The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [1/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: alfirin_kirinkiBetas: musictoyourlips
- honourable mentions to anniebean
R at absolute max.Pairing:
c.4,000 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... Disclaimer:
Get me a Dolorean and I'll make it real; until then, sadly not true. And I know nothing about Neurosis that could not be found on the interwebz.The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part One: Paperbacks and Sexuality"Coasting on potential towards a wall..."
Joe told himself he wasn't eavesdropping as he drummed his fingers on the back of the remote and slouched lower on the over-soft blue couch; it was just that he couldn't help hearing.
"Yeah, yeah, Pete, of course... Yeah. Y'know, Pete, when you get – yes, I know – but when you get here we need to... Oh, don't – no. It's a half hour drive, dude! You know that – you lived
He could even hear an electronic murmur of Pete's voice buzzing back down the line, despite Patrick's conversation taking place in the kitchen.
"You'll be fine. We'll see you when you get here. Yes. Um... Actually, Pete, he's here now. Yeah, I know it's eight thirty in the morning – Pete – ! Okay. Okay, fine. Good. Yeah, okay. Yeah, you too. See you soon."
He heard the cell phone snap shut and Patrick's impatient huff as he walked back into the room and dropped himself down beside Joe on the chair. He raised his eyebrows questioningly when Patrick rubbed a hand over his face. He didn't need to ask aloud.
"No, I didn't 'tell him', but he's having one of his fucking Petetrums over having had to fly. Over having to fly from his own fucking house
. I love the guy to death, Joe, I do, but sometimes I just want to take his Fender and just – " he clasped his hands together and extended his arms abruptly, as if swinging a baseball bat. "If he misses home and he misses me and he misses his mommy and he misses Chicago but he hates fucking flying, he shouldn't have moved to LA."
Joe just shrugged and leaned in to kiss him on the jaw in a way that would have been seductive if he hadn't hit his ear instead, "I'm kinda glad he moved and left you to me, actually. If he was here all the time we'd just... It's difficult enough on tour, man, but he'd be breathing down your neck, like 24/7. This way we get like, a half-hour warning at least."
Patrick gave a smirk, digging between the couch cushions for the remote and tossing it aside to shift nearer.
"You want to race a taxi?"
Okay. This was bad. This was like, cataclysmic, asteroid-from-space-the-size-of-Texas, extinction-level event bad. 'Oh my God, that's it, I'm just going to lay down here and wait to die' bad. Very, very, very totally fucking bad.
"Um," Borders Boy squeaked a little as he handed back the paperback Joe had just fumbled and dropped in horror the moment he saw him. "You... dropped this. I think."
Joe could feel every blood cell in his body having a party in his face and he really wasn't sure he'd been this humiliated since he was twelve and his mother had come into his class – his fucking class!
– to collect him and take him to the hospital and announced "Joseph's going to the peepee doctor today". Borders Boy – Ricky, apparently, if the badge was right – wasn't supposed to work Tuesday afternoons. That was why he came today, because he knew he wouldn't be there. He'd been coming in every couple of days for four months, now, since he'd first caught sight of him over a stack of tab books, re-stocking the travel section twenty feet away. He was a skinny little thing, with a smile too wide for his face and a scar through one eyebrow, and fine, strawberry-blond hair that looked almost sun bleached. He was odd-looking, but Joe had seen him look up and smile at a colleague who made some inaudible joke as he walked by, and that was it. Joe and his deviant teenage hormones hadn't stood a chance.
He'd never dared to get much nearer than those first twenty feet and he sure as hell wasn't going anywhere near a till if he was on it. He turned into a jibbering wreck standing ten feet away, he wasn't going to ruin any tiny glimmer of a chance he had by making himself look like a moron because he wasn't ready to talk.
But now – oh, now! – now, he'd ruined everything.Growing Up Gay: From Left Out to Coming Out
needed any clarification. Fucking Tuesdays and shift-switching and fucking fumbling hands. And basically fuckfuckfuckfuck fuck everything
He would have run away if he wasn't frozen to the spot.
"Excuse me? I said I think you, um..." Borders Boy – Ricky
, he reminded himself – jabbed the book at him, his own cheeks turning a soft shade of pink that made Joe want to whimper dopily. He managed to stifle it long enough to reach out and take the book back, mumbling 'thanks' and immediately turned to flee, planning to drop it on any shelf he passed and write the entire episode off as a bad idea.
"Hey," Ricky called after him, softly and giving him an awkwardly supportive smile when he turned back to look at him, "good luck."
It made Joe's stomach hurt. He didn't go back for three months.
"No, how can you say that, dude? Kendall's visuals were early-nineties technology
. Everything's changed since then – things people can do with them have like, gotten infinitely better since then, Pete Inc had just totally way more to work with – "
"Whatever," Luke muttered, thumbing through yet another '100% Unofficial' Kurt Cobain biography. "It still sucks."
