The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants) [9/?]Summary:
AU Timeline - Teenage angst and Crayola Rainbows. Or, Joe saw him first.Author: rosiedoesBetas: satsuma_grove
R at absolute max.Pairing:
c.4,700 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...
This chapter has been a motherfucker to write, content-wise. I've actually finished this chapter with what was supposed to happen at the end of next, having cut out thousands of words. I know it's been a while but harassing me for chapters just makes the whole process more frustrating. Chill, kids. They'll keep coming.
Be warned: boys are boys in this chapter. We're hitting the mild-R, kids.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 BackPart Eight: The Battle's Only Halfway DoneThe World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman to Stop Being a Pussy and Start Going For What He Wants)Part Nine: Kiss Safe Thoughts Goodbye
"Not as eloquent as I may have imagined."
"You can drop me here, dad, it's cool."
"Are you sure?"
Joe nodded and pulled his rucksack onto his lap. "Yeah." He reached for the door and took a deep breath.
"Whatever anyone says, whatever they do..."
Joe looked his father in the eye for the first time in four days. He wasn't saying, 'Don't fight. Don't be suspended again', and Joe knew it. He nodded jerkily. "Thanks, Dad."
"You have your cell?" The brand new cell his parents had insisted on buying him, just in case.
"Yeah." Joe opened the door, ready to climb out.
"I love you, son."
Joe curled his lip, playfully and groaned, "Ew. Dad
! No bonding before school, dude."
"Oh, don't you worry – I'll get you at dinner..."
As he drove off, waving, Joe realised his dad was actually full-blood awesome.
Luke was waiting for him on the corner so he didn't have to walk into school by himself. It meant a lot, considering the potential for guilt by association.
"How're you doing, dude?"
"Not too bad... looking kind of less like a panda, now."
"And yet, still like a beast."
Joe laughed, starting to feel better about the whole thing.
"Okay, so, ground rules: I'm not holding your hand, we don't do flower arranging, I don't care how hot Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Johnny Depp are or... NO. Actually. Johnny Depp I can live with, because, I mean – he's Johnny Depp
. Oh, and if you ever
wear one single item of anything pink, dude, you're on your own."
There were no notes on his locker; maybe a few side-long looks in the halls and one kid gave him a supportive grin before ducking away and looking through his own locker, but no one was tearing him to pieces.
As soon as he got into class, he found out why.
People were talking. Talking about Bradley Kennedy. A couple of people were talking about how much of a dick he was, how it served him right, which was weird, because he figured the split lip Joe had given him wasn't worth talking about five days after it happened. But then, people started looking over at him.
"Did you hear about Brad?" Nikki asked, jumping up from the desk she was perched on.
"Did I hear what, dude?"
"Holy fuck – don't you know?"
One by one, people were crowding around him and he subconsciously began to back away, feeling as though a lynch mob was forming, even though they seemed driven by excitement, rather than murder.
"What the fuck, peeps?" Luke asked, moving up beside him. "What's the deal?"
"Kennedy got his ass kicked Saturday night, man!"
"Yeah – he was outside his dad's showroom, and he got mugged or something... there we like ten dudes with knives and shit."
"Ten! Don't be a dick – there's no way it was ten. I heard six."
"Yeah, and a guy like that probably wants to pretend he took on like, a fucking platoon of Marines, so I bet it was one kid in a hoodie."
Joe had a dark feeling that they might not be too far from the truth.
Patrick almost fell onto him when Joe opened the door, that evening. He was grinning like a lunatic, and wrapped both his arms around him tightly.
"Hi," he beamed, tilting his chin up to be kissed. They hadn't been allowed to see each other in four days, or speak on the phone, because Joe was grounded. Not for standing up for himself in school but for not coming home, not calling his parents, and not telling them he was suspended for the rest of the week until Thursday morning.
Even so, Joe just pulled back and shut the door.
"It was you, wasn't it?"
Patrick's smile vanished instantly. "What?"
