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The station's buzzing as Pete walks in, but no one's shooting glances his way or deliberately avoiding him. Which means he's not the cause of the gossip for a change. He goes straight for the anchor green room - the nice way of saying "closet that the on-camera people keep their makeup in" - and finds Andy and Joe with their coffees in hand and their heads together.

"So the bosses finally decided to give me the can?" Pete asks, leaning into the huddle with a grin. If they really wanted to oust him, he probably would know by now.

Andy smirks back. "No, Oliver, actually."

Pete stares until Joe confirms their lead anchor's gone with a nod, and then Pete pumps a fist in the air and maybe spins around a couple times. At least there's no cameras around to capture the moment. "No fucking way. I never thought they'd get rid of him."

"Oh, it gets even better." Joe's smiling too. "They're paying him for the last couple months of his contract, but they told him not to come in. There's already got a new lead anchor."

"That isn't you?" Pete asks.

"What do you think?"

Holy shit. "And why isn't he in here with us right now? He's got to be in the studio by now."

Joe crosses his arms. "Wouldn't you like to know."

"Dude, remember the last time you tried to con Pete into...shit." Andy grimaces at his cup and sticks his tongue out. Pete gets it. He lives on Starbucks instead of the station coffee for a reason. "Pete will find out about him from William or something the second he steps outside."

"But William doesn't have the in with the new anchor that I do."

Pete raises an eyebrow. "So that means you actually approve of our sainted management's choice?"

"He's one of Joe's best friends," Andy says.

"Jesus. How old is he?"

Joe sighs and tries to resist Pete's puppy eyes. Inevitably, he fails. "He's the youngest anchor in station history. But," he says when Pete frowns, "he's legal."

"Good thing, too," Andy adds.


Andy gets to his feet and stretches. He's still wearing his street clothes - Green Bay jersey, dangerous thing to wear even in the off-season in Bears territory - so he probably needs to get changed. But he claps Pete on the shoulder before going for the clothing rack.

"Because you're going to want to have his fucking babies," Andy says, patting Pete's arm.


Pete's prowling the halls for New Dude once he's dressed - Joe wouldn't even give Pete a name without the promise of pizza tomorrow night, which, hello, Pete feeds his own addiction before anyone else's - when he runs into William. Literally. Pete's busy trying to develop eyes in the back of his head so he can get a 360 view, and William's long hair's in his way, so they collide and hit the ground hard, papers flying in the air.

"Shit." Pete aches - William's all bones - but he bends to help him pick up the papers. "Sorry, dude. You okay?"

William nods, but he looks pissed. Not at Pete; he would look Pete in the eye if he was the one he was pissed at. "Fine," he says curtly, and he takes the papers from Pete's arms and stomps down the hall again.

He's barely out of sight when Tom appears. Tom's usually a lot harder to read, but considering the timing, Pete doesn't think it's a coincidence.

"You seen Beckett?" he asks.


Tom nods like that was an answer and jogs off in William's direction, so maybe it was. Pete sighs wistfully. He just wants those kids to work things out, but it looks like things are reaching a head, and not in the "run off and elope" way. He should probably stop being invested in sordid station hookups, but what fun would that be?

Pete runs out of time to corner New Dude before he's due on-set, so he heads into the studio for their usual meeting. He pushes through the assembling crowd and spots his target, standing next to their producer. New Dude is probably half Bob McLynn's height. It's been a long time since Pete's been taller than anyone - well, who isn't a kid - but he's definitely got an inch or two on New Dude. And New Dude looks young and fresh and...Pete sees a flash of argyle socks as New Dude shifts on his feet.

Young and fresh and fucking adorable.

"This," Bob says once Joe and Andy have joined the group, "is Patrick Stump, spelled like the tree for professional purposes. When Joe turned down the head anchor position, we held interviews for Oliver's replacement, and here he is."

Everyone clumped behind the cameras claps dutifully. Pete shoots a look at Joe, who looks thrilled. He's probably relieved that he's not lead anchor - Joe hates head anchors - but then, he wouldn't look so happy if he had to break in someone he didn't already know.

Pete's close enough that he can hear Bob ask Patrick quietly, "Would you like to say a few words?"

Patrick shrugs, but he steps forward. Pete grins despite himself.

"Hey." Patrick waves. "I suck at speeches that aren't, you know, already written, and I don't, uh. I love watching WFOB, and I'm stoked to be joining the team."

More applause. Pete's enthusiastic clap rises above the golf claps, and he tops it off with a whoop. It's his way of saying "I want to put you in my pocket and take you home" without being too creepy about it. Patrick shoots him a look under the brim of his fedora and blushes. Pete wants to keep him forever.

"Well said." Bob claps Patrick on the back and says, "Fifteen minutes to air. I hope you all can keep up with Patrick tonight."

Everyone disperses, but Pete hangs around. Or, actually, he goes up to Patrick and sticks out his hand. "Pete Wentz."

"I know," Patrick says, but he shakes Pete's hand. "I'm surprised you didn't drive Oliver to an early grave. Did he hate your guts, or was that me projecting?"

Pete cackles, surprised. "You really do watch, don't you?"

"When I don't have homework, yeah." Patrick flinches, and then he hangs his head. "Wow, I promised myself I wouldn't say anything like that. I bet I already look way too young to be doing this, huh?"

Pete shrugs. "Straight out of college might be a little young, but as long as you can read, that's what counts, right?"

Patrick gets even redder for some reason, but he squeaks out, "Right," and darts over to where Gabe, makeup dude extraordinaire, is flagging him down.

Tonight's going to be fun.


The usual video intro plays at the start of the hour, and Pete watches from his cushy chair at the sports desk. When he started at WFOB, the desk was the standard large piece, and Pete sat to the side of the main anchors, but he jumped around enough that Oliver insist he be quarantined. It worked for Pete then, and it still works for him. He gets to watch everyone else for the rest of the show and make obscene gestures that would get the station fined if they were filmed. It's a good way for him and Andy to stay amused, anyway.

When the lights come up on Patrick, Pete feels his first-ever twinge of regret that he can't be closer.

The music from the intro reaches a peak, Joe swallows just the slightest bit - Pete knows to look for it because he's been watching him for so long - and says, "This is your WFOB Evening Action News team. I'm Joe Trohman."

The pause between Joe's intro and Patrick's has to be a second. Maybe less. Certainly, when Pete watches the show later, the break is pretty standard. Patrick doesn't talk over Joe, he doesn't crowd his words, and he doesn't let the silence go too long. But as Pete watches, Patrick's gaze lands on Pete as Joe gets the last of his name out, and time stops. Patrick blinks in slow motion, and dust motes around his head twinkle like stars. Pete knows it's an instant, but it lasts an eternity.

