Patrick was looking, and looking hard, and he knew those eyes. He knew them well. He'd studied their hazeled humour many a night when he was at The Office sorting out lines and lines of a strange language, trying to convince machines to do as he asked. Those eyes were usually rimmed heavily with eyeliner, because the Office was pretty lenient: Do what you want, wear decent comfy clothes, just get those programmes onstream, online, doing fine.
So Pete wore his eyeliner, mostly black, but sometimes a chilly blue, and drove Patrick to distraction when he came back to the Office very, very late, to find Patrick frowning at machines and the machines frowning back, discontented and unresponsive. He would be wearing different clothes, the jeans and shirt tighter, maybe in a warlike clash of colour, the sleeves rucked up higher to reveal even more tattoos. He would pull up a seat right next to Patrick's, but that wouldn't matter after awhile, because he would end up practically sitting with half his ass on Patrick's seat, peering at the screen, then pointing at a line.
"There it is."
Patrick would finally take his eyes off the arching curve that Pete's neck made, and look at the mistake he had been blearily missing, hiding among all those commanding numbers. He would correct it, and probably even find one more, maybe two, because his programmes were usually damn-near perfect the first time over, and test it. Pete would test it too, maybe even try to break it, but this was Patrick's coding. Maybe someone better than Pete would break it, but no, not him.
Pete would smile at him, and then urge him to go home, and Patrick's throat would be stuck around the words come home with me, and Pete's eyeliner would crinkle at the corners as he got up and smiled and then make his way through the darkened office and out into the lit corridor.
And Patrick would spend quite a few minutes trying to kick his own ass, his mind in a confused mess. He would berate himself for not speaking up, for not saying anything, and then turn the self-argument around and ask, well, what the fuck a guy like Pete would want with someone like you? Pete was all these golden fluid lines and big white teeth and even bigger hazel eyes that he used to pin Patrick down in his seat, make him squirm and his chest clench, so no way, pasty pudgy little man in glasses. No way that he could want you. Leave it right there and keep your distance.
But Patrick was looking and Patrick knew those eyes. He knew them well, with the black eyeliner, but the lipstick was making him wonder if this was the right person.
"I read it somewhere," Pete said, running his hands through his hair and trying to catch Patrick's averted gaze. "I read it, in a book, how music and maths are so close. Related. Right?"
"Mmmhmm," Patrick replied, looking at Pete's face over his first lunch here, his second Monday at the Company, and Pete felt relief at finally getting those eyes trained on his own. However, the expression in them was closed, unreadable, an unusual experience for Pete, who was used to having eyes shimmering with open delight at him. He suddenly felt anxious, as if this new kid, this Patrick, was giving an important speech, something to do with the rest of Pete's life, and he couldn't hear; so he leaned forward over the small round table they chose in the corner of the cafeteria and tried to listen.
Patrick looked at him a little coolly and Pete felt even more distressed. He continued with his little talk, but he had forgotten what the point was, and how he was getting to it.
"Right. So, okay. How many notes are there in an octave?"
Patrick rolled his eyes and then grinned, his expression warming suddenly, and Pete felt his fingertips tremble against the tabletop.
"Eight. There are eight." Patrick spoke low, but he had a pleasant, even voice, and Pete thought that he really should talk more, because Pete had a thing for guys with nice voices. But this was his co-worker, younger than him, but so talented; the Company had fought tooth and nail to bring him in. The first day he had arrived, he was dressed in a suit, out of place among the jeans and casual shirts, even a pair of hideous tropical shorts flaunted by Joe, and Pete had smiled at him, entranced by his patient awkwardness and the way his brain flowed swiftly. Pete was also amazed by the amount of hats the man seemed to own.
"Eight, good. So what's the mathematical symbol for infinity?"
Patrick frowned, poking at his potatoes.
"A double loop."
"No!" Pete crowed, frightening Patrick badly. "An eight! On its side! Get it?"
Patrick stared at him and Pete folded both his lips in, feeling an odd sense of rebuke. Then Patrick laughed, openly and with an amazing delicious tone, and Pete smiled in a little awe at the sound. Patrick took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, chuckling.
"I don't have any idea what you're talking about," Patrick said, weak through his laughter, and Pete let out an amused and relieved huff of air, knowing that was okay, they were okay, they were going to be fantastic friends, and sometimes friends didn't have have to know what the hell was going on.
