The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [16/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: rosiedoesBetas: likethepaint
& shiny_starlight Rating:
R at absolute max.Pairing:
c. 5,000 this chapter.Author's notes:
This fic is written in a slightly AU timeline, where Andy joins the band straight away. One or two formerly key players may also be conspicuous by their absence...
Trouble in paradise...Disclaimer:
Get me a Dolorean and I'll make it real; until then, sadly not true. Previous Chapters:Part One: Paperbacks and SexualityPart Two: My Heart is On My SleevePart Three: Your Secret's OutPart Four: No Less DefeatedPart Five: Place Your Hand BetweenPart Six: My Badge, My WitnessPart Seven: Knocking Boots in the BackPart Eight: The Battle's Only Halfway DonePart Nine: Kiss Safe Thoughts GoodbyePart Ten: Snitches and TalkersPart Eleven: My Reputation's on The LinePart Twelve: Things I'll Never FinishPart Thirteen: Thank Your Lucky StarsPart Fourteen: Stop Making Plans, Start Making SensePart Fifteen: Our Hearts Are Leaving HomeThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Sixteen: To Make It Out Of This Disaster
"You can only blame your problems on the world for so long."
By the third week in November, things were getting a little strained. On Pete's first night in the apartment, when Joe had gone to bed alone, Patrick had crept in long after he'd fallen asleep and curled himself around him as if nothing was wrong. And laying there in the dark with his boyfriend finally tucked against him, Patrick's lips pressed against the back of his shoulder and one arm wrapped right across his chest possessively, Joe closed his eyes again and did his best to convince himself that there wasn't
anything wrong – but things only began to get worse.
At first, Patrick's long hours were manageable because they had Sundays – and every other Saturday – and Joe could do his homework during the day, when he wasn't in classes, which left the evenings when Pete was off with whoever he was dating that week or working on Arma-related matters. They managed to scrape together the time to hang out, and Joe appreciated every second. The only problem was that he really needed a job in order to survive and when he got one, working pre-Christmas shifts in a toy store around his classes and on weekends, it killed both their Sundays and his free time for homework. Instead of spending evenings in front of the TV with Patrick, he was spending them in his room, typing up essays. Even on nights when they had shows they were generally surrounded by people, so it really didn't count and inevitably left him playing catch-up for days. They slept in the same room every night, but for Joe it was starting to feel like the only time they got to see each other was when they were getting ready for bed.
He was stressed with college because his grades all but sucked for the fall semester, so far, and work was insane – plus, his manager was a douche with a stick up his ass and kept giving Joe shit for not stacking shelves tidily enough, even though he was lining Barbies up more meticulously than should have been humanly possible, only for bratty little kids to come knock them all askew every ten damn minutes. Working seriously fucking sucked, and he promised himself that as soon as his holiday contract was done, he'd find himself something better. Something that let him have some time to spend with Patrick. And on the band, too, because he'd hardly even had time to think about music since he started this damn job.
Altogether, he was feeling pretty miserable. This was not what he had signed up for when he left home; not least because the time he was spending sitting at his computer generally involved concentrating less on his homework than it did listening to make sure he wasn't missing anything in the living room. When they had friends over he felt like he was in exile; when they didn't, he was just plain paranoid. He kind of hated himself a little bit for being so suspicious and unable to trust his own boyfriend and one of his best friends to be alone in a room together, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that if he wasn't around things would be very, very different.
It was the last Saturday before Chanukah and Joe had already had a crappy day; the day before was Black Friday and he'd been working crazy-ass hours – starting before dawn to open the store and working until almost 9pm, then back at work for 9.30 the next morning. He'd only finished his shift at seven thirty and he had three thousand words to write over the weekend, but it was the first Sunday he'd had free in over a month and he fully intended to spend it with Patrick. So, as soon as he got home, he threw a microwave dinner in to heat up and then went to switch on his computer. He had barely managed a paragraph before the front door slammed shut and Patrick's voice cheerfully called out to tell him he was home. It was followed a few seconds later by the bedroom door opening and Patrick creeping up behind him for a surprise cuddle.
