a barrier that was never meant to be broken. (azurejay) wrote,
a barrier that was never meant to be broken.

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haven't had a dream in a long time.

Lord Knows It Would Be The First Time | format=light version
(Pete/is fucked up, Pete/Patrick - 14A, 8587 words.)

Disclaimer: Lies, damn lies. From Livejournal.
Acknowledgement: helenish's "Vanilla" (NSync) was pretty obviously the inspiration for this. Pete is more screwed up than Justin Timberlake, but gets laid a lot less (funny because it's probably true).
Note: Now with DVD commentary, in case you needed to know more about how messed up Pete Wentz is in my head (also: Enduring Themes, Patrick's wardrobe, and my insecurities as a writer). Fascinating.


One day, they're in a green room in Canada, and Pete is pretending to listen while Beckett muses about rearranging the mugshots at Angels & Kings in chronological or alphabetical order. Pete nods idly, watching Patrick talking earnestly to the show host who's not going to interview them--Leann--Lena--something. The guy who is going to interview them is on the soundstage now, talking to +44.

The girl interviewer is cocking her hip at Patrick and playing with the thick beads of her necklace and looking up at him (she is possibly the shortest TV host Pete has ever met) while Patrick yammers on obliviously. Pete finds himself thinking that now that Anna's gone, he kind of hopes Patrick will actually fuck one of these girls who keep hitting on him, and then Pete can run into her in the hotel hallway or the stairwell or something afterwards and take her back to his room, and he thinks that would be so much better than fucking some girl who's only flirted at Patrick.

"Would it ruin everything if we did Cher?" Beckett asks.

"What?" Pete says. "What are you talking about?"

"Cher has never been arrested," Gabe says.

"Seriously," Pete says. "Also, I think you missed the part about the mugshots being of stupid, misunderstood kids. Not the retirees who fuck them."

"Then I guess we can't put yours up after all," Beckett says, and everybody laughs except for Pete.

Patrick looks over, away from Lenore or whatever, and says, "You guys better not be fucking laughing at me. My mom bought me this sweater vest, assholes."

The thing is that he doesn't do it a lot, and only when he's not with someone, or when he isn't wandering around in a daze thinking he's with someone (see: Attempts To Date Ashlee Simpson 1, 2 and 4. Attempt 5 is going much better, even better than 3). He doesn't do it with girls Patrick actually expresses interest in, he doesn't do it in Ohio (he has a lot of family in Ohio, and--yeah. He never, ever fucks people in Ohio, no matter how hot they are and/or how much they want to fuck Patrick), and he doesn't do it when they're not on tour. Except that one time, but they were playing four awards shows in one week, so it was almost like being on tour anyway.

"You're really extraordinarily good at rationalization," his therapist says over the phone, sounding impressed. Pete decides to take it as a compliment, though he realizes he hasn't actually told his therapist about the fucking people who like his best friend. She probably wouldn't be complimenting him on anything if she knew about that.

"I find it hard to take compliments," he says.

She says, "Do you think this has anything to do with being named after your father?"

Eating Froot Loops one morning on the bus, in Wisconsin, Hemingway laying on his feet and making them all sweaty, he decides that if Patrick actually fucks one of the girls who flirt at him, Pete can't fuck her, because that would violate the whole "no girls Patrick actually expresses interest in" thing.

Not for the first time, he's glad he has a good memory. It would suck if he had to write the rules down, because surely someone would find them and post them on the internet. Or show them to Patrick.

Andy thumps into the lounge. "Dude, are those real Froot Loops?"

Pete nods and pours himself a fresh bowl before holding the box out. Andy takes it.

"Thanks," he says, and lies down on the couch.

"You're welcome," Pete says with his mouth full.

Or--if someone found the rules and posted them on the internet, he could plausibly claim they were lies, damn lies. From Livejournal.

He nods to himself. It would totally be better if the rules got posted on the internet than if someone just showed them to Patrick, straight up. Not that it matters, because he has a good memory, except for people's names, and so he doesn't need to write down the rules at all.

He decides to try to eat all the red Froot Loops before they turn the milk pink.

"You know, I miss Frosty Os," Andy says, eating a handful of dry cereal.

"I hear that and a side of fries," Pete says.

It started in England, if you must know, the first time they went back after the tour Pete mostly missed what with being batshit insane and not trying to kill himself and all.

"Holy shit," Patrick said, coming into the dressing room and locking the door.

Pete looked at him in the mirror and pretended he hadn't just been making a really stupid, stretched out putting-on-make-up face. "What?"

"This girl won't leave me alone," Patrick said, and sat down on the stool next to Pete's. "She keeps following me around backstage, asking me about The Smiths. I don't know."

Pete shrugged. "Maybe she wants to fuck you."

Patrick squinted at him. "So?"

"You don't want to fuck her?"

"Stop saying 'fuck'--I have a fucking girlfriend!"

"Is she hot?"

"She's okay, I guess, kind of short--it doesn't fucking matter!" Patrick threw his hands up and spun around on the stool. "Jesus Christ."

"Tell her Andy loves The Smiths," Pete said.

"Andy hates The Smiths."

Pete smirked. "Yeah, but he's been whining about not getting laid for like a month."

Patrick laughed. "True, yeah, kind of." In his inimitable Andy way, at least, which meant he was pissy about losing when they played Xbox and that he complained if anybody talked about sex too much.

"Does she have brown hair?" Pete asked. He didn't know why he cared, really. He already knew what he was going to do.

"More reddish," Patrick said absently. He fiddled with Pete's tube of mascara on the counter. "You want to open with 'Sophomore Slump'?"

