The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [4/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: alfirin_kirinkiBetas: fayemeadows
R at absolute max (over all).Pairing:
c.4, 200 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...
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 Out World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Four: No Less Defeated
"Because they've got me in a bad way..."
"I just hate drama, dude."
"You also hate chicken nuggets, but only because we forced you to eat them."
"Drama is not chicken nuggets."
"No," Patrick mused, settling back into the sofa with his coffee, "I've been told it's llama."
Being home was weird. They had a show the same night they arrived, so there was barely time to head back to his parents' and shower and eat before he was heading back out to the venue for soundcheck.
He was the first one there, except for the little strawberry-blond dude kicking his heels against the wall and drumming along on his knees to whatever was playing on his over-sized headphones. He leapt up and wrenched them off the moment he saw Joe approaching, his smile lighting up like a halogen bulb.
"Hi," Patrick said, looking up at him so happily Joe's gut clenched with regret, "How was it?"
"Um... Cool..." Joe nodded awkwardly, scratching at his hair and then shoving his hands as deep into his pockets as possible. "You're like... pretty early, dude."
"Oh. Um. Yeah, I know... I had some time, so I figured I'd y'know, come by, welcome you guys back... see if I could help out..."
"Is Pete here?"
Patrick shook his head; "Not that I saw."
"Joe?" Patrick had a concerned look on his face, his nose creased and his mismatched eyebrows slightly peaked in the middle. "What's up, dude? You seem kind of... out of it."
"Nothing... I'm cool." I just want to like, hug you or something, but I can't because that would be a) weird, b) totally inappropriate and c) risking a fucking kicking, now. And... and you're fucking
straight dude. I almost started to believe you liked me, and you're – you're...
"I have to get inside. I'll speak to you later."
He left Patrick standing on the sidewalk, heaving his guitar case on to his shoulder and not looking back. He'd never really
had the nerve to believe otherwise, but now that he knew the contrary it was just painful to think about; Patrick wasn't interested. Not at all. He probably only hung out with Joe because of Pete. Or at least before he and Pete started their little secret club. Well, okay, maybe that was the self-pity talking, but he felt he had a right to that, at least.What the fuck ever, like, made you think anything different, dude? You got a themed burger and walked him home. He didn't ask you to. He didn't even hug you back.
He didn't see Patrick again until he walked in with Timothy, who yelled, "Hey, Duck Hunt: you lost something!" and disappeared into the back room, leaving Joe still on the stage, tuning up, and Patrick standing near the rear of the venue. He didn't approach; he just remained there, hands in the pockets of his denim jacket, his head slightly bowed.
Part of Joe felt guilty; Patrick hadn't technically done anything wrong. He couldn't help his sexual preference. And yet, at the same time, he felt a little betrayed; led on by the looks and the touches and phoning him at one in the fucking morning.
"What did Pete say to you, dude?" Patrick asked, suddenly leaning against the front of the stage, sounding as though he dreaded the answer.
"What makes you think he said anything?" Joe countered, stepping on his pedal slightly harder than was necessary; mad at himself for being so gullible.
"You didn't exactly have time to speak to anyone else, did you?"
"Dude, I don't know what I've done, but I am real
sorry, okay? I haven't seen you in two weeks and now you're like... I dunno. Really pissed off."
Joe shrugged and refused to look at him. He knew he must seem childish, but the more Patrick stood there, acting wounded, the more he wanted to demand to know what he had to be so upset about.
"Y'know. This is... this started after you left. 'Cause, between that first night and when I called you again, you stopped wanting to talk to me. Are you even going to give me the chance to make it up to you, dude? Because I can't do that if I don't know what I did."
"Who says it's even about something you did?" Joe shrugged again, putting down his guitar and jumping off the front of the stage to pull a new cable out of his bag, tired with the fuzzy crackling from the one he was using. It would probably give out mid-show, anyway.
"What, so it's something I didn't
"Could we just, like, drop it
, dude?" Now you sound like an asshole. Way to go.
"What? No! I just... Wait. Wait, dude, is this about, y'know. About Chris calling you my girlfriend or something? Did they give you shit for that? Because that is totally not my fault
and I resent being held responsible."
