The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [17/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: rosiedoesBetas: untelling
& shiny_starlight Rating:
R at absolute max.Pairing:
c. 6,300 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...
Sorry it's been a long while for this to show up. I was having a slight crisis of propriety for various reasons, but I kept being prompted to continue, so here it is.
Don't read this chapter at work or school.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 Sense Part Fifteen: Our Hearts Are Leaving HomePart Sixteen: To Make It Out Of This DisasterThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Seventeen: Concentrating on Falling Apart
"You've got to promise not to stop when I say 'when'."
Joe was curled into a corner of the couch when Patrick wandered into the living room. It was still winter-dark outside, before six and cold; he hadn't turned any lights on when he crawled out of bed a couple of hours earlier, he just wanted to be alone and think. He couldn't contemplate breaking up with Patrick while the guy was laying there on the same pillow. It didn't feel right. Or fair. Even if it was Patrick he was doing it for, mostly. It certainly wasn't for himself, unless he counted the selfishness of not wanting Patrick to eventually hate him.
He'd almost convinced himself by the time Patrick appeared, squinting sleepily with one eye open and only wearing his boxers.
"Dude...? What're you doing? It's like... 5.40 in the morning... you okay?"
Joe nodded, chewing the edge of his thumb and managed to mumble, "Yeah..."
Yawning, Patrick stumbled over to him and clambered onto the couch – almost on top of him – and nuzzled into Joe's shoulder until Joe gave in and wrapped his arms around him, rubbing his skin gently to keep him warm.
"Why aren't you in bed? It's cold out here."
"What's wrong?" Patrick asked, kissing him on the cheek and rubbing Joe's ankle fondly with his toes.
At first, Joe couldn't say anything, he just kept on holding him tight. He wasn't ready for the truth; not yet. So he lied. "It's nothing... just college stuff."
"I wish you wouldn't get so stressed with it, dude... I mean, I hate seeing you like this. You're always miserable, y'know? You used to be such a laidback, happy guy... I miss that Joe..."
Joe didn't reply, he just let Patrick fall asleep cuddled against him, more convinced than ever about what he was going to have to do.
He could barely concentrate over the next couple of days; twice he caught himself stacking toys upside down, and he forgot to show up to a class altogether. Patrick seemed to realise there was something genuinely wrong – he didn't seem to know whether to be doubly attentive or give him space, which just resulted in him hovering around awkwardly and making things even more unsettled. He continually asked if Joe was okay, and Joe didn't know what to tell him."No, things aren't okay, because I need to break up with you and I don't want to, or know how to tell you, but I'm afraid that if I don't, I'll just like, lose you completely..."
It wasn't really a conscious choice, but by Friday night, when he found himself agreeing to go and hang out with some of the kids from his store, just for an excuse not to be at home, he realised that he was actively avoiding him. He didn't even know his colleagues that well – they were basically friendly people and he talked to them around the store, but he was rapidly realising he had nothing in common with them. All they wanted to do was sit around in Craig's apartment and get wasted and he was starting to feel deeply uncomfortable with it. After an hour, he made his excuses and left. But he still didn't go home; he drove around until he found somewhere to park, close to the lake, and just sat by himself, listening to one of the CDs Patrick had made him when they first started dating.
If he could have turned back the clock, and just stuck at one point of his life forever, it would have been the winter after he turned seventeen. Patrick's curfew had been lifted, they were really close – sleeping together, finally, even if they were still refining the art – they hadn't fallen into the anxiety or worry about college and even though Patrick was working a lot, after school, they still had enough time to enjoy being with each other and work on the band.
Aside from those few days after they'd moved into the apartment, nothing had ever been that good again.
He wanted to remember that time, and how awesome it was... how happy they were and how lucky he felt. The way things were going now, it was just going be eclipsed by the difficulties that had sprung up from trying to do this so soon. The fact was, they should have waited. Maybe they should have gone to college and seen each other on weekends and spent evenings emailing or IMing each other from the security of campuses a few hundred miles apart.
It was too late to go back to that, though. Now, they had to live with their choices and be adult about the fact that it wasn't as easy as they'd been cocksure enough to think.
