It was unlike Pete not to show up when he said he would. His set wasn't for another few hours, so it wasn't like he was off getting ready for that, and besides, he had told Mikey he would be there to watch My Chem's set. There was a new bass technique Pete had shown him and Mikey had tried it out with much success, but his elated feeling had faded at the lack of the other bassist as he jumped off of the stage.
Mikey waited around for a few minutes just in case Pete had been detained or pulled away for something, but he still didn't show. He answered a few texts from other people on Warped but none of them were Pete, and eventually, Mikey got tired of waiting, but his ‘u coming?’ text continued to go unanswered.
It wasn't until after the other guys had headed back to the bus that Mikey called it quits and wandered through the backstage area. He tried to keep his head down, not wanting to see Pete with someone else or distracted by something that was obviously more important than following through on his word. It didn't matter because Pete was nowhere in sight, and as much as he wanted and didn't want to hear that voice calling his name, the sound never came.
Mikey climbed onto the bus and ignored the strange look he got from Frank because he knew he was supposed to be somewhere else right then. He had asked Frank to cover for him with Gerard, and judging by the confusion on Gerard's face, Frank had definitely done his job. Yet Frank seemed to sense something was off from Mikey’s posture or something because he quickly distracted Gerard with questions about how the interview he and Ray had done earlier had gone, and Mikey was able to slip through to his bunk.
He stayed there for longer than necessary, sulking, though he would never admit that was what he was doing aloud to anyone. His phone kept lighting up but none of the messages were from Pete. The other members kept leaving to go watch other sets — he could feel the bus rocking each time someone went out or came back — but Mikey stayed right where he was. His thoughts were almost unbearably blank, like the switch to think or not think had been thrown, and he just felt numb.
By the time he woke up from his numb nap, and really, it wasn’t even that because he didn’t think staring at the wall of his bunk counted as a nap, it was nearing the end of the sets. His band members were starting to return to the bus and Mikey decided he’d had enough of the radio silence from the other bassist. He got out of bed and slipped back into his shoes before pulling on a sweatshirt that probably wasn’t even his judging from the way it hung off of him. Mikey ignored the way that everyone looked at him as he rushed out of the bus, his brother’s warning that they were leaving soon going unheeded.
As he walked through the bus area of the venue, he kept his hands wrapped around his phone protectively in the front pocket of his hoodie. He kept hoping to feel the buzz, for Pete to message him saying that he had forgotten or gotten caught up with something important, but the saving grace never came and eventually Mikey was standing in front of the Fall Out Boy bus with nothing left to do but knock on the door.
Patrick answered, and the confused expression that faded into one of defensiveness told Mikey everything he needed to know.
“He’s not —”
“Save it. The buses are leaving.” He didn’t need to say that meant Pete was on the bus because of course it did, and of course he was. Instead, he pushed his way up the stairs and headed down the hallway, waving hello to Joe and Andy who looked completely uninterested, like this kind of thing happened every night. With Pete as a bandmate, Mikey could believe it.
“You’re not supposed to be here.” Patrick was following him down the hall to the bunks, but it was only so long, and Mikey had long legs. “You should be on your own bus.”
Mikey ignored him, flinging open the curtain to Pete’s bunk and finding it empty.
“They’re going to leave you,” Patrick continued as Mikey turned to head further back in the bus. If Pete wasn’t in his bunk, there was only one place left for him to be. He put his hand on the door to the lounge and turned back to Patrick.
“Don’t worry. I just need to say one thing to him, and then I’m gone.”
He opened the door and stepped through it in nearly one motion, pulling the door shut behind him so that Patrick wouldn’t follow him through it. It took a moment for his eyes to adapt to the change in light levels. As dim as it had been in the hallway of the bus, it was even darker back here, and Mikey realized that Pete was sitting in the dark. There were so many instruments and clothes piled up in various mounds around the lounge that even with his eyes adjusting, he couldn’t immediately see where Pete was.
There was a bit of shifting off to his right and sure enough, there was Pete, curled up between a box full of merch and an amp. It couldn’t have been comfortable, but knowing Pete, that was probably the entire draw of it.
Pete almost sounded like he had been asleep, but his voice was just slightly too alert. It was more likely that he had been lost in thought, his voice going unused for a few hours after he had screamed through his entire set. Mikey had been to enough of Fall Out Boy’s sets to know what that was like, and the thought incensed him all over again.
He set his jaw, his entire reason for finding Pete renewed instantly. “We’re done.”
Pete didn’t move, his hands still lost somewhere in the blanket or sweatshirt he was hiding beneath, but Mikey could tell that he was looking right at him. To his credit, he didn’t protest, nor did he try to defend himself. There was the sound of a sigh, and then Pete’s voice answering.
“Yeah. That sounds about right.”
