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Sharing, Making Choices, and Other Things You Learn In Kindergarten

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Daniel being murdered has a threefold affect on Pete’s life. Well, it does more than that, really. Pete’s never had someone his age die, there were no drunken accidents or suicides during high school, no badly concocted drugs ingested by someone that went to the same bars he did. Hell, even in his family only one of four of his grandparents is dead. Knowing someone cut from life so soon, way too fucking soon-. It makes him want to rage against the world. But feeling too sick to eat the finger foods at a funeral, sweaty and uncomfortable in a suit against a hard pew, focusing on how his dress shoes hurt his feet so he doesn’t really see the coffin that’s being sunk into the ground, those are all universal death feelings. Or at the very least, North American death feelings. He’s heard in Romania they have ritual wailing. Pete wouldn’t mind getting in on that, just fucking screaming until his lungs gave out. There are, however, things that result from Daniel’s death that affect only him.

The first is it essentially breaks up Arma Angelus. It’s not so much that the lack of Daniel shredding fucks them over. Jay and Adam play guitar too, if they’d felt bad filling Daniel’s spot they could have just stayed with two guitarists instead of three. What shatters everything is the argument that comes in the hospital. Daniel got beaten into a coma by the Friends of Humanity after being caught starting to fly to the hotel from their gig, feet at the maximum distance from the ground he could manage -about six inches. The other five members of Arma had gone directly to the hospital upon finding his broken and bloodied body, not knowing the reason for the attack, thinking it was just some bullshit with a hater of the band. It’s Chris that finds the FOH website homepage has a downloadable MP4 of Daniel’s attack. When Joe asks why the fuck he’s got the website in his bookmarks it comes out. Chris and Jay are both members of the Friends of Humanity, proud of the protesting they do outside government buildings. Pete knows in that moment that the band is done. He’ll never work with someone that bigoted, and neither will Adam, and Joe would probably refuse to be roadie for them.

The second is that it outs Pete. He’s not sure why the fuck Chris and Jay even bother to stay in the room once they find out that Daniel is a mutant. The only thing he can figure is that Adam has both the van key and the single room key, and he doesn’t seem interested in giving up either. Pete can’t even think of going back to their hotel now, not in the least because he can’t imagine doing three to a bed with such bigoted assholes. It’ll take Daniel’s parents almost a day to get to New York, he can’t leave the guitarist until his family comes. So with the assholes stranded and Pete and Adam needing to stay it leaves the room thick with tension. And then the wavy green line goes straight, and the room fills with a blaring beep. A few nurses rush into the room, doing shit while waving Arma away from the bed to give themselves more room, and it just doesn’t help. Daniel’s dead, and when Timothy starts to cry Chris talks right over him, saying the mutie fucker got what he deserved.

Pete does it before he can think of all the reasons not to. He raises his hand and one of his firebugs pops out, shooting across the hall until it comes to rest at Chris’ neck. He doesn’t have to say that he’ll burn Chris’s throat right out for disrespecting the dead, the fucker knows. He stammers out an apology, singeing the whiskers on his chin in the process. Then Joe’s tugging on Pete’s arm, reminding him that hospital security won’t be happy about the risk he poses. It’s bullshit, Pete’s been drunk or pissed off or otherwise fucked up and he’s never lost control of his bugs. Pete follows Joe out anyway. Adam will let him know when the funeral is being held.

The third way Daniel’s death affects Pete is that he and Joe become a lot more active in mutant politics. As it turns out Joe’s got a power too; slight precognition. It’s only about five minutes, but it’s enough to not bump into the fucker in the mosh pit that wants to make a thing of it, or not run the red light that gets him pulled over by the cops. With Arma Angelus over and both of them out of jobs, there’s really nothing better to do than to protest the Friends fuckers. Pete outs himself to his parents before they see him on the news, knowing it’s just a matter of time. They take it much better than the Trohmans, who instruct Joe to find somewhere else to live.

