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Skyline in My Veins

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The wood of the door was cool against his forehead as he leaned against it, savoring ten stolen seconds of silence, of peace, before the storm hit.

 

Seriously...being late is not the way to start class. You’ve done this a million times. It[s fine.

 

He sighed and decided another ten seconds spent with the door and the silence of the hallway were totally okay. He was the teacher, after all.

 

You should quit. You should finish your degree and be happy.

 

Now that his thoughts had decided it was time to berate him for his haphazard life choices, he decided it was time to firmly shut that down and go in. Setting his hand on the door handle, he took a deep breath, counted to three and pushed it open.

 

The students were all seated, mostly. One guy was sitting on someone’s desk, with his head thrown back laughing. There were the raucous noises of chatter and stories echoing around the room, averages and boasts. Patrick hoped desperately that they would see him and get the message, but he wasn’t so lucky. Setting his books down on the desk at the front of the room, he looked up to see that nearly everyone had taken their seats. The only people still talking were the guy sitting on top of the desk and the desk’s occupant--a tall guy from the looks of the way his legs stuck out a solid foot from under the desk--they were still going strong.

 

He cleared his throat once, hoping they would get the memo, but with no success. He sighed and wiped his glasses clean, resettling them on the bridge of his nose as he called out,

 

“If everyone can please notice what’s going on around them and sit down, we can get started.”

 

The guy turned around from where he was perched, and Patrick’s breath caught in his throat Dark eyes, dark hair bleached at the tips that somehow looked hot not stupid, and the prettiest tanned skin he’d ever seen. Fuck .

 

“Welcome to the party!” Hot Guy said as he slid into his seat next to Tall Guy, and he gave Patrick a smile that was so bright it nearly bowled him over. Nearly.

 

“Well, this is my party, and I expect everyone to be quiet and pay attention for it.” Patrick said, pulling out the folder with the stapled syllabi.

 

“Somebody’s pissy on their birthday, shit.” Hot Guy said loud enough for him to hear but quiet enough to communicate that he knew he was being a brat. Patrick glared and walked around the desk to hand the stack to the first student and looked around the classroom. Sixteen students looked back at him, and he took a deep breath before launching into the First Day Speech that he’d given a hundred times and still hated.

 

“Alright then, my name is Patrick and I’ll be your instructor for the next eight weeks. This is Introductory Instrumentation and hopefully that isn’t a surprise to anyone. Now--”

 

“Well shit!” Hot guy leaped out of his seat and grabbed at his backpack. “I thought this was advanced pottery!” He froze, looking around the room. “Oh come on, someone had to think that was funny!” A few people grinned and Tall Guy chuckled as Hot Guy sat back into his seat.

 

“You’re hilarious.” Patrick glared. “Now that the comedy show is over, can we please actually learn something? Or do you want to pull a rabbit out of a hat before we start radar phenomenology?”

 

The hot guy shook his head, wide smile on his face. “Don’t tempt me! Lucky for you, phenomenology is my thing.” Patrick sighed and looked down at his well-worn textbook, cursing his luck that the student who was probably going to be the most difficult also happened to be the hottest.

 

This is going to be a long eight weeks.

 

~//~

 

Taking a deep swig of his beer, Patrick settled the paper into the happily-growing stack of “done” worksheets and grabbed the next. He grimaced when he saw the name at the top.

 

Pete Wentz .

 

Predictably, there were hearts, what looked like a crude unicorn and slices of pizza doodled all around the margins of the worksheet. Patrick grabbed his beer and sat back, thinking... why did Pete Wentz have to take his class? Why, why, why? It was like the universe knew that Patrick Stumph had a thing for tanned guys with lots of tattoos and big smiles...but then thought it would be hysterical to make him incredibly annoying. Shaking his head, he took another drink and quickly graded Pete’s worksheet, surprised to note he had gotten it all right. He resolutely ignored the urge to look at whatever he had doodled on the second page too close and reached for the next one.

 

His cell phone started to play Life on Mars and he picked it up. “Hey Joe.”

 

“Patrick! Wanna go listen to a spectacularly horrible band and drink shitty beer?” He could hear the smirk in Joe’s voice, and couldn’t help but smile too.

 

“You sure know how to show a guy a good time, but I’m only halfway through the gradesheets.” He looked at the stack and sighed, wishing for the thousandth time he had finished his degree and not somehow ended up going down this rabbit hole.

