"Brendon’s still a virgin," Ryan said, his voice sharp and a little smug.
Brendon choked on his beer, coughing and wiping his mouth. There was a conspicuous silence in the hot tub, a moment of uneasy pause between all of them, which then exploded into laughter and accusations and well-meaning advice.
Spencer rolled his eyes and splashed Ryan in the face, rather hard; Brent looked embarrassed; Ryan protested that he had only been kidding, in a tone that proved he hadn’t been. In the midst of all the commotion, Joe nodded sagely at Brendon, still sucking on the tail end of his joint. He winked.
"It will happen, little dude," Joe said. When he opened his mouth, smoke poured out, dissipating slowly in the steam. "Don’t rush the universe."
"...Right," Brendon said, gulping down another large sip of his watery beer. He knew it had been retaliation. Ryan was like that, sometimes, and Brendon knew that by drinking he was making it worse. But fuck, if he couldn’t have a beer in Pete Wentz’s private hot tub, then what was the point of being almost-famous? Nothing. Nothing at all, except the theoretical money and the theoretical fame and the theoretical hordes of screaming girls, one of whom might even want to have sex with him.
Pete nudged Brendon’s elbow. Brendon turned the opposite direction, setting the half-full beer down on the lip of the hot tub, and then turned back.
"Ross," Pete said, thumbing in Ryan’s direction and grinning widely. "Is he serious?" He didn’t look like he was about to make fun of Brendon, but Brendon was also starting to realize that Pete Wentz was a complete lunatic who never did what you expected him to. Before he met Pete, he’d expected him to be one of those super-cool dudes, to be intense and interesting and holier-than-thou. Instead, he’d met a short dude who liked to play practical jokes on people, who sometimes spoke in nonsense sentences and who barely slept, ever. Pete Wentz drew you in, made you unable to look away, and then all of a sudden you found yourself driving him to the Safeway at 4am because he needed more pudding to fill his water balloons.
Or you found yourself in a hot tub crammed full of half-naked dudes, with Pete licking your ear because you never responded to his question.
"Auggh," Brendon said, wiping at his ear. "Pete. Dude."
"You zoned out," Pete said. "Answer me, young padawan. Do we need to find you a lover?"
"Don’t - no," Brendon said, flushing at the word lover. The conversation continued on around them; Brendon lowered his voice to a whisper. "I mean yes, he’s right, but it’s not - it’s not. You don’t need to do that."
Pete smiled at him, close and wicked. "Boy or girl?"
"What?" Brendon said, blinking. "Are you - are you serious?" He didn’t know which was more bizarre - the idea of Pete scrolling through some mental Rolodex of friends and associates to find someone who might want to sleep with Brendon, or the fact that Pete wasn’t confining that list to the female gender.
Not that Brendon was necessarily--well.
If he was honest with himself, he had no idea what he wanted. Who he wanted. He’d just always assumed that getting someone to sleep with him would be easier if he asked a girl; there seemed to be a slightly lower chance of getting punched in the face.
"Either," Brendon said softly, ignoring the way his heart was pounding in his chest.
Pete licked his lips. "Good to know," Pete said, equally softly, before turning back to the hot tub at large.
Brendon left the beer sitting next to his elbow, after that. He didn’t finish it, or raise his hand when Patrick asked if anyone wanted a second round. It was only the heat that was making him lightheaded. He was just being careful.
It had nothing to do with Pete.
The party didn’t come to an end, so much as it trickled down to a close. Andy wandered off soon after the second round had been passed out, poking absentmindedly at his phone. Ryan and Brent had slipped out a few minutes later, Brent to call his girlfriend, and Ryan to do who-knew-what. Patrick mentioned casually that he was going to take a look at the demo mixes of some of the newer Fall Out Boy tracks before going to bed; Spencer waited a few minutes, enough to pretend he wasn’t insanely curious, and then headed straight to the studio. After that, Joe had stubbed his joint out and ambled off to find something to eat in Pete’s kitchen -- and then it was just Brendon and Pete, with the lights of LA in the distance. Brendon could hear Joe moving around inside the house, but he sounded very far away.
He started to talk to fill the silence.
