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Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz

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The fascinating thing about Patrick—

Or rather, one of many fascinating things about him, like the way Patrick managed to live sixteen years on this Earth without realizing his voice is beautiful, and his prodigious ability to not see when people are throwing themselves at him, or how much he values talent in other people while being maddeningly nonchalant about it in himself—

Right, but right now Pete is mostly concerned with how Patrick mostly rolls with whatever insanity Pete throws at him, but at seemingly random times his boundaries are carved out of solid rock.

"Come on," Pete says for the third time in as many minutes. "Why don’t you want me to hear it? Does it have your sex noises on it?"

"It’s got your mom’s sex noises," Patrick mutters, red-faced and hunching over his laptop like a broody hen. Pete’s sex-noise theory seems more plausible by the second, although he’ll allow there’s a good part of wishful thinking in there.

(It’s just that Patrick would make the best noises, Pete knows this in his bones, even if Patrick has never gotten off while Pete was in hearing range. This despite having spent weeks on end in a crowded van right next to Pete. Patrick is sneaky like a ninja. A masturbation ninja.)

"No, seriously," Pete says. "What is it? Are you worried that it’s bad? Patrick, it’s you, there’s no way I won’t think it’s awesome."

Patrick’s shoulders hunch. “Not this one,” he says. He looks like he regrets the words as soon as they leave his mouth.

So does Pete, because hearing Patrick sound defeated and quiet makes Pete wanna climb in his lap and cling and tell Patrick how amazing he is until Patrick damned well believes him. “Anything,” Pete says, and he crouches so his eyes are level with Patrick’s, voice low and solemn, “that you make, I will love. Swear.”

And still, Patrick won’t give up his laptop and let Pete listen to what Patrick’s been working on. “Not this one,” Patrick says with finality. “Just leave it, Pete. It’s, it’s personal, okay?”

Really, Patrick should have known better. You don’t wave red in front of a bull, and you don’t tell Pete Wentz not to pry in someone’s business.

~~

Getting to Patrick’s laptop is a challenge. Patrick guards that thing like there’s a piece of his soul hidden in it, handles it with careful loving confidence like it’s a sleeping child. He won’t let anyone else use it, even for the most perfectly legitimate reasons that Pete can manufacture.

Pete is reduced to stealing the laptop while Patrick’s asleep. Patrick’s actually using his laptop bag as a pillow, and he makes little grasping motions when Pete shifts him away, careful. His face screws up, and Pete’s certain Patrick will wake up and Pete will be in a world of pain, but then Patrick mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like Pete's name and relaxes. Pete feels guilty as fuck, but he takes the laptop anyway.

Story of his fucking life, right there.

~~

When Patrick finds him, Pete’s on his third listen through, still trying to make sense of the sound file.

It doesn’t sound like anything he’s ever heard Patrick play. It’s jangled, discordant, practically hurts Pete’s ears to listen to it, yet strangely compelling all the same. There’s a rough desperate edge to it that feels achingly familiar, but Pete can’t put his finger on it.

"I don’t get it," he tells Patrick as he takes the headphones off.

"It’s not for you to get," Patrick says. He’s not furious, like Pete thought he’d be; instead, he seems resigned. Tired, although that might be just because he had to cut his nap short and go find who took his laptop. "It’s mine. Is that so hard for you to understand?"

"Yes," Pete says, honest.

Patrick sits down. He pushes his hat up, rakes his fingers through his hair, and shoves it back down. “It’s just— I was experimenting. I never get it right but I thought this time….” he sighs.

Pete stares back at the laptop screen. The file is titled requiem.band. “Weird name.”

Patrick grimaces. “Yeah, I was ten the first time I tried to work it out, I didn't actually know what a requiem was. The name stuck.”

"So, you just picked the name 'cause it sounded cool?” Pete says, skeptical.

Patrick sits down. His hat is skewed, and his hair is messy under its edge. He's got his back to the wall, leaning back like he doesn't want even the slightest chance of anyone coming up behind him. “I just thought it meant a song about death.”

"Oh,” Pete says, weakly, because yeah. That's what the song is.

~~

Patrick doesn't want to talk about it, and for once, Pete doesn't force it. He knows from his own bitter experience that sometimes talking about what hurts you just makes it realer, worse. He doesn't want to do that to Patrick.

He allows himself a full hour to rage about it. This wasn't supposed to happen. Patrick was supposed to be safe, happy and beautiful inside the way Pete has always known he could be. Pete would have given anything for that; he had given up everything.

And evidently it didn't even work, because here is Patrick, fussing over music that sounds like death, and not even a quiet death. It sounds like throwing yourself on a grenade and being happy about it, furiously joyous that there's more purpose in ending it than there ever was in life. It sounds like the soundtrack to a school shooting.

It sounds like everything that shouldn't happen, not to Patrick, and Pete doesn't know what the fuck to do about it.

~~

He's got his meds in hand. He thinks about going off, like he always does.

"Take your fucking pills,” Patrick says without looking up, because he doesn't need an active soul bond to read Pete's mind. “Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually enjoy being miserable.”

Sometimes Pete kind of does, but that's beside the point. He also has this dumb niggling thought, like if Patrick's unhappy (and how could Pete miss that? Jesus fucking Christ, what's wrong with Pete?) Pete shouldn't be either, but he knows that's bullshit.

There's this undercurrent, though. If you weren't on the fucking pills, you'd know.

Pete downs the fucking pills. He hasn't missed a dose since he was sixteen (except for the one week, but he doesn't talk about that, doesn't even think about it) and he's not actually going to start now.

~~

On tour, it's common etiquette not to talk about soul bonds. A lot of people end up on the road when they get a coma and a head full of static in place of true love.

On the flip side, a lot of people tech on tours as a kind of all-expenses-paid seeking trip. You can tell who they are by the hopeful way they raise their heads every time someone walks into a room, by the varying level alertness in their spines as the tour bus moves closer to or farther away from that not-voice in the back of their heads.

Sometimes those people get that fiery look in their eyes and run the fuck away and don't come back, only sending an email or SMS to explain: found them.

Sometimes, though, they do come back. It's worse when they do.

This is how Pete ends up sitting in the back of a tour bus with Mikey's head in his lap and Mikey's hand curled loosely around Pete's ankle and Mikey's eyeliner running down his face and messing up Pete's jeans.

Whatever. Those jeans were a fucking lost cause anyway. Maybe Pete can sell them on ebay later: Besmirched with genuine Mikeyway tears.

"Do you want to talk about it?” Pete asks. He's betting the answer is a resounding No. Gerard's been at him to Process, Mikey, you can't just let it rot up your head. Gerard's fucking unbearable since he got clean, acts like psychotherapy is his religion and he needs to tell everyone the good news. Mikey's had a lot to say about that before.

