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November 25th, 2009


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04:05 pm
Title: Everybody is Shining, Everyone Deserves the Flames



Ashlee was more staid than Pete, whose welcoming hug had knocked Patrick to the sidewalk outside their hotel. She just hugged both him and Andy, saying, “Well, don’t you both look so relaxed and mellow?”

“Details,” Pete said, swinging an arm tightly around Patrick’s neck. “Excruciating, minute details.”

Ashlee sighed and held out her hand for their car and driver to pull around. “Patrick, don’t you dare tell him, because then he’ll tell me, probably while we’re in bed.”

Andy made a desperate noise.

“No, I want to know,” Pete said. “Who did what to whom? How the pair of you actually managed to get together? How did you? I haven’t been able to work that out. I keep getting to the point where one of you would have to make a move, then my mind goes blank.”

Pete let out a pained squeal, and Ashlee said, “Thanks, Andy. That needed to be stopped.”

“I’m not telling you anything,” Patrick said.

“Later,” Pete whispered, in Patrick’s ear, while Ashlee was climbing into the car that had pulled over.

“Okay,” Patrick agreed, while Andy was going around the other side of the car.

Patrick got into the back of the car, beside Ashlee, with Andy on the other side of her, and Pete bounced in the front passenger seat.

“I don’t like the feeling that everyone else knows where we’re going, but I don’t,” Patrick said. “Other people go out for dinner, you know, ordinary things like that.”

“Think we’re still without a tabloid tail?” Pete said, peering over his seat and out the back window of the car.

“No one is following us,” the driver said.

“What happens if we do get a tail?” Patrick asked.

“Then the ‘Pete made me do it’ escape clause comes into effect,” Andy said. “Remember?”

“Fuck,” Patrick said. “I hate you all.”

The car pulled over, outside a row of businesses, all closed, and Pete said, “We’ll ring when we want to be picked up, thanks,” to the driver, and opened the car door.

“Out,” Ashlee said, pushing at Patrick. “We’re here.”

“Where?” Patrick asked plaintively, getting out of the car and studying the empty and darkened buildings.

“C’mon,” Pete said, grabbing hold of Patrick’s arm, and pulling him after Ashlee.

“We’re at my New York beautician’s salon,” Ashlee said, opening one of the doors, despite there being no lights on. “We’re having a girls’ night out.”

“Oh, fuck,” Patrick said weakly.

“It will be so much fun,” Pete said. “I’ve always wanted to come along, but Ash has refused to bring me until now.”

Ashlee opened a second door, into a brightly lit salon, with staff waiting for them.

Behind Patrick, Andy said, “Just imagine how I feel about this.”

Patrick looked back, over his shoulder, and Andy shrugged.

“You’re doing this too?”

Andy nodded. “I feel so compromised.”

“Right!” Ashlee said. “We all want facials, manicures and pedicures. I brought the champagne!” She opened her enormous bag and pulled out a bottle of something.

A young woman with a plastic face took hold of Andy and pushed him towards a reclining chair.

“I just want to tell you all that my principles are dying, just a little, on the inside,” Andy said, climbing into the chair and letting the woman wrap a cloth around his neck.

“Shut up,” Pete said. “We all know how many cars you own, you hypocrite.”

“I’m going to have to wash your hair,” the woman told Andy, as Patrick got into the chair opposite him. “Since you mentioned principles.”

Ashlee giggled, waving a hand in the air. “Make him clean, please.”

“Fuck you all,” Andy said. “I’m writing a blog post about this in my head, right now.”

Pete waved his phone, from where he was reclining in comfort. “Beating you to it.”

The woman who was standing beside Patrick’s chair said, “Hi, I’m Cece. How come you’re not obnoxious like your friends?”

“Um, because I realize this is just your job, and I shouldn’t make it difficult for you?” Patrick suggested.

Ashlee cheered, and said, “He’s my favorite. When Pete and I divorce, I get to keep Patrick. It’s in the pre-nup.”

“Does that mean I get stuck with Andy?” Pete asked. “How did you get that one past my attorney? How blinded by love was I?”

“You might want to check the division of assets, too,” Ashlee suggested. “Then decide to be very friendly to me.”

