November 25th, 2009
Title: Everybody is Shining, Everyone Deserves the Flames
Pairing Andy/Patrick (Mention of past Patrick/Pete, present Ashlee/Pete)
Rating: Contains explicit sex. Adults only/NC-17
Warnings: Contains no material generally considered triggering.
Kinks: This story contains (skip) Cross-dressing, shaving, low-level S&M.
Word count: 15 000 words
Summary: The photo was supposed to have been destroyed.
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
Betaed by: seanlily
Notes: Title is from “Champagne for My Real Friends”, link/cut from “Tiffany Blews”. Written for the Bandomrarepair challenge.
“So, what’s the secret agenda?” Patrick asked, looking around the restaurant. “Not that I don’t appreciate a change from standing at a counter eating a burger with you.”
Andy crossed his arms. “Do I have to have an agenda? It’s not enough that I’m in New York to get some ink, and I want to catch up with you properly?”
“It never has been before,” Patrick said, pushing aside the ramekin that his tofu brulée had been in. “This is an actual restaurant, with printed menus, and a freaking wine list. You don’t do this kind of thing.”
“There is something...” Andy said, and Patrick grinned.
“I knew it.”
Andy leaned forward and dropped his voice. “Last time Pete was around, he dropped off a huge stack of cartons at Fuck City, stuff he’d had in storage somewhere that he had to move. I’ve been going through them, storing it all properly, indexing and archiving it.”
“You wound up with those cartons?” Patrick asked. “Pete tried to make me take them, too. There must be all kinds of crap in there.”
Andy didn’t say anything for a moment, just looked at Patrick steadily, and Patrick said, “Okay, what did you find?”
“This,” Andy said, pulling an envelope out of his hoodie pocket and handing it over the table. “I figure it’s left over from some kind of party or joke, but seeing it without any context...”
Patrick grimaced and ripped the envelope open. “What kind of evidence trail did Pe—”
The Polaroid photo inside made his throat tighten, and he couldn’t finish the sentence. He remembered that day at the apartment so clearly—Pete coming home, blundering into Patrick’s room despite the door being wedged closed, and the hideously frozen moment of mutual embarrassment. Then Pete had grinned, and said, “Awesome dress! Can I put makeup on you?” and it had all been okay.
Patrick could still recall perfectly the feel of Pete dragging a razor over his legs, the fabric pulling around his thighs, and the smell of the eyeliner Pete painted on.
When he looked up again, Andy was watching him.
Patrick pushed the photo back into the envelope, then into his jeans pocket, and jammed his shaking hands between his knees. “Um, I’ve gone past the point where I can pretend it was for Halloween, haven’t I?”
“It was just a thing I used to do,” Patrick said. “Thanks for returning the photo, because Pete promised me he’d destroyed it.”
“At least it was taken on an instant camera, so you know there’s no negative around,” Andy said. “I can’t believe you trusted Pete with a photo.”
“It was a long time ago,” Patrick pointed out, pushing his chair away from the table and standing up. “I’d know better now.”
Patrick waited outside the restaurant, the envelope with the photo crackling in his pocket, while Andy paid the check. “Fuck,” he said under his breath. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Andy stepped out of the doorway, zipping his hoodie up. “I’m heading to the Village. Which way are you going?”
“Midtown,” Patrick said. “Thanks, for everything.”
Andy nodded, looking like he wanted to say something but didn’t know how.
They hugged and Andy strode off, into the night, leaving Patrick standing on the sidewalk, a thin tube of something in his hand, pushed there by Andy, that he didn’t dare look at.
Patrick shoved his hand into his jacket pocket quickly, then looked around for a cab.
At the apartment provided by the label he was working for, Patrick bolted and locked the door, then armed the electronic system, before falling onto the couch.
He pulled out the photo first. Fuck, it had all been so long ago, and he looked so painfully young, all awkward knees in Pete’s girlfriend’s shoes, holding onto the wall in the hallway, peering through Pete’s idea of doing his hair. The dress had been left behind by some girl that had passed through the apartment, shoved behind the couch along with the pizza boxes. One of Joe’s girls? Patrick had never known, but she hadn’t been some skinny thing, and her dress had fitted when he’d tried it.
Patrick pulled out the tube Andy had pushed into his hand.
Mascara. And when Patrick peered at the label, it was clear mascara.
He threw the mascara across the room, so it bounced off the wall and clattered across the tiled floor, then tore the photo into the tiniest shreds he could manage, the skin on his face burning.
Then he picked the mascara up again.
Andy turned up at the studio, escorted in by the guy on reception who had managed to work out who Andy was and slap a visitor’s pass on him.
Patrick pushed his headset at the tech beside him, patted Andy on the shoulder as he squeezed past on his way out of the control room, and went into the tracking room to sort out the mess the vocalist was making of the phrasing, glad of the distraction.
He had no idea what to say to Andy, despite having spent two bad nights trying to find the words. Thank you, but you’ve misread this? I’m too embarrassed to deal with talking about this, even to you?
Andy had taken a paperback out of his backpack, and was leaning against the wall at the back of the control room, when Patrick opened the door again.
“Cue him in,” Patrick told the tech, an endlessly competent woman called Dee, leaning across the deck, and Dee settled the headset on her ears more securely and spoke into the mic.
Patrick stood in front of Andy, trying not to listen to the mess from the tracking room coming over the control room speaker. “Hey,” Patrick said.
