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1. "You were not alone, dear loneliness. You forgot, but I remember this."

From the 02-12-2010 episode of The Hour, filmed live on location at the Faster lounge in Whistler, BC, Canada, during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOUS: So, Pete is DJing right now--
PATRICK STUMP: If Bon Jovi is playing, Pete's responsible for it.
GS: [laughs] Right on, right on. You're a pretty talented producer--
PS: Thank you; that's kind of you to say.
GS: My mama always told me to tell the truth. So it seems to me that producing and spinning have similar skillsets, for lack of a better word--do you think you'll ever take a turn behind the tables, as they say?
PS: [laughs] Yeah, no.
GS: Why not?
PS: Well, I--to be honest, my stupid spontaneous shit doesn't work out so well most of the time. I'm kind of a perfectionist, know what I'm saying? I like my mistakes to happen in private, you know, where I can delete things and nobody knows it ever happened. Except my band. And they know better than to tell anybody. Pete, though, okay, his stupid spontaneous shit almost always works out, and I think that's lucky for all of us. [laughs]

They're staying in a four-bedroom condo in the same expansive, expensive development as the club, right at the base of Whistler Mountain, ten minutes from the chairlift. None of them ski or snowboard, though Pete, Andy, and Joe do enjoy sledding. Patrick has always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with gravity, okay--anyway, the club is a five-minute walk from the condo, so Patrick is not surprised to run into Pete in the lobby on his way to bed.

Pete leans his head on Patrick's shoulder when they get in the elevator, and Patrick silently pushes the button for their floor. He thinks about telling Pete the delicate, polite way George tried to ask about Ashlee, considers making a joke of it, but he knows Pete will see the interview--tonight; tomorrow; soon. It's not worth the conversation, not when Pete's got both hands around one of Patrick's, holding on tight while Patrick unlocks the door.

Andy's bedroom door is closed. Joe's is open, framing him lounging on the queen-sized bed in his pajamas, doing something on his laptop.

Pete slouches past into the living room, but Patrick leans on the doorframe and says, "Hey."

"Yo, come here," Joe says, and Patrick goes, peering at the laptop screen from the bedside. The universe laughs in the face of Patrick's vague expectation of bad pornography--overexposed photographs line up across the screen, all of a little dark-haired girl in a green sweater and tiny jeans.

"Marie's just trying to make me feel guilty," Joe says, affectionately, and pokes a photo of his daughter in the nose.

Patrick smiles and ignores the familiar jealous itch on the back of his neck. Joe hadn't even wanted kids yet, and look what he got. "You could've brought them," Patrick says.

Joe shrugs and opens a blank e-mail. He attaches a few pictures and says, "I just took her around the world before she even turned one, Patrick. I thought she maybe might need a break. A wee baby break." He types Patrick's e-mail address in the "to" field.

"Thanks, man," Patrick says.

"I want everybody in the world to see how gorgeous she is," Joe says. "So your house has to be filled with pictures of her when Cribs comes over."

"I'm not doing Cribs," Patrick says.

Joe shakes his head and sends the e-mail. "That's what I said. Two babies and a duck in my kitchen sink, dude."

Patrick chuckles. "I'm going to get a snack and go to bed, you want anything?"

"Nah," Joe says. "Say goodnight to Pete for me."

"Sure," Patrick says. He closes the door on his way out.

He takes water and Cheez Whiz and crackers out of the fridge and sits on the couch with Pete. Pete is sprawled, his head laid on the back of the couch, his eyes closed, his shoes already kicked off--one of them is under the coffee table, the other is in the giant slate fireplace.

Patrick eats Cheez Whiz and crackers for a while, and then Pete says, "How was the interview?"

"Oh, good." Patrick licks some stray Cheez Whiz from his thumb. "You know. George is a good guy." He shrugs.

"He's your boyfriend," Pete says, with a little smile, and Patrick laughs.

He says, "That's the line, yeah." He spreads some Cheez Whiz on a cracker and holds it out for Pete. Pete's hand shakes the tiniest bit as he takes it and Patrick blinks so he can pretend he didn't see. As Pete chews and swallows, Patrick says, "Joe says goodnight."

"What's so good about it?" Pete asks, tiredly, and drinks some of Patrick's water.

Patrick rolls his eyes and tries again. "We listened to your set, hey; you were great."

Pete grimaces and tucks his feet up on the couch, turning away. "It was the fucking tape, Patrick."

Patrick nods. He'd thought maybe--but he hadn't been sure. He hasn't listened to the mix since he and Pete put it together six months ago.

Pete gestures like he's trying to shake something gross off of his hand and says, "Everything I do to feel real just ends up being fake. I fucking hate it, I can't--"

"It's okay," Patrick says, and he's saying it to reassure Pete and himself; he's saying it because by now maybe he thinks just saying it will make it true.

"Fuck you," Pete says, and sweeps his arm out again. "It's not fucking okay. It's not okay, I can't keep doing this fake fucking shit--"

Patrick scoots down the couch and catches Pete's arm, holds it, bends Pete's elbow and presses himself around Pete's shoulder and side, holds Pete's hand against his chest, contains him against the arm of the couch.

"Hey, hey," Patrick says, not into Pete's ear or neck, but over his head, into the dim room, out to the giant picture window showing them the flashbulb-bright white lights of Whistler Village below.

"Gotta do the show," Pete whispers. "Show tomorrow."

Patrick nods. "Gotta do the show."

"Keep it together for the show," Pete says.

"Get through the show," Patrick says. "And then a break, okay?"

Pete sighs and tucks his head against the arm of the couch. He's pale and stubbled and he had a decent haircut last week and he looks like he's been sleeping, but he's sure not acting like it. Patrick's breath moves the hair around his ear and on the back of his neck.

"I need a break," Pete says. He closes his eyes.

"We'll take a few weeks, a month," Patrick says; promises. "A couple of months, whatever. We all need a break."

"Could we go on vacation?" Pete asks.

Patrick smiles, bemused. "All of us?"

"Sure," Pete says. "We should go to Madagascar."

"Madagascar," Patrick says.

"Ashlee wanted to honeymoon there, I don't know," Pete says. "And I booked a trip to check it out, but then, you know, she fucking dumped me, so."

Patrick squeezes his eyes shut, tightens his grip on Pete's hand.

"She left me, she left me with that goddamn cat, and she left me the fucking paparazzi like fucking herpes," Pete laughs, a real laugh, and it's actually kind of funny, so Patrick laughs too. "And my dog misses her, and I miss her, and I miss my old meds, and I miss--goddammit, Patrick."

"I know," Patrick says. He puts his nose in the crease of Pete's neck and Pete--smells like a sweaty club, awesome. Patrick adjusts a little so he's got a clear airway and says, over and over, "I know."

Eventually, Pete shudders faintly. "Gotta do the show."

"Gotta do the show," Patrick echoes again.

"Playing the fucking Olympics," Pete sighs.

"Yep," Patrick says.

"I hate the fucking Olympics," Pete says, grumpily.

"I know," Patrick says.

"You know the kind of money they spend on this shit?" Pete says.

"Seriously," Patrick says.

"Vancouver has a real fucking homeless problem, okay," Pete says.

"Really?" Patrick says.

"Well," Pete says. "I don't know the numbers or anything, but I heard it's an issue, and they could be spending all those millions and billions of dollars on that instead of--"

"Us?" Patrick says.

"Shut up," Pete says, and jostles his way out of Patrick's hold. "I'm going to bed. You're a capitalist pig enabler of the fascist machine," he adds, pointing vaguely in Patrick's direction as he heads towards the master suite.

"Whatever you say, comrade. I'm making them turn your mike off tomorrow--so not in the mood for a socialist diatribe," Patrick says.

"But then you'd have to talk, and--" Pete's reply is cut off as he shuts his bedroom door.

Patrick stays half-curled on the couch around Pete's warm spot, and falls asleep thinking vaguely that he should clean up his snack and get Pete's shoe out of the fireplace.

come on mary, baby i'm your man

i have the best friends in the world. i don't deserve any of them, but thats okay. i'll keep them. its for their own good.

saving the world from the side of a mountain (trying)
saving her from drowning in a fishbowl (failed)
saving myself from inside a pill bottle (couldnt do it without you)

posted by xo at 3:26AM

In the morning, Pete props his iTablet in front of Patrick's bowl of Weetabix and grins proudly, like a six-year-old who just finished reading his first book.

Patrick blinks and focuses slowly on the Photoshop screen. It shows a black t-shirt shape with a white-bordered black square on it. Scratchy white text in the square says: BALMORAL HOTEL.

"Okay," Patrick says. He vaguely recognizes the graphic as a mural on one of the rundown buildings their car had passed between the airport and Whistler three days ago; it was nearly midnight, and the sidewalks and alleys were crowded with people--some looked homeless, others just close to it. "What?"

"T-shirts with the logos of single-room occupancy hotels on them. Proceeds to local anti-poverty organizations," Pete says, and snaps his fingers. "I'm a goddamn genius." He pokes at the tablet screen and another design comes up: HOTEL PATRICIA, orange and yellow letters on white diamonds parading down the right side of a red shirt.

"Huh," Patrick says. When Pete asked their driver what was going on, the guy had apologized for the Olympic road closures forcing him to drive them through the worst neighbourhood in town. After settling in at the condo, Pete and Andy had Googled their way to a better grasp of the situation, and Pete had shared his new-found understanding with Patrick. "Did you sleep at all?"

"I'm going to bed as soon as you say I'm a goddamn genius," Pete says.

It's actually not a bad idea. Patrick reaches his spoon around Pete's computer and eats some more cereal before he says, "I'm a goddamn genius."

"Patrick," Pete whines.

"Go to bed," Patrick says. "We have to leave at noon for soundcheck."

Pete slumps into a seat at the table and puts his tablet down in front of him, staring at the design. "It's a good idea, though. Right?"

"It's a really awesome idea," Patrick concedes.

Joe slides into the kitchen, socked feet on hardwood floor, and catches himself against the granite countertop. "Pete doesn't have awesome ideas," he says.

"Fuck you," Pete says.

"It was his idea to spend two weeks in this godforsaken hinterland promoting an event he hates," Joe says. "So, for real."

"It was my idea," Patrick says. "Remember? There was a meeting, I was like, 'We just finished a seven-month world tour, let's go do this stupid show at the Olympics--free smoked salmon and souvenir shot glasses!'"

"Also, hot international athletes," Pete adds. "For those of us on the rebound."

"And those of us who like to get laid," Andy says, coming around the corner in a pair of close-fitting sweats, mat under his arm, snow in his hair.

"It's forty below, and you're doing yoga on the deck," Patrick says.

"True fact: Andy Hurley is a madman," Joe says. "I read it on the internet."

There's coffee and newspapers waiting in the van when they leave for soundcheck. Patrick skims the entertainment sections before he lets Pete read them. He's been stealing Pete's magazines too; if he could block half of Pete's favourite websites, he would. And it's not--it's not like Ashlee's doing it on purpose, she's just not doing much to dispel the assumption that "we grew apart" means "that asshole was fucking around on me." Which, of course, has led to the posting and printing of dozens of pictures of Pete in supposedly compromising situations with various women, and not a few guys, captioned and defaced in increasingly inventive--insulting--ways.

Everybody knows it's bullshit, but people like to make their fun where they can, and Pete Wentz has been a popular game for a long time now.

There's nothing at all in any of the three papers. Patrick hands them over.

"Thanks, Mom," Pete says.

"You're welcome," Patrick says.

"Why don't you ever vet the papers for conspicuous consumption before I read them?" Andy asks.

"Or stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger," Joe adds.

"Shut up," Patrick says, and puts his headphones on.

"This building is brand new," Pete says at soundcheck, gesturing at the drum riser, which is made of wooden crates. "How is this shit not computerized? Like, fucking bionic?"

"The building is eighty years old, man," Joe says. "We've played here before."

"I specifically demanded to play in the new building," Pete says. He puts his hands on his hips and tosses his head a little, and winks at Patrick. Oh good, he's kidding. "Who fucked up?"

"Andy," Joe says automatically, pointing upstage.

Andy is crouched under his kit, fiddling with something, and lifts one hand to flip them all the bird.

"Andy's been trying to sabotage us from the beginning," Pete says. "Fired!"

"Fuck you," Andy says, settling himself on his stool. "'Cause it didn't take you a year to convince me to join your shitty band."

They fuck around for twenty minutes, tuning and untuning and retuning the guitars, complaining about the cheapass light rig, all the things you do when you've been playing arenas for seven years. They phone in "Sympathy For The Devil"--Patrick hardly even knows the words, seriously, and he's pretty sure Pete is deliberately playing in the most wrong key possible; at Joe's suggestion, they do an actually surprisingly good spontaneous cover of "All Along The Watchtower," even though Pete barely plays; and then Pete yells for something recorded since he was born, so Patrick breaks into "Stayin' Alive," and Pete laughs so hard he starts tearing up.

The sound guy finally gives them thumbs up for the levels. Patrick says, "Okay, let's run the set."

Andy starts the beat for "Dance, Dance," Patrick can't help nodding his head along, and Pete plays the pick-up, his first note, and gropes awkwardly for the second, third, fourth. Patrick looks over at him struggling to move his shaking fingers, make the chords, head bowed.

The drums cut out abruptly. "Game over," Andy says. "Replay."

"Yeah," Pete says. "Yeah, go."

Patrick almost asks if he's okay, but bites his lip and watches them try again, waiting at his mike, ready to sing. The drums go three or four bars longer than they should before Pete strums and struggles to pick the next note. He's unsuccessful again, fucking up the line entirely.

"Okay, okay," Patrick says. Andy stops playing.

"Again," Pete says.

On the sixth try, the pick slips from Pete's fingers. He fumbles his bass off over his head and throws it. It hits the third row of seating with a mighty crash of fiberglass and plastic.

"Dude," Joe says. "Are you okay?"

"No," Pete says shrilly, "I am fucking obviously not okay, Jesus Christ," and leaves the stage, arms stiff at his sides, head down. A couple of security guys flank him automatically.

Joe goes after, and then Andy. Something hot coiling in his chest, his hands tingling like they've fallen asleep, Patrick follows into the dimly-lit wings and sets his guitar in the rack, and then walks back, back, back into their dressing room.

Pete is hunched over his knees on a couch, hands knotted together, knuckles looking like they're about to burst out of his skin.

Joe sits beside Pete, but doesn't touch him. Andy stands across the small room, arms crossed. He shrugs tensely at Patrick.

"It's the meds," Pete says to the room, without looking up. "I'm sorry--"

"You're taking more than you're supposed to," Patrick states, his eyes narrowing, waiting to have his suspicions confirmed.

"No--maybe, just, the doctor said he might up my dose, and," Pete says. He holds his hands out to Patrick, negotiating. "I'm being, like, proactive--"

"You're being a fuckwit," Patrick barks. "You can't play fast and loose with this shit like you did with the old stuff--"

Andy asks, "How long?"

Pete stares up at Patrick, his eyes huge and blank. "I don't know," he says, "a while, maybe--"

"Since Ashlee left?" Joe suggests, leaning his head on his hand.

"No, before," Pete says. "Not much, but. Yeah. Longer than that. I think--yeah, we were in China."

Four months ago. "Jesus fucking Christ," Patrick says, and kicks the coffee table, hard enough to slam it into the couch, fortunately not into Joe or Pete.

Pete jumps. He glares at Patrick. "What?" he says. "What? It can't fix me, Patrick, whatever I take, this--" he smacks the palm of his shaking hand against his forehead "--this is what I've got, it can't be fucking fixed with a fucking pill--"

"You could fucking try," Patrick says, even though he knows Pete tries. It's just--if he were really trying, this wouldn't keep happening. Right?

"--get me a new brain and we'll talk, motherfucker, you have no fucking clue--"

That hurts, Patrick can feel the acid sting in his stomach, and he puts it into his voice when he says, "I have a fucking clue, okay, I have ten fucking years of fucking clues. All I have ever asked of you, all I've ever fucking asked you to do is be able to play, asshole, and now you can't even do that--"

Pete springs up from the couch and reaches for Patrick, hands clawed and still fucking shaking, but Joe catches him around the thighs and hauls him back down. Pete's face is a mask of anger, contempt, and Patrick doesn't really care. Okay, he does, but he doesn't want to.

