The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [8/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: alfirin_kirinkiBetas: satsuma_grove
R at absolute max (over all).Pairing:
c.5,500 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...
There's been another huge delay between chapters, again, I know – I hope the fic posted in the meantime made up for it!There is minor violence in this chapter
- you have been warned.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 BackThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Eight: The Battle's Only Halfway Done
"It's just a matter of time until we're all found out."
Walking into homeroom on the first day back at school was weird. In a way, he didn't feel like the same Joe who left for the holidays, back in June. And it wasn't just because he was dating someone, now, or that the person he was dating just so happened to be a dude. It was kind of everything. He actually felt older. Almost a little too old
to be here. He might not have been the most popular kid in the school, never really gone to the other kids' parties too much (he was too busy stalking the guys on the Hardcore scene), but he felt like he'd lived more in the last three or four months than anyone else.
How many of them had been on tour, come out, started a band and fallen in love? Just Joe, then? Right. And he hadn't actually told anyone
he thought he was probably in love with Patrick, least of all Patrick himself. Because honestly? He knew it would sound totally stupid out loud and Joe was pretty sure he sounded stupid enough already.
He dropped into the seat beside Luke and lolled his head over to look at him. "'Sup, dude?"
Luke drummed his pen on the table and paused before looking back at him, sidelong. "Do I know you
"Your face looks kind of familiar, but... OH WAIT. You're supposed to be my best friend! Hi! How have you been in the last oh, two or three months
Joe just blinked. It hadn't even occurred to him that he hadn't spoken to – let alone seen
– Luke since they finished the spring semester. "Dude – it's not like you called me!"
"I didn't? Not even those messages I left with your mom and your little brother all in the first couple of weeks?"
"Yeah. I did. Oh, and I hear you went on tour with those Arma dudes – but only because my sister's friend has a cousin who is fucking the singer, man. That's real nice."
"Dude... I didn't... I didn't even think
about it, dude." Oh man, because that sounds so much better.
"Nice. Cool." Luke gathered his bag and shoved his pen into the pocket. "I'm gonna just go and sit right over there. Have a nice life."
Joe just sighed and kicked the leg of the chair in front of him. Luke made a point of sitting with Alec all day – it was like they were in fucking elementary school. Joe just couldn't wait for the year to be over.
He met Patrick at work, that evening. He made his way up to the top floor, where the music section was located, and surprised him by creeping up behind him and pinching his ribs so he squawked loudly. Joe snickered for the first time all day.
Patrick looked around, tugged him closer to the shelves so they were out of line of the CCTV and kissed him on the cheek. "What's the matter?"
"You look pissed, dude."
Joe curled his lip a little and shrugged. "School fucking sucks, man."
"And this is news?"
"No, but now Luke's kind of like being a dick..."
"What happened?" Patrick was starting to look worried. He still had the rainbow and hearts stuck to his name tag.
"I kind of forgot him all summer, dude... can't like, blame him or anything. I'd be kind of pissed."
"You've been busy..."
"Yeah, but before we started... y'know... I used to see him all the time."
"So... spend more time with him, maybe?"
"He's pissed at me now..."
"So apologise? Bring him to the DePaul show or something."
"Kind of hard when he's not talking to me."
Patrick sighed and gave him a subtle squeeze with one arm. "Look, I have to get this finished – you want to hang around and I'll take you for juice or cheesecake or something at the JHC, after?"
Joe pouted and nodded. "You rule."
"I know. I also work, so, y'know: working now. SHOO." He shoved Joe gently in the direction of the CDs, jokingly muttering, "Needy bitch."
The prospect of hanging out with his boyfriend was naturally cheering; someone still cared, clearly. And spending twenty minutes browsing the music section wasn't exactly a hardship. He was vaguely aware of Patrick across the store, talking to one of the girls, but when he looked up again to find Patrick heading over to him, the girl in tow, he felt himself begin to blush straight away. Patrick had a very self-satisfied look on his face.
"What?" he asked suspiciously, as they neared him, and put down the Joy Division book he was thumbing through.
him?" the girl asked, looking surprised.
Patrick bit his lip and grinned, putting his arm around Joe's waist while Joe turned slightly red. "This is Joe."
"JOE?! Like, your
"Well, I kind of hope so, otherwise I'm about to get into a whole bunch of trouble..."
"But his hair's different!"
Joe smiled a little bit, rubbing his recently shaved head and feeling like a particularly weird looking fish he'd once seen on a school trip to the aquarium.
