May 15th, 2008
Title: Put Down Your Weapons
Fandom: Fall Out Bay
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 and lisaroquin
Summary: Not even Patrick really noticed when he stopped talking completely.
It was the logical next step, really, from refusing to talk during interviews.
Not even Patrick really noticed when he stopped talking completely. Between the noise--fuck, the noise--and being on the road, and working on the Cobra Starship album, he spent a lot of the time with white noise-generating headphones jammed over his ears anyway, sometimes with absolutely nothing playing through them. People took to holding up notes on paper, or texting him, even from inside the same room.
That was good.
Then he discovered that if he just nodded or shook his head, making vague noises, people went away and let him get on with it, even if 'it' was absolutely nothing.
That was something of a revelation and he wished he'd made it five years earlier. He would have gotten far more work done.
Sure, he still sang, for a couple of hours a day at least, but that was a different part of his brain, and besides, someone else had written the words for him. This way, not talking, it was like all the round and round in his head stopped, too. He didn't have to keep finding words to explain things, or to try and work out what the fuck to say to people when they were being stupid. He didn't have to make sense of anything, or anyone, especially himself.
The buses were parked for the night, somewhere outside Apocalypse, Arizona, perhaps, and the only way Patrick could tell that people hadn’t settled down for the night, or the day, or whatever, was that he could feel the bus moving still, shifting on its shocks as people partied or threw each other off the bunks.
He settled his headphones on more securely and glanced at the lock on the back bedroom, checking again it was secure. His cell was off, he had food and bottled water. He could hide until sound check the next day, and it would be fine.
The bus rocked, front to back, and the door bulged slightly, vibrating under an impact. Something, or someone, substantial had just collided with his locked door. Dirty, he'd dent a door if someone threw him at it…
The door popped, then slid open, and Patrick watched as a slow motion brawl fell into the back bedroom; Pete, Dirty and Charlie in an ugly tangle of limbs tumbling through the mangled door, and onto the bed.
Patrick lifted his Mac up, cushioning it as Pete slid across the bed in a bundle of bedding and into Patrick, pushing both of them off the bed, backward onto the strip of floor beside the bed.
Patrick tried to remember when he'd last hit save or done an off-site back up as the Mac dug into his chest and Pete smacked against the wood-paneling and slid down onto Patrick, mouth wide open as he shouted, though Patrick couldn't hear any of it.
The Mac was still blinking at Patrick when he dragged it out from under Pete, and Pete hauled him and the laptop back onto the bed, pulling Patrick's headphones off.
"…rry," Pete said. "It's all Charlie's fucking fault. If he broke my fucking arm…"
Patrick nodded, and Pete grinned at him. "Love you," Pete said, leaning across to kiss Patrick's cheek, and handing him back his headphones. "Charlie, you fu…" he yelled, launching himself off the bed, and down the narrow hall.
Patrick settled his headphones back over his ears, and retrieved the power cable for the Mac, which had been yanked loose. If he'd lost any work, he'd fucking kill Pete, and Charlie.
Andy was the first person to try and talk to him, which made sense.
He pushed the mangled door to the back bedroom open, ignoring the 'go away or I will kill you' sign Patrick had secured beside the broken lock under multiple layers of tape, then slid the door shut again.
Patrick looked up and nodded at Andy, who sat on the edge of the bed and waited. It took about a quarter of an hour, but Patrick eventually closed the Mac and slid the headphones off.
"Thanks," Andy said. "How long are you planning on keeping it up for?"
Patrick made his 'what?' gesture, and Andy's eyes narrowed a little.
"See?" Andy said. "That. That bit where you don't talk, and you just assume no one will notice. It was kind of cute at first, like you were testing us, to see if anyone was actually awake. Now it's just sociopathic, like you're winding up to a really good killing-spree."
Patrick sat, nodding thoughtfully, while the sound of the pre-sound check craziness washed through the damaged door, Pete's voice over the top, shrieking.
"Point," Andy said. "Sometimes it makes me feel that too. So, is there something you'd like to scribble down on a scrap of paper? Indicate through interpretive dance?"
Patrick shook his head.
"When you do want to engage in some non-verbal communication, you know I'll always, um, watch your charades, or try and decode your shadow puppets, right?"
Patrick patted Andy's knee and smiled in a way he hoped was reassuring, rather than menacing, and Andy grinned back. "Bet we get all the way to New York or New Jersey, at least, before Pete or Joe notice."
Patrick had to laugh at that. He'd come to the same conclusion.