Patrick smiled to himself and relaxed, listening to the others talk. If Andy and Pete both blogged about Pete and Ashlee’s crazy plan to do a girls’ night out at the beauty salon, then he wouldn’t have to explain anything to anyone, even if the tabloids followed them out. And any comments about his appearance could be directed to the blog entries.

Fuck, he loved Ashlee and Andy for having concocted this plan.

Cece, behind him, said, “That’s right, just let go and enjoy this.”

The first hour was spent listening to the hilarious arguments between Andy and his beautician over whether it was possible to have only half a facial, on the part of his face not covered by beard (it was), then over the environmental consequences of blow-drying hair (Andy thought it was evil), while Patrick had his own face plastered in stuff and rubbed.

Then Cece propped his seat back up again and said, “Would you like acrylic nails, like Pete is having?”

Patrick looked across the room, at where Pete’s beautician was bent over his hand, fume hood in place. “Can I play guitar with them?”

Cece picked up one of Patrick’s hand and examined his nails. “I’d have to put very short acrylics on you, I guess. And your own nails are strong, though very ragged. How about I just fix up your nails? I could put acrylics on your toenails, if you’d like to try them?”

“Um, yes,” Patrick said.

“I want acrylic toenails too,” Pete called out.

“No!” Ashlee said. “Not a chance. You’re already impossible to sleep next to. I don’t need your feet to be equipped with razor sharp talons as well.”

“You can still have art on your fingernails,” Cece said. “Even without the acrylics.”

Patrick looked across at Andy, who grinned back at him from underneath what looked suspiciously like ringlets pinned up. “Go on,” Andy said. “I’m getting Fuck City on my nails.”

“I want flowers,” Pete announced. “With diamantes. Glam Rock hasn’t been revisited in too long.”

Ashlee groaned. “I’m locking up my velour jeans, because you are a fucking nuisance sometimes.”

“Platform boots?” Pete asked. “Why don’t you own any? Why don’t I?”

“I don’t know,” Ashlee said. “Andy? Patrick? Do either of you have platform boots? Is this some terrible fashion oversight on Pete’s part, or a necessary adaptation to life in the Real fucking World?”

“All I own are sneakers,” Andy said. “And maybe some flip flops.”

“I think I have a pair,” Patrick admitted. “But I collect shoes, the way other people in this room collect cars, or comics.”

“Traitor,” Andy said.

“I must remember you’re not always on the side of reason,” Ashlee said.

Cece looked up at Patrick, from where she was poking at his nails. “So, what kind of art do you want?”

“Since I’m the only person here holding down anything remotely resembling a real job at the moment, can you do something I can wear tomorrow?” Patrick asked.

“Understated,” Cece said.

“That’s cheating,” Pete called out. “Give him chibis.”

Patrick glared at Pete, and Pete grinned back at him.

“You don’t take your shoes off at work, do you?” Cece asked, and Patrick shook his head.

He wound up with fingernails that were a muted bronze color, with bands of gold ripples, and toenails that even Pete approved of, in dark purple and hot pink.

Andy’s fingernails and toenails were FC standard blue, black and white, with additional anarchy signs. Only Ashlee had ordinary glossy red nails.

“Photo!” Pete said, waving his phone in the air. “This needs documenting!”

The four of them held their hands out, and Pete clicked away, phone held above their hands.

Ashlee touched Patrick’s shoulder, and gestured with her head, and he followed her into a cubicle, where Cece was washing her hands in a washbasin.

The door to the cubicle closed securely, and Patrick knew he was probably already turning pink, because he was fucking sure where this was going.

“Cece is my beautician, at least on this coast,” Ashlee said, as Cece dried her hands. “She knows things about me that I’d never admit to Pete.”

“That’s right,” Cece said. “The complete truth.”

“Fillers, botox, peels, tints, everything,” Ashlee said. “I trust Cece utterly.”

Patrick turned his head to peer at Ashlee’s face, and she shrugged at him, and added, “And you can’t say a thing about this, okay?”

“Okay,” Patrick said.

“Anyway, Cece, Patrick is looking for a beautician, someone he can trust. I think you two should talk.”

Ashlee slipped out of the cubicle, closing the door again, and Cece smiled at him.

