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Damage Report
AK's Fanfic Archive
Fic: The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy...) - Joe/Patrick [15/?] 
7th-Dec-2008 09:30 pm
FOB: Patroh
Title: The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [15/?]
Summary: AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.
Author: rosiedoes
Betas: likethepaint & shiny_starlight
Rating: R at absolute max.
Pairing: Joe/Patrick
Words: c. 6,200 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...

CAGOULE!

Disclaimer: Get me a Dolorean and I'll make it real; until then, sadly not true.


Previous Chapters:
Part One: Paperbacks and Sexuality
Part Two: My Heart is On My Sleeve
Part Three: Your Secret's Out
Part Four: No Less Defeated
Part Five: Place Your Hand Between
Part Six: My Badge, My Witness
Part Seven: Knocking Boots in the Back
Part Eight: The Battle's Only Halfway Done
Part Nine: Kiss Safe Thoughts Goodbye
Part Ten: Snitches and Talkers
Part Eleven: My Reputation's on The Line
Part Twelve: Things I'll Never Finish
Part Thirteen: Thank Your Lucky Stars
Part Fourteen: Stop Making Plans, Start Making Sense






The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)
Part Fifteen: Our Hearts Are Leaving Home

"These are the trials of our youth."




"Are you sure you're both going to be okay if we leave? There's nothing you've forgotten or you're not sure about, is there, sweetie?"

Joe grimaced as his mom squeezed his face affectionately, gazing at him with sentimental motherliness that he really didn't need, right now, because he might actually cry. "No, I think we're fine."

"Cathie, they can call if they need anything. You've taken them through every feasible disaster, woman, if they can't work things out for themselves now, then they really are doomed."

"Thanks, Dad," Joe muttered, trying to duck out from under the hand ruffling at his curls and tucking himself partially behind Patrick for protection.

"You boys take care of yourselves, you hear? I don't want to see on the evening news tomorrow that you've gone and blown the place up."

"It's fine, Mr T, I won't let him near the oven without supervising," Patrick grinned, putting his hands behind his back to catch Joe's fingers and wrap them in his.

"When is Peter moving in, did you say?"

"Friday. So, like, six days or something..."

"Fine. Well, I want you to take this – " Joe's father held out a small square of folded bills " – and keep it somewhere safe for emergencies. There's two hundred dollars right there, and an extra twenty for you kids to get yourself some take out or something when Peter moves in. Okay?"

"Dude!" Joe breathed, tugging his hands free and moving to give his dad a hug. "Thank you."

"Well, it's coming out of your inheritance..." his father joked, wrapping his arms around him in a tight bear hug. For a moment, Joe almost wanted to say, 'I can't do this, Dad, I want to come home,' but he didn't. It was scary, yeah, and seeing his mom doing her best not to break down in tears at her little boy moving out was kind of upsetting – but at the same time, this was it; this was being an adult and this was finally getting what he wanted: to live with his boyfriend and do his own thing. He may only have turned eighteen two weeks earlier, but he was definitely starting to feel like a grown up.

"Honey, we should go – we still need to collect Sam."

"True, true," Joe's father nodded with a sigh, letting him go.

"Bye, Mom," Joe mumbled into his mother's sweater, realising with a peculiar clarity that he was looking down on her; he was taller than her, now, and he must have been for at least a couple of years, but it had never occurred to him. That was the moment when he really felt grown up. "'Love you..."

"I love you, too, Joey. I love you very much." She rubbed his back soothingly, the way she used to when he was a child and he ran to her crying because he'd skinned his knee. "You call me tomorrow, to let me know how you're both getting along, okay?"

"Sure," Joe nodded, pulling away and smiling as she immediately reached for Patrick, to hug him too.

Patrick's father and stepmother had stopped by earlier and his dad had spent a few hours helping to assemble flat-pack furniture while the women cleaned the place. Joe had met them before, but it was the first time the parents had met each other and they'd gotten on surprisingly well, even sticking around to share some pizza for a late lunch, when they decided to take a break. Patrick's mom was out of town and couldn't be there, and Joe knew how disappointed both she and Patrick had been about that – even if Patrick had insisted on shrugging it off and saying he was fine about it.