“Did I do the wrong thing?” Andy asked. “I couldn’t find an online etiquette guide that was any use.”
Patrick shook his head, acutely aware that his eyelashes were catching each time he blinked. “No, that was, um, thoughtful.”
“Do you want to grab a meal tonight? I’m flying out tomorrow.”
“We exploring any more secret agendas, or is it back to burgers while standing at a counter?” Patrick asked.
Andy grinned. “We have to stand up, after the ink I’ve had done.”
“Good luck flying. I’ll ring you when I finish here. It could be late.”
Andy glanced at the window to the tracking room. “Had you considered—”
“Go,” Patrick said, pushing Andy toward the door. “Leave me to do my job.”
Patrick sat down at the console, and Dee passed the headset back and said, “Andy left something for you.”
The package, wrapped in plain white paper and taped up securely, was pushed into the top of Patrick’s backpack, under the console.
“Thanks,” Patrick said.
Half an hour later, while the vocalist was on the phone to his manager, complaining about what an asshole Patrick was, and Dee was getting coffee, Patrick called Andy.
“What would have happened if I’d said you’d done the wrong thing?” Patrick asked.
Andy chuckled. “Retrieved it, apologized, trusted that we’d been friends long enough for it still to be okay. Do you like it?”
“I have no idea,” Patrick said. “I’m kind of busy. Call you later.”
Dee opened the control room door, put a mug of coffee in front of Patrick and grimaced at the hand waving going on in the tracking room. “Want me to put the speaker on, so we can listen?” she asked.
“You can, if you want,” Patrick said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Patrick was probably breaching any number of studio and label conduct codes by carrying his backpack into the bathroom, but he was hopefully far enough up the food chain that no one was going to give him grief over it. It had been years since he’d been randomly drug-tested, which must be a sign of something.
Peeling the package undone silently inside the cubicle was trickier, the tape catching just as the main bathroom door opened.
He sat, barely daring to breathe, resting his head against the cold plastic of the cubicle wall, while two guys from another tracking room discussed confidential financial arrangements while pissing.
If he didn’t have his fingers slid inside a package from Andy that could contain fucking anything, if he wasn’t trying to stop his hands from shaking, he’d write down the fucking details and phone Pete with the info later, just to get those losers’ asses busted for breaching their confidentiality agreements.
The two losers left, without washing their hands—how did people cope with doing that?—and Patrick took a long breath in and worked a fingernail under the tape holding the side of the package closed.
The paper fell open, and he pulled out a black T-shirt. It felt and looked pretty much like every other T-shirt he owned, which didn’t make any fucking sense, until he shook it out completely, unfolding it.
A wide band of lace hung from the bottom.
Patrick felt like something was unraveling inside him, or sliding off him, as he hung his hat up on the hook behind the door, then pulled the T-shirt he was wearing over his head and hung it up, too. He slid the T-shirt from Andy on, tucking it in securely, then put his own T-shirt back over the top and jammed his hat on.
The paper and tape got shoved back in his pack, and he flushed and washed his hands, then headed back to the studio, hoping he didn’t look too red and flustered. Dee would probably assume he’d gone to the bathroom to jerk off, which was only marginally better than thinking he’d gone there to do lines.
When he sat back down, Dee was talking on her cell phone, and the band was still arguing on their cells mutely on the other side of the window. Patrick tried not to think about the bottom of the T-shirt pulling as he leaned forward to pick up his coffee.
Dee put her cell phone down and gestured at the tracking room. “You going to stop them?”
“It’s not my job,” Patrick said. “Someone is paying you, me and the studio by the hour. I assume they’re arguing with that person right now.”
Dee nodded and started texting on her cell phone.
Patrick drank his coffee and thought.
Andy had known, somehow, that Patrick wasn’t Pete, who still wore girl jeans, stupid T-shirts and his wife’s makeup when no one was around to stop him. And he wasn’t the Patrick in the photo anymore either, brave enough to put on heels and a stolen dress and let a crazy best friend take a photo.
Andy had just known.
“I think the money person has won,” Dee said, nudging Patrick and pointing at the tracking room, where the arm waving had been replaced with water drinking and sheet music rustling.
“Let’s work,” Patrick said.
Andy was moving slowly, instead of at his usual deranged bolting rabbit gait, so Patrick was able to keep up with him easily.
“It’s not the new ink, so much as the plastic and tape over the top,” Andy said, sounding plaintive. “And I can’t pull at it in public.”
“Absolutely,” Patrick agreed. “So hard to explain that your ass is covered in cling wrap, and that there’s not actually anything anatomically wrong with you.”
“It’s so undignified,” Andy complained.
“I’m sorry, but that’s your own fault. This is my building,” Patrick said. “Do you want to come up? You could lean against the kitchen counter or lie face down on the couch while I mock you.”
They stood on the sidewalk, people walking past them with dogs or talking on their cells, and Andy shuffled on the spot, possibly rearranging the cling wrap on his ass.
“It’s probably best if I just wander off, clutching my buttocks,” Andy said. “I would like to stay in closer touch, if that’s okay?”
The Pizza Hut beside the apartment block poured light out onto the street, so Patrick could easily see the hesitancy on Andy’s face.
“Sure,” Patrick said. “We can talk by email.”
Andy hugged Patrick, too quickly for Patrick to return it, then kind of froze on the sidewalk. Patrick wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Andy either so indecisive and embarrassed, or in so much discomfort after a tattooing session.
It couldn’t be the ink.