“I have male customers,” Cece said. “They tend to fall into two types—the metrosexual who just comes in for facials, and the man who’s looking for more complex personal treatments.”

“I have no idea what I’d want, or what there is,” Patrick said. “I didn’t even know Ashlee was bringing us here tonight.”

Cece nodded. “May I?” she asked, lifting her hands to his face, and Patrick nodded.

“Your skin is good, but I’d like to shape your eyebrows, very gradually so no one would notice. And tint your eyelashes, the same way.”

She dropped her hands.

“Then there’s waxing, or more permanent hair removal. Like Ashlee said, there are no secrets, and you could have anything you want done.”

Patrick looked down at his fingernails for a moment, and something like fierce joy flared inside him. He could take risks; he knew how to do this.

“Okay,” he said. “That sounds good.”

Cece took a card out of her pocket, and found a pen on a shelf, and wrote on the card. “That’s my personal email address. Just email me, and I can arrange to meet you here when the salon is closed, or I can visit you at home.”

“I just work in New York a fair bit. I actually live in Chicago.”

Cece nodded. “I travel to see Ashlee, to Chicago, Miami or Atlanta. Just let me know where you are, and we can arrange a visit.”

Pete’s laugh was loud, even through the cubicle wall, and Patrick could hear Andy swearing back at him. Patrick said, “Thanks.”

Andy slung his arm around Patrick’s shoulder, while they waited in the salon entranceway for the car to pull up, and Patrick tugged on one of Andy’s ringlets.

“Yeah, yeah,” Andy said. “The things I do for you…”

“You smell like a perfume factory has vomited over you,” Pete said, colliding with Andy on the other side. “I’ve screwed girls that smell like you, but not since I was a teenager.”

Patrick sniffed at Andy’s shoulder experimentally, and looked around Andy’s chin at Pete. “Are you certain? Because apart from the perfume, I’m getting a strong whiff of unwashed hoodie, with undertones of liniment. Are you sure you’re not thinking of the football team?”

Pete reached out and scratched the back of Patrick’s neck with his new nails, and Patrick jerked his head away.

Andy said, “Leave my hoodie alone, both of you.”

The car pulled up in front of the clinic, and Ashlee held the clinic door open and said, “Pete has to sit in the front again, so there are no fights.”

That time, Andy was in the middle of the backseat, and Patrick took his hand in the darkness, once the doors were closed.

Andy squeezed his hand back, and Pete turned around in his seat, and said, “Where do you all want to go for dinner? Andy looks far too pretty, with his hair done, for us to just go home.”

“Fuck off,” Andy said, dragging his hand out of Patrick’s and messing up his hair with both hands.


***

Patrick put the coffees down on the edge of the console, tossed his pack into the corner, and sat down on the swivel chair.

“Morning,” Dee said, reaching for her coffee. “They’re not here yet.”

“I care, deeply, I’m just choosing not to show it,” Patrick said. “Want a bagel? They’re unglazed.”

He held out the bag from the bakery, and Dee took a bagel. He saw the moment when she spotted his nails, her eyes widening slightly and her lips quirking.

“Thanks,” she said. “Um, nice nail polish?”

“Pete Wentz,” Patrick said, taking a bagel for himself as well. “When he drops in, try not to encourage him.”

Dee nodded, biting into her bagel so that the cashew cream oozed out the side, and Patrick put his bagel down and pulled out his cell to send a text to Andy, his nails bright against the black plastic of his phone.

PW defense works

His phone chimed, a couple of minutes later, with a reply from Andy.

For everything

***

”I’ll meet you there,” Patrick said into his phone, letting himself into his apartment building with his free hand as he talked to Ashlee. “Yeah, I know where the tapas place is… No, Andy was still with his tattooist, last text I had from him. He said he’ll go there directly… His ass again, so don’t forget to make inappropriate comments.”

Ashlee giggled. “I won’t need to, because Pete will.”

“But it will so much more embarrassing if you do,” Patrick said. “See you soon.”

In the elevator, Patrick leaned against the wall and closed his eyes briefly. He had refused to work late, despite the recording session actually working well that afternoon, because if he didn’t get away from the band, and their whining, he was going to remember a time before he’d been to anger management classes.