He'd spent the weeks after the tour staying at the Trohmans' house, and Joe had loved every minute of it. Even the parts where his mom was trying to educate them seriously on budgeting and housekeeping and made them help with chores and have their own cart at the supermarket so they would actually pay attention to what it was costing them and think about the necessities. She'd tried to teach them to cook, as well, with varying degrees of success. The problem was that what she thought of as a "simple" dish generally made Patrick so muddled and frustrated that he stopped wanting to try. Eventually, he'd stopped altogether and they'd agreed that Joe would just do the cooking if Patrick did the dishes. It was a reasonable trade-off, in Joe's opinion; he liked cooking way better than washing up.

His parents' reaction to their decision to leave home and get a place together had been strangely muted. They'd both seemed unsurprised that they wanted to do so – in fact, Joe was 99% sure they'd already discussed the prospect and agreed how to handle it, because their response was surprisingly cohesive and reasonable; almost to the point of appearing scripted – but they didn't seem to have banked on their choosing to live with Pete, too. Joe saw the look they exchanged and wanted to blurt out, "No – it wasn't my first choice, either, but like... I guess it'll be alright, if he ever gets the concept of like, privacy or something..."

They had all sat together around the kitchen table, and terms were agreed. If Joe agreed to go back into education – just part-time, to learn something vocational at a local community college – they would help with the rent and continue to pay him an allowance, seeing as they would have paid the same for him to attend college out of state, if he'd gone; and then he would have to make up the difference with a part-time job. Considering that Joe had half-expected to have their plans vetoed until he was twenty-one, it was a pretty sweet deal, in his opinion. They'd gone so far as to suggest that maybe they should buy a little apartment as an investment and let the boys live there as tenants, but Patrick wasn't happy about that at all and it had quickly been dropped as a bad idea. He was dead set on doing all of this by himself. He wasn't a trust fund baby like Joe and Pete were; his parents were far from poor, but they couldn't have afforded to pay his rent for him even if he'd been willing to let them. He'd found a job within three days of getting back from the tour – working at a record store in the Uptown area, not far from the Riv, for minimum wage and a lot of hours – and had insisted on giving Joe's parents something for keeping him, each week. Which had been fine until he realised they were paying it straight back into his checking account; after which they'd saved the cash and were keeping it for him in case he needed it.

Patrick did already have some savings – his grandparents had opened an account for each of the kids when they were born, and the family had been putting cash in for birthdays and Christmas ever since. It wasn't a huge amount, but it was enough that he'd been able to manage a deposit on the lease and could keep things ticking over for the time being. Plus, his father had slipped him some cash as a "house-warming gift", which was basically code for, "I want to help you out but I know you're too obstinate to accept it directly."

Joe was just glad that everyone had taken it so well; and that Pete had gone on vacation with his family, so that they actually had most of the first week to themselves. The apartment they'd chosen wasn't exactly huge – they managed to get a double bed in each of the three bedrooms, but Patrick's in particular didn't have a whole lot of floor space after all his stuff was piled into it. They'd already realised they were going to have to sleep in Joe's room that night, because there were boxes and bags of clothes all over Patrick's bed. The living room was a comfortable size, though; and the kitchen was big enough for a table and chairs. The bathroom was functional and clean-looking and as far as Joe was concerned, that was all that mattered. It was in a decent part of town – right in the centre of Roscoe village, a couple of miles from Patrick's work and Joe's college – walking distance if they were feeling particularly energetic – a couple of miles from the lake, and the cool areas like Boystown and Lincoln Park, and local music venues like the Beat Kitchen. All in all, they couldn't have picked a better spot to move to. And the rent wasn't so bad. Joe had convinced Pete that they should have the bigger rooms and pay a little more, so that Patrick didn't have to pay as much for his tiny room – he'd largely only use it to hold his stuff, anyway, because he could sleep in Joe's room most of the time.

Closing the door as his parents made their way down the stairs out of the building, though, was in equal parts exciting and terrifying. This was it. This was living by themselves, now.

Joe took a deep breath and exhaled it heavily, scratching a hand through his hair and giving Patrick a nervous grin. Patrick smiled back and opened his arms for a hug; it was the first moment they'd had all day. They'd been in there since 9am and it was after 9.30 at night, now – they hadn't had a minute to themselves to adjust to the fact that this was their new home at all. Being here, now, on their own was something of a shock to the system.

