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Anywhere You Let It Go: Part II

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[Part II]

Joe doesn’t see what the big deal is. He’s sitting on the bathroom counter, watching Pete make faces at himself in the mirror. Andy’s on the closed toilet seat, legs crossed. Andy disagrees with marriage as an institution, but he says he’s there for moral support.

Or the food. Joe’s definitely there for the food. He checked off prime rib on the response card, but he’s now rethinking his choice.

“Sea bass en croute,” he says, palming his jaw. “En croute.” He’s clean-shaven, and his skin feels weird under his rough fingers.

“You can have mine, dude,” Pete says.

Pete probably won’t be eating at all. Pete’s probably going to disappear into the crowd, let them swallow him up whole. Joe’s already got his booth picked out in his mind, the one in the back with the extra plushy cushions and the half-wall. He’s going to soak up the quiet, or at least the muffled melee. He might be hiding from Ryan, too, but only because that dude’s a scary-intense fucker when he’s on a mission.

None of this is Joe’s fault, so he doesn’t think he deserves to be harassed by little Ryan Ross.

There’s a sharp knock on the door and Adrian calls out, “None of you assholes better be squirming through that window,” and Joe glances up at the small square of light and smacks his forehead, because duh. They could’ve been out of there, like, an hour ago.

“Showtime,” Pete says. He adjusts his ascot and snarls.

**

The day Charles Peter Stump was born was the day Pete forgave Patrick for getting married to someone that wasn’t him.

That was pretty fucking big of him, actually.

Patrick, his sweet dumpling Patrick, knocked up a friend of a friend, a girl, and then had the audacity to marry her, and Pete was so angry about it he hadn’t been sure he’d be able to speak in full sentences ever again.

But then Joe had called him from the hospital – Joe – babbling about tiny feet and hands and the way Charles Peter Stump was a wrinkled red mess of adorableness with this tuft of strawberry blonde hair, and Pete just. He stopped thinking. He got in his car and drove and told himself that no matter what, no matter what happened or would happen, Patrick was his Patrick, and now there was a little Stump to spoil.

He still hated Adrian with the fiery glory of a thousand suns, though. He was pretty sure that wasn’t going to change.

*

When Patrick’s marriage started going downhill, Pete totally didn’t gloat. Gloating was what a bad friend would do, so mostly he just hated Adrian even more, even fiercer, until Patrick called him up and said, “She’s gone.”

“Hall & Oates.”

“No, um. Adrian. She left me.” His voice was thick and lower than usual and Pete kind of felt like he’d been sucker punched, even though a part of him, a huge part, was really fucking glad.

Pete cleared his throat. “Patrick, man, I’m—”

“Don’t you dare say you’re fucking sorry,” he growled, and then he hung up on him.

He called back five minutes later and apologized, and Pete graciously forgave him. “What about Charlie?” he asked.

“She’s. Joint custody, I guess.” Patrick sighed noisily, and Pete said, “Okay. Okay, so, I’m flying in.”

“No,” Patrick said. Sort of emphatically. He could even picture him shaking his head.

Pete’s eyes widened. “Um. Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m. I don’t think I can.”

“Patrick, dude, you’re not making any sense,” Pete said. He didn’t want Pete there with him. That made no sense at all, seriously.

“I’m fine. I just need some space,” Patrick said, and Pete’s mind went blank.

Completely fucking blank.

Two hours later, Pete scowled up at the ceiling, lying on his bed in the dark. Space? he thought. What the fuck?

*

“How’s Patrick?” Andy asked.

“Well, hello, Andrew, nice to hear from you,” Pete said, shifting back under his covers and pulling them over his head. He hadn’t actually been sleeping, considering it was - he popped his head out again to see the clock - three fifteen in the afternoon.

Andy grunted. “Yeah. How’s Patrick?”

“Okay?” Pete thought about it, thought about the two calls he’d gotten in the past week, and figured ‘okay’ was as good an educated guess as he could give. “Okay.”

“Put him on,” Andy said, and Pete frowned at his Sidekick, said, “Considering he’s in Chicago, I think that might be kinda hard. Why don’t you just call him yourself?”

“I did, he’s not answering. And what do you mean, you’re not—you’re still in LA?” He sounded appalled, and, frankly, Pete was, too.

Not that he could do anything about it. “He said not to come,” Pete said.

“Right, okay, so you’re going to actually start listening to him now? Hey, Joe,” his voice was slightly farther away, “Pete’s still here.”

Pete could hear Joe’s faint, “what the fuck,” in the background.

“I’m respecting his privacy,” Pete yelled.

“What—” Andy cut off and there was a tussle, some loud slapping noises, and then Joe said, “Dude. Dude, you suck at being in love.”