"Bradley, dude. Bradley got his ass kicked Saturday night. It was you, wasn't it?"
There was a slow, heavy sigh and Patrick shook his head, walking up the stairs toward Joe's room.
He waited until he was sitting on Joe's bed, his hoodie bunched up in his lap and the door closed behind them, then said, "I didn't actually, physically
, dude – you could get into so much trouble for this!"
"I didn't even touch him!"
"So like, you want to tell me who did?"
"Do you seriously not know
Joe huffed out a harsh breath and rubbed his eyes. "Pete."
"...not Andy, dude? Andy wouldn't – "
"Oh, yes he would."
"Pete and Andy
"Pete and Andy, and?"
Blinking, Joe tried to think who else might give enough of a fuck to risk getting arrested on his behalf. He couldn't think of anyone. The only reason he'd thought of Chris was that if Pete was doing it, Chris wouldn't be far behind.
"Charlie, dude. Charlie
"Apparently, he has a place in his heart for goofy, gay Jews. Still trying to figure that one out."
Joe swallowed and moved to stand in front of him, not even sure what to say – people had made it sound like Bradley had been beat up pretty bad. He wasn't in school, anyway.
"I just don't... like, how could you do that
"Five of you
? On one guy?"
"Four. I didn't touch him. I stayed... well
away, believe me."
"But you let everyone else do that? Patrick - "
"Are you insane? How hard did you actually hit your head, dude? He – he... if it was just the fight, maybe, then I could have lived with it – but the... you couldn't see your face
, Joe! You couldn't see it when we got to the school and saw your car, like you were gonna cry
in front of everyone! He fucking deserved it – and worse. It's not even like they hurt him that bad... not really. They just shoved him around... scared him."
"So why was he not at school?"
"I don't know! Maybe he was embarrassed... maybe he got a longer suspension than you for being a homophobic dick
"Well, you knew where to find him!"
"Lizzie told me – she dumped that fuck the second he heard what he did. She was asking about you, dude – if you were okay."
"I'm fine. I didn't need like, a hit squad or something..."
"I can't believe you're mad at me for this."
"Dude..." Joe sank onto the bed beside him, "I didn't want this... I wanted to kind of like take the high ground or whatever. Just let it go. I just like, shouldn't have hit him at all..."
"You have a right to defend yourself."
"Not when I started it. Not when defending myself means, like... a bunch of dudes kicking his ass for me."
"It wasn't that bad
"What if they went to the cops?"
"How do you know?"
"And admit he got attacked by four midgets and the Incredible fucking Hulk? You go tell that to a cop and see what he says!"
"That's not even funny."
"No, but it's true."
Joe shook his head and dropped it into his hands, resting his elbows on his knees.
"We only did it because it was you, dude... no one wanted him to get away with that." Patrick told him softly, fingers brushing at his shoulder.
Joe sighed and fumbled around with one hand, trying to locate his boyfriend's. Patrick wrapped both arms around him instead, moving so one of his legs was draped over Joe's lap and the other tucked behind him and leaned on his shoulder. He ended up wrapped around him like a giant pencil friend.
"I'm not apologising for looking out for you, Joe. If he gets back to school and so much as looks at you wrong, I'd take the guys out and really kick his ass this time."
Joe didn't doubt it and he really, really wanted to be flattered that Patrick cared so much and felt so protective of him, but really he just felt kind of embarrassed. Nobody thought he was tough enough to look after himself. It pretty much amounted to humiliation of epic proportions.
"Aw, Joe, seriously – don't look so depressed, c'mon..."
He leaned a little closer to Patrick and let him nuzzle him slightly, kiss his cheek.
"I just feel like a total pussy, now, dude."
Patrick pulled back a little and made Joe turn to look at him. He was frowning, looking totally confused; "What? Why?"
"I dunno," Joe shrugged, "I guess like, because that's how dudes like us are supposed to be and I totally kind of failed to prove otherwise, so my boyfriend got all our friends to do it for me. And that just makes me seriously fucking lame."