"Day off tomorrow!" he reminded Joe gleefully, as if there was any chance that he had forgotten, and kissed him soundly on the cheek.
"Yeah," Joe nodded, deleting the keymash which had turned his previous sentence to gibberish when Patrick grabbed him. "How was work?"
"Work was... y'know: work. I'm getting kind of sick of hearing 'Fairy Tale of New York' but John won't play any other Christmas songs... How are you?"
"Kind of busy."
"More homework?" Patrick asked, and Joe could hear the disappointment in his voice.
"I had this handed back to me, because apparently I just like... totally misunderstood the whole question, so..."
"I have to hand it in on Monday morning or they won't even grade it, basically."
"Is it gonna take long, or...?"
"It's gonna take tonight, at least."
There was a short pause as Patrick straightened up and rubbed at Joe's shoulders soothingly for a moment. "It seems to be kind of a lot of work for a part time course, dude..."
"Yeah, it's part-time because I'm doing most of it at home."
"Dude, I'm trying
"No, I know, but – "
"The more time I kind of like, sit here talking, the less time I have to write..."
"Well... what if I just hang out here? I can read or something..."
"You usually never want to..."
"Well, mostly because you don't seem to want me to..."
Patrick didn't say anything at first, he just dropped his hands on the back of the chair and patted at it pensively. "Every time I come in here, you're like, 'Yeah, I have to do four essays,' or something."
"Because I do! If I flunk out of college my parents will be like... seriously
disappointed in me, and I promised them I could do this. I can't afford to fail."
"But it just sounds like you don't even want me hanging around you."
"I can't concentrate if you're sitting here talking to me, Patrick! I'm like, barely scraping Ds
?" Patrick asked, moving to crouch down beside him, so he could look up at him; he pulled Joe's hand away from the keyboard and held it tightly. "You're smart – smarter than I am – and you pretty much sailed through school, right?"
"Well, yeah... I did. But this isn't
school. It's harder than school. And I thought I cared about this subject but I just... I don't. I don't want to like, spend all my time sitting here like a fucking nerd when you're all hanging out in the living room or whatever..." And I can't concentrate when I can hear you laughing with him, when all I really want is to be hanging out with you myself, basically.
Sighing and rubbing the bridge of his nose with his knuckles, knocking his glasses sideways clumsily, Patrick tried, "Maybe you're just doing the wrong course, or something, y'know? And maybe you're working too hard. I mean, you're at school like four half days and then you go to work, and then you come home and do homework... That has to work out at like, fifteen or sixteen hour days, sometimes, Joe. And y'know: I kind of miss you, actually."
"Do you?" Joe asked, and he didn't mean to sound so doubtful, but he just didn't have the energy for this right now.
"All the time, pretty much," Joe admitted, trying to hide the fact that the stress was bubbling to the surface and kind of making his eyes prickle. "I just have so much to do
Kissing his knuckles gently, Patrick stood up shaking his head and deliberately wheeled the chair back with Joe still in it.
"What are doing?"
"Switching this off."
"No – Patrick I haven't saved it!"
"Yeah, I'm not stupid, I was going to save it first."
"Do it tomorrow."
"No, tomorrow's suppo – "
"You're doing it tomorrow, okay? This is stupid, Joe. You need to take a break sometimes, y'know? And honestly, all you're gonna do right now is write a bunch of crap you'll have to re-write tomorrow anyway. You're too tired and you're too bummed about everything. I don't care if I lose tomorrow, okay?"
"But... I do," Joe told him, rubbing at his eye tiredly. "I just wanted to like, get all this done so we could have the whole day, or something."
"Yeah, but this way I get to have you now, instead," Patrick reasoned. "We could... I dunno, watch a movie or something. Pete's not gonna be home until the early hours anyway..."
Joe nodded; for the first time in weeks, things were looking a little brighter – if only for this weekend.
For almost two hours, it was perfect. They ran down to their local take out to buy dinner – Joe's microwave meal having been long forgotten in the kitchen – and sat on the couch together, eating it from the box while watching Law & Order. And then Pete came home, with Chris, Charlie and a handful of other people in tow, and Joe's heart sank. He'd known it was too good to be true.
