The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [3/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: alfirin_kirinkiBetas: fayemeadows
, who has held my hand through a major re-plot and many re-writes, this chapter; musictoyourlips
R at absolute max (over all).Pairing:
c.4, 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...
I did try to find out as much as humanly possible about the Arma tour and the line up when Joe subbed for them, but it wasn't easy, so I went with what was most workable and what didn't freak me out for personal reasons. I've heard rumours that Joe played bass on that tour, but that was Chris's instrument and there's footage of them together on stage, so it makes no sense. I hope this holds it together despite any anachronisms.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 SleeveThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Three: Your Secret's Out
"Where winning looks like losing..."
"I think you should, like, say you're making pancakes or something before you say anything else," Joe mused, leaning against the counter as Patrick made coffee. "Make sure he's not in a pissy mood or something."
"I think you
should, like, get used to the idea that we
are telling him, and not just me, dude."
"But..." Joe gave him his best Mournful Puppy expression.
"No way, dude." He was smiling, though; the smile that meant he'd give in if Joe tried a little harder.
Joe leaned heavily against the van door as Chris shoved his shoulder against it, trying to force it shut on all the equipment they'd had to ram behind it. Finally, with a satisfying click, it locked and they sank down on to the asphalt outside the Wentz house, sloppily high-fiving and breathing a sigh of relief.
Joe still couldn't believe this was actually happening. He still couldn't believe his parents were letting it. In fact, he couldn't believe he'd been asked and that he'd ever agreed in the first place.
(Of course he'd agreed – it was fucking Arma Angelus
Chris climbed to his feet and wandered off to find Pete, just as Patrick peered around the side of the vehicle and grinned at him.
"Hey. You guys almost heading off?"
Joe got up, hurriedly, dusting himself down, "Um. Yeah, pretty much... What're you doing here?"
Patrick blushed and shrugged, "Just came to see you guys off." He tugged at his cap and squinted out from under it, shading his eyes from the sun. "Two of my best friends are going on tour without me and it seriously sucks."
"I wish I was coming with you."
"Yeah," Joe nodded, checking as subtly as he could to see whether Pete was within earshot. "Me too, dude."
"I'll see you on the 21st, I guess, when you get back..."
"You're coming to see that?"
Patrick's nose scrunched in the shade from his hat, "Obviously, I am."
Joe leaned a touch nearer and whispered urgently, "I'm playing in fucking Arma
, dude!" as if it were a huge secret that Patrick didn't already know.
"Surprisingly, I was actually aware of that," Patrick grinned back, patting his arm.
They both stood in a self-conscious silence for a few moments before Joe suddenly remembered something. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone his mother had forced him to take, before he left the house. "Look what I got."
"Are you taking that with you?" Patrick asked, looking a little shocked. He had a tendency to grimace and change the subject every time Pete encouraged him to get a cell of his own so that he could always reach him. To be honest, Joe couldn't blame him.
"It's one of the conditions they made before, like, letting me out of the house this morning. I have to call every other day. It's gonna suck."
"Can I," Patrick paused and cleared his throat, focusing on trying to find a pen in his record bag. "Um. Can I get your number? I'll try to keep you sane."
Joe spluttered like an idiot until he managed to mumble something almost coherent as, "Sure. Totally."
No sooner had Patrick scribbled down the number on the back of his hand in some of the most illegible handwriting Joe had ever seen, than Pete appeared, wrapping both arms over Patrick's shoulders and announcing, "C'mon, Trohman: we're going."
"Okay," Joe mumbled, moving around them to pick up his bag and throw it into the seat behind the driver.
"Don't worry, Stumpy," Chris grinned, knocking his hat back on his head, "We'll take care of your little girlfriend."
"Dude!" Pete snapped, punching him in the arm, "He's my best fucking friend."
Adam laughed loudly from where his ass was sticking out of the van, re-arranging his stuff, "Emphasis on the 'fucking'."
"I wasn't even talking about you, Wentz, you fucking jackass."
Joe turned around just in time to see Chris's finger being jabbed in his direction. Patrick looked like a plum tomato in a hat and he was pretty sure he looked much the same himself. Only, less with the hat and more with the freshly-bleached fro.
He couldn't wait to get away from there.
Touring, Joe discovered, about twelve hours in, was not one insanely awesome roadtrip with guitars, but actually kind of a pain in the ass. No one seemed to have pre-planned who was driving which shifts or where they were sleeping and after an argument resolved with rock/paper/scissors and resulting in a dead arm for Timothy, Joe was ordered to sit in the front and talk to Pete while they headed to the next city. He was already exhausted and Pete kept hitting him in the leg every time he thought he was drifting off.