He lost track of the time, after a while; it was only when his phone started vibrating in his pocket that he realised it was after eleven. The small, green screen flashed 'Home' at him for a few seconds before he realised that meant the apartment, not his mom. He was actually disappointed; it hit him suddenly how much he wished it was her, but he didn't want to go to her and admit that he couldn't cope. His parents – especially his mother – completely adored Patrick; they'd be horrified if they thought Joe was going to break things off.
"Joe?" Patrick's voice asked as soon as he pressed the button to accept the call. "Dude – where are you?"
"Um... nowhere, just down by the lake."
"The lake?" he echoed, sounding more confused than anxious, now. "Why?"
Joe shrugged, even though he knew Patrick couldn't see him, and mumbled, "I don't know."
For a few moments, there was silence, as if Patrick didn't know what to say in response. He sounded worried again as he asked, "Are you... I mean, you're coming home, right?" He paused for a second and then hurriedly added, "Not right now. I'm not trying to make you come home right now, if you don't want to, but... you will, won't you? Eventually?"
"Y-yeah. Yeah, I'll be home in a little while, I just..."
"You're okay, aren't you?"
"Do you promise?"
One thing he wouldn't do was promise that there was nothing wrong, when there very clearly was. Instead, he turned his key in the ignition and started up the engine. "I'm coming home now. I'll be back in like ten minutes, okay?"
"I promise." At least that wasn't a lie.
Patrick was sitting on the top step, outside the apartment door, when Joe got home; the cordless phone was still in his hands and he leapt up as soon as he saw Joe round the corner in the stairwell, opening his arms for a hug.
"Hey..." he sighed gratefully, and Joe really didn't understand what was going on. "Are you hungry or something? Do you want food?"
"Um... kind of, I guess..."
Patrick led him in into the apartment by the hand, holding on so tight he left little white pressure marks when he let go. "I'm sorry I kind of freaked out," he explained, putting the telephone receiver back in its holder, "it was just getting late and you weren't home, and you never go anywhere without me or Pete, and... y'know. You like, hear stuff
"What stuff?" Joe asked, hanging up his coat and following him into the kitchen.
"Oh, it'd sound dumb, if I told you..." Patrick laughed self-consciously. "Is something I can microwave okay?"
"You don't have to make me anything, dude."
"No, I know, but..." he trailed off, looking twitchy; like he was afraid of doing the wrong thing again, and Joe really didn't know how to handle it. He couldn't say 'everything's fine' because it wasn't; but if he didn't, he'd make him suspicious. He didn't even want to kiss him because that felt like it was leading him on.
"Then... yeah, something microwaved is like, fine, dude."
Joe sat down at the table and watched as Patrick busied himself with getting a vegetable lasagne from the freezer and removing the packaging. Usually, he wasn't like this. He was right, Joe rarely went out with anyone else – or even went to his parents' without telling him, because he didn't have the time – but he was only a few hours late home. Patrick was acting like he'd been gone for days.
Finally, Patrick slid into the chair beside him, handing him a drink, and just sat there, tipping his seat forward on two legs and studying his hands closely.
"Dude? What's going on?" Joe asked, reaching out to touch the side of his knuckles with his fingertips. "You're being like... kind of weird..."
Patrick gave a choked little laugh and shook his head. "It's nothing, it's just me being an idiot..."
"Nothing – I just... I kind of freaked out when you didn't come home. I'm so used to you being here and... y'know: you weren't. And you've been acting kind of strange, and stuff, and I thought that maybe you just... I mean, I know it's stupid, but I just thought for a second that maybe... because I mean, you hear stories, you know? About kids in college and stuff, that just like, end up getting totally weighed down under the work and stuff, and they just... can't take it. Y'know?"
"Huh?" Joe blinked at him in confusion. "Dude
. I'd – no way. I'd never
"I know. I told you I was being dumb. It's just that you don't seem that great, lately, and I don't know what you need me to do to make it easier."
Joe closed his eyes for a moment, wishing he'd just come home when he was supposed to. He couldn't just tell Patrick now, after worrying him sick and Patrick trying to be so caring and so loving, that they needed to call everything off. It wasn't fair; he just didn't have the heart to break it to him like that. Instead, he just wrapped his fingers around Patrick's and squeezed them tight.