But somehow, the eternity ends. "And I'm Patrick Stump. Oliver James is off tonight."

Pete's had family and friends - well, the friends who don't work at the station - give him shit for loving something like broadcasting. And yeah, it doesn't have the edge or cool factor that his old hardcore shows did. Everyone would definitely give him shit if anyone could feel his struggle for breath as Patrick goes through the lead story about corruption, or the way Pete doesn't hear anything again until Joe takes a secondary story about some kind of major construction project. Even Andy, standing dapper as ever in front of his weather green screen, smirks his way when Pete has to tear his eyes from the main desk in order to gain some kind of composure. At least Andy does it with love.

But forget what anyone else says. It's no wonder the bosses handed Patrick the reins with little experience and a baby face that would get him carded for the next two decades of his life. He's got the whole package: amazing vocal control, charisma, and the kind of competence you need when you're going to be telling good people shitty things. The pretty face doesn't hurt, either.

Pete's so wound up by the time they toss it to him that he launches out of his seat right away. Tom visibly sighs and makes adjustments. Pete does his entire segment pacing on his feet, narrating baseball highlights and howling appropriately when the White Sox win their game and the Cubs lose badly. Pete's more into soccer and basketball - there's no one who'll touch Michael Jordan, after all - but there's electricity under his skin like never before, and knowing Oliver won't try to get him shitcanned at the end of the show makes it even better.

He eases back in his seat and sits with perfect posture at the end, turning to Patrick with the kind of self-satisfied smirk he only tends to get after a good fuck. "And back to the main desk."

He makes eye contact with Patrick a second time, and it isn't as long as the first moment, but everything stops again. It's like his heart skips a beat or his lungs forget to work or his soul runs up into the clouds for a second to make sure heaven's still there.

"Thank you, Pete," Patrick says with his glow. "We'll be right back."

Commercial break brings its usual water breaks and makeup touch ups, but even when Gabe's waving his hand in front of Pete's face to get his attention, Pete can only think about his new mission. He has to have Patrick in his life outside the studio.

Patrick has to be his new best friend.


Pete's the first one at the studio the next day. Well, the first one in the early evening team, anyway. He sees Gerard lurking in the break room, bleary-eyed and pretty much face-first into his cup of coffee. Pete winces sympathetically. Day meetings suck when you're on the night team.

"See you found that bakery," Gerard mumbles, gesturing at the bag Pete's carrying. Right, because he gave Pete the recommendation back in the days when Pete was hanging around at night so he could fuck Mikey Way, fellow sports guy. That hadn't ended well - which was both surprising and not because they'd had so much in common - but even though Mikey is Gerard's brother, Gerard never treats Pete like dirt. Nice guy.

Pete lifts up the bag and cup happily. "I have to introduce our new anchor to the delights of our team."

"Shit, right." Gerard brushes his hair out of his face. Pete caught some of Gerard's show before he went to sleep last night, and he'd looked freshly showered and groomed then, but now he smells of cigarettes and looks like he hasn't seen water in a week. Pete isn't sure if the night makeup guy works miracles or if Gerard is really that good at getting messy. "Patrick. I heard about him. Didn't catch the show last night."

"You should stick around after your meeting. He's got the golden touch."

"Is that your way of saying you two..." Gerard makes a vulgar gesture.

"Fuck you." But he kisses Gerard on the cheek before heading to the changing closet, and Gerard giggles. Ways, man. Totally worth staying up for.

Patrick's already dressed and waiting in front of the one mirror with the big, Hollywood-style bulbs. He looks paler without makeup. Or maybe he's scared? He did really well last night, but he's rocking a little in his chair like he's terrified.

"Hey," Pete says, stopping in the doorway. Patrick jumps a little. "Shit, dude, sorry. Everything okay?"

Patrick swallows and nods, and some of the tension fades from his shoulders. He smiles. "Yeah, just a little delayed freaking out. Tuesdays are always worse than Mondays, right?"

That's never been Pete's problem. Weekends, especially before he stopped ditching his therapy appointments and before he was consistently medicated, were the worst. There was no one around, and he would drop, and then Monday would be nearly impossible because he couldn't get out of bed. It's a miracle he ever clawed his way up from intern, really.

Pete shakes himself back to the present and extends his gifts even though Patrick's nowhere near reaching. "Boost time?"

"Oh yes, please." Patrick gets to his feet, and just like that, he looks absolutely fine. A little nervous, but if Pete hadn't seen him a second ago, he never would have figured it out. "That smells amazing. Where did you get it?"

"Little place nearby." A flush of fondness runs through Pete when Patrick reaches in for the donut delicately and looks downright reverent. "They make them all day, so it should be fresh."

The last couple words are drowned out by Patrick's groan, and a different kind of heat flushes through Pete. He ignores it. Operation Best Friend will not be derailed by random boners. Or, okay, not-so-random boners, as Pete figures out when Patrick's licking his fingers clean and moaning again. Patrick doesn't even seem to realize he's doing it.

"Coffee," Pete says to keep himself from staring too long. What did Andy say about Patrick being his type? Fuck. "It's also pretty decent."

Patrick hums and takes the cup with his fingertips, and then he wraps his hands around when he finds out it isn't too warm. He sips and his eyes slide shut.

Pete very carefully doesn't watch the way Patrick's tongue swipes across his lips. "See? Today can't be too bad now."

He draws Patrick in for a hug, and Patrick's even settling in for it - which is good because Pete's a cuddly dude - but he bumps the coffee, and not only does the lid jar loose, but most of the coffee splashes onto Patrick. Pete jumps away immediately, but it's too late. Patrick's drenched.

"Shit." Pete looks around for napkins. He left the ones he got in the fucking donut place in the car. There's paper towels on the counter, but Patrick shoves him away before Pete can wipe him down. Fuck, Patrick's face is red. "It didn't burn you, did it? It looked pretty hot, but..."

"No." Patrick sounds like he has to unclench his jaw to speak. "But this is my only suit until I get paid."

And now he's shaking. If he's not he pissed? It was an accident! Pete gets up to shenanigans sometimes, but not for Operation Best Friend!

It comes to him quickly. Pete jumps to the clothing racks and pulls his hanger with his suit for the day. "We're close in size, right? The fit won't be perfect, but—"

Patrick nods curtly. "Hang it on the bathroom door. I need to clean up."

