August 24th, 2008
The bookshop fic is named, at least temporarily...
Title: Outside of a Dog
Rating: It's going to be for grownups only. Expect sex.
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.
Acknowledgments: A large tip of the keyboard to AlXson BechdXl, whose 'verse I might have borrowed from a little.
Pete dragged his grubby T-shirt off and tossed it on the floor, in the general direction of his pack, then splashed cold water from the sink at his face and armpits.
"Sure you don't want to come out with me?" he asked Patrick.
"It's one in the morning," Patrick said. "We've been working for fifteen hours, and my arms are about to drop off. I just want to go to sleep."
Pete shrugged. "Are you going to be okay here?"
Patrick looked around the store, and frowned. The front window was covered in newspaper, stopping anyone from looking in, and the carpet had dried. The paint they'd been slinging at the walls all evening smelled funny, like burning plastic, even though Patrick had demanded they buy the expensive low-VOC paint.
"I'll leave the back door open, and make Andy sleep across the doorway to stop anyone from breaking in," Patrick said. "It shouldn't smell too bad in here."
Pete scooped up his discarded T-shirt and hoodie from the floor and held them out, for Patrick to take, without saying anything.
Joe had gone, earlier in the evening, muttering about having to see someone and promising to be back first thing in the morning. Pete left too, heading for Chemical Love, Cute Guy, and the promise of an over-crowded, under-ventilated venue.
Patrick pulled Pete's hoodie on and crawled into his sleeping bag, while Andy mucked around, brushing his teeth and checking the front door was locked. The music from Chemical Love was a steady doofdoofdoof through the open back door of the store, and moths dive-bombed in, smacking against the fluorescent lights.
Andy switched the lights off and Patrick listened to him rustle into his sleeping bag.
The floor was hard through the sleeping bag, and in the darkness the smell of the paint was magnified, so Patrick pulled the hood of Pete's sweatshirt forward far enough to bury his face into the material.
"Joe told me about the whole sniffing thing he walked in on," Andy said, sounding amused. "He asked me if it was some kind of gay mating ritual or something."
"Oh," Patrick said. "I don't actually think Pete does anything as sophisticated as that. I think he just, um, canvasses people."
"I was watching you and Pete today, and I think I've worked it out. Want to hear my theory?"
"You have an actual theory?" Patrick asked. "I'm impressed. I'd not bothered with a theory myself, figuring that the universe was full of things I wasn't meant to understand, like quantum physics and why people wear tight clothes."
"See, to anyone who doesn't know you both, it might look like the pair of you are in love," Andy said. "That was what I thought for ages. Then I realised that, if you were, then you both were smart enough to have done something about it by now, so that wasn't the answer."
"I was in love with Pete once," Patrick said. "It lasted for a couple of hours, until I remembered what his previous break up had been like. Luckily I didn't have any credit on my phone that day, so I couldn't text him, and I'm not allowed to use the net at work, so there was no harm done. That taught me not to rush into these things."
Andy huffed in the darkness, then said, "Out of curiosity, did you tell him eventually anyway? You know, retrospectively."
"Remember when he broke my little finger?"
Andy was silent for a moment. "Anyway, this theory of mine. I worked it out. We're all primates, right? Just big, hairless apes, with a veneer of civilization on top? Well, you were raised in some weird communal living arrangement, part of a clan, with lots and lots of people around who loved you, pretty much how apes bring up their kids, and how humans should. I figured that just makes you more comfortable with who you are. Less in denial. More honest."
Patrick propped himself up on one elbow, to look at the indistinct shape of Andy in the gloom. "You think I'm honest?"
"About what makes you happy, sure. About yourself, yeah."
"What's Pete's excuse?" Patrick asked. "His family is safely, neurotically normal. Lots of repression and hatred, that sort of thing."
"I think Pete's feral," Andy said. "His socialization didn't take. We're lucky he manages the basics, like wearing clothes and not spitting indoors."
"So he's feral, and I'm well-adjusted, and that's why we act the same way?" Patrick asked. "I wouldn't try and get that one past Pete."
"I'm not planning to. What I was trying to say was that I understood about why smells are so important to you, and that if you're freaking out because of the paint and carpet cleaner, you can sniff me."
Patrick stared at Andy, in the half-light coming though the open door, and wrestled with his conscience.