Now he's mostly silent, just shifts closer against Pete. His bony shoulder digs into Pete's stomach. “It's such a fucking joke,” Mikey says. “Do you think maybe people just lie to themselves? That it's just fucking randomness fucking with us, that we think this one person is right for us so we try and try even if it's completely hopeless?”

Pete doesn't think so. Then again, Pete won the fucking soulmate lottery, except for the part where he can't collect his winnings on account of being crazy and also no good for Patrick. “I don't know,” Pete says. “But if it doesn't work out, it doesn't. You don't need a soulbond for someone to love you, Mikeyway.”

Mikey rolls his eyes. Pete feels him. It's not like Pete believes it, no matter how many times his parents repeated the sentiment at him when he was growing up.

So he tries what usually works, gently pushes Mikey to sit up and slips down to kneel at his feet. Mikey looks down at him, blank, and for a moment Pete worries that he miscalculated, that Mikey is seriously not in the mood and Pete's just being his usual selfish asshole self.

Then Mikey's hand tightens in Pete's hair, dragging his head back to look up at Mikey. Mikey's face does that thing where his expression doesn't change at all but it's suddenly focused, looking down on Pete like he knows every single thought in his head.

Pete kind of loves that expression. “Sir,” he breathes out.

"Make yourself useful,” Mikey says, and Pete concentrates on opening Mikey's fly with his teeth.

~~

Scening with Mikey leaves Pete feeling a little hyper in a good way, full of joy that wants to come out to the world and make itself known.

He wonders if it's like that for Patrick, then harshes his own buzz wondering if that's Patrick's problem, if he's repressing his natural instincts and suffering for it.

Patrick literally whacks Pete with a rolled up newspaper when Pete brings the question to him.

No,” Patrick says firmly. “I do not need to go out and get laid, or,” he raises his voice when Pete tries to reply, “go out and tie someone up. Okay? I am fine, I am peachy keen, get your brain out of my pants, Pete. And my handcuffs.”

This leaves Pete with the unfortunate mental image of a handcuffed brain, which he has to share, leading Patrick to whack him again.

"No wonder you don't want to go out,” Pete mutters, rubbing his no-doubt bruised nose. “You just get everything you need by bossing me around and hitting me.”

There's a moment when Pete worries he's gone too far, that Patrick will apologize stiffly and go lock himself in the bathroom or something, but Patrick just says “Yeah,” lazy, easy, in a voice that makes Pete wanna lay himself down at Patrick's feet and beg.

Though in all honesty, Patrick's voice has that effect on him anyway.

~~

"I wish I could just,” Mikey says into Pete's ear. “Turn it off.” They're cuddled together on Mikey's bunk on the My Chem bus. There's not really enough room for the both of them, even though Pete's a tiny little dude and Mikey practically vanishes if you look at him from the side. That's kind of the point.

It takes Pete a few seconds to get what Mikey's talking about. “What, the bond?” he asks. “Why don't you?”

He doesn't need to see Mikey's face to know that Mikey's looking at him like he's nuts. They get one another that way. “Yeah, sure, let me just turn it off with this handy switch I've got here.”

Pete shoves at Mikey's shoulders. “I'm serious, jerkface. There's pills for this shit. I know your health insurance covers them, okay, I have the same insurance and I take them too.”

That makes Mikey still and stiffen, moving up and away and looking at Pete. He doesn't say anything, though, lets the questions hang heavy and unsaid over them.

Pete closes his eyes. “It's a side effect,” he lies. “They're for bipolar disorder.” That much is true, anyway, and is the reason his parents wanted him to take them to begin with.

"Shit,” Mikey says. Pete tenses for the inevitable avalanche of advice – Aren't there drugs without the side effects, Can't you go off meds just for a seeker trip, I know this therapist--

But of course, it's Mikey, and he and Pete didn't stick to each other like glue for no reason. So he just says, “Gee keeps talking to me about multiple bonds, like maybe I have another soulmate out there,” and Pete and Mikey can go on trash-talking Gerard Way and his disgustingly happy four-way soulbond until the atmosphere's not so tense.

They're close to falling asleep – or Mikey is, anyway, and sometimes watching someone else sleep is almost as good as getting some shut-eye himself for Pete – when Mikey says, “I don't think I want to take pills.”

"So don't,” Pete says. His voice is steadier than he expected it to be. He needs to add, though, “They won't change who you are, if that's what you're worried about. You're still you, just.”

Without any of the wordless voices in the back of your head, not your bondmate's and not the ones that question your very existence. Sometimes Pete kind of misses the noise, just for the sake of having company.

"No, I know,” Mikey says, like that never even occurred to him. “I just, I don't. Want to lose it, I guess, not really. Even if it hurts.”

Pete pets Mikey's hair until he settles, and eases carefully out of the bunk once Mikey's asleep, his fingers itching for a pen.

~~

Pete's dad had been all for him getting on meds. Pete was fifteen and furious with the world and himself, staying up all night and sleepwalking through the day, getting worked up on rages so sudden and violent he scared himself some days.

His mom was more ambivalent. “You still haven't sparked, honey,” she said, petting his hair. Pete was lying with his head in her lap, staring at the ceiling, blinking useless tears away. He was too numb, too tired to fight or yell or hide or, case in point, move. “You don't know what it's like. You don't know what you're throwing away.”

Pete didn't have the energy to answer, either, so he just closed his eyes and waited for his mom to focus on the TV again.

Before that night, Pete had never imagined being grateful for insomnia. For just that night, though, it was worth it, every restless hour spent tossing and turning and cursing before or since.

Insomnia meant Pete was wide awake in that hour before dawn, when he felt his mind melting open and something-- someone-- come out of the emptiness to meet him halfway.

Pete thought maybe he was falling asleep after all, maybe this was a dream, because he'd never even imagined anything like that. On the other side there was sleep, smoothly fading into waking, and there was curiosity melting into open wonder: Oh. There you are. I wasn't expecting you yet.

There weren't actual words. Pete has read about malformed soulbonds, knew what to watch out for, but this wasn't like that. He knew no words were actually spoken; the emotions were just so clear, so bright and instinctive that Pete could put words to them as easily as remembering the lyrics to his favorite songs, to his own songs that he scribbled in a notepad during class.

Next morning, Pete's dad dropped hints about going to see a psychiatrist and Pete threw his mug, letting hot coffee splash over the kitchen floor. Slammed the door and walked to school. I am never letting go, he thought at the suddenly alarmed presence in his mind. Never never never.

~~

Pete raises his eyes from the notepad to see Patrick peering over his shoulder, frowning thoughtfully. Pete grins and carefully knocks his shoulder into Patrick's stomach; Patrick oofs companionably and folds into the chair next to Pete's. “See anything you like?” Pete asks.