He'd underestimated Pete.
Patrick had taken to sleeping, or failing to sleep, in the back bedroom, ostensibly so he could work on the album during the nights. He'd thought that the increasingly hostile signs on the door were working--along with the gear he piled in the doorway at night--but he should have known better.
They were somewhere across the Rockies, doing the stretch on the road between Oregon and Utah, and the steady hum of the road had combined with the snores from the front of the bus to persuade Patrick to take the headphones completely off and wrap the bedding around himself, using the Mac as a high tech heat source.
The bus had stopped when Patrick jerked awake, the sepia light creeping in around the curtains and blinds hinting at a thick coat of road dust on the bus. For a moment, crazily, he thought he was back in their old van, despite not being freezing cold or starving hungry.
Someone grumped beside him, rolling over and whacking Patrick with an elbow, right in his kidney, and Patrick poked the lump beside him.
No wonder he thought he was back in the van. He could attempt to wake Pete and make him leave, or he could roll over and go back to sleep.
He went back to sleep.
Next time, the light was brighter, and Pete was stuck to his back like a leech. If Patrick was talking, he might have started the old van argument about how sharing body heat did not include early-morning hard-on grinding rights, but Pete's forehead was pressed against the back of his neck, arms tight around Patrick's chest, which felt kind of good, and he'd have to wake Pete first anyway.
He'd always lost that argument.
"Did you think I wouldn't notice?" Pete said, startling Patrick. "Did you really think I wouldn't notice you weren't talking? At first, I thought it was just me, that I'd done something, that you were pissed at me, but unless the entire world has fucked you over by taking the last stuffed potato from catering yesterday when you wanted it, then something is going on."
Patrick swallowed, and Pete's arms tightened around Patrick's chest, squeezing him hard. "I know I just say shit all the time, and it's all stream of consciousness in here, like James Joyce's ghost crawled up my ass or something, but if I don’t let the words out, then they just build up, until I feel like I'm going to fucking explode."
Patrick prized Pete's fingers out of his ribs, and rolled over, so he was facing Pete.
Pete said, "Smart. If you'd tried to run away, I'd have chased you, and we know how badly that ends."
Patrick nodded, and Pete moved on in, arms and legs around Patrick, face buried against his neck, and Patrick hugged him back. In terms of personal space violation, it was horrendous, but Patrick could just about endure it, as long as Pete didn't actually breathe stale garlic on his face again.
"You know, I don't mind you not talking, especially now I know it's not just me," Pete said. "But if this is some kind of nervous breakdown, could you wait until the end of the tour?"
Patrick considered, while Pete wuffled against his neck. He didn't think he was having a breakdown.
The bus rumbled back into motion again, and Pete pulled back to study Patrick's face.
"See?" Pete said. "I don't think you're crazy, and I'm supposed to be the local expert and all, but would you agree to not-talking to someone who actually knows, rather than someone who has just stared at the ugliness and decided they're not strong enough for that shit?"
Pete's face was earnest and eager, still crumpled by sleep, and Patrick felt the weight of the years and the miles they'd spent together, and nodded.
He could do that, for Pete.
The therapist in Salt Lake City stared at Patrick, and Patrick stared back at her.
What she'd made of Pete's phone call, or of the moves Pete was trying to pull on her receptionist, Patrick wasn't sure, but he was comfortable with his health insurer and the co-payment covering the options.
"So, you've stopped talking, but you can still sing?" the therapist asked, and Patrick nodded.
"Selective mutism," she said. "Interesting. Has it happened before?"
Patrick shook his head.
"Have you been under particular stress?"
Patrick wondered how, even if he was talking, he might explain to a stranger what it was like trying to live on tour with the band. Some things were too big, and too weird, to try and catch with words.
"Try it," the therapist said. "Just try. You're safe here, so if there's something you're scared of saying, no one can hear you except me, not even your friend in the waiting room."
Patrick listened carefully. He couldn't hear any crashing or shrieking, so the sound-proofing was impressive.
He had to clear his throat twice, before he could get anything to come out.
"At first, it was just kind of easier, and I could get lots of work done." He had to stop, take a couple of breaths, while the therapist smiled encouragingly at him. "Then, I felt safe, like I wasn't putting my feelings on anyone else or anything."
"Do you think that's a good long term option?" she asked.
Patrick shrugged. "Probably not, but I don't know what is."
The therapist made a mark with a pencil on the notepad in front of her. "You don't have friends you can share your feelings with? What about your charming, if incoherent and voluble, friend in the waiting room?"