He stomps into the bathroom and slams the door, but Pete thinks he looks a little less mad. Maybe. Hopefully.


He's recounting the story to Andy, head in his hands, while they're doing makeup with Gabe later that night. Gabe's their designated makeup person because he doesn't have much interest in the mechanics of a news station, but he needs the funds while he finishes his philosophy thesis, and he's not terrible with a brush. Gabe's a stand-up dude in general; he hisses sympathetically where he's washing his hands when Pete gets to the pissing-Patrick-off part of the story.

Of course, Pete only started the story because he thought Patrick wasn't in the room. It turns out that isn't true when Patrick emerges from behind the clothing racks and stalks out the room.

Gabe's the one to break the silence in the room when he brings his tools over to the big-bulb mirror. "Shit."

"You fucking said it." Pete slumps back in the chair with a loud groan and his hands over his face. And the day had started out so well, too.

"Sounds to me like you need to get wasted after the show tonight," Gabe says. "I know a band playing, so we could probably get half-price drinks."

Pete hasn't gone out to see a band since he abandoned his almost-completed poli-sci degree a couple years ago. It makes him feel old. What can't be made better by screaming and circle pits and ringing ears the next day?

"Count me in, baby." He and Gabe exchange a hug, and then Pete closes his eyes and lets Gabe work his magic.


Gerard's waiting behind the cameras when Pete makes his way out. He laughs when Pete jumps on his back. Gerard's not as tiny as everyone else Pete tends to work with - well, besides the many long-legged interns running around - so he gives good piggyback.

"Thank fuck you're here," Pete says. "I can use your vibes."

"Oh yeah? Things seemed fine earlier."

Patrick comes by the second after Gerard's last word is out of his mouth. He doesn't look nervous anymore...and actually, he doesn't look like he did last night, which was a careful sort of calm that was probably covering up nerves. Pete grins - maybe he had something to do with that - but Patrick doesn't look his way.

"Oh, that's your golden boy?" Gerard's voice is too loud for it not to reach Patrick's ears, but Patrick doesn't react. Whatever. Pete wears all his emotions on his sleeve, and admiration isn't even one he has to pretend to be ashamed about. He doesn't think so, anyway. What he loves makes him a better guy to be around.

"The very one," Pete says seriously. "And I hope he doesn't hate my guts."

"Aw, who can hate Pete Wentz?" Gerard pauses. "Besides Oliver. What's he up to, anyway?"

"He can be in Uruguay for all I care. No, somewhere Gabe's family doesn't live. Australia? Do I know anyone in Australia?"

Gerard licks his lips. "How about Mars? No one's there."

"Perfect!" Pete hugs him. "You're a good dude, Gerard Way. You're working tonight, right?"

Gerard nods.

"Too bad, Gabe and I are going out. We should set up a rager on the weekend sometime; what do you think?"

"As long as I can go sober."

Pete puts a hand on his heart. He doesn't fuck around with addiction and various abuses, whether it's his or anyone else's. "All the best coffee and soda I can wrangle."

Gerard's eyes brighten. "I can bring my D&D manuals. Or my Magic decks."

"You're on." The night crew will probably stick to their own little corner, but hey, nothing wrong with a little geekery to blow off steam. Pete's likely to break some sort of limb in the pursuit of his own fun, so he doesn't judge. "I'll get you a Facebook invite."

That settled, Pete goes for his little desk. It sucks being isolated from everyone else today - he wishes he was sitting next to Joe so he could pass Patrick notes - but everything's better with plans in the works.


After the broadcast, Patrick's talking warmly with Gerard, who's gushing about his technique. Gerard doesn't back off when he sees Pete come up and Pete making a dramatic go-the-other-way head bop, but Gerard's always been a little slow to pick up on cues.

"Hey, guys."

Patrick looks over at Pete and nods in hello. Acknowledgment of his existence is good. "Pete. Thanks for the suit. I'm sorry I was—"

Pete holds up a hand. "I'm the one who wrecked the uniform. I should be the one apologizing."

"Oh, I thought the suit looked familiar." Gerard picks up the edge of Patrick's sleeve and looks more closely. "I think this works with Pete's skin tone better."

"Gerard's an art school grad," Pete tells Patrick. "He'll give you the lowdown on palettes and complimentary colors."

It's Patrick's turn to sound admiring. "Right on. I might have to consult with you before I go shopping next."

They chat for a few minutes about clothes and makeup - Gerard definitely knows how to use both - and Pete's happy to let them talk, but. He wants to talk to Patrick, too. This broadcast was even better than the one the night before. Patrick has a way of reading the news that's just a little on the edge of too performative, which makes him seem somehow more godlike and more relatable at the same time. And then he shrinks into this shy-smiling human at the end of it all, and Pete just needs to know more.

But Gabe comes up and slings an arm around Pete's chest. "Hola, todos. Anyone else coming out with us tonight?"

"Working," Gerard says ruefully. "And so is Mikey, before you ask."

Pete looks up to see Gabe shaking his head. "You two have the worst schedules in the world."

Gerard shrugs. "I'm always awake anyway."

"How about you, new kid?" Gabe asks. "Music, and booze if you drink. Maybe a little wildness."

Something flickers quickly on Patrick's face, but it disappears quickly. He's in way more control of himself than Pete will ever be. "Thanks, but I can't. Got things to do."

"Well, hit me up if you want to go some other time. Always good to learn the new..." Pete doesn't have to watch Gabe's face to know the leer that's there. "Talent."

And then Patrick blushes in the most adorable way possible. Now Pete's going to have to flirt with him constantly, if only he can see that again.


Pete tends to be an impulsive type; it was easier to go with it when it started happening in his teenage years than it was to be embarrassed when he couldn't hold things back. Head shit sucks that way, but he can't deny it makes his life more interesting when his mouth runs ahead of his brain.

This time, it's a good thing. It's a couple days after the suit incident, and Pete hasn't repeated a food run, but he makes sure to greet Patrick and see where things go. Patrick's friendly enough back, but he's also staring at Pete a lot when Pete isn't looking. He doesn't look pissed, but then, who knows what he's feeling. Pete needs something to advance the plot, and it happens when they're on camera and Pete gets to toss to Patrick.

"So that's the sports for the day. Back to Mr. Patrick von Stumph the Third."

Joe, who's used to Pete, says wryly, "The third?"

Pete just grins directly into the camera. "Didn't you know? He's descended from a long line of Chicago gentry."