Mikey rolled his eyes; it was just like Pete to attribute their break-up to his luck and not any action or inaction on his part. He turned to walk out of the lounge, ready to be done with the situation and start putting it behind him, and then he felt the rumble of the bus engine kick on beneath his feet.
“Fuck.” If the bus was on, then the bus was leaving, and Mikey was still on it. He was stuck, well and truly stuck in one of the most uncomfortable situations imaginable, and there was nothing for him to do but wait. There was a distinct jerk as the bus started to move and he repeated the curse again, with feeling. “Fuck!”
There was a snort from Pete’s direction and Mikey rolled his eyes again, pulling his hood tight around the edges of his face and turning to lean his back against the door. He sank down, his knees up high by his face, pulling his phone out so that he could text his brother and let him know he hadn’t been left behind but was just on another bus.
There was no sound coming through the door behind Mikey to indicate that someone was going to come into the lounge, not that he blamed them for keeping their distance. He was pretty sure it was clear what he’d come to do — he had been single-mindedly focused on it when he’d walked onto the bus. He just hadn’t anticipated being stuck there after he’d achieved his goal, and a quick check through his pockets found his headphones missing. Mikey was stuck there on the bus with the very last person he wanted to be around right then, and he didn’t even have a mental way out.
It was a near perfect failure. All he could do was sit there and wait for the buses to stop moving and hope that the drivers had drunk too much water before departing so they’d need a rest area sooner rather than later. Mikey settled in for a few hours of sitting right where he was, though he would move if Pete wanted to get out of the lounge, which would be even better for him because then he wouldn’t have to hear him breathing.
When Pete finally emerged from his blanket hideout after about an hour of silence, Mikey looked up from his phone. The mass of blankets shifted and Mikey watched as it moved to join him on the floor in the only space in the room big enough for two people. Pete had the blanket wrapped around his head like he was an old grandmother despite how hot it was outside and his face was visibly splotchy, even in the low light of Mikey’s phone screen.
Mikey shook his head. “Don’t bother. I’m not changing my mind.”
“No, I know,” Pete said, frowning. “I just wanted to apologize.”
They both sat there staring at the same piece of gross bus carpet between them until Mikey realized it could very well be the last time he spoke to Pete Wentz and there he was wasting it.
“You know, it’s not even about you missing the set.” Pete’s eyes moved to meet Mikey’s but the rest of him stayed completely still. Mikey tipped his head up to square his jaw and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with one finger. “We just… don’t fit. I can sit there without a thought in my mind and I wonder if you’ve ever really had a quiet moment in your brain ever. You’re constantly going and I’m content to just sit still for hours. I know they say ‘opposites attract’ and all, but it’s too much.”
Pete snorted at that and dropped his gaze back to the floor. “If the whole ‘opposites attract’ thing hasn’t worked out for me here, there’s not really much hope for me. Everyone runs at a lower speed than me.”
Mikey saw it then, just how upset Pete looked. His face was always like a window straight to his emotions but these emotions were about Mikey and they sucked. He slid his foot forward to nudge what he thought was Pete’s knee in an attempt to get his attention. Pete looked up and Mikey tried to flash him a comforting smile, as small as it was.
“It won’t always be like this.” Mikey knew that things got better; he had been there for Gerard’s lowest point and he was definitely on the upswing now, though he still struggled. He told Mikey he always would, that it was part of being an addict. That term definitely applied to Gerard, and if he could get better, Mikey had hope that Pete could, too.
“Like this? Like overthinking everything and drowning myself in the weight of all my decisions, past, present, and future?”
It was Mikey’s turn to snort. “I meant that your life, in general, would get better, not that you would stop being dramatic.”
There was a flash of teeth in the darkness, just for a second, and for some reason that was the part that hurt the most for Mikey. He loved Pete but the emotion was too much, too big for him to handle by himself, and Pete was never around when it got to be too much. The fact that it was over was sad, of course he was upset about it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t coming. They were never meant to last the summer, and a breakup now would only make things easier at the end of the tour.
Still, the smile made his chest ache. He wasn’t really one for believing in a perfect future, but Pete was, and this was about him, not about Mikey.
“I think that someday you’ll find someone who balances you rather than throwing you out of orbit.”
Pete nodded slowly like he wasn’t really sure, but he was going to take Mikey’s thoughts for his own anyways. He shifted again, coming to sit against the door next to Mikey, head tipped to rest on Mikey’s shoulder. They sat like that for the rest of the drive, not speaking. There would be words later. Texts about things that could have been different, maybe, or songs on Pete’s part, definitely. It was how he dealt with things.
When the bus came to a stop, Mikey extracted himself from underneath Pete and stood up. He held out his hand to help Pete up, and they hugged, holding on for a moment longer than necessary, and then Mikey left Pete standing in the dark of the lounge, never looking back.