Pete put his eyeliner pencil back in his case and said, "Nah, 'Gin Joints.'"

He knows if people knew, they'd think he wrote half of FUCT about it, but he wasn't even doing it when he wrote those words. And the real, honest truth is that "XO" is about the fucked up shit some other rock star did to a girl who was his friend, and "I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy" is not about groupies at all. He doesn't fuck groupies. Okay, he doesn't fuck his own groupies.

Really, what he's doing is the kind of fucked up shit that transcends a rock/pop song, and he's impressed himself with that, if nobody else.

That first girl had auburn hair down to her shoulder blades, wavy and soft and perfect. Her eyes were hazel and she smelled like lemons and she had a pretty cute accent. They talked about New Romantic bands and he kept catching her looking at him curiously, like she couldn't understand why he wanted her and Patrick didn't, or why she'd wanted Patrick instead, or--maybe she just wondered why it took him two hours to get down to business.

When she was asleep, he put his jeans back on and lay down beside her in the stiff English hotel bed. He whispered to her, "If you were good enough for him, you wouldn't even be able to see me."

If he wrote something about this, it would never be a song, because Patrick would figure it out and never write the music. And never speak to him again.

The third girl was blond and held onto Patrick's hand for about ten seconds too long at a press thing during Warped, gazing into his eyes adoringly. Patrick smiled at her and patted her shoulder. Pete lost her after Patrick managed to disengage, and when he found her by the deli tray, she didn't look like she'd been crying or anything, which was good.

"He has a girlfriend," he said sympathetically.

"I know," she said. She tapped her press pass against her prominent collarbone and shrugged. "Never seems to stop the rest of them."

"Patrick's not a complete dick," Pete said.

She laughed, not sadly, and cocked her hip towards him. "No, he's not."

After a show in Denver, Pete, Joe, and Andy are playing Truth Or Dare on Pete's bus.

"A Port-A-Potty, seriously?" Joe says, wrinkling his nose.

"She was very flexible," Pete says, and makes demonstrative gestures. "And it had recently been emptied."

"Oh, god," Andy says. "Really, I don't want to hear this."

Patrick hauls himself into the bus. "Hear what?"

Excitedly, Joe says, "Pete fucked a reporter in a Port-A-Potty on Warped!"

Patrick says, "Yeah, thanks, I don't want to hear it either. Andy, want to come watch Schindler's List on my bus?"

"Hell yes." Andy jumps up and takes his Gatorade with him.

"The Holocaust is better than talking about my sex life?" Pete says, surprised.

"Too soon!" Joe yells. "Too soon!"

When they started the Honda tour, Pete called the separate buses "Team Pete" and "Team Patrick" until he found out what that meant on Livejournal.

"Thus," he said to Joe, "we are now Awesome Bus, and Patrick and Andy's bus is Comet Bus, okay? I'm ordering the t-shirts right now."

"Lame," Joe said. "Sandman Omnibus and Universal Serial Bus."

"You're a fucking geek, Trohman," Pete said, but at least Joe's ideas were not obscure and/or unintentionally "slashy."

The last girl is an honest-to-god black-haired, green-eyed goddess who waited out behind the venue for an hour after the last HCT show, just to hit on Patrick. Pete is taking Hemingway for a walk before heading home when he meets her. He sadly informs her that Patrick has caught a ride to an afterparty in some rapper's limo.

"Give me your number, I'll make sure he calls you," Pete says to her. She's wearing big yellow plastic earrings.

"Or you could," she says, and smiles. Her teeth are white and straight.

"Or you could just drive me home," he says. She looks at Hemingway, nosing around a crushed paper cup. Pete smiles winningly. "He loves cars."

She's put perfume behind her ears, which he finds old-fashioned and dear. The skin there tastes bittersour. The rest of her tastes much sweeter. They do it in the spare room, because he knows Ashlee left a t-shirt in his bedroom last time she was here.

After that, he decides to stop saying a) he doesn't fuck groupies, and b) he doesn't cheat.

Pete's laying face-down on his therapist's couch, kind of wanting to die--still not for real.

His therapist says, "Do you remember the first time we talked about your relationship style, and you said," she checks her notes, "you're always the cheatee, never the cheater?"

Pete says, "Yes," into the couch cushions.

"But you're telling me now that you've just slept with someone other than your girlfriend."

"I lied. I'm a big fat cheater," he says, even though he wasn't, before. There's a first time for everything.

"That's no basis for effective talk therapy," she says. She doesn't sound disappointed or annoyed or surprised.

He turns his head to look at his therapist. "She won't care," he says. "You think she's not fucking around on me and texting me in the middle of it to tell me how whatshisfuck gives good head?"

His therapist frowns. "Peter--"

"I said it was okay," he says. "I said she could." He shakes his head, feeling a static charge from the velvet upholstery build on his hair.

"If you want to be in an open relationship," his therapist says.

"No, I just figured it'd be better not to have any expectations of fidelity this time," he says, and rolls his eyes at himself. Every word is the truth, but if he were his therapist, he'd throw up and then punch himself in the face, good fuck. He'd also get a more comfortable couch.

Guys never hit on Patrick. Pete was surprised by this for the first few months of his fucked up little hobby, and then not. Patrick isn't really the kind of guy the guys they hang around with would hit on. Pete wasn't disappointed. No, seriously. He really wasn't. Really.

"Never date anyone who's dated Nick Carter," Pete tells Ryan.

"I'm not an idiot," Ryan says.

"Yeah, except for that time when you almost fucked Paris Hilton," Pete says. "Who dated Nick Carter for six million years. And his brother."

"That wasn't me," Ryan says.

"Sure," Pete says. He winks theatrically.