"She thinks you're cute
," Patrick told him in a stage whisper.
"What's a blind person doing like, working in a bookstore?"
"Oh my God, your voice
!" the girl, 'Lizzie' according to the badge on her shirt, squealed at him. Joe winced. That was one of the things that put him off girls.
"I sound like Kaa from The Jungle Book with a head cold, dude. I know."
"Oh my God, he is so adorable!"
"I know." Patrick looked way smug, which was probably a compliment, if Joe thought about it.
are adorable, man..." he complained anyway, because he'd had a bad day and he felt petulant. "Are you finished, yet?"
"Yeah, I just have to get my shit together. Mark's on closing today, so I can pretty much run. Wait here and I'll be out in a few minutes."
Joe just nodded and expected the girl to wander off, but she stayed, grinning at him with her head cocked to the side.
"Um... I'm not like, gonna steal stuff if you leave me by myself, y'know..."
"You don't kind of... look
Joe looked down at his frayed jeans and shredded Chucks, and his faded Judas Priest t-shirt and wondered if he was supposed to have become some kind of fashion guru on the day he came out. He really hoped not. "Thanks...?"
"I was just expecting someone kind of... gayer."
Joe kind of looked at her and hoped Patrick was going to be really, really quick.
"So, like, where do you go to school?"
"The Seventh Circle of Hell, dude."
She looked at him blankly and he really couldn't be bothered to explain Dante's Inferno right now, so he just muttered, "New Trier."
"Oh my God, really
"Yeah, your God: really."
"My boyfriend goes there!"
Joe's heart skipped three beats; he counted. The last thing he needed this early in the year was to be outed at school. Policy of Tolerance meant shit to 90% of high school kids.
"Yeah... I think he's in your year, if you're in the same as Ricky."
? Your boyfriend?"
"You mean Patrick. His name's Patrick."
"Oh, I know that, but nobody ever calls him
"We do," he corrected coolly. Ricky was a stupid name.
"So, like... you're in the same year?"
Joe nodded wordlessly.
"That's amazing! It's totally such a small world..."Shit... I am like, so, so dead tomorrow.
"What's his name?"
"Bradley Kennedy. He's like - "
"A jock. Like, Tommy Homewood's best friend or something."
"Aww... I guess, yeah. Do you think he's cute
She smiled like she didn't believe him at all. "Oh, okay." She looked over at the staff room door. "I won't tell Ricky."
"Tell him what, that I don't
think your boyfriend is hot? Because like, I seriously don't. No offence, dude, but I don't." He's a boneheaded idiot, basically, I'm just like, way too nice to say that to your face.
"And his name's Patrick."
"He talks about you, like, non-stop, you know."
Joe blushed furiously. "Really?"
"Oh my God, totally
! It's so cute... that picture of you he has in his wallet is just the sweetest thing ever... It's like, he's insanely happy... When I first started here, he was like totally crushing on you. Not that anybody knew that it was you or anything, because, like, you just don't figure it for a guy, you know what I mean? But seriously, one guy was so ready to kick your ass when you blew him out... We wanted to take him out to celebrate and everything, when you got together, but he's edge or whatever you guys call it, so... Carrie is gonna be totally pissed that she missed you."
Suddenly, Joe didn't hate her so much; but he did want to know which picture she was talking about and what happened in this little separate world Patrick seemed to have at work – where he had a different name, different friends and seemed to be the most popular person in the building.
He was glad when Patrick's fingers hooked into his pocket and tugged at him. "C'mon, dude. Let's get cake."
"Cake? Oh my God, are you going to the 'Factory? Can I come with?"No!
Joe looked at him balefully, praying that he wouldn't say 'yes'. He might not hate the girl after all, but he didn't like her that much
"Um. Another time, maybe? Joe's kind of had a sucky day..."Thank God
. Joe was so relieved he actually tugged Patrick's hand out of his pocket and squeezed it. Patrick wouldn't let go.
Raising her eyebrows, Lizzie gave Patrick a significant look, "Oh, really? Then I guess I'll leave you two to your date..." She ducked forward and gave Patrick a hug. "See you tomorrow, hon."
Joe was already dragging Patrick towards the escalator.
"You still feeling crappy?" Patrick asked, leading him toward the crossing outside the store.
"That girl's boyfriend goes to my school, dude. Now I'm like, twice as crappy. She's so gonna like, go home and tell him about this gay dude who goes to his school, or something... now school's gonna suck and
"And we both know you're not into that..."
