Is the Magic Number (2/3): gift for [livejournal.com profile] akamine_chan

Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:21 pm
[identity profile] stuffitmod.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bandomstuffsit


Part 1

Pete never intended to make it a thing. He’s never looked at purity rings and wondered if he could do that, that he could wait to enjoy full sex until he was married. Or even, if he’s honest, thought about waiting at all.

To Pete his path was always set out. Jerking off in his bedroom or bathroom as he imagined working through all the bases with the girls at his school, and then, finally ending up with someone special, when they’d end up having full sex.

It all seemed so simple back then. Dick in his hand and head turned to one side, face pushed against his pillow to muffle the sounds as Pete thought about the things he’d looked up online, or the way Mrs Thomson’s bra showed through her blouse when she leaned over to check what he was writing. Any little thing enough to make him hard -- fast.

Pete loves the idea of sex. Strike that, Pete loved the idea of sex -- because now that he’s attempted it once, he’s realized it isn’t so simple. It’s not just sticking your dick into someone who’s willing. It’s giving over a part of yourself, saying that you like someone enough that you want to be close in the most intimate way possible -- and it turns out, that terrifies Pete.

Afraid of taking that last step, it’s just easier to stop. To back off when each new girlfriend starts to get heavy, to say that he’s sorry, that it’s Pete and not them.

It works, Pete’s girlfriends saying what a gentleman Pete is, how he respects them always and never attempts to go too far. And it’s true. Pete learns to enjoy people for who they are and ends things if they start getting too heavy.

Which is fine. Pete doesn’t need sex to have fun, and he never stops getting turned on by the scenes in his head. It’s just, instead of another warm body, Pete gets off with the help of his hand.


---o0o--

Sometimes, being on tour is the worst. Like now, when Pete’s stuck in a car on the way to an interview, trying to talk to someone who has the information he needs. Frustrated, Pete grips his phone, willing it to ring, or announce a message, anything to signal that he’s getting an answer.

It doesn’t, and he’s about going out of his mind.

“We can call again once we’ve finished the interview,” Patrick says, and squeezes Pete’s knee, a sign of support that’s hidden from the fans that are swarming the entrance to the radio station. “We’ll find someone who knows.”

“I should have phoned him before.” It’s something Pete can’t stop going over, the fact that while he’s never stopped texting Mikey, it’s been too long since they’ve actually talked. Not for any bad reason, just, this way Pete’s managed to hang onto his friendship with Mikey without pulling off the scab that covers his feelings.

Until something like this happens, and the love Pete’s tried to push down, is suddenly and painfully there. Every breath hurts as Pete pushes for answers. Needing to know from someone that even if Mikey’s not okay, he’s in a place to get help

“You couldn’t have known,” Patrick says, and when Pete starts to reply he shakes his head and stresses, “You couldn’t. Knowing someone is about to break down is different to knowing they’ve got issues. You can’t spend all of your time watching someone to make sure they’re okay. That’s exhausting.”

Pete looks out of the window, calculating how much time he’s got before he has to plaster on a smile before greeting the fans. “You do it.”

Patrick shrugs, seemingly brushing off what he’s just said in terms of himself. “I’m with you all the time. And Mikey’s got people around him, too.”

“He hasn’t got you,” Pete says, Patrick such a stabilizing presence that Pete can’t imagine living his life without him. But, even if Mikey doesn't have Patrick, he does have Gerard, and Alicia, and countless other friends who’ll be there at his side when they can. It’s just, Pete wants to be there too. Not that there’ll be anything he can do or say that’ll help at the moment, but Pete does know what it’s like, and even if Pete has given up his rights to get close, he’s still going to try. “After. I’m going to see him.”

“I’ll help you find flights,” Patrick says, tugging at his hat as the first fan takes note of the car and starts yelling. “Ready to do this?”

“No,” Pete says as he pulls on a smile and steps out the car.

---o0o--

The thing about Mikey was, he was different.

Not in the way he was a guy not a girl, but the fact that being with him was easy. There was no pressure, no times where Pete had to hide parts of himself or pretend to be something he wasn’t. It was just a strengthening of a friendship that casually turned into more.

Even now, months later, Pete can remember their first kiss. How it happened from one breath to the next, Mikey’s eyes wide as Pete dropped down from his tip toes and then waited for Mikey to respond to that first, impulsive kiss, and he had, smiling as he grabbed a handful of Pete’s hoodie, pulled him close and kissed him again. Longer this time, Pete’s opening gambit returned and made more.

It was good. It was great and Pete knew he was falling for Mikey, both physically and mentally. Pete wanted to be with him always, and when they were together, things felt brighter somehow, even the constantly pressing in dark felt lighter.

Pete was falling for someone who was available, who was there, who’d become one of Pete’s best friends. Surely that meant it was different? That this time Pete could take that last step?

It still wasn’t enough, Pete’s chest tightening and heart pounding as Mikey suggested renting a hotel room so they could have privacy for once, the ‘to take things to the next level’ unspoken but there.

That Mikey didn’t push, that he didn’t ask when Pete made excuses said everything, and made Pete love him even more.

A love that remained constant, when the summer finally ended and all Pete could do was push him away.