"You're wasted," Ryan says, and gets out of their booth at the club.

Pete says, "No, no, I'm just really fucked up. In the head." He waves his hand around as proof.

Ryan sits back down.

They watch drunk people dance for a while, and Ryan says, grudgingly, "Do you want to talk about it."

"God no," Pete says. He remembers Ryan calling him and angsting about touring for hours at a time. He doesn't particularly feel like returning the favour. Ever.

Travis gets into the DJ booth for his set. He puts on "Cupid's Chokehold" and does some pretty weird stuff to it. Pete's glad Patrick stayed home.

Ryan says, "I heard you've been fucking around on Ashlee."

"Just the once," Pete says, like it's a big joke. "You really didn't almost fuck Paris Hilton?"

"No," Ryan says. "That was Brendon."

"Right, yeah," Pete says.

Ryan says, "He didn't know she was Paris Hilton." He drinks some of his Red Bull and Coke. "Not that that's any excuse."

Ashlee breaks up with him in his living room in LA.

"Everybody knows about it!" she yells. "It's not that you fucked around, it's that everybody knows!"

He's standing beside the chair someone bought for when Cribs was here. He wants to throw something, but the chair looks about four times heavier than he is and all of his small stuff is on her side of the room.

He watches her throw herself onto the couch, crying into her hands. Hemingway waddles out of the kitchen and leans against her shin.

"Yeah," Pete says. "Obviously, my problem is an inability to live a goddamn secret life! You've brought all the game on that one, how could I possibly fucking compete!"

After she leaves, he shuts himself and Hemingway in the hall closet for two hours. His gold and platinum records gleam faintly in the near-dark.

He doesn't tell anybody except his therapist that Ashlee's dumped him. His therapist seems unsurprised, and he figures that's exactly how everybody else would react, so what's the point in spreading the news. He tells his therapist this is the worst thing that's ever happened to him. He's not sure if he's lying or not. His therapist remains unsurprised.

After his session is over, he takes a cab home. He showers and takes Hemingway for a walk around the block. He puts on a nice shirt and a decent jacket and meets Patrick for dinner at some ridiculous sushi place.

There's a tiny turquoise satin purse sitting on their table. Patrick says, "That's Amelia's, she's just in the ladies' room."

"Don't they usually take their purses with them?" Pete asks. He remembers, belatedly, that Patrick invited him to dinner at a ridiculous sushi place because he wants Pete to meet his new girlfriend.

Patrick frowns. "I've never really noticed. Do they?"

"Yes," Pete says.

"Where's Ashlee?" Patrick says, confused.

"I think it means she's really a man," Pete says, and he can tell his voice isn't right. "If she doesn't take her purse, I mean."

Patrick leans across the table, looking closely at him. "You guys had a fight?"

"Did you hear what I said about your date?" Pete says. He feels like he's running out of breath.

"Yeah," Patrick says. "Dude. Pete. Did she break up with you?"

Pete nods. "I cheated on her."

"Jesus, Bill said something about, but I thought--that was true? You stupid dick," Patrick says, but he doesn't sound mad, more bewildered.

"I know," Pete says, his voice thick. "I totally suck."

"Seriously," Patrick says.

"What are we talking about?" a girl says, and sits beside Patrick, behind the little blue purse.

"Hi," Pete says to the black-haired, green-eyed goddess he fucked in his spare room two weeks ago.

"This is Amelia," Patrick says. He touches her shoulder. "Amelia, this is Pete."

"Yeah," Pete says. "Um. I'm really bad at remembering names."

She grins at him, and winks. "I don't really worry about people remembering my name. I'm not a very forgettable person, if I can be immodest for a minute," she says.

"Please do," Pete says, and gets up. "I'll be right back."

In the men's room, he knocks his head against the white-tiled wall seven times.

He looks out the door at the backs of Patrick and Amelia's heads. They lean close together, and Amelia kisses Patrick's cheek. Pete thinks about calling his therapist and making a correction to this afternoon's session, because seriously. This. Is the worst thing that's ever happened to him, and he's absolutely sure of it.

The problem, he realizes as Patrick and Amelia drive him home, is that he violated the spirit of the "no girls Patrick shows an interest in" rule, even if he did follow the letter of it. He didn't have proof of Patrick's disinterest in her. It was just that she looked nothing like any of Patrick's ex-girlfriends, all two of them--taller than Patrick, and skinny like boys, with fine, short hair and pointy faces.

Eating raw fish and deep-fried vegetables with Patrick and Amelia, he'd seen that she acted like Patrick's ex-girlfriends: funny and smart and kind of mean, tolerant of Pete and sweet to Patrick.

He's sitting in the back seat, and Patrick and Amelia are singing along to Rihanna's song about umbrellas. Amelia doesn't have a half-bad voice. Pete thinks he might hate her a little bit, just for tonight, even though she is probably a good person and definitely good in bed.

Patrick meets his eyes in the rear view mirror.

"You okay?" Patrick asks.

"Oh yeah," Pete says. "Awesome." He gives a thumbs-up.

Nothing does your heart good like fucking over both your soulmates in the same week.

And then they go to Africa. Pete thinks their driver is a maniac until he explains that he has to drive like one to avoid ambushes.

Joe says, "That is excellent reasoning; you are a very smart man."

Andy says, "Thank you," very solemnly, the way he's treating the whole trip.

Knowing the guy isn't actually crazy, Pete can almost fall asleep in the truck while they careen between camps and villages--almost, because Patrick isn't so trusting, and wakes him up every time he thinks they might die.

"You realize I have a better chance of surviving a crash if I'm not aware of what's happening?" Pete says, annoyed. "IE, if I am asleep?"