Joe squished his fingers hard.
"I'm sorry," Patrick chuckled, resting his head on Joe's shoulder for a second while they waited for the 'Walk' signal and holding on tighter when Joe tried to free his hand.
"No, but seriously, dude – what if it was you? Your mom doesn't even know..."
Patrick shrugged and studied his Nikes. "I guess I'd have to get used to the idea."
"Huh?" Joe squeaked. Used to the idea of what?! You kind of have to be pretty used to the idea by now, dude, because you seem pretty used to my hand being in your pants...
"Of my mom finding out."
"What did you think I meant?"
"Nothing, I just, like... I dunno. I just know I'm getting my ass kicked tomorrow."
Patrick stopped dead in the middle of the road. "What?"
"Her dude is like, second in line for the bonehead throne, man. They're all jerks."
"But they're not going to – "
"I dunno... Maybe I'm just being a pessimist or something, dude, but... yeah. I kind of see this all going bad places."
Patrick immediately tugged him back towards the sidewalk they'd just come from. "C'mon."
"Huh? We're s'posed to be going - "
"I'm gonna talk to Lizzie."
"What?! You can't just... dude
. You can't just ask her not to tell him, that's like... That'd be so humiliating..."
"And you're just going to walk into school tomorrow ready to get your face smashed?"
"You tell her not to tell him, she's just like, gonna tell him and then make him promise not to say or do anything about it. It's too late, dude."
He could see the weight of this information sinking on to Patrick's shoulders even as they stood there, holding up traffic. He started cursing colourfully as someone honked at them and dragged Joe across to the opposite side by the wrist.
"Okay. Okay, so..." Patrick was doing some quick thinking, Joe knew it – trying to figure out how they could fix this, when really it was all in Bradley Kennedy's hands and nothing they could do would make much difference, "what if you just deny it?"
"I'm not gonna lie about it, dude!"
"But – "
"No! Not advertising it is one thing, man, but like... I'm not gonna full-on pretend I'm not... that's just fucking lame."
"You'd rather get beat on for it?"
The weird thing was, he actually meant it, and he hadn't even known he'd thought that. He'd been terrified of being found out, of getting queerbashed, for long time. Even before he started dating Patrick; like people would look at him and know, would see what he was. But then, everyone that mattered had been awesome about it. If some dick who barely knew who he was made such a fucking big deal out of it, then... yeah, Joe was probably going to get his nose broken, but he'd be the bigger person.
Patrick just stared at him for a minute, and then glanced around them. "I don't want you to get hurt because of me."
"I won't. I'll get hurt because some asshole is like, paranoid that being in the same room as me is gonna make him gay."
"Don't be a smartass."
Joe just shrugged and looked at his sneakers.
There was silence for a few moments, as people walked by them, not really having any idea what was going on, and then Patrick just stepped closer, hooked his arm around Joe's waist and turned him in the direction of the John Hancock Centre. He didn't even pull away when some drunk outside the church called them faggots, he kissed Joe's shoulder instead and flipped the guy off.
Blushing, Joe realised that he had the best taste in dudes ever
It was kind of late when Joe dropped Patrick home. They sat in the courtyard outside the Cheesecake Factory, poking at pieces of cake even though their subject of conversation kind of destroyed both their appetites, until it started to get chilly, then headed back to the car. There was something strangely comforting about driving his boyfriend home with the stereo blaring, both singing along to Patrick's mix CD, totally at ease with each other. Joe had looked over at him as they waited at a junction, watched him belt out the chorus to 'Always', and leaned over unable to resist kissing him on the cheek. The song was an in-joke; they'd embarrassed themselves painfully by singing along to it loudly in the van while they waited for Andy to return from the 7-11, without realising three girls were sitting on a bench across the street, practically wetting themselves with laughter.
Patrick turned to grin at him and Joe had a weird feeling that if it wasn't a school night they would have been staying out long past his curfew.
"You feeling better?" Patrick asked, pulling back slightly from a lingering kiss as they sat parked across the street from his house. His hand was still on the back of Joe's head, stroking comfortingly.
"Guess so," Joe shrugged, pulling him back in for another kiss, because that was way more enjoyable than talking about school and who may or may not try to break his face in the next couple of days.
Patrick wasn't letting him get away with it, though. "Will you call me, tomorrow? Right after you get home?"
"If you want."
"Dude. I want. And I'm serious. I want to know you're okay."