Eventually they’re active enough that a man with spring grass yellowish-green skin tracks them to the Wentz house. Toad shows them what he can do with his tongue, and Joe starts grinning. A few minutes later the stranger asks them if they want to join the Brotherhood, and Pete can understand why Joe’s so damned happy. The Brotherhood is the fucking elite of mutants, those strong enough in both ability and willpower to take on the fucking assholes of the world. Pete doesn’t consider saying no for a second.

Once they get settled in one of Magneto’s safe houses, they get their assignments. Joe is sent out as a recruiter. It’s easy to make arguments to convince people to join up when you can imagine every future and parrot the words that result in what you want. Pete’s role is more needed to get rid of enemies. A single firebug squirming it’s way into a gas tank can do the Brotherhood a world of good. More importantly, if one more Friend of Humanity fucker dies, that’s one less available to savagely beat mutants for sport.

When Joe comes back saying he wasn’t able to convince that day’s target to join up, everyone is shocked. By everyone, Pete mostly means himself. Mystique and Magneto wouldn’t show shock if a meteor started to plummet to Earth, merely figure out if it had enough nickel or iron to stop it in it’s tracks. Toad would be surprised, if he was alive, unfortunately one of those traitors to mutants electrocuted him. It’s quite possible Sabretooth is capable of shock, but you’d never see it on his face.

Magneto doesn’t seem inclined to take no for an answer. He sends Joe back to see the man, this time with Pete to help with encouragement. Pete’s not sure it’s a line he wants to cross. He’s never been requested to go after another mutant, it goes against the reason he signed up for this in the first place. But he can see why Magneto wants Patrick Stump, besides merely wanting all mutants to realise and use their power. Patrick’s ability fucking reeks with potential. He can see what people want. Not full telepathy, but if he asks a direct question he can sense the person’s honest answer even if they don’t state it. It would make people easy as hell to manipulate.

Even with Pete there, juggling a few bugs of fire while Joe talks resignedly about why the Brotherhood is the best possible choice, Patrick doesn’t seem interested. With Joe’s attitude Pete knows it’s not going to happen. He doesn’t even consider floating a bug over to Patrick’s hair to make a point. Fuck Magneto, he’s not in this to hurt mutants. It’s not like Patrick’s going to line himself with the fucking idiot Xmen either. He just doesn’t want to be in the Brotherhood.

Thirty hours. Pete waits a whole thirty hours before making his way back to Patrick’s apartment to knock until the door opens. Patrick doesn’t even open it the few inches with the door chain to check, just pulls the door all the way open and lets Pete come in. He doesn’t ask Pete why he’s there at three in the morning, doesn’t even tell him he’s still not interested in mutant rights. What he does do is ask if Pete wants something to eat.

Patrick comes back from the kitchen a few minutes later with toast, brown sugar soaking into the melted butter. Normally Pete tries not to eat butter, just because one of their new recruits is a vegan with an acute enough sense of smell that he can tell what Pete’s put on a lunch roll. But screw the long haired bastard, he’s not not having brown sugar toast. It gets even better when Patrick tosses a fleece blanket at him. It’s garishly lime green, and it’s pilled from years of use, but it’s soft and warm, and when Pete turns semi-sideways on the couch so he can wriggle his toes under Patrick’s thigh the near-stranger doesn’t punch him for it.

The word date is never mentioned. Not a single use of it. That doesn’t change the fact that they spend most nights Patrick’s not working late or Pete doesn’t have an assignment watching shitty movies on TBS. Eventually they start fooling around. It’s probably not technically a good idea. Magneto has made his ‘you’re with us or against us’ stance clear, he’d be furious if he found out Pete was fucking a neutral party. Not that they fuck, it’s mostly blowjobs, but that clarification probably wouldn’t help. Still, Pete’s not about to stop. He’ll give up the Brotherhood and most likely get assassinated by Joe or Andy before he leaves Patrick. Patrick is pretty much the most awesome dude Pete’s ever met, and sometimes Magneto can be a tool, even if he is brilliant and powerful.