"Okay," Andy says, voice raised in the suddenly silent room. "So, what are we going to do about the show?"

Patrick wants to spit and tell them all to go fuck themselves, but he wipes his damp forehead with the back of his hand and says, "We'll cut 'Dance,' 'Sugar,' 'Ignorance,' and 'Decoy' from the setlist. Everything else, it doesn't matter if he's playing, 'cause you can't hear the bass anyway."

"I can play," Pete grits out. "The shakes will be gone in a minute, for fuck's sake."

"But they might be back," Andy says. "Intermittent tremors, right? That's the side effect?"

"Yeah," Patrick and Pete say at the same time, and then glare at each other.

Joe giggles and Pete kicks him in the shin until Joe lets him go. "Ow, fuck," Joe says.

"Let's just get through the show," Andy says.

"Gotta do the show," Pete says, and Patrick narrows his eyes at him. Pete meets his eyes and shrugs, looking sullen.

"We're cutting the setlist," Patrick says. "I'll figure it out and we'll run it in ten minutes, okay?"

"Okay," Andy says. Joe nods. Pete shrugs again and slumps forward on the couch until his head is between his knees; he folds his arms over the back of his neck and Patrick just really, really wants to kick him in the fucking head.

Instead, he ducks in to the washroom down the hall, locks himself in a stall and sits up on the cistern, feet on the black plastic seat.

Patrick scribbles song titles on a square of toilet paper and feels his body calm with every letter, with every imagined transition. He puts "Thriller," "Hum Hallelujah," and "I've Got A Recipe For Your Appetite For Destruction" on the new setlist. He does it to give Pete something back, because Pete likes those songs and they haven't really played them much lately. Maybe he does it a little to apologize for what he said, even though he meant every goddamn word.

He meets the guys on-stage ten minutes later and reads off the new setlist. Andy and Joe suggest a few changes, but Pete is quiet, cradling his retrieved bass. There's a chip in one of the horns, showing the pale wood body against the marbled blood-red finish.

Andy warms up some more and Joe goes to confer with his tech and re-tune. Patrick hangs out at his mike and Pete does the same.

"You want a fresh one from the trailer?" Patrick asks him eventually, a little gruffly, gesturing at the damage.

"No," Pete says. "Might as well wear this fuck-up too." He shrugs at Patrick and Patrick nods; there's nothing to say to that.

"You okay with the setlist?" Patrick asks.

Pete nods. "Thanks for re-doing it," he says, and rolls his eyes. "And I'm sorry."

"I know," Patrick says. Pete is always sorry, always sorry. Eternally sorry.

"We haven't done 'Sixteen Candles' in a few months," Pete says. "You up to it?"

"How does it go again?" Patrick muses. "Oh, right--I don't blame you, for being you--"

Pete bites his lip. "Maybe you should," he says.

"Sometimes I do," Patrick says. He shrugs and tucks his mouth up--it is what it is.

"Me too," Pete says. Patrick knows.

Joe comes back and starts playing "Hand On Your Heart." Andy joins in and Patrick watches Pete figure out how many notes he can manage per measure. Pete looks up at him and it hits Patrick kind of suddenly, how shitty he looks, how pale and slumped, how maybe sleeping nearly every night isn't quite enough. It could make Patrick angry all over again, because he should have seen, because Pete should have said something, but he knows it won't help and--and somebody has to be the adult here, really.

"Hey," Patrick says, not yet at his mike, just getting ready to play, "hey, it'll be okay," and he means it--he will apologize to Pete for real later, and Pete will talk to his doctor, and they'll all take a break; it's been a long world tour. Patrick nods at Pete, trying to convey his imaginings of okayness, how everything will be all right even if Pete's fucked up and Patrick is going to be pissed at him for a while, and Pete nods back, smiling a little like he gets it.

Pete is fine for the show, and it goes really well; the Olympic mascots come out during the encore, and they all do a bang-up job of being enthusiastic for the screaming crowd of kids from--fuck, a lot of countries all at once.

Afterwards, the four of them are silent in the car on the way back to the condo. Andy goes straight to his room and shuts the door, while Joe and Pete close themselves in Pete's room. Patrick takes some water and peanut butter and crackers into his room and shuts his door. He can hear Pete and Joe talking next door, a low mutter, a distant murmur. He'll talk to Pete tomorrow. He hopes Joe shows Pete the new pictures of Juliette.

And then it is ten hours later and they're in an airport and Patrick is on his way back to LA to work for two weeks straight on the new Cab and Ryan's solo album, both of which should have been finished before the Olympics. Andy is headed to a climate change and organic growing conference in--somewhere. Joe and Pete are going to Chicago for a week.

"I just want you to know, I never wanted any of this," Pete says quietly, close enough to hug Patrick, but obviously not quite daring to.

Patrick squeezes his eyes shut. He says, "It'll be okay," and this time it's not because he believes it, or because he thinks it will help--he just says it because he can't think of anything else.

"I know," Pete says. He taps the brim of Patrick's hat gently. "Break time," he says, and smiles, a real smile.

"Call me when you decide what you're doing," Patrick says.

"I will," Pete says. "You'll be the first."

"My life," Patrick says, with a fake long-suffering sigh, and doesn't quite duck fast enough to avoid Pete's dive-bomb of a kiss to the cheek. "Fuck you," he says, laughing and wiping at his face. "In the fucking airport."

"We'll always have Wherever-the-fuck, Canada," Pete says.

Patrick smacks him lightly on the side of the head and walks away, still laughing a little. He looks over his shoulder about twenty steps later, and Pete is still, calm-faced, looking off to the side, out the wide windows of the Platinum Executive First Class lounge; Joe is tugging at his sleeve. Two security guards stroll across Patrick's field of vision, and when they've gone, Pete and Joe and their crew have mostly disappeared out the terminal doors to catch their plane. Patrick heads for the parkade.

The next day, Pete disappears.

Pete is gone for almost three weeks. As Patrick emerges from the studio, pale and dehydrated and proud, people are starting to notice: the first curious "where's Pete?"s online and in Patrick's voicemail.

Patrick figures he must be talking to Joe, but Joe thought Pete was hiding out at Patrick's. Andy says the same thing. So do Bob, Nick, Travis, Chris--Patrick is looking at Gabe's name highlighted in his contacts list, pressing down on the simmering worried fury in his chest, when he realizes he could just phone Pete.

Pete doesn't answer. In fact, his phone doesn't even ring, just clicks and shunts to Pete's lazy, "Leave a message and leave me alone."

Patrick tells his voicemail, "Call me. Call me right fucking now."

stay in school and off drugs, kids.

prescripton medication has ruined my life.

posted by xo at 11:12AM

Four hours later, the only people who've called are looking for Pete, and Patrick is balancing precariously on the edge of losing it. So he goes to Joe's place.

"Come with me to Pete's," he says, standing in the doorway.

Joe bounces Juliette on his hip and says, "He's fine, man, we're taking a couple of months off anyway. He's just incommunicado."

"This doesn't feel like incommunicado," Patrick says. It feels vaguely like the last few weeks before the overdose, only the nagging, pale fear he remembers is intensified by not actually knowing where Pete is.

"So go," Joe says. "I can't leave the baby, Marie's at a yoga retreat."

Juliette sucks her thumb and stares gravely at Patrick. "Bring her," Patrick says, foregoing his instincts, knowing he's being an asshole, weighing the trauma of Juliette finding Favourite Uncle Petey dead in his house against Patrick having to do it alone.

"I'm not taking her," Joe says, curving his hand around the back of her curly head and tucking her into his shoulder protectively.

Desperate, Patrick says, "Why not?"

Joe frowns intensely. "Same reason you don't want to go over there by yourself," he says.

"What?" Patrick says, and forces himself to laugh. "What? He's fine, you said so yourself--he's not, he couldn't--"

"I'm not going with you," Joe says, with finality. "But you should call me when you get there."

Patrick bites his lip and nods. He reaches out a deceptively steady hand and pokes Juliette in the nose. She smiles, tiny pearly teeth, and reaches back towards him.

"High five for Patrick?" Joe says to her. "Seriously, kid?"

"High five, Julie-looly," Patrick says, and touches his palm to hers. "Sorry," he says to Joe.

"I really want you to call me, when--whatever," Joe says.

Patrick nods again and fishes for his keys in his jacket pocket. "I will," he says.

Pete doesn't open the gate when Patrick rings the buzzer, so Patrick enters the security code and lets himself in. The house is on the lee side of the mountains, clutched to the side of a cliff. The view is of everything except the city; Patrick thinks this is why Pete bought the place after he and Ashlee broke up.

In the evening shadow of the mountains, the yard is darkening and cool. The house is just dark. The lights in the driveway and roundabout are not on; the porchlight isn't on. Patrick's headlights sweep across the white-washed concrete stairs and flash back at him from the windows.

Nobody answers the doorbell. The door is locked. Patrick uses his key and pushes the door open without going inside, staying on the stoop, hoping Hemingway or Cattykins will come. There are no barks or mewling noises. His keys jangle as he shoves them back in his pocket and goes inside.

His footsteps are dead sound on the tile floor. He looks up the staircase and peers down the hallways that lead off the foyer and knows the house is empty. Just empty.

A circuit through the downstairs, half-unconsciously following Pete's Grand Tour route, shows the house untouched since Patrick picked Pete up to leave for Vancouver. All of Pete's stuff exactly where Pete's decorator put it. Upstairs is the same--chilly and shadowed and tidy--Patrick feels like a ghost, or like he's walking through a house that's waiting for a ghost.

There is no body. There is no blood. There are no pills, no note, nothing.

Patrick calls Joe.

"He's gone," he says.

There's a moment of silence, and then a long, low, "Oh god, oh my god."

Patrick waves his hand and says, "No, no, I mean, he's not here, sorry."

"Fuck you, Patrick," Joe says, sounding a little choked up.

"Sorry," Patrick says again. "I didn't really think of--"

"Obviously," Joe says. "Jesus Christ, dude. So--what. So the house is empty, burned to the ground, what?"

Patrick turns around in the front hall and looks at the key rack on the wall, the hooks hung with various novelty dog and cat leashes, the chrome garment rack full of hoodies, the silly abstract glass coat tree that's too warped to actually hang a coat on.

"He's just--not here," he says, making his way back upstairs. "I don't think he even came home after you guys got off the plane. It's really weird; eerie. Hemingway and Cattykins aren't here either--"

"No," Joe says, as Patrick is opening Pete's walk-in closet, "Pete got Armando to bring them to the airport to meet him--"

Patrick steps in to the space usually inhabited by Pete's full set of black custom-printed Clandestine/Vuitton luggage. Pete took the old, brown weekender set to Vancouver.

"Madagascar," Patrick says.

And it would be a very exciting, action-packed adventure story, full of international intrigue and the frustration of searching for someone who doesn't want to be found, but Patrick doesn't like flying over oceans and he doesn't have time to go halfway around the world chasing after Pete; he's actually kind of pissed at Pete, thanks. He tells Joe that Pete can stay in fucking Madagascar with the fucking lemurs if he fucking wants to. Also, just as Patrick is getting ready to be an idiot and buy a plane ticket, even though he has no actual proof Pete went to Madagascar at all--the next morning, right when Patrick is about to buy a plane ticket, Bob calls him.

Bob says, "Patrick, I just talked to Pete. I have bad news."

A DJ: A day that will live in infamy--Chicago-born emo juggernaut Fall Out Boy are no more. We would call it the day the music died, but that one's already taken.
ANOTHER DJ: So is "a day that will live in infamy," Dave.
A DJ: The phone lines are lighting up and we're going to play a song while we take some calls--here's "Hand On Your Heart (Gun To Your Head)," from The Crown Of Grace, apparently Fall Out Boy's final album, released last May.
ANOTHER DJ: The first caller who says she's going to kill herself unless they get back together will receive a complete library of Fall Out Boy CDs, DVDs, and digital releases!

2. "I am not alone, dear loneliness. I forgot, but I remember this."

From the 12-04-2012 episode of The Strombo Show, broadcast live from Toronto, ON, Canada.

GS: So how've you been?
PS: When did I last see you?
GS: Last interview was the Olympics, so I guess it's been almost three years.
PS: Wow, really? [laughs] Three years. Where to start. [laughs] Uh, my band broke up.
GS: No way. Who knew!
PS: Not me.
GS: Seriously?
PS: Yeah, it was--it was a surprise for all of us.
GS: None of you have talked about it much, just the usual press releases and no comment, so, tell me, because we have a special bond, ignoring the millions of people watching and listening to the show, what went down?
PS: Millions of people?
GS: Millions.
PS: Well. I guess. Because of the special bond. Uh. There was a meeting. Pete told us he didn't want to do the band anymore, I said I didn't want to do it if he wasn't doing it, and Andy and Joe decided they'd rather move on. So.
GS: So what you're saying is that the break up was your fault.
PS: [laughing] Yeah, pretty much. It's all my fault that Fall Out Boy is, you know, a former band.
GS: Nah, it's just sleeping.
PS: Pining for the fjords.

The thing is--and this would make really shitty interview material, so he always lies when asked about it--the thing is that Patrick doesn't really remember most of the meeting during which Fall Out Boy was dissolved. He remembers that Pete wasn't there, and his own disgust and anger curdling like bile in his stomach, a painfully cold spot of confusion and disappointment behind his heart. He remembers Pete's lawyer--Scott, with whom Pete had attended DePaul a million years before--and he remembers Scott giving Pete's shitty excuse for not showing up. He does not, however, actually remember Pete's shitty excuse.

He remembers Joe's shell-shocked eyes and the fraud of his indolent shrug. He remembers Andy watching everyone, all surface calm; deep nerves betraying themselves in his fingers tapping on the edge of the boardroom table.

He remembers Bob's face drawn in grief, pinched and stony--his granite handshake.

He knows there were lawyers besides Scott, and guys from the labels, but he doesn't remember who or where or what was said.

He remembers saying, "I meant it when I said I wouldn't do the band anymore if Pete quit," though he cannot for the life of him remember why the fuck he said it.

He remembers Joe flinching and looking at Andy, who tilted his head in deference and said, "It's your band, dude."

He remembers Joe laughing, startled, and saying, "Fuck yeah, and you're all fucking fired."

He remembers laughing along with everyone else, the laughter soaking up and releasing some of the bitter tension he'd been carrying around since Bob called him.

He remembers wanting to punch Scott right in his laughing goddamn face so hard his perfectly white, perfectly capped teeth would fall out and clatter on the boardroom table like loose change.

After the Strombo Show, he flies back to Chicago from Toronto and carries his own bag from the plane to the taxi stand. He kind of likes relative obscurity; or maybe it's just that he appreciates it now.

All the bad parts about coming home after a trip--dust, darkness, cold, no food, dead fish, not that he has fish, but still--are mitigated by having a housesitter. Patrick takes a chocolate chip muffin out of the basket on the kitchen counter and sits down in the living room with a pair of scissors for cutting open the thick brown envelope on the table.

He eats the muffin with one hand and goes through the photos with the other to avoid greasy fingerprints and crumbs.

He and Sophia did two shoots for the album--one in black and white, in an old brick warehouse, with intermittent use of a white backdrop. There are pictures of him standing by himself at a bank of arched, half-broken windows, or sitting on the ledge of one of the windows, staring into the distance. There are pictures of him playing instruments--all the instruments he played for the album, in fact: horns and strings and woodwinds. There's one precisely-captured motion shot of him fooling around on a nickel-plated Gibson, one leg raised as he spins, half in front of the backdrop, half in front of the windows, the guitar's body flashing. He puts that one to the side, a keeper. The rest of the warehouse photos are too cold, too lonely, too adamant about the fact that it's a solo album. He doesn't feel that lonely, or at least not that alone.