For a few moments, Patrick looked speechless. "Joe..."
"You think I'm being a dick about it, I know, but – "
"No, I don't!"
Joe gave him a sceptical look.
"That didn't even occur to me, dude. Not for second. The guys and me did that because we've got your back, not because we didn't think you could. And you'd do that for us, right?"
Joe's shoulders sagged. "If this is like, what happens when I get into fights, I'm not getting into fights at all anymore. Ever, dude."
"Hopefully, you won't have to."
"'Cause I'd totally lose anyway. I guess I'm kinda lucky you're also into girls and stuff, because like, I pretty much am one, right?"
There was a sharp pain to the back of his head as Patrick slapped him, "Shut up. Seriously. If I thought you were a pussy I wouldn't be practically sitting in your lap. And I'm not into girls, I'm into you."
Smiling appreciatively, although not entirely convinced, Joe tried to coax him more squarely onto his lap, but Patrick tugged back and gradually Joe let himself be pulled down on to the bed and wrapped into a tight cuddle; "You're not a girl, okay?" Patrick told him, shifting as best he could with most of Joe's weight on top of him, and then pointedly tucked his legs up and around his hips. "You're not
a girl. I mean, I should know, right?"
Joe gave a self-conscious laugh and leaned down to kiss him.
"No, dude, seriously."
"I'm not a girl," he muttered in a monotone.
"What are you?"
"Close enough," Patrick snickered, allowing him his kiss and deliberately tightening his legs around him so he didn't have any choice but press closer. It didn't take Freud to get the point.
"You, um... you want to?" Joe asked uncertainly, because he really wasn't sure he was ready, but if that was what Patrick wanted...
"Not with your mom downstairs, dude," Patrick laughed, before sobering abruptly at the look on Joe's face, and adding, "but yeah. Yeah, dude, I do."
It wasn't that Joe didn't want to, it was just the idea made him kind of nervous. It was a lot of pressure, considering the fact that Patrick was pretty clear on what part he wanted to play and this kind of thing wasn't covered in any sex ed class Joe had ever attended. But it's gotta happen sometime, dude. And if it's gonna happen at all
"Joe, we don't have to if – "
He looked down at the boy gazing up at him and clasped a hand over his mouth to shut him up. "Shh. I do."
"You don't have to sound so surprised, man..."
"You really...? Really
"Not like, right now..."
"Well, no – totally."
"But... eventually, yeah."
For a moment, he thought he'd just said entirely the wrong thing – that Patrick didn't mean 'eventually', but more like, 'the first time we can get someplace to ourselves' – but there was a smile creeping across his face.
"I kind of love you, dude."
Andy clearly knew something was going on the moment he walked in. It may have been something to do with the hastily zipped jeans and the pleasant shade of poppy red that Patrick's face had turned as Andy stepped through the basement door. The look on Andy's face, though, was of knowing amusement and Joe felt suddenly very, very naughty. Like he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar (which was so much worse than his boyfriend's pants, obviously). They hadn't actually been doing anything too risqué, but now that they knew exactly where they stood, they'd fallen into a prolonged game of chicken – testing to see how far the other would go (or indeed, let them go) and each little creeping progression was making it easier, less scary. If Joe's mom hadn't called them down for dinner the night before, over a week after the whole thing had started, Joe was pretty sure some of the unfinished business from his birthday may have finally come to a conclusion.
"You want me to come back later?" Andy joked, already dropping his bag on the floor and clearly having no intention of leaving them alone again.
Joe just poked him in the leg with his foot and grinned; they wouldn't even have been together if it wasn't for Andy.
With his car still in the shop, having the paintwork fixed, Joe was back to getting rides home from his surrogate sibling. It was actually kind of cool. He hadn't realised that he missed their private hang time, before now, but while he and Patrick were so involved with each other the only time Joe had for Andy and Pete was when they were all out together. It didn't leave much time to catch up or solicit brotherly advice. And Andy already seemed to know.