"Pete?" Patrick asked. "He's, yeah, incoherent. And loud. I sometimes feel like he got all the words there are, you know."
The therapist studied Patrick, in silence, while the clock behind Patrick ticked, until Patrick said, "Shit."
The therapist nodded.
Outside the office building, when Pete went to flag down a taxi, Patrick grabbed his arm and said, "Wait."
"Fuck!" Pete shouted, leaping back from Patrick. "Damn, she was good."
Patrick crossed his arms. "So."
"You all over the drama queen bit?" Pete asked. "Because, you know, that's my thing."
"Not over it," Patrick said. "Think we could find somewhere, talk for a while?"
Pete beamed. "Yeah. Talk, with food."
The café wasn't much, but it was empty enough, and Patrick slid into a booth across from Pete and waited while Pete ordered waffles for both of them.
Pete leaned across the rickety table and grabbed Patrick's hand. "So?"
"It's, um, personal," Patrick said.
Pete rolled his eyes. "Of course it is. Anything that's messy enough to need a therapist always is."
"No, it's you-and-me personal," Patrick said. "Friendship personal."
The smile slid off Pete's face. "You dumping me? After everything?"
"I'm not dumping you," Patrick said, and fuck, if Pete couldn't feel how much Patrick's hand was shaking, then Pete was an idiot.
Pete slid around the booth, at the back of the table, crawling along the bench, dragging the tablecloth behind himself, wrapping his arms around Patrick.
Pete was not an idiot.
The waitress clattered the plates of waffles onto the table and glowered at the pair of them, then stomped off.
"What are you doing then?" Pete asked, and Patrick hugged him back.
"This isn't easy," Patrick said. His heart was banging, and he would have given anything to not have started, but it was too late to turn back.
"I know," Pete said. "When you're ready."
"It's like, we both assume that you've got all the words, that you already know what I'm going to say, which is okay when that's right. But when that's wrong…"
Patrick felt like he'd kicked a puppy, when Pete looked up and met his gaze. "Oh," Pete said. "What is it that you want to say, except you can't get a word in?"
Patrick shrugged. "I don't know. There's just… something."
"And you're never gonna find out if I don't shut the fuck up?"
"That seems to be the message," Patrick said. "Do you think you could be quiet occasionally?"
Pete put his feet on the bench and hugged his knees. "Not all the time?"
Patrick shook his head. "I was, um, thinking that maybe you could crash in the back bedroom with me for a while."
"And just be quiet in there? Everyone will think I'm doing you, you know."
"I can deal," Patrick said. "Besides, the lack of moaning will be proof you aren't."
Pete grinned. "True. If I ever did, I'd make you scream, baby. Now, eat your waffles, to make up for me getting the last stuffed potato yesterday."
Back at the buses, Patrick left Pete moving random clothes into the back bedroom and went in search of Andy. Andy was in the catering tent, halfway through the serious business of stuffing his face, and Patrick tapped his shoulder and said, "Thanks."
Andy nodded, around a mouthful of oatmeal, but he looked pleased, and Patrick had to grin back at him.
It took time to make his way back to the bus, stopping to say hello to people he'd not spoken to for days, and he was still grinning when he pushed his way down the hall on his bus.
"Hey, Pete…" he said, then he spotted what Pete had replaced the 'fuck off and die' message on his door with.
'Pete is fucking Patrick. Please do not disturb.'
Pete appeared in the doorway and grabbed Patrick, pulling him into the back bedroom and shutting the door.
"Do you like it?" Pete asked.
"Consider me speechless," Patrick said, sitting on the edge of the bed weakly.
"No, honey," Pete said, wrapping himself around Patrick from behind. "Remember? That was all a phase, and you just need some quality alone time with me."
"Oh, fuck," Patrick said. "Can I change my mind?"
Pete smacked wet lips against Patrick's neck. "Not a chance."
"This was a stupid idea," Patrick said, when Pete bounced on the bed, managing to get enough air to ricochet off the roof of the bus with the bound.
"Nah," Pete said, letting himself flop onto the mattress, half across Patrick's legs. "It'll be fun."
"It will be like going to the dentist," Patrick said. "I hope to endure extended pain that will cost me a great deal, during which something which is hurting me will be removed without any novacaine. Eventually, when the dry socket heals, I might be able to function again. Do you think Joe will share his stash with me?"
"You can call me your Dentist of Love," Pete said, waggling his eyebrows at Patrick.
"I'm telling people that," Patrick said. "You'll never get laid again."