"You tired?" Joe asked Patrick gently, as he cuddled him tight and yawned against Joe's shoulder.

"Majorly."

"Well, I mean – if you want to just like, get a shower and go to bed, we can..."

"It's kind of early, though, isn't it?"

"Who cares?" Joe shrugged. "It's our apartment."

Laughing, Patrick gave him an extra-tight squeeze and looked up at him. "I can't believe we're here."

"Me either."

"It's like, y'know: we can do anything we want, now. We're actual adults, living in our own place... nobody else's rules..."

"It's kind of cool..."

"And scary."

"Seriously scary... But yeah, I mean, like... I kind of feel like we should be staying up all night and watching TV or something to make the most of it, but I'm way cool with just going to bed... We've got nearly a week without Pete anyway, right?"

"We probably should make the most of it, I guess..."

Joe smirked and turned to flip the lock down on the front door, before shoving Patrick gently toward his bedroom.

"Wait – I thought you wanted a shower, first?"

"Well... yeah... I'm kind of icky from carrying shit up stairs all day, but I guess you can go first, though, if you want..."

"Or..." Patrick prompted, looking at him pointedly and leaving him scrambling for whatever was supposed to come next in that sentence.

"Um...?"

Patrick didn't continue; he just gazed at him from behind his glasses as if Joe was supposed to read his mind or something.

"What?"

"Well, just... there's nobody else here..."

"So?"

"So..." Patrick began, tugging him toward the bathroom door.

Joe blinked at him, staying firmly where he was.

"How are you this dense, Joe?"

"What?"

Sighing resignedly, Patrick dropped his hand and waved in the direction of Joe's room. "Never mind." His face was bright red, now, and Joe had a feeling he did know what Patrick was asking – he just couldn't quite grasp it.

"No, dude – what –?"

"Doesn't matter..."

Patrick closed the bathroom door, shaking his head impatiently, and Joe wasn't quite sure if that meant he was mad at him or not. Bemused, he wandered into his room and flopped down onto the bed. He half smiled to himself, thinking, our bed, actually. His mom had already made it up earlier in the day, putting on the new 'grown up' bedding she'd bought because he'd objected to the spare floral sets they used for the one in his parents' guest bedroom. Plain blue and grey was much more acceptable. He only had three boxes left to sort out – mostly his toys and collectables, all of which had three shelves allocated for them – and it actually kind of felt like home. It was scary, but he was going to be really happy here, he knew it.

He was still contemplating this when the bathroom door opened and Patrick's voice called, "Shower's free," from the hall, followed by the sound of his own bedroom door opening.

Joe sat up abruptly. "You're still sleeping in here, right?" he called back, his stomach sinking.

There was a short pause, then a curious, "Yeah..."

"Oh." Joe got up and made his way out to the hall to peek into the room next door. "What are you doing?"

Drying his hair with a towel draped over his head like some kind of Sith hood, as it happened. Patrick merely spread his hands in response, as if to say, "What does it look like?"

"Oh. Well, I'll just like... be really quick."

He could hear Patrick chuckling to himself as he crossed the hall into the bathroom and habitually locked the door behind him. He didn't hear Patrick padding back down the hall to Joe's room, so he received the fright of his life when he walked into his supposedly empty room and found someone sitting in his bed.

"Dude, this place isn't that scary..."

"I thought you were still in your room!"

"You were worried I'd forgotten where I was sleeping, ten minutes ago... Are you getting in, or what?"

"Yeah, I just need to find some boxers – give me a sec."

"Why?"

"What do you mean, 'why'? To sleep in. Obviously."

"Suddenly, I feel seriously underdressed."

Joe stared at him. "You're - ?"

"Well, there's nobody else here – I didn't think there was any point in getting out clean clothes to go to bed in. And y'know, at some point, we're going to have to get over the nakedness issue."

"It's not an 'issue'..."

"Then would you just get in bed? You're making me nervous."

Making sure the door was firmly closed, Joe turned off the light and hung his towel on the empty coat hook on the back of the door, using the light from the streetlamps outside to find his way to the bed and climb in. They snuggled close to each other, finding the most comfortable position; the last few weeks they'd chosen to sleep in the single bed in Joe's bedroom, spooning together close to the wall, and trying to find a way to lie facing each other was awkward and kind of funny until Patrick was kneed in the nuts by accident.