"I'm okay, dude. You don't need to do anything."
"I wish I could help, somehow, y'know? You have so much on your plate, and everything..."
Nodding, Joe took a sip of his drink and didn't push him away when he moved in his seat to pull him into a kiss. He knew he'd beat himself up about it, later, but it would have been meaner to refuse. And it wasn't as though Joe didn't still worship the ground Patrick walked on. When they went to bed, after, he told him he was tired – then spent the night gazing at the street lights and headlamps playing on the ceiling; doing his best to rationalise one way or another.
He had to make a decision and follow it through, because this wasn't fair.
Andy hadn't been around as much, lately – they'd played hardly any shows because Joe was so busy (which was already pissing off Pete and making him impatient – like they were losing momentum right when they needed to be pushing harder to promote the album) and Joe was really starting to feel his absence. He had no one to talk to. Luke was away at college and even when he'd finished he would probably spend the holidays with his parents at his grandparents' house over in Michigan. He couldn't go to his parents because they wouldn't understand and he could hardly tell Patrick. He tried writing it down; pages and pages of scribbled-out logic and apologies he was too much of a coward to make.
Sometimes, he thought it might be easier if Patrick just found his notebook; figured it out for himself and then pulled away from Joe, instead of Joe having to push him. He never intentionally
left it lying around anywhere, but he started to be a little careless with it – hiding it down the side of the couch cushions when he went to work, or leaving his college bag open in the kitchen, knowing that the notebook was visible in the front pocket. What he hadn't considered was that the one person who wouldn't respect his privacy enough to leave it alone, was Pete.
"What's going on?"
Joe had barely had time to pull his key out of the lock in the front door before Pete was in front of him, brandishing the notebook Joe was fairly sure he'd stuffed in the kitchen drawer before he left for college that morning. His stomach dropped instantly.
"Are you breaking up with Patrick?"
"That's mine, Pete, give it back."
"I know it's fucking yours, I read it!"
Snatching it out of Pete's hand, Joe tried to push past him and get to his bedroom, where he could lock the door and freak out in private, but Pete blocked his way.
"Are you breaking up with him
"I don't know, okay? Seriously, just leave me alone."
"Because I think maybe you should."
Joe stopped trying to escape and looked him in the eye, trying to figure out if he was serious.
"If you're thinking about it, do it. Don't string the kid along if it's not working. It's not fucking fair."
. It's just hard, Pete –"
"Yeah, well it would have been harder if I wasn't the one who found this shit, kind of. Or was that the idea?"
"No! I just... I'm only doing it for him, anyway."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"He's unhappy. With me."
Pete's eyes narrowed speculatively as he asked, "Has he told you that?"
"As good as..."
Nodding slowly, Pete folded his arms across his chest and said, "Well. Yeah... yeah, I can kind of... I wasn't gonna say anything, but it's pretty obvious. He's been putting a brave face on it or whatever, but he's... yeah. He's pretty down."
Hearing the truth from someone else and knowing that he was really making Patrick unhappy, hurt a lot more than he'd expected. After all, it was something he'd suspected, he should have been ready for the truth, but the reality of it also left him winded. "Did he like... did he say anything to you?"
"I can't really break a confidence, man."
"So, he has?"
Pete shrugged and looked away.
"I just..." Joe began, overcome with a need to explain himself, as if telling Pete and obtaining Pete's approval were somehow necessary, "I don't want to end up like that couple from the show and break up because he's started hating me for not being able to be with him more or not being a better boyfriend or something. I don't want that
, Pete, and I couldn't even like... deal with that. If we can just be friends
, then I think that I could maybe, like... maybe live with that, or something. At least kind of like... more than I can live with breaking up because he found someone better or because he just like, never gets to see me or something..."
Pete nodded again and admitted, "I can pretty much understand that."
"I think it's basically the maturest decision you've ever made, kind of. But you need to do it soon if you're gonna fix anything, otherwise it's just gonna be too late or whatever."