Pete opened his mouth, closed it, rubbed a hand over his forehead, because what could he say to that? It was really fucking true. “Whatever. He wants some space, so.”

“And you’re giving it to him? That makes no sense,” Joe said, and then, “Ow, fuck, Andy—”

“You’ve hit new highs of stupidity, Pete,” Andy said. “I wash my hands of you.”

“Andy—”

“Wash. My. Hands,” he repeated firmly, and then he hung up. Perfect.

*

The last person Pete expected on the other line when he picked up his phone in the middle of the night was Brendon. Always, always, in the past, whenever Brendon had wanted to talk to him, he’d made Ryan call first. It was just the way things were done. Pete was used to that. Pete liked having Ryan as a buffer, because Brendon was like a less cryptic, less totally cool, tinier, more hyper version of himself.

Brendon was a handful when Pete was in a good mood, and he wasn’t even sure why Brendon had called him, instead of, like, Patrick. Which actually wasn’t a bad idea.

Brendon was babbling.

“Brendon, you should go visit Patrick. Stay with him for a while,” Pete said, interrupting whatever he was saying about Ryan being a bitch and Jon being less than awesome or something. Who knew.

“Isn’t he busy?” Brendon asked.

“He’s kind of having a bad time right now,” Pete said, because it was true. Whether Brendon would be helpful with that was arguable.

*

Of course, it was totally great that Patrick and Brendon were having such a grand time living together for, like, ever and ever amen. They were buddies, roomies. It was perfect. What was even better was getting a text message from Ryan one morning that read, were on hiatus.

Awesome. June was turning out to be a fucking fantastic month for Pete.

“Tell me this has something to do with Brendon,” Pete said when Ryan picked up his cell. He meant that, too, because he was pretty sure Patrick could fix everything if that was the case.

“It was a mutual decision,” Ryan deadpanned.

“Don’t give me that shit, Ross.” No fucking way would Ryan vote for a hiatus right after writing several mostly-cool songs. There were one or two that eluded Pete, but that didn’t necessarily make them bad. Just pretentious. Except for the one about the clowns. Pete was pretty sure that one wouldn’t fly.

“Look, if you don’t like it, you can kick Urie’s ass, okay?” Ryan snapped. “He won’t listen to me.”

“That’s because you’re mean,” Pete pointed out.

“Whatever. I’m a fucking sweetheart, really.”

“A pussycat. Hang on,” Pete said. “Seriously, hang on. Put Jon on the phone.”

“How do you—”

“Oh, Jon Walker,” Pete sang-sung.

“Fucker,” Ryan muttered, and then Jon said, “Yo, Pete.”

Pete grinned. “You keep Ryan honest, Jon Walker.”

“It’s a tough job.” Pete could hear the smile in his voice. “Ryan’s lucky I’m so awesome.”

“Indeed,” Pete said. “In-fucking-deed.”

*

Brendon was Patrick’s favorite Panic! boy. That was common knowledge to everyone except maybe Brendon. Still, buddies was one thing, but Pete thought Patrick should be having a little less fun, given that he’d wanted space, but apparently touring the zoo was typical Patrick-and-Brendon fare.

Patrick had this completely irrational and hilarious fear of giraffes, and if he was going to brave the zoo with anyone, it should’ve been Pete.

So maybe Pete was a little upset with Patrick. Maybe Pete spent the four hours it took Patrick and Brendon to come home brooding and texting Ryan and sending him pictures of things living in Patrick’s fridge.

pleas stop

Pete grinned to himself, a little meanly. u dont have2 look

i kindof do, Ryan wrote back, and then sent a pic of his bare toes gripping a pencil, because he knew that freaked Pete the fuck out. They were like eagle talons or something. He could fish with those things.

now its on ross

bring it

By the time Brendon and Patrick got home, Pete had a nice collection of photos of Ryan’s feet doing everyday activities - such as scooping up spaghetti with a fork and playing the guitar - and even though Pete never wanted to look at them again, seriously, he figured they’d be good blackmail material one day. It was always good to have stuff on Ryan Ross.

And then Charlie was blinking at him from his little car seat with clear, strangely serious green eyes and Pete, after the kind of day he’d had, just needed some cuddle time. So he stole him for an hour or so.

They holed up in the nursery and Pete told Charlie all about women and John Cougar Mellencamp and Showgirls, and it was all stuff he’d have to repeat someday - or maybe just amend, since Patrick would probably veto the Showgirls talk - but there was no reason he couldn’t get a head start on it all. Lay the foundation. Subvert whatever erroneous teachings Adrian was stuffing into his fragile brain.