What the hell was going on, Patrick would like to know, as he stared at the girl sitting four seats over, but not really a girl, because he knew what this bar was that Ryan and Brendon had dragged him to, he recognised that there really weren't any girls here, not at all, just approximations, in varying degrees ranging from unsettlingly obvious to double-take realism.
He had been alone at the Office, waiting on the Friday night traffic to die down a little, and feeling smug over the comforting purr of the computer, doing what he asked of it. Ryan had pranced in, upsetting Patrick a little because it wasn't Pete.
"God, man," Ryan had mocked. "Don't you go anywhere? Let me untie you from this...hey...there's this club on the other side of town that Bren and I have been dying to go to. Come on. Come on...yeah, yeah, I know that's not your scene, Patrick, but could you just live a little?"
So here he was, exhausted after just watching them grind at the dancefloor and sipping his drink morosely. He had spun on his stool to order another from the bartender, and his eyes and someone else's had made four in the mirror behind the bar, and Patrick knew those eyes. But the lipstick and the wig and the black dress were distressing the fuck out of him, and he watched Pete tug nervously at the black sleeves and bend his head so that his hair (not his hair) fell over his face. Pete? Oh, Pete.
Pete was decked in a surprisingly tasteful in a little black number, with a low ruffled neck, and sheer sleeves. The skirt was short, and Pete had on dark stockings and black heels, and that wig was straight and cut blunt at his shoulders, very classy. It was parted to one side, so that a mass of it fell over the right side of his face, almost over his eye. Patrick would have thought that a person like Pete would have chosen tabasco-sauce-red lipstick, but there was a dark chocolate on his mouth. Pete flicked his head back suddenly, as if in defiance, and Patrick watched as he stood up off the stool, and came to sit down beside his friend, the friend that you would think could have been told something like this after four (no it was almost five) years.
"Are you alone here?" Pete had murmured, abrupt. Patrick inhaled swiftly, and then turned, looking at the dancefloor. Pete followed his gaze and nodded. They looked back at each other and then Pete looked away and wriggled his fingers at the bartender. He had on black nail polish and Patrick had always seen it on his fingers and thought nothing of it, but now...now, he didn''t know what to think.
"You work here?" Patrick's voice was coarse as Pete got his drink and sipped at it. Pete started to shake his head, and then stopped.
"The fuck do you mean, not really?" Patrick snapped, suddenly feeling irate. "So you're just...amusing yourself?" Patrick couldn't figure out why he was feeling upset. Pete looked good, sure, but it was Pete in this fucking dress...that's not the way...that's not-
"Sexually amused," Pete replied with cold humour, cutting into Patrick's muddled thoughts. "I guess I like to get guys all worked up like this."
Patrick was staring at him, and Pete tilted back his head, looking back out of the corner of his eye, the lashes overly long and slightly clumpy.
"Fine." Patrick put down some money on the bar, and got up. "Fine, I won't tell anybody, then."
"I don't give a fuck if you tell anyone or not," Pete retorted sharply, and Patrick was taken aback. Pete never spoke to him like that...'til now. He suddenly had the distinct impression that he was treading in a territory that Pete had never expected him to be before, that Pete had kept his life successfully compartamentalised; and maybe this suddent leaching of one world into another was scaring Pete. He looked around, and saw few men looking slyly in their direction, hopeful eagerness in their eyes, and when he grabbed onto Pete's hand and dragged him to the exit, Pete staggering gracefully behind him, he could almost feel them encircling them, watching how Pete swayed, he could feel the heat of their want pressing to them and this was pissing Patrick off to no end.
"No. The syntax here is wrong," Patrick pointed out his own error, and typed furiously to correct it. Beside him, Pete let out a little breathy laugh. It was one of those nights, when Pete went out and came back, now smelling a little like smoke and odd colognes, sitting close beside Patrick and helping him out, albeit a little. Patrick turned and looked at him leaning back in his own seat, face soft and open in the singular circle of light from Patrick's desk-lamp, and Patrick started to blurt.
"You have-" such a great smile, was what Patrick meant to say but he was now looking at Pete's teeth, really looking for the first time that night.
"What?" Pete said, and then pressed his thumb into his mouth. "Is there something in my teeth?"
"No," Patrick said, low. "Well...yeah, there's something on them. Lipstick."