---o0o--

It takes a long time before Pete can see Mikey. Long frustrating weeks where it takes countless phonecalls and messages before he eventually gets to talk to Gerard and Alicia, both of them cagey with information at first. Which Pete gets, while he’s never stopped being Mikey’s friend it’s been a long time since they were close, and exes don’t rank high when it comes to sharing personal information.

Then, just as Pete’s about to go out of his mind, he starts to receive texts from Mikey. Nothing important for the first week, mostly links and meaningless comments sent always at night. When the world is silent and dark and Pete sits up in his bed, too tired to sleep, replying instantly as he imagines Mikey tucked away from the world, protected by the people who love him.

Then, as time passed, snippets of personal information hidden in with the links. Until last night, when Mikey ended a string of texts by asking if Pete wanted to meet up the next day. Pete did, more than anything he wanted to see Mikey, and replied yes without hesitation at all. And Pete still does. Just, now it’s time for the meeting, he’s nervous, shredding empty sugar packets as he sits at the table in an out of the way Starbucks and waits.

Truthfully, he’s not sure what to expect. The talks with Alicia and Gerard letting him know that Mikey’s doing better, and the texts supporting that fact. But still, it’s been a long time since they were together, and Pete can’t help worrying that the ease of summer will have been replaced by awkwardness and two people who’ve become distant friends at best.

“Pete.”

Surprised, Pete drops the remains of the packet, sugar and paper brushed to one side as he stands, staring at Mikey who’s walking into the small outside enclosure that houses the tables and chairs. Since the last time Pete saw him Mikey looks different, which isn’t a surprise. Pete’s seen the pictures and spent hours reading reports about My Chem and specifically Mikey, so he knows that Mikey’s stopped wearing his glasses and that his haircut has drastically changed. Even so, right now it’s like Pete’s looking at a stranger, one who’s lost the ease of before and become all sharp lines and barely there control.

It’s like Pete’s looking at himself when he’s coming out of his worst. When he’s wrung out and raw but still hanging on.

Mikey remains still, letting Pete look and then, his mouth curling up into a smile, says, “Is that all I get after breaking out? No hug?”

Instantly Pete moves forward, arms outstretched for a hug, and as Mikey gets close, his arms wrapped around Pete, his head against Pete’s, this isn’t strange in the slightest. Mikey may look different, may be different, but he’s still Mikey, and Pete relaxes against him, reluctant to pull back as he says, “Tell me they know that you’re here.”

“Does leaving a note before climbing out the bathroom window count?” Mikey asks, laughing when Pete reacts by jolting upright and looking over his shoulder, sure that Gerard will be close by and glaring.

“Gerard’s just started to talk to me again,” Pete says, the urge to pull out his phone and shove it into Mikey’s hands and tell him to call someone warring with the knowledge that Mikey’s a grown man, and more than that, will have his own phone. “Maybe you should call someone though, just...”

“It’s okay, I’m just joking, they know I’m here,” Mikey says, letting go of Pete and taking a step back. “Gerard offered to come, but I wanted some time alone someplace that wasn’t a therapist office.”

Relief hits hard, and Pete would laugh at himself except for the unsettling knowledge he doesn’t know Mikey as well now. At one point Pete would have seen the joke in an instant, but not now, and he forces a smile, says, “Good. I don’t want to be punched by Gerard.”

“He wouldn’t do that, at least, not now,” Mikey says, casual as he looks past Pete to the table and the two cups of coffee, both with Pete’s name on the side. “Is one of those mine?”

“I’m not double fisting coffee yet,” Pete says, even though right now he could down both one after the other, hoping the caffeine jitters would overwhelm this feeling of awkwardness as he tries to think what to say. “I got you plain black.”

“Thanks.” Mikey takes the cup that Pete indicates, taking a long drink before sitting, legs stretched out and head tilted up to the sun. “I’ve missed this. It feels like I’ve been trapped inside forever.”

“We can stay as long as you like, I cleared my day for you,” Pete says, and hopes that it’s true, that today is one of the days where the fans keep away and Pete and Mikey can both be themselves.

Mikey takes another drink of his coffee, keeping the cup in his hands as he says, “I’ve got the day too. Therapy was first thing. I think they schedule it like that on purpose as another form of torture.”

Pete takes note of the words, and how Mikey’s grip on his cup has tightened, as if steeling himself for the inevitable questions. Which Pete isn’t about to ask, giving Mikey this time where all that matters is now and not the future or past.

It’s why Pete takes a long drink of his own coffee as he thinks about routes and timing and says, “Do you want to go on an adventure, Mikeyway?”