Joe busied himself with bunny-hopping back on to the stage; "Don't worry about it, man. We all know how straight
you are, anyway."
Patrick's face drained of colour.
Joe tightened his top E so hard it broke.
"Straight?" Patrick backed away from the stage and turned half away from him, hands firmly in his jacket pockets. "Who decided that?" he asked, in the exact same overly-casual tone he'd used when asking Joe if he wanted to get dinner, that one time.
"Does it matter? It's, like, the truth, right?"
"I guess it must be, if that's what people are saying."
Joe looked up from where he was kneeling on the floor, changing the string. "What?"
"Oh, I'm just kind of confused how people 'know' enough to say that when I haven't even – " he broke off in frustration. "Listen, it's not that simple, okay?"
"How is it not that simple?" Joe demanded, but his heart was racing, hope starting to seep through just a little. He crushed it as best he could. He'd already made his decision in the van a week ago. "You told Pete about that chick."
"Well – yeah, but – "
"Then how is it not that simple, dude? You either like chicks or you don't."
"Oh, sure – and if you like red, you have to hate green."
"Huh?" It was around this point that Joe realised he was flailing out of his depth and in grave danger of humiliating himself in a way he had thought he would be able to avoid.
Patrick moved back to the stage and leaned on it heavily, looking up at him. "Joe, I don't know right now, okay? Until a few months ago, I thought I did, and then..." He stopped and rubbed his forehead as the main door swung open noisily and the manager walked through lugging a crate of bottles. "This is totally the worst place to have this conversation."
"Can we, kind of, talk about this later? Somewhere else?"
Joe shrugged again, his mouth suddenly dry.
"Whatever, man. Like, if you want, then whatever."
"Cool." Patrick sighed heavily, clearly relieved. "I'm going to, y'know, go wait outside. See you later?"
"Not if I see you first."
Joe didn't see Patrick first; he did see him standing to one side of the room before their set, yelling at Pete, but the second support were so loud Joe couldn't figure out what he was saying. All he knew was that Patrick looked severely pissed and Pete looked totally thunderstruck. Their set that night was tense; people kept fucking up. Pete eventually got so wound up he smashed his mic into its component parts and they finished two songs early.
Patrick accosted him the moment he stepped out of the dressing room, grabbing his arm and pulling him aside. Pete, following behind Joe, took one look at them and headed for the bar.
"We need to talk, now," Patrick informed him, his eyes following Pete's retreating form.
"Dude, you said we could talk later. Now is later."
Joe sighed and rubbed his eye with the heel of his palm; he was already tired and he couldn't face arguments and more drama than he had already dealt with, today. "I think I'm basically just gonna, like, call my dad and have him come pick me up..."
"I'll wait outside with you. We can talk there." As persistent as Patrick was, his voice was beginning to develop a slightly desperate edge and Joe couldn't bring himself to say no.
Joe quickly gathered his things while Patrick stood in the doorway, drumming his hands tensely, and then called home from the payphone in the entryway, forced to almost yell over the morons squealing and giggling and generally being obnoxious.
They had fifteen minutes.
Instead of heading out to sit on the wall, as Joe had expected, Patrick set off in the opposite direction, toward the back of the building, an area normally frequented by unfussy couples and dudes who thought the smell of burning marijuana wouldn't carry on the first waft of a breeze. It was oddly deserted tonight; one pair of guys drinking from a bottle in a paper bag, down by the chained-up fire escape, but no one else. Patrick led Joe toward the opposite end, by the kitchen door of a neighbouring take-out.
"So. Yeah," he began, looking around nervously for listening ears. "Talking."
"So. What Pete said, about me being, y'know. Straight?"
"He kind of. I mean, he sort of... misunderstood
"The thing is, y'know. There was a girl, from school, who I liked. I kind of liked her since we were in fourth grade and she let me use her coloured pencils."Oh man. Why are you telling me this? Why can't you just, like, get to the point so I can go home and listen to the Morrissey CDs Pete made me?
"But... kind of recently, I started paying more attention to other people, and I kind of. I basically kind of noticed that I wasn't always paying attention to girls."