It's not even funny by Pete's standards. (He likes to think he has a very developed sense of humor, but truth is, he'll laugh at a lot of ridiculous shit.) To be fair, even when he's a little less in control, he's working really hard to keep anything inappropriate from slipping out, so his best material can only be off-camera. The save wasn't too bad, though.

Or it wasn't too bad until the camera cuts to Patrick, and Patrick's crying. Crying with laughter, that is. He ducks his head and looks pink under the lights and...

...and it's lucky that the cameras aren't on Pete because wow, on-air is a tough time to realize he's not just having what he likes to think of as logical pants feelings about Patrick. (He's also had pants feelings on-air, but he's a professional, and he saves any flirty looks for when the camera's not on him.) No, this is something beyond, something Pete's put on hiatus while he tries to get over falling for the wrong people.

Because that's what it is. Potential romantic, scream-to-the-sky love.

Joe takes the beginning of Patrick's next segment while Patrick gets control. Patrick's shooting Pete looks and trying not to laugh again, and Pete shrugs apologetically, which apparently makes it worse. But Patrick only sounds a little choked when he starts reading again, and he saves his next breakdown for commercial.

"What the hell was that?" Joe asks Patrick, but he's grinning, too.

"Sorry, I just...gentry. In the Midwest."

Andy laughs at that, a quick chuckle from his green screen. Joe just pats Patrick on the back, and when he looks at Pete, Pete shrugs, doing his best to imagine a halo over his head.


Bob pulls Pete aside the next day. "You're never going to believe this."

Well, fuck. Pete sighs. He always feels, to quote the great Rocky Horror, like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over his head, but he'd thought Patrick's outburst was pretty innocent. Maybe that was just his love goggles speaking because the air around Patrick seems to glow whenever Pete looks at him. And roses. He doesn't actually see roses, but there should totally be roses.

He braces himself, but Bob just shows him his tablet, which has the clip of Patrick laughing on YouTube. Bob points at the number of hits, and Pete whistles.

"Not bad," he says.

"Are you kidding? We've never had our clips online get this kind of hit count!" Bob laughs. "Initial reports are telling us that Patrick was testing as very serious, and we thought we were getting someone for you to play off, but...maybe it's the other way around?"

"So the bosses are happy?"

"If this was the holidays, you'd be getting a bonus in your stocking. As it is, keep it up, and maybe you'll get a check at the end of the week."

Bob walks off, and Pete can only stare after him. A bonus? Fuck, he thought bonuses had gone the wayside when Oliver was taken on. But then, Oliver had had a killer resume; they probably were paying Patrick pennies. Certainly not what he deserves.

Decided, Pete goes to the back door and waits for Patrick to show up. He probably looks like a ground-level gargoyle with sunglasses; certainly, he stays still and stoic enough that Patrick doesn't notice him until he's close enough to touch, and Patrick jumps about a mile when Pete pokes him.

"Sorry," Pete says, "but this couldn't wait. Actually, we have a lot of plotting to do. You have your cell phone?"

"I...yeah, that's it," Patrick says as Pete takes the phone in question out of his hand. Pete puts his number in and takes out his own cell phone to copy the number Patrick has in his contacts into his own, and then he gives the phone back.

That done, Pete asks, "What do you find funnier? Improv or more structured comedy?"

"Um. Either? Both?"

"No, but another joke's too obvious." Pete frowns. "We need to get that bonus check."

"What bonus check?"

Pete pulls up the video Bob showed him. He doesn't bother playing it; Patrick's eyes go wide once he sees the five-digit hit count. It's really respectable for WFOB.

"So I'm going to mess with you," Pete says. "How about I throw a couple things your way tonight, and you tell me what you think works? You have good instincts."

Patrick's wide-eyed and blinking a lot. It's very endearing. "I thought you messed with Oliver because you hated him."

Pete grins. "Don't worry. I mess with the people I like, too."


The beginning of the idea comes to Pete when the opening titles start the next evening. He decides to do nothing until the end, sitting in his chair and completely behaving until the signoffs. What he'll do then, he doesn't know, but he has a good half-hour to figure it out.

His thought was mostly that he would make the viewers squirm - if anyone watched before, they might keep watching to find out what Pete's going to do, and nothing wrong with a little anticipation - but as time passes, it turns out Patrick's the one squirming. It's subtle at first, adjustments in his chair that don't make it on camera, but by the time Andy's heat wave talk gets started, he's openly staring at Pete whenever he's not speaking. He'll probably be embarrassed later, with his professionalism streak, but Pete loves it. It'll make the end even better.

And it does. When the end comes, Pete's ready; he creeps up behind Joe (who obviously knows he's there, but he plays steady like he always does), and when Patrick says, "And I'm Patrick Stump. Good night, Chicago", Pete goes for it. A nice kiss to Patrick's cheek, which goes from warm to blazing hot just for the two seconds his lips are in contact. Pete waves at the camera cheerfully, and that's when the broadcast ends.

Tom behind the camera is the first one to laugh, and that's enough of a triumph on its own. New interns Brendon and Spencer - who, sadly, replaced William when he left in a flurry at the end of last week - are practically on the floor. They're always making Anchorman references, so maybe they're the ones Pete should be brainstorming with.

"You," Patrick says, not laughing but not scowling, "are a menace."

Pete nods. "Think it worked?"

"I have no idea."

"How about this." He hops on the desk for a second, even as Joe gives him a thumbs up and moves away. "We obviously split the bonus 50/50 if we get it. But I'll spend my part on us doing something fun, too."

Patrick's cheeks dim, and he looks a little more in control. "Something fun? Like a concert?"

"If you want. But I was thinking it could be a surprise."

"I like surprises." That's so obviously untrue that Pete cackles, and Patrick nods in defeat. "Okay, yeah. You're on."

Pete kisses Patrick's other cheek and jumps away from the desk. He loves his life sometimes.


Pete secures the check with something that isn't even particularly Patrick-related. He pitches a segment to Bob where they take local animal shelter dogs to the field where the Chicago Fire play, and Bob loves it. They don't do enough puff pieces, really, and Pete fucking loves dogs. He films the segment during the day, and he borrows a little retriever named Cap (short for Captain America) for the broadcast. It's basically a little puppy version of Patrick, which Patrick proves when Pete puts the dog in his lap for the sign-off, and Patrick pops his hat on top.

"So," Pete asks Patrick when the dog temporarily goes to the shelter rep, "are you free on Saturday?"

"I am, but I thought you were having your rager?"

Pete waves his hand. "It can wait until next week. I have specific plans in mind that need to happen now."

"I'm in."