"Really," Andy said. "I think it would do me good to be more like you, and be comfortable with being close to people. I'm not sure I want to be more like Pete though."
Damn, Patrick's conscience was winning, though his libido was still squirming around, under his conscience's grip. "What if I'm not freaking out? What if I just like the way you smell?"
Patrick could hear Andy smiling, even in the darkness. "That would still be fine."
Okay, Patrick could leave his conscience and libido to sort out the finer details amongst themselves, while he shuffled his sleeping bag across the carpet, so he was right beside Andy.
"Apes, huh?" Patrick asked, pushing the hood of his borrowed sweatshirt out of the way. "Big, hairless apes?"
"Hardwired to hang out in close knit groups," Andy said, unzipping his sleeping bag a little. "With huge olfactory centers in our brains."
Patrick was grinning to himself when he settled his head on Andy's shoulder, because apparently Andy had taken his T-shirt off after switching out the lights.
Patrick's conscience could give up, anytime it wanted to, because it didn't stand a fucking chance now, not if he was going to get to press his face against Andy's skin all night.
"So what do I smell like?" Andy asked, resting his arm around Patrick's shoulders. "Or is that a bad question when I've been dragging a carpet cleaner around all day?"
Patrick breathed, trying to categorize the warmth and skin. "If I was in charge, people would stop showering all the fucking time. You always smell clean, because of how you live. It makes your skin kind of sharp and sweet, like apples or something. And I can smell the tattoo ink, at least I think I can. There's something a little metallic in there, just over the color..."
Andy chuckled, and Patrick stopped rubbing his face across Andy's chest and said, "Um, you know, you can just push me away or whatever."
"It's good. I'm kind of enjoying a glimpse into the Pete-and-Patrick view of the world."
Patrick rested his head back on Andy's shoulder and tried not to yawn. "'Kay. I'll shut up then and go to sleep, unless you want me to simulate the bit where Pete never sleeps and insists on keeping talking all night."
"Can I choose not to go through that?"
The music went doofdoofdoof, Andy's heart went boomboomboom, and Patrick's conscience and libido called a truce, even if his libido was humping his conscience's leg. Bits of Patrick hurt at random, from scrubbing and painting, and Andy smelled like sweat and man and maybe just a little like eggplant...
Someone was shaking Patrick's shoulder, dragging him awake.
"Patrickpatrickpatrick," the voice insisted.
Patrick lifted his head, blinking in the early morning light coming through the open back door of the store.
"Wha?" he asked, managing to focus on Pete, who was crouching over him, apparently naked.
"Can I share your sleeping bag and your Andy?"
Andy grunted, sounding like he would be swearing if he were awake.
"Shh," Patrick said, unzipping his sleeping bag
Pete squirmed in, definitely naked, plastering far too much chilly skin across far too much of Patrick, and Patrick rolled onto his side in an attempt to protect his more vulnerable parts from Pete.
Andy rolled over too, so Patrick burrowed his face down, against Andy's shoulder blades, and went back to sleep.
Waking the next time was less unpleasant, with fewer overtones of exhaustion and dying and pain, and the decidedly enjoyable sensation of being sandwiched between two men, so Patrick didn't fight it.
"You're doing it wrong," Joe repeated, reminding Patrick of what had woken him initially, and Patrick managed to get his face peeled off the skin of Andy's back and his eyes open on the second attempt.
"Doing what wrong?" Pete asked, sounding distressingly awake.
Patrick reached behind himself and thumped Pete. "Not that kind of hug, Pete."
Pete stopped groping Patrick.
"Patrick should be naked as well," Joe said. "I bought coffees."
"'M not naked," Andy said indistinctly. "Not completely."
"You look it," Joe said.
"I am," Pete said. "Do you want to see?"
"No. But if Patrick was too, I'd be thinking that the three of you had found unusual things to do with two sleeping bags, seven gallons of white paint and an economy pack of sandpaper. But Patrick is very obviously wearing at least one hoodie, and I'm strangely disappointed."
"Why are you awake?" Patrick asked, separating himself from Pete enough to sit up in the sleeping bag and reach out for the coffee that Joe seemed to be waving around, somewhere beyond Patrick's unaugmented focal length. "And either give me the coffee or my glasses."
"Awake, showered, and caffeinated," Joe said. "It's half past seven, and time we were working."