Instantly, Mikey says, “Always.”

~~~~~

As beaches go it’s not one of the best. But it’s out of the way and mostly uncrowded, with a tiny coffee shop close by, and best of all, is open to dogs. It’s why Pete’s sitting cradling his coffee, the toes of his sneakers dug into the sand as he laughs at Mikey making a fuss of two dalmatians that are seemingly trying their best to knock him onto his ass.

“I’m sorry, they get excitable,” their owner says, hurrying forward and then turning to one side as both dogs shake briskly, spraying water out to all sides. “Spot.Dot.Heel.”

Instantly, both dogs go to heel, panting and happy in that excited dog way that Pete loves seeing so much. Almost as much as he loves the sight of Mikey, damp and sandy, his hair blown out of its gelled style and best of all, his smile wide as he waves away the woman’s apologies and pets Spot and Dot one last time before heading back toward Pete.

“Been making friends I see,” Pete says, grinning when Mikey responds by shaking his hands so stray droplets of cold water hit Pete’s face.

“Spot and Dot,” Mikey says, lowering himself down next to Pete and watching the woman and dogs walk away. “You’d think she’d stretch her imagination. Call them Purdita and Pongo at least.”

Pete picks up Mikey’s coffee, brushing sand from the lid before handing it over. “I like Spot and Dot. They fit and they’re simple.”

“You’re simple,” Mikey says, smile visible behind the cup as he takes a long drink. “It’s cold.”

“You’re the one that’s been playing with dogs for almost an hour,” Pete points out, and Pete’s enjoyed every single minute of that hour as he watched Mikey unwind. “We can go get more if you want.”

“Not yet.” Mikey pulls up his knees, arms wrapped around them as he stares at the ocean and says, “I like it here. It feels empty, like I can breathe.”

“Breathing’s good,” Pete says, and remembers the times that he couldn’t, when it felt like every little thing pressed close from all sides. “Don’t stop.”

“I don’t intend to,” Mikey says, and this isn’t what Pete intended. He wanted this to be a time with no hard questions or Mikey thinking he needs to address the things he’s just gone through. Except, it seems, Mikey’s not done talking and he adds, “Not now, anyway.”

Pete wants to say good, to say anything, but the words are trapped in his throat as he tries to breathe through the thought of a world without Mikey.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Shuffling closer, Mikey leans against Pete and says, “I’m going to be okay.”

“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Pete asks, tilting his head so it’s resting against Mikey’s. “You’ve stolen my supportive bullshit.”

“No I haven’t,” Mikey says, and then, after a pause. “You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Always,” Pete says in reply.

---o0o--

Entering the lobby of the building, Pete stands off to one side, clutching his phone as he says, “What the hell am I doing?”

“Fucking yourself up as usual.” Even hundreds of miles and timezones away, Pete can easily picture Patrick’s expression, how he’ll be frowning as he keeps talking to Pete. “We’ve already gone through this once.”

“It’s not like that,” and it’s not, Pete’s being a good friend to Mikey and Alicia, that’s all. “I know he’s with Alicia now. And I meant what am I doing going to this party, nothing else.”

“You’re going because you’re an idiot who likes torturing yourself with things you can’t have.” Patrick sighs and adds, “You’ve been in daily contact with him for weeks now. You’ve taken a plane ride just so you can go to a housewarming party for his family and close friends. Bullshit it’s not that.”

“He’s with Alicia now,” Pete says again, but knows that Patrick’s not about to buy what Pete’s saying. Why should he when Pete barely believes it himself? A long pause, Pete waiting as a group of people walk past, chattering loudly as they head for the stairs, and then reluctantly he admits, “Okay. I may not be as over him as I thought.”

“No shit.” Patrick sighs again and Pete hears him walking, the sound of Patrick’s laptop powering up. “I can be there in the morning. I’ll book a flight and room and....”

“Why?” Pete cuts Patrick off, trying to understand why he’d even think about coming to Pete. “I’m okay. I’m not going to say anything. Just go to the party, celebrate their new home and then go.”

“When you’ll hole up in your hotel room and spend hours posting and deleting stuff online,” Patrick says, and then, softer, as if talking to himself as well as Pete, “Why couldn’t you decide you weren’t over Mikey when I could see you in person?”

Truthfully, Pete’s known he hasn’t been over Mikey for a long time, since the first time he met up again with Mikey in fact. The secret show at The Knitting Factory reminding Pete what he’d walked away from, and the contact since cementing the loss. Pete misses Mikey always, it’s just, he can’t allow himself to think about that.

“It doesn’t matter.” Pete shrugs, and tucks the gift he’s carrying more securely under his arm. “I’m not going to say anything and I’ll get over it eventually. I always do.”

Patrick doesn’t reply straight away, and Pete leans back against the wall, wanting to be in touching distance of Patrick instead of only being able to imagine his expression, how he must look as he tries to think what to say. “Call me if you need anything. I’m only a flight away.”

“I’ll be fine,” Pete says, and he will. He’s going to go to Mikey and Alicia’s party, be happy for them starting this new part of their lives and then go back to his hotel room knowing he’s been a good friend. It’s a sound plan, and one Pete’s going to start right now. “I’m going up now.”

“Tell Bob hi,” Patrick says, and then, “And be careful.”

“Planning on it,” Pete says, ending the call as he heads for the stairs.

~~~~~

Walking into Mikey and Alicia’s apartment reminds Pete of the parties he used to go to a few years before, with too many people crammed into too small of a place and the level of noise almost too much. Except, as he stands in the doorway and looks around the crowds of people, he sees that along with Mikey and Alicia’s friends, there’s also family. Older people who have to be relatives, and as Pete cranes his head, he sees Donna Way in the kitchen, her hair making her easily visible as she talks to the group around her.