“You want to ask me if I’m wearing it, don’t you?” Patrick said.
Patrick pulled the neck of his T-shirt across, to show Andy the edge of the black T-shirt underneath.”Yeah. It fits fine. If you come up to the apartment, I’ll show you what it looks like on.”
Andy shook his head, like a wet dog, and said, “Fuck, no, I’ve already had one personal ethical crisis over the photo. I don’t need to have another one.”
Andy took off, definitely not at his top speed, into the New York night, and Patrick said, “What?” to his disappearing back.
Patrick let himself into the apartment block with his swipe card, and into the elevator.
Ethical crisis? What kind of fucking ethical crisis could Andy be having, when he’d given Patrick the T-shirt in the first place?
In his apartment, Patrick threw himself down on the couch and tossed his hat at the TV. He had to close his eyes, just for a moment, as he undid his fly and pushed his jeans down and pulled his ordinary T-shirt up.
The black T-shirt fit tight against his skin, and when he touched the band of lace across his belly, it sparked like electric shocks right through his fingers.
It wasn’t that it turned it him on—it made him feel so much more, like the whole world was brand new again, rules were for other people, and he could do anything.
Andy could probably tell him the reasons for the power behind transgression. Assuming Andy ever made sense again.
Patrick didn’t fucking get some people. He expected Pete to be incoherent, not Andy.
Pete answered his phone on the second attempt, and the background noise was dogs barking and traffic, not a club, so Patrick was probably in luck.
“Hey, honey,” Pete said. “Have you quit yet?”
“No, but I think they tried to fire me today. Can you talk?”
“Hang on… Rigby, stop that! Sure, I’m walking the brutes, in the hope that if I wear them out, they’ll not chew the furniture while we sleep. Do you have industry gossip for me?”
“Possibly, if I can remember the details of what I overheard in the bathroom. I really rang to talk about something else. You know those cartons you gave Andy to sort through?”
“Yeah,” Pete said. “Hemmy, that’s not cool. Uh oh, shit scooping time.”
“There was a photo in there that you’d promised you’d destroyed.”
Patrick listened to the sound of Pete simultaneously picking up dog turds and searching his memory.
“I’m going to need something more,” Pete said. “Which photo? Of Joe’s ass?”
“If Andy found that one, he was discreet enough not to tell me. No, the photo of me.”
Pete was silent, against a background of dogs snuffling and a car motor revving, then he said, “Oh, shit. I can only think of one photo of you that you’d be really upset I hadn’t got rid of.”
“Yeah, that one,” Patrick said.
“Do you hate me?”
“Um, no,” Patrick said. “Because Andy has displayed huge amounts of tact and understanding over it.”
“Awesome,” Pete said. “Hang on. Andy? Tact?”
“I think he ran out of tact tonight. He went from being totally supportive to having what he called an ethical crisis and leaving.”
“Patrick, dearest boy,” Pete said, in his stern, parental voice. “When you say supportive, what do you mean? Supportive like I was supportive?”
“He didn’t do my hair,” Patrick said. “Possibly because that’s a concept alien to Andy. But, yeah.”
Pete laughed loud enough that Patrick held the phone away from his ear until Pete had stopped.
“I think there’s a difference between me lending you my makeup and Andy, who is actually feral and has to be contractually obliged to engage in personal grooming, doing whatever it is he’s done. I’m a kindred spirit, a fellow traveler, or whatever, though I think we’re on different paths. I have no idea what Andy is up to or why he suddenly discovered his ethics, but I can guarantee he doesn’t keep his ethics in with his eyeliner collection.”
“You’re not helping,” Patrick said. “Why would he give me things, then freak out?”
“The real question is why would he give you things at all, after finding one pretty photo of you in a little black dress?”
Pete cackled obnoxiously at his own wit, so Patrick hung up on him.
Ashlee answered the phone at the house. “Pete’s walking the two furniture-destroying monsters,” she said. “I can’t believe he wouldn’t take one of his cell phones with him, so give him a call.”
“I wanted to talk to you,” Patrick said.
“Excellent,” Ashlee said. “About anything in particular? Or can I just vent at you?”
“Pete’s told you everything, hasn’t he?” Patrick asked. “I don’t really need to ask that.”
“About you?” Ashlee said. “Probably. You know how hard it is to stop him. Let me think... I know about you and him, in far too much detail. I know about the first time with a boy, and the third time. And the whole peas thing. And about that trip to Kansas. And about the time he burst in on you in a dress. And—”
“Stop,” Patrick said, interrupting. “You can stop now, before I consolidate my plans to murder Pete. Anyway, Andy has just found out about the make-up and dress thing, because Pete was careless, of course.”
“Do you want me to talk to Pete about this?” Ashlee asked. “Because if he’s fucked things up for you…”
“No, it’s okay. I just don’t… get what Andy is doing. I thought you might be able to help, because Pete was only stupid at me.”
“What’s Andy doing?” Ashlee asked, and she sounded deeply curious, even long distance.
“He’s bought me things, and now he’s kind of freaked out or something.”
“Things?” Ashlee asked. “What like stripper heels and a corset?”
“Shit, no,” Patrick said, cringing internally at the image. “Like clear mascara and a T-shirt.”
“Awww,” Ashlee cooed. “That’s so sweet. Pete bought me stripper heels, and they suck. Don’t you see what Andy’s done? He’s given you things you can wear all the time, and that are for you, not for the shitty fantasies inside his head. That’s just adorable. What happened then, to make him go all weird? Sorry, weirder.”