"Awesome." They work out times and meeting places - Pete wants Patrick to show up close to their spot without giving the whole game away - before Pete goes back to the shelter rep. This is probably why he hasn't pitched the shelter idea before. He hasn't had a dog in way too long.

It's a good thing his mom likes dogs, too. He'll need a babysitter for Saturday.


Patrick's inside Wrigley Field on Saturday for about five minutes when a drunk fan vomits on his shoes. Patrick has to drag Pete away from him.

"It's okay," Patrick says, eying the fan worriedly. So he has a half foot and probably two-hundred pounds on Pete. Pete could still take him. When Pete shoots him an incredulous look, Patrick amends it to, "It's not worth it. I thought you were taking me to a game?"

Pete gives the asshole the stink-eye, but he lets Patrick steer him away.

"So," Patrick says with a kind of wryness that Pete isn't sure he's heard from him yet, "where are we sitting?"

Pete steers Patrick the way he needs to look and points. "There. Isn't it a beauty?"

He's mostly kidding - the press box is hardly anyone's idea of luxury - but Patrick looks absolutely starstruck by it. He barely notices when Pete swaps their shoes, and it takes him until the fourth inning to look away from the field and the other reporters in the box and ask, "But wait a minute. Our press access got us in here."

Pete nods.

"So you didn't spend a dime on the bonus on this."

"I did on your garlic fries." When Patrick looks a bit scowly, Pete says, "I was always planning dinner afterward, okay? I'm not a cheap date."

Patrick flushes at that. Pete expects him to object - after all, they never said this was a capital-d Date - but Patrick just says, "I'm just being a jerk. You can ignore me when I'm doing that."

Pete puts his head on Patrick's shoulder and says, "If there's one thing I'll never ever do, it's ignore you."

He leaves his head where it is until the seventh-inning stretch, and after he comes back and puts his hands on the desk, Patrick puts his hand over Pete's.

It's a good thing there's other press in the box - and that it's a weekend - because between the hand holding and an impromptu Harry Carey impression in the top of the sixth, Pete's so dazed by the time they leave the park, he couldn't tell you what the score was, what year it is, or even if the sky's still blue.

It doesn't help that Patrick, swimming adorably in a too-large Cubs jersey that Pete bought for him, is still holding onto his hand as they walk down the street.


Pete's only just placed the order for their pizza - Chicago-style deep dish, of course - when Patrick blurts across their tiny table, "I have to tell you something."

"Okay. Shoot." Pete balances his head on his hands.

"I'm not just out of college." The silence before Patrick finishes is probably one of the scariest of Pete's life. Someone would have told Pete if Patrick wasn't legal, right? Joe wouldn't fuck with either of them like that. "I'm just out of high school."

"So you're over eighteen?" Patrick nods, and Pete slumps. "Don't give me a heart attack before I've had my pizza, Stump. First rule of Pete Wentz."

Patrick frowns. "You can't honestly think anyone would hire me before I turned eighteen. I don't even have a journalism degree."

"Have you seen you?" Pete drags a hand up and down. "You're a fucking marvel. It's criminal anyone waited until you were legal."

Patrick snorts, but he looks pleased. "Did you really think I was under eighteen? I'm Joe's friend."

"No, but you scared me with the whole big revelation thing." Pete takes a couple deep breaths. "Okay, I'm cool. How did you get hired so young, anyway?"

"Persistence and being a total geek. I did A/V Club in school, public access in my free time, and I emailed Bob a lot of videos."

Pete smirks. "What did you do to Joe to get Bob's email?"

"Nothing this time. He owed me from before." Patrick doesn't elaborate, but the little slightly evil smirk Patrick gives is too good for Pete to ruin.

Their pizza turns up after that, and they dig in, Pete making a mental note to check later if any of younger Patrick's clips are online. They eat in bliss for a few minutes, Pete quietly admiring the pleased moans Patrick makes over his pizza, when Patrick asks, "How did you get started in the news, anyway?"

"Would you believe I was doing political science in college?"

Patrick nods. "I can believe a lot of things about you. You probably did some sports while you were in school and played bass in your hardcore band."

Pete laughs, loud and dorky. "Okay, who spilled the beans?"

"Andy." Patrick smiles slyly. "I was trying to get you to think I was psychic."

"Sorry, dude. Near heart attacks kill my trust in the greater world." He reaches over and squeezes Patrick's hand so he knows he doesn't mean it. "But yeah, I figured the news was a good way to see what I was learning in action, and then I just...loved it. Loved that I could do something like sports and make someone's night less dire. You know?"

Patrick nods. "I do a lot of the dire parts."

"Hey, that's more important than what I do."

"No way." Patrick pushes away his plate when Pete shrugs it off. "No, listen, I started watching WFOB when you were bumped up to sports desk and Joe took co-anchor. I love Joe, but I still don't know if I would have watched without you."

Pete stares at him, stunned. "Really?"

"I was always thinking I'd graduate college and go big. National. International, maybe. But you really brought home what it means to love where you're doing it as well as what you're doing, you know? You love this town. It's all over you."

Patrick falls silent and flushes a little like he's embarrassed, and that's no good. Words are escaping him right now, so Pete goes to Patrick's side of the table and kisses him. Patrick squeaks, and Pete starts to pull back, but Patrick grabs two fistfuls of Pete's shirt and hauls him in hard. It's relatively chaste - Pete's still standing awkwardly, so there's no contact beyond their mouths and hands - but it's probably one of the most passionate kisses Pete's ever had in a pizza place. Considering how much he loves pizza, that's saying something.

Also, Patrick tastes like sauce and cheese and the barest hint of veggies from his pizza. It's pretty much the best fucking moment of Pete's life thus far.

He only draws back when Patrick lets up his death grip on Pete's shirt, and even then, Pete has to make himself stop caressing Patrick's cheek. A couple kids at the table behind them full on laugh in Pete's face. Pete resists the urge to flip them off; they're only kids, after all.

Patrick sticks out his tongue at them and kisses Pete again. Which is better than flipping off by a mile, probably.


Pete is a perfect gentleman the rest of the night. Which is a shitty phrase when he thinks about it. No, what actually happens is he and Patrick finish their dinner, and they walk hand-in-hand to their cars, talking about what they want out of a relationship. It goes something like this:

"Go hard and go home," Pete says when Patrick asks him what he's looking for. He pauses and then waggles his eyebrows when he realizes what he's said. "Go hard, go home, and go hard again."

"Useful," Patrick says dryly.

"What I was trying to say is I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy. So I'm not really casual."

Patrick looks relieved. "Me neither."