 

“You can totally finish them tomorrow while you’re doing simulators. I know you, you have a spidey sense for when students are messing up, just turn that on and grade the rest! It’s perfect.”

 

For a long moment, his brain told him that he should be responsible and that every student deserved his undivided attention . But then he shrugged, deciding he really should live a little.

 

“Fine, where?”

 

“Yes!” Joe cawed from the other side. “Joe Black’s, in an hour. Want me to pick you up?”

 

Patrick groaned. “Oh my God, why do you always have to pick bars so close to the college? Can’t we be adults for once and go to an actual bar that plays actual music and isn’t filled with kids with fake ID’s?”

 

“Now where’s the fun in that?” Joe sneezed. “See you then.”

 

Hanging up, Patrick decided he could grade for twenty more minutes and still have time to change out of his TMNT pajama pants and get to the shittiest bar this side of the campus on time.

 

~//~

 

The music was loud and pulsing as Patrick pushed his way through the sea of people and prayed that he didn’t teach any of them. Catching sight of Joe’s curly mop, he angled that way, slipping under the arm of a tall kid with plugs in his ears who was dancing with a girl whose platinum-blonde hair glowed in the lights. Finally making it, he glared at his friend, raising his voice to be heard over the pounding music.

 

“This band had better be so horrible my ears bleed.”

 

Laughing, Joe slid a bottle of Heineken to him and took a swig of his own. “I’ll tell them they’d better mess with their amps just for you.”

 

Patrick took a drink and felt himself relax. Leaning closer so he didn’t have to shout, he started to ask Joe what time they were supposed to start, when someone jostled him hard and he face-planted into Joe’s shoulder. Unburying himself, he spun around ready to give whoever it was a piece of his mind, when he saw someone picking themselves up from the floor at his feet.

“What the fuck, are you alright?!” Patrick bent down to help whoever it was up, visions of having to carry some bleeding kid through the crowd flashing through his head. However, that was instantly swept away as eyes he realized were a lovely honey-brown met his own, and he groaned. “Pete?”

 

“Mmrghh.” Pete was shaking his head, rubbing his neck as Patrick helped him stand up and out of the press of Doc Martins and Converse. “Yeah, nothing worse than normal.” He had on a red polo shirt with the collar stupidly popped and was that eyeliner?? “Sorry for banging into you.”

 

Taking a deep breath and shaking his own head to clear it of the sudden irritation with Joe for picking the only bar in town with someone he didn’t want to see, he tamped down on his earlier fury at being knocked over and gave Pete what he hoped was a placating smile. “Don’t worry about it.” Pete grinned and noticed Joe staring at them, and reached around to shake his hand.

 

“Hey man, I’m Pete. Sorry for the car accident.” Joe shook his hand and smiled, his eyes sliding to Patrick in a way he knew meant he was totally going to have to explain this later. Cursing his luck that the fucking hot student he totally thought was beyond annoying and couldn’t help but enjoy looking at was here being all friendly, smiling like he was actually happy to see them.

 

“No worries dude.” Joe said easily. “You here to see Twelve Car Death Crash too?”

 

Pete nodded and Patrick gaped at the person he formerly thought was his best friend. “You made me change out of my pajamas to hear a band named what?!” But before Joe could defend himself, Pete was bouncing on the balls of his feet and gesturing with his hands.

 

Ohmygoshyes , is that why you’re here? I love them! Just the right blend of punk and hardcore, seriously brilliant fucking guitar too--” Joe and Pete started yammering about the idiotically-named band that apparently was the reason Patrick was no longer on his couch watching Bones reruns, and he sighed. Grabbing his beer from where it had thankfully escaped the worst of the jostling, he took a long drink, cursing his luck and his life for what seemed like the twelfth time that day.

 

“--You want a drink, man?” He was pulled out his mental complaining session by Joe leaning around him to holler at the harried-looking bartender (who had at least six piercings on his face) for three more beer. Patrick gave Pete a skeptical look.

 

“Are you even old enough to drink?”

 

Throwing his head back he let out a loud, braying laugh. Taking the offered beer from Joe, he grinned at Patrick. “Are you asking me if I’m legal?”

Trying not to sputter at the salacious way the words came out of Pete’s mouth, Patrick shook his head vigorously. “No, I’m saying considering your noted lack of maturity in class, you could very well be eighteen.”

 

Still grinning, Pete shook his head. “You say the sweetest things, but yes, I’m more than legal. Betcha I might actually be older than you.”