Joe felt a small burst of triumph in his chest before a small voice at the back of his mind reminded him that he had about twenty seconds before Patrick announced that he had a crush on Pete.
"This is like, huge. The hugest thing since I realised I was never going to have a miracle growth spurt that made me six feet tall or something. Because, I mean – I always assumed I was normal like that. I always assumed I was into girls and I was going to grow up and settle down and have kids and... whatever. And I mean, I did try
to say this to you in that diner, but you just weren't hearing me, dude. Or you were pretending I wasn't saying it, I guess. I don't even know. But – "
Joe watched intently as Patrick's hands flapped around nervously and he jabbered on without any apparent plan to reach a conclusion. "Dude, are you okay?"
"I'm fine! I just..." He scrubbed a hand over his face in frustration, "I really
like you, dude, and I thought we were cool and kind of going somewhere, but now you're acting like I've done something heinously wrong but I don't even know what it is."
There was a lengthy silence as Joe tried to process this sudden revelation and decide if it meant what he wanted it to mean, or whether Patrick was just really good at saying totally misleading things.
"Joe? Oh man – don't be weird about this. Please, don't be weird about this. It doesn't need to change anything, I mean – pretend I never said it if it makes you feel bad." The rising panic in Patrick's voice was palpable; however he expected Joe to respond, it wasn't well.
"But... you spend like, all your time with Pete
, dude. As soon as you met him you didn't want to hang out with me any more, because you had him and I totally get that, because he's way cooler than I'll ever be, but seriously. What the fuck? If – if this isn't basically some really fucking messed up joke he's getting you to pull, why would you even do that?"
"You stopped asking me to!"
"I stopped because I knew you'd be all like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I'm kissing Pete's ass again, tonight'. What was the point
in asking? You were never gonna be like, interested in me with that guy around..."
Patrick opened his mouth to respond, and stopped. "What?" he asked uncertainly. "I mean - ? I mean... I kind of... I kind of figured we were almost, sort of... dating. Almost. And like, you knew
"How can we be dating? I like, never see you, practically!"
"I said 'almost'! Like, it was just a matter of time... Does this even matter?" Patrick demanded, suddenly grabbing Joe's wrists to make him focus. "The main thing is, we're... I mean. Y'know. This is... mutual."
"Well... I guess, but... dude. I can't, like... I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one and it would suck so bad if he hated me for it if we, like, maybe did something about it."
"He looks out for me, dude. I can't just... I realised this like, on the tour. He pretty much wants to have your babies, man, and don't think I could like, forgive myself or something."
"That is the most fucking ridiculous thing I ever heard, dude! Pete does not have a crush on me."
"It's pretty obvious he does."
"But... okay, so say he does, hypothetically. Does what I want matter? I mean, Pete's cool, and I guess he's kind of attractive, but... I like you
, dude. I just told Pete
that, right before your set. He knows I'm not into him."
Joe looked at his sneakers and shook his head helplessly.
"Oh, come on, dude. Do you seriously think Pete would do the same for you?"
To be perfectly honest, no, Joe didn't. But he had his own moral code and it wasn't based on 'What Would Peter Do?'.
"Joe?" Patrick said softly, his hands dropping down from Joe's wrists to clasp his hands, starting to sound like he was begging. "You're the first dude I really wanted
to date and not just like, thought was hot, and you can't blow me out right after saying you feel the same. Seriously."
Somewhere close to the front of the building, a car horn sounded.
"That's probably my dad. I have to go." He tugged his hands free and picked up his amp. "I'll see you at practise, Wednesday."
It was difficult to make a quick exit with a show-size amp, but he damn well tried. Every single inch of his insides felt like it was tied in knots and he kind of wanted to throw up and cry at the same time, especially when the sound of a trashcan being kicked seven ways to Sunday rang out behind him. To add insult to injury, as he passed the side of the building he was met with Pete and a girl Joe knew for a fact was in the year below him at school, making out like they were auditioning for a porn movie.He would never turn someone down for you.
And that was the real kicker: Joe knew it only too well.