"Yeah... well I just wish it didn't feel so totally shitty..." Joe told him, sidling past and finally making it to his bedroom, where he shut the door and locked it firmly to make sure Pete couldn't follow. Patrick would be home soon and he wasn't ready. He couldn't just tell him tonight, not like this. He couldn't even open the door when Patrick knocked softly, letting him think he was asleep and retreat to his own bedroom alone.
He left for college early the next day, knowing that they'd already agreed to meet for lunch days ago, because it was one of the rare occasions when they were both free for an hour. If he left first thing it meant he couldn't cancel, because Patrick didn't even have a cell phone he could call him on; he didn't deserve to be stood up again – this could be their last chance to have some quality time before it was over. He didn't want to miss that because he was too much of a selfish coward to let Patrick go.
That afternoon he had been planning a nice, quiet walk through the enormous cemetery by his college; it seemed like an unusual place to spend time, but it was quiet and secluded and if they wanted to hold hands, few people would be around to see them. They'd spent a couple of afternoons there in the fall and it was a nice enough place to be if you could accept the fact that thousands of graves surrounded you.
Patrick met him at the gate, looking a little pale and greeting him with much more hesitation than he usually would; his shoulders were stiff as Joe hugged him and he seemed to pull away a fraction of a second too early. He didn't even have to say anything for Joe to know that something was wrong, and they'd barely sat down on their favourite bench in a secluded corner when Patrick picked bleakly at the edge of his unopened sandwich carton and announced, "I need to ask you something."
The only reason Joe had unwrapped his bagel was for something to focus on, rather than sitting in awkward silence; if he had a mouthful of lunch he had an excuse not to speak, but he wasn't really hungry at all. His appetite was gone. In fact, he hadn't really been able to stomach much at all in days. Carefully, he lowered his bagel back to the paper and picked absently at loose shreds of lettuce.
Patrick didn't go any further, at first, he just flicked the folding edge of the polythene lid back and forth and sucked on his bottom lip pensively.
"I just... Pete said I need to ask you about a notebook."
Nodding slowly, Patrick mumbled, "Yeah... that's what he said... he could just... I mean, he could just be fucking with me."
"No," Joe admitted quietly. "No, there's a notebook, I just... I wasn't gonna like, say anything right now..."
, Patrick. Not now – you have to go back to work, and I have to get to my afternoon shift an – "
"Well, if you're afraid of making me feel shitty before we have to, y'know, go back, then I should probably tell you that not
telling me isn't working."
Joe closed his eyes and sighed; this was the worst possible time to have this conversation, he wasn't even ready. Pete fucking knew
that! What right did he have to fuck things up by forcing him into a corner and making Patrick worry like this? "What did he tell you? Did he tell you what he read?"
"No, just that he did, and that I had to ask..."
"Yeah, well, Pete's a dick, basically."
"Why, what did he read, Joe?"
"It's not what he read that matters, dude, it's that he like... that he had to fuck with us when I just wanted to do it in my own way! It's none of his fucking business."
He could hear the strain in Patrick's voice as he murmured, "Do what?" and he knew that Patrick had at figured it out. That deep down, he knew what was coming; had a pretty good idea of what was in the notebook.
"I just didn't want to like... hurt you
any more than it was ever going to have to. I wanted to do it my way, not Pete's way, and it's totally fucking unfair because now –"
"Just say it."
"Just say you cheated on me, so I can forgive you and we can pretend this never – "
"I didn't! I've never even looked at another dude that way!"
"Then what's going on
, Joe? You've been avoiding me and pushing me away and I've really been trying to be patient, because I totally get that you have school and stuff to think about, but I seriously don't know what's going on anymore! Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?"
"No – dude, you've been amazing to me and that's like... that's why it's so hard."
"That's why what's so hard?" Patrick asked helplessly, twisting to face him on the bench and trying to take his hand. "You have to tell me what's wrong, okay?"
At first, Joe couldn't even speak or formulate the right words, he just gently pulled his hand free and threw his lunch into the trash can beside the bench. "You have to believe me when I tell you that I really, really love you and I totally don't want to do this... but I have to, because... because I don't want us to ever not be friends."