"Yeah, but what about me?" Patrick says. The truck takes a corner very nearly on two wheels, and Patrick clutches at Pete's sleeve.

Pete grabs him in a headlock. "Nobody is going to die," he whispers in his ear. "Relax, okay? And share your malaria pills with me. I lost mine."

"Okay," Patrick says quietly.

"It's fine. It didn't mean anything," Amelia tells Pete the first--okay, yes, second time they're alone, after the band get back to LA. "You didn't even remember my name."

"I know--just." Pete looks out the sound booth door for the third time. "Just don't tell Patrick, okay?" If she hasn't already. She can't have. He'd know if Patrick knew, even if Patrick didn't say anything.

She gives him the dirtiest look in Creation. "I'm not an idiot," she says. "I really like him, unlike some of his so-called friends."

"I like him!" Pete says.

"You like him so much you fuck every girl who might want to go out with him before they get a chance, yeah," Amelia says. "You're a real pal, Pete Wentz."

Pete swallows hard. How could she--he didn't say anything, when they--did he? No. He's fairly sure he didn't, though he's been known to say some pretty whack shit in the heat of the moment.

Amelia stares at him, and then makes a disgusted noise. "You do? You actually do that? Oh my fucking god! I was just--oh, gross."

She tries to get past him and out of the small room, but he holds her shoulder. "No, just--I have a rule, and I didn't know he would like you, so that's--"

She wrenches away and punches him in the mouth.

"Ow, fuck," he says, holding his jaw. "I was trying to say, that was where everything went horribly wrong. Ow."

"You're an asshole," she says. "I cannot--" She waves her hands between them, and slams the door on her way out.

Pete's supposed to be recording some screaming for a demo, so he waits for Patrick to come back. He waits for over an hour. It's funny how, after trying twice to save the planet, and having his life changed in Uganda, his heart and his dick are still getting him into the most fucked up messes. Or, maybe, it's that none of the ways he's changed can save him from the fucked up messes he'd already gotten himself into. His face really hurts where Amelia punched him, but he doesn't think it'll bruise.

His phone finally buzzes, and he looks at the screen. Patrick has sent him a text. He starts shaking. Patrick never texts him.

The message says, "Go home Pete."

At midnight, he's at home, terrified to leave Hemingway's couch. Hemingway is flopped desultorily on top of the laundry at one end. Pete is crouched at the other, holding his phone. He calls his therapist, because this is what the fuck he pays her for.

He tells her everything. He tells her this is worse than when Patrick was away at band camp the second time he found out Madison was cheating on him. He tells her this is, really, seriously, the worst thing that's ever happened to him.

She says, "I'll see you at one tomorrow afternoon, Pete. Call someone to come be with you right now. I know your dog is your best friend, but you need a person. Someone who can make you a cup of tea or something."

He knows she means: someone who can stop you from doing something stupid.

He knows now there is no person on the planet who can do that.

"Okay," he says. And, because Patrick's mom raised him right, and it's rubbed off on Pete a little--which is not to say Pete's mom didn't try, because she really did, he's just spent way more time with Patrick than he's ever spent with anyone's mom--"Thank you. Sorry for waking you."

He calls Andy, because Andy will be a) sober, b) probably not in the middle of having sex with someone, c) happy to come help him drink tea instead of try to kill himself (not for real, again), and d) quiet.

Andy sets Pete up in the theatre with The Office seasons 1-3.

"I like Steve Carell," Pete says.

"I know," Andy says, and puts another afghan over him.

Hemingway lolls on the next seat, dozing and drooling. Andy sits in the back row reading a book.

Around the thirteen hundredth time Jim and Pam almost say they like each other, Pete says, "You know Patrick's new girlfriend?"

After a moment, Andy says, "Yeah."

Pete shakes off a few layers of blankets and turns around in his seat, up on his knees. He says to Andy, "I had sex with her, before Patrick met her. I mean. She's the girl I cheated on Ashlee with."

Andy nods and says, "With whom you--"

"Shut up," Pete says tiredly.

"Okay," Andy says.

"We hooked up once right when the tour was over," Pete says. "And then everybody found out about it and Ashlee dumped me because she's about ten million times smarter than anybody ever thought, even though she's no fucking saint herself, and I thought that was a shitty day. But of course Patrick's new flame is the random chick I fucked in my spare room, one time, and I don't even know how the fuck they met--"

"I think she works for the label," Andy says.

Pete slides down into the chair again. Fucking figures. "Fucking figures," he says.

On his giant TV, Michael buys Pam's boring painting of the Dunder Mifflin building. Pete thinks he would totally be on Team Michael Loves Pam, if such a thing existed. Actually, knowing Livejournal, it probably does. Those sick fucks.

His therapist says, "Have you been taking your medication?"

Pete is huddled in the corner of her uncomfortable velvet couch. He shakes his head. "Too depressed." He hasn't been taking all of his prescriptions for three months, but she doesn't really need to know that.

"You realize how counter-productive this is?"

He nods. "Sorry." He's not. At the moment, "being functional" is pretty much right below "getting fucked by a Komodo dragon" on his list of priorities.

At three in the morning on the second day, he's watching Andy make another pot of tea. He tells Andy everything.

Andy nods, and then his eyes go wide. "That time you cockblocked me in London? With the Smiths girl?"

Pete nods miserably. "She was the first one." He rubs his eyes with his knuckles. "Not that I'm keeping track anymore."

"I should've known," Andy says, in the tone of voice that means "because I know you," but not in a bad way.

Pete nods again.

On the third day, Andy takes away the Entourage DVDs and brings in Patrick.