“Pete.” Stopping in place, Pete turns, and is pulled into a quick, fierce hug by Alicia who clings on for a few moments before saying, “I’m so glad you came. Come in, Mikey’s around somewhere.” Alicia stretches up, easily able to see over the crowd due to her stacked boots, grinning when she waves toward the far side of the room. “Come with me.”

Her hand on Pete’s back, Alicia gently pushes him in the direction of Mikey, Pete exchanging quick hellos with the people he recognizes as he walks past.

“Pete.” As soon as he sees Pete, Mikey’s grin widens and he grabs Pete for a lingering hug hello. It’s also a hug that jabs a corner of the box Pete’s carrying into his side, not that he cares in the slightest. “I wasn’t sure if you’d come.”

Mikey loosens his grip and, reluctantly, Pete takes a step back and holds out the box as he says, “I cleared my schedule for you, and bought you a robot cookie jar. I thought you’d both like it.”

“Fuck yeah we’ll like it,” Mikey says, grin still in place as Alicia takes the box and starts to rip off the wrapping, brightly colored scraps falling to her feet.

“Though you’re not supposed to tell us what we’ve got before opening it,” Alicia says, laughing as she crumples paper and throws it toward an already overflowing garbage can at the side of the room.

“Patience isn’t my strong suit,” Pete says, ignoring the way Mikey bites back a laugh as Alicia opens the box and eases the robot from the protective padding inside. “I was going to put some cookies in but didn’t have time.”

“You’ll have to fill it later, then.” Robot held tight against her chest, Alicia shares a look with Mikey and then says, “Come help us decide where it goes.”

As requests go it’s not particularly demanding, but at the same time, Pete’s no expert on the placement of robot cookie jars and he doesn’t know why his opinion is needed at all. Still, he follows them both into the kitchen, where Pete sees Gerard smoking next to the open kitchen window.

“Gee, Pete’s here,” Mikey says, voice raised above the music and background talking from all parts of the apartment. “He bought us a robot.”

Gerard blows out a long plume of smoke, stubbing out his cigarette on a plate. “I hope it’s not a laser firing deathbot, because I was going to get you one of those for your birthday.”

“They were out of those,” Pete says, sharing a quick one-armed hug with Gerard. “I had to settle for a cookie jar.”

Gerard nods and brings his hand to his face, as if to push back hair that’s no longer there. “Sucks. Next time get on the list sooner.”

“Got it,” Pete says, matching Gerard’s serious tone. “Next time get on the deathbot list much sooner.”

“You won’t regret it,” Gerard says, and then smiles, wide and sunny. “How the fuck are you? We haven’t spoken for a while.”

“I’m good,” Pete says, and doesn’t say how the last time they talked Pete was all but begging Gerard for more news about Mikey. “I had a few days off so figured I’d come see Mikey and Alicia’s new place.”

“It’s great.” Gerard indicates the apartment with a sweep of his arm, barely missing the variety of half full soda bottles lined up on the worktop. “You’ll be able to see when it isn’t so full. At least, that is if you’re staying.”

“I’ve got a hotel room, I’ll...” Pete starts to answer, but stops when Mikey moves close, draping his arm over Pete’s shoulder and leaning against him.

“Of course he’s staying. He needs to make us cookies to put in the robot.”

“I never said I’d make them,” Pete says, and it’s second nature to fit himself against Mikey, feeling comfortable and at ease until he focuses on Alicia, who’s looking their way and smiling. Awkwardness hitting, Pete starts to move away, but Mikey holds on, keeping Pete still.

“You promised us cookies, and you can bake them, I’ve seen it,” Mikey says, giving Alicia a thumbs up when she places the robot on the windowsill, taking pride of place between the cactus and plastic action figure of The Joker complete with tiny feather boa. “Remember, you baked them in the bus that time.”

Pete does remember, except for one important point that Mikey’s overlooking. “I cut rounds from a can of ready made dough and we ate them raw,”

“You made cookies,” Mikey says, seemingly not seeing the difference. “And you can make them again.”

“Except you’ll cook them this time,” Alicia says,moving to stand next to Mikey, her arm around his waist so her hand brushes Pete’s side. “You can make them tomorrow, when everyone has gone home.”

It’s not what Pete planned, but all he can do is say yes, even if he’s got no idea why they want him to stay, or why Gerard’s staring at Mikey like he’s trying to read his mind. Not that seeing that is anything new, just, it’s been a while since Pete’s seen it in such close quarters.

“Pete.” It’s Donna who breaks the silence, her heels tapping against the tile floor as she walks close and kisses Pete’s cheek. “Mikey said you might be coming. Has he offered you a drink? There should be cold sodas in the fridge if you want to help yourself.”

And instantly Pete’s transported back years, to a stifling hot bus and Gerard, dark haired and pale as he guarded Mikey’s sleep. Wanting to laugh, Pete bites the inside of his cheek and then says, “I just arrived, but I’ll help myself soon.”

“See that you do,” Donna says, fond as she looks over at Mikey. “I’m going to talk to your aunt. Don’t let your brother steal my cigarettes.”

“I’ll watch him,” Mikey promises, unresisting when Donna reaches out and ruffles both his and Gerard’s hair -- or at least tries to, not so subtly grabbing a paper napkin and rubbing her hands as she leaves.