This was not how he expected life on the road to be.
The club on the sixth night was overcrowded and people kept elbowing him and actually, he just wanted to go home (or at least crawl into his corner of the van) at this point. He leaned against a wall and yawned, stretching both arms above his head and elbowing a girl standing next to him in the ear. She ducked, and turned to look at him, giggling.
"Oh – man, I'm sorry. I hope that didn't, like, hurt or anything..." he gushed, putting an apologetic hand on her shoulder for a moment. "I'm just totally wasted and not paying attention and stuff."
"It's cool," she assured him with a grin. Then, "Aren't you in that last band?"
"Um. Kind of. Just for this tour, basically."
"Aw," she said, giving him a gentle shove, "I thought you were pretty awesome."
"Thanks... I didn't write anything, I just played what I was told."
"Doesn't matter – I still liked it. Where are you guys from, anyway?"
"Cool. I have a cousin in Hammond."
"Oh. Cool," Joe nodded, watching a cute guy talking animatedly to his friend, perched on the edge of the stage, and trying to think of something to say to the girl. He didn't spend much time talking to girls, generally, and he was already too tired to be sociable. He looked around for something to prompt him. Instead he saw Pete standing close to the bar and grinning; he promptly raised his eyebrows and the can of soda in his hand as if encouraging him when he caught Joe's eye. Joe's mouth dropped open and he shook his head – the last thing he wanted was to have Patrick told that he'd been making up to a girl on tour; so he beckoned him over. Girls were always distracted by the presence of Pete.
Pete didn't hesitate. Approximately four seconds later, he was sliding an arm around Joe's shoulders and smiling at the girl. "New friend?"
"Amy," she smiled back, Joe abruptly and thankfully forgotten.
"Pete. Are you taking advantage of our little Joey?"
The girl laughed coyly. "Not at all, I was just saying 'hi'."
"Good, because I'm responsible for this guy and I don't want to have to warn you off, or whatever."
"Warn me off?" she giggled, looking at Joe. "I don't think he's interested in me anyway."
Joe blinked and looked at her wide eyed. Oh seriously, no, no, no!
"I saw you checking out Jeremy, man. You should go and say hi. He's sweet. Plus he's equal opportunities."
For a moment, Joe froze; then he turned red, and then he carefully glanced at Pete, afraid of the look he might find on his face. The look, it turned out, was of absolute shock. His eyes seemed about to fall out of his head, his mouth was open wide enough to show most of his many over-sized teeth. A few moments later, he was being pushed into an uncomfortable plastic chair in the small, graffitied room masquerading as 'backstage', with Pete slumping beside him.
Joe frowned at the dirty grey carpet and with what looked suspiciously like an old vomit stain by the wall, and finally muttered, "It's no big deal." It really didn't sound that convincing, but he still had some
pride and he was in the middle of a tour with a bunch of guys who thought of him as a baby so he had to at least pretend he was okay with it.
Pete stared at him. "When I thought you had a crush on me, I figured it was a phase. I didn't... I didn't think it was serious, dude. I didn't think..." Pete trailed off, with a sharp huff of disbelief. "Andy's going to be totally blown away by this, you know."
"Andy knows. He's cool."
"Andy knows? You told Andy, but you didn't say anything to me?"
Looking up at him, expecting the petulant expression Pete adopted when he was making something all about himself, Joe was surprised to find he looked genuinely hurt.
"I figured I was one of your best friends, kind of. I can't believe you didn't tell me, man. Who else knows?"
"Nobody knows, dude. Only Andy and... and Patrick, and Andy figured it out without -"
"The whole band knows? But not me? That's not
"You thought I like, had a crush on you, dude, I figured you knew!"
Pete just shook his head. "I thought it was a phase, or whatever, dude! As bombshells go, this is pretty huge, man. You're so straight
. You're just... so, so straight
"Look, Pete, I don't even talk about this, okay, I just... I just want to be Joe, I don't want to be 'that queer kid', like I used to be 'that weird kid'." Joe swallowed and stared at the floor the moment he'd said it; he hadn't even known that himself.
"Dude. You're still 'that weird kid'. You'll always be 'that weird kid'. This doesn't change shit. I mean, I'm pretty pissed that you didn't say anything, but you know
me and the guys would take care of you no matter what – "
"It's not that, dude, I can take care of myself..."
"Against my sister, maybe."