The elevator opened at his floor, and he let himself into his apartment. A shower and a change of clothes, that was all he had time for…

The bedroom was a mess, and Patrick picked the bedding up off the floor and tossed it back on the bed, just so he could walk across the room safely.

After he’d showered, he wandered back into the bedroom naked, in search of clean clothes. He had some underwear left, so it wasn’t washday yet, which was good, but he had a sense of futilism with regards to the contents of the walk-in closet, and any clean shirts.

The light in the closet flicked on, and Patrick kicked aside Andy’s duffel, so he could get in.

The hanging rack had a suit bag on it that he didn’t recognize. The chances of it being Andy’s were laughable, but Patrick hadn’t dragged a suit to New York City this time around, so there was no other explanation.

The rest of the rack held only empty hangers, and Patrick considered the suit bag again. A suit from Andy possibly meant a clean, pressed shirt as well, and he could work with that…

He unzipped the bag, and couldn’t make sense of the contents. It wasn’t a suit, but something else black, without a shirt under it that he could see.

“Are you getting experimental with your hoodies?” Patrick asked the absent Andy rhetorically, but when he touched the hoodie, it wasn’t fleece—it was something soft, folding around his fingers.

Patrick felt down the fabric, hanging inside the suit bag, then stumbled backward, out of the closet, saying, “Fuuuuck.”

He knew what was in the suit bag. If it wasn’t his actual dress—which would be impossible, because how could Andy have done that?—then it was a replica of it.

His guts twisted with fear, like every nightmare of public exposure and humiliation was coming true, and he half-fell across the room to turn the lights off. The closet light was still on, spilling out into the bedroom, painfully bright, until Patrick turned that one off, too. In the near darkness, with only the band of light from under the bathroom door to see him, he felt his way back into the closet, and to the dress.

The suit bag slipped off it, crackling to the floor, and Patrick made himself breathe as he eased the dress off the hanger. It took effort, pulling it over his head in the darkness, and he banged his wrist against the top shelf in the closet and almost fell over Andy’s duffel, before he’d got the dress over his head and his arms in the right places.

The dress pulled down easily, fitting him better than the original ever had, and he stood in the dark, with his eyes tightly shut, listening to his heart try and tear its way out of his chest and feeling the material moving around his legs with every breath.

He pulled the dress back off again, and switched the closet light back on, to look at it as he hung it back up.

Cross over at the front, no sleeves, skirt that flared out... And the back dipped right down low, just like the original. There was no way Andy could have known that, just from the photo.

Patrick dressed quickly, pulling on a clean T-shirt and black jeans he found on the bedroom floor amongst the mess, then grabbing a jacket from the rack beside the door.

The cab let him out up the block from the tapas bar, and Patrick paid the driver, then jammed his hat on more securely and his hands in his jacket pockets at the sight of the photographers smoking and chatting outside the main entrance to the restaurant. With his hat down, there shouldn’t be any chance of some sharp-eyed person looking at a candid and suddenly realizing he’d had his eyebrows waxed.

The photographers probably weren’t only there for Pete and Ashlee, since the tapas bar was the sort place that people liked to be photographed entering and leaving. The only consolation was that Andy would be even less happy than him. And that Andy would have an ass covered in cling wrap.

He ducked past the photographers and in the bar doorway, just as someone said, “Isn’t that Patrick Stump?”

The door bitch let Patrick past without comment, and Patrick pushed into the crowded bar, toward Pete’s distinctive laugh, obvious over the voices and music.

Ashlee was perched on a stool beside a high table, Pete leaning against her, and Andy was standing as well, looking exactly like a man with his ass wrapped in cling wrap would.

Patrick kissed Ashlee’s cheek, hugged Pete, squeezed Andy’s shoulder, and ordered a beer from a passing waiter.

“You’re late,” Pete complained. “We’ve started already. You have to catch up.”

Patrick looked at Andy, who shrugged.

“Some of us have to work,” Patrick said. “Good choice of venue, though. Perfect for Andy.”

“If I didn’t know better, I would have suspected you of being late for other reasons,” Pete said.