Late on Wednesday afternoon Joe was sitting on his bed, knees pulled up to his chest, the wistful strains of That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
keeping him company, when there was a soft rapping on the door. He didn't even have time to tell whomever it was to go away, before Andy was closing the door carefully and kicking of his sneakers to sit down beside him.
"Your mom said you're crying off practice today."
"So, okay, why are you listening to Pete's 'Just Got Dumped' compilation?"
All in all, Joe felt kind of lame. He'd put himself in this position, after all.
"What happened, Joe?" Andy asked, bumping his shoulder into Joe's, lightly. "I'm guessing it's Patrick-related, so, do you want to start there?"
"He, um," Joe began, clearing his throat. He hadn't spoken to anyone all afternoon, dreading the thought of being in the same room as both Patrick and Pete. "Turns out, he liked me all along."
"Seriously?" Andy nearly giggled, sounding pleased. "That's awesome, Joe!"
Joe shook his head. "Pete would like, never forgive me, dude."
"Pete? Pete isn't dating him. Patrick's a free agent and he can see who he wants. If Pete hasn't made a move, then he has no right to care."
"That wouldn't stop him, dude. And it's like... when I thought he was coming between Patrick and me I hated him for it. I don't want him to hate me."
"Joe, Pete is going to get over it within a week. Besides, he's seeing that girl now, I guess."
"The one from last night?"
"I don't know. Some girl who's way too young for him. He hooked up with her before the tour, and he came right back and did it again, so by his standards... He'll be telling us he thinks he'll marry her or something soon. And seriously, Joe, we have never, ever had it confirmed that he's sleeping with the guys."
Joe looked at him doubtfully.
"Having a dude's hands down his pants in the back of the van is like, way more proof than I need."
Andy snickered. "So, are you gonna come to practice, or what? We can't really do it without you."
Sighing, Joe shook his head. "I'm just like, gonna stay here. Tell the guys I'm sick or something."
The next evening, around seven thirty, there was another knock on his door. Joe sat up and called out that he still wasn't hungry, and was met with a confused-looking pair of bluish eyes, blinking at him.
"Um. I didn't bring food."
Joe turned instantly red, and fumbled for his stereo remote in order to switch off the CD he was still listening to and save any credibility he may still have.
"I thought you were my mom."
"Sorry... She just told me to come up, so..."
Joe was suddenly very glad that he was too miserable to be doing something more private than staring at the ceiling.
"Andy said you were sick," Patrick told him, approaching the bed and holding out a Borders bag of magazines.
"Kind of." Joe took the bag, feeling touched and like a complete douche at the same time. "Thanks. You didn't, like... have to."
"I know I didn't, but I figured I'd need an excuse to get past your mom. Are you contagious?"Is being a fucking self-pitying girl contagious
? "I seriously doubt it..."
"Oh. Okay," Patrick nodded and parked himself on the bed, facing him. "So, um. I have some news." He reached up and pulled back his jacket aside to reveal his name tag, which was freshly adorned with a reflective rainbow sticker and two blue glittery hearts. "I came out at work."
Joe just stared at the stickers for a moment and then looked up at his face to see if he was kidding. There was no hint of a smirk. "Really?"
"Yeah. Carrie kind of... noticed I wasn't my sunny little self and wanted to know what was up. It sort of went from there. People were... surprisingly okay."
"What did you say?"
"I told her the dude I was into blew me out. So, now all the girls hate you and one of the guys offered to kick your ass," he elaborated, seriously. "I told him I figured I could manage."
"Um. Thanks. I kind of don't want my ass kicked by a book nerd."
"He takes kickboxing, dude. But...yeah. Besides you guys, they're the first people I told. I mean, it's not like school, where I have to keep going even if people find out. I could have quit if I needed to..."
"Did you tell your mom?"
"Me either..." Joe admitted, taking a deep breath. His parents were generally pretty tolerant and easygoing, but there had to be a point when they drew the line. "I guess you must be, like, pretty sure about this, if you're telling people..."
"I am," Patrick replied, resolutely. "I wasn't sure, and then I thought about it and, um. And about you, and about Saturday and I just... I know. I'm serious, Joe. I want you to take me seriously."