“Told you,” Gerard says, obviously remembering the same conversation as Pete as he smiles while watching his mom leave. “Hosting my mom’s way.”

Mikey raises an eyebrow, looking between Gerard and Pete. “Some conversation we should know about?”

“Nothing important,” Gerard says, reassuring Mikey with a look, but then adds, his attention going to Pete. “Except, I will punch if I have to.”

“You won’t have to,” Alicia says, which is good, because Pete’s got no idea why Gerard’s given the warning, and it is a warning, Pete can tell, even if right now Gerard looks relaxed and perfectly happy.

“Come on, you can help me raid the pizza before Ray eats it all,” Mikey says, hunching over so he can talk in Pete’s ear. “If you create a distraction I’ll grab the box.”

“Bring me a slice back,” Alicia says, stretching up to see into the main room. “Ray’s talking, and the boxes are unguarded.”

“Perfect time for a mission then,” Mikey says, grinning as he wraps his fingers around Pete’s wrist. “Ready?”

Pete isn’t. He’s got no idea what’s going on or why Gerard’s watching so intently, but when it comes down to it, Pete doesn’t care. It feels good to be so close to Mikey, to feel the familiar thrill of doing something that’s about to make them both laugh. Pete’s missed it, and even if he is unsure about some things, he knows he wants to stay close to Mikey. It’s why Pete looks at him, smiles and says, “Let’s do it.”

~~~~~

Hands on her hips, Alicia looks over the wreck of the apartment and says, “At least no one’s asleep in the tub.”

“I think your brother was considering it,” Mikey says, picking up an empty plastic cup, and then setting it back down a few inches away. “Fuck it, clearing up can wait until morning.”

“I meant what I said, we can help to clean up.” His arm around Christa, Ray stands with one hand on the door handle, frowning as he looks around the room. “We don’t mind.”

“We’ve got it.” Alicia yawns, blinking and rubbing at her eyes as she hugs Christa and Ray. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay? We’ll find room somewhere.”

“It won’t take long to get back,” Ray says, smiling as he opens the door. “And it looks like your couch is booked, anyway.”

Instantly, Pete says, “You mean me? I can go, I’ve got a hotel room booked, the couch is yours if you want it.”

Mikey gives Pete a pointed look. “You’re not weaseling out of making cookies that easily.”

Truthfully, Pete’s glad he doesn’t have to go back to the hotel. Exhausted after traveling and then spending hours in the company of Mikey and Alicia’s family and friends, all he wants to do is lie down on the nearest horizontal surface and sleep. Not that Pete wouldn’t give up the couch if he had to, especially as right now even the floor looks good. “Seriously, I can sleep somewhere else.”

“Or you can take the couch and be quiet,” Alicia says, ending Pete’s protest as she reaches for Mikey, holding his hand as Christa and Ray leave in a flurry of more hugs and fist bumps.

“You know, my cookies aren’t that special.” Pete has to make that point, filling the silence as Alicia locks the door and Mikey kicks at a pizza box that’s been left on the floor. “I’ve never actually tried to bake them before.”

“So we’ll have an experiment.” The door locked, Alicia yawns again and says, “I’ll get you a blanket. Put the TV on, we can watch a movie before bed.”

It’s a tempting proposition, but as much as Pete enjoys watching movies with friends, he knows he’s too tired to stay up for much longer, the combination of socializing, traveling, and trying to deal with old unearthed feelings draining even Pete’s usual reserves of energy. “Raincheck? I’m about dead on my feet.”

“Raincheck it is,” Alicia says, heading into the bedroom for a blanket and leaving Mikey and Pete alone.

“It’s been a fucking fantastic party,” Mikey says, and while he’s not close, he’s looking directly at Pete, his gaze intent. “Thank you.”

From here Pete can barely see the robot cookie jar, now mostly hidden by a wall of plastic cups, and he says, “It’s only a robot.”

“Not for that,” Mikey says, grabbing the pillow Alicia throws out of the bedroom. “For coming and for being here.”

Pete tries to find the words to respond, but in the end, all he can say is, “You’re welcome.”

---o0o--

The months after Warped were brutal.

Faced with his own failings, Pete took refuge in words, spewing out lyrics until his hand and head ached as much as he was hurting inside.

And the thing was, Pete knew he was sharing secrets, putting things out there that shouldn’t be known by the fans, but he did it anyway. Hurting himself and no doubt hurting Mikey when he finally, inevitably, heard the new album.

Pete didn’t know. He didn’t ask.

What he did do was take solace in his friends. Needing contact always, hugs and casual touches, wanting to be touched while also pushing away when things got too much. A
kiss, a touch to Pete’s back, a hug that lasted long enough for Pete to know that he mattered. Pete craved them all while seeking out new people, dating both women and men.

Pete liked them all, but as relationships they remained casual at best. Some kissing, some groping underneath clothes, Pete enjoying going down on a woman or getting a blowjob, but nothing more.

It was just easier that way.


---o0o—
It feels like Pete’s been asleep for all of a few minutes when he wakes, the blanket wrapped uncomfortably around his legs and the pillow nowhere in sight. Groping at the foot of the couch, Pete finds his pants and pulls his phone out of his pocket, eyes squinted half shut as he blearily peers at the time.