Andy was close to Patrick, close enough their arms were brushing, and Patrick wondered if the bar was crowded enough that he could touch Andy’s wrist without anyone noticing.

“What?” Patrick asked.

“You. You’re all round-eyes and trying-not-to-smile, and believe me, I know what that means, and you’re very pleased about something. Give!”

Patrick turned his head to look at Andy, who was grinning at him. “Did you get them to help?” Patrick asked. “You must have.”

Andy shook his head. “Not this time.”

“Help with what?” Pete demanded.

Andy looked smug, and Patrick could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks.

“Drop it, or else,” Ashlee said.

Pete was falling over the table with curiosity when Patrick turned back, but Ashlee must have got a hand on some vital part of his anatomy because he just said, “Did you two see the interview I did about us all going to the salon?”

“Do I want to?” Andy asked. “Or am I going to want to cancel our friendship because of it?”

“How bad it is?” Patrick added.

“Oh look, there has to be someone else here I know,” Ashlee said, sliding off her stool and straightening her skirt, then grabbing her glass of wine. “Bye!”

“That’s not a good sign,” Andy said.

“She’s just annoyed because I betrayed salon secrets,” Pete said. “How was I supposed to know that I’m not allowed to mention spray-on tans and boob-lift tape?”

“Self-preservation would indicate that,” Patrick said. “So what did you say? How bad is it?”

“I just said what a great bonding experience it had been, and, that apart from Andy being traumatized by actual hair care products, we’d all really liked going there.”

Andy’s hand was steady on Patrick’s elbow, when he leaned forward across the table. “I think,” Andy said, his voice hard, “that it would be a very good thing if you didn’t say anything that might make things more difficult, in the future.”

Pete was silent, and a waiter appeared with Patrick’s beer and a platter of empanadas.

“Ah?” Pete said. “Sorry?”

Patrick grabbed hold of Andy’s arm, because Andy still looked like he was about to hit Pete, and said, “You and me, now.”

In the bathroom at the bar, Patrick kicked his way down the row of stalls, making sure they were empty, and waited until the guy pissing at the urinal had left.

Andy pulled at his own hair, making it messier, and said, “What?”

“I think there are two different levels of What the Fucks? here,” Patrick said.

Andy didn’t back away when Patrick got inside his space.

“How do you know?” Patrick asked. “How do you just fucking know? Tell me.”

Patrick’s nails, chipped on the edges from tuning someone else’s guitar because they were too much of a loser to do it themselves and there hadn’t been a guitar tech to be found, were bright splashes against the black of Andy’s T-shirt.

Andy was watching the door, over Patrick’s shoulder, but he shifted to look at Patrick. “This time? Because Pete has been writing lyrics about you, and what he walked in on, forever. It took me far too long, after I found the photo, to connect it with all the songs about black dresses, but once I did, it was obvious.”

Patrick let go of Andy’s T-shirt. “That’s how you knew it was backless.”

Andy nodded.

The bathroom door opened, and Ashlee looked around the edge. “Have you stopped arguing?” she asked. “I can’t make everyone use the Ladies indefinitely.”

“Go away,” Patrick said, without looking over his shoulder.

“Okay,” Ashlee said, and the door closed again.

“I’m fucking terrified of this,” Patrick said, keeping his voice low. “I have no idea what I want, and I keep having to deal with what you want.”

“Do you even know what I want?” Andy asked, his voice flat, like he was angry, though his face looked sad. “I want for you to be able to go to the place you were in when that photo was taken, and for you to feel safe there this time. You don’t even have to tell or show me, okay? This is for you. If this is something that you don’t want or can’t deal with, then you’re going to have to fucking tell me with words, because all the other cues are saying something else entirely. If you want me to go back to Milwaukee, then tell me. If you want us to not fuck, then tell me.”

The door opened a crack, and Ashlee’s voice said, “Sorry, the Gents is being used for high level music industry negotiations. You—” then the door mercifully closed again.

Patrick shook his head. “That’s not—”

“You think I do this all the time, don’t you?” Andy cut in. “You can look at the temporary files on my laptop if you want. There’s nothing there dating back more than a few days. This is all new to me.”

“Oh,” Patrick said. “Then, why…?”