The second shoot is in colour, and was done at his condo in LA two days before he moved out. The place was pretty much packed up except for the furniture--sleek black leather couch and red corduroy chair, reclaimed teak dining room set, empty pine bookshelves. Sophia had put him in a red shirt and black jeans, saying he'd "pop" against the white walls and dark wood floor. He didn't really care; he was mostly thinking about all the work he'd done in the house, all the friends who'd been there. All of the photos are cut by hard, architectural shadows, anticipatory, like he and the rooms are waiting for something immense: something that will fill the wide, half-vacant spaces. He shuffles through the pictures, sorting five or six into the keeper pile, judging them good enough for the liner. They're better than the other set, but that's not saying much.

He doesn't have a cover shot, yet. This is the problem. In the last half-dozen prints from the condo, he finds a photo of his old living room window, bare and bright, looking down into the street, three stories below. He can just make out himself on the opposite sidewalk, in the red shirt and black jeans and a black porkpie hat, carrying a tray of Starbucks. There are dozens more people on the sidewalks, and cars filling the street, and he's not especially remarkable. He frames the photo with his fingers and imagines the album title in small white letters, in the top right-hand corner: Selma Avenue.

He remembers getting the Clandestine employee newsletter a week after the break up and ripping it to shreds in his kitchen. Then he called his business manager and said, "I want out."

"Okay," Ahmad said. "Of?"

"The fucking clothing line," Patrick said, "the stores, the bar, the restaurant, the label--everything." He clenched the hand that wasn't already clenched around the phone. "I want out."

Ahmad had made an affirmative noise and Patrick could picture him in his glass-walled, seventeenth-floor office, nodding placidly against the phone. Probably doodling on his desk blotter. Or watching the tropical fishes swim past on his screen saver. Patrick gritted his teeth, which were already gritted.

"What I'm hearing, just so I've got this right," Ahmad said, "is that you want to divest yourself of all interest in Pete Wentz."

Patrick had let out an explosive breath, like he'd been punched in the chest, shocked by the simplicity of what he actually wanted.

He remembers saying, "Yes."

He e-mails Sophia to let her know which pictures he likes, and Morris and the A&R guy whose name he can never remember to let them know the album art is pretty much done. It's a lie, but it'll only take him an hour to type everything up in Photoshop.

He checks his schedule for next week, crossing off a cancelled radio interview and using a red pen to circle the video shoot on Thursday and Friday. Some kid the label hired is directing. Patrick has read the concept and really couldn't give a fuck--"Quickstep" is a dance song; the video will be of people more attractive than Patrick dancing while Patrick pretends to sing. Frankly, he's surprised he's allowed to be in the video at all. He intends to wear a loose shirt and jeans and his black patent Converse.

He remembers thinking he'd be completely fucking fine without Pete, without the band, without the label. He remembers having five months of work, which had been booked before the break up, and then he remembers having nothing. No one called Bob asking for him, no one called his agent, no one randomly e-mailed him to see if he wanted to jam.

His collaborative tracks with Alicia and the Black Eyed Peas got cut due to label concerns. The funding fell through for his and Justin's next short. "It sucks," Justin said, "but we needed to get back in the studio anyway." He didn't invite Patrick to sing or produce or even come hang out. Mark called him personally to let him know he'd been replaced as producer on the Blink reunion album, which hadn't even been written yet--it was nice of Mark to call, so Patrick didn't get upset, just wished him the best of luck with Chester and promised to buy a hundred copies and told Mark to call if they needed help with anything. Anything at all.

He kept it all to himself. He had dinner at Joe and Marie's every couple of weeks, and listened to them talk about the new baby on the way and made jokes about Irish twins and explained what Irish twins were, and didn't mention how Jay wouldn't even reply to his e-mails anymore.

He didn't tell Andy either. He didn't tell his parents, or his stepparents, or anyone back home. He held it close like keeping it secret would keep it from being real; pressed the confusion, hurt, anger down in his stomach. It was all between him and the people telling him to pack it up and go back to Glenview--of course, they weren't saying it in so many words, and probably not even thinking it, but what else could he do?

He remembers blaming Pete, he remembers firing Bob and his agent, he remembers overhearing an intern at Crush talking about how last year everything was "feat. Patrick Stump," but that was last year, hello. Wake up and smell the "not It anymore," moron.

And still, for some reason, it didn't really hit him--or, all the "no"s and anger and bewilderment didn't really mean anything, maybe, until Timbaland gave him a sad, apologetic look over excellent Italasian fusion on Sunset and said, "I'm sorry, man, I just can't do anything for you right now," and, "I wish you the best of luck," and shook his hand.

"No, that's all right, I understand," Patrick lied. "Thank you," he said.

"If you put something together on your own, you should send it up to Morris at Loop Reps, they're real small--real elite." Tim took his napkin from his lap and put it on the table, obviously getting ready to leave. "They'd probably love to have you."

"Loop, okay," Patrick said, and, "I'll keep it in mind," and, "Thank you," again, because it wasn't Tim's fault. Whatever had gone wrong in the universe was not anyone's fault, except possibly Patrick's. Or possibly Pete's.

NORA: What was your process like on this one?

--he worked for nine weeks straight, locked in his condo, alone, fueled by fury and confusion and not a little righteous indignation--

PATRICK: It took me a couple of months to write most of the record. When I finished recording--when I thought I'd finished recording--I realized that it wasn't really enough, that I wasn't done, so I got in touch with my friend Victoria Asher and she came out to LA and helped me for a few weeks, laying down some harmonies and stuff.

--he stayed up for twenty-six hours straight at one point and sent her a few songs in a fit of panicked self-doubt; she showed up on a Tuesday with three suitcases and a keyboard and wouldn't leave until he'd played her the rest of the album and agreed to let her help, and also agreed to let her stay in his guest room--

NORA: What about the lyrics--what was it like, having to write words after so long?

--torturous, wrenching, like being roasted on a spit and put through a pasta maker and a juicer--

--easy, the easiest thing he'd done in years, like singing "Sugar" or reciting Prince's discography--

--like dying, like walking through Pete's house after Pete left, like holding one of Joe's kids--

PATRICK: Well, it's not as if I just stopped writing, period, because Pete was taking care of Fall Out Boy's lyrics. It wasn't that hard to start thinking of what I was writing as music again. I mean, I'd never written an entire record on my own, so that was difficult, but I managed. Somehow.

--he was sure he'd let out absolutely every feeling he'd ever had about, well, anything, maybe. He felt scraped hollow, half inside-out, like a smashed jack-o-lantern. He felt like he was actually over it, over everything, over his life--

NORA: I think "Your Time" is the most restrained I've heard you since, like, "Golden." Is it hard for you to sing quietly?


PATRICK: Yeah, it really is. I had to learn to sing quietly. While I was working on the record, I listened to a lot of, like, Tom Waits and Elliot Smith and Leonard Cohen, and, you know, quiet singers.

--Greta, Victoria, Kurt Cobain, the list goes on--

NORA: There's a wide range of styles on the album--"Quickstep" is obviously a dance track, while "Your Time" and "Yield & Dream" are really subdued, compared to your previous work. What's up with that?

--Morris said the album was depressing; Morris said the label would want a single that would play on TRL, a summer song despite it being goddamn January; Morris Morris Morris fucking Morris, whom he had known for two fucking weeks; Victoria shrugged and said, "Quickstep," which was a shitty riff he'd written for Tyga back when he still worked at fucking Decaydance. Patrick thought about it and played the beat on his iPod for two days and wrote a goddamn dance song--

PATRICK: I have a really wide taste in music, myself. Seriously, I will literally listen to anything, so when people try to tell me I should limit what I'm writing, I don't respond well. "Quickstep" was originally a beat for an artist I'd been producing, but it didn't work for his album, so I kept it. I wrote some lyrics based on a few stupid things I've seen people do at clubs--or done myself, let's be honest here--and there you have it.

--there you have it: another number one on TRL; another number one download on iTunes; another hook in his voice he'll hear for the next six months, blasting through static from strangers' cell phones: oh lord I ain't a dancer but I do love a quickstep--

NORA: There you have it, indeed. Selma Avenue is out on Credit Records this Tuesday; pick it up at your local or through iTunes. Thank you so much for talking with us about the new album, Patrick.

--four months of his soul into a microphone, and it's one line of promo after another, that's all; he kind of gets Pete in a new way, and that is irritating and disquieting--

PATRICK: No problem, thanks for having me.

Selma Avenue - Patrick Stump (Credit Records; Triple Threat)

Three/five stars.

Step back, you don't know what you're in for--this is the opening line of Patrick Stump's first solo release. It would be a typical bombastic warning from Stump's ex-songwriting partner, Pete Wentz, but these lyrics were penned by Stump himself, and are sung with a bitter, world-weary confidence that belies the singer's years. Packed with retro grooves, techno style, and modern simplicity, Selma Avenue might be a surprise for fans of Stump's former band, Fall Out Boy, but probably won't shock anyone who's been paying attention to his career outside of the emo-rock scene.

Former Emo Crooner Finds His Voice


The key to the album's title, and maybe to the entirety of this cipher of a record, is in the sixth track "Yield & Dream": "dream of the wide world/wake up in the ocean/dream on Elm Street/wake up on Selma Avenue." Patrick Stump's Chicago home is on Elm Street, while his former Los Angeles residence is located right inside Hollywood--on Selma Avenue. Viewed as an autobiographical journey from Midwest suburbia to downtown New Babylon and back, this solo effort from Fall Out Boy's former lead singer reveals itself to be not a battle of conflicting influences, but a look inside the mind of a talent frustrated by life in the shadows--whether some of those shadows belong to FOB's ex-frontman Pete Wentz is another story all together.

Track by track, Selma Avenue unfolds as a roadmap to and from stardom: the fans, the clubs, the moneymakers, the heartbreakers. From the cutting opener "West vs. Midwest" ("when they've bought you--and they'll buy you--keep your eyes open, 'cause they'll slip around behind you and sell you right back") to the plaintive "I Had All These Dreams (And Then I Learned To Play Guitar)" ("I can't play guitar with one hand, I can't go on being half a man; the world is tired of the best of me--where's the rest of me?"), a picture emerges and is crystallized in the album's official closer, "Your Time" ("I'm not saying this so you'll say something back, I just want you to know...I just want you to have your time").

essential track: patrick stump's selma avenue

okay, folks. this album is drivel. it's shiny, catchy drivel, because patrick stump is good at producing shiny, catchy drivel (i don't believe for a minute he wrote this whole album himself), but drivel nonetheless. the only song you need to have is--not "quickstep," and damn you to hell for even thinking it. you need "postscript," the hidden acoustic track only available on the icky physical compact disc release. you can't even get this shit on itunes, mofos. lyric check:

do you know how to say goodbye
with a few chords and no words
because i've tried i've tried i've tried
and it's hard it's hard it's hard
it's nobody's business how you feel anymore
and it's not your job to keep the show on the road anymore

do you know how to break a heart
with a few phonecalls and no words
because you did you did you did
and they missed you they missed you they missed you
it's none of your business how they're doing anymore
and it's not their job to miss you anymore

you're not the only one who got left behind, remember
you're not the only one who got fucked over; it's hard to remember
postscript to a letter they'll never send
postscript to a letter they'll never write
postscript; there are songs they'll never sing

do you know how they saved their own goddamn lives
with a few chords and a few of their own goddamn words
because they did they did they did
and they don't need you they don't need you
it's nobody's business if you're dead or alive anymore
and my job these days is keeping this show on the road

i love post-break up hetero life partners writing songs to each other. lennon/mccartney, anybody?

dl here. comment below. flames encouraged, because i deserve it for spending fifteen bucks on this shit. entry for 01-28-2013.

from "story" by russell thornton

And you may have gone, you may have departed into the pure promise of the unknown,
but what could you say of where you had gone when you came back,

or what could you say of your life - your loving, not loving, being loved, not being loved,
and the miracle of the panic - was that you were standing, staring,

that you were hearing a bird cry, that you were seeing the bright blade of a wing,
that there was a seagull flying close and low through falling snow.

posted by xo at 3:19AM

The first show of the Dreaming On Elm Street Tour is in March, in Detroit, at a Croatian cultural centre. The room holds seven hundred people. It's not quite officially sold out, and only half full when Countdown Commence, the first openers, get on stage. Patrick stands in the wings, watching the band and watching the crowd slowly grow. The second opener is Alex and Victoria, billed as Everything You Want To Know, playing a nine-song set of covers on acoustic guitar and organ. Draped across the front of Victoria's organ is a Hurley Organics banner.

All the Patrick Stump and Everything You Want To Know shirts at the merch table were sustainably manufactured in Minneapolis at Andy's factory. There's a Hurley Organics outreach rep at the merch table too, with pamphlets about sustainable living and fair trade and how artists of conscience can change the world. Patrick doesn't really think of himself as an "artist of conscience," but a corporate sponsorship has never left him feeling so clean.

Backstage, Patrick, Alex, Victoria, and Greta stand in a square in the men's room, the single dressing room having been taken over by Countdown Commence's post-show rowdies. Patrick shrugs and says, "So, two weeks of rehearsal, and here we are."

"It's going to be amazing," Victoria says, and pats his shoulder.

"You're going to do the intros, right?" Patrick says to Alex.

Alex rolls his eyes and pats Patrick's other shoulder. "Just say the name of the song; it's not that hard."

"This is going to blow," Patrick says. Why did he let Morris talk him into touring? Seriously.

"Awesome," Greta says brightly. She puts her hand in the middle of the square and pulls it back out. "Go team!"

Alex guides Patrick out of the bathroom with his hands on his shoulders. "You can do it, champ, you're a fighter, you're a miracle man," he says. "You made Gabe Saporta sound like Michael Jackson."

Patrick can't think of anything to say. His stomach is clenching and releasing like a fist; he feels worse than he did before his first show ever, back in ninth grade. The four of them pass the small tour crew lounging in the hallway, chatting with some venue staff, and they all say, "Good luck, guys!" and, "Good show!" Paul, the tour manager, whom Patrick hadn't met before last week, falls in step with the band and claps Patrick on the back, between Alex's hands.

Patrick breathes faster, harder, with every step. He almost feels like he's getting ready for a long-distance run, which is bullshit, because he's never run long-distance, how the fuck would he know--

"Ax?" Alex says, holding him back at the guitar rack, keeping him from walking right out on stage without something to play.

Patrick laughs, it sounds pitiful in his ears, and takes the old red Gibson. He only allowed himself two guitars for this tour; Alex got to bring four, since he's also playing bass.

Corporate sponsorship means Patrick is not paying for everything, not that they get to have everything they want.

Patrick tucks his glasses in his back pocket and goes out into the light.

"How's Detroit tonight?" he asks at his mike, fiddling with the tone knob on his guitar for something to do.

The crowd yells back something indistinct.

"Awesome," he says, and taps his foot for a few imaginary beats. "I'm Patrick, and these are my friends. We're going to play some songs for you." He shrugs and looks over at Victoria. She smiles and nods, so he turns around and nods at Greta, who waves her sticks in an "okay, let's go" motion. Alex gives him thumbs up.

Patrick leans in to the mike again and says, "West Vs. Midwest," and Greta plays the beat and Alex kicks the pick up and the crowd screams.

It's really not that different. Not that different at all. 03-15-2010 - "Fall Out Boy, as an experiment, has failed."

Hey guys.

It's true. The band is over. It's been a crazy month. I'm sorry I haven't been able to keep you up to date, but I wanted to take a couple hundred words and talk about it, because as usual the world is full of everybody knowing exactly what happene,d but not really knowing at all.

People change. People grow. Sometimes the changing makes someone a better person, or improves their life, but means they have to give up things. Let things go. Move on.

More than one member of Fall Out Boy is at that place of changing. It's not wrong, or bad. It's no one's fault. It just happens sometiems. If it hasn't happened to you, it will, and it will happen again. It's life. Am I disappointed that it happened to us, at this moment? I won't lie, I am. But I'm not pissed off at any one person. I'm mostly pissed off at myself for not seeing it coming.

I'll get over it. You'll get over it too. Next week therell be another shitty band from the suburbs wanting a spot on your bedroom wall. It's okay. I'll miss you, the shows, the bus, the memories feeling like their just around the corner, but we'll be okay.

We're going to be okay, all of us. See you around.