"I'll probably be like... y'know... fine."
"I don't care. Call me."
"You don't care? Dude. Last time I give you a ride."
"Shut up, Joe, I'm serious." He was frowning and indignant and Joe really kind of wanted to drag him out of his seat into his lap, but if anyone was going to be peering out of the window and waiting for their son to come home, it was Patrick's mom.
Instead, he rubbed Patrick's leg affectionately and just nodded, "I know, dude. That's why you're so awesome."
"I wish I wasn't on lates tomorrow," Patrick grumbled back, copying – although his hand didn't just stay on Joe's leg. Which was kind of weird and slightly embarrassing in a suburban street at close to eleven on a school night.
Joe swallowed, and his voice came out in a half-whisper. "Me too." He had a strange feeling that this wasn't about shifts at all.
"Well... it's just like... we have like eight months or something and then it'll all be over anyway. We won't have to worry about school or anything."
"Yeah..." Except then we have college and I don't even know where you applied to and I basically like, don't want to know because I know you're gonna say kind of like the other side of the country or something.
"Um... I still have to drive home, dude," he added, pointedly looking down at Patrick's hand.
Patrick just laughed and kissed him quickly before reaching for the door. "Call me," he ordered.
Joe just smiled and started the ignition.
He sat in the student parking lot for several long minutes before making his way inside. It felt like every person who passed him was staring, even when they were deep in conversation and paying him no attention at all. All he could think of was how much he wanted to go home. He didn't want to suddenly become the focus of the school – he blended in, he wasn't the kind of kid who stood out and he liked it that way. He had friends in the AV Club and in theory he had Luke, if Luke would even talk to him, now. And that was another thing – he didn't want Luke to find out about Patrick through everyone else gossiping. They'd been friends for years, he deserved to hear it straight.
If they were still going to be friends by the end of the week (hell, the end of the day
would be an accomplishment) he was going to have to do some damage control.
He opened the door and jumped out as he saw Luke making his way down the sidewalk toward the school. "Hey! Luke, dude, wait up!"
Luke stopped where he was and reluctantly turned toward him, adjusting his rucksack impatiently.
"Hey," Joe said again, catching up with him. "You got a minute?"
"I had three months if only you'd caught me a while ago," Luke snorted.
"Yeah, look... it's like... it's kind of about that, dude."
Luke didn't do anything but stare at him expectantly, but there were far too many people walking past for Joe to just say it out loud right there and then. It'd definitely end up all over school if he did that.
"After homeroom, what's your first class?"
"English... right. Can you skip it?"
"You want me to cut class, now? You ignore me all summer, and now you want me to cut class? Are you fucking serious?"
"I need to tell you something. It's like... pretty important."
For a minute, there was silence, then, "Okay. But you seriously better have a fucking amazing excuse, dude."
Later, sitting in the back corner of the library, Joe did his best to break the news gently. This was actually harder than telling his grandparents, because his mom had his back, then, and grandparents were much more easily swayed by good manners and a sweet face. Luke was a basically decent dude, though. Joe thought there was a good chance that he'd be cool with it, at least after he got used to the idea.
"So... okay, you going to actually tell me? Because I'm only cutting one class, so you have like forty five minutes to stop mumbling, man."
"Uh. Yeah, dude, totally... it's just like... y'know: kind of complicated."
"Okay." He took a deep breath. "Okay... so there's like, a really long story behind all this, but basically, I kind of got caught up spending all my time with somebody else."
"That Wentz asshole?"
"Ye – no. No, dude. Not Pete."
Joe rubbed his forehead with his wrist. "You remember, like... way back last semester we went to Borders and I started talking to that dude who worked there?"
"That weird kid?"
"He's not weird!"
Luke raised his eyebrows and folded his arms. "Touchy."
"So, what, you've been hanging out with him. Because he's into the same weird-ass music as you?"
Sighing, Joe shook his head. "We're in a band, dude."
"Nice. What're you called, How To Abandon Your Friends To Hang Out With Cooler Dudes?"
"Wouldn't fit on the flyers."
There was silence.
"Listen, man... this is really kind of complicated. I don't know if you're gonna like, kick off about it or what... I just wanted to be the one to say something before you hear it from everybody else..."
The expression on Luke's face slipped from irritated to apprehensive. "Hear what?"
Joe cleared his throat and scratched at the table. Now he was here, he wasn't sure if he could say it. "I, um..."