Needless to say, any hint of romance was dead for the night and they reverted to spooning.

Laying there in the dark, one hand tucked under his pillow, the other laced with Patrick's, Joe murmured, "I guess this actually is serious now, dude."

Twisting to look back at him, Patrick murmured, "What?"

"Well, first night we ever like, had a place completely to ourselves, and we're not even doing anything," he teased, blowing a raspberry against Patrick's bare shoulder.

"You're not touching those again until I say so," Patrick replied with a small snicker of laughter. "But I do feel kind of old..."

"Old and married..."

"Old and married and boring."

"You realise Pete's gonna like, find it even funnier if he thinks we're not doing it enough than if he thinks we're doing it at all, right?"

"Oh, we'll be doing it. A lot. Just not right now," Patrick assured him, kissing the side of his wrist.

"That's gonna get expensive..."

There was a soft, amused hum and then Patrick cleared his throat a little and began, a little too lightly, "I've been meaning to talk to you about that, actually."

"About what?"

"Us, and stuff."

"Right...?" Joe prompted – not anxious, just curious.

"So, I was thinking, y'know? About you and me and stuff, and how we've been together ages, now, and that we're serious and everything, right?"

"Well, ye – "

"That was rhetorical."

"Sorry."

"But, I mean... we're not involved with anyone else or anything, are we?"

"Was that rhetorical?"

"Not really."

"Oh. Well, no. Obviously, no."

"Cool."

"Is that like, it?" Joe asked, more confused than ever. He thought they were pretty clear on that.

"No! Let me finish..." Patrick huffed back with familiar impatience. "What I mean is, if we're serious about each other and we're not seeing anyone else, and we were both, y'know... virgins when we started all this and we haven't been with anyone else, why are we even using them? I'm not gonna get pregnant or anything... it kind of just seems like a waste of money because there's nothing to protect us from."

"Oh." Joe grimaced, feeling his face burning; serious conversations about this stuff were always so embarrassing and uncomfortable – he'd usually prefer to just leave things alone – and besides, he could think of things they were protecting him from, thanks.

"There's not... right?"

"Well... yeah, kind of."

He could feel the tension creep through every muscle in Patrick's body; he was holding his breath, like he was afraid to ask exactly what that meant.

"It's nothing bad!" Joe told him quickly. "Not hugely bad, anyway..."

"What did you do?" Patrick asked, and his voice shook and Joe wasn't sure if it was because he was angry, or because he was going to cry.

"I didn't do anything, dude, I promise. It's nothing I did."

"Then what?"

He took a deep breath, trying to get over his embarrassment and just admit his problem with it, but he was afraid even admitting that would piss Patrick off. Maybe he should forget it and agree, and deal with the issue as it arose. "Nothing. I'm like, being weird. Forget it. It's fine."

Patrick shifted roughly onto his back, so he could look at him. "Joe, it's obviously not fine, because otherwise you wouldn't have said anything.` "

"It's just me being weird, dude, just pretend I didn't say anything."

"I can't! We're not talking about why you don't want to get sweet corn on a pizza or something – this is something really important to me, that I want us to do, and right now I'm kind of freaking out."

"Don't freak out," Joe pleaded, leaning close to kiss him on the cheek, and feeling like an idiot and a prude. "It's fine, we'll stop using them, if that's what you want..."

"Not until I know what your problem is with it. I have a right to know if there's something going on, here."

"It's... look, it's not a big deal, I promise... I just kind of..." he trailed off with a sigh and focused on watching his fingers rub little circles on the front of Patrick's shoulder. "I really like doing it with you and everything – I mean, I pretty much love it. And you, and everything –"

"I love you, too."

" – thanks – but the thing is... I kind of have this thing about being clean, right?"

"...Yeah?"

"Well. There you go."

"Huh?"

And you call me 'dense', dude, seriously? "It's just kind of... think about where I'm putting it."

Patrick frowned a little and blinked a few times. "So?"

"Well, usually it's got its little cagoule on so it's not so bad, but I just think it's gonna end up kind of... icky."

"That's it? That's your problem? That it might be a little 'icky'?"

"I told you it wasn't a big deal."