"The dude is a fucking genius
"I don't know I'd go that far," a voice from behind him declared, "talented, definitely, but 'genius' is being kind of free with the boundaries of definition."
Joe turned around to call whichever jackass was arguing with him way, way out on it, and stopped, mouth open, when he was met with the very person he'd been trying to avoid for months. He'd been sure he would have quit by now. If he'd known he was still around he wouldn't have agreed to come in.
Ricky smiled a little and looked at him like he couldn't figure him out. "Yeah, hi. So I was saying – you can't call Kendall a genius because you can't exactly compare his work to Inc's because they're different eras, technologically."
"Actually, that's what I was telling him
," Joe replied, indignation superseding embarrassment for a few, blissful moments, "but Kendall was totally an underappreciated genius because, like, nobody thinks about the way technology developed."
"Totally," Ricky nodded enthusiastically, before amending, "except for the genius thing."
The next thing Joe knew, the store was closing, Luke was long gone and Ricky ("It's Patrick, actually, but the guy who made the tags said it was a loser name, and I get called this at school so...") was writing his number in the back of Joe's biology notebook. Joe couldn't even fully remember how they'd reached this point, but he was nodding and saying, "Sure, totally, I'll tell Pete and then give you a call or whatever..." and then he was walking home, feeling weirdly light-headed and full of boundless energy.
But he still had nobody to tell.
"Hey, Number One Fan," Andy greeted him cheerfully, hauling his bass drum out of the van as Joe walked over. They exchanged their not-very-secret handshake and Joe stooped to pick up the toms to help carry them into the venue without needing to be asked; this was a pretty regular occurrence. It was only a local venue – they played there for fun and the familiar crowd rather than cash and somehow one of Andy's infinite list of bands always seemed to make it onto the bill. Joe couldn't even remember who was playing, tonight.
"So, how's it going, little bro?" Andy asked him, sliding his case onto the stage and barely waiting long enough for Joe to put his own down before he was off for another load. "I haven't seen you in what? Four days, now? I think that has to be some kind of record for the year so far... Been busy?"
"Um." I've been hanging out with this kind of funny-looking kid I met in a bookstore and he's basically, like, the coolest fucking dude on the face of the planet and also smart, like you, and my face kind of hurts from smiling for, like, five straight hours on Tuesday because he came to my house and he can actually fucking synch the whole Back to the Future trilogy – with voices
and sound effects – and I'm gonna get Pete to try him out for the new band thing we told you about because he's a drummer and those are like, fucking impossible to find anyway and he's basically fucking amazing and I think I want to bear his children.
"No, not 'specially."
"No? Wentz said you'd met some kid."
"Oh. Um, I guess." He was quite sure he was red as a neatly polished apple and a tiny part of him wanted to die.
Andy gave him a weird look and then hid a smirk behind hid hair, "You want to tell me about him?"
Joe balked, "Why?!"
"Well, aren't you going to bring him along?" Andy asked, leaning back against the stage door to hold it open while Joe shuffled in with an amp hefted against his thigh.
The thought hadn't even occurred to Joe. And given how many questions Patrick (he liked that better than Ricky) had asked about the show he was going to, he really had plenty of opportunity to do so. In fact, in retrospect, he was pretty sure Patrick had been hinting. He felt like such a loser.
It must have shown on his face, because Andy sighed heavily, put down his snare and took out his cell (an anarchist with a cell phone; Joe was sure there was some irony in that) and pushed in at him. "Tell him he comes or he doesn't get the try-out for Blink one-eightywannabes."
Joe blinked at the phone and watched Andy drag in his kit, shaking his head slightly. He wasn't sure why Andy was so bothered, but he pulled his wallet out of his pocket and fumbled through it for the scrap of paper bearing Patrick's number. The third time he dialled, he didn't hang up before it rang.
Andy insisted on dropping him home after the show – via the drive thru for Tommy and Nick – and by the time they pulled up outside Joe's parents' house they were the only two left. The night had been pretty awesome. Patrick had showed, two songs into the second band and some time after Joe had given up hope of him hearing the voicemail he'd left (or caring much if he did receive it), and tugged at his sleeve with a dorky half-smile and a barely-audible, "Hey." It had pretty much made Joe's week.
"Thanks for the ride, man," Joe said, unfastening the seatbelt and picking up his bag from the floor; he'd gone to the venue straight from detention for forgetting his homework again.
"No worries," Andy grinned, patting his head in a brotherly fashion, "have to make sure you get home safe and sound." He paused for a minute and then turned off the ignition before starting again, "Joe?"
Joe blinked at him. "Yuh?"
"That, um. Patrick – he seems like a decent kid."