Patrick comes out for the encore alone, with his acoustic guitar, and shuffles his feet a little before saying, "So, uh. I never expected to be standing here. The last few years have been--a learning experience. Thanks for coming tonight." He strums the first chord and says, "This is a song by Leonard Cohen," and plays "Last Year's Man."

In his bunk, three hours later, snugged back against the wall to feel the rock and rumble of the bus, he gets a text from an unknown number.

It says, "the show as good. xo".

He doesn't reply, but he keeps the message for a week, deletes it the morning his bus pulls in to Chicago. He almost tells Paul to tell security to keep Pete away if he shows up, but he doesn't. Pete doesn't show up, and he doesn't text again, or e-mail, or call. Patrick switches to a new cell phone anyway.

He dreams of standing alone on stage, of playing "Hum Hallelujah," and of not being able to sing. He dreams that the house lights come up and there's no one in the audience. He dreams that he goes home to find his cat dead, even though he doesn't have a cat. He has this dream in Chicago, Portland, Baltimore, Appleton, Redfork, Milwaukee--he has it a few times a week. He mostly takes it as confirmation that there are some Fall Out Boy songs he really shouldn't play ever again.

On the fourth day of pre-tour rehearsal, Greta started keeping a list of songs he wouldn't play. The list lives in Paul's binder of old setlists, purely for reference purposes. There are nine songs on the "Absolutely Not" list, and seven on the "Maybe" list. Patrick doesn't know what makes a song okay or not okay--it's not necessarily the intimacy of the lyrics, or how hard the song might have been to write in the first place, or how popular it is/was with the fans. "Sugar" is totally okay; he loves playing "Dance, Dance" with the band--he and Victoria sometimes do a little jitterbug in the bridge; "The Take Over" is fine; "Grand Theft Autumn" is fine, though he sometimes likes to sing "man" instead of "boy," just for fun. He does "Golden" once in a while too, during the encore, but in the third person instead of first; he decides he'll say it's a tribute, an acknowledgement, if anybody asks him why--nobody does.

Really, he has twelve of his own songs. Even if he played the whole album, it wouldn't be a proper headlining set, and he doesn't want to sing fucking "Quickstep" every night for six months. So, there are going to be some Fall Out Boy songs. It's not wrong if he only decides to do a half-dozen of them; it's not wrong if he chooses the singles over obscurities like "Patron Saint Of Liars And Fakes" or "It's Hard To Say 'I Do'". It's not wrong if he leaves out most of the songs with screaming in them--there's no one in the band who does that kind of thing.

There are Hush Sound and Cobra songs too. They do "Honey" and "Guilty Pleasure" and "Pop Punk Is So '05". He tells interviewers that since Cobra Starship broke up, there's been a void of awesome; he's just trying to fill it. He tells kids at signings that yes, the Hush Sound will make a new album and no, he doesn't know when. Some blogger says his setlist is like a graveyard of broken record deals.

The e-mail invitation appears in his inbox on a Thursday morning--a very stylish white background stamped with green leaves and a family of black birds on a black wire.

Juliette, Aida, & Lauren Trohman
invite you to join them
as they celebrate
the marriage of their parents

Marie Rosner
Joseph Trohman

at their home in Torrance, CA
on Sunday, July 7, 2013

Patrick calls Joe immediately. "Seriously?" he asks, happily.

"For total fucking serious," Joe says. "Fucking awesome, right?"

"I don't know, man, it's kind of quick," Patrick says.

"I thought it was time to de-bastardize the babies, make an honest woman of her, all that," Joe says.

"Congratulations," Patrick says, laughing.

"You're coming, right?" Joe asks, an edge of uncertainty over two thousand miles away.

"Hell yes," Patrick says. "You think I'd miss this?"

"Oh, sweet," Joe says. "Pete said you wouldn't come, 'cause he'll be there--"

Patrick closes his eyes and bites his lip, because Pete is fucking right. "Dude, actually," Patrick interrupts, "you know, I didn't check the schedule, I might be in, like, Maine--"

"'Kay," Joe says, slowly.

"Just let me check, I'll get back to you," Patrick says. He doesn't even try to sound reassuring.

"Awesome," Joe says, his voice going cold. "Looking forward to it."

Patrick asks after the girls and tells Joe he'll call again soon with his RSVP. As he closes his phone and puts it in his pocket, all he can think is that he's playing in Santa Barbara the day before the wedding, and San Diego two days after.

He tells Greta to fuck off during soundcheck that afternoon, and she tells him to fuck off right back and leaves the stage. Alex rolls his eyes and says, "Get a fucking grip, Stump," and goes after her.

Victoria leans on her keyboard, chin in her hands. "What's your problem?" she asks.

Patrick sits on the edge of the stage with a huff and fucks around with his pedals. "Nothing, I'm fine."

"You got invited to Joe's wedding, right?" she asks.


"Can I go with you?" Patrick turns around and blinks at her. She shrugs. "I like weddings. And who else are you going to take? I bet even Andy isn't going to show up alone."

Patrick doesn't answer, just unplugs things and plugs them in again and presses buttons while strumming his guitar, like he's actually trying to fix something.

"Oh," Victoria says after a few minutes. "Pete's going, right. Is that why you're upset?"


"Shut up," she says. "That's totally why you're upset."

"I'm not upset." He's not. He couldn't care less. He just doesn't want to be anywhere Pete is. Ever.

"Whatever," Victoria says, disbelieving. "I don't get what your problem is. I mean, yeah, he quit the band, but what happened after is not his fault--you left Decaydance--"

"So did you!" Patrick says. "You all did."

Victoria sits down beside him, her hands gripping the edge of the stage. "That was business," she says. "I mean. Cobra broke up, and Hush Sound, very smartly, I think, got their contract bought by a label that gave a shit about them. It had nothing to do with Pete--"

"Look, you know what, it's totally cool if, even after everything, all the shit he pulled, you guys are still friends with him," Patrick says. He doesn't need to hear about it, is the thing.

"Wow, thanks," Victoria says. "That's nice of you--"

He waves his hand and shakes his head. "Whatever, that's not what I meant and you fucking know it, just--I can't--"

"Relax," Victoria says, putting her arm steadily around his shoulders and holding on. "Seriously, okay. It's Joe's wedding, do you really want to miss that because of Pete?"

Patrick narrows his eyes at the mostly-dismantled pedal in his hands. "Fucking logic."

She shrugs. "Not just a pretty face," she says.

Two hundred and fifty-six autographs at a record store called Ziggy's in Pennsylvania. A hundred and four photographs with fans.

HMV in Boise: ninety-two autographs, eighty-seven photos.

Forty-nine autographs and photos at a New Dreamers fan appreciation event before the Griffith Amphitheatre show.

In New York, right after Patrick signs his four hundred and eighth autograph of the day (CDs; posters; calendars; notebooks; ancient OCK 8x10 glossies; issues of Rolling Stone or Spin), an interviewer asks, "So, how's it different, doing this by yourself?"

"Not that different," Patrick says, and shrugs. "It takes a little longer, or it feels like it does, anyway. You have to rely on security to keep you from spending too much time with somebody." He uncaps a bottle of water--the interviewer notes that it is a Hurley Organics brand--and drinks. "Sometimes people ask about the other guys, or the band I'm touring with." He shrugs again and waves his hand. "Same old, same old. Next question."

The truth is, Patrick thinks as he fidgets with his collar mike, waiting for the MuchMusic camera crew to set up: doing promo by himself is really fucking lonely. It's okay, though, because he's used to it, all the five hundred times he did it before Fall Out Boy broke up.

Transcript of interview conducted 05-24-2013 by Julia Beulia, music/pop culture blogger.

Julia Beulia: So, I was hoping we could put a persistent rumour about Fall Out Boy to rest today.
Patrick Stump: [laughs] Which one?
JB: Was Pete in love with you?
PS: I'm sorry, what?
JB: All the photos, the ambiguous lyrics, the on-stage kisses, the stuff of the hopes and dreams of a million fangirls. I think you owe it to your fans to go on the record about your relationship with Pete.
PS: I owe--okay. My fans don't care--I'd think Pete's fans would feel the same way. I'd hope any Fall Out Boy fan would care less about how we made the music than about how it makes them feel, since that's why we did everything we did, and anything else is nobody's business but ours. But I guess pleading the fifth on this is the same as incriminating yourself, so, fine, look, for the record: Pete was my best friend. We were friends. Platonically. That's all. And a piece of advice: if you want to ask questions like that, don't ask them first thing--
JB: What--
PS: --because this interview is over. blog entry for 05-24-2013.

What Do I Owe My Fans?
by Patrick Stump, Aged 29 (and a bit)

1. Music.
2. Dedication.
3. Effort.
4. A show in their town, at their favorite venue, for free (or so I've been told).
5. My eternal gratitude for more than a decade of being able to do music instead of jockeying a desk or making lattes for minimum wage. Thanks, guys.
6. Not another single, little, solitary thing.

posted by patrick at 12:47PM

Patrick's still not over it when they get to Sacramento. He spends two hours in his bunk with his laptop, putting together a rearrangement of a song he hadn't ever wanted to sing again.

Victoria giggles and covers her face with her hands in glee when he tells her.

"Just to get back at some MTV teeny, really?" Alex asks.

"Yes," Patrick says. The back of his neck still feels warm and prickly from the raging flush he'd gotten as soon as he realized what the girl--Julia Beulia, seriously, what kind of name is that?--was asking. "Can you play the part, or is it too hard?"

"Hey, you know what, your mom is too hard," Alex says, and takes the printed sheet music.

They play through the song four times during soundcheck, and it sounds okay: Victoria carrying the bassline on keys, Alex managing very well on the chorus, Greta dropping some of the cymbals because Patrick has always over-written his drum parts.

Patrick points at Greta and Victoria. "You guys take harmony on the--"

"Right here, where it says to?" Greta says, poking her music with a drumstick.

"Yes," Patrick says. "The chorus, and the second verse intro, and the--the bridge."

"Like we have been the last nine times?" Greta says.

"There are a lot of drummers who'd pay me for a chance behind that kit, you know," Patrick says.

"Are any of them over thirteen?" Alex says.

"Victoria! How you doing?" Patrick asks.

"You're just going to sing the last line on the bridge?" Victoria asks, tilting her head.

"Yes," Patrick says.

"Can I put on a little rough voice there?" she says. "It would be more authentic. Or, I could scream!"

"I think you should, definitely," Alex says. Greta nods seriously.

"Are you--you're kidding," Patrick says. Victoria grins and shrugs. "Don't fucking do that, it's not funny." All three of them laugh at him as he turns back to his mike, getting ready to give it a fifth go. He really, really hadn't ever wanted to sing this song again, and it's nice, the band trying to distract him from the fact that he is singing it.

"I want to sing the chorus too," Alex says. "You need three backing you up on the outro anyway."

Of course, the band could just be being assholes as usual. "Okay, fine, you guys just do whatever the fuck you want and I'll apologize to the audience when it's over," Patrick says. "Does that work?"

"Yep," Greta says.

Alex plays the opening notes and Greta and Victoria join in and Patrick has no choice but to start singing.

That night, he introduces the song by saying, "I did an interview a couple of days ago--you'll probably never hear or see it, it didn't go very well." Victoria and Alex snicker suspiciously close to their mikes. Patrick smirks. "This one's for Julia Beulia."

And they play "Bang The Doldrums."

DAVE NORMAN: Where did you find your touring band?
PATRICK STUMP: Wal-Mart? I don't know. I've known them all for years--
DN: Yeah, but--
PS: Victoria's been with me since I recorded the album. I don't think there was ever a question about whether she'd come on the road with me. Alex and Greta, well. Okay. I know a lot of musicians. When it became clear that I was going to do a solo tour--which was never a sure thing, don't let the slick production fool you--I contacted some of the musicians I know and wouldn't mind sharing a bus with for six months. Not many were available. Alex and Greta weren't even, really, they were sort of busy with real life stuff, but [shrug] they came.
DN: They're certainly great assets to the show.
PS: Definitely. It's awesome, playing with other multi-instrumentalists. We switch off once in a while--I'll do drums, Greta'll do bass, stuff like that.

The thing about the band, the touring band, Patrick's solo band, is that he's known them all for years and years, and he's played with them for almost as long, and he's produced their albums, and they're good friends and everything, but. They don't really hang out or goof around much; they all have their own lives going on outside the tour, outside the bus; they have real work waiting for them when this is over.

Never mind Countdown Commence, the rookie opener Patrick's label gave him for pennies. They're children, which was fine when Patrick was six years younger and had some influence over their careers. These guys play their--admittedly talented--sets and make a mess of their side of the merch table and probably do a lot of semi-legal drinking in their shitty little camper van. Patrick doesn't have any patience for that shit anymore, so he's mostly glad they keep to themselves. Or, that they keep away from him, at least.

Greta and Chris talk long-distance in cycle and temperature codes, figuring out the best days for him to come stay on the bus, locked with Greta in the back lounge--Patrick starts booking hotels for these visits, whenever it's feasible. He loves babies, don't get him wrong, he just never ever needs to hear them being made.

Alex is trying to write a record with Ryland, also long-distance; their conversations are another kind of code--more familiar to Patrick, but just as isolating.

Victoria has been with him since recording; Victoria is not just a pretty face; Victoria is not Joe or Andy. Deep in the lull of three AM, everyone else fast asleep, she's not even Pete. She has a tiny Bloody Mary and the new Dean Koontz to keep her awake while Patrick talks.

"I keep dreaming about singing 'Hum Hallelujah,'" Patrick says.

"We could do it," she whispers back.

"I can't," he says. "In the dream, I lose my voice halfway through the song and the lights come up and no one's there and my cat dies."

"You don't have a cat," she points out.

"That's--no, I don't have a cat, that's true, but the point is--" he glances over at her, suspecting she's laughing at him, and also confused by her. "It's not a good dream, Vicky."

"So we won't do it," she says, sounding a little disappointed.

"But I keep having it, this dream. Almost every night. It's so stupid and weird." He shakes his head against the rough polyester couch cushion. "I don't even believe in dream shit."

"Well," she says, and shrugs.

"I could do 'Hallelujah,' I think, like the actual song," he says. "Maybe that would make it stop; you know, a compromise."

"You're negotiating with your subconscious?" she asks, smirking at him in the dim light of a table lamp.

"Apparently," he says. Even if it doesn't make the dream go away, it'll be better than doing "Last Year's Man" again, which is an awesome song, but really kind of depressing after the ninety-fifth time.

In Denver, Patrick sits at the keyboard he shares with Victoria and glances at the encore setlist--"Your Time," "Yield & Dream," "Last Year's Man," and then the band is supposed to come out and do "Sugar."

He looks out at the crowd, the lights reflecting off the stage and back from their eyes and glasses and teeth. He plays a quick, meaningless flourish on the keyboard and says, because it's his decision, because it's nobody's show but his, "Any requests?"

Some laughter, and someone shouts "Bohemian Rhapsody;" somebody else calls, "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

"'Freebird'!" comes from the front row, and Patrick is laughing in reponse when he hears:

"'Hand On Your Heart'!"

Patrick makes himself laugh a little more even as the first lines are automatically running through his head: keep quiet, I'm planning my escape/I hate to break it to you but I'm breaking out today/I know I'm not breaking your heart, don't lie.

He bites his lip and fits his fingers into a D major chord. "Anything else? Seriously, anything."

"'Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others'!"

He giggles, unwillingly. This was not his best impulse ever, for real.

Someone yells, "'Hum Hallelujah'!" and he'd swear it's the same person who asked for "Hand On Your Heart."

His fingers move over on the keyboard and he says, hoping he's not throwing good impulse after bad, "I'll do you one better," and the crowd is hushed while he plays the first few bars of "Hallelujah." He looks into the wings as he sings the first line, at Victoria standing with her hands clasped under her chin and Alex behind her, singing along.

Posted to

surprise cover at the Denver show!!!

omg, guise, here's a dl for patrick signing "hallelujah." it was sooo amazing. he held it in until the very last minut,. an his lyrics are awesmoe.

[link to megasenditspace page]

PS(lol): thats totally my bff Kindra screaming during the last verse!

