Love is a binding force: gift for [livejournal.com profile] inlovewithnight

Dec. 31st, 2012 09:13 pm
[identity profile] stuffitmod.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bandomstuffsit
Title: Love is a binding force
Author: [livejournal.com profile] snarkydame
Pairing(s): Pete/Gabe, past Pete/Mikey
Rating: R for language, angst
Warnings: none
Word count: ~1600
Summary: Pete is communing with a copper frog. It's possible he's having some sort of crisis. Gabe, on the other hand, is sure of it. AU, college setting.



It didn't hurt. Not enough, anyway. He pushed at the molar with his tongue, looking for that taste, like copper wire. Was it . . . no. It wasn't even loose.

Asshole couldn't even throw a proper punch.

The outside wall of the library was cold against his shoulder. It felt good, and he leaned a little harder against it. He'd worked up enough of a sweat to collect rough red brick dust in streaks on his sleeve. It didn't match the dried blood on his knuckles.

Sloppy punch or not, it had left his jaw aching, and his head was still fizzing from the fight -- the glares and the yelling, the grasping fingers on collars and bony fists against face – The insides of his head were as shaken as a can of coke dropped and kicked across the ground. If he opened it, it would spray all over this shitty little courtyard.

The gravel under his sneakers rolled, and he realized he'd paced away from the wall without noticing, was three steps away from the dry, copper-green fountain. A warty sculpted frog was giving him the eye.

"Yeah, screw you too, frog," he muttered. His voice seemed small in the quiet space, so he drew himself up and grinned at the frog, as wide as he could. With as many teeth as he could.

The frog didn't seem impressed.

Pete sighed and sat on the edge of the fountain. Crunched a dry yellow leaf to powder beneath his sneaker.

His phone buzzed in his pocket.

Sometimes he felt like he was burning. Like everything he knew and everything he felt was singing, and his skeleton was scorching in that conflagration of certainty.

And sometimes he felt like he'd been frozen. Like all that he saw and all that he heard was a lie, sitting in his heart and leeching away all the warmth he though he knew.

And then, sometimes, he just felt tired, and a little sore. Like he'd been punched in the face by a guy in a bar, and had run away to hide with a copper frog in the library courtyard.

His phone buzzed in his pocket.

"He didn't even look much like him," he told the frog. His voice sounded a little wrong – fat lip, definitely. "His eyes were boring."

The frog still looked skeptical.

"Really boring. Like . . . Bud Light. Flat Bud Light."

But the cheekbones had echoed Mikey's, and his fingers had been long, and strong.

His phone buzzed in his pocket.

He'd zoned out, nursing his beer while the bass line caught at his ribs and the drums pulsed in his throat. Finals were looming – he was deep in the middle of his annual spin between confidence and despair. It was tiring. He hadn't even realized he'd been staring.

The shadows in the bare little courtyard were lengthening. The dry fountain's basin looked deeper in the dark. The tangled bits of weed in the gravel looked a little like thorns.

The frog's expression was changing with the shadows. He couldn't decide if it looked more or less like the frog was rolling its eyes.

Pete pulled his sleeves a little further past his wrists, and curved his shoulders in, away from the breeze that cut through his wet shirt.

"He smelled like the boring fucking beer he drank, anyway," he told the frog. And now, he did too, thanks to the guy's asshole friends and their cheap-ass pitcher of skunk-piss beer.

His phone buzzed in his pocket.

It took a bit of doing – his hands were stiffening, it was too cold out here – but he got his phone out of his pants.

what the hell, dude

you didn't tell me you were tired of your face, I could have rearranged it for you in the comfort of your own dorm room

where are you?

no really, where are you?


Pete blinked. He looked up from his phone – the screen lit the copper frog on the fountain with a brief, washed out glow. It really was dark out now.

Gabe knew about the bar already. That was inevitable, honestly, but he was still, somehow, surprised.

His phone buzzed in his hand, and he twitched. Juggled his phone before he could drop it.

fuck you, pete, answer me

Pete pursed his lips. The devil on his shoulder advised ignoring Gabe – wondered how long it would take for him to give up, to stop asking, go away. Part of him – the part that felt honest disappointment when an asshole in a bar didn't knock his teeth out – wanted to take the devil up on that.

