When Patrick kisses Charlie for the first time, Charlie freezes.
And he feels a little badly about that. He thinks that when someone kisses you, you’re supposed to kiss back - if you don’t, it’s a little rude. Charlie doesn’t like to be rude.
But the kiss catches him so off guard. One moment they’re joking in the park, talking about urban legends, and the next Patrick is looking at him, open and vulnerable. The kiss doesn’t last long, but there’s an urgency there, a desperation, and Charlie doesn’t know what to do but rest a hand on Patrick’s arm and wait for him to finish.
When Patrick pulls back and stares at him, his chest heaves a little, and Charlie thinks he might be about to vomit.
Instead, he collapses against Charlie and cries.
So Charlie holds him. He’s good at that, good at keeping someone close and trying to make them feel a little bit better. He knows what it’s like to want someone to hold onto you and to take your pain away, and he thinks that Patrick needs a little bit of that. He’s been through a lot and the relationship with Brad has left Patrick limp, like a wrung-out dishtowel. Charlie doesn’t blame him for needing someone, and Charlie likes that he gets to be that someone, for a few minutes.
“I’m sorry,” Patrick breathes raggedly into his chest. “I’m sorry.”
Charlie runs a hand down his back, trying to soothe him. “It’s all right.”
And he means it. He knows some guys might freak out about being kissed by their best friend, their male best friend, but somehow…. somehow, Charlie doesn’t mind at all.
When Patrick finally calms down and his breathing is back to normal, he wipes the back of his hand roughly across his eyes and shoots Charlie a sheepish smile.
“I’ll take you home, Charlie-boy.”
The drive home is quiet. Patrick’s arm hangs out the window of his pickup truck and Charlie keeps his eyes turned upwards, staring into the glare of the Pittsburgh city lights. Something new has settled over the two of them, something Charlie can’t quite put his finger on, but it isn’t awkward. He isn’t worried about saying the wrong thing or that Patrick is going to avoid him the next day, embarrassed about this night. That doesn’t even really cross his mind. It’s like there’s a comfort there between them now - like he’s seen something new in Patrick, something Patrick hasn’t shown him until now.
And when Patrick pulls into his driveway and gives Charlie a smile, Charlie can see it in his eyes.
Patrick’s seen something new in him, too.
Charlie has every intention of heading straight to bed. He stands on the stoop and waves to Patrick as he drives away, a tightness around his heart as he steps inside. He ponders it as he moves through the silent house, his parents and sister tucked away in their rooms for the night. He doesn’t know what it means, that tightness. He’s felt it a little before, to some degree, around Sam. Like when she’s pressing up against Craig after Rocky Horror performances or giggling about him with Mary Elizabeth. It hurts, some, but not like the tightness he feels now. The tightness he feels now squeezes, like it’s getting hard to breathe, and the longer he stands in the hallway outside his bedroom, the worse it gets.
And all he can think is that the tightness started when Patrick drove away.
Before Charlie knows it, he’s running. He’s the only one on the street at this time of night, his feet making soft thumping sounds on the pavement as he runs by quiet houses, everyone safely in bed for the night. Every step he takes eases that clench around his heart just a little bit, and when he finally rounds the corner in front of Sam and Patrick’s house, his head spins a little.
He knows, now, that he needs Patrick.
Charlie isn’t sure what to do when he reaches the porch. Patrick’s family must all be in bed by now, and the last thing he wants is to wake them up and make everybody upset. So he jogs back out to the driveway, picks up several pebbles sitting in the edge of the grass, and tosses them up at Patrick’s second story window. He feels foolish, like someone out of a cheesy movie, but he doesn’t care. He needs to see Patrick, and he can’t wait. This can’t wait.
When the window opens and Patrick sticks his head out, there’s a surprised look on his face. “What are you doing here?” he hisses.
“Come down,” Charlie calls quietly. “Please?”
“Go home, Charlie.”
“Not until you come down.”
Patrick studies him for a moment, and Charlie’s almost afraid that he’ll shut the window and go to bed. That he’ll ignore him entirely. The feeling around his heart tightens a little again, and he’s about to call up one more time when Patrick nods. “Hang on.”