TIM: This second single, "Yield & Dream," really made me realize, there's a real nighttime vibe to the record--really evocative of Fall Out Boy's later work. Was that deliberate? A hearkening back to the nocturnal feel of Infinity On High?
PATRICK: No, I just like evening. I think the world is really at its most, well, beautiful at dusk, twilight, whatever. [...] The creative direction of Fall Out Boy was never under the control of one person. Like, believe it or not, Joe's actually the one who had dreams about giant grasshoppers.

Patrick thinks he's actually pretty successful at avoiding Pete for the first half of Joe's wedding--the wedding half, that is. They're seated in the same row, third from the front on Joe's side, but there are Victoria, a couple of Joe's cousins, Andy and Matt, and Pete's date--a tall, stately woman with tiny, immaculate, ebony braids falling down her back--between them.

"Pete looks good," Victoria whispers in Patrick's ear, and Patrick grimaces at himself for getting caught sneaking glances.

It's true, is the annoying thing. Pete looks solid, alive, well-groomed. He's wearing an all-black suit with a triangle of white and black handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket; the pattern matches the abstract flower print on his date's dress. "I don't care," Patrick whispers back.

Victoria rolls her eyes and takes his hand. "You're acting like a character in a shitty romantic comedy, and I think you should know that."

"You can't swear at a wedding," Patrick grouses.

The music starts before Victoria can reply, and they shuffle to their feet as the wedding party comes down the wide path between the chairs: Marie holding baby Aida, Joe carrying Lauren, Juliette walking ahead of them with a big basket of flowers, Joe and Marie's parents flanking the family.

Later, Joe slides the plain gold ring over Marie's finger, and says, his voice shaking, "Behold, you are betrothed unto me, according to the law of Moses and Israel," and Patrick realizes that he's happy for them. Not just intellectually happy, or the happy of friendly obligation--really, really happy. The vague jealousy he felt when Juliette was born, when Joe turned out to be an honestly great dad, it's gone. He sniffs deeply to hold back sudden tears and Victoria laughs quietly and takes his hand while Marie puts a ring on Joe's finger and repeats firmly, "Behold, you are betrothed unto me, according to the law of Moses and Israel."

Patrick looks over at Victoria, smiling, and down the row Pete is looking back at him, his eyes damp too.

The rabbi says, "Joseph will now read the ketubah aloud and present it to Marie for her safekeeping," and Patrick turns away to watch.

While Joe and Marie are having their brief break between the ceremony and the party, Patrick gets to talking with Andy about the tour--thanking him again for the sponsorship. Andy smiles, a little uncomfortably, and tells him again it's no problem, seriously. Victoria and Matt bring over some punch and the conversation gets generic and friendly until Pete brings his date over, holding her hand.

"You remember Andy and Matt," he says to her, and she nods, shaking Andy's hand, and Matt's.

"Lovely to see you again," she says, her voice broadly accented.

"And this is Patrick Stump," Pete says, gesturing at Patrick. "Patrick, Adelie Juma."

Patrick smiles tightly and shakes Adelie's hand. "Nice to meet you," he says. He puts his hand on Victoria's shoulder. "This is Victoria Asher."

"Hi," Victoria says. She shakes Adelie's hand too. "I love your dress."

"Thank you very much." Adelie waves at Pete. "His design. Who am I to turn down free clothes?" They all laugh politely and she adds, "That colour is beautiful on you, Victoria."

Victoria shrugs and smiles modestly, fiddling with the yellow skirt of her dress. "I picked it up the other day when we had a break. Outlet mall, of all places."

Pete just stands there, smiling blandly at all of them, like this is some kind of reunion: high school or the Marines or something.

"How's business?" Andy asks Adelie, and she grins, starts talking about organic farming.

"I'm going to find a bathroom," Patrick says quietly to Victoria. She nods and squeezes his hand.

He uses the first-floor half-bath and runs in to Pete on his way back outside. Patrick tries to duck around him, but Pete blocks him with an outstretched hand.

"How are you?" Pete asks.

"How am I," Patrick says, dumbfounded.

"The tour is going really well," Pete says, "and I can personally account for about half of your album sales, but for real--"

"Are you serious," Patrick says, frowning. "You're seriously asking me--"

"Well, you never replied to my text," Pete says. "And I could never get through when I called."

"You never called me," Patrick says coldly.

"I did," Pete says. "I tried--"

"I got a new phone after you texted me," Patrick says.

Pete's face goes blank. "Oh."

"You never called me," Patrick repeats. "Before, I mean. You said--" he shakes his head, cutting himself off. He's not having this conversation. He tries to go around Pete again, but Pete puts up his other hand.

His eyes are intent on Patrick when he says, "I said what?"

"You said you'd call me," Patrick grits out. "When you decided what you were going to do. And you never did."

"Is that--that's what this is about?" Pete asks, eyebrows raised, surprised. "Is that all? I didn't call you the next morning? Seriously?"

"Fuck you, Pete," Patrick says, flatly, feeling in his chest the compressed weight of all the things he wants to say, all the things he's thought, all the hurt that was too much to be written down, let alone sung. He pushes Pete's arm out of the way and almost gets past. Pete grabs his shoulder with both hands.

"Patrick," he says, "listen--"

Patrick shoves him away; his shoulder hits the wall. "Three years," Patrick says. "You didn't call for three years, asshole--"

"I'm sorry," Pete says. "I had some shit to deal with, I had to--it had nothing to do with you, or the band, I just--"

"You're fucking sorry? You made me, you fucker, you made me and then you fucking left me," Patrick says, nearly shouts, and Pete takes a step back, puts his hand over his mouth and looks: stunned; apologetic. Patrick breathes in and out heavily, hardly even believing he just said that.

It seems like hours before Pete drops his hand to his chest and says, quietly, "I'm sorry."

Patrick shakes his head at Pete. "Could you," he says; his voice catches and he closes his eyes, tries again: "I can't--"

"Don't," Pete says. "Don't say it. I know you, I know you won't take it back, and I'm a selfish motherfucker, but I need to think you'll forgive me. Please, okay, just don't fucking say it."

Patrick feels his hands curl in on each other and he wants to say it, oh does he ever. He wants to punch the wall, punch Pete in the throat, use the heavy angry weight in his hands for something. He bites his lip and takes a deep breath through his nose. He says, "I'm not forgiving you today, Pete."

Pete nods.

"Or next week," Patrick says. "Not next year, either."

"No," Pete says. "Probably not."

Patrick makes his hands relax and finishes passing Pete in the hall.

Joe and Marie have joined the party. Patrick quickly tells them mazel tov again, says he hopes they enjoy their gift, retrieves Victoria from flirting with Matt, and leaves.

In Syracuse, a girl slides a copy of Infinity On High across the table and smiles shyly. "Hi, I'm Allie," she says, fiddling with the frayed cuff of her Clan hoodie, purple faded nearly grey from washing.

"Hi, Allie, I'm Patrick, nice to meet you," he says, smiling back, opening the case and poising his pen over the disc.

"Oh, wait." She reaches and taps the booklet; the familiar scrawl of Joe's signature, and Pete's tight, spiky handwriting underneath. "I'm collecting all of you," she says, and giggles a little.

"Hey, that's awesome," he says. He signs his name and maybe, briefly, accidentally touches Pete's name with his thumb.

"Yeah," Allie says. "I got Joe years ago, on the Honda Civic Tour? I was eleven, it was my first concert, but Pete was just last night. I've been so excited to see you guys right after each other." She laughs and shrugs and blushes some more.

Patrick snaps the case shut. Last night? "Really? Where did you see him?" he asks, casual. He can see Paul's concerned expression out of the corner of his eye, but he ignores it.

"He did a talk at Borders in Rochester," Allie says, tucking her CD back in her bag. "His spoken word is so awesome, right?"

"I haven't had a chance to check it out yet," Patrick says. He hadn't known a thing about it, in fact.

"You really should," Allie says, and nods seriously. Paul pats Allie on the shoulder and smiles nicely at her, leading her away. "Bye, Patrick," she says, waving and grinning, just before she disappears back into the crowd.

"Good luck tracking Andy down," Patrick calls. "Bye!"

Patrick hasn't visited MeeLikey since Joe's wedding--five weeks; it's a personal best. He clicks the link in his Favourites folder. The most recent entry is from last week:

watch your fingers, it's hot off the presses

[cover of Lovekill: stories and essays by Pete Wentz]

dont want you burning yourself. this one is available exclusively at your local Borders until labor day (audiobook dl up at the itunes). on the road for the next wee little while, doing readings (never thought i'd type those words) and talkshows. schedule up soon.

Turns out, he and Pete are going to be playing Albany on the same day.

"Bad idea," Greta says.

"I think it's a good idea," Victoria says, and puts her head on Patrick's shoulder. "Closure. Catharsis."

"I have seen him since the--since," Patrick says. He doesn't even know why he wants to go; it doesn't make any sense. Keeping four blogs, Buzznet, and MeeLikey in his Favourites doesn't make much sense either, really.

"Stalking him on the internet doesn't count," Alex says without looking up from his book.

"I'm not stalking him on the fucking--shut up," Patrick says.

"Board rooms and--what, Joe's wedding? Doesn't count," Greta says.

Patrick snaps his fingers. "That's it exactly. The last time I talked to Pete, we ruined Joe's wedding." Which is not strictly true, but. Victoria shakes her head and pats his thigh.

"Like I said," Greta shrugs, "bad idea."

"You could just sneak in," Victoria says quietly, practically in Patrick's ear; he'd never imagined his bad angel being quite so--yeah. Pretty. "Stand in the back--"

"It's at a tiny bookstore," Patrick whispers back. "There's no sneaking, he'd see me--"

"You could wear a disguise," she says.

"Seriously?" Greta says.

Victoria frowns at her. "Nobody asked you. Spoilsport."

"I'll go," Alex says. "I'll take pictures. I'll wear a disguise. No one will know it's me."

"Pete will know," Patrick says. "For fuck's sake, dude."

"So I'll tell him I snuck away from the tour. I'll tell him you forbade us from attending his readings on pain of death, and I risked much merely to be in his presence." Alex raises his eyebrows. "Sound good?"

"Awesome," Victoria says, and clasps her hands under her chin. "You should use an accent too."

In the end, due to a foreboding weather report, they have to pull up stakes from Albany a day early and nobody can go to the reading. Instead, Patrick buys Pete's book the next time they stop at a mall.

He tells the band his Borders bag contains only the new Louis Armstrong biography and they leave him alone about it. The book sits beside his pillow in his bunk for three days, face-down, the back of the jacket filled with a black and white photograph of a night garden: stone wall; wooden gate; lights wrapped around a tree, glowing inside an ivy-wrapped globe; an empty bench waiting beside the gate.

After a show in Cambridge, Patrick pulls his curtain closed and snaps it shut. He holds the book in his lap for a while, and then he opens it.

The dedication is simple, of course: for you.

From "Lovekill: stories and essays by Pete Wentz."

Why This Book Has Such A Stupid Title

[...] The thing is, people always say, "I'd love to have that," in the same tone and with the same meaning as, "I'd kill to have that."

I'd love to be that. I'd kill to be that.

I'd love to do that. I'd kill to do that.

For two words with such contradictory intentions, we sure do use them interchangeably a lot. I think most of my experiences have been inside that place of shared meaning and contradictory intentions. That bare inch where you'd both love and kill for something, anything at all.

In a weird way, for a long time, I lived in the space of love/kill.

Most of these stories happened during that long and weird time, so I figured I'd cut right to the chase when telling people what's between these covers.

And that is why this book has such a stupid title. I hope you like it anyway.

Ojai, CA
January 28, 2013

Upon closer inspection, almost half of Pete's signings and readings are in the same places on almost the same days as Patrick's shows for the next two months. Patrick frowns at his laptop screen and determinedly does not entertain any paranoid fantasies. He doesn't mention the scheduling coincidences to the band, either. They probably already know, let's be honest, and he doesn't need any more "stalking on the internet jokes"--he's not. He also doesn't need any more cunning plans to get him and Pete in the same room. He doesn't want to see Pete. He's quite satisfied with surreptitiously reading Pete's blogs, and Pete's book, thanks.

Pete's book, which has a story called "Paris Doesn't Love Me The Way It Loved Jim Morrison." It's about a conversation Pete had with a beautiful Dutch girl in a café in Montmartre; and the fact that Paris is a waystation for him, rather than a destination in itself; and how, after talking with this girl for an hour, Pete realized that he had no desire to do anything with her but talk, just as he was, for as long as it lasted.

Pete's book, which has an essay on the meaning of activism in a world made so small that tragedies ten thousand miles away are as immediate as homelessness in one's own city.

Pete's book, which has a story about going to Ashlee's wedding almost two years after they broke up, and dancing with her at the reception, and the meaning of "over it."

Pete's book, which has three short poems called "Detox," "Detox II," and "Detox III: The Reckoning."

Patrick signs the papers because his lawyer assures him the cover won't ever actually make it out of the studio. The first verse is a little too cerebral, for one thing, and can you really make a dance/R&B/pop song out of an arrangement featuring full horns and strings?

Anyway, he mostly puts it out of his mind until he's listening to KIIS 102.7 on the bus's satellite radio one morning six months later and hears the familiar fat brass opening and unfamiliar female voices alternating the opening lines of "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs."

"Holy shit," he says, and turns up the volume.

It's not terrible, all things considered. It's just--his song. His big number, his showstopper, with his strings, and his trombone-playing, and all the things Pete had to beg the label for: all the things that nearly kept it from being a single in the first place. It's just three girls he doesn't know singing about things they couldn't possibly understand, or even know about. He does have to admit, he kind of resents them for not having to deal with the "sounds kind of gay" comments.

Alex rolls out of his bunk and slumps onto a couch and starts laughing. "Isn't this great?" he asks, gesturing at the radio console.

"This is the first time I'm hearing it," Patrick says.

Alex's eyes go wide and delighted. "So you haven't seen the video either?"

Patrick's heart stutters and his stomach flips over unhappily. "Video?"

It's one of Those Weekends, when Chris comes out to visit Greta and Patrick books hotels for the next few nights. In Baltimore, Patrick locks himself in his room after the show and sits down heavily on the bed. He owes Andy an e-mail; his mom and his manager both need to be called. He falls back on the bed and stares at the ceiling for a while, occasionally drumming his fingers on his stomach. He is bone-tired, tacky with sweat; his fingers hurt from playing for over two hours.

The show went well, another nearly-full venue, almost two thousand seats. Patrick did "Hallelujah" during the encore again. He hums the melody in the darkness of his hotel room--I burned your flag on the marble arch, 'cause love is not some victory march--and is startled by a knock on the door.

He pushes himself to his feet and turns on the bedside lamp before unlocking and opening the door, expecting Victoria or maybe one of the tour staff.

"Hey," Pete says.

Patrick stares, too tired to even remember he should close the door in Pete's face.

"I was in the neighbourhood," Pete says. "Caught the show."

"Would you quit stalking me?" Patrick says automatically. "Seriously."

"Okay," Pete says. "I was in DC for a reading yesterday and decided to catch the show."

"Not actually less creepy," Patrick says. To his own ears, he sounds more exhausted than mean.

Pete shrugs. "Can't help it."

Patrick sighs and slouches against the door frame. "What do you want?" he asks.

"Just checking in," Pete says. "Just saying hi."

Just saying hi. Patrick blinks at him and squints and doesn't feel the familiar stony rise of anger; there is only a small, painful twist of remembered betrayal, and the way Patrick has imagined him when reading Lovekill: desperate, thoughtless, manic, alone in airports and French cafes and the black and white night garden. Pete smiles a little and waves belatedly.

"Hi," Patrick says. He waves back limply.

"I read on the internet that you were doing 'Hallelujah,' but I didn't really believe it until I saw it," Pete says.

"Hm," Patrick says, eyes wandering to the hypnotic, repeating pattern of blue and red diamonds in the hotel carpet.

"I remember, Patrick," Pete says.

"Remember what," Patrick says. He closes his eyes, just for a second.

"When every breath you drew was hallelujah," Pete says, and there is a brief warm weight on Patrick's shoulder, and he opens his eyes to see Pete walking away. The strange tunneling perspective of the hallway swallows him, his black leather jacket and black jeans, his easy gait.