Patrick stands in front of Pete's recliner for a moment, and then sits cross-legged on the carpet. Pete keeps his head under his blanket. He can see Patrick's bright blue t-shirt and shoes--the ones with the orange laces--through the holes in the knitting. He loves that outfit.

"She thinks Panic are a gimmick band," Patrick says. "And that I should never talk to you again. For one of those reasons, we're not going out anymore."

"You and me? Or you and--"

Patrick rolls his eyes. "Amelia and I."

Pete lowers his blanket enough to make eye contact with Patrick. "Okay?"

Patrick shrugs. "It's not like I was really invested. What, five weeks versus eight years? Fuck that."

"Thank you?" Pete says. If he'd known all he had to do to get a free pass with someone was follow them around for years on end--fuck, he'd have way fewer enemies.

Patrick smiles and leans back on his hands. Pete doesn't need to look; he knows those jeans, and they're way too tight. He throws his blanket on Patrick.

"I have NewsRadio on DVD, and my girlfriend broke up with me last week," Pete says. "Want to hang out?"

They're upstairs in the living room, playing Call of Duty against Joe and his girlfriend back in Chicago, when Pete turns off his headset and turns to Patrick. "Breaking up with Emily isn't going to fuck us with the label, right?"

"What?" Patrick says. "Jesus, shoot him, Pete! Fuck!"

Later, they order a pizza and Pete repeats his question.

Patrick shakes his head. "She's just a production assistant or something, and technically she works for Universal anyway."

"Okay," Pete says. "Because after bingeing on workplace comedies for four days, I was a little concerned."

"Also, her name's Amelia," Patrick says. "Does your therapist know you can't remember girls' names unless you're obsessed with them?"

"No," Pete says. Patrick laughs. Pete says, "Because it's not true! Fuck you."

Over at the kitchen table, Andy snickers. Pete jumps. He'd forgotten Andy was still here.

On the fifth day, Andy leaves. Patrick gives him a ride back to his condo and comes back with the original Star Wars trilogy, the really-super-mega-extended-ninety-hour edition Lord of the Rings, and a metric tonne of chocolate ice cream. Pete starts taking his meds again.

On the seventh day, Patrick says, "I think we're fixed, but please don't ever do that again. I mean, sleep with a girl I might fall in love with."

Pete smiles and leans over on the couch until his head is on Patrick's thigh. "Okay."

Patrick pats his head. On the TV, Sam slays the horrible spider monster and starts crying when he thinks Frodo is dead.

"Kiss him already," Patrick says.

"Gross. He thinks he's dead," Pete says.

Patrick shrugs and one of his fingers touches the top of Pete's ear. "True love knows no time of death?"

The fifth girl was very short, and very curvy, and wearing a Ten Second Epic t-shirt. She was a Def-Jam street team commandant or something, and Patrick talked to her for about five hours after soundcheck in Des Moines.

Finally, Patrick wandered back over to Pete.

"New best friend?" Pete asked.

"She had about a hundred pictures for me to sign for the volunteers," Patrick said. He looked at the piece of paper Pete was doodling on. "Do you really want to fuck with the setlist after they've programmed the confetti? That's kind of stupid."

"I'm tired of opening with 'Thriller,'" Pete said, watching the girl open a bottle of water. She had long brown hair and was wearing an emerald-green headband.

"You wrote it to open," Patrick said.

"Actually, you did," Pete said. "Composed by: P. Stump. Yes or no?"

"No," Patrick said. "All music and lyrics by Fall Out Boy, jackass. I like opening with 'Thriller.'"

"Then I guess we're opening with 'Thriller,'" Pete said. "Stop whining about it."

Patrick drives him to the recording studio on the eighth day. Potentially apocalyptic interpersonal crises aside, they still have to finish two demos and the voiceover for the Uganda video.

"We are so far behind we're in the fucking lead. Go team us," Patrick says as his laptop connects to the mixing board.

"Hey, I was here, I was ready to yell into a microphone for you, and you told me to go home," Pete says, hoping Patrick will laugh.

"Too soon," Patrick says. He points at the door to the booth.

Pete goes into the booth, kicks the stupid stool over, and puts the giant headphones on. When Patrick makes the "go" motion, Pete screams about scoreboards and comment counts for twenty-seven seconds. Patrick has him do the verse three times, and then waves his hand for Pete to come back.

"That could be better, sorry," Pete says when they listen to the playback.

"Yeah, it's just a demo," Patrick says. He moves some stuff around on his computer, laying the new vocal over the rest of the song. "Want to hear the whole thing?"

"Did you do the drums yourself?" Pete asks.

"Yes," Patrick says suspiciously.

"Then no," Pete says.

"Seriously, seriously, fuck you," Patrick says. "Just for that, now I'm going to make you talk about child soldiers." He throws the voiceover script at Pete. "Get your ass back in the booth, fuckmonkey."

The second girl had "trust & love & hope" tattooed over her tailbone.

"Is that a quote?" Pete asked, tracing the ampersands.

She pulled away and turned around. "It's from one of your songs," she said, looking confused and kind of annoyed.

"Oh," Pete said, and remembered, suddenly. "'The poets are just kids who didn't make it.'"

"'I took a shot and didn't even come close,' yeah," she said. She smiled and unbuttoned her jeans. "You're not as much of an asshole as I thought you'd be," she said, backing into her bedroom. "Come over here."

When she was asleep, he went through her apartment and turned off all the lights. He locked her patio door. He stood in her bedroom and said, quietly, "What was your name again?"

"Amy," she said back, sleepily. "Do you need a ride somewhere?"