He’s down on the porch in less than a minute. Charlie moves up the steps to join him, nerves thrumming. “Hi. Sorry it’s so late.”
Patrick sighs and runs a hand through his hair, pushing it off his forehead. His cheeks are still a little blotchy from crying, his eyes a tad unfocused, and he shakes his head. “Look, Charlie, I shouldn’t have kissed you. I’m sorry, all right? What do you want -”
“I’m not sorry.”
And then Charlie steps forward and presses his lips to Patrick’s.
The kiss isn’t long. Charlie’s hand slides between them to grasp Patrick’s shirt, holding him close as he kisses him firmly, eyes closed, and before he knows it Patrick’s pulled back. His eyes are wild and confused, darting all over Charlie’s face as if he’s the one who’s done something wrong.
“Don’t,” Patrick says, running his fingers over his own lips. “Charlie, don’t kiss me because you want to make me feel better. I screwed up tonight, and it’s not fair to you. Don’t do that just for me.”
Charlie licks his lips, and when he speaks, his voice is hoarse. “It’s not just for you.”
When their lips meet this time, Patrick kisses back.
There’s a hunger and a desperation there, the same one that was present when Patrick kissed him on the picnic table at the park. Charlie wants to pull him closer, closer, wants to somehow fit himself against Patrick in a perfect enough way to absorb some of his pain. He wants to take in a little bit of Patrick’s hurt and spare him the ache, because it’s easier to feel someone else’s pain than your own. It’s easier to cure someone else’s hurt than to fix the one that’s knotted deep inside you.
Patrick’s tongue slides along his lips and Charlie opens his mouth to him, fingers twisting in the hem of Patrick’s shirt when he hears his soft moan, and he thinks that maybe Patrick can help heal his hurt, too.
Maybe neither of them have to go through this alone.
“You have to be quiet,” Patrick whispers to him as he pulls him down the hallway to his bedroom. “My parents aren’t going to… they’re not Brad’s dad. But I don’t want them to hear us.”
Charlie nods, swallowing thickly, and doesn’t dare to speak. All he wants is to be close to Patrick, to feel their lips move together and feel his hands on his skin, and he won’t dare do anything to jeopardize that or risk them having to stop.
Before he knows it, Patrick’s on top of him, his hands moving soothingly over his chest. They both lost their shirts as soon as the bedroom door clicked shut, and Charlie’s panting beneath him. He doesn’t know what comes next, what will happen once Patrick’s fingers finish undoing his pants, but he knows that he wants to see. Wants to find out. Every touch of Patrick’s is careful and gentle, like he wants to make Charlie happy, and they make Charlie’s heart swell more each time.
Patrick slides down his body when Charlie’s pants are off, kisses Charlie’s stomach softly and shoots him a little smile when Charlie’s muscles tense up at the ticklish sensation. He smoothes a hand over Charlie’s thigh.
“Can I?” he asks softly. Charlie’s underwear has been tented for what feels like ages now, the tension and the hardness almost dizzying, and he nods, breathless.
“Patrick,” he says, just Patrick’s name like a prayer, and Patrick kisses his hip.
“It’s okay,” he murmurs, inching the underwear down. “I’ve got you. It’s okay.”
And, more than anything, Charlie knows that it is.
Patrick’s mouth feels good around him, better than Charlie’s own hand ever has, and his back arches as Patrick sucks him down. He knows he can’t cry out and has to sling his arm over his mouth to stop the noises desperately trying to escape his lips. His eyes are squeezed shut and his hips rock a little, seeking more, more, more, and all he can think, over and over, is Patrick.
Patrick pulls off too soon, all too soon, and Charlie’s hands scrabble at his shoulders, urging him upwards. He sits up a little because he can’t wait, presses their lips together in an eager kiss full of need, and the taste of skin and sweat in Patrick’s mouth doesn’t even bother him. He runs his hands down Patrick’s back to grip his ass, and Patrick whimpers softly into his mouth.
Charlie needs more, needs to be closer, and when his hand works to undo Patrick’s belt, it trembles.
“Not if you aren’t ready,” Patrick breathes, and he even pulls back from him to shake his head, to clear it and focus. “I’m not doing this to you if you’re not ready.”