Pete’s heard the concept that sex is best with laughter and honesty. He’s never really tried that before though. Every hook up was a random one night stand, names infrequently exchanged and even less often remembered. Between the slightly accented strangers and the occasional Arma groupie Pete’s never really had a chance to get into soul baring confessions. Shit, three quarters of encounters have been somewhere semi-public, sex leaning against a cold rough surface. It’s not like Arma had anything more than a van with shoddily duct taped ripped seats. The van was never available anyway, always full of impatient band mates waiting inside for Pete to finish up with another bleached up drugged out guy. Unless it’s scrawled on the wall in black sharpie, bathroom stalls are not the places for truths.

With Patrick it’s different. For one thing, they almost always have sex in a bed. For another, Pete finds himself trusting Patrick without the redhead ever having to earn it bit by bit the way everyone else in his life has. Sometimes he thinks he should be honest about what else he wants to do to Patrick, have Patrick do to him. Then he figures the time is better spent grinding his lower half against Patrick’s while his sweat drips onto the glasses that Patrick doesn’t even take off during sex. He thinks he should try to laugh, then figures it might feel weird to Patrick, considering his mouth is around his cock. The last thing he wants to do is put Patrick off a blowjob.

Then comes the night that ruins fucking everything. Pete’s had nights like that before, Timothy breaking his last spare drumstick so they can’t finish their set, or the last time he blew off a class before getting sent to a three week military camp instead of getting Christmas break. He’s never had one that hurts so much though.

He’s making out with Patrick. Patrick keeps turning his head and reaching out to the nightstand to grab his glass. It’s full of raspberry Sourpuss, and Patrick’s just sipping it, not enough to get him all that drunk but enough to coat his mouth in tangy goodness. Pete thinks he’s getting more trashed licking it out of Patrick’s mouth than Patrick is swallowing the minute amounts. They’re grinding their hips a bit, but there’s no urgency, their jeans aren’t even off yet. And then Patrick pulls away from Pete and doesn’t go for his glass. Instead he asks “do you want to top or bottom?”

Pete fucking bolts from the bedroom. It’s probably not quick enough to not be read by Patrick, but damned if he’s sticking around to see his face. His wallet is on the kitchen table and he doesn’t even consider wasting the time to get it. Patrick can keep the twenty bucks in it, and it’s not like any of his credit cards or IDs are real anymore. His hand is shaking and he can’t get the chain lock open and he needs to get the fuck out and before he knows what he’s doing a bug is crawling out of his hand and melting the metal to a sizzling puddle on the floor. He slams it behind him and takes the stairs rather than wait for an elevator.

At least he knows he’s safe once he gets back to current headquarters. They’re all fugitives, there are hiding spots all over the country for them to relax before doing making the next move on the infinite chess board Magneto has. Just because Pete’s never left the New York headquarters doesn’t mean he won’t ever. Now sounds like a good time, for example. He just has to convince Magneto his ability is needed back home in Chicago, or in Toronto or Los Angeles. Surely there must be bigots he can bring a rain of fire down upon in other cities.

What he hadn’t banked on what Magneto’s nostalgia. Saying there have been rumours is an exaggeration. Everyone is too scared of the boss shooting a coin through their throat to suggest anything, aside from Mystique who simply has too much respect for him to suggest something. But there are hints of a past between Magneto and the the leader of the school of traitors. Seemingly with the bitterness of lost love comes some sort of determinism that it won’t happen to others. There’s a spate of phone calls Pete doesn’t answer before he finally tosses his phone, sick of seeing Patrick in his missed calls folder. And then, god only knows how he does it, Patrick gets in contact with Magneto, and the old interfering bastard passes his phone to Pete, gesturing firmly. Pete listens to Patrick say hello three times, a pause between each, before he hangs up.

Unfortunately he somehow becomes Magneto’s next fucking cause. To hell with ridding the world of bigoted flatscans or forcing equality into law, Magneto would rather Pete go back to Patrick’s apartment and fix shit. It’s some combination of, as Andy so nicely puts it ‘being tired of your fucking angst bullshit’, and the other mutants revering Magneto, that have them following his lead trying to give Pete relationship advice. Sabretooth gets as far as putting him over his shoulder and trying to carry him to Patrick’s apartment, only stopping when Pete singes hair and threatens to light him like a candle.