 

“Prove it.” Patrick didn’t know why he was still talking about this, he didn’t really care how old Pete was, and if he really wanted to know he could always look it up in his registration at the school. But Pete just shrugged, digging out his wallet and handing Patrick a beat-up Illinois driver's license that proclaimed his age in bold, black letters. “You’re twenty-nine ?” He couldn’t help the way his voice rose at the end, and Pete shrugged as he took back his ID.

 

“Yep. So, am I older?”

 

Before he could evade, Joe’s laughter was in his ears. “Yeah man, you’re definitely older. So you’re one of Patrick’s students, huh? Surprised he hasn’t told me about you.” Patrick wanted to run away at the glimmer in Pete’s eye at that.

 

“Awhhh you didn’t tell him about your favorite student? I’m hurt!”

 

Voice dark with annoyance, Patrick glared. “More like most annoying .” Pete just laughed at that, which didn’t make him feel any more vindicated, and he promised himself that he was going to do something ridiculous to Joe for this...like reprogram the simulators to crash the plane five minutes in, or change all the colors on his computer so that his toolbars were pink. The sound of the band starting to pick up guitars and drumsticks cut in, and they all looked up towards the small stage. Pete’s eyes lit up, and he downed the last of the beer before setting it down on the bar.

 

“Thanks for the beer, Joe, super cool to meet you. Patrick, I’ll see you later.” He actually winked at Patrick, and he felt the way his cheeks flamed and cursed him german ancestors for not getting in the sun more. But then Pete was gone, wading through the crowd and he could hear Joe laughing low under his breath.

 

“I can see why you didn’t tell me about him.” Patrick glared and punched Joe in the shoulder.

 

“I pick the bar next time, asshole.” They waded into the crowd as the band started, and Patrick was caught up the the swell of guitars and the thrumming of the bass, the beating hearts of the bodies around him and the swell and ebb of the indescribable thing that made music so awesome . Once he glimpsed Pete through the crowd and his eyes were wide, eyeliner smudged perfectly and a carefree smile on his face. Swallowing, he cursed the universe for his weakness for dark skin and tattoos, and resolutely looked at the stage for the rest of the set.

 

~//~

 

The next four classes were taken up with simulator work, Patrick’s least favorite part of teaching. He enjoyed lecturing and explaining things to students, he liked finding a way to make challenging concepts make sense. It was the only part of this ridiculous job that made him actually feel like he was doing something with his life. When he could see a student looking confused at the presentation, and he explained doppler shift or VFR procedures in a different way and understanding blossomed across their face... that was satisfying.

 

But this? Simulator time was absolutely necessary, but God was it boring. It was the same thing, over and over, running each of the students through the same training profile. Talking them through the same radio calls to the tower, walking them through the same checklists over and over as they stumbled through techniques that he had done and instructed about six thousand times...he wanted to scream. But it was the last two weeks of the class, so he just had to get it over with. He spilt the students between himself and Joe, they both helped each other out with their classes’ simulator sessions so they could get through all the student’s required events in the allotted time. He had purposely assigned Pete to Joe so that he wouldn’t have the temptation of distractions.

 

Yawning, he turned to push through the simulator bay doors with his back, hands full of binders, notebooks, his bag and a huge thermos of coffee. Fuck the first sim of the day was the worst--six in the morning was too early to be awake, much less doing hands-on instruction.

 

“Morning.” Patrick’s head shot up from where he was craning his neck trying to find his keycard, and he blinked at the student who was not supposed to be there.

 

“What are you doing here?” Inwardly he winced at his less-than-smooth delivery and pushed his glasses up his nose with the back of his wrist. “Travis is supposed to be simming with me.”

 

Shaking his head, Pete grinned. “Travie isn’t a morning person, and I never sleep anyways, so we traded session times.” The first bit of hesitancy colored his features, and Patrick decided that maybe the universe really did hate him. “I hope that isn’t a problem?”

 

Blowing out a breath as he thought, Patrick set his things down at the small instructor station. If he threw a fit and tried to get Travie here, who knowing college students wouldn’t even be awake yet, that would blow his carefully-crafted simulator schedule, which already had him cramming students in like anchovies. He flopped down in the chair and gestured for Pete to sit. “No, it’s fine. I’m just not a morning person, sorry.” He poured himself a cup of coffee and took a deep sip. “Let’s go ahead and get started, by the time I get this thing booted up and drink this I’ll try to actually be a human.”