"How do you feel about talking about it at work?" Pete's relieved he thinks to ask. If he hadn't, he probably would have been proposing marriage to Patrick in a week. "You want to, uh, keep it under your hat for now?"

"I don't know how well it would stay under my hat." Patrick adjusts the hat in question, which is even more adorable paired with the too-big jersey Patrick's still wearing. "But no, I think we can be professionals, right?"

"Oh yeah, sure." As professional as Pete ever is. Which is not at all. This is doomed to fail, and judging by the smile on Patrick's face, he knows it.

Pete interrupts their discussion to plaster himself against Patrick and kiss him. Patrick seems happy to be pressed against a wall and kiss back.

But then Pete breaks off. "I want to go slow."

Patrick's eyebrows go so high up they almost disappear into his hat. "You do?"

"Not for any, uh, purity reasons. Or moral reasons. I'm very morally into mutual orgasms."

"A good stance to have." And oh god, the way Patrick bites his lip. Pete has to adjust his jeans.

"I just like the build up. The anticipation. I'm kind of shitty at waiting for things normally..."

Patrick snorts, probably because Pete's hands are rubbing down Patrick's back and slowly slipping lower.

"...but you're worth it."

"You don't have to do this for me."

"No," Pete agrees, kissing Patrick lightly. "I'm doing it for us."

Patrick sucks in a breath and kisses Pete again. Pete eagerly returns it, but Patrick breaks off after a couple moments and carefully removes Pete's hands. "If we're doing slow, I'm going to be the one enforcing this distance, won't I?"

"Uh. Only if you want to?"

Patrick leans in and kisses Pete on the tip of his nose. "Night, Pete. Why don't you call me when you get home?"

"Okay," Pete says happily. Patrick wants to make sure Pete's okay. That's really sweet of him.


Pete does have self-restraint. He waits a full ten minutes after he gets home before he dials Patrick on his phone and stretches out on his couch. Five minutes are spent in the bathroom staring himself down in the mirror, and five minutes are spent pacing his apartment while he tries to draw time out a little longer, but it's still ten minutes.

"Hey," Patrick says when he answers the phone, sounding kind of winded.

"Hey. I made it home safe and sound."

"Good. Me too." Patrick gives a long sigh. "I thought you'd call sooner."

"I guess you live closer to where we were than I do. Where would you say you live, anyway?"


There's only heavy breathing for a second, and Pete nearly drops his phone when he figures out why. "Are you jerking off?"

"I'm...trying to." The tone of annoyance shouldn't be hot. It is. "Come on, tell me something."

"What happened to going slow?"

"This...oh. This is slow. There's miles between us."

Pete bites his lip. "Well, I'm going to wait."

"Good for you. I'm going to come."

And okay, maybe Pete has to reach in his pants and hold onto his cock to soothe it a little. But that doesn't count as joining in, does it?

"I want to hear you," Pete says. Which is totally joining in. He can't bring himself to care much.

"Pete." And then Patrick lets out a cry, and heat floods all through Pete. He's probably breathing as hard as Patrick, and he's not even doing anything.

When Patrick's caught his breath, he asks, "Your turn now?"

"Going slow," Pete says, voice a little shaky. He clears his throat. "See you at work?"

"Suit yourself." There's a smile in Patrick's voice. "Have a good night."

Pete waits until the phone clicks off before he starts moving his hand up and down on his cock. He doesn't last long, and maybe he should have just stayed on the phone, but he wants to do this right. For Patrick.


Which is why Pete waits about two seconds after he spots Patrick at the studio before dragging him into a mostly-empty equipment closet. Patrick deserves the best, and Pete can't think of anything better than getting off right under everyone else's noses.

"What," Patrick asks between kisses, "about professionalism?"

Pete kisses Patrick's neck and starts undoing Patrick's jeans. It's awesome they have street clothes to wear before they get ready for the night. He won't have to feel guilty about messing up another of Patrick's outfits.

"No one's here but us," Pete says. "Perfect time to get a blow job, right?"

This is what was missing from the phone call: getting to see Patrick's face, cheeks flushed and eyes wide and...well, everything. He takes off his hat and pushes his hair around. "I guess not?"

Pete pauses before he grabs the waistband of Patrick's boxer briefs. "That's a yes, right?"

"Yes. That is absolutely a yes."

"Good." Pete pulls down jeans and underwear and gets his first sight of Patrick's cock. It's half hard and exactly the kind of thing Pete wants in his mouth. "Awesome."

Patrick laughs nervously, and Pete kisses his thigh. "You're awesome," Patrick says.

Pete almost replies with another comment about Patrick's greatness, but if they start on that track, Pete suspects they'll go back and forth on it for a while. Instead, he decides to show Patrick what he means, opening wide enough to suck the head of Patrick's cock in his mouth. Patrick groans loud enough that it echoes off the equipment that's left, and he slaps a hand over his mouth.

"Sorry," he whispers when Pete pulls off.

"No apologizing," Pete says, wrapping his hand around the base of Patrick's cock and gently stroking. He doesn't have any lube or anything to ease the way - forethought would have been good, but he saw Patrick on the back steps of the studio and made a spontaneous plan - but he figures he can work around it without leaving Patrick needing more than a shower. "I want to hear you scream. Eventually. Or now, but we're professionals, right?"

Patrick nods enthusiastically. "Total profession...fuck!"

That comes after Pete sucks Patrick back into his mouth and swirls a little with his tongue. Patrick hardens in his mouth the rest of the way, and between the stretch of Pete's jaw and the way Patrick swearing rings in his ears, Pete's starting to stiffen in his own jeans. He puts his palm against his crotch and rocks against it a little, but this isn't about him. And he's not getting off now.

Of course, that's easy to say before he gets lost in sucking Patrick off. Patrick smells amazing, starting off clean and moving toward just a little sweaty and like sex as Pete keeps going. It's too bad the dressing room shower is barely big enough for Pete; he would be all about cleaning Patrick off and going again. But then, maybe it's not moving very slow if Pete gets off Patrick more than once at work? He isn't sure what moving slowly is supposed to look like exactly.

Patrick lays a hand on Pete's shoulder when he's close, and when he squeezes hard, Pete sucks as hard as his tired mouth can manage. He wants to taste Patrick, and when Patrick starts to come, he does. It's a lot, but Pete manages to swallow it and keep Patrick from getting messy. Well, messier. Not so messy that Patrick is obviously getting off at work.

Of course, Patrick looks so wrecked when Pete pulls off that Pete hugs him and helps him slide to the floor. That's going to be harder to keep under wraps. If Patrick didn't start compulsively giggling, Pete would be almost worried.