Patrick makes that sound that means he wants to give it some thought before saying anything, and says, “Bus stop in ten. I want to go get ice cream.”

Pete's mentally assembling his order when Patrick says, almost tentatively, “Come with me? I mean, if you're here anyway, Mikey's probably feeling better, right?” He starts blushing before he even finishes the question. It's endearing enough that Pete almost forgets to be horrified with himself.

"Patrick! Have I been neglecting you? Why didn't you say anything?”

Patrick just rolls his eyes, taking it in stride as more Wentzian drama. Pete means it, though. Typical fucking Pete Wentz: get concerned about a friend in trouble, get fucked up over his own concern, end up avoiding the friend entirely and making everything worse. Way to go, Pete.

As always, he overcompensates, attempting to climb Patrick like a tree where he's sitting, crooning, “Rickster, you're my favorite,” into Patrick's ear, adding a sloppy lick to his jaw for good measure.

"Asshole,” Patrick says, but he's smiling. “Come on, eat ice cream with me. It's the new male bonding.”

At the station, Pete lets Patrick buy for them. It never gets old, seeing Patrick pick out flavors for both of them, pay, and then get flustered when the little old sub running the counter smiles benevolently and says, “One for you and one for your boy, young man.”

"I hate it when people do that,” Patrick grumbles. He waited until they're out of the old bat's hearing range, though. He's such a well-behaved young Dom.

Pete tells him that and gets a swat to the shoulder for his effort. “Yeah,” Pete says, “I really don't see how anyone would get the idea that you beat me up recreationally.”

"He does beat you up recreationally,” Joe says, stopping by on the way from the public bathroom. “He just doesn't fuck you. By the way, I don't recommend going in there just yet.”

Patrick grimaces. “That bad?”

Even Joe's 'fro droops when he considers. “One of the new techs got Andy cornered up and they're discussing Ayn Rand. Seriously. Not if your life depended on it.”

Pete shudders. “Duly noted.”

When they get back to the bus, Patrick makes a beeline for Pete's notebook and the lyrics in it. He grabs it and his guitar and says, “So I was thinking--” and strums, singing softly, Ring around my neck, world's smallest handcuffs on your fingers, oh....

There's a darkness in the tune. It fits the words but it's not the kind of hook Pete would expect from Patrick. He places it after a second. “Is that,” Pete says, faltering, “is it from--?” He waves vaguely at Patrick's laptop.

Patrick looks surprised, and-- pleased? No way. But his voice when he says, “Yeah,” is cautiously hopeful. Pete has no idea what brought that on; it's really not the response he expected. “I use stuff from it. Sometimes.”

"Oh,” is all Pete can say for a moment. He's not speechless, he very rarely is, he's just kind of choked with relief.

Because Patrick? Doesn't look miserable or angry or despairing. He looks a little sheepish, maybe, fussing around with his hat. He doesn't look like someone who just played music that came from wanting to die.

Suddenly, Pete has to know. He's going to ask Patrick. He will open up his mouth and say it. "So you said something earlier.” Pete swallows, and shapes the words, and.

Can't go through with them.

Instead he says, “About Mikey. I mean, he's my friend, and he's been through a rough time, but you know you come first, right? You don't have to wait for him to be whatever to ask me to hang out.”

It's a dumb cowardly move, not at all what Pete meant to say. But then Patrick blinks and says, “Oh,” just like Pete from earlier only softer and round-eyed. “I. I did,” Patrick says, and this right here, that's exactly what Pete meant; Patrick's such a shitty liar. There's no way he's harboring a death wish that Pete doesn't know about, there's just no way. “But, uh, thanks for telling me, I guess.”

"Dumbass,” Pete says, and affectionately headbutts Patrick's shoulder.

~~

So now Pete knows. Or he's reasonably certain, at least, that Patrick is fine. Of course he is; Patrick is always fine. Patrick's the sane one, Pete's rock, his port in the storm.

That might be exactly what Pete is thinking when he goes to take his meds that evening and just shoves them in his pocket instead of swallowing. That if Pete makes himself crazier, Patrick will have to become less crazy, like some natural balance. Conservation of sanity, or whatever. (Absently, Pete notes that to himself as a potential song title.)

Pete's therapist warned him against that, though. “You shouldn't make your narrative all about you as a liability,” ey said, and, “Don't you think that's a lot to put on Patrick?”

It is. It really is. And Pete promised himself he wouldn't do that to Patrick, years before his therapist told him that, years before he and Patrick even met.

But this is different. “Reasonably certain” isn't good enough; Pete has to know.

~~

Last time he went off pills, he avoided Patrick entirely. Last time it was easier, since he'd only just met the dude, but his reason was the same: Pete had suspicions that he had to confirm.

Suspicions that ended up being right. Of course this kid, this amazingly talented, humble, sweet kid with his beautiful voice and beautiful mouth was Pete's soulmate.

He'd told Joe to tell Patrick Pete was out of town, and then – not to mince words – he stalked Patrick. Sneaked into the club where Patrick replaced UnBond's drummer, doing a favor for a friend.

Felt the bond waxing inside him, watched Patrick play from back stage, slipping in and out again before the set was done. Patrick was so absorbed in playing that he hadn't even noticed the bond come back, much less noticed that his soulmate was a few bare yards from him.

Pete considered briefly that he might be wrong. That his soulmate was someone else in the club. That it was mere wishful thinking drawing him to Patrick, wanting to leech the potential Pete saw in him like some sort of psychic vampire.

But then the set was done, and Patrick threw down his drumsticks and got up so fast he upended his chair. Pete could feel him, hope and fear and fury intermingling as Patrick pursued.

Pete had planned for this, though. He had his car waiting right outside the club, left the keys in the ignition like a blatant invitation to theft. Stupider chance than even Pete liked to take, but it was necessary. He had to get away before Patrick saw him.

He nearly turned around at the last moment, when he stopped feeling Patrick coming closer, and the fury shifted over to despair. Please, said the not-voice in Pete's voice. Can't you just tell me what I did wrong?

Pete stopped at a red light, closed his eyes and tried to send Nothing, you are perfect, there's absolutely nothing wrong with you, with every bit of urgency he could muster.

After all, it was true. Pete just needed Patrick to stay away so this would keep being the case.

~~

People who just know Patrick from watching him play think he's a sub sometimes. Mostly it's because he sings Pete's lyrics and Pete is a sub, it's in everything he writes, and Patrick's not the kind of asshole who can't sing a song written by someone with a different orientation.

Sometimes, though, people are just stupid.

Like this roadie, thick-necked and easily a foot taller than Patrick. Ey tries to get Patrick to let em carry the equipment – which, actually, Pete supports; it's eir job and ey's visibly physically stronger than Patrick.