He could see Patrick struggling to swallow as he said, "What?" and almost appeared to back off the smallest distance, like he was already slipping away.
"Everything's just, like... falling apart, and it's all because of me, but I really love you and everything, and it's like... I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want to do it
and I can't like... keep acting like everything's okay, because it's not. It's really, really not
. We've only been doing this for a couple of months and we're already fucking it up and it's only a matter of time before it ruins everything else... So we have to kind of stop. Now – before it makes us hate each other."
The distraught look on Patrick's face as he asked, "You – you're breaking up with me?" felt like a sucker-punch to the gut.
All Joe could do was nod and choke out, "I'm sorry."
? We were trying really hard!" Patrick almost cried, moving to put panic-stricken arms around him. "You can't just give up – things were getting better! I mean – today
we – "
"It's already hard enough," Joe told him, trying to blink away the tears welling in his eyes from the cold breeze stinging at them and gently pulling himself free from Patrick's grasp, even though he really wanted nothing more than to bury his face in his shoulder and sob. "It won't last."
"How can you say that? I fucking love you
, Joe, you can't just give up on us and decide that's it without even giving me a choice!"
"I'm not giving up – we've fucking tried! And if I don't like, do it now, then it'll be too late..." Joe told him desperately, praying that he'd understand. He hadn't prepared a speech or figured out in his head what to say, he only had what he could articulate now, and hope that Patrick saw it the same way he did. He had to.
"What are you talking about?"
"Everything! We can't do it – look at us, dude, it's been like, a few months and already we can't cope. You're getting bored of me, and I never get to see you and Pete's always there and it's just like... I don't want us to end up like that other band. I don't want you to hate me like they wound up hating each other, because I just... I really love you
and I would rather just be your friend and never –"
"How can you think I would hate you
? Joe, I'd never hate you, you dumbass, I love you to death! There's nothing you could ever do that would make me hate you!"
"You don't know that..."
"Yes, I do!"
"No, you don't – because I bet those other people, I bet when they got engaged and like, started living together
they didn't think that they could hate each other – but look at what happened to them!"
"But we're not them!"
"No, but we can't even make time to hang out, anymore – "
"Then I'll change my shifts. I'll cut my hours or get a job where I work less so that we can find some time or something, y'know? You don't have to leave me because of this..."
those hours! And it's not even your job, it's mine! And it's college, and the band and I want to end this before it stops being a good memory for me. I want it to be what it was
"Well, you can't just do that!"
"I have to."
"You can't!" Patrick yelled back, getting to his feet and pulling off his woollen cap to hurl it at him furiously. "You – you can't just... euthanize
a relationship because you're scared, you fucking coward! You can't do that!"
"Patrick – "
"If you can do this now, then how do I know you ever meant any of it? Because if you did, you wouldn't do this – if you ever really
loved me – "
love you – " Joe promised, standing and reaching out to him as he saw the first tear catch on his eyelashes for a second before it spilled down his face.
"Don't lie to me!" Patrick shrugged out of his grip and roughly scrubbed away the tear with his sleeve. "Don't lie to me about this."
It was as though someone was trying to force their fist between Joe's ribs and clamp down on his heart – his whole chest hurt and he couldn't catch his breath properly; it ached too much to try. "I'm not lying to you, Patrick, please
– listen to me, dude, I swear to you – "
"If you weren't lying, then say you take it back," Patrick demanded, his voice tight and his chin quivering tellingly. "Because I don't want to 'be your friend' and pretend that's okay with me, because it's not. It's not
. Just tell me you take it back and I'll believe you, Joe. That's all you have to do."
Joe barely managed to shake his head as his eyes fluttered closed. The truth was, it probably wasn't enough for him, either, but this was the only way he could see that they would make it through with even the tiniest shred of what they had intact.
He opened his eyes to the sound of footsteps on the snow and the sight of Patrick walking away, his shoulders hunched and head bowed, one hand raised to his mouth.
"Patrick – "
Patrick didn't even turn back long enough to yell, "Fuck you!" as he broke walked away, away from the job he was supposed to return to after lunch, and away from Joe.