 

Pete’s smile bloomed across his face in a way that Patrick found entirely too enticing, and he started yammering about some new Rise Against album and this new brand of whiskey he had tried as Patrick got his keycard inserted into the reader and typed in his login. He fumbled it and the simulator screen buzzed angrily at him, and he looked up at Pete with thinly-veiled grumpiness that he knew wasn’t strictly professional but he couldn’t quite care. “No talking until I finish my first cup, please. ” Pete gave him puppy-dog eyes that Patrick sternly told himself to ignore, and turned back to the screen. He typed in his password again--correctly this time, thank God, he did not want to have to call tech support this early in the morning--and started getting things set up. Pete started whistling something that definitely didn’t deserve to be called a song, and Patrick resisted the urge to punch the screen.

 

It was going to be a long day.

 

~//~

 

Pete shut the door behind him and Patrick looked up from where he was just about done writing the gradesheet. Pushing aside his binder and now-empty thermos, he motioned for Pete to pull up the extra chair and sit down.

 

“So...that was kinda rough.” He had given this speech so many times he knew perfectly well how to pitch his voice so it was serious but not intimidating, straightforward but not disappointed. “Are you doing alright? You said you weren’t really sleeping a lot…” He trailed off, hoping Pete would finish the sentence. Nearly three years of teaching was proved right as Pete rubbed his neck.

 

“It’s not a new thing. I’m not really...I’ve never really slept more than four or so hours a night.” He looked up at Patrick and gave him a grin that he could see was more an act than anything else, a move that was practiced enough times to seem real. “So lay it on me, how bad did I do?”

 

Looking down at his gradesheet, Patrick bit his lip as he looked at the little boxes next to “Pass” and “Fail.” He hadn’t checked one yet, and he knew he couldn’t leave them blank. “Well, you definitely have room to improve, but don’t we all.” He slid the paper so that Pete could see what he’d written and debriefed him, point by point, referencing his notes when he needed. He was careful to tell Pete the things he had done well--good critical thinking skills, very good job remembering what he had learned in class--as he told him that his checklist discipline was poor, and that his radio calls were entirely not up to par. As he reached the end of the gradesheet, he saw Pete’s eyes light on the unchecked boxes.

 

“So...are you going to fail me?”

 

Patrick took a deep breath and held it, considering. He would be solidly within the grading criteria to fail him, but they both knew that had consequences. It would be a mark that would follow Pete all through his flight training, and Patrick hated doing that to students. Blowing out through pursed lips, he made his decision.

 

“No. I’m not... if.” He looked at Pete sternly. “You’re not bad at this...just not very good at it, but I know you can be. You definitely have all the skills, especially considering how you didn’t panic at all. That’s the hardest thing to teach someone--that confidence to just look at the situation and make the best decision in the heat of the moment.” He could see Pete’s shoulders tensing, waiting for the hammer to fall. “But you definitely won’t pass your next simulator ride with that kind of performance, so here’s what I’ll do. I won’t fail you, if you schedule one more sim with me after hours before your next event.” He grimaced, hoping Pete wouldn’t make a salacious comment about the after hours bit, but he saw only relief in the other’s eyes.

 

“No, I--” Pete looked down at his hands, his shoulders relaxing. “--I can definitely do that. Thank you, really.” He gave Patrick a small smile, so unlike his usual wide grins, and he wondered why he liked that one so much more. Maybe because it was real. Pushing that line of thought away, he nodded, not ready to let Pete go. He glanced at the digital clock on the wall--fifteen more minutes until his next student would arrive.

 

“Pete--” He pursed his lips. “Are you doing okay? I know flight training is intense, and you add insomnia to the mix, that sounds rough.”

 

Wide brown eyes met his and Pete sighed. “I…” He trailed off, and shrugged. “Yeah, I’m okay. It’s just a lot to remember all at once, you know? My dad, he was a private pilot and so I’ve flown a ton...I thought I understood it. And being here and learning it, I guess I realize how much I don’t know.” He grinned, that smile that seemed entirely fake now that Patrick had seen the real thing. “I’ll be fine, I promise. Plus calc is kicking my ass.”

 

“Pretty sure that’s what calculus is designed to do.” Patrick checked the “pass” box, feeling like he had made the right call. “Well, if you need anything, we’re all here to help. Just send me an email with some times that work for you and we’ll arrange your extra sim...we should only need two hours or so.” Sticking Pete’s gradesheet into the file folder with the rest of them, he gestured for Angela to come in from where she was looking in through the glass window in the door.