"You guys are getting kind of serious, huh?" he asked, the moment they were clear of the Chevrolet parked ahead of them along the sidewalk.
The only response Joe gave was a smirk and a shrug. Andy was pretty good at reading between the lines anyway.
"Is that serious
"Like, 'whole lot of fun' serious."
"Fun, huh? Does that mean - ?"
"Not yet, dude... but we're like... kind of working on it."
"Working pretty hard judging on what I saw..."
The wry smile on Andy's face was more encouraging than anything; he was rooting for them.
"It's kind of an in-joke, dude."
"I kind of... So like, on my birthday, I turned him down for... stuff. And so we're kind of dicking around, not taking it majorly seriously or anything, y'know?"
Andy glanced over at him and nodded.
"Because I mean, like... it's a pretty big deal."
"And like, totally complicated and we're both – I mean. Neither of us have been there before and stuff."
"If I had any more idea on what to do than you do, I'd totally impart all and any knowledge, little brother, but girls are pretty much self-basting."
Andy just laughed. "You'll never need to know."
"Do I even want to?"
"Not while you've got little Stumpy, back there."
Joe snorted, and started, "Oh, he's not –" He shut his mouth abruptly as he realised what he was saying. "Um. New subject?"
"Yeah, great idea – let's talk about what 'too much information' means."
"So, it's like, not okay to say my boyfriend is like, seriously pa- ?" Joe teased innocently.
"NO!" Andy laughed back, back-handing him in the shoulder. "No, that is so not okay! When we get out there and start playing shows, all I'm gonna see of him is his ass, dude. And that is so wrong."
"I should like, take up drums or something..."
"You should take a cold shower!"
"What, like, together?"
"Jesus, dude, stop
!" Andy almost wailed through his laughter, slapping at him blindly while trying to keep his eyes on the road.
Joe folded his arms and propped his feet on the dash, mock-woundedly, "Some brother you are, man, if you don't even care..."
"Oh, I care, dude, I just don't want to ever, ever think of certain things including but not limited to: your boyfriend's dick; your boyfriend's ass; either of you naked; either of you naked together
... and what the fuck I'm gonna have to do to get a good night's sleep when we start touring. Somebody's gonna have to play nookie police..."
"Yeah, and it'll be like me, telling Pete to get his hands off my bitch."
"I'm pretty sure Patrick can handle that by himself."
"Yeah... he's pretty badass..." Joe nodded, feeling the need to point this out because he wasn't sure Andy saw it quite as clearly as he did, as good friends as they were.
"He's a good dude."
"Right, and I mean, like, he totally gets me – "
Andy couldn't quite smother a chuckle in time and immediately apologised, reaching out to ruffle Joe's hair.
" – shut up, man, he does... most of the time. And he's... I just totally love him, dude."
"Oh. Woah. Okay. That's serious."
"Yeah. I guess it is."
Neither of them spoke again for several minutes, Joe just watched the street lights glinting up the windshield, until Andy said, "Does he know?"
"That you feel like that, man."
"He said it first," Joe informed him, trying to smother the pride he felt at that fact. Because seriously, if Patrick hadn't taken the plunge he might never have said it himself, and might never have believed him if he'd just said it back. He was still trying to figure out what Patrick saw in him, anyway.
"So, I guess you guys are pretty good, right now?"
. Seriously. The past couple of weeks have kind of like been the best ever, basically. Except for not having my car, but I mean, like, nothing's ever perfect..." Andy was looking at him funny. "What?"
"Nothing. It's just that like, six months ago, I was having a whole different conversation with you... It's pretty cool. I thought you were growing up then
, but damn..."
Joe grinned self-consciously. Probably wouldn't even be dating him if it wasn't for like, you kicking my ass into bringing him to the show, dude. And that is totally like, fucking scary.