Eventually, Patrick falls back in to his room and closes the door. He collapses on his bed, just as he was when he heard the knock on the door.

When he wakes up at seven to get on the bus, he decides it was a dream. A weird, weirdly civil dream, and he supposes he should be glad he's not dreaming about losing his voice and dead cats anymore. He takes his copy of Lovekill out of his bag and leaves it on the hotel room desk.

In Boston, a week later, Greta says yes when Patrick asks if she wants to sing a Hush Sound song with him. They pool most of their per diem and rent a baby grand for the show. The band curls around it: Greta's kit within sight of the bench; Victoria's keyboards behind the pianist; Alex at the deep outer swell of the piano. All four of them play it throughout the night, just having fun with a real piano for the first time on the tour.

During the encore, Patrick carefully plays the opening chords of "Hurricane," and Greta sings the first verse and chorus, holding her sticks in both hands across her thighs. The lights are dimmed to dull amber, gleaming on the nuts and bolts and edges of Greta's kit and turning the white paint of the piano into burnished gold. Patrick sings the second verse, keeping eye contact with Greta, and she smiles kindly back at him. At the bridge, Victoria plays the steel guitar solo on the organ; Patrick puts his head down and watches his hands and ignores the burn behind his eyes.

Patrick's voice does not crack, harmonizing with Greta on the last refrain. It almost does, though, and he almost cries.

Maya: In Lovekill, there's this story about a girl you dated, who had a panther tattooed on her calf, and then she lost the leg in an accident--
Pete: Georgia Morningstar.
Maya: Yeah. Panther was her spirit guide, her totem. So, what's your totem, Pete Wentz?
Pete: Ah, well. Like, I don't really go for all that cultural appropriation stuff, seriously--
Maya: I'm an Indian, Pete. And I, as an Indian, being fully aware of the fact that you are not an Indian, am asking you: what's your totem?
Pete: [laughs] When you put it that way--I don't know. I'm not a wolf. And I'm totally not a bear. That's what guys usually say, right, so. I don't know. I mean, maybe I'm a bit of a wolf, but not, like, capital "w" Wolf, know what I'm saying. [pause] What do you think?
Maya: I think you've got some Coyote, to tell you the truth.
Pete: Really?
Maya: Coyote is always playing tricks--sometimes he's just joking around, and sometimes people actually get hurt. He likes to use people's pride against them. He has a strange sense of justice, in that it usually just looks like revenge. And he never takes the blame.
Pete: [laughs] Wow, that's me all over. What about you?
Maya: Oh, me. I'm a frog.

GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Hey, Girlicious's cover of "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" hit number one this week.
PATRICK STUMP: Yes, it did.
GS: It didn't even crack the top ten for you, so this must be pretty wild.
PS: If you told me back in 2007 that an all-girl pop group created by reality television would be covering one of Fall Out Boy's songs, I probably wouldn't have believed you.
GS: I wouldn't have believed it either. The video sure is something, too, huh?
PS: "Something" is definitely one word for it, yes.
GS: There are no monkeys in this version, for example.
PS: No monkeys or chimps, no. A lot of--gyrating, though. Shimmying. Hair-tossing. Stiletto boots.
GS: You gotta wonder how they dance in those things, eh?
PS: It's a mystery.
GS: You totally hate it, don't you? [laughs]
PS: I--uh. No, not at all.
GS: Ladies and gents, Patrick Stump. We'll be back in two minutes or less on The Strombo Show.

After the Girlicious thing, Patrick e-mails Joe and Andy and suggests they meet every couple of months, in person or by phone or webcam or whatever, to discuss things instead of relying on the lawyers not to completely fuck up whatever credibility Fall Out Boy: The Product might have left.

Joe requests the meetings happen on the last Thursday of every month. Andy says they should do it at his place in Wisconsin, since he's the only one who actually gives a shit about his carbon footprint.

Patrick agrees with Joe and sends a few pictures of his new Honda HCX to piss Andy off.

"You're going to be exhausted," Greta says, frowning a little.

"It's fine, okay, we don't have a show that day anyhow," Patrick says, crossing his legs and getting comfortable in his bunk. "I'll be back on the bus in Tampa in plenty of time for Saturday night."

"But you'll be exhausted," Greta says again. She's knitting in Victoria's bunk, Victoria holding the ball of yarn helpfully. "You're kind of missing my point a little."

"You really should just do it in video," Alex says from behind his newspaper, legs dangling over the side of his bunk.

Patrick rolls his eyes and shrugs at Victoria, like: can you believe this shit? Victoria shrugs back and says, "I think they're right, sorry."

Patrick sits back against the wall of his bunk and frowns. He says, "Fuck you all, it's my fucking tour. If I want to take a day off and go to Wisconsin, I will."

"Diva," Greta says.

"Remember when Pete was El Jefe?" Alex muses. "I never thought I'd say it, but--wasn't that a more just, more democratic society?"

Victoria giggles. Patrick pulls the curtain on his bunk with as slam-like a rattle as he can.

my cat totally does this

"not asleep but remembering"

then you breach
to where there are
no songs no words
just an animal silence
and the wait
of predation

a cat sleeps
near your head or
not asleep but remembering
into your dream
as its claws
knead the pillow

-P. Friesen


see you soon.

Posted by xo at 3:16AM

Two weeks later, Andy says, "Hybrids are not going to save the planet," slowly, like he's speaking to child.

"It's not a hybrid," Patrick says, setting down his carry-on in the hall and following Andy further in to the house. "It's a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle."

"Oh wow, it's like I just walked in on 2008," Pete says, coming in to Andy's kitchen from the backyard, carrying a basket of fruits and vegetables.

Patrick's spine goes rigid and his bad shoulder twinges in protest. He hadn't expected Pete to be here.

"Joe's on his way from the airport," Andy tells Pete. He takes the basket and dumps it in the sink. "Dinner will be made of--" he digs through the pile of produce "--corn, potatoes, carrots, squash, and grapes."

"Sounds good," Patrick says.

"I could do a curry if you want," Pete says, opening the half-size, solar-powered fridge and looking dubious. "I'm good at curry."

"With grapes?" Andy asks. "And since when can you cook?"

"The grapes are for dessert, duh," Pete says. "My roommates don't allow frozen food in the house. I kind of had to learn to cook or starve." He rolls his eyes and shrugs, long-suffering, leaning back against the counter.

"See, I love those people," Andy says. "I love the Jumas," he says to Patrick over his shoulder.

"That's nice," Patrick says. He has no idea what they're talking about. Since when does Pete have roommates? He can't seriously be that broke already.

"They're nice people," Pete says. "It's a house of niceness. I often wonder what I'm doing there."

"It's your house," Andy says. "Maybe?"

"But, you know, it's not a home without them," Pete says, pressing his hands over his heart and gazing up at the ceiling sappily. Patrick's mouth twitches and he swallows a bit of laughter. Pete looks at him and away, quickly, and says, "We could talk about something Patrick gives a shit about."

Patrick almost protests, but makes a joke about the Girlicious cover instead, because--he doesn't give a shit about Pete's life. He doesn't, and he hasn't for a long time, and he's not going to get sucked into giving a shit ever again. No matter how curious he is.

After dinner, as they're eating chilled red grapes and vanilla non-dairy frozen dessert, Pete says, "We can save 'Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,' guys. It doesn't have to end like this."

"How?" Joe says woefully, raising his hands, palms up. "Knee-high stiletto boots."

Pete pulls a pamphlet out of his back pocket and slaps it down in the middle of the table, between the jug of water and the jug of fresh-squeezed, organic purple juice. It tastes good, anyway. The pamphlet is pink and yellow and has a picture of a middle-aged woman with her arms crossed over her chest, hands holding her shoulders.

"The Endurance Project works to get prosthetics and chest reconstruction surgeries for underinsured and uninsured breast cancer survivors," Pete says. He holds the pamphlet open and up so Andy and Joe and Patrick can read it. All Patrick catches is: for these women, it's not just about surviving cancer: it's about enduring one more test of strength.

"Okay," Andy says. "But--"

"We lend them the song to use for promo, we do some appearances, we namedrop, we donate a shitload of money," Pete says.

"Oh god," Patrick says, as the hook dawns on him. "Thanks for the mammaries." Andy and Joe groan and shake their heads.

Pete grins, the old "see, Patrick gets it" grin; it looks rusty. "It's fucking awesome, right?"

"Something like that," Patrick says.

They agree to it, of course; Pete puts a motion to the band and they vote and it's unanimous. Pete says he'll take care of it with the lawyers.

It's late; Patrick has to catch a plane to Florida. He hugs Andy and Joe goodbye, tells Joe he'll see him at the Pasadena show in a few weeks. He waves at Pete and goes outside to his cab.

Pete follows him, holds the cab door open for him. Patrick does his best to ignore all of it. "It's a really good idea," Pete says.

"I know," Patrick says. "That's why I voted for it."

"You met Adelie at Joe's wedding," Pete says, tapping his fingers on the top of the cab door.

Patrick doesn't have time for this. "Yeah, look--"

"Adelie and her husband and kids live with me in Ojai," Pete says. "They're my roommates, the Jumas."

"Okay," Patrick says, slowly. He doesn't fucking care, but he had been wondering; he'd wondered about Adelie.

"It's a long story, but I saved their lives, and they saved mine." Pete shrugs. "And now I'm not allowed to eat frozen food."

"That makes a lot of sense," Patrick says.

Pete smiles a little and says, "You should go; you're going to miss your flight."

Patrick glares at him and gets in the cab and pulls the door out of Pete's hands and slams it closed and doesn't say goodbye.

On the plane, he wishes vaguely and suddenly that he hadn't gotten rid of his copy of Lovekill; Pete's long story about the Jumas is probably in there somewhere. He pulls his laptop out of his bag angrily, jams his headphones on, and starts working in Garage Band.

Back on the bus in Tampa, he e-mails Joe and Andy to tell them the trip completely exhausted him--it's not that much of a lie--and it would be better if they did the meetings via video or phone in the future. Joe agrees and Andy says he'll set up a Skype server for next month.

"I told you," Greta says, peeking in to his bunk an hour before showtime.

"Leave me alone," Patrick says, half-yawning, and puts his pillow over his head.

Bob's e-mail arrives while Patrick is doing soundcheck in New Orleans; it says some vague things about ambient sales increasing with the Girlicious cover and non-profit licensing and also something about capitalizing on emerging revenue streams.

Pete replies with hard numbers: iTunes and Island licensed downloads are up, CD sales are up, Google searches are up. He puts a name to the emerging revenue stream: best-of compilation.

On the phone, right before Patrick is supposed to go on stage, Andy says, "Best-of albums are fucking ridiculous. People only buy them for the singles."

"I know," Patrick says. "But--"

"Best-of albums are the fucking death-knell," Andy says. "The death-knell, Patrick."

"The bell has already tolled," Patrick says. He doesn't really care either way, he doesn't. "Seriously, man."

Andy is quiet for a moment. With his free hand, Patrick adjusts his tie in the dressing room mirror, straightens his sweater vest, trades his yellow cap for a grey fedora.

"Really?" Andy says. "You really think--"

"It's over," Patrick says, looking himself in the eye.

"Yeah. And there's no harm in cheapening the integrity of something that doesn't exist, right?" Andy asks.

Patrick swallows. "Exactly," he says.

The track listing of the compilation is decided by vote, via e-mail. There are fourteen slots on the album; the four of them take turns nominating songs; they each have two vetoes. Patrick is surprised and pleased to find out that Joe's absolute favourite Fall Out Boy song is "Calm Before The Storm;" Andy's is "Sugar," of all things.

Pete's e-mail says, "seriously, andy hurley?"

Andy replies, "it has a fucking narrative structure, okay."

"don't hurt yourself," Pete replies, "i'm seconding the nomination." Patrick and Joe also vote yes.

Patrick uses both of his vetoes against songs Pete nominates: "Honorable Mention" and "It's Hard To Say 'I Do.'" It's not required, but he justifies his decisions with: "Shitty song," and, "I don't think death threats are the 'best' of us," respectively.

In Phoenix, he says, "This one's for Andy," and sings the first line of "Sugar," and lets the audience sing the rest. No, seriously, the rest of the song. They do I've been dying to tell you anything you want to hear so well, he kind of feels they deserve a chance to belt the whole thing like they probably have to their steering wheel (pillow, hairbrush, mirror) a million times.

He prompts them once in a while, and does the back-up part for the bridge, but mostly he just plays his guitar and sings along off-mike and smiles--into the glare-slicked darkness he knows is filled with a crowd of singers, at Victoria and Alex and Greta, at his own feet, thinking: I made this, I made this and it's amazing.

When the reverb of the last chord and the screams of the crowd are still humming in the room, he wraps his hand around his mike and says, "Okay, guys, okay, let's try that again. And maybe I could sing this time?"

Transcript of "Top of the Crop" countdown interview, taped 10-01-2013

Pete Wentz: Like, we needed a single, and "Carpal Tunnel" had been a single, but it never got much play--partially because of the video, the original video, which was a Happy Tree Friends animation and all violent and gory, which some people didn't like, go figure. We like the song, anyway, and we thought it deserved another chance, and it's the title track for the album, so.

The concept behind the video is that…I'm cheap! I didn't want to spend a lot of money, and also that we are incredibly busy these days, the four of us, separately, and it was pretty much impossible to line up our schedules for even the like three days it would take to shoot a video. Plus, I just didn't have time--none of us had time to sit down and find a director and go through concepts and the whole thing.

So I was like, let's cut the song into four pieces and each do our own mini-video, and I think it turned out pretty awesome, for like no money. I mean, Andy--Andy didn't even have a video camera, so I had to buy him one, which was like the biggest expense in the budget. And the flashcards from my bit, whatever.

I think the videos encapsulate really well what we're all doing these days, and what we've been up to for the last few years, actually. Like, Patrick has been working his ass off, just getting better and better at what he does and having a ton of fun doing it, and Joe got married and had kids and started a new, awesome band, and I--play games with small children, I guess, and Andy, wow. Andy is--the best person on the planet. I think he exists to balance me out in the universe. Or, I balance him out, whatever, know what I'm saying.

Anyway. Here it is: Fall Out Boy's "The Carpal Tunnel Of Love," from our new best-of compilation, aptly titled Love Songs For The Genuinely Cunning, number one on this week's VH1 Top of the Crop countdown. Enjoy. It's transfat-free and vegan-friendly.

Patrick watches the video for the nine hundredth time on Youtube, in his bunk on the bus. He watches himself playing the song at soundcheck in Dallas, impulsively shake-shake-shaking his hips and breaking into laughter with Victoria. He watches himself moving equipment and playing Rock Band II with Alex and Greta and making Mr. Noodles in the bus kitchenette.

Andy got the first two choruses--his footage is all time-lapse of him in a Hurley Organics t-shirt, arms crossed, looking satisfied and, at times, faintly smug, standing in the middle of various enterprises: his farms and orchards, processing plants, the Milwaukee clothing factory, his renewable fuel vehicle dealership, which mostly sells bicycles.

Pete's footage, for the second verse, was shot in a kitchen. He's sitting at the table with three kids who range in age from seven or eight to probably eleven or twelve. They bang the table along with the stomping feet effect, and lay their heads down on the table for sleeping through the weekend and blow kisses at the camera. Pete holds a stack of flashcards up for the camera, illustrating more lyrics: several pictures of himself, from horrible dreadlocks to red bangs to Hobbit mullet to the ridiculous mini fauxhawk he got after Ashlee left. The last card says: "How've you been?," the website for the best-of compilation. They all wave goodbye and blow more kisses and the verse is over.

Joe wanted the screaming verse, so he could use home video of his girls with ice cream all over their faces, and footage from his wedding, and show off Juliette and Aida playing in a sprinkler in his yard; Marie runs through the spray with baby Lauren, both of them laughing.

The final chorus shows Pete holding the camera out to film himself straightening his tie and smoothing his hair, checking his cufflinks. He opens a door and focuses the shot on the long table inside the boardroom. Joe, Andy, and Patrick sit around it, all wearing suits, each with two or three actors clearly playing Lawyers.