"Fuck. Look, Patrick, he's like... he's not my friend. Well, I mean, he is. But like... he's not."
It was kind of alarming to see Luke's eyes creep wider and wider in realisation. They almost looked like they were going to fall out. "You're boning him
, aren't you?!"
"No! Well. Yeah... kind of. It's like... that's the general theme, basically."
"Holy shit. Holy shit
."Please don't be the only person to be pissed about this, dude. Pleasepleaseplease.
"How can you be gay? We talked about girls!"
"Well... yeah. Like, hypothetically. And it was mostly you talking."
"Shit. That's fucked up."
Joe's heart sank; he sucked his lip and scratched more intently at the table. So that was how it was going to be...
"So fucked up, dude... how did I not fucking notice this?"
Joe just looked up at him. He shrugged.
"Why didn't you just tell me, man? And what the fuck is this about gossip? Does somebody know?"
"Patrick works with a girl who's dating Bradley Kennedy. I met her last night. I'm pretty sure she's gonna have told him by now, man. And like, he's not gonna want to be my new best friend or whatever..."
"Kennedy's a dick. So is that Homewood asshole."
All Joe could do was nod. Maybe Luke wasn't going to hate him after all.
"You should have told me, man."
"You're a dick, you know that?"
"Look who's talking."
Luke just smirked and kicked him hard under the table. "You gonna let me meet him?"
"And he didn't freak out?" Patrick asked, and Joe could hear that he was smiling.
"No, he was really cool
. It was like... he was pretty awesome."
"You gonna dump me for him, now?"
Joe laughed indulgently at Patrick's chuckles. "Nope."
"Good, 'cause even if that Bradley dude doesn't kick your ass for it, I will." There was a pause and then Patrick added, "I'm glad nobody hurt you..."
"Not as glad as I am, dude!"
"I'm serious. I was kind of... y'know: freaking out a little bit in class. I almost ended up with detention for not listening."
"Aw. That's like... that's really sweet, dude."
Patrick's voice was soft as he said, "Well, I really care about you."
Joe could barely hear the little rasp of a laugh on the other end of the line over the throbbing in his ears. His heart was racing and his smile was kind of making his face hurt. He didn't even bitch at Sam when he stopped at the top of the stairs, running between the bathroom and his bedroom and made kissy noises.
"Shit – Joe, I have to go. My mom's yelling at me. She wants to call auntie Susan."
"I'll see you at practice tomorrow, right?"
"Yeah. No – wait. No, tomorrow is one of Andy's shows... I don't even remember which one. I just know it's uptown."
"Oh – damn, yeah. Okay. Well, I'll see you there, right?"
"I can pick you up."
"Okay. I have to go."
"Okay, see ya, dude."
But then again, the best laid plans of mice and Joe Trohman generally went all to hell.
From the moment he walked into school the next day, Joe knew that he wasn't being paranoid: people really were staring. He was almost at his locker when he caught the first whisper.
He swallowed, but kept on walking, even though he was starting to panic. He'd been lulled into a false sense of security by Luke's reaction and the fact that no one had really known the day before.
The note on Joe's locker, concisely labelling him, "HOMO!" was something of a wake up call. What happened before his final class was even worse.
Sitting in the hall outside the Principle's office, a wad of tissue pressed to his nose, Bradley Kennedy sulking in a chair four seats down, Joe had never been more glad to see Pete in his life.
"What the fuck happened to you, or whatever, dude?"
Joe just glanced down the hall towards the other student, and stood up, dragging his bag with him. "Doesn't matter."
But Pete was already looking across at Bradley, eyes narrowed.
Finally, Pete turned and put his arm around Joe's shoulders and guided him toward the school reception to sign him out and on toward the parking lot.
"I got into a fight. It's no big deal."
"It is when it's you, kind of. You're not the kind of dude who fights."
"Yeah, well... you don't get like, outed to the whole school every day, dude."
"You're fucking dicking with me!"
"Yeah, dude," Joe shrugged, gesturing to his face, "I'm fucking dicking with you. That's why I have a black eye and a bloody nose and this fucking lump from one of the radiators on the back of my head. I'm totally dicking with you."
"It was that dick sitting in the hall, wasn't it?"
Joe sniffed and dabbed at his nose again. "His girlfriend like, works with Patrick. She told him she met me and that I was dating him... He basically like, made sure everybody knew, dude. I got pissed off and told him where to like, stick his fucking notes and we got into a fight. It's not like he beat the crap out of me just because I'm gay or anything..."