By far the worst of the interventions is Mystique being a fucking bitch and wearing Patrick’s skin. She keeps switching from her default blue to short with the cutest muttonchops in the world, and Pete fucking hates it. He doesn’t know what her theory is; that he’ll crack and need to see the real thing if he sees the fake often enough, or maybe he’s supposed to hit on her and sex with not-Patrick will set him into tracking down actual-Patrick. Whatever it is, it hurts to see the shadow of his ex out of the corner of his eye.

Aside from the fact that no one really argues with Magneto needing you at any time he might, when the door of the bedroom a Brotherhood member is staying in is closed, you’re supposed to leave them alone, including not using powers like ghosting through doors, seeing through them, or listening in on what’s happening inside. It’s just manners. Of course that doesn’t stop Mystique, who opens the door and stands under the frame. She’s wearing Patrick again, and all Pete wants to do is pull the covers over his face until she goes away. As that will only make his objections seem weaker, he goes for bluster instead. “Joe might like that shit when he wants to get laid, but I’m not Joe. And I don’t want to fuck either. Fucking stop it and go away. I don’t want a copy of him.”

“Will you settle for the real deal?” she asks, and Pete’s played the shapeshifter-pretends-to-be-real game a dozen times over the years. He’s not doing it when it’s Patrick’s personality she’s trying to rape.

“Fucking fuck off or I’ll set you on fire.” He knows she can still get hurt. She has the scars from Wolverine stabbing her in the gut. In the months of being with Patrick he’s still not crossed the line of hurting another mutant, but Mystique might have to be his first if she won’t go the hell away.

“What was the best sexual encounter you ever had with Patrick?” One more word from her and he’s going to fucking lose it. And if Magneto kills him with his ball chain necklace well then so be it. The momentary happiness he gets from remembering making out with Patrick while they were failing at making cookies and eating more dough than they rolled onto the pan is steamrolled by knowing he’ll never have that again.

“Yeah, I liked that too. Your teeth tasted like mint chocolate chip. I didn’t even like mint, but in your mouth it tasted good. Now I can’t chew gum without thinking of you.”

Pete stares at him. There’s no possible way Mystique could know that. He never told Joe any details of his and Patrick’s relationship, and Magneto currently doesn’t have any telepaths.

“You are such a fucking idiot. I’m twenty three years old and I’ve never met a bigger idiot than you. I work in the recording industry, Pete, I deal with people that have smoked pot since they were twelve years old. You ever had a football player who’s agent thinks it’ll be good for them to make a CD? You fucking top everything.” Pete knows the word’s out of context but he can’t help but flinch at it. “I want to fucking punch you in the face right now. You couldn’t have just SAID you don’t want to fuck, that the combination of dick and ass freaks you out? You had to melt my fucking door and hide like a pussy?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard to have a gay relationship if no one wants to fuck, isn’t it!” Pete doesn’t even care that the door is open and whoever’s home is going to hear him. If he doesn’t call Patrick on this shit now, they’ll just both be miserable later.

Patrick shouts back “if I can deal with my boyfriend being a mutant terrorist I think I can deal with him not wanting cocks in asses!”

Pete deflates a little at the combination of words. He’s never been called a terrorist before. At least not by someone who matters, news broadcasts and Xmen and that blue spokesman don’t count. But he also called him his boyfriend. Like date, it’s another word that hasn’t been used between them. And Patrick said he could deal with the descriptors, and Pete’s heard I’ll deal with you later a thousand times, and Patrick didn’t sound like that.

“Are you done being a goddamn idiot? Can we be boyfriends now?”

Pete’s not even going to get mad at the questions and lack of mental privacy because the answer his brain settles on makes him smile and Patrick is smiling too. Then he’s kissing him, hands firmly curled around his ass. His jeans are almost damp from sweat, lying under the blankets all day fully clothed is one of the best ways Pete’s found to relate his misery, but he can still feel the warmth of Patrick’s palms.