Joe: Well, yeah, like, I love it, 'cause it's got my kids in it. And, like, I always thought that we tried to capture some essential Fall Out Boy-ness in our videos, and this one gives you a pretty good idea of what it's like to be in the band these days.
Kate: Wait--you guys are back together?
Joe: Oh, no, sorry--
Kate: Thought I had a scoop for a minute there. [laughs]
Joe: [laughs] Yeah right. I meant, like, Fall Out Boy isn't a band anymore, but it exists. There are all kinds of business things associated with the product--the entity, right, and all four of us are still involved in making decisions for the entity. It's like Frankenstein's Monster or something up in here. So I guess I meant that the video--really, the last shot, gives you an idea what it's like to be involved with the business enterprise known as Fall Out Boy.
Kate: How so?
Joe: Lots of lawyers. And meetings. [shrugs]

The next Fall Out Boy not-a-band meeting happens when Patrick is in Madison for a show anyhow, so he goes over to Andy's place. Pete is also there, which Andy hadn't mentioned when Patrick called him. It's all disquietingly familiar.

"Hey guys," Patrick says, and hugs Andy.

Dinner is roasted squash with some kind of grains and berries. It's really good, and they talk easily about how well the Project Endurance thing went, and how the best-of thing is selling, and how the "Carpal Tunnel" video is in the YouTubePro top ten. When Joe Skypes in during dessert, he looks largely disinterested, fiddling with his mouse and grimacing when Andy suggests licensing songs to other charities.

"What's the problem, Trohman?" Andy asks.

"This is worse than fucking Infinity On High," Joe says. "We need to play a show or something, you guys, or I am seriously going to give all this shit back to my lawyer."

Stung, Patrick asks, "What was wrong with Infinity?"

Joe rolls his eyes. "I'm serious--I'm bored out of my fucking mind, and I could be playing with my kids right this second, okay."

"So let's do it," Andy says.

Pete looks up from his phone, but not at Andy. His gaze is unreadable when he meets Patrick's eyes. Patrick just stares back for a few seconds, refusing to react. Pete glances at Andy. "Do what?" he says.

Reunion, Patrick thinks.

"A reunion tour," Andy says.

Patrick thinks about it on the cab ride back to the bus. He thinks about: Joe shouting "Hell yes," and Andy turning down the sound on the computer speakers--"If you blow my sound system, you're fucking replacing it, Trohman." He thinks about Pete smiling into his coffee cup.

He thinks about how he told Andy it was over; the bell has tolled.

The truth is: he misses the band. He misses all of it--the smelliness and the lack of personal space and the never knowing when he'd get more than an hour of sleep. He misses it, and he feels, a gut-anchored knowing, that Joe is right. They have to do something, or he's going to lose whatever he has left with them. He's going to lose even Pete--the opportunity to remind Pete of what he's done.

He gives Victoria some printed music a few days later, and tells her about the proposed reunion. She doesn't say anything, doesn't offer any opinion, just nods and tells him she'll be ready to do the song at soundcheck.

At the end of the show that night, the final encore, Victoria sits at her organ and Patrick stands with his acoustic guitar. He plays gently, subdued, a million years removed from the original version of the song.

He sings, "I'm good to go, and I'm going nowhere fast."

After, he helps load the equipment in to the trailers and the underbelly of the bus and goes to bed in his bunk while the rest of the band and a couple of kids from Countdown Commence drink and eat popcorn and play video games.

He lays on his back, the shouting and clinking and explosions from the front lounge muffled but not muted, thinking me and Pete me and Pete me and Pete. He falls asleep, waiting for the decision to feel real.

Patrick wakes up to the plain jane "brrng brrng" of his phone, on the road somewhere between Cleveland and St. Louis. The ID says "Joe FOB," so he takes a deep breath and puts the phone to his ear and says, "Hi."

"That means yes, right?" Joe says.

Patrick puts the back of his hand against his forehead, hardly daring to believe it himself, and says, "Yes, it means yes."

"This is going to be so fucking awesome," Joe says.

"I hope so," Patrick says.

"I'm gonna go call Bob and Andy and Pete," Joe says.

"Sure, yeah," Patrick says. "It's your band, man."

"Dude," Joe says, and Patrick can picture him sitting on his couch, both hands around the phone, barely able to contain his glee, "dude, seriously. This is so fucking awesome."

"I missed you too, JTroh," Patrick says, and Joe laughs and hangs up.

Patrick dozes for an hour, half-listening to the hushed noise of Victoria rolling over and back again above his head. A soft beep from his phone tells him he has a text message.

It says: "thx. u wont regret it. xo"

"So," Patrick says into the mike, fiddling with the tuning knobs on his acoustic guitar. "So, this tour is over in a couple of weeks--" the crowd and Victoria go "aww"--"yeah, I know, I'm sad too. It's been a lot of fun, being stuck in a bus with three girls for months on end."

"You swore you'd never tell," Alex says.

"That Greta's a girl?" Victoria says.

The crowd "oohs" and Greta throws a drum stick at Victoria's head and Patrick laughs.

"No, seriously, guys," he says. "There are things happening after the tour, like Greta is having a baby--" cheers "--and Alex is doing a new This Is Ivy League record--" more cheers "--and Victoria is--what are you doing again, Victoria?"

"Something about a man and a piano," she says, shrugging, blushing.

"Victoria's doing a solo album," Alex says. He raises his voice over the cheering crowd to add, "And then she's coming on tour with me and Ryland."

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head, waving her hands in the "do not want" way.

"What about you, Patrick?" Greta asks, a little slyly.

Patrick adjusts his hat and gives a brief laugh. "Well, uh. There's this thing I'm doing next year, this Fall Out Boy reunion thing--"

The crowd goes insane. Patrick waits it out, gives them a minute. He's starting to figure out that he's actually excited too. He wants the bus to be a mess. He wants Andy handing around vegan junk food and being addicted to sports video games. He wants to play the blues and watch bad movies and talk about babies with Joe. He wants--he misses trusting Pete, and he's not kidding himself about getting that back, but maybe, at least, he can have all the things that went with trusting Pete.

"I know," he says to the dying screams of the crowd in Seattle. "It's too soon, I know."

"Any band who get back together less than ten years after breaking up is only doing it for one reason," Alex says.

"I'm not gonna lie," Patrick replies, "we need the money." He shrugs and shakes his head sadly at the audience. "It's the awful truth, kids. Just like Motley Crue."

"Panic at the Disco," Alex says.

"Stone Temple Pilots," Patrick says.

"The Rolling Stones," Alex says.

"The Stones never actually broke up," Patrick points out. "It was never official, they just took really long--breaks."

"'Break' being the operative word," Alex says.

"Hey, guys," Greta says. "We could play a song?"

Patrick nods and resettles his guitar on his lap. "We could," he says, thoughtfully, like he's trying to think of something to play. "We could play--ah, fuck it, this is 'Songs About Chicago.'"

The crowd cheers, almost as loudly as when he'd said Fall Out Boy were getting back together. He smiles and leans forward to sing the opening lines.

Here's the story of a windy city and the questionable company it keeps:
kids in bad clothes with bad hair and the sad, sad songs they sing.

3. "Stranger things have happened, I know."

From The Hour, taped 11-07-2013, broadcast 11-09-2013.

GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Pete Wentz, welcome to the program.
PETE WENTZ: Thanks for having me. The cheese tray in your green room is delicious, by the way.
GS: Real Canadian cheese.
PW: I could tell.
GS: [laughs] Okay, so. You were out of the public eye for a few years there, after your band Fall Out Boy broke up, but now you've written this book, Lovekill, which came out just this past summer, and you're back. How was the trip?
PW: A long, strange one. Which is why I wrote the book.
GS: It's not your first--
PW: No, it's the second.
GS: But it's your first widely published one, and you've had great success with it.
PW: Yeah, I don't know. I thought the shitty title would keep people away, but.
GS: [laughs]
PW: There's no accounting for taste, right.
GS: What else have you been doing? The book couldn't have taken you three years to write.
PW: No, uh. I had my businesses to run, and I've done a lot of traveling, Fall Out Boy just released a best-of, you know. Keeping busy.
GS: You were in Africa quite a bit, right?
PW: Yeah. I've spent some time there.
GS: In Darfur.
PW: Uh--
GS: You're credited as Best Boy on the Oscar-nominated documentary Warzone Trespasser--
PW: I held a light, I don't know--
GS: Come on, Pete. You actually bankrolled the film, didn't you? You made sure it happened.
PW: That's--it's, it was a film that needed to be made, nobody else would give them the money, it was too dangerous. I mean, I kept my name off of it for a reason, I don't have a lot of credibility, okay--
GS: Pete, seriously--you've been working with the NGO featured in the film, getting over a hundred Darfurian dissidents out of the country on diplomatic, work exchange, and student visas. I think you've got plenty credibility.
PW: I--. Thank you.
GS: It's all in the book, man.
PW: Once a famewhore, always a famewhore, what can I say.

Patrick spends Christmas at his place in Glenview, with his mom and stepdad. It's quiet after being on the road for most of the year; it's nice. It's good to have his house steady and motionless around him.

One of the gifts he gets from his mom is a black patent vinyl scrapbook full of obscure Fall Out Boy clippings, because sometimes his mom is a cliché.

"Because of the reunion tour," she says when he blinks confusedly at a Japanese teen magazine article from 2009. In the photo spread, Patrick is wearing a lab coat and safety glasses and drinking a violently green bubble tea while Pete, Joe, and Andy fling little rubber animals at each other. Patrick can't remember if he ever even knew what the concept was.

"Awesome," he says, and finds himself smiling, leafing through the pages and pages printed in languages he doesn't know.

Kevin sends him a ridiculous amount of money on an Amazon giftcard to help him pass the time between tours. Patrick only hesitates for a minute before putting Warzone Trespasser and Lovekill in his cart, along with a few green economy books featuring Hurley Organics. He also buys a boxed set of the Bourne movies and books, and Caddyshack, which he still hasn't seen. entry for 12-28-2013.

top 5 cds of 2013


patrick stumph: still gets carded at nearly-30. solo by necessity, not by nature. best impression of bob mc-mf-lynn for seven years running.

1. the above suspicions - essential 45
2. my chemical romance - forever and ever the end
3. kt tunstall - here by there
4. kanye needs better titles but it was still good
5. same with jigga


peter wentz: still gets carded because no one recognizes him anymore. bona fidey published auteur. bona fidey warzone trespasser.

1. patrick stump - "selma avenue" - who knew all we had to do was leave the kid alone?
2. the above suspicions - "essential 45" - joseph trohman is a god, and whoever introduced him to the remains of pride tiger and the guy from priestess deserves a really good blowjob (no it wasnt me)
3. kanye west - "dissertation" - who better to take the metaphor just that little bit too far.
4. greek chorus - s/t - you dont know them? get your ass out of that cave and into a record store, son. i dont know what your doing, but it isn't living.
5. countdown commence - "most likely to" - i caught these guys opening for the openers at a show in Detroit; they are epic and barely legal. the cab better watch out.

When his giant Amazon box arrives a few weeks later, he goes through removing everything from its packaging and sorting out the recyclables, pretending he's not going to take Lovekill straight to the living room and settle on the couch to finally finish reading it.

He'd only gotten halfway through it the first time. He starts where he abandoned the book in a Maryland hotel room--on the last page of an essay comparing the conversion of traditional corporations into sustainable businesses to taking mob business "legit."

The last line is: "In conclusion, if I'd made sure my products and resources were coming from conscientious suppliers in the first place, I wouldn't be completely fucked now that corrupt governments are falling and fair labor legislation is being enforced. Let's call it Kathy Griffin's Law Revisited."

It's quick reading after that--mostly anecdotes, most of which Patrick remembers with snorts of laughter and not a single nostalgic tear; there are a few more poems, a couple of which Patrick remembers receiving as possible song lyrics before the break up.

The last story is called "The True Story Of How Pete Wentz's Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day." It starts on a documentary shoot in Darfur, six months after the self-determination referendum which resulted in the country's fragile independence from Sudan. Pete learns that the Stateside jobs he had arranged for several fleeing dissidents and their families have fallen through, and the people are already in LA. He tells his business manager to put the families in his house in Ojai until he figures something out.

He figures something out for almost all of the families by the time he gets back home. The only refugees left are a couple of farmers and their children. Patrick rolls his eyes and closes the book before finishing the story. Like he can't see right through to the Disney-worthy end of that one.

JOE TROHMAN: We're gonna play the MTV Video Awards, and Lollapalooza in July, and then jet over to England for Reading and Leeds, and maybe by then the people who do stuff will have gauged enough interest for a full-on tour.
CARMEN LAREDO: That would be really awesome.
JT: Seriously, I know.
CL: So will the Suspicions be on hiatus while you're jetting about with Fall Out Boy?
JT: Oh, yeah. We're definitely taking this summer off. Last year was absolutely insane, with Warped and Gigantour.
CL: Plus, you got married.
JT: Did I?

The four of them agree to two weeks of rehearsal before the MTV VAs and sign the contract at Decaydance's offices in Chicago. Patrick borrows Andy's pen and remembers borrowing Bob's to sign the dissolution paperwork at Island's offices in LA. He remembers remembering his parents' divorce.

The rehearsal space is the big live tracking room at Deadxstop Media. Patrick arrives ten minutes early on the first day, four guitars stacked in the back seat of his car. Andy and Joe are already there, hanging out on a ratty courduroy couch in the recording booth.

"Hey guys," Patrick says, and waves awkwardly. Joe and Andy smile and wave back.

"Yo," Joe says. "So Pete's not going to be here until Wednesday."

"He's stuck in Paris," Andy says, and shrugs.

"Good for him," Patrick says with the grim pleasantness of pessimism satisfied. "I hope it's worth missing three days of practice." He kicks the wall on his way out of the booth, leaving a brief scuff of black rubber on the bland off-white paint.

He goes out to his car and hefts out his new custom and nickel-plated SGs. He leaves the old silver one and the Infinity On High custom in the car.

Andy meets him in the hall outside the studio and takes one of the cases.

"Thanks," Patrick says, and puts his hand on the door.

"Hold up," Andy says. "I have to ask you something before we even try to do this."

"Okay," Patrick says.

Andy nods and squints benignly at Patrick for a moment. He says, "I'm sorry about what happened to you after the break up."

"What," Patrick says. His guitar case is suddenly a dead weight at the end of his arm. He tightens his grip, pinching his fingers a little painfully.

"Your career. I'm sorry everything got fucked up and nothing turned out the way it was supposed to for you. It'd be a shitty thing to happen to anybody, but it's really fucking shitty that it happened to you, because you did not deserve it." Andy's calm, sincere voice stops and he watches Patrick, eyebrows raised, obviously waiting for a response.

Patrick swallows and blinks away the tickle of tears, aware of the blotchy warmth in his cheeks. "That's not a question," he says.

"Dude," Andy says, rolling his eyes. "It's called a fucking preamble."

Patrick laughs sharply, startled, and Andy smiles a little.

"It was a shitty thing, what happened to you," he says, "but it happened and I think you've done pretty fucking well despite it all. So, look, okay, it wasn't anyone's fault--"

Oh god, Patrick thinks. "I know," he says.

"It wasn't Pete's fault," Andy says, and reaches to clasp Patrick's shoulder.

"I know," Patrick says again, even though he doesn't--

"Yeah, right," Andy says. "Then what the fuck is your problem?"

Patrick flinches back, out of Andy's reach, his guitar case banging against his knee and into the wall behind him, probably leaving another mark. "Fuck you," he says forcefully.

"You don't have to do this," Andy says. "He didn't do anything he hasn't punished himself for. He's already paid for everything he did, Patrick. You don't have to punish him."

"I don't have to forgive him," Patrick says, because maybe Pete has paid, but he hasn't paid Patrick. He's dimly aware that he sounds petulant and pissy.

"No," Andy says, "you don't. But don't you want to? Staying angry at him, cutting him out of your life isn't going to teach him some fucking lesson--"

"He cut me out," Patrick says, grasping at Andy's one disputable statement. "He cut me before I even--I never had a chance--" to fix it. To make it better. To tell him it would be okay. He never had a chance to do the things which had become his goddamn job.