Pete pouted, clambering up Patrick and the bed to rest his head on Patrick's shoulder, and Patrick knew he was being considerate for a change because at no stage did Pete's knees or elbows connect with a vital organ.
"Being quiet now," Pete said.
Patrick reached out and switched off the light and dragged a blanket over both of them.
It was soothing, the bus rumbling down the interstate, Pete's body warm and comforting, and Patrick stroked Pete's hair, while the tightness in his throat melted.
"Fuck, you're crying, aren't you?" Pete asked, some time later.
"Yeah," Patrick said. "Guess I am."
"How do you feel?"
"Something… hurts," Patrick said. "Like it's empty, or missing. I don't understand."
"You know I love you, don't you?"
"You've told me before," Patrick said. "And the world, quite a few times."
Pete moved, in the darkness, the warmth against Patrick's skin shifting, and Pete's hair touched Patrick's face. "I don't think you've ever understood what I mean by that."
"What do you mean?" Patrick asked, because he'd thought he'd known, thought they were best friends, co-workers, maybe some kind of hive mind that made music.
Pete's mouth brushed against Patrick's, just for a moment, then he rested his head back down again. "If you don't know, I'm not sure I can tell you."
Realization didn't dawn so much as erupt or explode.
"You're making declarations of undying romantic love for me?" Patrick asked. "Fuck. This is going to take some processing. I'm considering mutism again."
"I thought it might, um, help you out there… Clarify things for you… If you were having the same kind of thoughts."
Patrick really had nothing to say, because if he opened his mouth, it was going to sound like spluttering.
"I could do with some kind of reassurance that you're not rejecting me outright here," Pete said, and that time, Patrick could actually hear the kicked-puppy look. "Got anything for me?"
When Patrick touched Pete's hair again, Pete made a small sound, an exhalation of relief, and melted against Patrick's side again, and Patrick closed his eyes.
Pete was touching Patrick too, rubbing fingertips through his worn T-shirt, in the middle of Patrick's chest, finding the ache there, almost hurting, and fuck, it was all there, bewildering and terrifying, but almost making sense.
"Pete?" Patrick whispered.
"Freaking out here."
"Need me to leave?" Pete asked. "We can pretend I never said anything…"
Patrick shook his head, then remembered Pete wouldn’t be able to see. Damn, it was hard making the jump from communicating entirely by gesture to talking in the dark. "No, please stay. And maybe you could…"
"What?" Pete asked, then Patrick's finger found Pete's chin in the dark, sliding up to his mouth, fingertip across his bottom lip.
Pete's tongue flickered, the tip catching the edge of Patrick's fingernail, then Patrick traced Pete's top lip, wetting the skin. He could hear Pete's breathing, suddenly loud, then Pete's fingers touched Patrick's mouth gently.
The skin tasted faintly of toothpaste and candy, when Patrick parted his lips.
Pete hitched himself up on one elbow, moving closer, and he pushed one long finger into Patrick's mouth slowly. Patrick sucked on the finger, letting his teeth scrape across Pete's knuckle as Pete dragged it out again.
Against his ear, Pete whispered, "So fucking hot. You're going to make me come, and we haven’t even kissed."
"Then you'd--" Patrick said, but he didn't get to finish because Pete's mouth was on his, kissing him, and it was so fucking good, with Pete's hands in his hair, holding him still, and Pete slow-fucking his mouth.
When Pete slid his mouth down to Patrick's neck, Patrick's breath was roaring in his ears, and yeah, Pete was right, it was all a huge turn-on.
"Oh fuck," Pete groaned. "I'm trying to be good, honest, but please tell me you want something more."
It was easy to move the hand that was on Pete's back, slide it lower, pushing Pete against Patrick's hip, to work his hand inside the waist of Pete's sweats, across bare skin, so his palm cupped Pete's buttock, his fingers curling into the flesh.
Yeah, Pete's cock was grinding against Patrick's side, and Pete whimpered when Patrick flexed his fingers experimentally. Pete grabbed the front of Patrick's boxers, dragging the cotton down, and they both moaned as Pete's fingers curled around Patrick's cock.
"Fuck, you're learning fast," Pete said.
The skin over the small of Pete's back was sweaty, slippery and slick, and Patrick rubbed his thumb across the wetness, feeling Pete shiver against him.
"You think I don't know how to do this?" Patrick asked, sliding his index finger through the sweat and down the crack of Pete's ass.