“You realize I’m baring my soul here, don’t you?” Patrick said.
“No secrets between us,” Ashlee said. “Whether we want there to be, or not.”
“I don’t know. We were talking, saying goodbye, then he took off.”
“C’mon. You must know what you were talking about.”
Patrick paused, and through the phone he could hear dogs barking and doors slamming, then Pete calling out.
“Just locking myself in the bathroom,” Ashlee whispered into the phone. “Right, we’re safe now.”
“Okay, Andy had asked if we could stay in closer contact, then I’d shown him the neck of the T-shirt and told him it fitted.”
“Hang on,” Ashlee whispered. “I’m in here,” she called out, and Patrick could hear Pete’s muffled voice. “I’m getting off, leave me alone.”
Pete’s cheer was clear, over the phone.
“Right,” Ashlee whispered. “Then?”
“You’re not going to do sound effects, are you? Then I said that if he came up to my apartment, he could see it on me.”
Ashlee gasped, and then started laughing; Patrick could hear Pete in the background, calling out something.
“Hang on, Pete’s being an asshole,” she whispered. “No, hon, you cannot give Patrick my stripper heels, even if I never wear them!” she called out. “Because they won’t fit him!”
“I don’t want your stripper heels,” Patrick said. “Or anyone else’s. Please stop Pete.”
“Oh, I will,” Ashlee said. “Now, onto the problem at hand. No wonder Andy flipped out. I know you’re a good gift-giver, so I’ll lay it out for you. There’s a girl you know. She’s a friend. She mentions that 1000 thread count organic cotton sheets are her thing, but she can’t find any. So, you track down a set, a really nice set, and give them to her. It’s kind of an intimate gift, but you’d like to make her happy.”
“Okaaay,” Patrick said dubiously.
“Then the girl tells you how much she loves the gift, and invites you to her bedroom to look at her sprawled across the sheets. What do you do?”
“Fuck,” Patrick said.
“Certainly,” Ashlee agreed. “That’s one option. But what if she’s just offering to show you how well the sheets match the comforter, not the carpet matches the drapes? She’s a friend; she’ll punch you if you’re wrong.”
“I have to go have some kind of a breakdown,” Patrick said. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, darling,” Ashlee said. “Tell Andy I love him too.”
Patrick put his phone down.
Oh, fuck. He could not fucking deal with any of this.
So that was one of Andy’s crises explained, and Patrick would have to apologize for that, but what about the first one?
Andy was obviously somewhere busy, judging by the background noise, when he answered his phone.
“I’m sorry,” Patrick said, not waiting for Andy to speak. “I shouldn’t have said what I did, I should have realized it was going to make you uncomfortable. I don’t know what I did the first time, to put you in the same position, but I’m sorry for that, too.”
“What?” Andy said. “What are you talking about?”
“Offering to show you,” Patrick said, stumbling over his words. “Of course you flipped out. That was stupid of me.”
“Hang on,” Andy said. “I’m not talking about this on fucking Bowery St.”
The shouting and music in the background stopped, and Andy said, “Don’t know how long I’ve got before they throw me out of here, so let’s sort this shit out. I don’t know what you’re trying to apologize for, but I think you’re doing it unnecessarily.”
“I don’t need to? I didn’t say anything wrong?”
“No,” Andy said, and he sounded tired and miserable, like he had back when they’d been on the road for too long. “The issues are all mine. I’m projecting way too much of my own stuff onto the situation, and it’s fucking it up for both of us.”
“I still don’t know what’s going on.”
“I’ll email,” Andy said. “A big guy in a suit is about to throw me out of here, because I’m most definitely not wearing a shirt and tie.”
Patrick did the only thing he could think of. He sat on the tiles in the shower stall, water streaming down his back, and dragged the blade of his razor over the skin of his legs carefully, scraping everything away.
Patrick checked his email inbox on his phone while he waited for the takeaway coffees, but it was still resolutely empty of emails from Andy. Pete had sent him something with attachments that he had no intention of opening in a public space, having been caught out that way before, though the message from Ashlee was probably safer.
The front desk guy at the studio said, “Hey, Andy is here again. If he’s working with you, do you want me to add him to the list and make him a pass?”
“Um,” Patrick said. “He’s not technically helping out, so just leave him as a visitor, okay?”
“Sure,” the guy said. “Whatever you want.”
Patrick pushed open the control room door, and realized his main concerns were not dropping the coffees and getting his voice to work at all.
Andy and Dee were sitting at the console, Andy perched on the edge of the chair, and they both turned to look at him.
“Hi,” Patrick said, and it came out flat and strained.
“Coffee? Please?” Dee asked, sounding desperate, and Patrick handed over her tall skinny latte.
“Hey,” Andy said, and Patrick put his coffee on the edge of the console and slid his pack off his shoulder.
Was it possible to die of embarrassment? Patrick was establishing that it wasn’t. Wearing the T-shirt under an ordinary shirt had seemed like such a good idea that morning, and was proving to be fatally stupid.
“No band,” Dee said. “Not yet.”
“You can grab a break, if you want,” Patrick said. “Just take your cell, so I can call you if they turn up.”
“Thanks,” Dee said, scooping up her coffee and phone, and scribbling her cell number on the whiteboard beside the door.
The door closed behind her, and Patrick slid into her seat, checking the mics to the tracking room were all off.
“Flying out, huh?” he said.