"Oh. Heh." He told himself he wasn't blushing, and even if he was, the lamps on the sidewalk wouldn't show it. "Yeah. He's pretty... Um. Pretty cool."
"Yeah," Andy agreed, nodding slowly. "Pretty cool. I think you have quite a lot... in common
"Oh, we do! Like, seriously a whole lot of bands and he really likes – "
"No. Joe, that's not what I meant."
Joe stared at him as Andy took a deep breath and turned in the driver's seat to face him more easily.
"Joey, I don't want to make you feel weird or anything, but you're like the kid brother I never had and I just wanted you to know that if there's anything you, y'know... feel like you need to tell someone, I'll be cool with it. Even if it seems pretty big."
For a few moments, Joe couldn't breathe. He wasn't sure what was going on, and regardless of what Andy had said, it did feel weird because he was pretty sure that guys didn't talk about stuff even with self-appointed surrogate siblings. He suddenly wished he'd bought that goddamn book and had some idea what was going on or how to say what he really kind of wanted to, but he hadn't and he just didn't. So he just mumbled, "Er. OkaysurebyeAndy," and reached for the door.
Joe hesitated and fixed his gaze on his backpack, frowning as he realised he'd lost a Sabbath pin. "What?"
"I think I know. And it's okay."
"Kn-know what, dude?" Joe asked, stammering as he stalled, starting to feel both a little sick and indescribably relieved at the same time. The badges he'd had on his bag for months suddenly reached a whole new level of interesting.
Andy sighed and bumped his shoulder lightly with the soft side of his fist. "Okay, I really kind of hope I'm not wrong and don't be mad at me if I am, but I just got the idea that maybe our little Number One Fan has a crush and that maybe that's been going on for a couple of months, because a certain person mentioned he worked in that bookstore you practically lived in last semester... And that maybe there's stuff going on now that makes it a whole lot more real than it has been and that the whole deal is probably kind of weird, right now. But if I'm right: it's cool. Seriously."
Joe took several deep breaths and didn't say anything – too busy wondering how obvious he was. Fucking lisp. He wasn't sure what to say, or how to say it or anything else, so he just glanced at the living room window, irrationally afraid that his parents would have the conversation bugged and know what question he was answering as he jerkily nodded his head.
Andy was watched him silently for a few moments and then very quietly asked, "I'm right?"
"...Yeah. I guess."
Andy patted him supportively on the shoulder. "Hey, that's cool
. Am I the first person you told?"
"You're the first person who made me
"But it feels better, right?"
Joe had to concede that yes, actually, the world had not fallen in and he could not hear the screams of God murdering small fluffy kittens, but there was definitely a weight fading from his chest for the first time since he'd been introduced to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'alternative uses for a gym sock' picture in a Classic Images of Rock issue of one music publication or other and spent most of the night dreaming of Anthony Kiedis climbing out of his underwear drawer.
Andy grinned at him when he looked back across and nodded. "I'm proud of you, dude."
"It's not like I was going to tell you."
"No, but you're growing up. You weren't even fifteen when I met you and back then you looked like a bushbaby in skate shorts; now, you're growing up and doing your shit and people know you because you're a nice guy with a lot of talent and not a weird little nerd with crazy hair. Pete and I cultivated a prodigy. It's pretty cool."
Joe grinned and clambered out of the van. Pete and Andy were the nicest, coolest dudes he knew. Maybe if they were okay with it, it wasn't so bad.
"I wish you'd, like, told me – I feel like I suck for not even getting you a card or something," Joe complained, chewing the end of his straw as they idled the afternoon away sitting on the wall outside the local 7-11.
"You can get me something next year," Patrick shrugged, offering him some Cheetos and sucking noisily on his slurpee.
Joe tried not to be excited that Patrick thought they would still be friends next year. Why wouldn't they?
"I could, like, shout you a movie or something," he offered, trying to sound extra casual and jabbing his straw into his cup so it made an irritating squeaking sound.
"There's nothing out worth watching." Patrick scrunched his nose up and shrugged, "But if something's released that I wanna see, I'll let you know. Probably about the time the first teaser trailer comes out. And then I'll bug you about it every day until you hate the movie on principle and won't see it anyway..."
Laughing, Joe prayed he didn't blush as he assured him he wouldn't mind; because Patrick bothering him meant Patrick talking to him. A lot. And that could only be a good thing.
Patrick smiled and dropped his chin. "I'll hold you to that."
"You can hold me to whatever you want if you join the band, dude."
"You get Pete from Racetraitor to let me in his band and I'll hold whatever you want me to hold to you!"
Joe didn't have an option about whether to blush, by this point, even though Patrick was laughing and crunching a handful of Cheetos. He wondered if Pete took bribes.
"I don't get why you're so desperate to get this kid in the band. We can have Andy if we just buy him a fucking veggieburger and ask nice."