Upon retrospect, he's never really lived up to the "I don't fuck groupies" thing. He supposes there are worse principles one could violate, though he can't think of any at the moment.

Also, it is hard to realize that, as bad a person as you've always believed yourself to be, you just might be even worse than you thought.

In the studio, working on the Uganda video, Pete notices that their editor keeps sitting really close to Patrick. Mark is about seven feet tall (relatively speaking), very fair in all respects, and was recommended by Jay-Z.

The third time Mark leans unnecessarily close to Patrick to point out something on a monitor, Pete leaves the studio.

He walks up and down the hallway a few times, and leans his forehead against the wall next to a window. He can see Patrick's car in the parking lot two storeys away.

He pulls his phone out of his pocket and makes a note to himself: "stories/storeys, you only survive falling off of one."

Briefly, he entertains the idea of fucking Mark, just for the sake of continuity.

Driving him home, Patrick says, "Mark has a button with the cover of Jean Genie on it, how cool is that?"

"Awesome," Pete says.

When he's on his meds, all of them, consistently, Pete sometimes has trouble writing. It's very disconcerting. Frustrating. He feels like an utter prisoner of his brain, of his neurochemistry. He can't stretch the story/storey thing into any actual metaphors. He can't even construct a simile.

At four in the morning, he finds himself writing out the rules.

He writes everything he can remember about all the girls. He writes the creepy shit he said to them when he thought they were sleeping. He hopes that girl with the tattoo--Allie--Annie--Alice--was the only one who wasn't actually asleep.

He says out loud, again, "If you were good enough for him, you wouldn't even be able to see me."

He looks at his hand, holding his pen. He looks up and stares at his reflection in the kitchen window.

Pete sits in the middle of his therapist's couch. He's going from this session directly to the airport and getting on a plane to Mexico.

"I started taking my medication again," he says.

"That's good," she says, and writes something down.

"Patrick forgave me," he says.

"Good," she says.

"You're not going to write that down?" he asks.

"No," she says. "Why don't we talk about how your week has been?"

Pete taps his fingers on his thighs, thinking. "Well," he says. "I started taking my medication again. Patrick forgave me. I went and bought the last Harry Potter book in a costume."

"Who were you dressed as?" she asks.

"A wizard," he says. "Generic wizard number fourteen or something, I don't know. It was me in a cape and pointy hat."

"With a wand," she says.

"Of course with a wand," he says. "It's cherry, ten inches, dragon heartstring core."

"Ten inches is kind of short," she says.

He shrugs. "It's avera--was that a joke?" he asks, startled.

When he leaves, she smiles at him. "Have a good trip, Peter."

"Thanks," he says.

Pete spends a lot of time on planes in the next month. He spends a lot of his time on planes sitting quietly beside Patrick. He thinks Patrick is taking the whole "best friend sleeps with girls who flirt with me" thing very well; he's grown up so much.

Patrick is working, working, working all the time. Pete scribbles in his journals or does the Q&A or re-reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or has pointless arguments with various people via text messages.

"Beckett says hi," Pete says on the trip to Japan.

"Hi, Bill," Patrick says absently, poking at his laptop keyboard. "Tell him I'm working on the thing right now."

Pete does, and while he's waiting for Beckett to reply, he gets an IM from Ashlee.

"Holy shit," Pete says.

"It's not that late," Patrick says, "and it's only late because of you, so shut up."

Pete holds his phone between Patrick's face and his laptop so Patrick can read Ashlee's message.

It says: "Do u want 2 get bak 2gthr?"

Pete's iPhone sits in the middle of his suite's dining table. Pete, Joe, Andy, and Patrick sit around it.

"I think I should say yes," Pete says.

Patrick doesn't say anything.

"I wouldn't," Andy says.

"And this, besides the meaty goodness thing, is why I'm happy I'm not you," Pete says.

Joe says, "This is something we should--I think it has to be said that, um."

"What?" Pete says.

"Dude, she might be fucking with you," Joe says apologetically.

"But why? Why would she do that?" Pete says.

"Because you cheated on her," Andy says.

"Right," Pete says. That is an excellent, eternally-relevant point.

Patrick gets up from the table and leaves Pete's room.

"But, and this is something else we should consider," Pete says, "what if she's not fucking with me?"

Very early the next morning, Patrick comes into the hotel restaurant where Pete's waiting for the breakfast buffet to open. Patrick sits at his table and takes a deep breath.

"Good morning," Pete says.

"It's just that it doesn't make any sense," Patrick says. "She breaks up with you, and you have a little anxiety, you're depressed, it's understandable. But the thing that sends you over the fucking edge is me not talking to you."

"You're my best friend," Pete says helplessly, as honest as he can be.

"Thank you!" Patrick says automatically, the way he does sometimes when Pete says they're friends, though he usually doesn't sound so mad about it. He shoves his glasses up onto his forehead, rubbing his eyes hard, like he didn't get much sleep. "You haven't talked about her even once since she dumped you."

"That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about her," Pete says, even though he isn't, really.

"Bullshit," Patrick says.

"I've been miserable," Pete says defensively, also not strictly true.

"You miss her, fine, okay," Patrick says. "That doesn't mean you should go back."

"I love her," Pete says. Patrick shakes his head. "I do." He loves both her noses, and her weird hips, and the desperate way she never shows sadness. She's the most perfect girl in the world for him--even with the fucking around, because she doesn't do it to hurt him or because she's stupid, she just does it because she does.

"Fine," Patrick says, and leaves.

On the bus to Osaka, Patrick sleeps. Pete sits beside Joe and types six replies to Ashlee, but doesn't send any of them.

