The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [2/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: alfirin_kirinkiBetas: musictoyourlips
R at absolute max (over all).Pairing:
c.3,800 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.Previous Chapters:Part One: Paperbacks and SexualityThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Two: My Heart is on My Sleeve
"Breaking hearts has never looked so cool..."
"Wow," Patrick grinned, still sounding a little breathless as he propped himself up on one elbow and tried to find his hat, "I didn't realise the taxi was supposed to be going warp speed."
Joe tried to kick his leg and flip him off at the same time and almost fell over as he did up his jeans, tripping onto the coffee table and successfully knocking a stack of CDs to the floor. "I wouldn't put it past Pete to call from the hall and say he was an hour away and then, just, like prance in and scare the crap out of everybody..."
"He only did that once."
"Yeah, well, there's a first time for everything... And a first time normally needs a couple more to make it a 'first', so..."
"You're so still bitter about this, aren't you?" Patrick chuckled, climbing off the couch and untucking the side of Joe's faded Slayer shirt from his jeans, before leaning against him and playfully rubbing his nose against his shoulder.
"Bitter? Why would I be bitter? It's only been, like, six years and he only moved to the other side of the country
but somehow, I'm still getting cock-blocked by HOLYSHITPETEFROMFUCKINGRACETRAITOR. This bullshit should not happen to a rockstar, dude."
Patrick gave a mock-sympathetic sigh and patted his ass consolingly, "Racetraitor broke up years ago. Now you're just getting cock-blocked by 'an elf in a sparkly jacket'."
Joe knew there was a reason he hated Lord of the Rings.
"I thought of a film!" Patrick announced gleefully as he jabbed Joe in the ribs and made him move from where he was contentedly leaning against the store window and reading that week's Spin.
"Ow. Dude. Just ow
." He rubbed his side and stuffed the magazine into his backpack. "What is it?"
"Fellowship of the Ring. It's not out until, y'know, Christmas or whatever, but you can take me to see that."
"Oh." Score! Three hours of make-out time, plus elves, magic and killing stuff
. "If you like...want."
"Of course I want. It's Tolkien
"Well, okay. Can we eat first?"
Joe had never been to Johnny Rocket's. He wasn't sure any of his friends had, really, because a 50s-themed diner wasn't exactly the way forward when most of the guys were edge and regarded dead animal as a class-A substance, but it was cool with him. He'd skipped lunch at school because he felt kind of sick with nerves, but he seriously regretted it now.
They wound up in an inconspicuous booth along one side, with its own jukebox which was, as they sat down, cheerily blasting 'My Guy' around the restaurant. Joe tried not to acknowledge this in any way, but he couldn't suppress a small cringe. He made a point of thinking of Whoopee Goldberg in a habit, which also provided a convenient excuse when Patrick gave an uncertain smile and asked what was wrong.
They had been there the better part of an hour when Patrick looked at him with his head tilted to the side, chewing on his fries pensively, and asked, "Can I ask you something?"
"It's..." Patrick paused and gazed instead into his peanut butter milkshake, "well, it's kind of personal, dude."
Joe froze for a second, not sure whether to change the subject or brave the imminent doom. "Um..."
Patrick didn't seem to care whether Joe was prepared to continue or not, and simply carried on regardless. "Y'know the first time I spoke to you?"
"Like, not the first time recently – I mean, the real first time, when. Y'know. When you had the book and – "
"Yeah, dude," Joe cut in quickly, sure that he was going to blurt out unnecessary details at precisely the moment somebody like, oh, one of the popular kids from school, walked in and shame him for all eternity, "yeah, I remember when. What about it?"
"Well..." Patrick swirled his straw in the glass and didn't look at him, "I just wanted to know how you sort of... went through with that."
"Went through with it?"
"Yeah, like – did you tell people, or what?"
Joe kind of felt like crying. This was possibly the most embarrassing and awkward conversation of his life. Except for maybe when he father sat him down to try to talk to him about girls. "Not really."
." Except... "Well, I mean. Andy. But that's all. You can't, like, say anything, dude – I haven't even told Pete. Andy only knows because he basically forced me to say it..."
"I wasn't going to say anything!" Patrick told him, sounding mildly hurt that Joe thought he would out him. "I was just asking..."
"That was totally one of the worst moments of my life, man, and I kind of wanted to pretend it never happened. I avoided the store for weeks, after that."
"I know. I work there."Wait. He noticed that?
There was a horrible sinking feeling in Joe's stomach. "Is it, like... a problem or something?"
Patrick looked at him like he was insane. "Why would it be a problem?"
"I... dunno. I just thought..."