Andy wheeled his chair around, so he was facing Patrick. “Staying here and sorting out this mess is more important. And emailing seemed likely to result in you throwing your laptop across the room.”
Patrick flinched. “Um, I’ve only done that a couple of times before...”
Andy reached out, sliding his fingers into the open collar of Patrick’s shirt, so they brushed against the T-shirt. “Tell me the day of the photo was one of the times you and Pete slept together.”
His palm was flat against Patrick’s collar bone, fingers curling over Patrick’s shoulder.
“Um, yeah, it was. Why?”
“Because, fuck, it was so clear that you needed someone to hold you. If I’d known, if you’d told me, I would have been there for you. I wish I could have helped you.”
Andy’s thumb was stroking against Patrick’s neck, and Patrick wondered if Andy could feel his pulse trying to pound its way out of duple meter.
“What if things are worse now than they ever were then?” Patrick said. “So much more fear and less hope.”
“Shit,” Andy said. “I’ll put my own stuff aside and be a fucking grownup about this. Whatever you need, okay?”
“What is your stuff? I haven’t worked it out.”
Andy closed his eyes briefly, creasing the skin between his eyes. “Okay, what’s one humiliating admission from me, under the circumstances? I was so close to not giving you the photo, and not from any selfless wish to save you from embarrassment.”
“You wanted to keep it?” Patrick asked, grappling with the idea.
“Yeah. When I found that photo, it felt like someone had ripped the top of my skull off and shoved a live power cable in there. And I had to walk away last night, for the same reason, because the idea of you…” Andy swallowed. “Is so fucking hot.”
Andy was looking down, at the floor, and Patrick could see the grooves his glasses had worn in the side of his nose. His hand was still and heavy against Patrick’s shoulder.
And in the silence of the control room, both of their breathing was painfully loud.
“Can I show you something?” Patrick asked, and Andy looked up and nodded, just once.
Patrick lifted one leg up, propping his foot on Andy’s chair, making the seat swivel before Andy braced his feet. Then Patrick pulled his jeans up, over the pale, fragile skin of his calf.
Andy made a noise low in his throat, then let go of Patrick’s shoulder and wound both hands around Patrick’s calf, leaning forward so his forehead rested on Patrick’s knee.
The back of Andy’s neck was warm, when Patrick touched it, brushing fingers down Andy’s spine. One of Andy’s hands pushed up, under the folds of Patrick’s jeans, and Andy rubbed his face against Patrick’s knee.
Patrick leaned forward, and said, “Andy?”
Andy looked up, and met Patrick halfway, hand still sliding up and down Patrick’s calf. His mouth was gentle against Patrick’s, and when he pulled away, he said, “If this wasn’t your workplace…”
The banging on the glass made them both jump, and Patrick looked up to find at least some of the band he was supposed to be extracting an album from had finally managed to turn up, and the vocalist was knocking on the control room window.
The bass player, on the other side of the glass, made coffee-drinking hand signals, and Patrick lifted his own Starbucks cup in acknowledgement.
Andy let go of Patrick’s calf and pulled the leg of his jeans down and smoothed the fabric.
“I’m going to go,” Andy said. “Okay? Call me when you’re either done here, or you’ve killed the band. I’m not leaving New York.”
Patrick nodded, and watched Andy leave, then reached for his cell phone to call Dee.
Two minutes later, the band, in its entirety, was shepherded back into the tracking room by a grumpy-looking Andy. Patrick shook his head and switched the speaker from the tracking room on.
“...your work,” the drummer was saying. “So much respect, honest.”
“And you’re a fucking ingrate,” Andy said. “Your label can, and will, fire your lazy asses. Who owns your branding? Right? Who owns your name? Not you, I bet, but some corporation. All of you will be fired, and replaced by competent musicians who own alarm clocks.”
“But—” the bassist said.
“Don’t say anything,” Andy said. “You can’t possibly have any excuses I haven’t heard before.”
Andy stomped out, and the band looked pleadingly at Patrick through the window.
Patrick was too busy laughing to do anything about their damaged egos.
Dee slid back into her chair a moment later, smelling of coffee and the outside air, while Patrick was still chuckling.
“Did I miss something good?” she asked, and Patrick nodded.
When Dee came back from her lunch break, she sat on the edge of the console, looking puzzled. Patrick paused the rough mix he was listening to and looked up at her.
“Problem?” he asked, because it wasn’t like the whole project hadn’t been riddled with drama.
“Weirdness,” she said. “Andy texted me.”
“Oh, um, how?” Patrick said, and Dee pointed at the whiteboard where her number was still scribbled.
“Yeah, made me go a bit wobbly at first, but I guess he’s not single, because he wanted to know where to go shopping for his girl.”
“Andy’s relationship status is always a mystery.” Patrick found it very difficult not to grin. “Though he’s not known for splashing gifts on his girlfriends. Apparently, it’s supposed to be enough to just hang around with him.”
“Yeah, well, I can see that,” Dee said. “He was just so sweet about it, didn’t want to give her anything tasteless.”
“We both survived the Year of LEDs, with Pete Wentz,” Patrick said. “Absolutely anything can be made with flashing lights in it. It was an object lesson in bad taste, and in finding people in the dark.”
Dee stared disbelievingly at Patrick. “Okay.”
“I think Pete’s around later this week,” Patrick said. “No doubt he’ll visit here, and no doubt he’ll appall you.”
Dee looked dubious, but she didn’t say anything more, just turned around and sat down.