His excellent memory keeps showing him pictures of taking back Madison, Cara, Jeanae--keeps reminding him of the hopelessness in his heart when he did, and the contempt he felt for humanity in general, and the way his second (third, fourth) chances always got thrown in his face.

He calls his therapist at two in the morning. It's not unforgivably rude this time, because he checked the timezones and it's only evening in LA. He asks her if she thinks he should get back together with Ashlee.

"Why do you want to say yes?" his therapist asks.

"I'm in love with her," he says automatically.

"That's not the only reason to be with someone," his therapist says. "You're an adult. You have the right to the possibility of a fulfilling adult relationship--you deserve to be able to trust that you'll have your needs met, and she deserves someone capable of offering that to her as well."

"Okay," Pete says.

"Do you trust her?"

Pete shakes his head, his stomach clenching. "No," he says.

"Do you think she can trust you?"

"No," he says, and his voice breaks.

A long while later, his therapist says, "How long have you ever been single?"

Pete opens his mouth to answer, but has nothing to say. He hasn't been really and actually single since he was fifteen, just sort of shuffled between crushes and hook-ups and girlfriends. "I haven't," he says.

"Something to think about," his therapist says.

"No shit," Pete says.

On the way to the airport to go to Russia, Pete sits beside Patrick.

"I'm not getting back together with her," Pete says.

Patrick raises his eyebrows. "Seriously?"

"I know this is, like, terra incognita," Pete says. "But I'm twenty-eight years old, and I think it's time I tried something different. I think we'll be okay."

Patrick nods. "Okay," he says.

"Brave new world," Pete says.

"You think she's fucking with you," Patrick says, "and you don't want to be further humiliated."

"No! I'm just--fuck. Is it so hard to believe that I've made a thoughtful, considered, adult decision?"

From the back of the van, Andy and Joe say, "Yes."

Patrick shrugs and lifts his hands. "Majority rules, man."

"I hope the plane crashes in Indonesia and Komodo dragons fuck you all," Pete says.

The message he sends to Ashlee says: "i love you. im sorry. no."

He doesn't sleep for three days, and if he's not on stage, signing shit, or talking to the press, he's holding his phone, watching her call again and again. His text message mailbox fills steadily. Otherwise, the whole Europe thing is going very well.

Patrick sits across from him in his booth at the hotel restaurant.

"Are you convinced she's not fucking with me?" Pete asks.

"Yes. And I still think you're doing the right thing," Patrick says.

"I have about a year and a half's worth of jetlag, and, taking the International Date Line into consideration, I haven't slept in a month," Pete says. "I don't even know how to spell 'the right thing' at this point, okay."

Patrick crosses his arms on the table and puts his chin on them. "She e-mailed me yesterday," he says conversationally. "Apparently, this is all my fault and she's going to kill me. Slowly. With knives."

Pete rests his forehead on the table. "I'm sorry."

"I considered telling her that I didn't even know the girl until after you'd slept with her, but." He shrugs. "I think she's pretty much immune to logic by now."

"I'm really, really sorry," Pete says.

Patrick smiles. "Seriously, no, it gets better. She said you're, like, obsessed with me, and you sleep with every girl who flirts with me, and--Pete?"

Pete looks up. He feels cold. His hands tremble around his phone.

Patrick frowns, leaning back in his seat. "Okay. How much of that is based on fact?"

Pete shakes his head. His throat closes.

"Pete," Patrick says.

"Not every girl," Pete mumbles.

"Jesus fuck," Patrick says.

"I thought you knew," Pete says.

Patrick takes his glasses off, folds them on the table, and puts his face in his hands. "Why would you think that?" His voice is preternaturally calm.

"I thought Emily--Amelia told you."

"Why would she know?"

"Because she wanted to meet you, when she met me, and that's why I." Pete feels like he's taken Veritaserum, which is just stupid. There is no such thing.

"Oh my god," Patrick groans.

"Please," Pete says, though he doesn't know what exactly he's asking for.

Patrick's hands drop to the tabletop and he stares myopically at Pete. "Why would you do that? Why would you even--seriously, what is in your head?"

"You don't know?" Pete says, calmly, half-hopefully.

"No," Patrick says. "I'm not what you think. I don't know who you are; I don't know what it's like; I can't make it better. I'm just another fucking kid, okay--"

Pete reaches his arm across the table, fingers falling over the edge on Patrick's side, their sleeves touching. "I never thought you could fix me," he says. He just hoped, maybe.

"Good," Patrick says, deflated. "Because I can't."

"I know," Pete says.

They watch each other for a minute, and then Patrick puts his glasses back on. "You never wrote a song about it, right?" he asks.

"No," Pete says.

Patrick's eyes narrow. "Not even--"

"I never wrote a song about it," Pete says. "If I'd written anything about it, you would've figured it out before you finished reading it," Pete says. Patrick rolls his eyes and Pete pokes him in the shoulder. "No, I'm serious. Nothing to do with being psychic. I am just not that subtle."

Patrick smiles, kind of. "If you'd made me sing about this, I'd have to, I don't know." He shrugs. "Kill you slowly with knives, I guess."

"That is the lamest threat ever, for real," Pete says. Ashlee must be really out of it, because he knows from personal experience she can do better than that.

"You're the one who dated her," Patrick says.

Ashlee stops calling after a week or so. Pete empties his voicemail and text message inboxes. And everything is the way it was. Except for Pete Being Single.

"Why do you have to say it with the capital letters?" Pete asks Andy petulantly, the fourteenth time it happens, on the plane home from England.

"Because," Andy says, "you are Being Single the same way you used to Be Vegan. It's annoying for those of us who've made a legitimate lifestyle commitment and don't--"

"Shut the fuck up," Pete says. "You're just jealous because I'm getting something out of Being--being single, while you're just too lame and boring to get laid."