Pete looked away, now rubbing his teeth with the pad of his thumb. Patrick went back to his computer-screen.
"That shade?" Patrick's said, his voice now almost inaudible over his typing, slightly choked. "Not really for your tone."
Pete didn't answer.
"You already have a good job," Patrick was explaining to Pete as he shoved Pete into his own apartment. "Why this?"
"Everyone has needs," Pete replied dully, sitting on the sofa and crossing his legs primly, turning away a little from Patrick. "Our job is nothing daring. You know that."
"Why would you even need daring?" Patrick sat beside him. Maybe if he sat close, he would absorb some of what Pete was thinking, so he would be able to understand. Pete rubbed his stockinged thighs, and did not respond. Patrick took his palm and pressed it against Pete's shoulder, nearest to himself, so that Pete had to lean into the sofa and look back into Patrick's face. Patrick opened his mouth to ask again, because he thought Pete was pretty daring enough as it was, when Pete leaned forward and pressed their mouths together.
The lipstick Pete was wearing was rubbing against his mouth as Pete moved his lips experimentally against Patrick's, and Patrick was sidetracked by this alone. He pulled back, frowning in confusion, and before Pete could move forward and kiss him again, Patrick held onto his upper arms, shaking his head slowly. The corners of Pete's mouth turned down, lips pinched into whiteness and before Patrick could make himself clear, he got up out of the sofa and went out, slamming the door.
Patrick wiped the lipstick off his mouth with the back of his hand.*
The chilly attitude between them was obvious to everyone in the Office. Pete didn't come by at all in the nights and Patrick didn't sit with him at lunch. They spoke in clipped turns, a far cry from the hyena-inspired laughter that used to make Andy throw crumpled paper over the short walls at Patrick's desk, telling them to shut the fuck up. People asked Patrick what was wrong, and he gave the same answer Pete was spouting. Nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing at all continued for nearly three weeks.
Patrick was in the server-room when the security lock buzzed green, and Pete stepped in, pocketing his ID card. Pete's face was sullen, and Patrick stared at him, just as mulish, taking in the closed expression in Pete's eyes.
"I just wanted to tell you. Got another job offer. Not a bad deal...so...I'll be leaving. Soon."
He spoke more to the wall beside the seat Patrick was in and didn't notice his friend's face hardening before Patrick spoke up.
"Just tell me you're going to do the club thing full-time," Patrick said nastily. "You don't have to lie."
Pete glared at him.
"It's not a fucking lie." He shook his head in amazement at the jumping that Patrick was doing to conclusions. Such good leaper, he was. "I thought we were friends. You're like, my best friend. I didn't know you were such a fucking prude."
Patrick sniffed, rolling his glasses up on his face by wriggling his nose.
"You can fuck around if you like," he replied haughtily, feeling his heart clench around those words, trying to hold them in and not suceeding. He was actually sneering through that feeling in his chest, that tight sensation of loss. "Challenging fantasies, and all. Writing your number on matchbooks. The fuck do I care?"
Pete started to shout, and Patrick stood up, facing his wrath with his own hard eyes.
"What the fuck? How long have you known me? I don't fuck around."
"You whore around, then. Dressed like a woman."
"You asshole. You...fucking ass." Pete was hissing at him, right in his face, his breath warm and contrasting against the cool air circulating in the server-room. Patrick didn't back off. "I don't even take the money. I get paid...in...in attention."
Patrick suddenly shoved at his chest, feeling helpless and disregarded.
"I prefer you this way," he snapped as Pete took a large unsteady step back."This. Way. I would pay you all the fucking attention you need."
Ignoring Pete's suddenly wide eyes, Patrick dragged out his ID card out of his jacket-pocket (so fucking cold in here), and strode to the door as fast as he could. He slapped it against the reader, and shoved the door open, and left Pete gaping at his back.
"Come home with me," Patrick said, not looking anywhere in Pete's face as Pete stared at him in amazement. It had been nearly a week since Pete had left the company, and this was his first Friday night in the club since that embarrassing time at Patrick's apartment. He hadn't even thought to come back since then. But tonight he had put on the black dress again, and sauntered into the bar, feeling a strangely exhausted of fulfilling all those needs, when he only wanted to fulfill the needs of one; but as far as he knew, that one wasn't too big on him.
But while he was sailing around, he had spotted Patrick, standing near the bar and watching him carefully, as if he had been waiting for Pete, and Pete could...he started to hope.