"Hey," Pete said, in the middle of Brendon’s story about how he and Ryan and Spencer had almost blown up Ryan’s garage while trying to mix up a batch of smoke bombs. "Hey, come here."
"What?" Brendon said, breaking off in the middle of his sentence. Pete was across from him, leaning up against the lip of the tub, arms spread. His head was tilted back, but when Brendon replied he raised it up, making eye contact.
"Just come over here," Pete said, with a slight smile. Brendon stood up. The shock of the air on his skin caused a full-body shiver; he waited it out, and then sort of float-walked over to Pete’s side of the hot tub. When he got there, Pete pulled him down, so they were facing each other, barely three inches apart. Brendon opened his mouth to ask Pete what the hell they needed to be so close for, and then Pete kissed him.
Brendon felt himself shivering again, from the heat or the cold or the new sensations, he wasn’t sure. Pete’s mouth was warm and firm; Brendon was acutely aware that he was being kissed, not kissing. He wasn’t the one in charge. This is good, Brendon thought, slightly hysterically. This isn’t bad, I like this, okay, this is okay - He opened his mouth a little more, letting Pete in, melting into it as much as he could. Pete made a pleased noise into his mouth; it was the only place they were touching.
"I know what I said," Pete said, when Brendon finally pulled away, because as much as kissing Pete was new and scary and exciting, he also had to breathe. Pete’s voice was low and secret between them, rough in a way that Brendon had never heard before. "About having some people in mind. But if you just want to get it over with--"
"What?" Brendon said, still trying to catch up.
"I’m saying I’ll help you out," Pete said, with a tiny smile. Brendon watched as Pete’s eyes flickered down, just once, a long slide that came back up to rest on Brendon’s face. "If you want."
"I’m not a pity fuck," Brendon said. He knew even as he was opening his mouth that the words were a bad idea; that even if that was exactly what this was, Brendon should seize the opportunity. Get it over with, so maybe Ryan would shut up for once. That had been the idea all along, but suddenly--suddenly, Brendon wasn’t sure he could go through with it, too much pride standing between him and a fall from grace.
He let his words hang in the silence.
"Oh, wow," Pete said, starting to grin. "Oh no. No no no, Brendon, trust me. That is not what this is." He shifted, his legs open on the submerged bench, and then Brendon felt a hand on his hip, pressing him in even closer. There was nowhere else to go - Brendon felt his knees hit the bench, and then he was straddling Pete, still not quite touching.
"Brendon, listen to me," Pete said, leaning in so he could whisper into Brendon’s ear. "In like six months, you’re going to be a fucking rock star. You’re going to be huge. Your face is going to be the one in all the magazines, you and Ryan and Spencer, and there’s going to be thousands and thousands of kids fighting for a piece of you. You’re going to be this gorgeous fucking fantasy object, all these girls and boys, falling asleep at night, thinking about what it might feel like to touch your skin." Brendon tried to swallow. His breath was coming in sharp pants, harsh and honest.
"They’re going to look at you," Pete said, his voice still barely a whisper. "And they’re going to think about your hands. Your hips, the way you move them when you walk. What you sound like in bed. What you sound like when you come. Because they want to know, they’ll be dying for it--everything you want to give them, every smile, every glance."
"And the only difference between then, and right now, is that you don’t think of yourself like that yet," Pete continued, sliding his hand down to the small of Brendon’s back. "You can’t see it yet," Pete said, with a flash of a smile, bright and white and perfect in the dark. "I can."
"So," Brendon said, his voice coming out low and unfamiliar. He cleared his throat twice, the memory of Pete’s voice still ringing out in the silence. What you sound like when you come. "So not a pity fuck, then?"
"No way," Pete said. He licked his lips again. "Not even close. But the question is, are you in?"
"Yeah," Brendon breathed. Somehow his arms had twined themselves around Pete’s neck; the collar of thorns was slick and black under the incandescent light.
"For all of it?" Pete whispered. He slide his hands back down to Brendon’s hips, his fingers digging in. "Everything?"
"Yeah," Brendon said. There was a sharp feeling in the pit of his stomach. An adrenaline rush, the best kind, want tinged with fear tinged with anticipation. You can’t see it yet. I can. "Fuck yeah. I’m in."