“Fuck, Patrick, are you going to make me do this in a bathroom at a bar?” Andy asked. “I’ve already said it’s because it’s you. Do you want to push me further than that?”

“Ah, no, that’s good,” Patrick said.

Andy touched his fingertips to Patrick’s neck, easing them under the collar of Patrick’s jacket.

“As to the future,” Andy said, his voice no more than a whisper against the muted roar from the bar, “whatever you want is fine by me. Whatever this turns out to be for you.”

Patrick didn’t mean to kiss Andy, not the way he did, but Andy kissed him back like they were both dying or something, and maybe they were a bit. Patrick grabbed Andy’s ass, mostly to steady himself as Andy slammed him back into the basin, forgetting about the tattooing until he felt cling wrap under Andy’s jeans.

The noise Andy made against Patrick’s throat was desperate, then Andy’s said, “Fuck, yeah,” just in case Patrick had missed the way Andy’s cock was riding against his hip.

Patrick slid his fingers into the back of Andy’s jeans, and found the taped cling wrap, sliding sweatily across Andy’s skin. He pressed against the skin underneath with his fingertips.

“You gotta stop,” Andy said, mouth sliding hotly down Patrick’s neck. “We need to leave.”

The noise from the bar washed into the bathroom as the door opened, and Pete said, “It’s okay, Ash, I think they’ve sorted it out.”

Pete’s hand clapped on Patrick’s shoulder. “I’m all for messy PDAs, as you well know, and this bathroom is cleaner than most truck stops we’ve seen, and if this was A & K I wouldn’t be stopping you…”

Patrick pulled his hand out of Andy’s jeans, and Andy stepped back shakily.

“I didn’t mean to make things more difficult for you, now or later,” Pete said to Patrick. “I was hoping to make enough background noise to hide anything you were doing.”

“Thanks,” Patrick said. “I appreciate that. Could you let go of the whole salon thing now?”

“Okay,” Pete said. “I can do that.”

Pete turned to Andy. “Are we okay?”

Andy nodded.

The door opened again, and Ashlee said, “Guys?” plaintively.

Andy pushed his way into one of the stalls, locking the door, and Patrick followed Pete out of the bathroom as Ashlee stood away from the door, saying. “Thanks for your patience, everyone,” to the waiting queue.

Someone grabbed Patrick’s arm, as he walked back to the table, and asked, “Hey, what was that all about?”

“You know, Pete Wentz,” Patrick said, shaking his arm free.

Andy came back to the table a few minutes later.

“I’m not in the mood to hang around,” he said to Patrick, as Pete and Ashlee were feeding each other chunks of chorizo.

Patrick nodded, because Andy was standing close behind the stool he was sitting on, radiating body heat, tense enough that Patrick could feel every muscle twitch.

“I’ll see you when you get back to your place,” Andy said.

Patrick grabbed his wrist, and slid off the stool. “Wait, I’ll go too.”

They stood, looking at each other, while people pushed past them, then Andy nodded.

Andy knew there were tabloid photographers outside too, so he knew what Patrick was offering.

“Were we this bad?” Pete asked Ashlee, as Patrick hugged her goodbye.

“Pete?” Ashlee asked. “Do we need to cover that ground again?”

Patrick settled his hat on more securely, at the door, and said, “You better not have visibly bitten me,” to Andy, possibly alarming the door bitch.

This time around, the photographers were alert enough to ID both of them and fire a couple of speedlights off, but not interested enough to pursue them down the block when they went in search of a cab.

In the cab, Andy said, “We can probably only do that three or four times, before it becomes an issue.”

“What? Get in a cab together?” Patrick said. “You got a publicist screaming at you these days?”

“Fuck, no,” Andy said.

“Me neither,” Patrick said. “Guess that means we can leave the world to deal with it however they want to, and do it as often as we like.”

In the flickering lights coming through the cab window, Andy grinned at Patrick. “Works for me.”

At the apartment, Patrick followed Andy into the bedroom, and turned the lights off again.

“What?” Andy said, T-shirt pulled half over his head.

“Please?” Patrick said, and Andy got his head free and sat down on the bed.

“Okay.”

Patrick switched off the hallway light, and the bathroom light, so the room was in darkness apart from what ambient light leaked in around the drapes.