Going to work after that was physically painful; all afternoon, he had a hard knot in his stomach and a cloud of anxiety smothering him. What if Patrick wouldn't understand, and he lost his friendship anyway, after all this? What if he was wrong about it making things easier and Patrick never forgave him? He couldn't forget the look on Patrick's face when the words had started falling out of Joe's mouth. He was devastated – even for all his doubts, Joe could see how hard he'd taken it, and he should never had told him somewhere public, no matter how much he'd begged to know. There may not have been anyone in the immediate vicinity at the time, but Patrick still had to go back to work, or home, or get somewhere
, in that state. He'd barely been able to believe that Patrick had cried over it in the first place; but he'd wanted to himself, as he watched Patrick walk away and it dawned on him that after almost a year and a half together, he didn't have a boyfriend anymore.
He kept to the store room as much as he could, that afternoon, trading jobs with his workmates to stay out of sight; the manager rarely lingered out the back, and he could stand against shelves and compose himself for a moment every time he reminded himself what had happened. He was just counting the minutes until he could get out of there, but at the same time, he didn't want to go home. He was afraid what Patrick would say when he saw him – if he was prepared to say anything at all.
When he got there, he hesitated outside the front door for a couple of minutes, gathering his nerve and wondering whether he should just head straight into his room and spend the rest of the night there, by himself. As he pulled the key from the lock, though, the decision was already made for him. Patrick's bedroom door opened a couple of inches, and Joe could just see him behind it, his fingers grasping the edge tightly.
"Can I talk to you?"
Pulling off his gloves, Joe nodded. He could hardly tell him 'no' – he at least owed him a real explanation, and above anything, he wanted
to explain. The idea of trying to terrified him, but he wanted Patrick to understand.
He turned to hang up his coat and when he turned back, the bedroom door was open and Patrick was waiting – dressed in ancient sweat pants and a worn, old t-shirt; his eyes were dry, but puffy and red, and his face was pale and blotchy. All Joe could do was gaze at him in dismay and hate himself for handling it so poorly; he'd known Patrick was upset, but he hadn't believed that he'd come home to find him looking like this.
He opened his mouth to say something – apologise, as if it would make some kind of difference – but Patrick just wandered back into the bedroom, leaving his door ajar for Joe to follow.
When he did, after a few seconds lingering where he was, steeling himself for an unavoidably painful conversation, Patrick was curled up at the head of his bed. His arms were wrapped around his shins, like he was trying to ball himself into the smallest space he could.
"Are you okay?" Joe tried feebly, pushing the door closed behind himself. He didn't want Pete overhearing this.
Sitting on the pillows, all Patrick did was choke out a disbelieving laugh and pointedly looked up at him through puffy eyes.
"Yeah, um... Me either."
"Why? I thought you wanted this."
Joe sighed heavily and turned for the door; he couldn't face a fight.
"Is that it? You're just gonna go?"
"I'm just, like..." he rested his forehead against the doorframe, one hand grasping the handle, "really not up for a pissing contest. I kind of feel shitty enough already."
Patrick snorted bitterly and raised his eyes to the ceiling with a difficult swallow. "I just want to know if there's someone else."
," Joe told him immediately, turning to slump his shoulder against the door with another miserable sigh. "I told you that! When would I have time to see someone else? I don't even have the time to see you!"
"Work? College?" Patrick sniffed, rubbing his nose with the inside of his wrist. "I don't know. You stayed out on Friday... you could have been anywhere."
"I spent like an hour with everyone on my entire shift, telling them I didn't want to get wasted and then I went and sat in my car behind the marina by myself
. Thinking about you."
"Thinking about breaking up with me?"
Joe couldn't even look at him as he nodded but when he raised his eyes, he honestly thought Patrick was going to burst into tears again; he looked so hurt at the admission that Joe wished he'd just denied it.
"Mostly, I was like, thinking about reasons not to..."
"But you still did."
"You came home and you told me we were okay, and all the time you knew you were going to do this?"
"I kept putting it off because I didn't want
to do it."
"If you don't want to, then why are you?"
"Because if I don't, and we break up badly, then I'll pretty much like, lose you altogether..."