"I miss you, man," Andy says suddenly, and grimaces like he didn't mean to say that at all.

Patrick stops, his mouth open a little.

Andy shakes his head. "This isn't you, okay, this is some bitter old has-been who has nothing to live for besides a meaningless grudge--"

"Fuck you," Patrick says again, stricken. "Fuck you, Andy. It's not meaningless--"

"Then what," Andy says. "What does it mean? Why can't you let it go?"

If he lets go, if he moves on--then it's like it didn't mean anything. It's like Pete can just move on too, no harm done. He has to stay angry; he has to stay angry with Pete, so Pete is always reminded, will understand what he did. So Pete will understand that there are consequences. He can't just get better and be a better person and apologize and get it all back. He can't just tell Patrick he's sorry and get Patrick back.

Patrick frowns deeply and shakes his head at Andy. This isn't any of Andy's fucking business. Andy is not sponsoring this tour; Patrick doesn't owe him one fucking thing.

Andy sighs. "Why are you even doing this, if you can't get over it?"

Patrick shakes his head again. He wants to say something asinine about the money, but the truth is: he doesn't even know anymore.

"Patrick," Andy says, sadly, sympathetically. "Dude." He touches Patrick's shoulder and Patrick doesn't jerk away this time, just draws in a deep breath, suddenly aware that the tears he'd been holding back are leaking out.

"Fuck," he says. He puts down his guitar and wipes his eyes with the backs of his hands, up under his glasses.

"It's okay," Andy says. "Do you want--look, take a minute, and I'll go look at more pictures of Joe's kids, and when you're ready, we'll get started."

Patrick nods and Andy takes both guitars inside the studio. Patrick leans his head back against the wall, looking at the framed show flyers lining the other side of the hallway. Most of the dates are at least six years old. None of the bands are still together. Patrick has watched and been part of a lot of bands ending. He remembers thinking Fall Out Boy would never end. But then, he also remembers thinking ER and Law & Order would never be over.

He takes another deep breath and adjusts his hat and pushes his glasses back up his nose and goes into the studio.

When Patrick arrives the next morning, early, Joe is alone in the studio, fooling around on a guitar. Patrick puts down his case and sets up, nodding along to the half-familiar tune Joe is whaling on. After a few minutes, the drawn out riffs and distortion even out and settle into the melody of "West Vs. Midwest" and Patrick laughs.

"That's my favourite, absolute favourite," Joe says.

Patrick shakes his head, slings his nickel-plated Gibson on, and plays a mottled version of the guitar solo from "Exception To The Rule," the bigger single from the Suspicions' album.

When he's done, Joe claps and bows with a flourish. "It's a good song," he says modestly.

"It's a great song," Patrick says. "You got a Billboard award, didn't you?"

"Which has almost exactly nothing to do with how good the song is," Joe says. "And you know it, too."

Patrick nods, conceding the point. Joe plays a simple line and Patrick joins him and they settle into a good, easy blues rhythm, and it's like all the hours in each other's basements, in the van, in the bus. Patrick puts into his improvisation: the wonder that it still works, that they can still do this, wander around each other in the room moving from B.B. King to Bo Diddley to--yeah.

Andy shows up on time and when Patrick and Joe barely say hi, he decides to go get them some coffee and food. Joe ignores him leaving; Patrick waves distractedly.

Not long after that, Joe stops playing and sits up on an amp. "I need a break," he says.

"Yeah," Patrick says, a little disappointed. It's okay, though, because they're doing shows and maybe a tour; this isn't the last time he'll be playing with Joe.

"So Pete'll be here tomorrow," Joe says. "He's probably on a plane right now, actually." He looks up at the ceiling like he can track the flight.

"Okay," Patrick says stiffly, and gets his water bottle out of his bag.

Joe scrunches his face around thoughtfully for a moment, and then says, "Andy told me he talked to you yesterday--"

"Jesus Christ," Patrick mutters. "Is this some kind of fucking intervention? Leave it alone."

"Fuck you, Patrick," Joe says. "We won't. We're all in this, okay, and--"

"You're in it?" Patrick asks. "Yeah, you were definitely in it, hanging out with him all that time while I was getting fucking screwed in LA--"

Joe squints and shakes his head. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"You guys--" Patrick starts.

"I hadn't talked to Pete since pretty much the last time you saw him, until he called me like last winter, so don't even--"

"Oh," Patrick says. Last winter. The same time he texted Patrick. Oh.

"Yeah," Joe says, looking pissed off. "Oh. So. He wasn't talking to Andy either, so you can cut that shit right out."

Patrick swallows and twists his hands around his water bottle. "I--"

"Who was screwing you in LA?" Joe asks.

Which is the thing, right, because Patrick never talked to Joe about it. Andy only knows because Patrick had to go begging for a sponsorship. "After the break up," he says, slowly, "I couldn't get any work. I left Decaydance and finished all the stuff I'd committed to, and nothing new came in."

"Shit," Joe says. He looks away from Patrick and rubs his hand over his face. "You didn't say--"

"No," Patrick says. "I didn't." He frowns. "I was, whatever. I was embarrassed."

"I could've," Joe says. "You could've been in my band. You could've wrote for us, produced, dude, for fuck's sake--"

"It's okay," Patrick says. He thinks of the months of bewilderment and anger, and what came out of them. "It was probably--it was supposed to go like this, maybe." He shrugs.

"That's just so much bullshit," Joe says. "And I can't fucking believe you're like clinging to this shit with Pete when you did the same fucking thing to the rest of us--just left us out when you needed us."

Patrick shoves his water bottle back in his bag, talking fast and not looking at Joe. "It's not the same thing at all, I didn't fucking disappear; he could've been dead--"

"But he wasn't," Joe says, "he's fine, so--"

"He wasn't fucking fine!" Patrick shouts. "And we should've seen it!"

"You should've seen it," Joe says. Patrick bites his lip and glares at Joe, who adds, "That's what you mean, right?"

"No," Patrick says, even though it is. "We were all responsible; we all agreed--"

Joe throws his hands up. "It was forever and a fuck ago, man! Let it go!"

Patrick points at him, disbelieving. "Don't try to tell me you weren't pissed, okay, don't even fucking try it."

"Well, yeah," Joe shrugs, "but shit happens. I mean, I'd rather lose the band and have him alive than the alternative. Wouldn't you?"

That stings, hurts like a motherfucker. "I'd rather have both, okay. And we could've, we would have worked it out, if he hadn't just--"

"Patrick," Joe says, "shut up. We have both."

Patrick drops his hand and stares, silent. He doesn't know what to say; is there anything to say? Joe hops down from his amp and comes closer; he stops a few feet from Patrick and holds his hands out. Patrick looks at them dully and then back at Joe's face. Joe smiles a little.

"We can have both," he says gently. "But you gotta relax, okay. Don't be so hard on him, because you're just being hard on yourself, and me and Andy." He pauses, and adds, "This is so precious, this thing, and we've got a second chance, and I don't want to fuck it up. Do you?"

Patrick swallows around the rocks in his throat, closes his eyes, and shakes his head.

Pete arrives on Thursday morning, half an hour after everyone else, looking exhausted. He hugs Andy and Joe and waves across the room at Patrick. Patrick waves back. There isn't any conversation about what Pete was doing, stuck in Paris. Andy just asks, "Everything figured out?" and Pete nods, smiling the "I got owned this time, but I'll win in the end" smile.

The bass Pete pulls from a battered case is marbled blood-red and black. There's a big chip out of the top horn, rubbed smooth and shiny, bright white wood faded to dull brown.

Patrick's hands tighten around the neck of his guitar and he remembers Pete saying, "Might as well wear this fuck-up too."

Pete slips the strap over his head. Patrick glimpses a white FREE DARFUR sticker on the back of the bass; the last time he saw it, there was a sheet of paper taped to it, with "do it for hemmy" scribbled in Sharpie.

Playing all together again is--not easy; never that, because Patrick can feel the spectre of his teenaged self over his shoulder, and the rest of the band arrayed around him in pairs of past and present, the intervening years yawning between like a deep ocean trench. There's also the half of his mind he'd thought he'd lost when he agreed to do this, sneering and saying, "What the fuck are you doing, Stump? You think he won't fuck this up too? You think he's changed that much?" And the other half, changing keys and playing chords and automatically making melodious a thousand words he thought he'd forgotten; a joyous kind of mindlessness, the way he always figured whirling dances and transcendental meditation were good for the soul. This other part of him says to the sneering part, "Haven't I changed that much?" and soars into a long note on "The Take Over."

Playing all together again feels good. They sound awful, but that's familiar, anyway.

"We suck," Joe says after a thorough beating of "Sixteen Candles."

"I've been saying that for years," Pete says. "My fucking fingers hurt, Jesus Christ," he adds, staring at his hands; the fingertips of his left hand are dull red.

Crouched on the floor to mess with his pedals, Patrick smirks and says, without malice, without even intending to be mean, as automatically as he'd been playing their old songs, "That's what happens when you don't play for four years, dumbass."

He looks up at the lack of response to see all three of them staring at him, Joe with a kind of fascinated horror, Andy with disappointed understanding, and Pete with a giant grin.

"What?" Patrick says.

Joe collapses against one of his amps, laughing; Andy shakes his head and rolls his eyes; Pete just keeps grinning at him.

Victoria calls a few days later, when things are going really smoothly, running really well. They usually e-mail these days, long threads of Youtube links and animal macros, but it is so nice to hear her voice. He's missed her. She asks if he wants to do back-up on one of the tracks for her in-progress solo album and he says yes, of course. As if he could ever repay her.

She tells him not to be melodramatic; he can pretty much see her rolling her eyes at him over her glass of wine. She says, "So the rehearsal's going well, and I guess nobody's killed anybody yet. You okay?"

He traces the faded pattern on the knee of his jeans. "Yeah. I guess. I think. Things are different."

"Good or bad?"

"I don't know," he says. "I mean, I've been going through things all this time, reacting and changing, and I keep, I kept thinking I was over it, but--I wasn't."

She hums affirmatively.

"I was--" he pauses, unsure how to say "--not wrong, not exactly, but I wasn't really right either." He grimaces at himself and shakes his head.

"No," Victoria says. "You handled everything--not exactly badly--"

"Pretty badly," Patrick says.

"Not entirely," she insists loyally. "Considering."

"I feel like I've spent the last four years having a fucking temper tantrum," he says.

"There is that," she says.

"Fall Out Boy's first public performance in almost five years!!!" is a large, if inaccurate, part of the MTV Video Awards promotion. Patrick hopes it's worth it.

The new video for "Carpal Tunnel Of Love" is nominated in the Best Viral category, and will undoubtedly lose to Rihanna's staged kidnapping miniseries.

They're on just before their category, dressed all in white on the black stage, a reminder of the Fall Out Boyz joke. Scenes from the new video play on the screen behind them, intercut with shots from the original one.

When it comes time for Pete's verse, he's standing a few feet from Patrick, sticking close, too far from his own microphone, and they share a panicked glance before Patrick cuts his sustain short and gives up his mike. Pete does the same when he's done.

During the last chorus, Patrick can't help smiling. Hearing how it makes the notes brighter, sharper in focus but not in tone--that just makes him smile harder, and he falls away from the mike at the end of the song feeling lighter than he has in far more than four years.

They're apart again for the five months before Lollapalooza in July. During an actually-a-band--minus Pete--conference call heading up to another two weeks of pre-show rehearsal, Joe and Andy are talking about splitting a suite in a hotel downtown, and how much it would cost to rent a car versus taking a cab to the venue, and Patrick is struck by a sudden sense of this is it--this. Is. It.

"No, hey," Patrick says, his palms going clammy. "You guys can stay at my place."

Joe raises his eyebrows. "Really?"

"Yeah," Patrick says. He wipes his hands on his jeans. "It'll be fun. I have plenty of room." He has a second bedroom and the floor in his studio and a fold-out couch, that's what he has. He's never liked big houses.

Andy smiles a little. "We were going to share the suite with Pete too."

"Yeah," Patrick says. He hadn't known that, not exactly, but. He doesn't mind. He's not going to make himself mind. "Yeah, that's cool. Like I said, plenty of room."

Spin has an article about the reunion appearances right before the Lollapalooza date; the title is "Fall Back Boys;" the tone is less than supportive. Andy looks up from reading it on his laptop, his left eye twitching, and glares at all of them sitting in Patrick's living room the day before the show.

Patrick says, "You know what? They printed a review of Selma Avenue with the same headline."

Pete puts his head down on the coffee table and laughs and laughs. Joe giggles and Andy snickers and Patrick smiles and goes back to writing Victoria an e-mail.

He's alone in the house with Pete, and he doesn't even really notice until Pete flings himself onto the couch and sticks his hand in Patrick's bag of Doritos. "What are we watching?" Pete asks, squinting at the TV.

"Blade Trinity," Patrick says, and shifts the chips so Pete can reach them more easily. "Put your glasses on."

Pete reaches and clasps Patrick's wrist. Patrick's elbow jerks like he wants to pull away but won't let himself, but that isn't the truth at all. He looks from Pete's hand to Pete's face and is startled by the grave openness of Pete's expression.

"I'm sorry," Pete says earnestly. "I'm sorry I made you be something for me and then didn't let you--I'm sorry I don't even know how to say it, I can't even show you I know what I did." He takes a shallow shudder of a breath. "Please forgive me. I know you said you wouldn't yet, but. I'm sorry."

"Don't," Patrick says.

"I miss you," Pete says. "I miss you. And, and--if I had any real power in the world I could've stopped what happened from happening to you. I would have. I would have saved you, Patrick."

Patrick stares for a moment, completely dumbfounded. He says, his voice rough, "What am I, Lois Lane?"

Pete blinks, his eyes lighting with amusement, and his mouth twitches, and he says, "Yes."

"I haven't had long hair since--"

"You'll always be my damsel in distress," Pete says.

"A knight in beer can armour," Patrick says, remembering a wretchedly unsuccessful attempt at a Halloween costume.

"Tinfoil armour would've worked much better," Pete muses. He loosens his hold on Patrick's wrist and smiles crookedly.

"I'm sorry too," Patrick blurts.

Pete doesn't say anything for a moment, eyebrows drawn together. "Nothing to be sorry for," he says slowly. "You didn't do anything except be yourself and get shit on."

"Okay," Patrick says, knowing otherwise. He's pretty sure Pete does too, so, really, it's not worth arguing over. They have time--at least twelve hours on the plane to England next week. He's fucking tired of being so fucking angry; he'd forgotten what it was like not to be, and he thinks now that he could get used to it again. It's nice. "Whatever you say."

"Damn straight," Pete says. He turns their hands neatly so they're shaking, like this is a business deal.

"Just," Patrick says. He swallows and looks at their hands and then frowns at Pete, squeezing his hand. "Don't fucking do it again, okay?"

"Okay," Pete says. "Whatever you say."

Rolling Stone, September 2014:

Dig, Fall Out Boy, Dig
How rock's fifth-biggest band brought themselves back from the dead.

Picture a plot of verdant English countryside, not far from Leeds. The lot is filled with an armored division's worth of tour buses, badly lit by a substandard sunrise.

Patrick Stump is eating instant porridge out of a purple ceramic bowl on Fall Out Boy's bus. Gone are the two-, three-, and four-bus days of FOB's final years.

"It's kind of nice to be all up in each other's shit after so long," Stump muses. "I really missed these guys. Granted, we just got here, and I'm a little jetlagged. I'm sure I'll be over it within twelve hours."

The jetlag, or the renewed camaraderie?

Stump laughs and shrugs. "Who can say?"

Twelve hours later, Stump's bandmates Pete Wentz and Joe Trohman are signing autographs and deflecting questions about other projects, insisting that the focus of all four members is currently solely upon the reunion tour.

Meanwhile, back at the bus, FOB drummer Andy Hurley is on a laptop and two cell phones, trying to run a global empire of sustainable farming, manufacturing, and distribution businesses.

Across the front lounge, Stump is reading a biography of Bob Dylan and eating pretzels. Comparatively speaking, being Patrick Stump isn't that tough a job....