Joe punched him in the arm; Pete just laughed and called him a bitch, then slung an arm around his neck, pressing his forehead above Joe's ear.
"Dude. Me and Andy think of you like our kid or something. Whatever happens, we've got your back. You've gotta trust me, or whatever, so I can be like... there for you."
Joe grinned a little bit and wrapped an arm around Pete's back and mumbled, "Thanks, mom."
For the first time in what seemed like forever, Joe realised that he was actually enjoying having Pete around. In the weeks since their first rehearsal, and Pete's idiotic assumption that Joe had a crush on him (just because every other under-18 on the scene did, did not make it compulsory), Joe had been beginning to find Pete more and more irritating. Pete seemed to have had decided, about a month after – a month during which he'd spent approximately four out of seven nights a week occupying Patrick's time, one way or another – that Patrick was his brand new BFF, and Patrick didn't seem to get a choice in the matter. Patrick didn't actually seem to want one, except for during moments when he and Joe were hanging out and Pete appeared from nowhere to drag Patrick off; even though he went willingly, Patrick would give Joe a impatient 'Be right back' before he disappeared. But he never said 'no' and he didn't often come back, either.
Pete had been one of his own best friends, a few months ago; until the night at the club, Joe wanted to snap at him or inflict varying degrees of pain, every time he opened his mouth.
That night, though, parked up on a grass verge by a gas station in the middle of nowhere, Joe sat out on the ground while the others began to bed down for the night in the back of the van. He wasn't hating the tour, he wasn't even at the point of hating Pete, anymore – if anything, in the last few days he'd found his former fondness for him returning. He was just starting to feel tired of the pranks and the lack of space and, as much as he did
hate to admit it, he was starting to miss home (and his mom, just at tiny bit). He had the cell phone in his hands, looking at it longingly. The battery was half depleted, so he'd have to charge it at the venue the next day, but he'd called home the night before and they weren't expecting to hear from him again so soon. Instead, he was thinking about calling Patrick. It was late, but it was a weekend and when they'd last spoken – the same night they left Wilmette, when Patrick called after the show, asking how it went – he said his mother was leaving him and Kevin in the house for the weekend while she went to stay with her sister; they would probably still be awake, even if it was almost one in the morning.
It had been barely a week, and he was starting to feel miserable not because he was stuck in a shitty van with a bunch of guys five years older than him, pretty much, or because he'd been eating junk food every day since he left home and he was actually starting to accept that maybe his mother was right and it wasn't possible to "live on that garbage", but mostly because he missed hanging out with the funny-looking kid in the glasses.
He thumbed the send button, almost working up the nerve to call when there was a scuffling and Pete appeared beside him.
"You want?" he asked, holding out a bottle of Mountain Dew.
Joe shook his head and quickly switched the phone away from the directory so Pete couldn't see whose number he had considered dialling.
"You okay, dude? You're like... doing an Andy or something. Getting all thinky on me."
Snorting, Joe shook his head. "I'm fine."
"Nah..." Fucking liar, dude.
Pete laughed and slung an arm around his shoulders, giving him a companionable hug. "I am, man. I miss sleeping in a bed and getting mom to make me food. And my dogs, kind of. I miss my dogs. I'm like, the lamest-ass rockstar ever, or something."
Joe smirked and shrugged.
"Wish we could've brought the guys with us, huh?" Pete continued, looking back at Joe, his arm still draped over his shoulders.
"Hm..." You wish you'd brought Patrick, you mean, dude.
"You know what?" He waited expectantly until Joe sighed and indulgently asked 'what'. "I've been on tour with these guys for a couple of years, or whatever – or, y'know, some of them, anyway – and I still want to go home and hang out with Stumpy and Andy and you. Like. I dunno. I just feel like we're going to be awesome, dude. The four of us. You and Andy and me and that kid. It's like... like it was supposed to happen
, man. You meeting Patrick and telling him about the band and him just. Seriously? How fucked up is it that you just happened to be there and he happened
to get involved in your conversation?"Not all that fucked up, considering how much time I spent in that store in like, the past year, 'cause, I dunno, I might maybe have had a crush on someone who worked there, or something, basically. Who knows? Oh, wait...
"Do you remember what that weird little fuck was wearing?" Pete was giggling to himself and Joe was starting to wonder if he'd forgotten that Joe was even there, or was perhaps just a prop so he could gush out loud without seeming crazy. "That's when I knew, dude. Nobody who takes themselves seriously would actually wear that, kind of. And the music, is so more than anything to him, dude. And then I started, like, hanging out with him by ourselves and talking to him and, like, really
talking to him – "Hey, dude, have some salt and rub just in that wound, right there.