"What are you doing back?" Patrick demanded, as Joe hurriedly straightened up from where he'd been laying in Patrick's lap. "You said you wouldn't be back until at least 2am."
"We're having a party, kind of," Pete told him with a shrug and what was probably supposed to be a disarming grin.
"Right now?" Patrick asked through gritted teeth, giving him such a dark look that Joe was almost inclined to reach out and hold him back.
"Dude, it's Saturday night!"
"You couldn't have asked us, first?"
"Well, you're here anyway. I don't need
to invite you if you're already here..."
"Maybe we didn't want an invite or
a damn party!"
Pete quirked an eyebrow at him and then glanced at the little group that Joe didn't think he'd spoken to before. "Dude, chill out, kind of..."
"You know what? Maybe we'll just go to bed," Patrick snapped, getting to his feet and pulling Joe's wrist until he stood up.
"Um... okay?" Pete shrugged, watching them go. Joe couldn't meet anyone's eye; now every single one of them knew that they were together. He felt a little sick just thinking of it.
"He fucking promised
he wouldn't be home this early..." Patrick fumed as he slammed the door behind them. "He totally knew this was the first evening we've even had in ages!"
"I should be doing homework anyway," Joe shrugged, moving to switch his computer back on listlessly. They'd had a couple of hours, it was better than nothing.
"Don't go back to that..." Patrick complained, pulling the back of Joe's shirt. "I mean – we're here, now... why don't we just go to bed?"
"There are people right outside!"
"Well, I'm not saying we should leave the door open or even that we have to do
anything... I just..." he scratched the back of his hair absently and shrugged, "I just don't think this needs to ruin our night."
As far as Joe was concerned it already had, but he pushed the chair back under his desk and crawled onto the bed instead, propping himself against the pillows and waiting for Patrick to climb on beside him. Patrick made a point of engaging the Pete-proof lock and switched off the overhead light, so that the room was lit only by the lamp beside the computer, then bounced onto the mattress next to him.
They lay there quietly, for a few minutes, listening to the laughter from the living room; Joe's head on Patrick's shoulder and Patrick's cheek pressed against Joe's curls.
"Y'know, what I said about a year?" Patrick muttered after a while. "Let's make it six months..."
Joe gave a weary snort of laughter and tugged the arm around his shoulders a little tighter. He couldn't even be bothered with an 'I told you so' right now. It wasn't even just Pete that was the problem, anymore. They didn't have time
to be together; not really. And it was Joe's fault – because he'd chosen the easy way, and promised his parents he'd study, in return for what was supposed to be
an easier life. If he wasn't doing all his college stuff and spent a few more hours working it would be so much easier... But it was too late. He had to do this for at least one academic year; he'd given his parents his word.
He was just going to have to deal with it.
Maybe he'd work less hours when this job ended... it'd mean he had less to live on, but who needed food anyway? There was a tendency toward plumpness in his family, so it was better safe than sorry... His parents wouldn't let him starve, would they? What did it matter if he ended up living on ramen and had to depend on Napster for his music? He pretty much did that right now anyway.
"What are you thinking?" Patrick asked eventually, tickling his ear. "You're being kind of quiet..."
Joe shrugged. "Stuff."
Joe shrugged again. "College. Work... everything, basically..."
"The semester ends soon, though, doesn't it? You have a couple of weeks then..."
"I'm like, working for most of it."
"Yeah..." Joe nodded. "Sales through New Year and January, then I need to get a new job."
Patrick gave a despondent little laugh and mumbled into Joe's hair, "Feels like I would have seen you more if we'd just gone away to college, sometimes..."
"Maybe we should have." 'Cause you ruined your life for this and it sucks already...
"It's kind of too late to worry about that now."But you're regretting it, though. You actually do regret it, you just don't want to say so.
"We'll figure something out. It's not like it's forever..."
"I hope not."