 

“Thanks.” The small, sincere smile was back just for a minute, and Patrick couldn’t help but smile back. “I’ll shoot you that email after my next class.” Pete promised as he gathered up his things and gave Angela a high five, wishing her luck as he swept through the doors.


“Hello, Angela. Come on in and get settled.” Patrick pulled a fresh gradesheet out and wondered if he had time to grab a soda.

Chapter Text

 

 

“Lakeshore Ground, Arrow Five Delta Charlie, requesting permission to taxi for departure via Runway 41.”

 

Pete’s voice was calm, assured and Patrick smiled behind his headset’s mouthpiece as he played the part of the various airport controlling agencies.

 

“Five Delta Charlie, Lakeshore Ground, you are clear to taxi to hold short point on Runway 41.”

 

“Five Delta Charlie copies, hold short Runway 41.” Pete acknowledged Patrick’s instructions and started his taxi checklist, running through the steps efficiently. It heartened him to see that he was doing so much better than his previous sim--hopefully that meant that he had both taken to heart Patrick’s admonishment and studied. The simulated plane reached the appointed point and Pete keyed his mic again.

 

“Lakeshore Tower, this is Arrow Five Delta Charlie, ready for departure on Runway 41, VFR to flight level 250 in Bravo Airspace.”

 

Stifling a yawn, Patrick replied. “Five Delta Charlie, Lakeshore Tower, you are cleared for departure on Runway 41, g’day.” It wasn’t too late in the day, but it was later than he was usually there. But he didn’t mind, he’d done it many times to help students pass, and this was no different. No different he told himself sternly.

 

Cycling through his cross-checks, Pete pulled the throttles back and the “plane” rose in the air on his screen. Pete watched as the elevation meter ticked up, up, up, as Pete coached the plane through leaving the ground behind. Even though there was no accompanying acceleration, this part always made Patrick feel sympathetically queasy, but he pushed it down, tapping his foot on the ground to reassure himself. Once Pete reached his planned altitude, he keyed the mic again. “Good Morning, Lakeshore Tower, Arrow Five Delta Charlie requesting clearance to depart Bravo airspace.”

 

“Five Delta Charlie, contact Lakeshore tower at One-Two-Two Decimal Niner.” Patrick looked down at the plan he had scratched onto the back of a poster for a show he had fished out of his bag to remember where he was trying to go with his radio calls.

 

“Five Delta Charlie copies One Two Two Decimal Niner.” Pete dialed in the new frequency and then spoke, and Patrick could hear the hesitancy in his voice….This was where it had all unraveled for him before. “Lakeshore Tower, Arrow Five Delta Charlie checking in at Flight level 250.”

 

“Five Delta Charlie, you are cleared to depart Bravo Airspace, transiting VFR and maintain flight level 250, Squawk 3121.”

 

Pete’s hands were flying over the controls, trying to keep the aircraft steady in the strong crosswind Patrick had set up, as well as keeping his eyes everywhere they needed to be looking, and he replied absently, “Roger, Lakeshore Tower.” But then Patrick saw him shake his head, shoulders slumping just a bit. He turned around, pulling his headset halfway off and gave Patrick a sheepish grin. “Okay, I fucked that up. Can I try again?” Nodding with a smile, Patrick gave him the thumbs up and Pete turned back around and resettled his headset. “Five Delta Charlie copies VFR at Flight Level 250, Squawk 3121, g’day.”

 

Patrick couldn't resist, and keyed his mic for interphone only mode, even though he knew it wasn’t quite within protocol to talk over it in a simulation. “Good catch.” Pete threw up a “rock on” sign with his hand and Patrick huffed in amusement.

 

“Lakeshore Tower, this is Five Delta Charlie, I appreciate the vote of confidence. Requesting Flight Level 300 since you’re such a peach?” Patrick could feel the tiniest of blushes working its way across his cheeks, and thanked the designers of the sim for making it dimly lit.

 

“Five Delta Charlie, you’d need to be a lot smoother than that to get an altitude change. Proceed as fragged, squawk 3315 into the Charlie Area, g’day.” He heard Pete give a short, choppy laugh and he shook his head as they went on with the event.

 

~//~

 

Pete was practically bouncing with happiness as he sat down at the small instructor station across from Patrick.