He could hear Andy undressing behind him, when he opened the closet door.

Patrick dropped his own clothes onto the floor, then fumbled in the blackness for the dress. It was harder to pull it over his head in total darkness, with his skin a little sticky with sweat, than it had been earlier, and he had to wrestle with the armholes.

Behind him, in the bedroom, he could hear the bedsprings shifting as Andy moved on the bed, but Andy didn’t say anything.

Patrick stepped carefully out of the closet and across the bedroom floor littered with shoes and clothes. This was not the time to stumble over the mess and fall…

His shins collided with the bed, and he crawled across the sheet, to where he could just make out the darker shaped of Andy, propped up against the headboard.

Andy’s hands found Patrick, pulling him down onto the bed, then Andy rolled over the top of him, pinning him down, one hand roaming over Patrick’s side, then down his hip and thigh, before sliding underneath the material. Andy’s hand spread out across Patrick’s thigh, and inched higher, and Andy’s mouth slipped and slid against Patrick’s, both of them breathing hard.

When Andy moved his hand, turning it over and grabbing the dress, pulling the fabric tight over Patrick’s cock, Patrick clawed at Andy’s back, trying desperately to find something to hang onto in the darkness.

The cling wrap had gone from Andy’s back, when Patrick grabbed lower, and the new ink work was raised and hot under his fingers. Andy ground against Patrick when he touched the ridges, and Andy’s cock was a solid length, pushing up under the material, leaking across his thigh.

Andy moved, over the top of Patrick, his weight shifting, then Patrick heard the tearing of a wrapper. The material was pushed aside, and Patrick closed his eyes, even in the darkness, at the feeling of Andy handling his cock, putting the rubber on by touch only.

The lube dripped cold over Patrick’s thighs, then Andy’s hand moved slickly over his cock.

It took Patrick a moment to realize that the person making the, “Ah ah ah ah,” sounds was himself, but Andy didn’t comment, or resist when Patrick pushed his hands against Andy’s side.

Andy rolled over, face down, pliant and silent, and Patrick wanted to ask him Why?, but fuck, even in the darkness what they were doing was overwhelming, and Patrick had no words, or breath to speak them with.

Instead he—oh, fuck, his heart was about to explode—lifted the material out of the way of his cock and slid his leg across Andy’s thighs, so he was straddling Andy. Without light, sliding forward, using his finger and thumb to guide his cock in, was not easy, but there came a moment when Andy groaned, and the pressure folded over the head of his cock. Then he was all the way in, leaning forward with his weight on one arm, the palm of his free hand pressed flat against the ridges of raised flesh on Andy’s buttock, the dress caught around his wrist.

Andy lost it, shaking and swearing, and Patrick hung on, rubbing his fingertips over the raised skin on Andy’s back, rocking into the heat, until Andy went quiet and still again. Then Patrick braced himself on both arms and fucked into the tightness, sharp and hard, until flashes of light burst on his retinas and the burning inside him had taken over completely.

He mostly fell onto the mattress beside Andy, pulling the condom off, then letting it drop over the edge of the bed. Andy was all steady arms and strong hands in the dark, right beside him, and Patrick would have fallen asleep right away, except Andy made him sit up and strip off first.

When Patrick woke up, sometime later, Andy was sitting in bed beside Patrick, laptop on his knees and the bedside light on.

“Do you want anything?” Andy asked. “Water?”

Patrick shook his head and rolled over, burying his face against Andy’s hip.

“No,” he said indistinctly. “It’s all good.”

One of Andy’s hands settled on Patrick’s shoulder, and Patrick could hear him still tapping at the keyboard with his other hand. The weight of Andy’s hand, and the warmth, made Patrick feel ridiculously happy.

***

Patrick was up, showered, and had managed to get dressed in jeans and one of Andy’s T-shirts, though there were no guarantees he was awake yet, when his phone rang the next morning.

Whoever was calling him let the phone ring out twice, and was on the third go, before Patrick finally found his jeans from the day before, deep in the closet.

“What?” Andy said sleepily, from the bed.

“Hello?” Patrick said.

“Patrick, you’re an asshole,” Joe’s voice announced.