Nine forty five, which explains why Pete’s stomach is growling and why there’s light bleeding from behind the shut curtains. Groaning, Pete puts back his phone, kicks the blanket off his legs and picks the pillow from off of the floor. Thumping it into shape, he lies down, blanket pulled up to his shoulders and face against the pillow, taking in the lingering mixed scent that signifies Mikey and Alicia to Pete.

Breathing deeply, Pete closes his eyes, about to try for more sleep, when he hears the soft sound. At first, Pete’s unsure what it is, but as he lies still and listens, it becomes obvious he’s hearing a series of gasps, bitten off and muted, but still there.

It’s something Pete’s heard before, years’ worth of touring giving him an extensive knowledge of how people sound when they’re discreetly trying to jerk off or have sex. But this is different. This is Mikey and Alicia, and Pete feels abruptly overheated, sense memories hitting hard as he hears Mikey moan and Alicia say something that despite being indistinguishable, hits Pete hard in the chest. It’s been forever since he heard her speak that low, the tone understandable even if the words are not.

It’s been years, but Pete can’t help remembering the feel of Alicia’s body against his, the heat of her breath against Pete’s neck as he fumbled at the hooks of her bra. Then later, when Alicia was nothing but a fond memory and ex, how Mikey would lie next to Pete. Both of them overheated in the small space of the bunk as they kissed, Mikey taking in Pete’s gasps into his mouth while languidly jerking him off.

It’s a combination that leaves Pete hard and wanting, abruptly turned on and lonely in turn as he listens and imagines what’s going on in the next room. About the sex stuff, sure -- that’s inevitable with what Pete’s hearing right now -- but also how Mikey and Alicia fit together always, how the love between them is obvious in every word, touch and glance. It’s something that makes Pete’s breath catch, and he knows he shouldn’t do this. That if he was a good friend he’d make some noise to show that he’s awake and able to hear -- but Pete doesn’t.

Instead he pulls up his knees, hand clamped between his legs as he lies still and listens. And Pete knows this is stupid, that torturing himself like this is a form of self-destruction he’s tried hard to get past, but all Pete can think is, he brought them together.

Alicia was never Pete’s, but he liked her: a lot, and Mikey.... Mikey could have been Pete’s -- was Pete’s for a while -- a real, long lasting relationship there for the taking. If Pete hadn’t run things could have been different, but he did, and now he’s stuck on this couch like some kind of creepy voyeur.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Frustrated, Pete screws shut his eyes and tries to work out how long it’ll take to get back to his hotel room. If he goes now he could be back within an hour, but that means getting dressed and out without either Mikey and Alicia hearing. Which Pete’s sure he can do, and he slides his arm out of the blanket, getting ready to scoop up his pants when he hears footsteps and a door being pushed fully open.

“Pete?” More footsteps and Pete opens his eyes and sees Mikey, hair sticking up in small tufts and mouth wet. He’s also wrapped in a sheet, the material bunched at the front where Mikey’s holding it closed, his hand close to a darkening bite at the side of his stomach.

The visual representation of what he’s been hearing hits hard, and Pete feels raw, like his every emotion is there to be seen as Mikey keeps watching. Groping for excuses, Pete waits for Mikey to ask if he’s okay, to apologize for waking him, anything but this silent staring that’s driving Pete insane.

“I owe Alicia a week of washing up, now,” Mikey says, and it’s so far from what Pete was expecting that there’s no chance he can form a reply. Especially when Alicia comes out of the bedroom, her robe tightly wrapped around her as she moves to stand next to Mikey.

“Baby, go get some clothes on, a sheet won’t cut it for this conversation,” Alicia says, brushing her fingers across Mikey’s arm as she looks down at Pete. “I’m going to make coffee. Do you want some?”

“I do,” Mikey says, making Alicia laugh as she gently pushes him back toward the bedroom.

“I know,” Alicia says, smiling as she takes the few steps into the kitchen and uncovers the coffee machine by pushing aside plates of dried-out food and stacks of plastic cups. “I swear these things are breeding.”

Pete sits, blanket over his lap and feeling more settled as Alicia busies herself making coffee. It’s domestic normalcy that’s helping Pete relax, the feelings of before still there but more muted and easy to deal with as he watches Alicia stretch up to get three mugs out of a cupboard.

“Do you want some help?” Pete feels he should ask, even though Alicia seems perfectly content as she pushes back yet more plastic cups to make a space on the counter.

“Not yet, but you’re on the list for the big clean up later,” Alicia says, picking up a bowl which she takes over and offers to Pete. “Breakfast?”

Pete looks in the bowl and sees it’s half full of stale chips. Taking a few, he keeps them cupped in his hand, eating them one at a time.

“I love Mikey, but sometimes he forgets everyone can’t read his mind.”

Confused, Pete swallows and looks over at Alicia who’s sat on the arm of the couch. Bowl in her lap she looks over her shoulder to the bedroom, and then back to Pete, her feelings for Mikey there in the softening of her expression and the slight curl of her mouth. It’s enough to make Pete feel unsettled again, and he quickly eats all of the chips, needing something to do with his hands.

“I keep telling him we’re all not Gerard, but he never listens,” Alicia says, her smile widening when Mikey appears, thankfully, fully dressed in an old t-shirt and sweat pants this time.