When it finally happened, it was kind of unexpected. The longer they spent curled up in each other's beds, or teasing each other with inappropriate groping at increasingly risky locations, the more comfortable they got. And the more comfortable they got, the more intense their game of chicken became – until one evening when Patrick came over after work and Joe just didn't stop him as he went from blowing playful raspberries on his stomach to tugging down his boxers.
Patrick had mostly seemed shocked that he'd been allowed to do it at all. Joe had been entirely appalled with himself for not getting into this way, way
earlier. Unfortunately for Patrick, Joe was only halfway into reciprocating when Patrick's mom called and told him to come home. They had agreed, though, through sloppy, frustrated kisses at the bedroom door, that the time had definitely come. The only problem now was getting some actual privacy.
And privacy was not something that came easily with three parents and two siblings between them (three, if they counted Megan, but she'd moved out when Patrick was in Elementary school). Especially when Patrick's mother was so over-protective and Joe's parents were total homebodies – or expected him to babysit when they did venture beyond the sitting room. They thought, during the last weekend in September, that there might be a chance when Patrick's mom went to her sister's place – but Kevin had a bunch of friends around instead of going out and neither of them were that happy at the prospect of having slightly drunk D&D geeks invading their more private party.
Then, there was a Saturday afternoon when Joe's mom was taking Sam to the mall to get some new sneakers because he was growing out of everything all of a sudden, but Joe's uncle Philip came over to help his dad with the new shed in the yard. Even with them in the garden, Joe wasn't too deliriously happy at the prospect of his father – as accepting as he was – mocking him about it for the rest of his life.
They even joked about going to a motel in sheer desperation for some time alone, but it just seemed way too tacky and a little more grubby than they really wanted to deal with.
But it was one Sunday – the second weekend in October – in the afternoon before a rescheduled band practise, that they found themselves on the couch in Patrick's basement. It was a relatively safe place to make out, because there were doors at each end of the staircase and his mother was absolutely convinced the place was filled with creepy-crawlies and therefore refused to venture beyond the top step (she had no idea about Andy's spider liberation campaign and Patrick was very careful about keeping it that way). And it was easy to get carried away after several fruitless weeks of trying to arrange some time alone and entirely failing, getting by on rushed and still fairly clumsy blowjobs and handjobs which were really just getting kind of boring, now. So when Patrick mumbled Joe's name against his shoulder as Joe fumbled with the zipper on his jeans and Patrick tried valiantly to shove down Joe's pants, he assumed it was just because the whole thing was risky and kind of hot. Patrick did that
when he was into whatever they were doing at that point in time – mumbled Joe's name at him like he was the eighth wonder of the world (which he clearly wasn't, but Joe was down with flattery if he could get it). He had no reason to expect Patrick to really mean, 'Joe, get off - I want to kick off my pants and hang over the edge of the couch in a really unflattering way to get hold of some stuff you were always too chicken to buy'. Because, apparently – and reasonably, actually – the back of the broken amp they only used as a cup stand was a great place to hide things that neither of them would ever, ever
want their parents to find.
Joe spent several moments busily realising he'd never seen his boyfriend from this angle before, and if it wasn't kind of embarrassing it might have been a tragedy; the next few were consumed with wondering where the hell he actually had
got this stuff from, because Patrick looked so young most of the time he'd probably give the cashier at Walgreens a coronary.
"Okay, take this."
Joe just blinked at him.
"C'mon, man, we don't have that long."
Joe turned his attention to the accoutrements in his hands and swallowed awkwardly. He was about to raise vague objections as to the general circumstances, but Patrick was wise to his procrastinating habits and wriggled back down underneath him, tugging at his wrist until he leaned back down over him, close enough to kiss. At which point Joe really lost all cognitive function in the proceedings, barely even able to take direct, if mumbled, instructions – at least until Patrick slapped him lightly on the shoulder and snapped, "Jesus, dude – do you need a fucking diagram?"
"Don't be sorry
, just... do you want to not do this?"