Patrick, though, is a dude who carries his own guitar. Whether it's because Mrs. Stumph raised a chronically polite boy or because Patrick doesn't trust anyone else with it, Pete isn't sure, but there you have it. “No, it's fine,” Patrick tells the roadie. “Really. Thank you for offering.”

"Aw, sugar,” the roadie says. “C'mon, let me take that. If you feel that bad about it, you can make it up to me.” Ey waggles eir eyebrows.

If you don't know Patrick as well as Pete does, you might not even see him getting annoyed. His voice is calm and level when he says, “I don't think so.”

The roadie laughs and reaches under Patrick's hat to ruffle his hair.

Pete's pretty sure that every single person who knows Patrick in the room just collectively held their breath. Or maybe it's just Pete.

Patrick turns around very slowly and with great precision. He has to crane his head at an angle to look the roadie in the eye, but he's widened his stance and fuck, Pete would swear Patrick made his own hair stand on edge, puffing up like an angry cat.

Angry cats are kind of funny, Pete thinks, unless you've got one poised just right to headbutt you in the groin.

"Exactly what,” Patrick says, “do you think you're doing?”

If Pete shivers, it's not his fault. Patrick has him practically conditioned to react to those words in that tone, which he usually brings out only when Pete has fucked shit up but good. Of course, it's never sexy when Patrick does it to Pete, not while it's happening; then, Pete is usually busy trying to dodge the Wrath of the Stump. The sexy all happens much later, in Pete's head, when he's safe and alone in his bunk.

Now, though, Pete's (admittedly spotty) sense of self preservation lies completely dormant. He can allow himself to think of being in the roadie's position, having Patrick's eyes focused on him like laser beams.

"Touching other people without their permission,” Patrick says, “is inappropriate.” If Pete's hands were obeying him he'd reach into his pocket and take out his phone, record Patrick's precise, cool voice. Show it to those assholes on the internet who think Patrick's slurred lyrics are anything other than a stylistic choice.

"Look,” says the roadie, who's obviously angling for self destruction, “I just--”

"In. Appropriate.” With every syllable Patrick steps closer, until he's practically standing under the roadie's nostrils. It should be ridiculous.

Pete's knees threaten to give way from the sheer force of Patrick's voice. By the look of em, so do the roadie's. Ey blinks at Patrick, goes momentarily white and then very, very red, and backs away with a mumbled apology.

"For fuck's sake,” Patrick grumbles. He's getting red, too, whether from anger or sympathetic embarrassment Pete has no idea. “And now ey's run off and I'll have to carry the amps too, fucking figures.”

Pete will volunteer to help, he will, just as soon as he catches his breath.

"You dommed the fuck out of em,” Joe says, impressed.

Patrick winces and says, “Really not the point.” He puts down the guitar. “Shit, all that accomplished was to make em think if I really were a sub, this crap would be okay to pull. I don't know what the fuck I was thinking.”

Oh, Pete thinks, and the heat coursing through him makes sense.

The bond doesn't come back all at once. Patrick's self-conscious, but not always very self-aware. He doesn't dissect his own feelings the way Pete does, looking for cracks to tape them over before they become breaks. The meds took longer last time to wear off. Pete wonders what this means.

At the same time, it hardly matters. He can feel Patrick now, a vague warm impression in the back of his mind, tinged with annoyance and guilty satisfaction. Lust, too, the automatic unthinking kind that comes with raw sexuality, with the displays of power that form human mating instincts.

What Pete can't feel is even the vaguest suggestion that anything is wrong. Not even a hint of that corrosive darkness from the music.

~~

Before bed, Pete eyes his pills. Spills a couple from the jar into his hand, rolling them around, waiting for Patrick to tell him to take them already like he always does.

Patrick is fine, Pete knows this now. He should take his meds. As it is, he's really not looking forward to the few days of feeling like there's a noose tightening around his brain until he balances out again. No sense prolonging his misery.

The tiny bathroom window is open. Pete tosses the pills out and goes to his bunk, where he jacks off until his dick hurts and then writes instead of sleeping.

~~

Avoiding addictive substances was never Pete's MO. He started on cigarettes way too young for comfort but still old enough to know better, toked up when the mood hit him, didn't become an alcoholic only by the grace of God and probably his genes. Things don't have to even be addictive for Pete to form a habit; he got addicted to video games, to the rush of having an audience look at him, to staring at blank walls while words whirred across his mental vision.

The soulbond was supposed to feel good, anyone could tell you that. It's just evolution. So nobody should have been surprised when Pete Wentz managed to get addicted to it, too.

He was leaning back in his chair, throwing a ball at the wall and catching it, poking at his bondmate. Trying to transform the constant background hum of their connection into the almost conversation-like flow he sometimes managed.

I'm bored, he tried to project. Entertain me. He wondered how it came across on the other side, as petulant whining or just incoherent noise.

From across the bond Pete felt frustration and exasperation, and something cold-- metallic feeling, almost, which was weird in the generally organic feeling of their connection. The feeling took a while for Pete to place, and he snorted when he figured it out.

Math? Math sucks. He doubted the words made it across, but the sympathy probably did. Then inspiration struck.

Out loud, to the empty room, Pete said, “You're in worse shape than I am. Let me entertain you.”

When Pete reached down for his zipper he wasn't really feeling anything yet but exuberance, the giddy excitement of sharing this with his bondmate. God knows it took Pete long enough to spark. If he wanted to catch up to what everyone else his age was doing, he'd have to step it up.

He closed his eyes, concentrating on his bondmate. He felt a broad stream of affection there, and a little bit of confusion. Pete slid his hand into his pants, wrapping it around his still mostly soft cock and pulling.

The confusion thickened. What are you doing? Stop that.

Pete grinned and sent, Make me. Pete went to a progressive school where the concordance lessons had an entire section about being conflicted about your orientation, or not being certain about your bondmate's, but Pete never needed either. He'd known he was a sub for as long as he could remember, and everything he felt from his bondmate spoke of control.

Sure, Pete's bondmate was young, but ey knew what ey was doing. Pete has known this since the first time ey stopped Pete going down a panic-shame spiral with a firm Don't, followed by a softer, I love you. Don't do this to yourself.

He'd only wanted to play. In hindsight, he should have known his bondmate wasn't playing along.

From the bond Pete felt something like shock. Pete thought-- Pete didn't know what he was thinking, just mindlessly pushing along, when fear and anger came back to him. No. Stop. And an intense flash like the taste of oranges that had Pete yank his hand out of his pants like it was on fire.

They talked about this in concordance, too. Universal signals for situations that needed to be addressed before meeting your bondmate, for things like incompatible orientations or being in danger because of your bond.