“I’ve told you, I don’t have a freaky psychic thing with Gerard,” Mikey says, looking toward the kitchen before joining Alicia and Pete on the couch. Pushing at Pete’s legs, Mikey sits so he can lean with his head against Alicia’s side. “We just talk.”

“And finish each other’s sentences,” Alicia says, resting her hand on Mikey’s shoulder. “I swear, one day I’m going to ask Donna if she found you both in a scorched crater.”

“Or a pod,” Pete suggests, time doing nothing to diminish the memories of Mikey and Gerard seemingly communicating without words. “It’s either that or they’re mutants.”

“It would explain a lot.” Her grin wide, Alicia squeezes Mikey’s shoulder and then adds, more serious now, “But from one non-mutant to another. What Mikey assumed you’d know is, we left the bedroom door open on purpose. In case you wanted to join us.”

It’s not what Pete was expecting to hear in the slightest, and through the sudden racing of his heart, he manages to say, “Why?”

“Why do we want you to join us?” Mikey asks, sounding confused, like Pete not knowing makes no sense at all. “Because you’re hot and we love you and I miss you. I always have.”

Pete worries the material of the blanket, wishing he could pull it over his head and hide until he can make sense of what’s going on. But one thing Pete does know, is that what Mikey’s just said doesn’t mesh with the offer that was apparently given before.

“You can stop thinking that.” Frowning a little, Alicia looks past Mikey, her attention only on Pete. “I’m not doing this for Mikey. Yeah, he misses you more, he was with you more, but I’m doing this for me, too.”

“Are you sure you weren’t found in a crater, too?” Pete asks, the joke falling flat as Pete desperately tries to understand how they’ve arrived at this point. Because yeah, Pete’s been enjoying being back in contact with Mikey and Alicia, and sure, his old feelings for Mikey and Alicia are there. But there’s a huge jump between that and them wanting Pete in their bed. “I don’t get it. We didn’t date for that long, and I left Mikey.”

“And it fucking sucked,” Mikey says, and all Pete wants to do is get up and run. Despite all they’ve been through, the closer reconnection of the last months, this is the first time Mikey’s mentioned how Pete left at the end of tour, and Pete doesn’t want to hear how he fucked up again. But he will, because Pete did fuck up, and deserves any backlash he gets. Except, it seems Mikey’s stopped talking.

“That’s all you’re going to say?” Pete’s sure that it can’t be, and he can’t help prodding Mikey to say more. “I left without saying goodbye.”

“I know that, I was there.” Mikey trails off, biting at his bottom lip and looking so lost that all Pete wants to do is say, stop, that Mikey doesn’t have to talk about this. “My therapist says I have to talk about things, so yeah, I hated you for doing that, but not you. I could never hate you. I loved you, still do in a way.”

Instantly, Pete looks up at Alicia, needing to see how she’s taking what Mikey is saying. But there’s no hint of jealousy, just Alicia looking directly at Pete as she says, “You’re a hard man to get over, Pete Wentz.”

Pete thinks back to the time he dated Alicia, and while it was good, it was a relationship that didn’t last long, even though it was intense at the time. Hesitantly and sure that he’s wrong, Pete says, “You’ve been missing me all that time, too?”

“In your dreams,” Alicia smiles, taking any sting out of her words. “But what we had was fantastic, and I want that again, and Mikey still has feelings for you, so. We could have a good thing together.”

To Pete it seems too easy. It’s not that he doesn’t know people in successful poly relationships, but he’s never imagined that for Mikey and Alicia, who’re so joined as a couple it’s hard to see where a third would fit in. There’s also the issue Pete’s unsure what they actually want, and he says, “Do you do this often? Ask other people to join you in bed?”

“Oh sure,” Mikey says casually, hands out in front of him as he counts names off on his fingers. “There was that girl from the coffee shop and the Madden twins, that was a super fun night, and Brian that time and Sarah and we asked Ray and Christa once, oh, and of course Gerard.....”

Pete stares, sure his eyes are widening with every listed name, until the last, when he kicks out at Mikey’s thigh, laughing as he says, “Bastard, I was believing you then.”

Mikey grins wide and drops his hands. “Seriously, this is the first time. There wasn’t anyone important enough, before.”

Pete considers what Mikey’s just said, and as unexpected as this is, this part does feel right, that if a threesome does happen it would have to be with someone special and not just for kicks.

“We’ve talked about this, it isn’t an impulsive decision,” Alicia says, and then, “And it could be fun with you. If you want. No pressure or expectations. But if you want to say no, nothing will change, we’ll still be friends. Promise.”

Pete believes her, and knows the easy thing to do would be to say no. It’s just, part of him wants to say yes. Which is insane because nothing has changed since Warped. Pete still hasn’t taken that last step, and if he does this, he’ll have to tell his secret again. Conflicted, Pete tries to think past the pounding in his head, wanting what Mikey and Alicia are offering, but also wanting to run.

Except, Pete’s done that once, and he’s tired of being afraid. Gathering courage, Pete looks at Mikey and Alicia, both patiently waiting and not pushing at all, and says, “Yes. Yes I want to give this a try, but I have to tell you something first.”