At least he had Patrick to save his soul.

*

Pete wasted a lot of time in New York. It’d been a good enough destination when he hadn’t wanted to stick around to watch Patrick coddle Brendon into going back to Panic! or whatever the hell he’d planned on doing to convince him that hiatus was a four letter word. Somehow, the whole Brendon Urie Coming Out Thing hadn’t surprised him in the least.

Pete had never been particularly subtle, but holding back around Patrick, just that little bit, was like a fucking bad habit. He’d been off-limits, and then he’d been Patrick, and then he’d been married – and Pete didn’t think he’d ever completely get the bitter taste out of his mouth from that one – and then Brendon had to pull this shit and of course, of course Patrick went running to him. It just figured, and, no, it totally did not surprise Pete at all.

He bummed around with Travis a little. Sent Patrick postcards from the Empire State building and the Staten Island ferry and St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a dozen other places they’d been to more times then he could count. None of them said ‘wish you were here,’ but he hoped the message was implied. A lot of them just had the time, eastern standard. An approximation of longitude and latitude. How many miles from Memphis, Tennessee, and how many steps from Rockefeller Center to Central Park to the corner of 42nd and Broadway . If you added all the numbers you’d come up with the sum total hours Pete spent thinking about sourdough pretzels, when sourdough pretzels clearly meant Patrick.

The weird thing about Gabe – or, okay, one of the weird things about Gabe – was that he always knew when Pete was nearby. And thinking about food.

Pete’s Sidekick went off just as he was slowing down in front of that little Italian bistro with the pan-fried cheese and lemon wedges.

“I’m thinking Chinese,” Gabe said before Pete could even say hi. “I’m thinking crab rangoon.”

“Close,” Pete said, nodding. He looked down at his feet and scuffed his sneaker on the sidewalk. “Cheese. Mozzarella en carozza.”

“Oh, oh, with lemon. You’re right around the corner, dude, I’m coming down.”

By the time Pete was seated at a table by the front window, Gabe was sliding in across from him, still in what looked like his pajamas. There were spaceships on his pants.

“What brings you to New York, man?” Gabe asked, flicking out his cloth napkin and tucking it carefully over his Living Colour t-shirt. “No wait, don’t tell me.” He waved a hand and then pressed his fingers to his forehead, squeezing his eyes shut. He hummed This Is Halloween. Anyone who hadn’t already been staring at them was now staring at them. Then he popped open one eye and said, “Patrick.”

Pete scowled and said, “Is on his way to Nevada to rescue Brendon from self ruin.”

Gabe’s other eye popped open and he grabbed for a breadstick. “Aww, you’re so cute when you’re jealous.”

“I’ve been here for a month, asshole,” Pete said.

Gabe frowned and asked, “You’ve been here for a month and you’re just getting around to seeing me?

“I am mildly affronted,” he went on. He cocked his head, thoughtful. “Mildly affronted and slightly put out. You should apologize before I storm off and leave you to eat all by your lonesome.”

“Whatever, sorry. Bill knew I was here,” Pete grumbled, sinking lower into his seat.

“William shall be dealt with, then. William shall be punished severely for this gross oversight. Now, are we having wine? Are you paying for this wine? Wait, wait, I’m sensing that you’d like to buy me several bottles of expensive cabernet to make up for causing me such pain and mental anguish. That’s really cool of you, Pete. Seriously, man, only if you insist.” Gabe smiled brightly at him.

There was a reason Pete’d taken so long to visit Gabe. “Only if we don’t talk about Patrick.”

“Patrick is exactly who we’re going to talk about,” Gabe countered, nodding. “We are going to talk about Patrick, and you’re going to show me the millions of pictures you have in your pocket of Charlie, and then you’re going to try and convince me that you’re not actually in love with wee little Patrick Martin Stump with pretty much zero success.”

“Awesome.”

Gabe grinned sharper. “To a magnitude you can’t even imagine.”

*

“How’s Patrick,” Andy asked, and Pete was hit with a wave of déjà vu as he made his way through the airport.

“I’m going to go with okay again,” Pete said. “I thought you were washing your hands of me?”

“I like Patrick too much. You’re not back in LA yet, right?”

“No.” He was supposed to be. Pete had been ready to board that plane to California, ready and willing, and then he’d spotted a direct flight to O’Hare and instead found himself paying an exorbitant fee to change his ticket. Patrick wasn’t even there, if he’d been planning a visit, so he had no clue what had compelled him.

“You’re a jackass,” Andy said.

“Hey. Hey, dude, did you just call to disparage me? ‘Cause that’s plain mean.”

Jackass. Patrick called me.”