 

“I did good, didn’t I?” His grin was infectious, and Patrick couldn’t help smiling back even as he cursed himself for finding Pete so damn attractive.

 

“Yeah, you really did.” He finished the last few notes on the gradesheet and handed it over. “I’m not going to file this since it’s not an official sim and we’re not technically supposed to do this, so it’s just for your reference. You definitely improved in--”

 

“--Wait, you’re not supposed to do this?” Pete’s eyes were wide and concerned, and Patrick distantly wondered how he could go from giddy to distressed in one second flat. “I don’t want you to get in trouble because I’m a fuck up.”

 

“You’re not a fuck up.” Patrick gave Pete a small smile he hoped was reassuring. Just don’t tell anyone...the way I look at it, what I do with my time off is up to me.” Pete’s eyes held just a hint of surprise as he murmured a soft thanks and Patrick nodded. “Okay, so you did a lot better on your radio calls and using your checklists. If you perform at the same standard on your next ride, I’m sure you’ll pass.”

 

“Cause I already know all your tricks, right?” Pete grinned that wide grin, but Patrick shook his head.

 

“No, it’ll be with Joe. We have you sim with both of us because that way you get a broader exposure to different styles. He teaches totally different than I do, but I think you’ll do fine.” He thought Pete looked a little crestfallen, but he pushed that away as just his imagination. “So just keep working on your knowledge and don’t stop practicing your calls. I used to do them in the car while I was driving.”

 

Pete nodded. “It’s hard to imagine you as some green pilot student. Are you like a pilot for a rich heiress on the weekends?”

 

Shaking his head, Patrick put his notebook in his bag. “Nope, nothing so glamorous. Do you have any questions about the sim or anything else?”

 

“No.” Pete cocked his head. “Well, actually yeah.” He ran a hand through his hair, and Patrick thought it was one of the first distinctly nervous actions he had seen him make. “I just wanted to say thanks for...being willing to help me. Not a lot of people are and I really appreciate it. I promise I won’t like, fuck it up.”

 

He set his bag down and folded his hands as he considered Pete. “Why do you keep saying you’re a fuck up?”

 

“I…” Pete trailed off, and rubbed a scuff on the table absently. “I kinda am. I was in school for poli-sci, and then I--” He glanced up, and Patrick saw something like vulnerability in his eyes. “You could get my FAA physical revoked for this, but I guess I feel like I trust you for some reason. I got diagnosed with bipolar the year before I graduated. It was really rough and...I got help, and I’m really okay now I promise, but it made me realize I just wasn’t cut out for that life. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I really wanted and...flying is what I love. I’ve never felt so happy, so that’s why I’m here.”

 

Without realizing it, Patrick started to reach out to take Pete’s hand, but stopped himself when it was halfway across the table. They both saw his hand, and he felt his cheeks flush pink as he pulled them both back onto his lap. “I won’t tell anyone.” He said softly, looking up at Pete. “I understand feeling like you’re trapped in your own head and in your own choices.”

 

Giving him a puzzled glance, like he was wondering if Patrick was going to continue, Pete was silent for a moment, and something seemed to charge the air around them for the briefest moment. But then it was gone, and he smiled that small smile that seemed so real . “Well...thanks. I’m glad you get it.” He grimaced. “My parents definitely didn’t, but I can’t really say anything bad about them since they’re the reason I’m even here.” Glancing up, he stretched. “Is this where you went to school? Is that why you’re teaching here?”

 

Shaking his head, Patrick grabbed his bag and stood, powering off the various monitors. “No personal questions unless you’re buying me a drink.” It was out of your mouth before he could even think about what he was saying, and he whirled around, stammering. “Uhh--that’s not, I didn’t, I’m not--” Pete laughed, and that made it even worse.

 

“Pattycakes are you asking me out?” Pete’s eyes were twinkling and Patrick hated himself and the universe for how it made his stomach flip-flop and his mouth water.

 

No .” He gritted out. “I’m just tired--that was not an invitation, you’re my student for crying out loud and--” He glared with what he hoped was terrifying intensity--” No nicknames or I swear to God I’ll fail you.”

 

Holding up his hands, Pete laughed, eyes still shining infuriatingly. “So you’re saying when I’m not your student anymore, I’ve got a chance?”

 

Get out.” Patrick growled, but even to his ears it didn’t sound convincing. He shut the lights off and grabbed his bag in the dim green light coming from the exit signs, heading towards the door and pushing it open. Pete sauntered out, the wide grin still there.