The first week Andy moved into Magneto’s main compound, Pete found him washing the entire room down. It was his own mixture of solvents, a combination that doesn’t make him feel worse, like Pine Sol does. When Pete pressed enough he found out the room smelled like sex. No matter how much cajoling Pete’s done to try to get more details, Andy’s never revealed if he can smell arousal or just the ejaculate after. He thinks tonight is a great opportunity to test this, to see if Andy shouts them while they’re grinding against each other, or if he waits to bitch about ‘no sex in the compound’ until after they come.

For a while after the renewal of their relationship not much changes. Then Magneto and Mystique go off on a journey that they won’t explain, and nobody presses hard in asking. While they’re gone there’s some sort of mental attack on mutants. After Pete can get up from squirming in agony on the floor he calls Patrick. It happened to him too. Joe and Andy call Brotherhood members in other states, the agony had hit each one of them.

Later that day Magneto and Mystique are home. They have a kid with them, probably no older than seventeen. It shouldn’t make Pete feel so old, he’s only twenty six, but it does. It doesn’t help that his power is sort of the opposite of Pete’s. He can’t create fire, but given a lighter he can do big things with it. Magneto requests Pete mentor him in the finer details of fire sculpting. The first time John tells him it looks like his hands are shitting fire, Pete uses one of his perfectly spherical bugs to melt John’s lighter. It seems his fire is hotter than John’s.

The mentoring goes beyond power crafting, not that Pete lets Magneto know it. John’s got a boyfriend out of the Brotherhood too. His choice is even worse than Pete’s. Rather than being a firmly planted neutral mutant like Patrick, John’s is actively a traitor. Pyro’s boyfriend is a fucking X-Man. More than once Pete considers killing him, he’s followed behind John enough times to be able to recognise the guy. He doesn’t like stealth, but he can do it, and he’s sure John doesn’t know that Pete knows he’s hooking up, let alone think that Pete could take him out. He doesn’t though. He just looks the other way, and makes sure to quickly start a fire every time John walks in so Andy doesn’t smell anything on him before he has a chance to shower. Better he be yelled at for making everything smell like ashes than the stupid kid get found out.

After that things start to ramp up. It’s a few months after John joining them that the fucking son of a bitch flatscan scientists reveal they have a ‘cure’ for being a mutant. At first Pete thinks it’s a joke. What kind of asshole would go to be cured of their power? It would be as ridiculous and moronic as trying to cure yourself of red hair or black skin. What he forgets is that every general store has an entire wall of hair dye, and there are the Michael Jacksons of the world.

Magneto demands they step it up. Joe is gone for days at a time recruiting every possible person now, not just the elite. Pete and John work together to burn down every mutant death camp they see. That’s what the vaccine centres are, really. Decent human beings brainwashed into thinking there’s something wrong with them, then given an address of a place where they can commit assisted suicide. Pete really doesn’t see much difference between a gas chamber and their needle, and doesn’t have a problem burning them down to cinders, nurses inside or not. His line in the sand was drawn years ago, and Magneto’s right. You’re with them or against them.

In the end it comes down to a battle. It’s not surprising, in life the big things always change with final showdowns. At least they do in Pete’s, and he doesn’t know how to live any other way.

Magneto moving the bridge is a beautiful thing, a spit in the face to hundreds of years of humanity. The army of mutants start running towards the converted lab and Pete pulls the sleeves of his hoodie up to his elbow. No sense in ruining the article when he gets his bugs flowing. There’s a hand on his back and Pete runs faster, understanding the urge of the person behind him. This is like the most beautiful pit he’s ever been in, a pit with reason behind it more than because we can. This mass of people is saying fuck you with every step forward, and Pete bellows into the air with the feel of it all.

The hand on his back grabs his shoulder and Pete whirls around to tell the guy to piss off. The words die on his lips as he sees him. It’s Patrick. “Why the fuck are you here?”

“Because I knew you would be. One of the guys I’m producing can teleport.”