"Dude, the first thing I ever knew about you, except for that you seem to really like Borders a lot, was that you had y'know: questions about..." he looked around as if he expected someone to be following their conversation through a pair of eyeholes cut into a newspaper, "stuff. If I had a problem with that, wouldn't I just not want to hang out with you in the first place?"
"I guess." Joe focused all his attention on carefully shredding a napkin onto his empty plate.
"Joe, I knew and I talked to you anyway, first chance I had, right? I just don't want to open my mouth and say the wrong thing in front of people. That's why I asked."
Sighing, Joe nodded reluctantly.
"I actually... thought you were kind of cool. For doing that. Knowing."
"Yeah, except kind of the whole point was that I didn't."
"But you do now."
For a second, Joe had a mental image of all the blood rushing to his face making his head explode like a cartoon thermometer. He made a vague gurgle and reached for his glass.
"What, so you don't think you are, now?"
Joe's eyes lifted skyward for some mercy. Smite me. Just smite me now. This is cruel and unusual punishment and it's unconstitutional
. "No. I mean – yes. Yes, I do. I'm actually kind of certain that I am, but can we just talk about, y'know: anything else at all
Patrick gazed at him for a few moments and then drew circles in the ketchup on his plate, with a french fry. "I only asked because I'm interested..." he said, making an admirable attempt at turning the same colour as the condiment.
"Well, just like, be interested in something else, seriously. This is so embarrassing."
Opposite, Patrick gave a loud huff and turned to the nearest waitress to ask for the dessert menu.
Joe actually felt pretty bad for being so insistent on not talking about it, but he'd been so completely mortified. He hadn't told most of his best friends, let alone a restaurant full of people, and knowing for sure that Patrick
had figured it out straight away (and wasn't that ironic) was just plain humiliating. He would actually have preferred to never look him in the eye ever again, but they were supposed to be in a band together and they had their first practise the next day... so he went a mile and a half out of his way to walk him home, trying to think of a way to apologise.
Patrick was quiet most of the way. When they were by themselves he usually wouldn't shut up, even if he was shy the rest of the time, and by the time they reached the end of his street, Joe was pretty desperate to put things right.
Patrick glanced up at him and mumbled, "Hmm?" before returning his gaze to the sidewalk.
"Look, I just wanted to say I'm like, sorry
for... before. I didn't mean to be an asshole, I just... You have seriously no idea how weird this is, right now..."
Joe groaned and rubbed his forehead in frustration, "Oh, now you're mad
at me, aren't you?"
"No!" Patrick stopped in his tracks and caught Joe's sleeve to make him wait. "I'm not mad at you
, dude, I just... I feel like an idiot and I wish I hadn't said anything anyway, so, y'know: let's pretend this never happened, okay?"
"Pretend what never happened? The conversation, or, like... the –" don't say date, don't say date
"- whole hanging out thing?"
"Well, I just meant the conversation... The part where I, sort of... whatever."
"Oh. Right. Sure."
"Because, I mean – we have practice tomorrow and it's gonna be awkward if we're not cool..."
"We're cool," Joe assured him quickly, grabbing his elbow without even thinking about it. "We're totally cool, aren't we?"
Patrick nodded vigorously; "Yeah. Good." He reached up and scratched twitchily behind his ear. "So, um... I think I can make it home from here. It's only about eight houses down, so..."
"Oh. Yeah," Joe nodded, suddenly clamouring for an excuse to stick around a little longer. "I, um. Thanks, dude... For, like, being cool."
"I'd have to be a total asshole not to be..." Patrick was blushing and not looking at him and Joe was sure he was in pretty grave danger of things being Not Cool again, so he thought he'd quit while he was ahead.
"Okay, so, I'll like, see you tomorrow."
"Two-thirty," Patrick said, and he was smiling and it reminded Joe of the first time he'd seen him in Borders and he'd watched him smile at his colleague and Joe wasn't sure what possessed him, but suddenly he was leaning forward and pulling him into a brief but fierce hug.
He stepped back and shoved his hands in his pockets quickly, starting to back away. Patrick stared at him with a peculiar, slightly amused look on his face.
Patrick laughed a little and waved at him. "Bye..."
When he reached the end of the street and looked back at the corner, Patrick was still standing there. He gave another awkward wave, before ducking his head and heading off towards his house.
Joe ran the entire way home.
Andy picked Joe up from his house, the next day; he was playing a show later than night and he had to bring the kit anyway. Joe climbed into the passenger seat and tucked his guitar down between his feet before looking up at him and saying hi.
Andy was looking at him inquisitively, caught between a smirk and a frown.
"Is that not allowed?" Joe asked, smiling wider but trying to hide it in the action of putting on his seatbelt.