"Of course it's not," Patrick assured him, shifting to pull him into a proper cuddle, which Joe gratefully snuggled into. "We've finished recording the album – it's only a matter of time, now, right? One day, we won't even need jobs. We'll spend all day, every day together, like we did on tour."
"Touring sucked, though. I know
you hated it, dude."
being stuck in that van," Patrick corrected, picking up Joe's hand and lacing their fingers, palm to palm. "I loved
being with you. I only even agreed to do this band because of you..."
"You agreed because it had Pete from Racetraitor in it," Joe reminded him, laughing half-heartedly.
"If it was about 'Pete from Racetraitor' it would have taken a little more to convince me to sing... I only agreed because I didn't think you'd have me, if I didn't. And I really wanted to get to know you."
"You're just saying that to kind of like make me feel better..."
"Um. Except I'm not."
"I'm not good looking enough for that to be true... you have to have like, gotten to know me
before you figured out I was okay or whatever..."
"Actually, I was there. I know what I was thinking."
Joe just sighed heavily and let it go. He still didn't believe it, but if Patrick wanted to remember it that way there was no point trying to correct him.
"Joe... I know you're unhappy about the way things are right now, but... Yeah, I miss you, and sometimes it feels like we're not even together right now, and – and yeah
, okay, it's frustrating and I probably hate this more than I'm really accepting, right now, but I just keep telling myself that in a few months time, it'll all be different. And y'know... I know pretty much nothing about Sociology, but if there's anything I can do that'll help... like read your essays before you submit them or something, then I am totally, totally
prepared to do that."
"That would be cool," Joe whispered, starting to feel a little less hopeless and holding Patrick just a little tighter.
"You're not a stupid guy, y'know? You're just trying to do way too much."
"I'm just whining, pretty much..."
"I'd be whining too, if I was trying to keep up with college and work and never getting a day off or anything..."
"And I mean, like... Chanukah starts on Saturday. And my family aren't seriously dedicated to like, doing all the holidays and everything, but my mom and dad always made a proper effort about observing Chanukah and giving us actual presents and stuff, instead of just money, so me and Sam didn't feel left out when all our school friends were getting presents and stuff at Christmas..."
"But you'll be seeing them during the eight days or something, though..."
"I know. But it's just like..."
"Not the same?"
Patrick nodded slowly, tugging Joe's curls out to their full length, lock by lock, and curling them around his fingertip before letting them go and moving on. "Well, I'm not converting, but I'll celebrate it with you... if you want."
Joe pulled back a little and looked up at him, a sudden rush of warmth in his chest; "Really?"
"Of course!" Patrick laughed. "As long as I don't have to have anything sliced off first... I'll do one of the little hat things if I have to, though. It'd cover my bald spot pretty good, I think..."
Joe actually laughed – a proper
laugh – and propped himself up to look down at him, to see if he was really serious. Patrick just scrunched his nose up, making his glasses bob on his face, and ruffled at Joe's hair playfully.
"Do you want me to?" he asked, starting to look a little self-conscious when Joe didn't say anything, like maybe he thought he'd suggested some heinous religious faux pas.
Joe just gazed at him for a moment, not really sure how to tell him how much this meant; then, he simply nodded and leaned down to kiss him. For some reason, he always found himself unable to really articulate his feelings with Patrick – unless it was to say something maudlin or flippant. He wanted
to say, 'I didn't think I could like, actually
love you any more until about thirty seconds ago when you said that, basically,' but some part of him was still afraid that if he said it – if he really
opened up and laid his feelings on the table – that Patrick would laugh and say, 'Sike!'
On Monday night, though, when Patrick got home from work, he pulled a parcel wrapped in paper from his bag and presented it to Joe with palpable pride – holding it out in both hands and his lip clamped firmly between his teeth.
"I hope you like it," he gushed, as Joe unfolded the paper curiously. "I mean, I asked the old lady in the supermarket on West Devon and she told me she'd be pleased if a 'friend' gave her that, so I figured it was kind of traditional without being way too fancy or anything... And it's not expensive or anything – it's not even silver, I think it's pewter, but she said that was okay. I guess they wouldn't make them if they weren't supposed to be like that, y'know?"