This signal didn't come from concordance, though. That one was taught to Pete back in elementary school, along withStranger Danger: I am too young for this. Bad touch.

It figured, it fucking figured. Pete had thought, had hoped that his bondmate was just a late bloomer. But no, apparently on top of all of Pete's other issues, he was a fucking pedophile to boot.

He wanted to scream that it wasn't fucking fair. This was his bondmate, the one person who should be able to know him through and through. Ey shouldn't be hurt just because Pete was Pete.

In the back of Pete's head, the fear and confusion slowly transformed to concern, something vaguely apologetic.

"Don't be fucking sorry,” Pete snapped at the empty room. The apologetic feeling intensified. Pete buried his head between his hands and groaned. He tried to find something positive, anything, to send his bondmate, but every reassurance he could make would be false. Pete hated himself, he hated life and the world and everything about existence.

He didn't hate his bondmate, but he couldn't reach through the sea of loathing filling him for that small kernel of love. Instead he sprawled bonelessly in his desk chair and felt his bondmate curling emself up small and tight, away from the spewing venom that was Pete's current emotional state.

You don't deserve this, Pete thought dully, but he had no idea if that made its way through.

~~

Mikey bans Pete from his presence after he makes one morbid joke too many. Pete is kind of impressed with himself: he managed to creep out a member of the Way family. Not an everyday accomplishment.

That means getting back on his own bus, which Pete isn't looking forward to. He's not avoiding Patrick, exactly, he's just....

Okay, yeah, he's avoiding Patrick. But he's not happy about that or anything.

Patrick's not on the bus when Pete gets in, though. Joe waves at him lazily from his bunk then turns around and starts snoring. Pete takes a moment to hate Joe's guts. He slept like shit last night, surprising no one.

Andy's in the lounge, with a book in his lap and a thoughtful frown on his face. Normally this is a clear stay away sign, but Pete's feeling reckless. “Yo, Hurley. Whatcha reading?” Andy closes the book halfway so Pete can see the cover. Michael Pollan. Figures. “Any good?”

"Well,” Andy says. Then he narrows his eyes at Pete and points a finger at him. “No.”

Pete doesn't have to fake a baffled pout.

"You are not using my ideology to fuel your dumbass self-flagellation,” Andy says. “I'll talk to you about it when you can hold an actual rational conversation. Not today.”

Fuck, Pete's bandmates know him too well.

He thinks of going back to his bunk but there's no way that'll end in anything but tossing, turning and hating the world. They have a show to play tonight. If there's anything Pete can do to get himself in better working form, he should get on that.

Shame Mikey threw him out. An hour on his knees would be just the thing.

Pete considers for a moment, then crawls into Patrick's bunk. It smells like him in here, like sweat, like Patrick's hair when he hasn't washed it in days. It should be disgusting. It smells like home. He can feel Patrick through the bond, still muzzy and faint but definitely there. Patrick's concentrating on something just now, and there's flashes of amusement coming through. Pete hears them in the cadence of Patrick's laugh.

He closes his eyes and loses himself to the hazy image of Patrick finding him here. Maybe Patrick, deceptively strong for his size, will physically remove Pete from the bunk. Pete wouldn't make it easy for him, he'd struggle and cling and bite, maybe. Force Patrick to bring out the heavy guns, piss Patrick off until maybe Patrick will pin him to the floor and kneel on his chest.

Ugh. Not a good path to go down unless he wants to start jerking off in Patrick's bed. Or, okay, scratch that, not unless he wants Patrick to kill him.

(One part of Pete's mind that's a complete asshole whispers, What a way to go, though.)

So Pete shifts his thoughts to the other likely scenario that'll result from Patrick finding him here. The one where Patrick just sighs, exasperated, and pulls the covers over Pete, maybe laying his hand for a couple seconds on the back of Pete's neck. Not in a way that means anything – they're friends, after all, just friends, despite Pete's stage antics – but warm and real and comforting just the same.

Pete wraps himself in that thought like a blanket. He's halfway to falling asleep when he shifts and feels something hard press into his thigh. Pete blinks, sits up, and pulls what turns out to be Patrick's laptop towards him.

Sad to say, but Pete's first impulse is to check for porn. He wants to know what Patrick gets himself off to, maybe even right in this bed, tugging his dick and thinking about pretty subs all tied up for him. Or whatever. He flips the laptop open.

Only when it's turning on, Pete realizes he's humming that hook Patrick wanted to use, the one from the requiem song. It's pretty there, yeah, and it fits, but.

As Pete opens the file he's got an entire soundtrack of No, bad idea running through his mind. Patrick's already repeatedly asked Pete to stay away from that file (over and over, it's like Pete is constitutionally incapable of respecting boundaries), the music is entirely wrong for Fall Out Boy and so are the lyrics Pete wants to put to it, nobody in their right mind would ever listen to it. Pete's not certain if he wants anyone to listen to it, right mind or wrong.

The headphones are already jacked in. Pete puts them on, opens Notepad and presses Play.

~~

Until he accidentally traumatized his soulmate – okay, not exactly accidentally but it's not like he meant to, fuck – Pete never paid attention to how often he jacked off or what happened across the bond when he did.

Now it was kind of awful, because Pete would unthinkingly reach for his dick at night before realizing that yeah, a fucking kid was watching him telepathically.

Jesus. Not a fucking kid, just. Just a kid.

So Pete was getting sexually frustrated, and he constantly felt guilty and on edge. Jerking off was one of the things that helped him sleep sometimes, so he wasn't getting a lot of that, either.

To make it worse, every time Pete got annoyed, there'd be this hesitant apologetic feeling from the other side, and it made Pete want to scream. It was just so fucking wrong on so many levels. That Pete's Dom would make emselves small like that to him; that the child Pete was bonded to was taking responsibility for Pete's fuck-ups.

Pete's parents had stopped mentioning therapy or medication to him. Because Pete was a contrary fuck, this meant he thought about it. Every day.

He was trying and failing to sleep. His bondmate's soft reassurances were fading into frustration, annoyance; when Pete stayed up like this, head a cacophony of self-loathing, ey wasn't getting any sleep either.

Of course. Pete could only have a good thing for so long before he ruined it. The most pathetic part was, even if all he got was anger and dissatisfaction, Pete still couldn't give the bond up. He needed it more than sleep. More than happiness.

More than anything, he thought.

His bondmate went resigned, then... Pete frowned. It felt a little like anxiety, but for once, he couldn't place what ey was feeling.

Then it resolved, raw and tentative, into something like pleasure. Oddly hollow, arousal without lust, with a sickeningly hopeful undercurrent of Does this help? Is this better?

Pete sat bolt upright in bed and shouted, “No!”

His bondmate radiated worry and hurt at him, but Pete. Pete couldn't. He got up and started walking, ignoring his mom's sleepy, “Pete?” from across the hall.

