Title: Existentialism On Prom Night
Length: 1400 words
A/N: Thanks to kosher_pareve for the beta and moral support.
Summary: Ficus plants, pancakes, and a very surly Patrick.
The Britney Spears ring tone, when first downloaded, was highly amusing. The Britney Spears ring tone at 4:00a.m, emitting from somewhere within a heap of dirty laundry, is not. Pete digs into the pocket of a pair of jeans and flips open his phone. He is still mostly asleep so the greeting comes out as "Hnghh."
Patrick sounds miles away. Miles away and absolutely desperate. "Hi Pete how are you I bet you were asleep I know it's really late but can you come get me if you can't I'll call my mom but--"
"Inhale, Patrick," Pete says, shuffling toward his desk. "I'll be right there. Where are you? Wait, I need paper."
One stubbed toe and one scrawled note to his mother later, Pete is on the way.
(The note reads "stump liberation 0400hrs and counting, your car volunteered selflessly for the cause, pancakes for brave volunteers?" Mrs. Wentz reads it the next morning and sighs before getting out a bowl and a whisk. She just knows that Patrick will take all the fun out of her denying Pete pancakes--a fair punishment for grand theft auto, really--by refusing to eat his own stack till Pete gets a share.)
Pete pulls up to the hotel, double parks, and shudders at the muzak when he enters the lobby. It is way too early to have to deal with "Islands in the Stream." Patrick had promised to be waiting for him, but the lobby is empty. Pete is on his way to the front desk when he notices movement behind a ficus plant. He stops dead in his tracks. "Trick, you have got to be kidding me."
"Shhh!" Patrick hisses.
"You are hiding behind a fucking plant."
"I noticed," Patrick shoots back. "Can we leave now?"
The front desk clerk has just seemed to notice Pete holding a conversation with a potted plant and looks decidedly nervous. "No, I want to stay here and make small talk by the elevators while you cower behind a plant."
Patrick emerges, scowling, one hand on his hip and one holding his tuxedo jacket over his shoulder. His shirt is wrinkled and his cummerbund is sticking out of his pocket. It is, Pete thinks, not a bad look on him.
"I am not cowering," Patrick huffs. "I'm hiding. It's much more manly than cowering."
"Uh huh. You look good, man." Pete walks around, appraising. "I'm not sure those shoes were the way to go but you really wear those pants-"
"Whatever, if you're done being weird can we please go? Now?" Pete can recognize when Patrick is about to switch from annoyed to irate, and this is exactly what 30-seconds-to-irate-with-a-chance-of-out
Pete tugs Patrick away from the greenery and toward the door. "C'mon. I double parked my mom's car right outside and there's Bowie in the stereo."
Patrick almost smiles.
Pete has no destination in mind, he's just driving to kill time. He tells Patrick he threw an old hoodie and some jeans in the back if he wants to change, but Patrick just says "Fuck no, I paid sixty bucks to rent this tux and it's not due back till 3:00. It will come off my body at exactly 2:59," and stares out the window.
Ten minutes later Pete tries again. "So, how was the prom?"
"Seems about right."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"I get that. Donuts?"
"Uh, I hate to ask but-"
"I have cash."
"Donuts it is!"
The sun is just rising when they pull into a park near the lake. Patrick's got two donuts and a hell of a lot of black coffee running through him and he's less surly than he was an hour ago. His jacket has a light dusting of powdered sugar down the front of it and Pete figures there is absolutely no reason to bring this to his attention at the moment. They sit in silence for a bit, eating and listening to music. Pete is on the verge of drifting off when Patrick clears his throat and says, "So."
"So," Pete echoes. "Would you like to tell me why I am currently watching you eat donuts and mope at 6:12 a.m. when you should, by all rights, be passed out at your prom after-party?"
Patrick grimaces. "It was just…the whole night was awkward and boring and I had to dance and the music was bad and my date got drunk and alternated between puking and trying to make out with me and the after-party was a nightmare and high school girls en masse are really annoying and I wanted…I want…I want to go home."
Pete takes a moment to digest the rush of words before asking, "You danced?"
Patrick launches the last jelly-filled directly at Pete's head. Pete ducks and the donut thuds softly into the back seat. "You realize, of course," Pete says, "she's going to blame me for that."
Patrick smiles his first real smile of the night.
Pete is exhausted by the time they make it home. He shoves Patrick up the stairs and into the spare twin bed--it stopped being an extra bed and started being Patrick's frequent crash pad sometime in late fall. Pete stumbles across the room to his own bed and starts to ask if a teddy bear would help Patrick cope with the night's emotional trauma, but he's asleep before he can form the words.
Ten minutes later, he wakes up to his phone ringing. He rummages through the covers and finds it by the foot of the bed. The voice on the other end sounds very close this time.
"Hi," Patrick says.
"Hi," Pete says, squinting across the room. "What are you doing?"
"Waking you up."
"Don't hang up."
The line is silent for a good minute before Patrick starts speaking again.
"We got our yearbooks yesterday. I'm not in it. I missed senior portraits when our van broke down in Ohio last October. I'm not in any club photos either, cause I wasn't in any clubs. I was always with the band. And tonight was my one chance for a shot at a normal high school experience and it sucked and I blame you."
Pete gives himself a moment before answering, "Well, that's really not fair, is it? I wasn't even there."
"I know," Patrick says, and now he is standing next to Pete's bed. He snaps his phone shut, Pete does the same. "That was the problem." Patrick shoves the covers away from Pete and climbs in so that they are facing each other. "You weren't there. You should always be there. Cause things happen and if you're not there I have to tell you about them later and it's just easier if you're there in the first place, you know?"
"That...really doesn't make any sense at all," Pete says, but he's grinning.
"No, it doesn't," Patrick says and tugs Pete forward. Their foreheads bump and Pete catches Patrick's jaw in his hand.
"Trick, what's going on?"
"I don't know," Patrick says. "I think we're gonna have to be okay with not knowing."
Pete nods. "I can deal with that." He leans in to kiss Patrick on the forehead, but Patrick raises his face and they kiss lip to lip, very softly. Patrick tastes like powdered sugar. Pete breaks the kiss after just a few seconds, but Patrick leans forward again and one kiss turns into many and soon they are both breathless, looking into each other's eyes in the dim early morning light. Patrick yawns and Pete pushes him till he rolls over and they are spooned together, legs neatly locked and Pete's arm thrown across Patrick's chest.
"Go to sleep, Patrick," Pete says, nuzzling the back of his neck. "My mom's gonna make us pancakes once we get up."
They sleep for a bit and then there are pancakes and a drive to the mall to return the tux. Pete learns that if he tries to pay for Patrick's Orange Julius, Patrick will hiss that they're not dating and he can pay for his own damn drinks and Pete will make an ill chosen remark about him being such a girl sometimes and they'll scowl at each other but still wind up holding hands on the drive back. That night Patrick will curl up in Pete's bed again and there will be more kissing and touching. Patrick tries not to overthink things, Pete tries not to fuck it all up.
A month later Pete himself cooks pancakes for Patrick, and though they are lumpy and kind of tough, Patrick is pretty sure that they are more or less heart-shaped on purpose. Which would be touching, were Pete not singing a song he had titled "Prom Night Exodus Or How Patrick Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Sheer Awesomeness that is Pete Wentz" as he cooked. After the second stanza Patrick walks over and shoves a forkful of pancake in Pete's mouth and neither of them care that the final batch burns to a crisp while they make out in front of the stove.
(MP3 of Straylight Run singing Existentialism on Prom Night here)