Andy was waiting outside the studio, when Patrick had finished beating his head against the deck for the day.
“I’m not gonna hug you,” Andy said, and yeah, when Patrick looked sideways at Andy’s face as they pushed their way through the midtown crowd, Andy was stretched thin, tightly under control.
“Do you want to go somewhere for some food?” Patrick asked, as they waited for the traffic lights to change at the first intersection.
Someone jostled Patrick, pushing him against Andy, and Andy said, “Let’s just go to your apartment.”
In the elevator, Andy tipped his head back against the carpeted wall and closed his eyes, but his fingers wound around Patrick’s wrist, out of sight of the other person in the elevator.
“Difficult day?” Patrick asked. “Worn out from confusing my sound tech?”
Andy let go of Patrick’s wrist and followed him out, into the hallway.
“Last night wasn’t big on sleep,” Andy said, watching Patrick unlock his door, then disarm the security system. “Had a lot on my mind.”
“Know what you mean,” Patrick said, closing and bolting the door, and tossing his backpack and hat on the kitchen counter. Andy dropped his pack to the ground, then caught hold of Patrick’s shoulders and drew him closer.
“Want me to stop?” Andy asked, and Patrick shook his head.
Andy smiled, looking less like he was about to crack open at any moment. He slid his hands up to Patrick’s face, and kissed Patrick, slow and gentle.
The feeling, lips and nick of teeth and push of tongue, went right through Patrick, and he grabbed hold of Andy’s T-shirt, too frayed from worrying and waiting to do anything else.
Andy pulled away to breathe, and said, “Need to do this, okay?” and walked Patrick the couple of steps back to the couch.
“Do what?” Patrick asked, falling back onto the couch, but then Andy dropped to his knees in front of Patrick, hair falling around his face as he bent over to pull the laces of Patrick’s sneakers undone, and Patrick figured whatever they were doing, it would feel good.
“C’mon,” Andy said, pulling Patrick’s shoes off, then reaching for the fly of Patrick’s jeans.
Patrick yanked his jeans undone, and lifted his ass off the couch so Andy could haul them down and off. Andy tossed his glasses onto the couch and groaned as he ran both hands up Patrick’s legs, his face buried against Patrick’s thigh.
The skin around Andy’s fingernails was rough, scratching tiny points of heat on the inside of Patrick’s thighs, Andy’s beard dragging after his teeth.
Andy moved suddenly, and Patrick stopped gritting his teeth and opened his eyes to find Andy leaning over him, the sound of Andy’s jeans being unzipped loud in the silent apartment.
Patrick grabbed Andy’s shoulder, pulling him close enough to kiss hard, teeth against tongue and lips.
Then they were both scrambling at the buttons of Patrick’s shirt, pulling it open, and dragging his boxers down and Andy’s T-shirt off.
“Fuck,” Andy said, his face against Patrick’s shoulder, then he slid down Patrick’s chest, hands everywhere.
His mouth was fucking perfect, slipping around Patrick’s cock, almost too hard, almost too fast, and it took Patrick several long moments of struggling to breathe before he looked down.
Andy was bent over, one hand shoved down into his jeans, jerking at his own cock, but the other one was splayed out wide across Patrick’s hip and side, over the edge of Patrick’s T-shirt. Patrick reached out, covering Andy’s hand, and Andy looked up, spit wet on his lips and sliding into his beard.
“Don’t fucking stop,” Patrick said. “Whatever you do.”
“Okay.” Andy’s thumb lifted the edge of Patrick’s T-shirt up, pulling it out and over Patrick’s cock, so it was stretched tight, like Patrick’s nerves.
Andy ran the flat of his tongue over the material, so his spit soaked through, then rubbed his fingers down the crack of Patrick’s ass, chasing the burn through Patrick’s body. The T-shirt rode up, pulling tight over the head of Patrick’s cock, and Andy’s mouth slid down the shaft, each of his grunts going right through Patrick.
Patrick broke apart, cleaved into two shining halves by coming, then fell back onto the couch, Andy over him, heavy and safe.
Patrick hung onto Andy, eyes closed, and listened to Andy coming, the half-breaths and the drag of skin on skin.
Andy kicked his jeans off and crawled onto the couch, beside Patrick, then he said, “Ow,” and rolled onto his side.
“Ink? Or glasses?” Patrick asked, and Andy nodded and pulled his glasses out from under his ass.
Andy was silent, and Patrick had time to wonder if things were going to be strained, then Andy said, “You did say this was the label’s apartment, right?”
“It’s either theirs, or they lease it,” Patrick said. “The neighbors seem pathetically grateful that I’m quiet, which implies some loud people stay here.”
“I don’t feel so bad about the upholstery then,” Andy said. “They should know to get it professionally cleaned, just as a matter of routine.”
Patrick grinned. “I’ll dump an entire bottle of red wine over it as I leave, just to make sure.”
“Quiet, but a fucking awful tenant,” Andy said. “Good to know you’re doing your bit for maintaining the industry’s rep.”
“Hey, it wasn’t me that just shot over the couch,” Patrick said. “It’s always the fucking drummer.”
“Fuck you,” Andy said, without even opening his eyes. “At least my phone wasn’t going the whole time we were having sex.”
“Mine was?” Patrick said, leaning forward enough to grab his jeans and retrieve his phone. “I didn’t hear it.”
“I’d high five myself, if that didn’t require movement,” Andy said.