"I can't sleep,” he told her, “I'm going for a walk.”

Her door opened, and there she was, wearing a ratty bathrobe and rubbing sleep from her eyes. “Pete,” she said, soft, and laid her hand on his shoulder.

His voice cracked when he said, “Mommy,” and he stepped into her arms.

"I want to see a psychiatrist,” he said half an hour later, seated at the kitchen counter with a cup of chamomile tea in his hands. His bondmate was a subdued, distant presence in the back of Pete's head. Pete shut his eyes so hard he saw sparks and sent Sorry, sorry, you're too good for me, sorry, knowing it wouldn't do any good.

~~

Usually Pete comes up with the lyrics first and Patrick hooks them to the music after the fact, rearranging syllables like fridge magnet poetry, so it's not as easy as Pete thinks it should be.

On another level, it's the easiest thing in the world. These are words that have been running through Pete's mind for years. Normally he hesitates before committing them to paper, edits to make them oblique and twisting, hiding just enough to create the illusion of mystery.

(Because the truth is there's no mystery to Pete at all, none whatsoever. If he wrote exactly what he felt, all his songs would go I'm in pain, pay attention to me, either make it stop or distract me until it does.

That's a good line. He adds that.)

He's growing more aware, as he writes it, that he can never show this to anyone but Patrick. Maybe not even him. It's just-- it's just bad, and Pete hates that a little bit. Patrick's music deserves better than this bullshit.

Pete stops. It's not done, but there's as many words on the page as the music makes room for. He plays the music again, mouthing the words, when he hears the other track.

He presses pause. Pete does not remember this track from before.

It's more like Patrick's usual style, but at the same time it's too simple, almost naïve. Something too obvious about the music placement, simplistic. It could be a dumb little pop tune, except it's Patrick's, and it's set in the middle of this song that manages to be noise without any distortion or effects.

They mesh really well together. So Pete plays it again, and realizes he has words for this, too.

I'm trying to help, why won't you let me, he writes, what do I do to get through to you, and Don't hurt I love you repeating all through the end like a broken record.

Two voices, Pete thinks. A duet, only neither singer can hear the other, but they're trying. They're trying.

"Yeah,” Patrick says, quietly. “That's pretty much it.”

Apparently Patrick's not the only one who can be distracted away from the bond by music.

~~

Pete's got so many questions he doesn't know which to utter first. So when Patrick sits down next to him and grabs the laptop away, Pete lets him, keyboard slipping easily from Pete's nerveless fingers.

Patrick unplugs his big sturdy headphones, motioning at Pete until Pete fishes out his small in-ears out of his pocket. Patrick plugs it in and gives one headphone to Pete. When Pete hesitates, Patrick holds Pete's face and puts the earphone in for him. He's careful about it but firm, fingertips not digging into Pete's jaw but not leaving any room for movement either.

The death-music – the requiem – starts playing first, and Patrick sings Pete's lyrics soft, under his breath. Then the other track comes in, and Patrick gives Pete a questioning look.

Pete's not much of a singer, never was. But he can do this, even if he can't do it justice.

Because Patrick made this, the harmonies are beautiful, even while they twist Pete up inside in unpleasant ways.

By the time they finish the first run-through, Andy's there, looking thoughtful. “It's good, but I don't think it works for us.”

"No,” Patrick says, hurried, sparing Pete the need to come up with a civil response. “It's, uh, a side project.”

"Sure,” Andy says easily, obviously not believing him for a second. “Have fun, then.”

He walks away. Patrick takes a deep breath, mutters, “Fuck, you're an asshole,” and kisses Pete breathless.

~~

When the meds started taking effect, when Pete's bond had withered away to static noise at the back of his head, Pete locked his door and masturbated for an entire afternoon.

It felt good, even beyond the obvious. Something in Pete loved the frustration of waiting, of knowing that – however twisted a way it came about – he'd been holding off for his Dom, and now he could let go, finally.

It was bittersweet, too, even without all the things Pete refused to think about without his bondmate to help him out of the spiral of shame. (That, Pete's psychiatrist had told him, he really should not feel guilty about. Wanting your Dom to make you feel good was apparently perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of, even if the circumstances were “a little unorthodox.”) Finally he could get off, but it was without his Dom's knowledge or approval.

That part kind of sucked.

What Pete really wanted was to go out, to find someone on Craigslist maybe, someone who'll hold Pete down and fuck him and call him a bad boy. However, in a rare fit of common sense, Pete decided to wait another two weeks – his psychiatrist said the meds should stabilize by then.

So for the time being, it was just Pete, all alone in the room and in his head, trying to get off with a desperation known only to teenagers who'd gone weeks on end without a single orgasm.

Only that's not exactly right, is it? Pete thinks. Because. In the few times he slept, there had been-- dreams.

That may have been another reason he didn't sleep, scared of psychically molesting his bondmate without even being conscious for it. What made it worse was how he always felt so good on waking, sated and fine and sleepy like he could turn over and go right back to dreaming.

While dreaming Pete couldn't feel pain, so of course his mind escalated everything ridiculously, trying to feel something. So he'd dreamed of spankings escalating to caning, someone mercilessly pulling and twisting on his pierced nipple. He could barely see in the dreams, only blurry undefined lines like watercolors, but he could hear; his bondmate's voice, his laugh.

It was a nice laugh, that much Pete remembered on waking. Not cruel, like Pete sometimes thought he wanted. It sounded like Pete's bondmate enjoying himself, and enjoying Pete, too.

Fuck, but that was all Pete wanted. He imagined sprawling at his bondmate's feet, saying Use me, take me, do whatever you want, and it wouldn't matter if the pain was good or bad, wouldn't even matter if his bondmate ignored him completely. If ey was happy, so would Pete be.

Though if ey wanted to handcuff Pete and make him kneel and go down on em, well. Pete wouldn't say red.

~~

"Such an asshole,” Patrick says again when they come up for air. It's not as accusing as it could be, though.

Pete swallows, licks his lips and licks them again. He wants to shut the curtain on the bunk, to lie down and pull Patrick to lie across him.

More than that, though, he wants not to make any decisions. If Patrick asked Pete to leave his bunk right then – to leave the bus, and not to come back – Pete would do it, and happily, because he'd be doing what Patrick wants.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like Patrick wants him to go away. “Lie down,” he tells Pete, who scrambles to obey.

The bunk is tiny, and even two smallish dudes such as themselves have a hard time fitting in it. This means proximity, Patrick's breath on Pete's neck and his back flush against Pete's front.

"We're supposed to get going in like, twenty minutes,” Patrick says. “So I won't make you talk yet. After the show....” he trails off, probably trying for menacing, but his relief is coursing through Pete, too obvious to hide.