"Fuck you," Andy says, sounding uninterested.

"You're also unattractive," Pete says.

"Seriously?" Andy says. "You don't want to start that."

Across the aisle, Joe sadly asks, "Why do Mommy and Daddy fight all the time?"

"Because we don't love you," Pete says. "Patrick, switch seats with Andy. His boring unattractiveness might be contagious."

Patrick shakes his head, fiddling with a packet of peanuts. "If we switch seats and the plane crashes, they'll misidentify our bodies."

Joe stares at Patrick. "You think the plane is going to crash?"

"Shut up about the plane crashing," Andy says.

"For real," Pete says. "Do you want the air marshal to shoot us all?"

They split up in New York--Andy and Joe on a connector to Chicago, Pete and Patrick to LA. They take a cab from the airport to Patrick's place, and then Patrick drives him home. Pete asks, and Patrick comes in for a minute. The house is still, half-lit by a pink sunset. It's quiet; he can't pick Hemingway up from dog camp until tomorrow.

"You're taking this really well," Pete says, putting on the kettle.

Patrick leans against the kitchen counter. "What do you mean?"

"The fucked up thing, the whole situation." Pete makes a circular gesture encompassing most of his sex life for the last two years. "I mean, when I thought you already knew, I thought you were taking it extremely well. But now you really seriously do know, it's kind of," he shrugs, "it's weird, how well you're taking it."

Patrick says, "I'm not, really. Taking it well. But, you know, tour. It would be stupid and shitty to freak out on the road."

Pete winces. "Patrick--"

Patrick shakes his head. "You are such a motherfucker," he says. "You know that?"

"Well," Pete says. "Yeah."

"No, really," Patrick says, his voice going hard, his face flushing. "If you step outside your own fuckeduppedness, can you see it? What it looks like to the rest of us? How it feels?"

"I said I was sorry," Pete says, "I don't know--"

"You did not!" Patrick says, smacking the counter, and Pete remembers that he didn't. He'd meant to. "You didn't apologize, never. You didn't even explain, you just--you just turned it into another fucking 'I'm Pete Wentz and I'm so fucked up' party."

Pete puts two peppermint tea bags in his teapot that's shaped like a chicken. He puts his fists on the counter, pressing down. "I'm sorry," he says. "For not apologizing, and also for what I did."

"I don't want another goddamn apology," Patrick says.

"Then what do you want!" Pete shouts. "Tell me and I'll do it!"

"I want a fucking break!" Patrick yells back, and Pete wants to hit him for saying it.

The kettle whistles. It screams while Pete stares at the counter and Patrick stares at him, until Patrick reaches over and moves the kettle to the trivet on the counter. Pete turns the burner off.

"What kind of break," he asks flatly. The options scroll through his head: from the road, from the band, from him.

Patrick pours the boiling water into the teapot. He carefully puts the lid on, and says, "From not getting mad at you."

Seriously? "Are you fucking serious? You get mad at me four times a day, six if it's Thursday--"

"Not for the real shit," Patrick says. "Maybe for the important shit, but not for the real shit."

It's a fine distinction, but Pete understands.

"I've been doing this for a long time," Patrick says. "I've been doing this for a long ass time, and I'm tired of doing all the work--figuring you out because it's easier for you that way. I'm just." He shrugs, smiling ruefully. "I just don't understand, and believe me when I tell you I've tried. Really fucking hard."

"I do," Pete says. He's got a closet full of proof. "I believe you. So."

"So just answer me," Patrick says. "Just tell me the truth on this one little thing."

"You're my best friend," Pete says, but he knows it's not that easy.

Patrick narrows his eyes. "Is that it?" he asks, disbelieving. "That's why?"

Pete shrugs. "Welcome to having Pete Wentz obsessed with you."

"You--bullshit," Patrick says.

"No," Pete says. "It's not."

"Okay," Patrick says. "I don't--"

"You need it plainer than that?" Pete says. He crosses his arms over his chest, like an 'x'. "I love you. Like--"

"Seriously," Patrick says warningly. "Don't fuck with me right now."

"I'm not fucking with you." He raps his knuckles on the teapot. "Do you actually want tea? I mean, peppermint is not very California, but--"

Patrick waves his hands. "No, no. No changing the subject."

Pete shrugs. He feels pretty much numb, like being depressed while medicated. "It's not a big deal, okay."

"You're a fucking idiot," Patrick says.

"Do you want to be pissed about this?" Pete says. "I can give you more reasons: I've fantasized about you; I lied to you seven times about Anna calling while we were on the road in 2003; you look good in blue--"

"Pete," Patrick says.

"No, man, I made you sing about it," Pete says. He spreads his arms. "You want--I have knives. In the drawer."

Patrick rolls his eyes. "You are such a drama queen."

"King," Pete says automatically.

"What the fuck ever," Patrick says. "Remember when you told me you're not very subtle? You're really not. And I, unlike you, am not a fucking idiot."

"Oh," Pete says.

"I mean, I wasn't sure," Patrick says. He shrugs. "But I guess it makes sense, as much as anything you do makes sense."

"Thank you?" Pete says.

Patrick smiles. He gestures at the teapot. "You should make me a cup of tea now," he says.

"I think I'm out of honey," Pete says. He'd meant to have someone buy groceries for him, so there would be food when he got home, but he remembered to go to therapy instead. Life is about give-and-take.

"That's okay," Patrick says. "I'm sweet enough."

Pete laughs.


Tags: (fic) writ, (fob) the pete & patrick shew

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