Joe fixed his gaze on the plastic bag on his lap and smoothed the corners carefully. "You don't need to prove yourself, dude..."
"Well, it kind of feels like it. Oh - speaking of: Pete brought his new girlfriend to rehearsal, last night."
"Yeah, and left after a half hour," Patrick added, playing with the opposite corner of the bag. "I think he was trying to prove a point."
Joe was fairly sure this assumption was correct.
"She was, y'know – really scene. Pretty, I guess. Not me... But I figure, I mean, if he has a new girlfriend you know he's not interested in me..."
Joe shrugged. "I don't know, dude. He changes his mind a lot."
"You could change yours," Patrick pointed out, shifting nearer. "While he's clearly not concerned with what we're doing."
Joe swallowed and chewed his lip, trying to figure out where this was filed in his moral code. Currently, his best bet was 'Cool, If You Don't Mind Things That Will Eventually Blow Up In Your Face'. He decided to shrug noncommittally and avoid his eyes.
"Dude," Patrick demanded, frustrated, "you do actually
like me, right? I didn't misunderstand that..."
"Of course I like you!" Joe replied quickly, alarmed that Patrick would think otherwise. If he didn't understand that by now, Joe clearly had issues with expressing himself; more than any other not-quite-seventeen-year-old boy. "Why the fuck do you think I spent basically, like, the last year hanging out in a book store?"
"Well, apparently it was so you could blow me out when I worked up the balls to tell you I like you."
"Thanks, man. Good to know my loyalty to my friends is worth something with you."
Patrick shook his head and sighed. "Andy told me you made a mistake."
"I didn't say that."
"No, but he thinks so. He thinks I should, y'know: not take 'no' for an answer." Patrick pointedly reached out and pulled Joe's hand over to clasp it in his lap.
"Was Pete there when he said that?" Joe asked, suddenly feeling horribly embarrassed.
Patrick rolled his eyes, "Yeah, right, Andy's that
insensitive. Dumbass. He just hung out a while after they left. He's... totally awesome. I completely understand why you worship the guy so hard."
"He's like, my hero, pretty much," Joe nodded, looking down at the small, pale hand currently stroking a thumb over his knuckles, mildly thrown by the realisation that there was a dude
holding his hand.
"Then..." Patrick paused and licked his lips before looking up at him, "you should probably take his advice."
Joe was quite sure that if Patrick had just smiled at him, he would have caved in a second, but he hadn't, yet. He seemed too nervous and uncomfortable to smile and that alone made Joe want to cuddle him like an oversized soft toy.
"What if it like, ruins everything, dude?" he asked carefully, shifting his leg so it was pressed against Patrick's knee.
"We won't let it. I mean, we can be adult about it, right?"
"C'mon, dude – let's try. If it doesn't work out, or it causes drama, then... then okay, we'll write it up as a horrible mistake. So long as we can still be friends – and I totally think we can – then, there's nothing lost, right?"
Joe sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. "Well..."
"You totally want to say 'yes'!" Patrick grinned victoriously. "C'mon. C'mon, dude, say 'yes'."
One look at the other boy's infectious smile and Joe was laughing self-consciously and nodding and mumbling, "Okay, okay... yes." And thinking, holy shit, I'm dating someone. I'm dating a
dude and he's totally awesome.
Patrick immediately let got of his hand and leaned over to hug him, tucking both arms under Joe's and smushing his face into his shoulder. Shifting his arms around awkwardly for a minute, Joe wondered how he could have possibly forgotten how to hug somebody, and eventually settled for just using one, while the other stroked Patrick's leg in a way that he really hoped wasn't too suggestive.
They seemed to sit that way for hours before Joe worked up the courage to twist as best he could and press his lips to Patrick's cheek. Patrick lifted his head, flushed and smiling and lightly kissed him back; then again, slightly lower down. And then suddenly he didn't look so confident any more, and he was gazing at Joe's mouth intently.
"Go on," Joe whispered, feeling his own cheeks burning. "It's cool. I think we're kind of obliged to make out about now."
Patrick's smile returned for a flicker of a moment before he leaned in and kissed him full on the lips. Joe didn't hesitate to pull him closer and kiss back.