"Well, I'm kind like of there, now..."
"Um, yeah. Right now, not so much..."
Huffing, Joe pressed his hands against the couch and started to pull away, knowing that with the volume of blood rushing to his face the whole ordeal was going to be pretty pointless soon, anyway. Quite literally.
"Hey. Come back here..." Patrick was following, dragging himself into a sitting position and pulling him closer, one hand on a very hot cheek, the other slipping around him tenderly. "Don't get pissy... not now, dude."
"I'm not – I just like... it's kind of embarrassing, man. I don't want to suck at this so bad that you never want to do it again."
Sighing, Patrick nuzzled his cheek and assured him, "That's not going to happen."
Believing that didn't come quite as naturally as it should have done. He disguised the fact by letting Patrick kiss him soothingly until he was suitably diverted from his neurosis, and then found himself carefully pushed back to slump against the back of the couch while Patrick climbed into his lap, mumbling, "I really hope this is easier, dude, or I'm giving up..."
It was still embarrassing. And awkward. But at least now all Joe really had to think about was making sure Patrick didn't fall off his lap and that this old couch really was getting more than its fair of action. That all paled into an insignificance of gasps and half-hissed curses that made Joe feel both guilty and glad that he wasn't the one doing this. Then again, that had been all Patrick's decision.
"You okay, dude?" he whispered into his shoulder, anyway.
"Finefinefinefinefine... just. Shit, man. Ow
"You want to stop?"
"Well, I just mean – "
"Dude. Shh. This has to get better or nobody would do it."
And actually, it did
get better. And easier, kind of, once they stopped focusing on how they were supposed to be doing it and actually just started doing it
. It wasn't supposed to be a military operation anyway. It was supposed to be fun. Joe could kind of see how that worked, after a while, but it being fun, rather than seriously weird, a whole bunch or effort and yeah, okay, really pretty hot (even when Patrick knelt on the remote and got the CD stuck on 'Everlong' at a volume that increased his mother's likelihood of throwing arachnaphobia to the wind and stomping down the stairs to tell them to be quiet, by approximately a factor of x1000) was kind of a long way off in practice.
But he did get to see Patrick with his bangs all stuck to his face, and watch him try to smile around breathless gasps (more like pants, really) and abandon them in favour of hurried kisses, steadied with fistfuls of Joe's curls. Now that part, that
was pretty awesome. So awesome that what it really took to get him off was opening his own eyes to find Patrick gazing down at him
with a weird, slightly stupefied look on his face, bottom lip sucked between his teeth and almost stretched into a delirious grin.
"My legs are totally killing me," he mumbled against Joe's neck when he'd caught his breath back.
Joe just snickered in slightly stunned wonderment and kissed him on the cheek as he rubbed Patrick's thighs soothingly. "Lucky you're not our drummer, then, man..."
Patrick just snorted and almost fell on his ass as he tried to climb off of Joe's lap and stand up and retrieve his jeans.
"Dude, don't like... break your arm or something," Joe giggled, grabbing him to help him catch his balance, "I don't wanna like, become a sex-related statistic already..."
Turning to retort, and picking up his jeans to hold them in a subtly strategic position, Patrick opened his mouth and only managed, "Um... I think I'm gonna go get you a clean shirt..."
Joe looked down at himself and blushed. "Uh. Yeah. Thanks, dude." The very idea of anyone – never mind Patrick's mom (or worse – Pete!) – figuring out what they'd been doing was utterly mortifying, and one look at his shirt provided pretty firm evidence.
He got up and reclaimed the clothes he had been smart enough to actually remove and started to put them back on self-consciously, only to find himself pulled back and wrapped in a tight cuddle before he'd even finished buttoning his pants. For a minute or two they just stood there, listening to the track still
playing and letting the whole thing fall into place.
"Hey?" Patrick murmured against his shoulder eventually, and Joe just 'hmm?'-ed in response. "I think I'm kind of ready to tell my mom."