Pete yelled, bucking against Patrick, and Patrick pushed his fingertip in, as gently as he could given that Pete was not cooperating by staying still, because damn, but sweat was a poor lube substitute.
Oh fuck, Pete was coming, hand no longer on Patrick's cock but flailing randomly, grinding against Patrick, and Patrick could feel him, feel his cock, feel his ass shuddering.
When Pete stopped, falling in a heap across Patrick, Patrick eased his finger out carefully and slid his hand under Pete's T-shirt, stroking the skin of his back, pushing the fabric out of the way.
"Yeah," Pete said, his voice raw. "Good idea." He moved, kneeling up and pulling his T-shirt off. The bed rocked a little, and Pete was naked, back against Patrick, pushing Patrick's T-shirt up, pulling his boxers down.
The first feel of Pete, bare-skinned and warm, resting over Patrick, made Patrick gasp. Pete kissed the corner of his mouth. "Bet no girl's taught you how to do this," Pete whispered, as he slid down the bed, out of Patrick's reach.
Patrick had to grit his teeth to keep himself quiet, first touch of Pete's mouth, then Pete deep-throated him, and just kept sucking, and it was all fucking over, unbearably hot and tight and good. And really very loud.
"Knew that voice wouldn't be wasted," Pete said, sprawling across the mattress beside Patrick, sounding profoundly smug.
"Fuck," Patrick managed to say. "That was…" Patrick whimpered at the memory, and Pete crawled into his arms.
"Golf balls through garden hoses?" Pete suggested. "If it was an Olympic event, I could suck cock for America? You're going to be kept satisfied, I promise. How do you feel?"
Patrick kissed Pete's forehead and gave the matter some consideration.
Some of him felt deeply relaxed, like over-cooked macaroni. He thought he might be appreciably dumber than before, too, as though Pete had temporarily removed several IQ points, along with…
Fuck, yeah, moving right along.
Pete's fingers were back on Patrick's chest, rubbing carefully, and Patrick pressed his fingers in beside Pete's, digging at the bones. The ache had eased.
"It doesn't hurt," Patrick said. "Inside me, it’s all gone."
"Quality time with Dentist Pete." Pete's voice was sleepy, and he pulled the blankets over both of them. "That was all you needed."
"Think it might be a little more complicated than that." Patrick let his fingers drift across Pete's shoulder, just to feel Pete shift closer.
"Stop talking, you're keeping me awake," Pete said.
Patrick lay in the dark, listening to Pete's breathing slow against the omnipresent rumble of the road. He felt light-hearted, that was how he felt.
Andy set his tray of food down on the table and dropped into the chair. "Hey Patrick," he said.
Patrick, mouthful of scrambled eggs, nodded and waved his fork at Andy, and his tray of food. Andy considered breakfast… lunch… the meal they had when it was daytime and no one was trying to make them work… as carb-loading time, and Patrick was impressed by how much Andy intended to eat.
"How are you?" Andy asked, soy-and-banana smoothie lifted in preparation for downing.
Patrick, who was dealing with what catering had insisted were vegetarian sausages, made his non-committal hand gesture while he tried to chew.
Andy, too much soy-and-banana on his face, glared at Patrick across the table, as Patrick managed to swallow.
"Are you not talking again?" Andy asked sternly.
"No," Patrick said. "I'm a walking and talking Patrick today."
Andy nodded, and Pete clattered a tray of food down between the two of them and clambered over the back of the bench, kicking Patrick in the thigh as he did.
"Hi," he said, leaning across the table to inspect their plates. "Oh, Patrick, you asshole, you got the last of the sausages." Pete speared a sausage off Patrick's plate and bit into it suggestively, then launched into a lengthy story about some plan Dirty had.
When Pete stopped talking long enough to steal the last of Andy's smoothie, Patrick said, "Everything is just fine," to Andy, and picked up his tray.
Pete's smile was warm, and he grabbed his own tray and said, "Wait for me, I'm not letting you out of my sight, just in case you change your mind."
"You going to shut up at all?" Patrick asked.
"Not a chance. You got something say, you'd better get my attention later."
Patrick sat back down again. He knew when he was defeated.
Pete grinned, winding his legs around Patrick's under the table. "Do you know I'm Patrick's Dentist of Love?" Pete asked Andy.
Andy peered into his smoothie, not paying attention. "Really?" he said. "That's nice. Some bastard drank my smoothie."
Andy wandered off, presumably in search of another smoothie, and Patrick sighed.
"I could stop talking again," he said.
"No one would notice," Pete said. "No point."