"That..." Patrick pauses to get another laugh out. "I have never done anything like that before."

Pete frowns. "You're not telling me you never..."

"No! Really no." Patrick smiles. "A/V geeks do more than you'd think. They're just not very creative. Or experienced."

Pete smiles and kisses Patrick's forehead.

"Wait." Patrick turns and puts a hand on Pete's stomach, rubbing a little before starting to head down. "Your turn."

"Not now," Pete says, carefully grabbing Patrick's hand and kissing his knuckles. "Waiting, remember?"


Pete sighs wistfully and nods. Patrick settles against him.

"You're better at control than you think," he says with a smile.


Pete thought he was the naughtier of the two, but when they get on camera and Patrick smiles innocently at him throughout Pete's entire segment, he's about ready to pass the crown off. No one on the outside should be able to tell, but when Patrick sucks his lip into his mouth and bites it like he's thinking thoughtfully, Pete's face is probably like a neon sign that reads I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU.

And sure enough, Andy comes up to Pete after the show. He doesn't say anything; he just studies him through his sunglasses (which are totally unnecessary inside when the lights aren't even on, and he had them off for the broadcast, but whatever).

"Have a good weekend?" Pete asks brightly.

Even through the sunglasses, Pete can see Andy roll his eyes. "I knew you would crack. I just didn't know if you were Patrick's type."

"I don't know what you're..." Andy makes a point of tipping down his sunglasses and giving Pete a look, and Pete sighs. "Just how much is Joe going to want to kick my ass?"

"Don't worry." Andy pats Pete on the shoulder as he steers around him. "I think he'll be more pissed that Patrick didn't hold out long enough for him to collect."

"Collect? You bet on us?" Pete yells after Andy as he walks away. "We should get a piece of that pot, Hurley! I'm coming for you!"


The jig is officially up by the time Pete gets home. The group he set up on Facebook for the upcoming weekend's party is aflutter about Pete and Patrick, and...fuck, that's a private message from his mom asking if Pete's seeing anyone. He thought she'd learned about tracking his parties at this point, but apparently not.

He ignores all the comments he's tagged in and calls Patrick.

"Howdy," Patrick says when he picks up, and Pete takes the instant before he has to speak to wriggle a little. Patrick is so great.

"Did you see Facebook?"

"I did. I guess that means I can come to the party as your boyfriend, huh?"

Pete flushes. "Well. If that means I can be there as your boyfriend. Yes."

"Great. That gives me a few days to go shopping so I don't show up in my best argyle socks. Gerard said he would take me out with his brother."

"When's that?"

Patrick doesn't answer for a moment. "If I tell you, you're just going to invite yourself along, aren't you."

"Um. Maybe not?"

"I think we'll keep it as a surprise. Don't want to ruin the mystery before I take you to bed."

God, Pete never would have guessed before they started this that Patrick could say things like that and sound not only completely serious about it, but dead sexy at the same time. "Marry me."

Patrick laughs. "That's not going slow."

"What, you don't like the idea of me going to our marriage bed untouched?"

"Not really." Pete makes some wordless noise, and Patrick laughs. "I have to run some errands, Mr. Wentz-Stump. I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"So you don't want to defile me tonight?"

"Good night, Pete." Patrick makes a kissy noise over the phone and hangs up. Pete leans back in his computer chair and rests his phone on his chest.

Maybe marriage is a little fast, but love isn't, right? They've known each other for two weeks, and maybe Pete felt the initial stirrings right away, but that's still downright slow for Pete.

That's the moment William of all people texts him, warning him away from the messiness of workplace romance. He's at a different news station now, one with serious people who actually get ratings, and it sounds like he's doing well for himself. He might have been right about him and Tom, but that doesn't mean he's right about this.


Pete decides to run an errand of his own and comes to the station the next morning with fresh flowers. He figures he should get someone he sort-of-not-really proposed to a decent bouquet. After all, after his first time proposing to Oliver off-air, he made sure to get him red roses the next day. (Pissing off Oliver was almost too easy, but Oliver was always an asshole. This time, Pete is completely sincere.)

A lot of the station's staff are clumped around the dressing cubby's door when Pete makes his way in. They all turn and look at him, and some of them squeak or make generally delighted noises, but none of them actually say what they're doing.

"Can't a man be romantic without an audience?" Pete asks as he slips between them to get to the door. He actually has to hold the flowers - white roses, because Pete does things right when he means to - over his head in order to keep them from getting squashed. The moment is nearly ruined when Pete gets inside the room and almost drops the roses, but he catches them just in time.

He almost drops them because the room is pink. Pink bulbs in the mirror, pink flowers that Pete doesn't recognize on the main mirror's limited counter space, pink streamers hanging from the ceiling.

"Wow," Andy says, coming in behind Pete. The rest of the office has scattered somewhat now that they've gotten to see Pete's reaction, although a few lurkers are still there. Brendon is one of them, waving cheerfully from behind Andy. "Are you that good in bed, Wentz?"

"Of course I am, but that's not the point."

"Oh, Pete. You're here." Patrick bounces in like a Pomeranian or something. Some kind of jumping dog. And then a bunch of people stuff the hallway behind him. "I thought, since we were telling everyone, I might as well just go for it."

A camera shutter goes off, and Brendon waves from the door again. The picture will be up on the station's Twitter any minute.

"You," Pete says, pointing with the flowers in his hand, "are completely—"

"Evil," Brendon cuts in with a cackle.

"Perfect for Pete," Andy says dryly.

"Loud," Joe adds, poking his head out of the bathroom.

Patrick ignores them all and says, "Are those flowers for me, Pete? You shouldn't have!" He pecks Pete on the lips and hustles off to Joe, waving them in front of his face like he somehow couldn't see them from five feet away.

"I am so over my head," Pete says, but he sounds delighted even to himself.


Pete and Patrick spend the rest of the week together - during work, of course, but after and sometimes even before as well - and they have more fun than should probably be legal. Patrick spends one evening playing the greatest hits of Prince and waxing poetic about his composition and stage flare. Pete spends one evening watching soccer with Patrick nestled against his arm, and he's worried Patrick will be bored, but he seems happy enough to use his computer and show Pete silly videos during commercial breaks. Pete's even thinking about introducing Patrick to his parents.

(More than on the broadcast, that is. WFOB's current clip with the most hits on their website is a behind-the-scenes video Spencer took of Pete saying "Hi, Mom! This is my boyfriend!" and posing dramatically in front of the station's new promotional image of Patrick that makes him look like a suited-up god. It's a good thing the station's never had a reputation for super serious coverage.)