“You don’t do anything offensive.” Patrick can’t fight, not beyond knuckles to someone’s face. That’s not safe for the first wave. Maybe after they have almost all of them beaten, but not now.

“I do you,” he replies with an wiggle of eyebrows.

“There is a time and place for sexual puns!” Before now Pete would have said every time but Jesus Christ. “Find the guy and go back home.”

“Come with me.”

“You’re fucking kidding. I’ve spent the last week blowing up vaccination sites. This is where they make that shit. If we knock it down, take down everyone that knows how to attempt this, shit, even just scare them into never doing it again-” he doesn’t think that’s likely but Patrick probably doesn’t realize that kill everyone is sometimes a justifiable order “we win. They won’t be able to rape us of what makes us people!”

“Pete, they have plastic guns. Magneto can’t stop them. You don’t have to stop fighting but don’t fight today.”

In the distance he can see Pyro and his boyfriend. They’re fighting, doing their best to take each other out. Pete doesn’t want that for John, but he can’t have it for himself. Plastic guns melt, he doesn’t have to stop. Hell, his power is probably more useful to the Brotherhood now that Magneto can’t neutralize the weapons. If he stays though, he knows that what he has with Patrick is over. He’s walked a careful line of terrorist and boyfriend, and refusing to leave with Patrick so he can burn the military to ash is a clear choosing of the former. Pyro’s obviously chosen terrorism, the car sized ball of fire streaming at Iceman proves it. Pete understands the choice, and hopes he wins over the ice covered bastard, hopes John lights up the entire island. But it isn’t his choice.

“Fine. Show me where this guy is.”

“He’s at home already. He’s a pacifist. I’ll call him.”

Moments later a black man covered in tattoos and piercings pops into place beside them, a red haze quickly dissipating. “Home, Jeeves?”

“Yeah, Trav. Thanks.”

Pete’s never heard about ‘Trav’ before amongst Patrick’s anecdotes about work, but it doesn’t really matter. Stranger or not, you let a mutant do their thing when they’re working their power. If Trav feels the need to hug him close with one hand, the other squirmed into Pete’s hair so he can pop them away, that’s his style. It’s not like he has anything to complain about, a moment later he’s in Patrick’s living room. From inches away the burgundy smoke smells a bit like raspberries. Trav untangles his hand and leaves, seconds later back with Patrick.

“Thanks man.”

“Yeah, it’s cool. See you tomorrow.”

The normal routine of Patrick’s couch includes a little snacking, LoudVideoFlow on the tv in the background, and a lot of making out. Today isn’t normal. Today is a war on the other side of the country, and Pete can’t do anything but put on CNN. He wants to watch it on mute, the assholes keep asking what could drive a mutant to such lengths -like brainwashing and assimilation isn’t reason enough- but he can’t. They’re also keeping an updated list of mutants being taken out, and Pete has to listen. He doesn’t want to hear anyone he knows, if Flash Forward is called out the Trohmans might not care but he’ll have to call home and tell his parents. He doesn’t even know who to contact if Andy goes down.

It’s a nightmare. It’s brutal, and maybe Patrick was right about him getting out with the casualties being so high. But in the end they win. Worthington Lab is rendered neutral, through a combination of Brotherhood and outsiders and even the fucking XMen. Joe phones him and tells him he and Andy are going to do their best to keep things rolling in the right direction, with Magneto cured someone needs to step to the plate. He doesn’t seem to expect Pete to come back to the compound though. He doesn’t even ask because he already knows there’s no scenario in which Pete would agree.

Pete hangs up and puts his phone on the coffee table. He curls into Patrick, settles in closer when Patrick blindly reaches behind him to pull down one of the pilled blankets draping off the back of the couch. Between the blanket and Patrick’s arm he thinks one day he might be able to stop shaking. He’s been shaking since they were dropped off. Between the relief and the adrenaline that had nowhere to go and the horror that Magneto of all people went down, Pete can’t stop jittering. He wants it to stop, he’s not sure it ever will. He’s only sure of one thing. He rests his head on Patrick’s shoulder, positive he made the right choice.