in which pete wonders why his life is an outline for a death cab for cutie song (ft. sleepy tired patrick)
R for language
pete/patrick, sooooome unsaid pete/mikey
"Oh dude, gross."
Pete rests his chin on the ledge and lets his arms dangle over. "I am so. Sorry," he calls down to the sidewalk. "Seriously. Seriously."
There are either one, two, or four guys standing there, but in any case, they all look up at him in disgust and sidestep the newly formed puddle of Chinese food and Gordon's vodka that darkens the concrete.
Patrick is slumped against the wall with his hat over his face. "Did you just," and he starts laughing, barely able to spit out the rest of his sentence, "pu - puke over the ledge? We're like, five stories up. Pete!" He's speaking with the strange inflections and pauses that construct the language of those who are -
" - fucking drunk," Pete mutters. He lays his head on the ledge, cheek pressing into the rough brick, and fixes his watery eyes on the gleam of Patrick's glasses. He feels. Like he just vomited off the side of a five-story building, almost on somebody. But he's also getting that peculiar feeling of nothing existing outside of this roof; nothing outside of the gravel against his cheek, the chill of late September pressing up on the back of his neck, and Patrick's foot bumping into his own.
"Gordon is one badass motherfucker," Pete declares outloud.
"We'll have to write him an extensive thank you letter." The words are slightly slurred, and Patrick is red red red; it spreads from his cheeks and down to his neck, and his hands are almost too warm when he reaches out to grab the bottle from Pete's hand.
The door to the roof opens with the cringe of rusty metal, and someone says, "Holy shit. I have to drive you two home?"
Pete smiles up at Joe. "Load 'er up," he says. He doesn't even know what he means.
Joe turns off the engine and the automatic seatbelts retract with a whirring noise that jars Pete's head. He opens his eyes and sees that the light in Patrick's living room is on.
"Shit," he says. He can practically see Mrs. Stump waiting up in her bathrobe.
"Shiiiit," Patrick says from the backseat.
There's a pause, and then a , "oh. Ooh, shit," as Joe finally gets it.
"You need more room."
"No, really. I'm fine."
"What? Jesus, look at you." Pete demonstrates by looking at Patrick, who's currently sandwiched between a seat, a cupholder, and a guitar case that wouldn't fit into the trailer. "You're in the fetal position," he adds when Patrick shrugs.
"Helps me think." Patrick pulls at his hair. It's getting longer now, sticking out past his ears and occasionally covering an eyebrow or two. "Plus, you know, I'm so fucking tired that I think I could fall asleep while hanging upside down by my ankles above a pit of fire."
Pete smiles. It's a genuine one, and he finds that the muscles in his cheeks don't hurt as much. "That's a way shittier situation than the van, I've gotta say." Patrick hmms, then lets his arms flop down to his sides as Pete shoves a sleeping bag over and lays down next to him. Streetlights shine a yellow glow onto their faces in passing beats, as if they're getting Xeroxed over and over again.
Patrick sighs, quietly enough that Pete knows it wasn't meant to be heard. Their bodies shift slightly as the van switches lanes; Pete reaches down and squeezes Patrick's fingers. He squeezes back briefly, thumb pressing against Pete's knuckles, and asks, "where are we?"
Pete cranes his neck and tries to catch a glimpse of passing signs. "Highway 80, I think. Could be anywhere." Patricks hmms again. Pete stares up at the ceiling, at the skeletons of trees passing in the windows. He always finds that the world looks different this way.
Joe starts chucking stale popcorn at Andy from the back of the van. Whatever Andy brushes off, Pete picks up and tries to get Patrick to eat.
"Son, I will pull this moving dump over if you don't cut it out," Andy says with a slight twang while staring into the rearview mirror.
Pete dips kernels into the remnants of spilled Pepsi on the floor of the van and gives sleeping-Patrick a popcorn mustache.
Pete stumbles onto the bus. It's 4 am, and he smells like the old bongwater that Gerard had accidentally tipped over onto his pants.
He also vaguely smells like Mikey.
When he opens the door to the back of the bus, he finds that Patrick is still sitting in front of his computer with his headphones around his neck - those thick black ones that cost $299 because of noise cancelling cathode fusiform layers or something. They piss the shit out of Pete because Patrick never hears him with them on and he ends up just talking to himself for a good three minutes every time. ("That says more about how much you talk rather than how much I listen," Patrick had said once, and Pete had ignored him until he'd forgotten and asked Patrick to please pass the Corn Pops eight minutes later.)
"Hey," says Pete. He closes a fist around the doorknob and holds tight.
"What's up." Patrick doesn't take his eyes off the monitor. He opens up Garageband (Pete can see the reflection of it off his glasses) and types something in.