" – and that is one seriously fucking smart kid. He's what? Sixteen?"
"Seventeen. He was seventeen in April..." Joe mumbled tugging the lace on his sneaker and trying not to sulk, because he was seventeen, too, in six weeks and not a fucking kid any more.
"Seventeen, then, and he's just... He like, fascinates me. But at the same time or whatever, he's just Patrick
. He's like, so fucking simple... but... he's totally not
and I fucking love that
Joe's stomach churned. Everyone who had ever been through high school knew that if someone claimed to 'love' somebody's qualities it actually just meant they didn't have the balls to admit to more. He wondered where 'fascinating' Patrick went when they hung out watching 80s sci-fi. Patrick was Patrick was Patrick. He was always Patrick, to Joe. He was a little weird, yeah, but it was endearing, and Joe was hardly one to point fingers in that respect and Pete was way worse. Even Andy had some pretty holy shit
ideas about the ways of the world. Patrick was basically a music-obsessed kid, just like Joe, and either Pete was getting a whole other personality during their little secret sleepovers – in which case 'weird' wasn't the word, but 'unhinged' might be – or Pete was just plain delusional.
"Y'know, dude," Pete began again, sounding strangely uncertain and un-Pete-like, fiddling with the cap of his bottle and tapping his feet on the grass, "lately, I kind of noticed you
acting weird, a little..."Shit
. "I still don't have a crush on you, Pete."
Pete stopped grinning when Joe didn't grin back. "I mean, since before we talked or whatever. Don't you... kind of... like
Patrick or something? 'Cause I want you both in this band, dude, and... it just. Look, is something wrong, or whatever? 'Cause he's the most awesome person I ever met and you... you're just like family to me, dude, you know that. But you don't hang out any more and... I feel like there's something –"
Joe put him out of his misery before he was in danger of speaking in a full sentence. "Chill out, Pete, seriously. I don't have a problem with Patrick. The guy's fucking awesome."
"Oh. Well, I mean – good. That's like, really good because I was worried you'd leave or whatever and this is pretty much your band, kind of..."
"It's not 'my band'..."
"It was your idea."
Joe almost stopped to think about saying what he did next, but somehow stumbled at the hurdle. "Yeah, and Patrick was my friend. If you weren't, like, keeping him all to yourself we would
hang out more, dude. We did hang out more before you met him. Now he just hasn't got the time with work and school and you. So, y'know: thanks."
Pete stared at him. "Huh?"
Immediately wishing he hadn't said anything, Joe muttered, "It doesn't matter, dude..." and tried to think of a way to change the subject, but Pete didn't seem to want to let it go.
"How can you say it doesn't matter? If you thought I was stealing you friend, or whatever, you should at least –"
At that exact moment Joe's phone started ringing. His stomach dropped alarmingly as the little green screen flashed at him.Patrick. Patrick phoning. Holy shit, Patrick phoning. Patrick –
"Your mom's gonna be worried if you don't answer that."
Joe blinked and scrambled to his feet to wander down the verge away from the bus.
"Hey, Joe," Patrick's voice asked softly, before a pause and a sudden burst of laughter, "'Hey Joe'. Dude. I'm good – I quote Hendrix by accident."
Joe grinned the widest he had in days.
"How's life on the road?"
"Um. Okay, I guess."
"Just okay? There's not like, an army of Joe fans trying to get your number or anything?" Patrick's voice asked with an awkward chuckle.
"No way, dude. The only person who, like, asked for my number this week is you. I had this one chick tell me I was cute, but she meant, like, baby duck 'cute'... It sucked. She wasn't even a dude."
Another laugh that made Joe a little more homesick.
"So, um, how are you?"
"Hmm, y'know. Wishing I wasn't back home stacking shelves. I've seen Andy, like once, because I went to see them at a show with Simon, but I totally miss you." There was a pause. "You and, y'know, Pete, both..."
Joe gave an involuntary snort as his stomach twisted uncomfortably, "Yeah. He misses you, too."
"Well. That's good to know."
"Yeah. It's like, one in the morning or something, though, man..."
"Did I wake you up? Shit, Joe, I'm sorry – I'll call you tomorrow..."
"No way, I was just like, hanging out on the grass... talking to Pete."
This time there was no laugh, but a lengthy silence.
"It's um. Pretty weird, dude. Being like, out here. With fucking Arma
. And Pete's being – " he stopped abruptly, looking over at the form now laying back on the grass with arms outstretched and knees pulled up. "Pete's being Pete, pretty much."
