equal opportunity happily ever after, he writes back, and grins, and shoves his Sidekick under his pillow, and rolls over into Alicia's arms.