"After,” Pete agrees. He tries to twist around and kiss Patrick. He's not surprised when Patrick won't let him, doesn't even struggle against Patrick's suddenly confining grip. Much.

"No making out until after we talk,” Patrick says sternly.

Pete just hums an affirmative of sorts. Patrick's rubbing down Pete's chest and his belly, firm and possessive, comforting. Pete's not sure how that's complying with the no-makeouts verdict, but he's not about to argue about it.

~~

If Pete manages to actually play their songs correctly, it's down to pure luck and muscle memory. He has no idea what he says to the audience between the songs, but since he wasn't hauled off stage by angry management he's guessing it wasn't too bad.

Or maybe it was and everyone thought he was joking. Pete is very glad for his weird, overdramatic reputation at the moment.

When they make it offstage Pete essentially attaches himself to Patrick like a limpet. Patrick takes it with cranky grace, muttering unpleasant things but not shaking Pete off him.

"You're so nice,” Pete murmurs into Patrick's ear, the rim of which is still wet from Pete licking it on stage.

Possibly he's overdone the show tonight just a tad.

"I'm really not,” Patrick says with a sigh. He stops just before their bus and pulls Pete away to a more-or-less secluded picnic table. “I have a feeling we won't want an audience for this conversation.” He eyes Pete grimly. “Start talking.”

Pete spreads his arms. “What do you want me to say?”

"Do you want it in-- okay, you know what,” Patrick takes off his hat and mimes pulling out his hair in frustration. Said hair's all sweaty, sticking to his face. Pete wants to touch it. “I'll go with chronological order. Why did you cut me off? Why didn't you tell me when you met me? And if you didn't want,” Patrick swallows, “didn't want us, why stop taking your pills now?”

Pete stares at him, a little incredulous. “You don't know?”

Patrick meets his stare. Then he sighs. “Humor me.”

"Okay,” Pete says, doubtful, “but I've got a couple questions myself.”

Even as he's mentally composing them, though, the answers click through. I've been working on it since I was ten, Patrick said. Jesus Christ. Ten. “The song,” Pete says, “the, requiem. That was me, wasn't it. Stuff you got from my side of the bond.”

Wordlessly, Patrick nods. Of fucking course it is. Pete heard Patrick as lyrics, hadn't he? Obviously Patrick would hear him as music, the only person to ever find reason in Pete's bullshit when Pete could barely supply rhyme.

"So why even ask? Would you subject a ten year old to that?”

Patrick twitches. “We're not talking about me.”

Pete gives him an incredulous look. “Oh yes we fucking are. We're talking about us.” Then he looks at Patrick, still flushed from performing, voice a little rough from use. Fuck. “I mean. If there's still an us to talk about.”

"Don't be an idiot,” Patrick snaps. But he takes Pete's hand, and his grip is gentle. Pete shivers, despite being a little overheated still.

"I was worried about you,” Patrick says a moment later. “But it wasn't, it never affected me personally, what I got from you. Except to freak me out, because I wanted to take care of you and nothing I did seemed to help.” His voice cracks a little on that last word.

Pete's eyes sting suspiciously. He tells himself it's just sweat dripping into them. “Yeah, you couldn't. That's what the meds are for, you know? It was never your responsibility to fix me.” He laughs a little, self-conscious. “My therapist was really clear on that.”

Patrick's grip on his hand tightened. “So why did you stop taking them?” There's banked anger radiating from Pete's bond, carefully reined in.

It's Pete's turn to snap, “Because I heard your fucking death song and thought you wanted to kill yourself.”

For nearly a full minute, Patrick just blinks at Pete, like the thought is completely inconceivable to him. The feeling from the bond backs it up, a stunned sensation like static electricity.

You,” Patrick manages eventually. “Really?” It feels like he's going to burst out laughing, like it's ridiculous.

"Yes, really.” Pete just barely keeps from shouting it, hunches himself tight. An echo of that fear runs through him. Patrick must get it then because he blinks, and Pete feels him shudder, feels Patrick revisit old helplessness and sorrow and sheer fucking panic. "Yeah,” Pete says, mouth dry, abruptly sorry he brought it up.

But then, it was inevitable. Also, it was Patrick's fucking fault. So there.

Patrick visibly marshals himself. “So now you know I'm not.” His mouth thins, a tight straight line that hurts to look at. “So what do you want now?”

The responsible adult thing to do, Pete knows, is talk it out. Draw boundaries. Explain.

Hah, right. And since when is Pete fucking Wentz a responsible adult? He gets off the hard, narrow bench, circumnavigates the table and plops himself to kneel at Patrick's feet.

"Pete.” Patrick's tone is reproving, but his hand clenches tight in Pete's hair.

Pete hums happily. “Patrick.”

Patrick grips and gives him a good shake. It's all Pete can do not to purr. “I mean it, asshole. We can't just. Fall into this. We need to think it through. There must have been reasons you didn't approach me when I was old enough.”

The memory makes Patrick small and unhappy inside, Pete can feel it through the bond. It makes him ache. He bends forward, presumptuous, rubs his face against Patrick's dick in a gesture that's half submission and half greedy skin-hunger.

Patrick grabs him again, moving him away. Pete lets him, only uttering a little whine in protest. “You were still too young when I met you,” Pete says when Patrick's grip remains strong. He doesn't want to talk, he wants to shut up and do what Patrick tells him, but apparently these are currently mutually exclusive options. “And then. The band.”

"Which is still a thing,” Patrick says. He sounds thoughtful. “On the other hand, My Chem seems to manage okay.”

Pete doesn't really have the presence of mind to answer. He holds on to Patrick's leg, rests his forehead against Patrick's thigh. Closes his eyes.

There's nothing in Pete's mind but Patrick now, the clean uncomplicated presence of him, and Pete can't imagine ever wanting anything else.

Above his head, Patrick's talking, but Pete can barely make out the words through the rush of affection the bond throws at him. “You fucking asshole,” Patrick's saying, “like I could actually tell you no.”

~~

Pete never wants to get up. He has no idea how long they stay there, just like that, but it can't have been too long; Pete's knees aren't complaining about the hard ground and nobody's come to look for them.

Besides, he knows Patrick wouldn't have let them be found vulnerable like this. Patrick hides his soft, bare spots, his hairline and his stomach and his heart, where Pete puts everything on display, the better for the world to hurt him with.

Which, oh, fuck. Patrick hurting him. Pete's so abruptly hard he nearly stumbles from dizziness.

Half a step in front of him, Patrick shakes his head. “No. Not yet,” he amends, probably catching Pete's hastily aborted panic. “Not till your meds stabilize and I hurt you because you want to and not because you think you deserve it.”

Pete's breath catches in his throat. “We'll be waiting pretty long, then.”