Somehow, Joe knew even before he opened it what Patrick had bought – but he still stared at it like it was the coolest thing he'd ever owned.
went out and bought a menorah?"
"Well... yeah. I figure we need one. Unless you already have one, because I mean, this is your first year away from home, so I thought – "
"No, dude, I probably would have like, borrowed one from my grandma or something... This is just... so fucking cool
." He ran his fingers over the Star of David embossed on the front, below the raised centre holder for the Shamash and looked at the ornate Hebrew wording along the side with near-speechless awe; he couldn't read a word of it, but he knew what it represented. It wasn't like the complicated candelabras his grandparents had – it was almost rectangular, with small curved legs to stand on at each corner; in fact, it almost looked like it could be a long, narrow treasure chest with nine simple, bell-shaped candle holders on top and intricate designs on the curved, vertical sides. It was probably mass-produced and it wasn't overly showy, but it was nice
and it pretty much meant the world to Joe, just then. And every day that Patrick worked through his lunch hour as a trade-off for leaving the store as early as possible to be home respectably close to nightfall, and every time Joe caught a glimpse of the gold chain around his neck – the very same one which his grandmother had given Patrick on the day Joe turned seventeen, but which had lived in the back compartment of his wallet ever since and would return there when Chanukah was over, no doubt – it meant a little more.
So when Chanukah was over, and they were both working their regular hours again, being apart so much became a whole lot worse. They tried hanging out in the bedroom while Joe did his homework, but they'd just end up talking or making out and getting nothing done, so Joe would be up all night trying to finish his work and Patrick would end up sleeping by himself in his own room.
That was the worst part: not even sleeping in the same bed, some nights, because that was part of their promise to each other. This was how they'd know if they could really make things work, and they couldn't even manage their trial period properly.
On one of the rare nights when they went out to play a show, in those few weeks before Christmas, Joe caught him staring at two kids by the wall at the side of the venue – a boy and a girl, clearly dating and probably only as of recently, if their hesitant closeness was anything to go by.
"Remember when we were like that?" Patrick asked, tipping his drink in their direction slightly.
Joe shrugged, shaking his head and gazing into his plastic cup of Sprite. He didn't want to remember how things used to be
, because it made the way things were now
even more depressing.
"We used to be afraid to even bump hands in public..."
"With like, pretty good reason, though, man... Look what happened every time someone figured us out..."
"But we still wanted to."
Patrick looked up at him for a moment, a slight frown on his face. "You do still want to, don't you?"
Joe glanced around them quickly and caught Patrick's fingers for a moment, by way of response. Patrick grasped them tight until Joe carefully pulled away again.
"I kind of miss that – feeling like what we were doing was actually dating
, y'know? It was exciting, having this whole secret and just kind of sharing it together... now I just get excited about there being a night when you don't have homework."
Joe just nodded slowly and said nothing. After a few miserable minutes, he wandered outside without bothering to tell him where he was going. He knew this was coming; he'd figured that Patrick would get too lonely and bored eventually, but he really didn't want to hear him say so.
"Hey – hey, Joe, did you hear?" Pete's voice asked as he climbed over the low wall outside and sat down beside him.
"Hear what?" That my life sucks and my boyfriend is getting sick of our shitty relationship?
"The band that's supposed to be headlining just pulled out – we're top of the bill now, bro."
"Oh," Joe shrugged, gulping down his pop like it was bourbon.
"Dude – this is a good thing
! They have scouts here, man."
"So, why'd they like, pull out or whatever?"
"They just fucking broke up, dude."
"They broke up
"Yeah, man. The bassist was that girl with the green hair, yeah? Well, turns out she was engaged to the singer and they just... basically, I think they just broke it off, kind of."
Joe's stomach sank. "Yeah?" What is this? Some kind of fucking omen?
"Yeah – yeah, I was talking to that guy Steve, who was their drummer or something, and it all just kind of fell apart this week, dude. They've been dating since they were like, sophomores in high school or something, and with the band and living together and getting married and all that shit they just kind of got sick of each other, it sounds like..."