“Didn’t you just.” Pete paused in the middle of the walkway. “Wait, why ask me how he was if you already knew?”

“Not the point. The point is you’re a jackass. You refused to bring him his kid, Pete, seriously, what is wrong with you?”

“I’m not his nanny,” Pete said, and he knew he sounded petulant, but whatever. It wasn’t his job to cart Charlie off to see his dad—well. He wouldn’t actually mind it if that was his job, honestly, but it wasn’t, and that was the whole problem, right? “Is that all?”

“Yeah, man, yeah.” Andy sighed heavily. “Just. Think about what you’re doing for once, okay?”

*

Adrian didn’t even bother to knock and, okay, most people didn’t bother to knock at Pete’s house, but it was Adrian, and Adrian wasn’t welcome in his humble abode. Ever. Except she had a tiny Stump in her arms, Pete’s ultimate weakness. His kryptonite, only adorable and not in neon green rock form.

“I need you to be a grownup for a few days,” Adrian said, handing over Charlie, his diaper bag, his blankie, and his favorite stuffed bunny, Dan. “Do you think you can handle that?”

“Finally abandoning him?” Pete asked, narrowing his eyes at her. Her hair was doing that evil flippy-feather thing, the Farrah fucking Fawcett, that Pete was sure she’d used to ensnare Patrick in the first place. Patrick was easily broken by short-shorts and big hair. Also, she was a tiny powerhouse blonde who could bake a mean peach cobbler.

Adrian rolled her eyes. “Funny,” she said, then turned around and walked out of the den, back towards the front of the house.

Pete followed, meandering along behind her, curious. Charlie fussed and started chewing on the strings of his hoodie and Pete bounced him a little, making Dan Dan the Bunny Man dance on his chest, and Charlie gave him a little half-smile. Half-smiles from Charlie were, like, magic. Pete’s heart fluttered.

Adrian ducked out the door and Pete stood in the open frame, watching as she hooked an arm through the car seat handle and snagged another bag, bigger than the diaper one. There was a pack-n-play leaning against the back tire.

“Your flight leaves in four hours,” she said when she reached the stoop again. “He’s fine with flying, but make sure you have some snacks. Cheerios are good. I’ve pumped some milk—”

“Whoa.” Pete held up a hand. The hand with Dan. He shook him, and his little bunny ears flopped around comically. “Whoa, there. Let’s not talk about your breasts, okay?” Not that Pete wasn’t appreciative of breasts. Breasts were awesome. He just wasn’t sure Adrian’s weren’t, like, comprised of thorns and pus and, okay. Okay, he really couldn’t think that about Charlie’s mom, because that was pretty vomit-inducing. Yeah.

Adrian pursed her lips. “You lied to Patrick,” she said.

“No, no,” Pete said, shaking his head emphatically, because he hadn’t lied to Patrick, had not. He’d taken a slight Chicago detour. He was totally planning on going to LA. Soon. “I just changed my mind. I can change my mind, it’s allowed.”

“Right, you can. So you can change your mind about this, too.”

“About—”

“You’re going to Nevada,” she said, poking his chest with a sharp nail. “You’re going to take Charlie to see his father and you’re gonna quit being a pussy. Now.” She straightened up and tugged down the hem of her t-shirt, smoothing a hand over her stomach. “As I said, I’ve pumped some milk for today, but he’ll take formula and a little bit of milk. You’ll need to buy some once you land. Okay?”

Pete really hated that Adrian had practically backed him into a corner, but on the other hand, Charlie. He got Charlie all to himself for almost the whole day. “Okay, sure, get out.”

“Wow, you’re such a charmer, Pete Wentz,” Adrian drawled. Then her face tightened and her voice got low and she said, “You hurt him and I’ll cut your hands off at the wrists.”

Not the worst threat he’d ever gotten, but if they were talking about Charlie, that was kind of insulting. And if they were talking about Patrick, well. Patrick was his. He thought they’d already established that as fact. On that night that they swore they were never telling Patrick about, ever.

“I mean it, Pete,” she said, then a smile bloomed across her face and she leaned in to nuzzle Charlie. “Mommy loves you,” she murmured, lips pressed to his chubby cheek.

She smelled like cherries and fresh bread and talcum powder. She smelled like a mom. Pete softened a little and didn’t bother glaring at her as she pulled away. It was probably all part of her evil plan, but whatever. He got Charlie.

Adrian kept her smile and patted Pete’s cheek. “I’ll see you in a few days.”

*

“Oh, great,” Ryan said when he opened the door, which was uncalled for, honestly.

“Hey, hey, I’m your boss,” Pete admonished. “And I’ve got a little one. I’m all dependable and shit.”