Patrick flipped open his phone, and said, “A couple of missed calls and a stack of messages from Pete, showing his usual timing. I’ll have to call him back later, while he’s fucking, in revenge.”
“Does it ever occur to you that the two of you over-share?” Andy asked.
“A wondrous facet of our friendship. Besides, it’s not like the Fuck City clan hasn’t bonded in deeply strange ways involving body fluids, mind melds and a disturbing mutual interest in tattoo needles.”
Andy grumbled in a way that Patrick knew meant he was trying not to laugh, his face propped on Patrick’s shoulder, and Patrick started flicking through the texts from Pete.
“And what does Pete have to say?” Andy asked. “Can you summarize?”
“He hopes we’re having hot sex, because apparently I’m not returning his calls, and the only acceptable reason for that is fucking. And he says that he completely approves of the plan you and Ashlee have concocted. What plan?”
“Um,” Andy said. “It’s not a plan, just an idea I had that I asked Ashlee to help with.”
“Am I going to freak out at it?” Patrick asked. “If Pete approves of it…”
Andy was silent.
“Okay, I’m already freaking out,” Patrick said.
“Don’t,” Andy said. “We’re all going to be there.”
“Like that’s any consolation?” Patrick said. “How many outrageously stupid things have we all been there for before?”
“Ashlee as well,” Andy said. “And she arranged it.”
Patrick grumped unhappily, but let it go. He could trust Ashlee to at least keep any embarrassment completely private.
He moved, peeling his T-shirt away from his belly and grimacing. “I need a shower, especially if we’re going to leave the apartment to go in search of food, because there’s nothing edible here.”
“Can I ask you to let me do something?” Andy said, and Patrick let go of the T-shirt and craned his head around so he could just about see Andy’s face.
“Um, okay,” Patrick said. “I’m probably going to say ‘yes’, you know.”
Andy sounded amused when he said, “I’ll keep that in mind for later. Will you let me shave you? More of you?”
“How much?” Patrick asked. “Because I’ve tried that, and it was freaking awful when it grew back in.”
“I think we’ve all been there,” Andy said. “Once in our lives. I meant your back and chest.”
Something flared, bright and clear, in Patrick’s chest, and he had to close his eyes for a moment. “I would fucking love that,” he said.
In the bathroom, Andy pushed Patrick toward the shower stall. “Get in and get wet, I’ve got to get something…”
Thirty seconds later, Andy slid in behind Patrick and reached around to turn the water off.
When Patrick wiped the water from his eyes, a new purple razor was propped on the soap dish, and Andy was squeezing some kind of gel into the palm of one hand.
“You don’t want to know what I went through to find out which one to buy,” Andy said, when Patrick opened his mouth to ask where the razor had come from. “Really. Just imagine how few of my women friends remove body hair…”
“That’s because you hang out with radicals,” Patrick said, as Andy smeared the gel, smelling disturbingly floral and artificial, across Patrick’s chest. It felt slippery under Andy’s fingers, and Patrick leaned back against the stall wall.
“Yeah,” Andy breathed, as the razor slid through the gel. “How does that feel?”
“Oh, fuck,” Patrick said, as Andy turned the shower on to a trickle and rinsed the razor, then slid it lower, down Patrick’s chest and past his nipple. “Can I blow you after this?”
This time, when Andy turned to rinse the razor, Patrick felt the brush of Andy’s cock against his hip.
“Yeah,” Andy said. “If we last that long.”
When Andy had shaved Patrick’s chest, he spread the gel over Patrick’s belly, and the feel of his wrist against Patrick’s cock made Patrick feel like coming, right then, just from the random touch.
“Hold on,” Andy said, and he dropped to his knees in the shower stall.
Patrick held on, to the soap dish and the handle of the stall door.
The razor dragged through the line of hair on his belly, Andy looked up, and said, “Can I?”
Patrick looked down, at Andy’s face, and his own cock, so close together. “Anything.”
Andy dragged the razor, slow scrape and frequent rinse, in a line across Patrick’s belly, through his pubic hair, changing the shape of the outline of the hair.
“Just a minute,” Andy said, standing up again. “Need a new razor.”
Seconds later, he was back, and shaving the top of Patrick’s thighs, and down his legs.
“Oh, fuck,” Patrick whispered, looking down at himself, once he’d rinsed off, and Andy nodded.
“Now turnaround, so I can shave your back.”
Patrick pressed his face against the cold of the tiles, and Andy lifted his hands up above his head and rubbed the gel under his arms.
“If I get hit by a car, I am not explaining this to my family,” Patrick said.
“You get hit by a car, your family won’t care that you’ve got a thing for shaving,” Andy said. “Besides you can always tell them the docs had to shave you.”
“How much thought have you put into this?” Patrick asked.
“You don’t want to know,” Andy said, moving the skin under Patrick’s arm carefully, working the razor in. “Just remember to blame Pete for anything you can’t explain away.”
Andy ran his palm across Patrick’s lower back, once he’d done Patrick’s shoulders, then his hand was on Patrick’s ass.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you I don’t have self-control,” Andy whispered, his mouth against Patrick’s ear.
Then he knelt down behind Patrick, and began to smooth gel onto the back of Patrick’s thighs.
It only took him a couple of minutes to do the back of Patrick’s legs, unlike Patrick who had struggled for ages, trying to reach. Then Andy stood up again, and propped the razor on the soap dish.
“Let me rinse off for a moment, since I’m covered in gel and hair,” Andy said. “Then I’ll get out of your way.”