 

“Thanks for the help, really.” He stepped past Patrick, and for a split second he could feel the heat radiating off Pete’s body and it made him feel hungry. But he tamped it down and let the door swing shut behind him, trying to remember that he was the teacher, he was in control dammit--certainly of his own emotions!--and nodded.

 

“No problem. Good luck with your next sim.”


Giving Patrick a stupid version of a salute, Pete backed away. “I’ll make you proud, promise. After all, I can’t ask you out if I have to repeat your class.” Without waiting for Patrick’s outburst, he scampered away, leaving Patrick to shake his head, bemoan his fucking mouth for moving without his brain, and ask himself for the 13 millionth time why he was teaching flying.

Chapter Text

 

 

“Best of luck in the rest of your studies.” Patrick gave the students what he hoped looked like a sincere smile, and that was that. The quarter was over and he had a whole blessed two months off. Looking up as a shadow fell across his desk where he was stacking papers and shoving books into his bag, he came face-to-face with Angela. You were hoping it was Pete his heart chided him, and he pushed it down. “Hey, Angela, what’s up?” She started talking in a low tone about how concerned she was about moving into actual flights and how she had no idea how she would manage the hands-on portions of her studies and the grueling academic classes...Glancing up, Patrick saw Pete looking at him strangely from the back of the class, talking to a little knot of students. But then he looked back at Angela and noticed she had the beginnings of tears in her eyes and a tremble in her voice and sighed. Gently, he tried to reassure her that she had done great in class and that buying a simple day-planner had been key for him when he was in school.

 

By the time she had calmed down, Pete was gone.

 

~//~

“Here’s to another semester done, and SUMMMERRRRR!” Joe’s declaration turned into a yowl as they clinked their bottles and took long draws from their beers. Patrick felt less of Joe’s elation and more of a sense of finally and just plain exhaustion, but he was excited to have time that wasn’t filled with grading papers and making lesson plans. Time he could use to do what he really wanted to do. He became aware of Joe giving him a patented Trohman Therapy Service look. “Okay, what’s moshing in your brain and keeping you from being fuckin’ stoked, dude?”

 

Shrugging, Patrick took another drink and set the bottle down, centering it on the coaster to distract himself. “I don’t know...I just can’t believe I’m still doing this.”

 

Joe gave him a look, concern and frustration mixed equally in his eyes. “Well, why don’t you actually go do what you want then? ‘Cause otherwise we’re going to have this talk a hundred more times than the three hundred we already have.”

 

He suppressed a grimace and looked up at Joe. “I’m sorry...I guess it was just a weird semester and all. I’ll get over it.”

 

“Mmmhmmm.” Joe’s voice was contemplative with a teasing glint. Never a good combo Patrick thought, and watited for it. “It wouldn’t happen to be partially the reason you’ve been suggesting we come to all these ‘college bars’ you hate, or why you look up whenever someone who has tattoos and dark hair comes in?”

 

Patrick blushed fiercely--damn but he thought he was smoother than that. He made a face and picked the bottle back up, before putting it back down before when he realized that holding it like that would only make it warm.

 

“No...not really.” He rolled his eyes. “I mean, he didn’t say goodbye at the end of class after everything...maybe it’s dumb but I thought he would. And he’s never even come by to say hello, and yes he’s still enrolled and yes I stalked him a bit in the registration folders to see what classes he’s in.

 

“But you never went by, of course.” Joe phrased it like a statement, probably because he already knew the answer to it, he mused.

 

“Of course not. That would just be creepy.” He sighed. “I just have to forget it, you know? A couple weeks of music and I’ll be good as new.”

 

Joe didn’t press him, but he could see in his eyes that he didn’t believe a word he said.

 

~//~

 

Plunking his coffee cup down, Patrick sighed. Summer had gone by too quickly and it had been too perfect --all the things that he desperately longed to do suddenly filling up his days and he was happy . He woke up every morning excited and went to bed thrilled at the prospect of waking up and doing it all over again. But now it was over--officially--he had just finished his first class and was beginning the first set of office hours. He rubbed his face and took a long swig of coffee, praying silently that nobody would show up.

 

“Did you pass me out of pity?” The voice sounded from right the fuck in front of him and Patrick jerked, narrowly missing spilling coffee all over himself.