Ryan arched an eyebrow and stepped aside, sweeping a hand in invitation.

“Do not give me that look, Ryan Ross. I maintain,” Pete said, moving inside and setting Charlie’s car seat down gently, “that I’m totally an adult today.” Charlie was completely out, little mouth half-open, head slumped to the side, pale eyelashes practically invisible against his equally pale cheeks.

“Pete,” Brendon called out, bounding down the front stairs, and then he spotted Charlie and hushed his voice to an impossibly low, “Oooh, sleepy baby Chuck,” which wasn’t really impossibly low for normal humans, but for Brendon Urie, yes. He made grabby hands and crouched down to unbuckle Charlie’s straps. “Sleepy, sleepy baby.”

“Where’s Patrick?” Pete asked.

“He locked himself in my bedroom,” Brendon said. Charlie blinked open his eyes and yawned and Brendon went, “Aww, I missed you, peanut,” and hugged him to his chest. Pete was vaguely disgusted. Or jealous. He could’ve been a little jealous.

“Give him here,” Pete said, “and point the way.”

Ryan heaved a sigh - seriously, Ryan used to worship Pete, what the hell happened to that? Pete missed the deserved blind faith and sheer joy of his presence – and said flatly, “Second door on the left. Please note the frolicking purple unicorns and the sparkly Brendon’s Room sign.”

“Purple unicorns rock, my friend,” Brendon said, reluctantly letting go of Charlie as Pete slipped his hands under his little baby armpits.

Charlie was seriously the cutest baby ever.

Pete crept up the stairs and knocked on Brendon’s door. There was a lone green Pegasus with rainbow wings flying through the sky above a field of purple unicorns, a trail of stars exploding into Brendon’s name. Wow. Impressive. “Trick?”

After a muffled thump, Patrick jerked the door open, hair rumpled and hatless, t-shirt old and stretched at the neck, and jeans, those really ancient ones that shouldn’t have fit him anymore, but kind of did, anyway. His eyes were wild, tinged with just a hint of mania, and then he spotted Charlie and his entire body went lax, nearly boneless.

“Hey,” he said softly. He reached out and lightly trailed three fingertips down Charlie’s cheek. “Hey, baby.”

Pete felt more than a little shitty for not giving him this earlier. “He demanded to see you,” Pete said, grinning. “There was no reasoning with him.”

Patrick smiled, still sort of dreamy, a blissed out exhaustion. “Yeah?”

“Oh yeah. He had this, like, irresistible plea. Even Dan was impressed.” Pete figured, watching the pure delight cross Patrick’s face as he lifted Charlie out of his arms, that babies made adults stupidly happy, because Pete had just been so lame and normally Patrick would’ve completely called him on it, but Patrick was just. Amazed.

“Thanks,” Patrick said, cheeks rosy and eyes glassily bright.

“Um.” Pete fidgeted back and forth on his feet. “Welcome.”

*

“Okay,” Patrick said, getting out a notebook. It had kittens dressed up in little superhero outfits on the front, so Pete guessed it was Jon’s. Charlie was lying on the bed, playing with Dan and a little monkey rattle thing Patrick called Horatio. “Okay, this is what I’ve figured out so far. I’m stuck in some sort of hell that looks vaguely like a Sandra Bullock movie.”

Pete squinted, cocked his head. “Okay.”

“Right.” Patrick tapped a pen on the paper. “Right, and I’m pretty sure Spencer wanted to, like, hold hands in public or something, and Brendon freaked out and they mutually broke up, no matter what Ryan says, and now Brendon is overcompensating for his fuckup, because he’s insane, and Spencer is possibly the most stubborn kid ever—”

“Besides you,” Pete cut in.

“Besides me,” Patrick agreed, which was a testament to how worn out he was, since he’d never normally agree about that, “right. So they’re staying broken up and mooning over each other from afar and Brendon’s wasting time coloring unicorns actual colors, since he feels it’s his duty to fight the white supremacy or something, and oh my god. How long have I been here?”

“A week,” Pete said. He craned his neck, trying to read Patrick’s notes upside-down. He thought he spotted some underlined emphasis on the words kill and maim, and there was most definitely a stick figure with horns and a forked tail labeled Ryan Ross. It was holding a deformed orange triangle and a thought bubble above its head was filled with HAs.

“It feels like months,” Patrick moaned. He added a mustache to the stick figure. “I am. I’m living on carrots here,” – carrots! Deformed orange triangle equaled carrot, right – “there is every possibility I’m turning yellow, and those, those oat bran Os that taste like cardboard? I’m starting to like them, okay.” He leaned forward, skin tight around his eyes, and curled a hand over Pete’s thigh. “How can Jon Walker be happy all the fucking time with oat bran Os and carrots?” he asked, voice kind of raw and raspy. “Tell me, Pete, how can Jon Walker, real boy Jon Walker, be happy?”