~~~~~~

“You told them?” There’s a long pause where Pete’s left listening to empty air until Patrick says, “Why?”

“Because they needed to know.” As an answer it’s a cop out, and Pete knows it, but he needs to lead up to telling the full details. Not that it’s a lead up that’s going to last long, it can’t when Patrick’s pointedly waiting, not replying until eventually Pete adds, “They invited me to have a threesome. I figured it was something that would come up.”

“They invited you to have a threesome?” While Patrick does sound surprised, mostly he sounds concerned, and Pete hangs onto that, needing to know that Patrick cares always. “What kind? A one off? Something more? And what happened when you told them? If they laughed at you I’m taking the next flight out.”

“They didn’t laugh,” Pete says instantly. “They wouldn’t.”

Patrick sighs, and there’s the sound of him sitting before he says, “Yeah. I know that they wouldn’t. It’s just. A threesome. Fuck. You only left to go to a party.”

“Now it’s going to be a party in my pants.” Pete laughs, high and nervous as he stops walking and takes shelter under the striped awning of a bakery, bringing his hand to his mouth to bite at his thumbnail as he waits for Patrick to reply.

“Tell me you’re not planning a ‘Pete pops his cherry’ party,” Patrick says slowly. “Because that would be a stupid fucking idea.”

“Sounds like a good theme to me.” Pete steps to the side so he can lean back against the brick wall, hand clenched into a fist as he watches the early afternoon shoppers hurry past, each one focused in on themselves and paying no attention to Pete, “No, that’s not going to happen.”

Instantly, Patrick says, “Good,” and then, “You still haven’t told me what they said.”

“Not much,” Pete says, and before Patrick can ask for more details, admits, “I didn’t really give them a chance to. I told them and then walked out and said I’d get coffee.”

“You walked out? What....”

“I had to,” Pete cuts Patrick off, and all he can think of is the awkward silence after he’d first told his secret, and how Mikey and Alicia didn’t seem to know what to say. “I told them and they just looked at me, and I couldn’t stay there, so I told them I’d go and get coffee.”

“You just walked out,” Patrick says again, and Pete wants to tell how he felt so exposed and tongue-tied, how his ease of words disappeared as he tried to explain.

“I put my pants on first.” Pete tries for a joke, but it’s not much of one when he’s standing outside in t-shirt and pants only, and sneakers with the laces untied. “And if I’ve got coffee they’ll let me back in.”

“We would have let you back in even if you didn’t have coffee.”

At the sound of Mikey’s voice, Pete bites back a curse, and turns, seeing Mikey and Alicia in easy hearing distance as they move to stand next to Pete. “You followed me?”

“Of course we did,” Alicia says, the coat she’s pulled on doing little to hide the fact she’s still wearing her pink-spotted pajamas. “You looked freaked out.”

“I was freaked out,” Pete admits, and brings his phone back to his ear. “Patrick. Mikey and Alicia are here.”

“I can hear that. Put Mikey on.” For a moment Pete thinks about saying no, but Patrick’s never been mean about Mikey, and Pete can’t see him starting to be so now. At the most what he’s about to say will be embarrassing, and Pete’s got experience in dealing with that.

Pete holds out his phone, trying to look suitably apologetic as he says, “Mikey, Patrick wants to talk to you.”

“I’m going to get ‘the talk’ on the street wearing my sweats, great,” Mikey says softly, frowning when Alicia laughs and gives him a peck on the cheek.

“You’ve listened to worse.” Another smile, and Alicia touches Pete’s back, gently urging him forward. “Come back to the apartment, Mikey’ll get the coffees when he’s done talking with Patrick.”

“I will,” Mikey agrees, bringing Pete’s phone to his ear. “Go on. I won’t be long.”

“Unless you want to go back to your hotel room, that’s okay, too,” Alicia says, all previous amusement replaced by uncertainty, like if she’s too forceful Pete could bolt any minute. “If you get a cab we’ll send your stuff over later.”

“No, it’s okay, I’m coming back.” The last thing Pete wants to do is make Alicia feel bad, especially as she hasn’t done anything wrong. Neither Mikey or Alicia have in fact, and Pete needs to explain that. “I just. I wanted coffee.”

“And some space, yeah?” Her hand still on his back, Alicia starts walking, and Pete takes comfort in that touch, that Alicia wants to stay close, no matter that he did lose his nerve and run.

“Not from you,” Pete says, and then shakes his head and corrects, “No, it was from you. You and Mikey, I haven’t shared what I told you very often; I didn’t know what you’d think.”

“We think it makes no difference.” Suddenly, Alicia pulls Pete into a tight hug, ignoring the people who mutter as they’re forced to divert from their path. “But that’s not a conversation for out here.”

Truthfully, Pete hopes it’s a conversation for never, but he knows that’s an impossible hope. More than that, it’s an impractical hope, because Pete does have to discuss this, no matter how little he wants to. It’s why he reluctantly pulls out of the hug and then says, “Then we’d better go back.”

Part 3
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