Then Patrick's behind him, leaning his forehead against the top of Pete's spine. Patrick's hands creep forward, joining at Pete's chest, resting against his solar plexus. “Stop,” Patrick says, and the bond says, Don't hurt yourself, I love you.

Patrick says, “Don't hurt yourself. That's my job.”

Pete shivers happily. “Yes sir.”

~~

Maybe Patrick texted Joe and Andy, or maybe they just developed an instinct for when to clear the bus. Maybe they actually are on the bus and Pete is too immersed in Patrick to notice them; he wouldn't put that past himself at the moment.

Hopefully it's the former option, because Pete starts taking his clothes off as soon as they're in the sleeping section of the bus. Patrick stops him with a soft touch to the chest.

Pete turns around and gives him a wounded look.

Patrick smiles and shrugs and says, “Heads up, this is going to be the last time I'll let you come in a while. You might wanna make the most of it.” But even as he's saying it, the soulbond is anxiously probing, asking Do you want it?

Pete replies by launching himself at Patrick, making his fervent “Yes yes yes” obvious in any way he can.

He's desperate, aching everywhere Patrick isn't touching him. The places they are touching also hurt, in a good way, greedy for more. Patrick gentles him, though, moving his lips against Pete's slow and careful, running his fingers over Pete's face like Pete is something important.

"Dumbass,” Patrick says. Out loud, anyway. Everything else in him – his expression, his touch, his mind where Pete feels it through the bond – screams You are important, you matter, you're fucking precious to me.

It's too much. Pete turns his face away.

Patrick's hands are still on him. “It's okay,” Patrick says, in a low voice that reaches into Pete's guts and pulls. “I'll make you believe it eventually.”

"I love your optimism,” Pete gasps, and Patrick shuts him up with a well-placed bite to the neck. Just to be contrary, Pete adds, “I thought we weren't doing painplay?”

Patrick smirks. “If you felt any pain, I wasn't doing that right.”

Oh God, it's a smooth Patrick Stump. Pete might not survive this night.

~~

Pete is definitely not going to survive this. “Please,” he says. It's a good word, one short syllable he can squeeze in between gasps for breath.

Patrick stalls. “Yeah?” His fingers, buried deep inside Pete, crook just a tiny bit.

Already Pete hates himself for saying that, but, “No,” he says. Patrick withdraws his fingers until just the tips are in, letting Pete catch his breath and settle down before sliding them inside again, slow but ruthless.

It's so fucking good that Pete wants to scream.

"Do it,” Patrick hisses, even as his hand clamps across Pete's mouth. Not hard enough to restrict his breathing (though maybe later; what, Pete can hope), just enough to muffle the weak whines that are the most Pete is capable of at the moment.

"Fuck,” Pete manages when at last he has enough air, “fuck me.”

Patrick leans close, eyes dark, incongruous in his young face. “Soon,” he says, a comforting threat.

Then he angles his fingers, moves them just so, and Pete comes all over both of them.

"Sorry,” Patrick says, sounding not sorry at all. “I got impatient.” He looks critically at Pete. “Too sore?”

"Yes,” Pete says, and means, Do it anyway.

He fucking loves Patrick's lax definition of painplay, loves that Patrick lets himself use Pete like this even if he's afraid of punishing him. He slides a condom on, eyerolling at Pete's mental Do we have to? Pushes into Pete leisurely, like they've got all day.

So what if Pete's on the bare edge of hyperventilating, right?

Except Patrick actually stops at that, frowns down at Pete and starts to withdraw. Pete makes an unhappy little whimper and crosses his legs behind Patrick, keeping him in. “Don't go.”

"I'm not going anywhere.” Patrick's hand stutters across Pete's face. “But if you--”

"Please,” Pete chokes out, and it's just plain desperation all over, a need to be owned, fuck. He must flash that thought over to Patrick because Patrick's hips buck once, hard and beautifully sharp. Pete sobs and lets his legs fall open, lets Patrick take him over.

It's slow and brutal and gorgeous, feeling every inch of Patrick inside him, too oversensitized for it to be pleasure, exactly. Just oversensitized enough that the hurt comes back into being pleasurable from the other side. Patrick rubs against Pete's prostate on every thrust, precise, a harsh little zing of too much too much just enough.

It burns, it hurts, Pete never wants it to end.

When it does, though, it's Patrick making Pete's name sound like music, it's Patrick's head on Pete's collarbone and Patrick's softening dick still buried inside him. Pete cannot bring himself to mind any of this.

~~

"Be right back,” Patrick whispers in his ear.

Either Pete's sense of time is on the futz again or Patrick really does come back right away, bearing a wet cloth and Pete's meds.

"No,” Pete says, hoarse. His hand closes around Patrick's wrist.

Patrick's implacable. “Yes,” he says. “You can talk to your psychiatrist about switching to a different brand, but as long as this is the brand you've got, you're taking them. That's not negotiable.”

Pete closes his eyes, because even he can't say, “I can't lose you,” without feeling like a dumbass emo idiot.

Patrick snorts. “Yeah, like I'd let you. I'm not going anywhere. Now take the fucking pills already.”

There's a glass of water for Pete to down his pills with. Pete gulps them down with his eyes still closed, feeling Patrick's weight pull the bunk down next to him.

Hesitation comes in through the bond. Pete elbows Patrick until he comes out with, “If you want to keep taking this brand, though. That's okay.”

Pete's eyes spring open. He stares at Patrick, incredulous.

Patrick's blushing a bit, ducking his head and hunching his shoulders. It's so wrong that Pete just has to go to his knees again, only he's still a little fucked up from his recent orgasm, so he ends up half-sprawled across the floor with his head leaning against the bunk's edge.

Even so, he can't regret it once Patrick's hand finds its hold in his hair again. “You can't lose me.” Patrick's biting the words out, like they should be obvious. Maybe they are. “No matter what you do. I don't need a fucking soulbond to love you.”

The words, too familiar, make Pete cringe in on himself. Patrick notices. He pulls Pete up by the hair until Pete's half-crouched, then wraps his arms tight around Pete's shoulders.

"And I can love you with it, too,” Patrick whispers fiercely in his ears. “You think there's anything I can see in there that'll make me stop caring about you? Think again, asshole.”

Honestly, Pete never thought otherwise. This at the same time as knowing with utter certainty that one day Patrick will see something, Pete will finally be too much, and--

Patrick's arms tighten around him so hard they're at risk of cutting off his air. “Don't,” Patrick says again. Low and soft, and all the more dangerous for it. “Pete, don't. Nothing, do you hear me? Nothing you can do will make me leave. You're stuck with me, now.”

Pete can't argue with that tone, and he can't believe, and he can't get up. Can't do anything but grip Patrick's wrist, and breathe, and breathe.