"Amphetamines?" Pete asked.
"Could be," Joe said, finally handing Patrick a takeaway mug of coffee. "Could be I've been drinking coffee all night."
Patrick prized the lid off the mug and breathed in the coffee, sighing happily. Joe knew the best places to get coffee, like he knew the best places to get most things.
It was going to be a good morning, if everyone would just leave Patrick alone for long enough for higher intellectual functions to kick in and sort his body out. He wasn't going anywhere, not until he'd turned from rampantly-inconveniently-horny into merely moderately-conventionally-horny, which should take one coffee, ten minutes and the usual early morning conversation with his friends.
"Watch your coffee, Patrick," Pete said, wriggling and kicking at the sleeping bag. "Let me out, I gotta piss."
Patrick held his coffee well clear of Pete's elbows and knees, and turned his head, avoiding having to look at Pete's ass too closely, because damn, that was not going to help things calm down.
"Oh fuck, my eyes! My eyes!" Joe said, covering his face with the arm not holding the tray of coffees while Pete jumped around the store naked, trying to find his jeans, then pulled them on while standing up.
"It's safe now," Patrick told Andy, once Pete had done his jeans up and bolted out of the back door, and Andy dug himself out of his sleeping bag and his hair, like some kind of, well, large primate.
"Soy coffee for the vegan," Joe said, holding a cup out for Andy. "I put sugar in it, just because you're going to need the rush. Feel free to pick the sugar out if this was the wrong choice."
Andy grunted, lifting hair out of the way to drink coffee, and Patrick leaned against him.
"What happened?" Joe asked. "Someone needs to update me quickly, before Pete comes back and starts breaking things."
"Nothing happened," Andy said. "I've just decided to be more like Pete and Patrick."
"No!" Joe said. "Please, no!"
"Only the good bits," Andy qualified. "I promise no outbreaks of mass nudity, saliva experiments, seventy-two hour Mia Kirshner move marathons or fruit-as-wearable-art trials."
"Hey!" Patrick said indignantly. "Mia Kirshner is a damned fine actress. Love and Human Remains is one of the finest examples of the low budget Canadian serial killer genre out there."
"She's only made three movies," Joe said. "Looping them endlessly for three days was unbearable."
Patrick sighed. "The thing with the watermelons was a mistake though."
Pete bounded back up the steps and flopped down beside Patrick.
"Are you still whining about the watermelons?" Pete asked. "I promise the pink has faded now, and your hair is back to its usual color. No one can tell it happened."
Patrick drank his coffee, listening to the others bicker, Pete draped across his legs and Andy's arm around his shoulders. He felt deeply happy, more than a little tired, and his libido seemed to have backed his conscience into a corner and be screwing it senseless, and he didn't fucking care.
The shelves were shelved, or whatever. The partition walls were partitioned, or walled, and Patrick never wanted to revisit the bit where the four of them had tried to wrestle the walls into place, thank you very much.
Joe and Andy were still working on the counter, drilling and hammering and stuff, in a desperate attempt to build something robust enough to survive a Pete-working day while holding a cash register and a PC.
Patrick had given up helping after Joe had bitten him, and was sitting on his sleeping bag, trying to maintain his righteous anger at the bite wound, while Pete braided his hair and told him lies about what had happened at Chemical Love the night before.
"... and then Gerard, that's the guy we saw taking out the rubbish, well he said to me that he had a fucking unicorn in his office, and that he would take me there to meet it, but his brother, who is even hotter than him, and who is called MikeyfuckingWay, said--"
"You can stop," Joe called out. "And come and hold the cross strut for the counter, Pete. Or you can go home. There are no paths for the future that include you continuing your story."
"Can't Patrick help?" Pete asked.
"No!" Joe and Andy shouted simultaneously.
"Nice," Pete said under his breath as he stood up. "A level of incompetence that crippling is an achievement."
Patrick poked at the bite mark on his hand, hoping it would bleed some more, then patted the braid that Pete had abandoned, making it unravel.
He wanted to go home, or at least to Pete's place. He wanted to sleep in a bed, with a pillow, and soon. Possibly in between Pete and Andy again. He wanted something to eat, though he wasn't particular what it was.
And he really, really wanted to come to work at their bookstore the next day.
on to Chapter Four