Pete was pretty sure real boy Jon Walker had his own stash of happy-making food that Ryan Ross didn’t know about. But he wasn’t going to volunteer that information to Patrick, since he seemed kind of on edge. “You know what you need? Ice cream.”

*

Pete stole Ryan’s car keys – he totally deserved it for making Patrick subside on carrots and crappy cereal all week – and they ended up sitting on the curb outside a little mom and pop grocery store with a pint of AmeriCone Dream.

“This is possibly the best thing I’ve ever tasted,” Patrick mumbled. They’d had to buy a five hundred pack of plastic spoons, but it was totally worth it. Patrick had his eyes closed, vanilla ice cream smeared over his bottom lip.

“It’s Comedy Central endorsed,” Pete said.

“It’s got waffle cone in it. And caramel.”

Pete laughed, hooked an arm around Patrick’s shoulders. He tucked his head into the crook of his neck, pressed a kiss to his throat. Then he said, “So, I think you should leave.”

“Leave where?”

“Leave Brendon.” Pete straightened up and shrugged. “From what you’ve told me, it kind of sounds like he’d drop it if you weren’t around to help.”

Patrick eyed him sharply. “Really?”

“Maybe.” Pete could have said more, but he didn’t. Somehow, it didn’t seem wise.

Patrick dropped his spoon into the pint and put it aside. “He’s telling his parents.”

“Huh.”

“So. Yeah. I’m gonna stay for that, and then he can decide what he wants to do next.” He linked his fingers together and stared down at his knees. “He’s, you know. Pretty fucking brave.”

Pete frowned. “I thought you said he was doing this for Spencer.”

Patrick pursed his lips and gave him a look. “He’s in love with Spencer,” the you idiot was implied. “I mean, maybe it’s not the best reason, but I’m not going to tell him not to do it because of that. And it’s still. It’s still.”

“Brave,” Pete supplied, half-smiling.

Patrick smiled back. “Something like that, yeah.”

“Okay, so,” Pete clapped his hands, “if we’re staying a few more days, we’re totally getting Walker to tell us where the good stuff is hidden.”

*

Jon pulled a bag out of the cabinet over the microwave and held it out like an offering, mouth a solemn line but eyes dancing. Pete leaned forward and looked inside and smiled. Cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

“Are those—are those dog biscuits?” Patrick asked tentatively, like he was afraid Jon would say yes and then he’d have to punch him for teasing him about honest-to-god food meant for human consumption and not robots like Ryan.

“Cookies,” Pete assured him, shaking the bag.

“Brendon thinks they’re dog biscuits,” Jon added, “and as long as Brendon thinks they’re dog biscuits, Ryan doesn’t care.”

Patrick looked like he was going to cry. “You tell me this now? You tell me this now, after I’ve been starving for a whole week. Oh my god, cookies. I think I love you, Jon Walker.”

“I seem to have that effect on people,” Jon said, smiling, and Pete said, “It’s a curse, but you bear it so well.”

Jon hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “The giant tub of butter in the fridge is filled with chocolate kisses.”

“If I wasn’t so happy, I’d kill you,” Patrick said. He had four sugar cookies in his hand and was going for the milk. “If anyone needs me,” he said, pouring himself a healthy cup, “I’ll be in Brendon’s room.”

“Don’t leave any crumbs,” Jon called after him. “And don’t breathe on Brendon before brushing your teeth. He can smell the sugar.”

Patrick waved dismissively and disappeared out of the kitchen, and Pete turned to Jon with a narrowed, assessing gaze. “So.”

“So,” Jon echoed.

“What do you think of all this?” Pete asked him.

“I think you make Patrick happy.”

Pete rolled his eyes. “Well, yeah,” he said, and then paused, cocked his head, because he knew that, it was so obvious, but it sounded kind of special and cool coming from someone else; having the words said out loud. “Really?”

Jon grinned. “Dude.”

“Yeah, okay.” Pete nodded. “But what do you think about Spencer.”

Jon grinned wider. “Spencer’s great. I love Spencer. Spencer occasionally makes me breakfast.”

“Spencer is standing behind Pete,” Spencer said drolly. “Spencer is not above justified homicide.”

Pete gave Spencer a curious look as he crossed the kitchen to dig into the bag of dog biscuits still out on the counter.

“Spencer,” Pete said slowly, watching very carefully for Spencer’s reaction, because there was something distinctly teenaged girl about the whole situation, if you asked him, and he was practically an expert on teenage girls, “should own up to the fact that he’s the reason Brendon’s confronting his parents tomorrow.”