"Yeah, man, seriously." Pete paused and stared at him for a minute or two, until Joe couldn't ignore him any longer and asked what he was looking at. "What about you, bro?"
"Well. Yeah. You and Patrick, man."
Joe shrugged and swirled the dregs of his drink in the bottom of the cup.
"So, what's going on?"
"We should have like, gone to college and quit while we were ahead, basically..."
Pete blinked and looked around them quickly to make sure no one was listening, before asking, "Why? What happened?"
"He's bored of being with me."
"I don't even blame him, dude."
"He actually said this
, kind of?"
"But it's not... I mean you're not gonna let it get in the way of the band or anything, right?"
Joe didn't really know, but he didn't have time to reply because Patrick appeared in the door way to the venue and looked exasperated when he caught sight of them.
"Hey – where d'you go?" he asked, walking over and scuffing the toe of his sneaker against Joe's.
"Here?" Joe replied, shrugging.
"Why didn't you say? I was looking for you..."
"I just wanted to get outside for a minute, and like, you were watching the band, so..."
"Yeah, but I would've come with you if you'd said – we hardly get any time together, so I kind of wanted to spend what we have actually with you
, instead of hanging around like an idiot, wondering where you went!"
Joe could feel himself blushing crimson. "Dude, there are people around
, would you like, not shout our business out right now?"
"How about you both just chill out a little?" Pete cut in.
Patrick sat down on the wall next to Joe, pressing their knees together subtly because he couldn't reach for his hand or really put his arm around him, out here. "What's up, huh?" he asked quietly. "Did I piss you off or something?"
"It's fine," Joe told him, shaking his head. "I just wanted a minute to myself."
"Don't drag me into this..."
"He just showed up to tell me we're like, headlining or something."
"Wait. We are?!"
"Headliners broke up, dude," Pete explained, standing up and dusting his jeans down as he walked away. "Ask Joe why."
Patrick stared at him as if he'd somehow played a role in it. "Why'd they break up?"
"Because two of them were getting married and now they're like... not
"Two of them were engaged. And they broke up. So the band broke up."
For a moment, Patrick sat there quietly, as if he was considering the scenario. And then, finally he just said, "It happens, I guess."
Joe nodded. It's only like, a matter of time before it happens to us
Laying in bed after the show that night, Joe stroked the hair from Patrick's sleeping face and kissed his forehead. He couldn't stop thinking about that other band and how everything they'd achieved had been ruined because of two members' problems. He wondered what had gone so wrong for them that one minute they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, and the next, they couldn't even stand to be in the same band anymore."... with the band and living together and getting married and all that shit they just kind of got sick of each other..."
How long before Patrick got sick of him? He was already bored of a relationship where they hardly had time for each other – he'd as good as said so – and if Patrick got sick and tired of this and started to feel like being with Joe was wasting his time, then what? What if they ended up like that other couple? They were engaged
– they were happy enough together and had been together so long they were ready to commit to a whole lifetime together – but even they couldn't hold it together.
What chance did he and Patrick have if people even older than them couldn't hold it together?
There had already been fights and jealousy, and sleeping in separate beds. What if it got out of hand? If they couldn't make it work? Or get rid of the wedge that work and school and Pete was driving between them? What if it was never going to be the same again? What if they ended up angry and hating each other, like the couple in the other band? Because it was obvious: they couldn't juggle everything – and he didn't want to end up like that. He couldn't stomach the idea of Patrick hating him, or the thought of what it would do to the band. Pete had quit college for this band. Andy would probably just go back to any of the others – but they were putting out an album, and the scout at the show had been really into them, too. There was a real chance that the band would go somewhere, and if Patrick ended up hating him from the frustration of being stuck in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere, then it would all come crashing down. Everything.
Maybe... maybe it would just be kinder on everyone to let go before it came to that, no matter how much it hurt. At least this way they could still be friends.
Title from Four Year Strong's 'Abandon Ship or Abandon All Hope'; quote from 'The (Shipped) Gold Standard'.