When Patrick washed the gel and hair off himself, his skin felt completely new and smooth. He didn’t fucking care what it looked like, the feeling alone of being so shaved was reason enough to do it again.
“About that blowjob…” Patrick said, walking into the bedroom, just a towel wrapped around his waist, still more than half-hard and thoroughly horny.
Andy was sitting cross-legged on the bed, naked and hot, so Patrick tossed his towel on the floor and clambered onto the bed.
“In a bit,” Andy said, holding out a tub of something. “I need to put some of this on you first.”
“You know, if that’s lube, that works for me, too,” Patrick said.
“Facedown,” Andy said.
Patrick sprawled across the bed, face buried in the bedding, and Andy spread something soothing and sweet-smelling across his back and under his arms.
“That’s not lube, is it?”
“After-shaving balm,” Andy said. “And I have to say, next time I shave, I’m putting this stuff on my face, because it feels really good.”
“You start wandering around smelling good, people will notice,” Patrick said, lifting each leg in turn so Andy could smear the stuff over his calves and shins.
“No one will pay any attention,” Andy said. “I’ve carefully cultivated a reputation for eccentricity for a reason.”
“That’s so no one will complain when you disappear off into Canada, to go hiking for months at a time,” Patrick said. “Which is completely different from suddenly starting to smell good after shaving.”
“That’s only a difference of scale, not kind,” Andy said, sliding his hands up the backs of Patrick’s thighs. “I plan on being invisible, by virtue of having already offended everyone so much already that they’ve given up paying attention to me.”
Patrick could feel Andy leaning forward, his beard tickling against Patrick’s lower back, then his mouth was pressed against Patrick’s buttock, his fingers pushing into the crack of Patrick’s ass.
It was impossible to stay still, not once Andy slid his tongue between his fingers. The feeling of the bedding against raw skin, combined with the slippery, hot wetness of what Andy was doing, was making a mess of Patrick’s head.
He knew he was being loud, and could feel where the sheet was sticking to his open mouth. Andy’s clamped hand on his hip made it clear that he was thrashing around, too. He didn’t seem to be able to stop any of it, because every time he moved, the head of his cock rubbed against the shaved skin of his belly.
Andy stopped, then he was heavy over Patrick, mouth and beard wet against Patrick’s neck and shoulder. “Want to turn over?” he asked.
The comforter stuck to Patrick’s back wetly, where the balm hadn’t soaked into his skin yet, and he grabbed a pillow to shove behind his neck so he could watch Andy rub the balm on his thighs and belly.
When Andy crawled up, to spread the stuff on Patrick’s chest, Patrick ran a hand up Andy’s thigh, then circled his fingers around Andy’s cock.
“C’mon,” he said, pulling Andy closer.
Andy knelt over him, one hand braced on the wall and the other behind Patrick’s neck. It all had become so super-saturated, so fucking raw and honest, that Patrick thought he was going to come, just from the feeling of Andy’s cock sliding into his mouth. The head of Andy’s cock pushed against the roof of Patrick’s mouth, and Andy groaned and began to rock into Patrick’s mouth.
It made Andy close his eyes when Patrick pushed the pad of a thumb against the skin behind his balls, then the hand behind Patrick’s neck tightened, holding Patrick’s head still, and Andy was coming.
Andy opened his eyes, slipped his cock out of Patrick’s mouth, and rubbed his knuckles against Patrick’s mouth gently, then flopped down onto the bed, beside Patrick.
“What do you want?” Andy asked.
Patrick propped himself up on one elbow, resisting the urge to wrap a hand around his own cock and just fucking come. Instead he ran the tip of his tongue against the back of his teeth, chasing the memory of Andy coming in his mouth, and looked down Andy’s body.
“Ask,” Andy said, dragging fingertips across Patrick’s chest, the roughness of his nails almost scraping on the shaved skin.
“I want to fuck you,” Patrick said, and Andy smiled.
“I’m not going to last,” Patrick said, rolling back and reaching for the nightstand. “But, fuck, I want to feel you.”
The skin on one of Andy’s buttocks was ridged around the lines of the snake winding across his flesh, and he flinched when Patrick touched there, pushing up into the touch, making the best noises in his throat.
Patrick rolled Andy further onto his side, changing the angle, then pushed a lubed finger into him.
“Stop fucking about,” Andy said. “You really don’t have to worry about that.”
“Okay,” Patrick said, face pushed against Andy’s shoulder as he fumbled the condom on by touch alone, then found the tube of lube again.
It was so fucking sweet, pushing slowly into the tightness, and Patrick had to stop more than once, so he didn’t come right then. He was breathing hard, sweat mixing with whatever it was Andy had rubbed on him and running across his shaved skin.
Andy was talking to him, saying words that Patrick couldn’t hear through the roaring in his ears, and the burning inside him was spreading, make him push in, long and slow, riding the waves that were running through him, until he was unmade.
Afterward, when Andy had found Patrick’s glasses and handed them to him, Patrick stumbled to the bathroom and ditched the condom in the trash there.
Andy opened the shower stall door, and Patrick leaned against the door, the hot water making his glasses fog up.
“Gonna pour red wine on the comforter too, as you leave?” Andy asked.
Patrick flipped two fingers at Andy. “That’s not going to help with the greasy handprint on the wall. Want me to find something to dial out for? I don’t think I can walk anywhere.”
Andy filled his mouth with water from the shower, and spat it out. “Plan.”
click on through for Part 2