"And did you really just tell me it usually has a 'cagoule on'?"

"I think so."

"Joe, you are the single most ridiculous person I've ever met."

"I'm sorry..."

"No, it's fine, I wouldn't have you any other way, but you scared the shit out of me for a second, there, thinking that there was something wrong with you or something, and now you're talking about cagoules on your dick and I just don't know whether I want to strangle you or kiss you, you jackass! You totally drive me insane sometimes, you know that?"

"I'm sorry. I'll do it if you want to. I'll just have to get over the whole thing. Simple."

"I don't want you to do it if you're not comfortable with it, I just thought that practically speaking, it was a good idea, and that maybe... I dunno. Maybe stuff like that didn't matter anymore... I mean, it's not like we haven't done other stuff. And I mean, you've never had anything on your hands when you... y'know."

Joe sighed and settled himself down on his back, laying them shoulder to shoulder and shrugged. "Well, I love you and everything but it's always going to be slightly gross... doesn't matter who it is. But I'll do it. Because I'm awesome and you want to. Except not right now, because I just took a shower."

Patrick actually laughed and rolled against him to pull him into a kiss. "You are awesome. Sometimes. Sometimes, you're just fucking strange."

Joe grinned and squeezed him so tight he couldn't breathe, until Patrick grasped his arms and pulled them loose, wriggling until he was more comfortable. Settling down, nose pressed to Patrick's still-damp hair, absently tickling the arch of his foot with his toes, Joe was just beginning to drift off to sleep when Patrick whispered:

"But y'know: if this is the biggest problem we're going to have from now on, then life is gonna be pretty sweet."



They had the next day together to get used to the apartment, and spent the day unpacking Patrick's possessions and the evening stretched out on the couch together, watching TV. It was simple, but it was their own time and their own space and Joe was really beginning to regret inviting Pete to live with them. On the Monday, Patrick was back to work, working 10am to 8pm at the record store, and Joe was back in class for his new course at community college. The campus was a few blocks away from Patrick's store, so when he finished his 12.30 session Joe headed up to the store to meet him for lunch. Patrick wasn't allowed to take it before two o'clock, because all the local students and desk monkeys tended to stop by on their lunch hours, and it resulted in perfect timing for them to get together and grab something to eat.

They met at the junction of Wilson and Broadway, which was awkward because it was a block away from college and Joe wasn't totally sure he was cool with his new classmates stumbling across him kissing a dude on the sidewalk. In fact, living in the city – where there were always people around – was going to be kind of complicated all over. Sure, nobody would pay much attention if they walked through Boystown holding hands, but that was just one tiny area that they neither lived nor worked directly in. At least in the suburbs there were fewer people to see them, because there were generally fewer people on the streets at any given time. Even at home they hadn't spent a lot of time clinging to each other in public, but at least they'd had more of an option, then.

They strolled down to the park beside the harbour with hands firmly wedged into pockets and found a bench under one of the trees to settle on with their sandwiches, finally sneaking a kiss. Secretly, Joe was kind of sad that Patrick had packed his own lunch to take with him, because he'd liked the idea of bringing him his sandwiches and spending a little time together in the middle of the day. He still hadn't found a job of his own and he wanted to feel useful, rather than being a typical student and sitting on his ass in front of the TV when he wasn't in lectures. Instead, he decided to try out some of his newfound culinary skills that night, to prove his own little point. He was a grown up. He could take care of himself and someone else.

Actually being in the apartment alone all afternoon turned out to be insanely lonely. He tried to fill the time with homework, at first, but he couldn't quite get into it. And then he tried getting out his guitar, but he broke a string and couldn't be bothered to replace it immediately, so he gave up on that, too. In the end he settled in front of the television and waited for Patrick to leave work and start the walk home. He'd offered to give him a ride, but Patrick had said something about calculating the time it took to walk, and insisted that Joe let him. Joe hadn't minded – it was a perfectly reasonable request – but waiting for him to get in was frustrating and he was actually kind of hungry. He didn't want to start cooking before Patrick got home and have it all laid out on the table, because that was way too 1950s and he was no apron-wearing lady, thank you, but he didn't want to eat by himself before Patrick got home, either.