“Um, yeah,” Patrick agreed, carrying the phone out into the kitchen. “Why are you awake?”

“I’m awake, you dick, because someone at AP has my home number, and they rang me ten minutes ago for a comment on their story about Fall Out Boy having reunion talks in New York City. I didn’t know that the three of you were talking about reforming, did I? As far as I was aware, we had an agreement that the discussion about reforming, if it ever happened, would only occur with all four of us present!”

Joe had shouted the last bit, making Patrick wince and reach for where his laptop was sitting on the counter.

“Hang on,” Patrick said. “I’m just having a look at AP…”

“A blanket denial would good about now,” Joe said.

“Of course we weren’t fucking having reunion talks,” Patrick said. “Andy and I met up with Pete and Ashlee at some tapas bar for dinner… Okay, got the site loaded…”

Patrick sighed to himself.

“No, we didn’t have any kind of industry talks in the bathroom at the bar. Ashlee used that excuse to keep people out because Andy and I were arguing in there,” Patrick said into the phone.

“Huh?” Joe said. “Why would you and Andy be arguing?”

“Because we’re sleeping together,” Patrick said. “Which would have made a far more interesting AP article, but perhaps you could manage not to tell your contact there?”

Joe was silent for a couple of seconds, then he said, “Okay, that’s probably something that someone could have told me as well.”

“I’m telling you now,” Patrick said. “We recently started having hot, bent sex. Do you want any more details than that?”

“Fuck, no,” Joe said. “I hope you’re both very happy, and please don’t ever make me overhear anything. I’m still scarred from sharing an apartment with you and Pete.”

Andy blundered into the kitchen, naked and blinking without his glasses on, and held out his hand for the phone, so Patrick handed it over.

“Hey, Joe,” Andy said. “Listen, you need to fly out here, before Pete goes back. We’ve got this great new hobby… Yeah, nothing like that. Okay, that is a new hobby, too. Anyway, this one, it’s safe, Ashlee supervises us and everything, so you know it’s all grown-up and responsible.”

Patrick shook his head slowly at Andy, who grinned back at him.

“Yeah, ring Ashlee later, find out when they’re leaving, and come out to join us before then. And when we catch up next, remind me to give you some old photos of your ass that Pete had.”

Patrick took the phone back off Andy. “Of course, nothing will fuel the reunion rumors quite as much as the four of us being here at the same time, right?”

Joe laughed. “Right. And now I really believe you and Andy are together, if you’re both at the same place and he’s awake at this time of the morning.”

“You could come and stay with us, then you’d really know for sure,” Patrick said.

Joe made a gurgling noise of dismay. “No! Hotels are good. Then it’s only strangers banging the furniture around.”

Andy had swung Patrick’s laptop around, and was trying to find the right focal length to read the screen without his glasses on, which involved him zooming his face in and out from the screen and screwing his eyes up.

“Sure,” Patrick said. “Talk to you soon. Go back to bed.”

“Excellent idea,” Joe said, hanging up the phone, just as Andy nodded his agreement.

Patrick watched Andy wander back to the bedroom, and the reminder alarm went off on his phone, telling him he had five minutes before he had to leave the apartment.

“Okay, okay,” Patrick muttered at his phone, silencing the alarm. “Just let me find some socks, and some shoes…”

He’d pick up coffees and bagels on the way to the studio, which would make up for there still being nothing to eat in the apartment. In a moment of inspiration, he flicked open his phone, which was still in his hand, and texted be domestically useful to Andy, confident he could get out of the apartment before Andy woke up enough again to find his glasses and phone, then read the text.

Andy’s reply didn’t arrive until Patrick was fortified by a coffee and two bagels, and he and Dee were well into the first major disaster of the day at the studio.

Am already very useful Andy texted back.

Patrick put his phone away, aware that he was smiling to himself.

“Is it true, what AP said?” Dee asked. “I saw the article.”

“No,” Patrick said. “It’s not true. That was just Pete getting us into trouble at a bar.”

“Okay,” Dee said, turning back to the deck. “I wondered, what with Andy dropping in here all the time…”

“I think Andy visits just to yell at the band,” Patrick said. “It makes him feel useful.”


END

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