When Spencer choked and spat out the bits of cookie that he hadn’t yet swallowed, Pete thought it was the most flustered he’d ever seen him. Actually, Pete had never ever seen Spencer flustered before. If Ryan was a robot, then Spencer was the evil mastermind that’d created him. He probably had a lab somewhere with extra Ryan parts.

Spencer coughed, blinked, eyes watering. “What?” he managed finally.

“The big reveal. It’s going down sometime tomorrow. You didn’t know?” Pete tried his very best to look innocent, but that never worked when Patrick wasn’t around. Patrick would back him up with these huge doe eyes and no one could doubt anything either of them said. Together, they were invincible. They should totally take their show to Vegas.

Spencer dropped his gaze to the floor, hair sweeping over his face, leaving only the pained downward curve of his mouth visible. Pete felt kind of bad. And then he remembered Spencer was acting like a pissy bitch and Brendon was being even more of an idiot than usual and Pete would honestly not mind the whole coming out drama, he totally wouldn’t, if everyone would just cooperate and be happy already.

He was strongly considering bringing Gabe and William into the mess. At the very least, it would be a lot more entertaining.

“Why would he.” Spencer paused, did that hip cocking thing that Pete had once tried for hours to emulate – seriously, his hips just couldn’t do that, and Pete wasn’t sure if he was glad or pissed off about it – and then huffed a little breath. “He’s—”

“He’s planning on publicly coming out, Spence,” Jon said, curling an arm around his shoulders and squeezing. “He’s better off telling his parents first, before they hear everything second hand, right?”

“But that’s not my—”

“Totally your doing, man,” Pete said, because Spencer had to recognize and embrace his responsibilities. Someone had to look after little Brendon Urie. Preferably someone who was not Patrick.

Spencer glared at him. His eyes were kind of scary, like maybe he was trying to burn a hole through Pete’s skull with the power of his mind.

“It’s not a bad thing,” Jon said softly. “This is good.”

“Good.” Spencer scuffed his toe on the tile floor.

“Hey, they’re, like, Mormons, right? So it’s not like they’re gonna cook and eat him or something for being gay.”

“Yes, because Mormons and cannibals are so hard to keep separate, what the fuck, Pete?” Ryan said, hanging in the doorway. “Stop helping. Why are the dog biscuits out?”

“We have dog biscuits?” Brendon shouted from the other room, and his voice was getting closer and Ryan cut a hand through the air frantically and said, “Put them away, put them away now, or I swear I’ll lock you all in the bathroom with him after he’s eaten the whole bag.”

*

“I feel a little bad putting Brendon out of his room in his time of need,” Pete said, curled up on his side on the bed. He smiled at Patrick, who was smiling back at him. Charlie was in between them, snug in a yellow onesie and completely fascinated with the slowly revolving ceiling fan.

“No you don’t,” Patrick countered. He reached out and slipped his fingers around Charlie’s hand and Charlie latched onto his thumb, tiny little digits curled tightly around his knuckle.

Pete leaned over and pretended to nip his feet, growling, and Charlie giggled, kicked out at him. Charlie hardly ever giggled. Pete was, like, stupid in love with him. He melted.

“I’m in love with your kid, Trick,” Pete said. He hippity-hopped Dan up Charlie’s stomach and made the bunny kiss his nose and Charlie dropped his hold on Patrick to grab at Dan’s ears, tugging him forward to chew on his face. “I think maybe he owns more of my heart than even you.”

Patrick ducked his head. Pete could see him grinning, though, under the brim of his cap, could see the flush spread up from his neck, and he thought, this is easy.

Pete laughed.

“What?” Patrick asked.

“You were being weird, man,” Pete said. He shrugged. Fucking space, the little lovable shit. Right. Patrick was his, Adrian had totally agreed – Pete might have forced it out of her, but that didn’t make it any less valid – and it was time Patrick just manned up and acknowledged that. Seriously. Patrick just couldn’t go around marrying other people, thinking it was perfectly fine and acceptable.

Patrick snorted. “I was being weird. Okay.”

“Yeah.” Pete reached over and wrapped a hand around the back of Patrick’s neck, thumb pressing under his ear. “Are you done?”

“I wasn’t. Pete,” Patrick said, exasperated.

Pete just grinned wider.

“Fine. Fine, I’m done. Jesus, I hate you.”

“You totally love me, dude,” Pete said, because it was true. It was so true and it was awesome.

“Hey, so,” Brendon popped his head around the doorjamb, “I was talking to Joe—”

“Why were you talking to Joe?” Patrick asked, eyes big.