"Why are you smiling?" Andy asked flatly, before both eyebrows shot up above his glasses and he asked, "Did you get lucky
"Yeah, right," Joe replied, wishing he could claim that he had.
"So, why's little Joey so happy today?"
"It's obviously something to do with your little friend, man, so you can save the twenty questions, if you want."
"It's, like... nothing, really," Joe began, not wanting to look at Andy because he felt stupid. "We just hung out yesterday. It's nothing."
"Hung out, huh?" Andy echoed, nodding sagely and Joe could hear the grin in his voice, even as he played with the strap on his guitar case. "Is that code for, 'We went on a date'?"
Joe just grinned into his chest.
Andy apparently took his silence as a 'yes' and asked, "Did it go okay?"
"Well, I don't... I don't know if it was like, actually a date
or anything, but we went to some themed diner place, and I walked him home..."
"If he was a girl, you wouldn't even be questioning whether that was a date or not."
"He asked me like, tons of questions about..." how can I say this without telling you about basically one of the worst moments in history?
"...um. About whether I came out or not..."
"There was... like, I don't even want to go there, but he kind of knows. Well. Now he definitely knows, but he kind of knew before."
"And he wanted to know if you came out?"
"Yeah... that part didn't go so well."
"What did you do?"
"I freaked out," Joe admitted, feeling even more of an idiot in the cold light of day than he had before. "It was just so
embarrassing, dude. I think he was like, trying to show that he was okay with it, but I just basically made him drop it and he was kind of quiet until we were pretty much at his house and then... Well, I guess we're okay, now."
Andy reached across and patted him supportively on the shoulder, while trying to keep his eyes on the road, "It's always really awkward at your age, man, and I mean that's just for straight kids – it's always going to be pretty complicated, but you have to start somewhere."
"Well, I kind of wish I hadn't started by introducing him to Pete."
"Hmm." Andy didn't even ask for clarification. "I give it a month, tops, and then he'll be all yours because Pete'll get bored and move on to the next kid. He does it every time..."
"Yeah, but I found him –" he sounded like a two year old stamping his feet and yelling, 'Mine! Mine!' but it was true "- and Pete had him sleep over
last week. How is that even...?"
"Joe, if you want something you can't just expect it to fall in your lap. Pete's a little older so he already figured that out. That's why he mostly gets what he wants: he asks for it. Maybe not literally, but you know what I'm saying."
"But I – " Joe cut himself off, knowing he'd sound like a girl if he'd finished with 'really like him', and substituted, "I just don't want to like, freak him out and get in the way of the band or something."
"We haven't even had our first rehearsal yet – what band are you going to get in the way of?" Andy laughed gently. "And Joe, when I said you had 'a lot in common' I was basically saying I thought he liked you."
"He showed up, didn't he?"
Joe wouldn't have been so disconcerted by Pete answering the door if they had actually been practising at Pete's house; but they weren't. They were practising at Patrick's.
"This kid is like, a fucking genius," he announced without so much as a 'hello', waving a can of Coke wildly and splashing some onto the dark blue carpet. He glanced around and then rubbed it in with the toe of his Chucks.
Joe cast Andy a dark look. Andy shrugged and poked him in the back to make him walk inside.
"You know he's like, got a whole bunch of stuff written already? And it's all fucking amazing, kind of."
Pete led them down the basement stairs to where Patrick was perched on the edge of the battered floral couch covered in holed rugs to hide the pattern beneath, hunched over his guitar and fiddling absently. He smiled when Joe walked in, and gave him a small wave before focusing intently on his guitar again.
"Told you," Andy whispered in his ear before pushing past him to study Patrick's drum kit and shift it to his personal arrangement.
Joe was a little too busy watching Pete perch himself on the arm of the couch, leaning on Patrick's shoulder, and wondering what exactly was wrong with the rest of the room that he felt the need to sit just there
. He forced himself to unzip his guitar case and start setting up his amp instead of watching Patrick turn crimson as Pete fingered his hair and told him they were going to be huge.
He missed Patrick scrunching up his nose and batting Pete's hand away.
As it happened, once Pete had gotten around to actually picking up his bass and they managed to play something, they gelled neatly. It could have had something to do with Joe, Andy and Pete having played or just jammed together on and off for years, but Patrick hadn't; no one would ever have guessed.
Naturally, Joe was glad that his new band (actually the first he'd founded, rather than joined or subbed for) seemed to have at least the potential of getting beyond the basement door, but it was definitely marred by the way Pete walked over and gleefully kissed the top of Patrick's head, grinning over at Joe and Andy, after one particularly good run through of their first 'song', cobbled together from some of Pete's lyrics and a few parts Patrick had shown Joe.