So he nodded when Patrick asked him to come home with him.
They were silent on the ride home, in Patrick's little car, and they were silent when they went up to his apartment, not yelling and flailing like the last time, and Pete was thinking to himself I won't kiss him, oh god, I won't kiss him first.
"Take off those," Patrick said quietly, as they went into his room, and Pete was bemused. And then taken aback as Patrick rummaged through his chest-of-drawers and pulled out a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. "And put these on. Take off the wig and the makeup. Everything."
He shoved the items of clothing into Pete's stiff arms, and took him by the elbow and pushed him into the bathroom. Patrick backed out, and then closed the door softly, his eyes lidded and dark.
Pete blinked slowly at the white surface of the door, and then started to strip. He washed his face before he put on Patrick's shirt, so he wouldn't get the material wet. He thought too much about the skin that had been touching this material before him and sighed, more breath than sound, while he folded up his dress. He left his clothes on top of the wicker clothes-hamper, his wig wrapped in the tight black bundle, his shoes under the sink.
When he went out, Patrick was perched on the edge of his bed, absently watching the Andy Griffith show on the tv that faced him. He made a motion to Pete to indicate that he should just sit on the bed, and he went into the bathroom that Pete just vacated. As Pete lay against the bedhead and listened to the sink run, he focused on the tv, but heard it not at all, and so could feel every vibration Patrick made in displacing the molecules in the air, from when he opened back the door dressed similarly as Pete, to when he moved to the other side of the bed and then sat down on the bed, settling in as carefully as if Pete was a glass pitcher full of red liquid, trembling and ready to spill.
They sat there, laying back against the pillows and watching as Andy Griffith gave way to the Honeymooners, and then Patrick's voice floated into the air, brushing against Pete's skin and causing it to ripple.
"This is how you get me worked up, okay? I can't-I don't know how-" He paused, and Pete held his breath as Patrick laboured with his own a little, and Pete just looked at him as Patrick stared at the television. Patrick inhaled steadyingly. "This is how you're so sexual to me. You get me...there is no other way I want you to be. Just you. This is how I want you."
Pete was considering the words I want you, and he found himself climbing over Patrick and sitting in his lap and kissing him, tasting him and finally getting his hands on the skin of Patrick's neck, where he had been looking at forever and had been aching to touch. Patrick was making these low moaning sounds, driving Pete's arousal more, and Pete removed his glasses quickly and stretched to put them on the side-table.
"It's. Been. Awhile for me, Pete," Patrick whispered through Pete's hungry claims on his mouth and Pete grinned, pulling back a little.
"Well. It's been awhile for me like this, so... I guess we're good. Right?" Pete pulled off his shirt and worked at Patrick's. Patrick reluctantly allowed him to, and Pete sighed in delight, running his hands over Patrick's solid torso. He bent down and took one of Patrick's nipples in his mouth, feeling it point behind his teeth. He looked up to see Patrick gasping through his parted, reddened mouth, and Pete just couldn't decide where to put his hands and mouth.
So he put them everywhere.
Even though it had been awhile for Patrick, he had an idea of what he himself liked, so he tried them all out on Pete. Apparently, he and Pete had matching hotspots, because it did not take very long to have Pete quivering beneath him. It was a fine time searching for the lube, and he found it where he last put it after his last lone session, the last place he now thought to look: in the bottom drawer of the side-table. The search was severely hampered by Pete draped all over him, as they stumbled nakedly about the room. And he couldn't see much with Pete refusing to stop kissing him.
But now, finally, he was in Pete, and they were moving slowly against each other. Pete was talking low.
"I was leaving. I was leaving because of you. I couldn't stand you not talking to me," Pete admitted, bending like a bow up into Patrick, trembling. "I couldn't stand it."
"Just, you don't have to be that way," Patrick strangled out as Pete's breathing got more frenetic. "I love you this way," he moaned into Pete's ear, feeling Pete's hands and thighs grip at his back, their skin frictioning, slick and delectable to the tongue. Pete shuddered and pitched, coming almost wildly, and this set Patrick off, emptying deep inside him, and he heard Pete muttering brokenly.
"Fine. That's good. I love you loving me this way."
Pete made no comment about not finding his clothes, shoes and wig the next morning. He simply asked Patrick for a pair of jeans so he could go get his toothbrush and come back.