 

Mpphhh ?” He coughed on his lungful of coffee and stared up at his former student with wide eye and he was sure a totally idiotic look on his face, but then his mind cleared and he remembered all the days spent wondering and wishing pathetically for this exact interaction as he jumped to his feet. “You just show up here and ask me that?? No I did not pass you out of pity, that’s a hell of a thing to say when you just show up after five months!”

 

Pete’s eyes were narrow, his bearing tense and held with the false confidence that betrayed how he really felt. “Nobody else in the class got anything higher than a B-, and you gave me an A.” He folded his arms like he was a boxer stepping into the ring. “I can make it on my own, I don’t need fucking charity just because--”

 

“I seriously cannot believe you.” Patrick glared, hands pressed into the table. “I gave you that grade because you did good . You earned it, you asshole, you got the highest sim 2 score of anyone and if you recall, Joe flew that sim with you, not me, so why aren’t you down there accusing him of favoritism if you’re so sure that’s what it was!” Pete seemed to deflate a little, but Patrick wasn’t done--he was on a roll and dammit if Pete hadn’t started this. “ And you got the highest score on the final by an entire letter grade unless you want to accuse me of faking your scantron, so why don’t you have some goddamn confidence and pull your head out of your ass and not take the absolute worst case scenario you can imagine as fucking gospel!?”

 

Pete stared at him with wide eyes for a minute as his voice seemed to echo throughout the small office, and Patrick almost started to feel bad for shouting. He wondered distantly if this would be another day to add to the scoreboard in Joe’s office titled “GRC Scoreboard.” If anyone asked they said it stood for Good Radio Calls, but they both knew it meant Goddamn Raging Criers. The students who started out angry and then turned into sobbing messes. So far, Joe had him beat by one but he wondered if that was about to change.

 

“Oh.” He absently rubbed his neck, looking down at his shoes briefly before his eyes were back on Patrick’s. But like stormclouds rolling away on the back of a strong wind, his face quickly was clear with a brilliant smile. “Well in that case, sorry about that. Want to go on a date with me then?” Now Patrick was sure that his mouth was hanging open like an idiot, because seriously had this guy heard of transitions? Or giving someone a second to recover?

 

“Seriously?” He gasped out, and Pete just shrugged.

 

“Yeah, unless I totally read all the signs wrong and you’re actually super only into girls. But I really am sorry for assuming...I talked to the students after class and I thought that you maybe passed me because of...well, what I told you. I couldn’t stand to see you after that.”

 

Glaring because it seemed like a much better choice than giggling like an airheaded schoolgirl, Patrick felt his lips twist into a scowl as he brushed at the wet spots left behind by his suddenly-airborne coffee. “And you thought the best plan was to avoid me for five months?”

 

Pete shrugged, managing to somehow look shamefaced and smug at once. “I’m a pretty stubborn guy, ‘Trick. Promise that’s just one of the things you’ll learn if you go on a date with me.”

 

“What else am I gonna find in the cave of wonders if I did that? You’re actually a furry and sleep with a teddy bear?” It was out of his mouth before Patrick even realized what he’d said, just in time for his cheeks to burn with his uncustomary rudeness. What was it about Pete that made him concurrently grumpy and giddy? But his former student only grinned and scribbled what looked like a phone number on one of the five hundred pads of sticky notes Patrick had on his desk.

 

“You’ll have to go out with me to find the answer to that. Wednesday night, six o’clock?” He handed him the sticky note with a ridiculous flourish, and Patrick couldn’t help the way his heart fluttered when he saw Pete had drawn hearts all around the set of seven digits as he nodded in agreement.

 

“You know I could just pull your number out of your student profile, right?”

 

Pete only winked. “Now where’s the fun in that?” Turning, he slipped out the room, pausing only to blow Patrick a kiss through the glass that flanked the door. Vaguely proud of himself for not doing something stupid like exploding into flames or blowing a kiss back, Patrick sat down in his chair heavily, staring at the sticky note.

 

He looked up as the door slammed against the wall as Joe skidded into the room, hair flying around his face and a wide grin on his face that could only be described as shit-eating.

 

“Was that who I thought it was just leaving here?!” His eyes lit on the sticky on Patrick’s desk. “And what is that!?!?”

 

Lowering his forehead to the pocked surface of the desk, Patrick groaned as he cursed his taste in friends, his career choices, his weakness for brown eyes and tattoos, and Pete Fucking Wentz .  I guess this is what hell is like , he thought absently as Joe continued firing questions one after another like the world’s most excited machine gun.