When he finally heard Patrick's key in the lock, Joe virtually bounced off the couch and rushed to the hall to meet him. Patrick's hair was stuck to his forehead at the sides and he looked a little red in the face, as if he'd been jogging.

"Hey..."

"What time is it?" Patrick asked, dumping his rucksack on the floor outside his room, and peeling off his jacket.

"Um... like, eight fifty-five."

"Really? So... that was like fifty minutes, because I left a little late..."

"You look like you ran or something."

"No... that's just the stairs."

"Oh. Well, you're home, now, right?"

"Thank God. I'm so tired I could just go to bed right now, honestly."

Disappointment settled on Joe's chest and he tried not to let it show, adjusting his wristband distractedly. Of course Patrick was tired – he'd basically worked ten hours, on his feet, and then walked over two and a half miles home. "Oh?"

"I mean – I'm not going to, but I feel like it," Patrick assured him, finally moving closer for a proper hello.

"Well, you can if you want."

"When would I hang out with you, if I went to bed now?" Patrick asked, as if the notion was beyond ridiculous. "I've hardly seen you, today, man."

"Cool, 'cause I was like, going to make dinner or something but I wanted to wait until you got home..."

"That would be pretty amazing."

"Actually, it would probably be like, oven fries and pizza or something, but we said we'd eat together every night, didn't we?"

Sitting together at the table in the kitchen, and eating the dinner they'd cooked while sharing news about their days, was quietly satisfying. They talked. And it wasn't about whether Pete was pissing Joe off today, or about Star Wars, or music. It would probably have been inane to anyone else, but for Joe it was adult conversation – about work, and practicalities and stuff from the Real World, outside of the band, or their hobbies or any of that. If Luke had been there, instead of away at college, he would have laughed at Joe for this and called him boring, but for Joe it felt like the coolest conversation he'd ever had.

After, they'd washed up and removed themselves to lay sprawled together on the couch; heads propped on the same cushion, Joe's chin tucked over Patrick's shoulder so he could see the TV, the tips of his fingers tucked under the waistband of Patrick's jeans with comfortable familiarity. He could feel the vibrations against his chest as Patrick laughed at the reruns on the television, and made him squirm, poking him idly in the belly during the commercials because he was bored. The resulting tousle culminated in Patrick wrestling him to the floor, where Joe settled, propped against the couch, and allowed Patrick to fiddle with his curls until he fell asleep.

Joe left him there for a while, turning down the TV and heading to the kitchen to make them both sandwiches to take to work and college the next day. Searching through his rucksack for a biro that wouldn't smudge off the page, he made a point of leaving a note inside Patrick's Tupperware container, telling him he'd collect him from the record store, because he had a class at 1.30pm and couldn't meet him for lunch. Then, feeling proud of his handiwork, he switched off the TV altogether and took Patrick to bed.

It was the happiest time of Joe's life. Patrick was so tired, most days, that they hardly touched each other sexually, but just getting to spend evenings curled up in each other's company, and to go to bed together every night and wake up and have breakfast in the kitchen every morning was almost better anyway. Joe had just wanted Patrick to himself all along, and at last he had it.

By the time Pete arrived on Thursday, they were completely set into their routine and it was painfully jarring to come home from college and find boxes all over the hall, Lifetime on the stereo at full volume, and the kitchen awash with crumbs from whatever snack Pete had made himself during the day. Joe stepped over some of the packing crates behind the front door and peered into Pete's room.

"You're like, here, then..."

Pete looked up from the floor and grinned at him broadly. "Roomie!"

"I thought you weren't moving in until tomorrow..."

"Got home early. Where's Patrick?"

"Work. He doesn't finish 'til like, eight or something." And then we were supposed to be like, having our last alone night together, and I rented a movie and everything...

"Oh, cool – well, I'll go get him in a couple of hours or whatever."

Um, no you won't. "It's fine, he's expecting me."

"Well, it'll be a pretty cool surprise if I show up, won't it, kind of?"

"No, it's fine – I'll go, dude." He's my boyfriend. If I say I'm collecting him from work, I'm seriously like, collecting him from work, man.

"Whatever. We can figure it out later," Pete shrugged, and Joe knew that that meant, 'Dude, I'm going to collect him when you're in the bathroom or something and say I thought we'd agreed.'

Sighing, he leaned away from the door frame and wandered down the hall, calling back, "My dad gave us money for take out."