“—and he thinks I should just get married.”

Part III

Comments

( 9 robots have taken off their pants — Take off your pants )
stumphed
Aug. 5th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
I cannot stop laughing at the dog biscuits and the drawings Patrick did with the carrots and Ryan Ross as the devil and oh god. Laughing so hard. I love this.
tongue_inxcheek
Aug. 6th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
“What—” Andy cut off and there was a tussle, some loud slapping noises, and then Joe said, “Dude. Dude, you suck at being in love.” i love Joe!!!! "I’m all dependable and shit.” okay if i told you all my fave lines i'd be retyping the story so i'll stop now. Gabe, just.... -throws fangs up- no words, dude.
skoosiepants
Aug. 6th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
*beams* Gabe is awesome :)
yukky_dukky
Aug. 7th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
i was drinking coke when i read this:

Wait, wait, I’m sensing that you’d like to buy me several bottles of expensive cabernet to make up for causing me such pain and mental anguish. That’s really cool of you, Pete. Seriously, man, only if you insist.” Gabe smiled brightly at him.

There was a reason Pete’d taken so long to visit Gabe.

for some reason, those lines caused me to laugh loudly and spit out my soda. all over my effing keyboard.
skoosiepants
Aug. 7th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
*grins* I'm glad I could make you laugh! I wasn't so sure I could write Gabe right, but I tried my very best :)
little_whittles
Aug. 11th, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
The phone call between Andy and Joe and Pete was amazing and hilarious. I loved it, especially the end. XD

I loved Ryan and Pete's conversation too, about Ryan being mean.

And I adore everything about Gabe.

And the second Pete and Andy conversation. Because I love your Andy.

And I kinda love Adrian.

The whole bit about what Patrick has written/drawn in the supercats notebook is amazing. It was funny and adorable.

I was just gonna comment at the end of this, but this chapter was so awesome, I had to stop in and tell you so.
skoosiepants
Aug. 12th, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC)
*grins* thank you so much!
daydreambeleevr
Oct. 10th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
The day Charles Peter Stump was born was the day Pete forgave Patrick for getting married to someone that wasn’t him.

I like how you show the same scene from different perceptions.

“She’s gone.”

“Hall & Oates.”
nice to slip that in. funny. :)

I *loved* Joe and Andy giving Pete shit for not flying out to Patrick when everything fell apart and how they all know Pete's in love with Patrick. I also love how they all use Charlie as some sort of magic baby fixer to feel better. They're adorable with Charlie. (like I could see them being in r/l should they ever decide to really breed. *gasp*

Except she had a tiny Stump in her arms, Pete’s ultimate weakness. His kryptonite, only adorable and not in neon green rock form.

i could so see him being gaga for this kid. And Adrian must think he has some redeeming qualities if she's letting him take her child. Because, that? Is serious.

seriously, Ryan used to worship Pete, what the hell happened to that? Pete missed the deserved blind faith and sheer joy of his presence –

bwhahah. You've done such an amazing job creating these scenes I can see happening.



“Okay, this is what I’ve figured out so far. I’m stuck in some sort of hell that looks vaguely like a Sandra Bullock movie.”

Pete squinted, cocked his head. “Okay.”


holy jebus on toast points. One of the best lines ever. As in ever ever.



“Hey, they’re, like, Mormons, right? So it’s not like they’re gonna cook and eat him or something for being gay.”

“Yes, because Mormons and cannibals are so hard to keep separate, what the fuck, Pete?” Ryan said


I know too many Mormons and that line was too damn funny not to quote back to you. Still laughed on the third time read through.

skoosiepants
Oct. 10th, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
The Andy-Joe-Pete thing was actually an add on - both times Andy calls Pete - after I'd finished the whole thing. I read through it and realized there just wasn't enough Andy! Or any at all, really :)
( 9 robots have taken off their pants — Take off your pants )

....

Stiles isn't really accident prone, giant bird attacks aside, but people tend to be, like, accident prone around him. Like the universe keeps thinking: give this one to Stiles, he can roll with it, when really Stiles is pretty sure he’s developing an ulcer.

“You have to cut it off,” Derek says through gritted teeth.

“Or we could dial the Gate and call for a medic, what the fuck?” There is no way Stiles is cutting off Derek Hale’s arm, was he raised by wolves?

“I can take it,” he growls.

“I’m sure you could.” Derek would probably bite leather until he passed out and then Stiles would have to deal with all the blood and body parts. Derek is fucking insane. “Too bad I don’t carry a bone saw around in my pants.”

- Show You What All That Howl Is For

....







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panic - pants to match ver. 3
skoosiepants
master of karate and friendship
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