"Like hell he fucking didn't," Pete snapped, unlocking the door to his mom's car and holding it open for Joe to get inside. He carried on as soon as he'd walked around to the driver's side and got in himself. "Bet that fuck was just looking for a fucking excuse, kind of."
"I threw the first punch!"
"Yeah, and I bet that asshole could snap you like a twig, dude! He's twice your fucking size!"
"Yeah, thanks, dude. I kind of like noticed that."
Pete just shook his head and slammed the car into reverse.
Andy took one look at Joe as he walked into the venue and crumpled the bag of chips in his hand. "Who did that?"
"Some fucking closet case in his school, kind of," Pete informed him darkly.
Joe just dropped his head on folded arms against the wall.
"You got queerbashed?!"
"No, I got in a fight
"Same fucking thing!"
"Dude, seriously – no more lectures. Please."
Chris walked in, then, an amp in his arms. He almost dropped it when he saw Joe's face. "Holy fuck."
"Don't even say it, dude. Seriously."
Andy shook his head and slammed open the door into the main bar, returning a couple of minutes later with a bar towel filled with ice. He shoved it into Joe's hand, clearly too livid to say anything more.
"I'm like, hanging out in the cafeteria on campus, and his tutor calls my cell, saying his parents aren't available and he asked for me because he'd been in a fight or whatever. I get there, and he looks like this."
"Where are your mom and dad?" Chris demanded.
"Dad's at work, mom's at home," Joe admitted. I just don't want mom freaking out and stuff.
"I have to pick up Patrick."
"Yeah, sure, because your car's at school and you have fucking concussion from nearly braining yourself on a radiator, kind of. I'll go get Patrick. You stay here. Jesus..."
Pete was gone before Joe could say anything else.
Joe saw Patrick run in through the stage door from the van, where they'd made him sit and rest until the show started. He was already moving to get out of the vehicle when Patrick reappeared. He stopped dead in front of the van and looked up at Joe through the windshield. Pete had clearly told him what had happened.
"Hey..." Joe mumbled, pushing the door open for him to climb inside.
"I'm going to fucking kill that asshole!"
"Dude, it's not worth it, seriously... I started it."
"What, by being gay?!"
"No, by like, punching him in the mouth."
"Let me see." He was already tugging what was left of the icepack from Joe's face. He looked at it for a minute, grimacing, and then just said, "Pete made it sound worse."
"Like that surprises me, dude. He's such a drama queen."
"I just... I can't even believe this happened. I can't."
"My face can, right now."
Patrick gave him a tender smile and kissed his cheek just below the bruises. "You want me to take you home?"
"We can get a taxi or something – don't care... I'll stick around... kiss it better, if you want..."
Joe shook his head, "I don't just wanna like... give in, y'know? I don't want this to ruin my night. Or yours, dude."
For a moment, Patrick frowned a little bit, worrying his lip like he wanted to say something. Just as Joe was about to ask him what, he nodded, "Okay. Whatever you want..." and tucked his arm around him, nuzzling into his shoulder and fiddling with his hand, looking at the bruises along his knuckles.
, dude. I'm not gonna like, break or anything..."
"Can I at least coddle you for tonight? Seriously."
"So long as I don't have to call you 'mom'."
"Yeah. Not really my bag, so much..." Patrick smiled, leaning up to kiss him but bumping his nose slightly.
"Sorry, dude! Sorry, sorry, sorry..."
Joe just kissed him. He was still kissing him when the door was yanked open, and Charlie looked at them for a moment, mumbled, "Deja fucking vu!" and slammed it again. There was a pause and the door reopened. "What the fuck happened to your face?"
Standing in the school parking lot, looking at the letters scored into the paintwork on the hood of his car – the car he'd only had a few days – Joe kind of wished he was on his own. Patrick was going to drive him home, then Andy and the guys were going to drop him off at is own house. He'd be late for curfew, but he insisted his mom would understand, if he explained more or less what happened to his 'best friend'.
But there was no way anyone was going to be able to drive a car with four slashed tyres. He didn't want to put Patrick through the humiliation of driving a car with 'FAG' across the hood, either. He just swallowed and rubbed at his nose when Patrick's fingers slipped through his and held on tightly, but careful not to crush his bruised knuckles.
"He's going to get payback," he said, sounding unnervingly calm and leaning against him comfortingly.
Joe just sighed heavily, and nudged him back toward the van, wondering what he was going to say to his parents.