"Andy's in, like, every band on the scene, practically... and it's not his thing." And Patrick's awesome and not like a brother to me and I kind of want to get in his pants more than I want to grow a twelve-inch dick and believable facial hair over night, only in a kind of less sleazy way than that sounds.
"I just want you to give him a chance, dude. Fresh blood for the scene and stuff..."
"I'm not making any promises or whatever, man."
"Just, like, keep an open mind, okay?"
Pete was already rolling his eyes and knocking on the front door.
His first reaction, as his eyes fell on harassed-looking teenager in thick-rimmed glasses and an argyle sweater Joe swore he had never seen before, was to burst into snickers and almost fall backward off the top step.
"This is a joke, right?" he asked Joe, gesturing wildly at the boy in front of him. The boy whose face was violently red and whose sleeves were suddenly tugged over his fists. "You have seriously got to be kidding me."
It took a moment, but Patrick finally raised his eyebrows and asked Joe, over Pete's shoulder, "Is this actually
the 'legendary' Pete Wentz From Racetraitor, or did you bring some Smurf you picked up on the way?"
Joe would have liked the whole world to fall in on itself. A lot. But then Pete was gripping Patrick's shoulders, turning him around and instructing him to take him to the kit. And he was laughing. And somehow, Joe was still on the doorstep.
It should really have been a sign.
In an ideal world, Pete's enthusiastic acceptance of Patrick into their little band (and not even as a drummer – but as a singer! And who saw that coming? The little redheaded kid with the bright, goofy smile and apparently even less fashion sense than Joe himself, had the best voice either of them had heard in years) should have been the coolest thing to happen to him since he first shook hands with Little Joe. But when Joe failed to hear from either of them for the next five days, and then only an email from Pete on a mailout promoting some live night at a new venue, he started to feel a little short changed.
He could have called. Obviously. Only, Pete had said he'd call him to arrange practice as soon as he'd spoken to Andy, and Patrick had been at work on the one occasion Joe had tried his home number. He hadn't called back. Joe called again three days later.
"Friday? I... I can't. I'm hanging out at Pete's. I promised. No... I'm staying over, I think. I'm working in the afternoon.... Mom says I have to stay home Sunday and do chores. Monday I have work and Tuesday I have to stay late at school... and then I said I'd see some film Pete wants to show me... I'm really sorry, dude - I'll call you Wednesday."
Wednesday, Pete took Patrick to a show they forgot to mention to Joe and he only knew that because he was covering the door for Josh for ten minutes when they walked in.
He tried not to feel hurt. At least Patrick made a point of coming over and talking to him after Josh got back. They actually spent quite a lot of the night hanging out together while Pete played the social butterfly, and Joe was just beginning to feel better about things when he returned and reclaimed his new toy in order to show him off to some of the Arma guys. Joe went home.
"I seriously can't believe you abandoned me, dude," Patrick's voice complained through the telephone receiver in Joe's parents' hall. "I was standing there with, y'know – some of the coolest guys on the radar smirking at me, and Pete's all, 'Yeah, this is Patrick: he's going to make us famous' and I'm just shitting myself
and I can't even speak, let along make any sense and you went and left me there
Joe wasn't sure whether to be pleased or annoyed. "Well, you got there by yourself... Well. I mean, like, Pete got you there."
"Pete said you'd
"You'd have gone anyway, though, right? I mean... you've spent enough time with him anyway..."
For a few miserable-sounding moments, there was silence on the line, and then Patrick's voice, sounding excessively breezy and light, asked, "You want to hang out, tomorrow? If you're not doing anything, I mean."
Now, he was sure, Patrick was just doing this to prove some kind of point. "Tomorrow? Actually, I'm – " don't say it, don't say it, dude!
" – I'm... Ah, screw it: sure. If you can tear yourself away from OHMYGODPETEFROMRACETRAITOR! for, like, ten minutes."
"Asshole. I'm not a fangirl!"
"Nah, you're his bitch."
Patrick gave an outraged gasp and started laughing. "So not."
"Whatever. Are you coming to my place, or...?"
"I finish work at seven, so, um... do you want to come and meet me there and get some dinner, or something... maybe...?"
Joe swallowed. He opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again, fisting his fingers in his curls. "Um. I guess..."
"We don't have to." Patrick's voice was suddenly defensive, like he thought Joe didn't want to go when he did, he really, really did.
"No – no. Dinner's like, awesome. Seriously."
"Okay, cool. Then I guess I'll see you tomorrow..."
"Um, so... okay, I'm going to go. Catch you tomorrow..."
Joe was quite sure by the time he dropped the receiver into its cradle and pounded up the stairs to his bedroom, swan-diving across his bed and straight into the wall beyond, that things, for now at least, were definitely cool