"What, so this was your idea of a 'good break-up'?"
"No! No, this is like, my worst case scenario, actually – you just not getting it and being mad at me for just like... trying to do the right thing. And it basically fucking sucks!"
"What did you expect me to say, Joe? 'Oh, so you want to make the fact that I gave up college to stay with you completely meaningless and the whole of the last year and a half a total fucking waste of our time? Okay. No problem!'" Patrick yelled, and there was little chance that if Pete was in he hadn't heard what was being said. "I mean, it's not like I love you
or anything, right? It's not like I thought we agreed that, y'know: we had an actual future together or anything!"
," Joe reminded him miserably, barely managing a half-shrug. "You'll be over me in like, two months or something."
When Patrick choked out, "I won't," and ducked his head to hide the tears that had started sliding down his face again, Joe gave in to himself almost instantly and sank onto the floor beside the bed, trying to take his hand.
"Don't cry, dude, please... Please
, don't cry. I'm doing it because I love you," Joe insisted, almost begging him to understand. "You have to believe me
. If we break up now, then almost all the time we've been together has been awesome. We can just like, look back at it and feel good about it. But if we keep on like this, then we'll never be able to hold it together long enough for the things that are making it suck to go away, and then everything'll be ruined. If we're going to ever break up, I want us to be able to be super close friends, after, not like, total enemies or something."
get like that," Patrick told him adamantly, glaring at the hand stroking at his, but not pulling away. "I'd never hate you, no matter what you did or how hard things were."
"Do you seriously wanna risk it? Because I want to know you liked me as much when we broke up as you did when we were super happy. Like last year. Last year was the coolest time of my life – after your mom stopped thinking I was a little jerk who was corrupting her baby, and we really started like, doing stuff
... Things aren't even as good now as they were then... but I really thought that doing this moving-in-thing would make it easier to be together, instead of like, going away to college or whatever."
"Won't you even try?"
– that's pretty much like, all we've both been doing since I started working."
"Well... what if we don't break up? What if we just y'know... take a break or something? Maybe if the album does okay, and that other guy wants to work with us, your mom and dad will let you quit college, and then we'll have time, won't we?"
"We don't know how long it's gonna take, though... it could be a couple of months or it could be years
"I don't care. I'll wait. You can break up with me if that's what you want, but I'll just wait until you snap out of it and then take you back."
"I don't want you to wait for me, Patrick! You'll hate me just the same for like, stopping you being happy..."
"I told you
– I'll never – "
"You know what I mean!"
"But I don't know what I'll do if I haven't got you... You're like... you're in every part of my life..."
"I'll still be here. We'll still be best friends! That's what I want, dude! I want us to still be like, insanely close but just stop the thing that'll make us not be, if we fuck it up. And I'm not saying we can't ever get back together, if you still like me then – like, when things are easier – "
"I will. I swear, I will, Joe. I'll never even look at anyone else."
"Me too, most probably... but we can't know that so I don't want to risk it. I want to like, save what we've got before we ruin it totally. You understand that, right? You have to..."
Patrick nodded jerkily, wiping his face with the bottom of his t-shirt. "It just really, really hurts."
Sighing heavily, Joe got up off the floor and climbed onto the best beside him, pulling him into a hug, relieved when he felt Patrick's arms wrapping around him tightly. He'd been so scared that he'd ruined everything forever.
"In six months, if we both like, feel like this, still, we can try again. Okay?"
"Three months?" Patrick suggested hopefully, daring to press a light kiss to Joe's shoulder.
"Three months is kind of... What about like, your birthday? If we haven't like, figured it out by your birthday, we'll make a point of kind of like, doing it then."
"That's more than five months..."
"I don't know if anything less is really gonna like, let us work it out with a clear head, you know? I'm gonna still miss you in three months, whatever happens..."
"I guess getting back together would be the best birthday present you could give me..."
Joe didn't have the heart to tell him that there was no guarantee they would get back together – then or ever – so he just buried his face in Patrick's hair and tried to get used to the idea of it being the last time.
Title from Brand New's 'Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't' and quote from Foo Fighters' 'Everlong'.