"But, he's cool, right?"
"Um. Well... like, maybe quieter than normal, but basically okay."
"Are you sure? I mean... is he sleeping at all? When I stay he keeps me up all night and it's like it's normal for him to never sleep. Could you just tell him I said 'hi' or something, later?"
"I... hang on." Joe pulled the phone away from his ear, looking at the screen. There was just one tiny black bar of life left in his battery, meaning maybe five minutes. For a few seconds, Joe gazed at the phone and chewed his lip; he glanced over at Pete and put the phone to his ear again, "Patrick?"
The look on Pete's face as he put the cell to his ear and Patrick's voice responded to his smooth, "Well, good evening, Mrs T, how are you tonight?", was exactly the reason Joe did it. It was also the reason he sighed miserably to himself and climbed into the van, leaving them to talk, knowing he wouldn't be needed.
It was sometime during that night, while he was laying on the floor and pretending to be asleep, that the door opened with its increasingly familiar whine and Pete crawled over, slipping the phone into the side of Joe's bag.
Pete had been outside far longer than the battery could have lasted. He must have called Patrick back on his own cell, and continued the conversation.
Joe hadn't wasted the time he'd spent in his sleeping bag, gazing at the metal side of the van. He had spent it carefully weighing up the situation, and eventually, he'd figured that if he was someone as awesome as Patrick, he would have chosen Pete: the hot dude (and even Joe could acknowledge that, even if he wasn't interested) who fronted some of the best bands on the scene; not the clumsy, dorky Jewish kid who was once labelled a stalker by half of the bands Patrick respected. Somehow, Pete invariably got what he wanted – Andy had been right about that, even if his One Month Theory had gone down the drain a month and a half ago. There didn't seem much point in risking humiliation for what he couldn't have.
When he got home, he was going to just back the fuck off. If it really meant that much to Pete – and fuck, he'd lasted more than twice as long as Pete's other obsessions already, so it clearly did – Pete could have him.
"Dude, seriously: are you okay, or whatever?" Pete's voice whispered close to his face and making him jump. "You've been quiet since we talked about Stuff, kind of, and Patrick was asking what the fuck the matter was, 'cause you didn't want to speak to him when he called."
"Huh?" Didn't want to talk to him? Is he, like, fucking insane?
Joe lifted his head, turning to look at the boy crouched behind him, "I did. I gave the phone to you because he was just like, asking about you, dude."
"If he wanted to speak to me, he would have called me
." Joe watched the exaggerated shrug and then the slump of Pete's shoulders silhouetted in the darkness. It didn't exactly suggest the comfortable nonchalance that his voice did. "Actually, he wanted me to put you back on the line, but the little battery thing was flashing. I just stayed outside a while because I won't sleep no matter where I am." He paused for a minute and then said, "Look, dude, I'm responsible for you right now, kind of, so if there's something wrong, I'm here or whatever, okay?"
Joe wasn't sure how to tell him, especially after the way Pete had been looking out for him, lately, that it was he himself who was the problem, so he just rolled over and mumbled, "Yeah, dude. I know."
"Wait, don't go to sleep yet," Pete said quickly, tugging on his shoulder to pull him back to look at him.
"Dude, I'm tired."
"Listen, Joe... I like, think I have an idea what's going on, kind of."Ten bucks says you don't
"I'm really sorry, or whatever. I just. He's not into dudes. I already talked to him about some girl he's into."
Joe felt extremely sick, suddenly, but tried not to let it show on his face, unless Pete's insomnia had allowed him to develop the ability to see in the dark. "Just forget it, man... it doesn't matter."
"No, actually, it totally matters. Are you going to be okay with that, or whatever? 'Cause if you're as hung up as you've been acting lately – even if I just figured it out, this like, totally makes sense of everything – it must suck, pretty much."
"I'll get over it."
"I'm sorry, dude."
"Okay, so, like, when you two have finished having your fucking
chick flick moment, can I sleep?" Timothy's voice asked through the darkness.
"Fuck off, man!" Pete snapped, dragging his sleeping bag up and settling down next to Joe. "We're having a private conversation."
"Then have it quietly. Jesus."
Joe sighed and buried his face in his pillow. Now at least one other person knew. It was only a matter of time before every kid on the fucking scene knew.
"It'll be okay, dude," Pete whispered, squeezing his shoulder.
For the first time in as long as they'd known each other, Pete fell asleep before Joe did.