"Cool. I totally need to get some groceries and stuff, at some point. I borrowed some of somebody's bread for lunch."

Standing in the kitchen, dumping his rucksack on a chair and gazing down at the plastic bag of groceries he'd picked up for dinner, Joe nodded slowly. Pete couldn't see him, but he didn't really have the energy or inclination to make any further acknowledgement. He'd promised Patrick that they would have one of the few pasta dishes he'd learned to make from scratch before they moved out of his parents' place. Most of it could be put away and saved for another night, that wasn't the issue, it was just that they'd planned tonight and Pete probably didn't realise that, but really, Joe was quite sure he shouldn't have expected anything less from him. He always found a way to ruin things, intentionally or not.

Tonight was supposed to be their big night, too. He hadn't told Patrick that, but it had been part of his plan and he'd been psyching himself up for it all week. He'd even invested in some wet-wipes to stash close to the bed, just for his own peace of mind; so he didn't find himself wanting to run off and shower in the middle of the night. Because it had taken him a while, but he got it, now. He understood why it meant so much to Patrick for them to do things this way; it was about trusting each other: trusting that neither of them would stray and that if one of them did fuck up, he'd have the balls to be honest about it. If they were going to call it a serious relationship, then they needed to be committed to it. This was supposed to bring them closer.

How fitting that Pete had managed to get in the way of that, too.

The only reason Pete didn't sneak out to collect Patrick without Joe, was that Joe conveniently reminded him that they needed to find a local take out on the way home.

"What's the matter with you, anyway?" Pete asked as they sat at the traffic lights, waiting for their chance to turn on to Ashland. "You've been wandering around pouting like a four year old, kind of."

"Nothing," Joe muttered, gazing out of the driver's window, knowing that it wasn't convincing at all.

"I call bullshit."

"Look, you just like, don't wanna know, okay?"

"Are you two fighting or whatever? Because I told you that would happen..."

"No! We're good. We've been awesome, actually."

"So, what's the problem? Is it your time of the month, or something?"

"No. We were just like... not expecting you tonight."

"Not expecting me?"

"You were supposed to move in tomorrow."

"So?"

"'So', we had – " Joe cut himself off abruptly; there was no point in giving Pete something to tease them about this soon. "I mean, like... It doesn't matter now. Just forget it, basically."

"Oh. Ohhhh, man – you had some romantic little evening planned, right? And I crashed it!"

Joe kind of wondered why Pete felt that this was a laughing matter.

"That's adorable," Pete continued, reaching over and pinching Joe's cheek affectionately. "You two are such a cliché it's unbelievable."

"Why are we 'clichéd'? Because we actually like, enjoy being together and don't get off on fighting about stuff?"

Pete stared at him for a moment and then turned to look out of the passenger window sullenly. He didn't say anything else for the rest of the journey. By the time Patrick walked out of the store, waving goodbye to his colleague and grinning when he saw who was sitting in the passenger seat, the silence had grown distinctly awkward.

"Hey!" Patrick beamed, throwing his bag into the back seat and leaning over Joe's shoulder to kiss him on the cheek, patting Pete's arm in greeting as he sat back down. "What are you doing here?"

"Ruining your night, apparently..."

Joe cringed and flicked the indicator lever down with unnecessary vigour.

"What?" Patrick asked, catching Joe's eye in the rear view mirror.

Joe just rolled his eyes and shook his head barely perceptibly. "We're getting take out – do you have any place you want to go?"

"Um... isn't there that Wong's Wok place or whatever it's called? That looked kind of decent..."

Shrugging, Joe pulled out into the traffic and headed towards home, not entirely looking forward to the next couple of hours.

He hardly spoke as they sat in the kitchen, eating their dinner with disposable chopsticks from cardboard containers; he told himself he wasn't sulking, he just didn't have anything to add to the conversation, but it was that very fact that there was conversation he didn't feel like he belonged in that was so depressing. Usually, when they were together, Andy was around – or Chris, or somebody for Joe to talk to, or to divert the conversation on to less focused topics. And when they moved to the living room, Joe stopping in the kitchen to throw away their empty containers and pick up the movie he'd rented, Pete sprawled himself across the couch, feet on Patrick's lap and leaving the easy chair under the window for Joe.