"Nothing much." Pete clicks his teeth together a few times. And the most stilted conversation award goes to... "You should come over next time. To the MyChem bus, I mean."
"You know I don't really want to," Patrick says, a little exasperated.
"Dude. Patrick." Pete finally makes his way into the room and sits down next to him. "This is like. The most fun tour I've - we've ever been on. You should just. I don't know, join in sometimes."
Patrick leans back against the couch and flips his hat up by the brim a few times, like he does when he's nervous. "Pete, have you. Did you ever think that you were spreading yourself too thin?"
Pete blinks. "Well, I like people," he says slowly, a little defensively. Something about Patrick's tone makes Pete feel like he should be angry, but he feels inexplicably sad instead.
"You hate people - " Patrick cuts himself off. "You know what, I don't even know. I'm sorry, I'm just really fucking tired." He scrubs a hand over his face and keeps rubbing his forehead as Pete leans in to wrap his arm around Patrick's shoulders.
Maybe Pete knows, on some level, what this is all about, because his eyes are already closed when Patrick kisses him.
So it's like this, now.
But then again, maybe it always has been.
It's awkward for twelve days after that. Then four months pass, they're on the other side of the Atlantic, and Pete realizes that he is a fucking dumbass.
After two hours of loitering around the tiny hallway, he knocks on the wall next to Patrick's bunk and is opening the curtains as soon as Patrick finishes calling out a "yeah."
Pete sits down on the mattress and doesn't bother saying hi. "Have you," he starts, then pauses and starts over again. "Remember when - "
Patrick looks up at him with an expression of vague confusion mixed with jet lag. "Dude, what are you on?"
Pete smiles then, and makes up his mind before it goes away. He pulls Patrick's arm out from underneath the blanket and curls his fingers over his knuckles, pressing palm against palm. His own fingers are slightly sweaty; Patrick's are warm and dry, with Sharpie stains on the side of his thumb. He suddenly wishes he knew Morse Code; then he wouldn't have to say anything, and it would just be tapping his fingers against Patrick's hand until he'd said everything. Hey, hi, I'm sorry, I fucked up again, I like you, I love you, I.
"Hi," Pete says, and smiles again. He can feel his heart beating in his gums.
"Hi," Patrick repeats slowly. "Should I be sitting up for this?" And he sits up anyway, before Pete can say anything.
(He's still holding Patrick's hand.)
He doesn't know what to say. He's never not known what to say.
"You know, I think this is the longest you've ever gone without saying anything. Except that time you decided to ignore me for like, a whole ten minutes," Patrick says loftily, but his eyes are unblinking and serious, and there, Pete thinks he's understanding now, maybe.
When Patrick speaks again, his voice is lower and it cracks a little, in a way that practically breaks Pete's heart, as he says his name. "Pete?"
"Yeah." Pete tightens his grip. "Yeah. Yup."
It's silent again. Then: "You're a fucking jackass."
Pete kind of laughs, because really, there's nothing else to do. "Yeah. Yup. I fuck up a lot. You've been there," he adds, stuttering slightly. "Even though that's a pretty terrible excuse."
"And now you come around."
"I came around before you, actually," Pete scoffs. "I've just done a lot of dumb shit along the way." And said a lot of stupid shit, God. He doesn't even want to listen to himself anymore.
Patrick looks thoughtful, and then weary as he finally says, "I should say 'fuck off', you know."
"I know you should," Pete says automatically. He repeats himself, more quiet this time. "You should."
But Patrick doesn't.
Pete knows things are different now, from mindless days and nights in the van, or drunken episodes on rooftops. They're in a whole different country, for fuck's sake. They're more weathered and soft around the edges; more susceptible to hiding in hoodies and rubbing their eyes with sore knuckles. They're older, but maybe less wise. At least they've got the money to buy halfway-decent alcohol this time.
Different, but still the same, Pete thinks, as he looks at the way Patrick pulls at his hair.
"Why does it always take us years to get anywhere with anything?" Patrick smiles crookedly. Why do we never say things out loud?
Because we never have to. "Yeah, well. You know me."
When Patrick looks directly at Pete and says, "I do know you," Pete feels like. He doesn't know. (Like he just vomited off the side of a five-story building, almost on somebody.)
The bus rumbles along the road and they talk and talk about useless things. Pete whispers a lot and Patrick is red red red; it spreads from his cheeks and down to his neck, and his hands are almost too warm when he settles his palm over Pete's hip.
After Pete accidentally hits his head on the wall for a third time while trying to fit his body comfortably in the bunk, there's a sound of curtains snapping open.
"If you guys could stop orgying over there, that'd be great," Joe says loudly.
Pete wakes up with his hood covering his eyes and Patrick breathing against his collarbone.