But most times Pete recognized self-destructive behavior. Sometimes he even acted on that recognition.

I'm communing with a frog by the library he answered Gabe. The frog is sort of hostile

It was hard to type. His thumbs felt creaky, and a new, fragile, scab on his knuckle split.

He should get up. He should go meet Gabe somewhere. Somewhere with light, and warmth, and music. Gabe absorbed light, radiated it back at people like a prism, like a fucking rainbow dispenser.

Maybe, Pete thought, he'd had more beer than he thought he'd had.

And anyway, he was comfortable here (but it was cold and there was an empty gaping space behind his back). He didn't want to get up (he wanted to run). And Gabe wasn't the one he really wanted to see (except that he was).

Mikey was on the other side of the country, with his hands and his eyes and his fucking face. That's what he'd gone looking for. That's who he'd seen reflected (poorly) in that bar hopping frat boy.

Gabe's eyes were nothing like Mikey's, Pete thought. Dark enough to drown in, and sometimes, hungry enough to make him shake. Lately, he'd dreamed of Gabe's eyes, of his jaw, of the long, lean line of his spine.

The guy at the bar – on reflection, his hands had looked more like Gabe's than Mikey's.

But he hadn't been . . . he hadn't been . . . he couldn't be looking for Gabe.

His phone buzzed in his hand.

is the frog telling you to get your drunk ass in out of the cold, because I don't blame it for not wanting to have to hide your body

"I'm not drunk, I don't think," he reassured the frog. "I thought I was, for a minute, but I think I'm just having a crisis."

He assumed the frog was still looking at him. The gathering dark had turned the fountain into a vaguely looming shadow behind and beside him. The frog was little more than an occasional flicker of greenish copper lit by a passing car.

Gabe was looking for him. Not just texting him from their dorm room, but out looking -- stalking campus like an avenging stork, long legs in skinny jeans worn too thin for the dropping temperature. He knew it, simply and completely, like he used to know when Mikey was pressing his hands around a steaming mug of coffee, barefoot on his sticky kitchen floor, while Pete lay half asleep in the other room. The most certain thing in the world.

That was wrong, wasn't it? That was . . . intrusive. It was needy, and grasping. Greedy. He couldn't let them go even when they were no where near him.

His phone buzzed.

I can feel you brooding from here

And buzzed.

aren't you cold, idiot, you left your jacket in the bar

Gabe was concerned, and trying not to be. Pete could feel it, like a warm breath against the back of his neck. Bemused, he pressed his hand to the spot – the chill of his fingers made him flinch.

He shook his head. He was imagining it. Gabe wasn't Mikey. And anyway, Pete couldn't even feel Mikey anymore. It (whatever it was) had faded even before Mikey left for LA. Or he'd lost it. Or it had always been his imagination.

But he knew Gabe was on the other side of the library, stepping around the cracks in the sidewalk, and over the roots of the gnarled old elm that caused them.

He knew that (but he couldn't) as surely as he knew the ache in his jaw and the sting in his hands.

His phone buzzed in his hand.

He stood up. His legs felt stiff. "Strings still holding me up," he told the frog he couldn't see. "The Blue Fairy never liked me much."

He stuffed his phone back in his pocket. It buzzed again as it slid over the copper rivet – it added a sharp tick of sound that set his teeth on edge.

There was no way he could know that Gabe was just around the corner. He couldn't be as certain as he thought he was.

It was cold out here. He should get back to the dorm.

He heard the quick crunch of leaves and gravel, but he was turning even before that, because he knew, even if he couldn't.

Pete was so cold he couldn't feel the clammy drag of his wet shirt across his skin, but he could feel Gabe's big hands on his arms. His hands were so hot, he felt like he'd find prints beneath his sleeves.

"You could answer your phone, asshole. You knew it was me."

Gabe pulled him closer, wrapped him in long arms, and warmth. And he was shaking as he did it. Pete could feel him.

"You found me anyway," he said, finally, when he learned to talk. Gabe was sinking into him like sunlight falling through cold water – Pete could feel the shine all through his bones.

"Pete," Gabe said, holding tighter. "I knew where you were."


fin
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