Patrick was too busy arguing to even seem to notice. In fact, he was so busy arguing with Pete that they talked through the entire first hour of the movie. Neither of them were interested in watching it, and Joe couldn't even hear most of it, so just after ten he gave up. He felt like a spare part and he was tired, so screw it.

Patrick hardly even seemed to notice when he walked out of the room – although, to be fair to him, Joe didn't bother saying good night because he didn't want to interrupt their conversation; and perhaps – just maybe – because he was a little pissed off that his evening had been ruined. He'd even admit, privately, that maybe he was hoping Patrick would realise that he'd gone and come to bed. But even though Joe laid there for hours, waiting for him, the last thing he heard before he fell asleep, was Patrick laughing with Pete.




Part Sixteen







Title from The Academy Is'... 'One More Weekend', quote from 'Coppertone'.
Comments 
7th-Dec-2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
Aww poor Joe...

Man, I was so excited when I saw this was updated! Seriously, just what I need at the beginning of dead week at school.

Also I was pretty pumped because Boystown was mentioned. I have a friend that goes to DePaul and when I visited him last year he took me around that part of the city...It was cool. That is if I'm thinking of the right area... and the right name.

Well another great chapter. As always can't wait for more. I liked reading about Joe being on his own for that afternoon. I felt like that the first day or so when I moved into my dorm when my roommate was still hanging out with her parents before they went home. It's a different feeling. You don't know what to do with yourself.
8th-Dec-2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Haha - thanks, hon. Joe actually did used to live in Boystown at one point.

The stuff about Joe being bored by himself was something I actually went back and added in later because it didn't feel right to just say he hung out by himself.
8th-Dec-2008 01:03 am (UTC)
I didn't think this was possible, but you are making me very mad at Patrick right now. Like, I seriously finished reading the chapter and though, "Joe should just dump Patrick and find some hot guy who appreciates him!"

It was wonderful, though! And funny!
8th-Dec-2008 10:23 am (UTC)
I actually feel like it could have been structured more smoothly, but thanks! You know what's coming up in the next few chapters, so we'll see what you make of how that turns out.
8th-Dec-2008 01:14 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed the awkwardness between them during their big discussion, although I cringed for poor Joe. :P Another wonderful installment with just the right mix of angst.
8th-Dec-2008 10:31 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks, hon. I did kind of agonise over that scene, because it was something that needed to go in because it's referenced again in later chapters, and it does a lot (along with the shower thing) to represent that whatever they want to think, they really are just kids still at this point, but I wasn't sure if I'd quite hit the right note with it.

I do warn you though, there's more angst to come.
9th-Dec-2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
there's more angst to come

Bring it on. I hope you make me cry like a baby! :P
9th-Dec-2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
I will. Probably every chapter from 18 onward.
9th-Dec-2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
You don't know how much I'm looking forward to it. I love angst as long as it's well-written and has resolution. You're great at meeting my requirements.
10th-Dec-2008 12:01 am (UTC)
Hahahaha. Thank you. I shall try.
11th-Dec-2008 09:52 am (UTC)
OH HAI so I've been following this for ages and absolutely loving it to death and being really really bad at commenting and I only just realised it was by you! No wonder your Andy is so awesome :P
11th-Dec-2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Hahaha. Thank you.
12th-Dec-2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
awww come on!!
I feel pretty bad for joe.
I know how it feels to be ignored but to be ignored by the dude u love, must hurt ten times worse.

So uh, i love that i've been reading this fic for this long and i love how even now, i still want more.

ill be waiting.
19th-Dec-2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
Somehow, I didn't see this review until now...

But yeah, poor Joe. He's really going to regret all of this.
19th-Dec-2008 11:31 am (UTC)
aww, so sad!
but im defintiely loving them being on their own.

and oh my goodnesss.
i seriously clapped when i saw this on my flist.
its one of the only stories ive been following lately, so this just made my night. :D
cant wait for more.

19th-Dec-2008 12:29 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you - I'm glad you're enjoying it.
24th-Dec-2008 10:35 am (UTC)
oh my...

patroh! complete with drama!joe and oblivious!patrick!

have i told you lately i love this?
24th-Dec-2008 11:34 am (UTC)
Haha - I didn't even know you were reading it!
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