Joe turned away and raised his eyebrows at Andy, breaking rhythm to strum a few bars of Jolene
. Andy gave him a pointed look and shook his head. Pete looked from Joe to an otherwise oblivious Patrick and pulled a face. Joe wanted to smack it; he settled for fantasising about 'accidentally' breaking Pete's perfect, gentile nose with the head of his guitar.
When they decided it was time to call it a day so Andy and Pete could head over to the venue for that night's soundcheck, Joe gathered his things and all but ran out to the van, without much more than a grunt in Patrick's direction. He waited on the sidewalk for Andy to catch up, and glowered at the floor when Pete bounded out, an enormous, shark-like grin on his face.
"Joseph," he began, grabbing him in a headlock and scrubbing a hand through his hair, "your literature habit deserves a fucking award or something."
"Fuck off, dude!" Joe twisted out of his grip and vainly attempted to flatten his fluffed-up fro. He added, more quietly, "I wasn't there for the books
"Whatever. CDs, then. I knew keeping the fuzzy rugrat around would pay off one day, dude." He waited for Andy to unlock the back and threw his stuff inside, not apparently considering the drum kit already stashed within, or the welfare of his own instrument. Joe shook his head and turned around to get into the van, glancing up at the house one last time. His stomach lurched when he realised Patrick was standing at the door, giving him a half-wave before shoving both hands in his back pockets.
"I'll see you later," he called across the front yard.
Joe responded with a briefly raised hand and climbed in.
Joe really wasn't sure that pulling up for a hardcore show with Morrissey blasting at Spinal Tap volume was entirely cool, but then, he wasn't Pete Wentz. People would probably think he was being subversive or ironic, or something. It was also really irritating to have to sit between Andy and Pete while Andy's generally quiet voice yelled over November Spawned a Monster
"Hey, Pete? Joe's got something to tell you."
"No, I don't."
"JOE. HE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY."
Pete looked at him. Joe looked at his knees. "What's up, dude?"
"C'mon, man, Andy never lies. What's up?"
Pete scrutinised him for a moment and then sat back in his seat, putting his foot up on the dash. He pursed his lips as if he was thinking, and gave Joe a sidelong glance. Joe ignored it.
It was after Pete came off stage sweaty and buzzing and jumped on Joe's back, yelling in his ear, "Dude, we're going outside," that Joe finally found out what the look on Pete's face had meant. He shrugged at Patrick, who had stood beside him all night without really ever saying anything, and headed for the door, shrugging Pete off his back as he went.
"What?" he asked, stopping by a group of kids sitting on the steps outside, but Pete just pushed him with both hands and guided him out of earshot. "Pete! Would you, like, tell me what the hell the problem is?"
"Well, that's kind of why we're out here, dude," Pete declared, apparently having decided they were far enough away from listening ears to explain. He grimaced a little, as if deciding what to say and finally settled on, "So, I totally understand and that's like, cool or whatever, but. You know nothing's gonna happen, right?"
Joe blinked at him, his guts turning to ice. Hurley, you fucker, I am going to tear off your fucking anarchist vegan fucking head
"I mean, it's probably just a phase and you'll grow out of it, kind of, so... We're going to look back at this in a year's time, or whatever, and it'll be the funniest fucking thing ever." Pete slapped him on the shoulder companionably, adding, "Dude. Seriously, don't look so weirded out, I told you I'm cool with it. I won't, like, think of you differently."
Pete's eyebrows jerked disbelievingly. "Okay, if you want to pretend or something, I get it. We never had this conversation, ever." He wrapped an arm around Joe's shoulders and turned him back as if to head back inside, "But for what it's worth, it makes a change from all the chicks, y'know?"
Joe shrugged his arm off. He knew Pete could be a little single-minded, but seriously. "You asshole
"Oh, c'mon, dude – I'm not trying to hurt you or whatever, I'm flattered
, I just don't, like... think of you that way."
Suddenly, Joe understood and he would have laughed if it wasn't all so horrifically embarrassing. "You...? You think I have a crush on you."
Pete laughed uncertainly, looking confused. "Well, I mean..."
"Dude, you think I have a crush on you
Pete had the decency to look abashed, "You don't?"
"Oh, yeah, Pete, I'm just desperate to get into your pants, man," Joe deadpanned, not entirely sure if it was arrogance or obliviousness that had led to this ridiculous assumption.
"Joe, Pete!" Patrick's voice called from the door of the venue. "Andy's looking for you – are you coming back inside?"
They both looked over at him for a moment and Pete waved. "Yeah, we'll be right there..." Then he turned back to Joe, but Joe was already heading back across the parking lot, praying that the last five minutes had happened in a parallel universe.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don't take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene
-- Dolly Parton, Jolene
(Currently my profile tune on MySpace
for those who are unfamiliar.)