“You won’t be doing anything to me. With me. I want to be close to you,” Charlie insists, sitting up again and wrapping his arms around Patrick’s shoulders. His fingers play with the little hairs at the nape of Patrick’s neck, and Patrick’s eyes fall shut just for the briefest of moments, losing himself in the gentle touch.
“I don’t want to scare you,” Patrick breathes, and Charlie’s lips kiss his forehead, his nose, his temple, his lips.
It hurts when Patrick sinks inside him, stings something fierce, and Charlie clings to his shoulders, breathing deeply and trying to pull himself through it. Patrick’s hand slides through his hair and his lips ghost over Charlie’s skin, every little touch making him feel comforted. Needed.
Finally Charlie can open his eyes, and the intensity he sees in Patrick’s, the care, makes a lump grow in his throat.
“Move,” Charlie breathes, kissing Patrick again. “Please.”
They rock together in unison, arms and legs and chests and mouths pressed as close together as they possibly can. It’s like nothing Charlie’s ever experienced, more intense than anything he’s ever felt, and it's wild, surprising, better than he'd expected. Patrick whispers his name, over and over like a mantra, and Charlie holds him, his hands exploring Patrick’s skin. He burns to the touch, and when Patrick’s hips pick up speed, he slides a hand between their bodies to wrap around Charlie.
“I’ve got you,” Patrick pants against his lips. “I’ve got you.”
When they finish, sticky with sweat and dizzy with the heat, Charlie cries. Softly, just a few tears down his cheeks, and he turns away from Patrick right away to keep him from seeing. But Patrick knows, Patrick somehow always knows, and his fingers find Charlie’s chin, gently turning it back towards him.
“Did I hurt you?” Patrick asks softly, and Charlie shakes his head.
“I’ve never felt that before,” Charlie says, and he isn’t talking about sex and orgasms and grinding against another person until they’re both spent. His hand slides up to his chest, tapping the left side, over his heart. “In here, I mean.”
Patrick nods, and his hand slides up to cover Charlie’s own. “It’s beating fast.”
“I know.” Charlie doesn’t think he’s ever seen Patrick this serious for this long. “I like it.”
A soft smile unfurls over Patrick’s face, and at that moment, Charlie thinks that might be the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
“Do you want to stay?” Patrick asks. “I’m a blanket hog, but I’m a nice one.”
Charlie breathes out a little laugh. By now it’s so late that he could probably sneak back home with no problems - everyone inside would be sound asleep, and he could use the side door in the basement to get in and up to his room without any of them being the wiser. He’s good at being quiet.
But the last thing he wants to do right now is sleep alone.
“Okay,” Charlie whispers. “But I kick.”
Patrick grins at him more and leans in slowly, gently brushing another kiss across Charlie’s lips. He feels them tingle, little fireworks going off between their bodies when Patrick pulls back, and he follows him down, curling into his chest. Patrick’s arm wraps tight around him and Charlie sighs. He feels safe, like this is where he’s supposed to be, and that tight ball of ache in the pit of his stomach feels like it’s loosened. It’s not gone, not by a long shot, but it doesn’t hurt quite so much anymore, either. He ghosts his fingers gently over Patrick’s side and hopes that his hurt has gone away a little, too.
They’re quiet for a long while, their breathing steadying out into a soft back-and-forth rhythm. They’ll deal with Patrick’s parents in the morning, Charlie thinks. They’ll deal with everything in the morning. For now, this is what he needs.
Charlie’s eyes are closed and he thinks Patrick’s sound asleep when he feels lips press softly against his temple.
“It’s gonna be okay, Charlie-boy,” Patrick murmurs, his voice thick with sleep. And, in that moment, Charlie believes him.
Somehow, Charlie knows that it will.
“So are you, Patrick,” he says quietly. “You’re gonna be okay, too.”
And Charlie feels Patrick’s arms hold him just a little tighter. When Patrick speaks, the words are barely there, just breaths across silent syllables, floating into the darkness to be lost as soon as they were found. But Charlie hears them anyway, feels them wrap warmly around his heart, and he knows he won’t forget them.
“I think you’re right.”