The party's even good that weekend. It's at Pete's place, and it's pretty much what he was hoping for: the Ways with Ray and Frank and their producer Worm holding court on the balcony with some kind of RPG manual and all the Diet Coke an army could drink, Brendon excited telling Spencer and Tom and Andy about his ambitions for co-anchor on the morning show, and Gabe DJing with a group that Pete doesn't recognize but assumes is the morning crew. He does recognize their weather guy because Ryland is impossible not to know, but they seem to know Gabe well enough, either way.

When Patrick shows up, Pete makes Gabe cut the music so he can yell, "My boyfriend's here!" Everyone applauds and cheers like that was the whole point of the party and throws confetti and blows party horns and generally makes a racket. Patrick turns purple.

After the din subsides enough for Pete to hear, he goes up and takes the cake Patrick's clinging to. "I told you don't need to bring anything when you're boning the host."

"That would be true if we were actually boning." Patrick kisses Pete on the cheek. "I guess I deserved that, didn't I?"

"You deserve everything," Pete says, and if it comes out extremely earnest, no one but Patrick needs to know.

Considering how many people Patrick knows at the party, he's very quiet at the beginning. He even blushes when Gabe says hello, which is funny because Gabe's quit anything even vaguely flirtatious now that Pete and Patrick are official.

But then he has a couple beers, and some imaginary shell comes right off. Along with Patrick's outer shirt (because he's still wearing an undershirt, too). There's one point in the night where he's on Pete's coffee table singing along with Little Red Corvette - Gabe had generously played it at Pete's request - and dancing along with the beat. Thankfully, everyone seems more concerned with cheering along than pulling out their cell phones.

When they switch songs at the end, Pete jumps up on the table with Patrick and slow dances along to a ballad he doesn't recognize. It doesn't matter. Patrick puts his head on Pete's shoulder, and Pete has priorities.

"I had no idea you were such a party animal," Pete says with ill-disguised glee.

"Please," Patrick says, swaying a little. It's a good thing Pete's got a good hold on him. "What did I tell you about A/V club? I'm surprised no incriminating photos have hit online."

"Damn, Stump. You're not even twenty-one. They could haul me off to the clink."

Patrick laughs, louder and dorkier now. "I know we live in Chicago, but you don't have to sound like an old mobster."

"You don't like it? You could be my moll."

"I'd rather not be Bonnie to your Clyde. Broadcasters work a lot longer than mobsters. Live longer, too."

"Bonnie and Clyde were bank robbers, I'll have you know."

"My mistake."

Pete kisses Patrick, and Brendon yells, "Ew!" Pete doesn't look away from Patrick, but he kicks Brendon's foot where it's balanced on the table.


They're busy with work and promotion and writing segments for a couple weeks after that. Not so busy that Pete and Patrick don't spend their evenings with each other, but busy enough that they'll usually just watch a little TV and conk out. They do get off with mutual handjobs, which is Pete's concession to Patrick while they wait for a little more free time. (Considering how good Patrick is with his hands, Pete doesn't mind in the slightest. Not that Pete ever doubted Patrick's abilities.)

Pete whisks them away for a weekend once things quiet down enough for it. It's a little cabin out in the middle of nowhere - Andy owns it, but Pete made sure it had things like electricity and internet before he asked to use it - and since neither Pete and Patrick are big hikers or campers, there isn't much for them to do but make out.

Well. And other things.

Pete decides to give up on his last pretense of slow, and Patrick jumps him without wasting another second. (Pete was hoping for this and stocked his luggage with a lot of condoms and lube. Considering Patrick also had some in his, he probably expected the same.) Pete does manage to blow Patrick first; he figures he'll go pretty fast no matter what they do, so Patrick should make sure to get off so they can enjoy it. And he does.

But then. Then Patrick blows his mind.

"I've seen the porn you keep on your computer," Patrick says, climbing on the bed they're using completely naked, ass up. "If you don't want to do it this way, your folders are a complete lie."

Pete doesn't know what to say or do. But Patrick was obviously ready for it. He fingers himself open as Pete watches, and while it's as blatant as Patrick gets, there's still a bit of a shy look to his face, like he can't believe he's doing it and he's embarrassed and afraid that Pete hates it. Which Pete can't have.

He gets up and kisses him, and while Patrick's distracted, Pete slicks up and helps, slipping a finger in alongside Patrick's. Patrick relaxes when they get into a rhythm, Pete sliding in as Patrick slides out, and vice versa. He's just starting to rock into it when Patrick takes both their hands out and says, "Okay, come on, I've been waiting long enough."

And Pete can only do as Patrick asks, of course. He grabs a condom, gets ready, and presses inside, Patrick opening beautifully around him. The angle's amazing; he can see the line of Patrick's back and the way Pete's cock looks going inside of him. And he can cover Patrick's back when Pete's fully seated, which is not something Pete's been able to do with many of his partners of either gender. It's always nice getting to be the little spoon, but it's so novel and fun getting to be a similar size for a change.

Pete's so busy admiring the whole thing that he half-forgets what they're doing until Patrick clenches around him. But he thrusts after that, and he wraps his hand around Patrick and gets him off again, and he throws out the condom, and they cuddle.

"Too bad we can't do that on air," Pete says, and Patrick laughs and kisses his nose.


Five years later

It's Monday evening, and instead of Patrick talking himself down in the makeup chair, it's Pete. Pete's nowhere near Patrick's level of nerves on his first day - moving from sports desk to co-anchor isn't that big a leap - but he'll never turn down a shoulder rub from Patrick, either.

"Ready to make the Wentz-Stump Hour official?" Patrick murmurs in his ear.

"Thought we already did." Pete pointedly grabs Patrick's left hand with his own and twists until both of their wedding rings are visible in the mirror. Patrick rolls his eyes, but he squeezes Pete's hand.

The door creaks open, and Pete's heart jumps into his throat.

"Still in the dressing room," Joe proclaims loudly as he struts inside, Andy and Brendon at his heels. "When we did our show this morning—"

"Our highly-rated show," Brendon adds with a cheeky grin. Getting weather desk has obviously gone to his head.

Pete doesn't let Joe finish. "Didn't you see the sign on the door? No morning assholes allowed."

They bicker until a hapless intern comes in to call Pete and Patrick to the studio. The others hug them and adjourn to wherever they're going to watch.

Pete turns to Patrick and kisses him on the cheek.

"Ready," Pete says.