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new person, same old mistakes

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John is woken around 3am to the buzzing of the phone set besides his bed. He knows whose on the other line, it’s a call he had been expecting for quite some while, but still a part of him was hoping he’d never received it. Eyes still half-closed, he searches blindly for his phone, fingers dancing along the smooth wooden nightstand. Finally skimming across the cold metal, he it picks up, blinking sleep out of his eye. The other person’s voice cracks over the phone before John can even get a “hello” off his lips.

“She left me John. It’s over.” John has never heard a voice sound so small and broken. Instantly, he feels his heart drop to his stomach. He knew this was going to happen eventually, but hearing Pete say those words with such defeat in his voice did something to John’ body that he couldn’t quite describe.

“Where are you?” John finally croaked out. He could hear other people’s voices from the other line. Loud voices.

“Bar.” Pete replied. So neither one of them were talkative tonight, apparently.

“What’s the address? I’m coming to pick you up.”

John is crawling out of bed, still blinking sleep from his eyes as Pete relays his location for John. John is wondering if it would be socially acceptable for him to wear his pajamas to the bar, then reluctantly throws on a plain white tshirt and the closest pair of pants he can find.

“Okay buddy, I’ll be there in ten or less. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

John hangs up just as Pete is making some smart remark about cocaine still being on the table. He’s reaching for his coat, when the area next to his former spot on the bed starts rustling.

“Who was that?” his wife, Anna, groans, eyes squinting as she pulls herself up into a sitting position.

“Pete.”

“Called it!”, she tiredly exclaims, throwing herself back under the sheets, “told you they would last a year, max.”

John pursued his lips, slightly amused at his exhausted wife’s blunt honesty. “We were all thinking it love, we just weren’t saying it aloud.”

“Mmm-hmmm.” she mumbles, still smug. She has this tiny little smirk plastered across her face as she tosses and turns to get back into a comfortable position.
“I’m going to go get him. Now there’s no need to worry; I’ll be back by morning.” John promised, though fully knowing Anna would not be worried about him. They both had this unspeakable, fundamental trust in each other, the type that all married couples should have, but few do.

“Yeah you will.” she says, two-thirds jokingly, one-third threatening.

John smiles, and pauses at the door frame of their bedroom. His wife is stretched out across their bed like a cat, her limble body still except for the rise and fall of her chest. John could watch her for hours like this, no matter what she was doing she always seemed so elegant and youthful. His heart leapt in his chest as he came to a conclusion that was rather familiar to him: she is really the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Love you,” he sings softly under his breath. And smiles, as he turns around and hears her mumble it back to him.

 

~~~~~~~~~

The good news is that the drive to bar took John only about 5 minutes thanks to a very nice cab driver and an extremely anxious John constantly (and politely) asking them to go as fast as possible. The bad news is that this bar is actually a club, and it’s really not John’ kind of scene. The music is way to loud, the lights insides are way too flashy and bright, and the people dancing out on the floor look like they might actually be having some type of seizure. John uncomfortably pushes his way across the floor, apologizing to the plethora of people he keeps bumping into. By the time he finally spots Pete he is exhausted, sweaty, and pretty sure that there is some type of alcoholic residue spilt all over the back of his shirt.

Pete is standing alone in a corner, his big brown eyes glazed over, as he robotically moves his bottle of beer to his lips. He looks like he’s not quite there, like he’s let himself go on autopilot. He doesn’t even register that John is there until he’s sat down right next to him

“Oh hey dude.” he sighs, taking another sip of his beer.

“Hey buddy, you doing alright?” John leans over towards Pete attempting to make eye contact, which wouldn’t be so hard, if only Pete could just look at him.

“Not really. Kinda feeling really shitty.” he mumbles, picking at the strings on his ripped jeans.

John just stares, not knowing what to say when finally, Pete snaps out of it,“Hey can I get you something to drink?” he looks at John like he hasn’t noticed he was there until just now.

John protests but Pete is already waving someone over and is grabbing the beer out of their hands. Remembering his manners, John awkwardly calls out “Thank you!”, then throws back the alcohol. Might as well if it’s on Pete.

“Good stuff, right? Even better when you’re faded.” And the next thing John knows Pete is pulling out a baggie of weed.

John can feel his eyes watering at the sight of it. He misses the calming, loopy feeling weed always gave him, but he misses the high, the adrenaline rush of the coke the most. Still a little weed right now would feel so good.

But he knows how bad it is for him, and more importantly, how bad it is for Pete. He would smoke it occasionally at home, but often found himself paranoid that it would be that start of him falling back into addiction. Anna would always massage his shoulders, the sound of her laughter and humming soothing him back into his dreamy state. The problem was that Anna wasn’t here, and Pete didn’t have an Anna to begin with. He knew how quickly Pete could spiral from something as harmless as weed and a few drinks, and the last thing he needed was for them both to be crossfaded in the middle of the night in a busy club.

“I don’t think so,” John protests, pulling the baggie out of Pete’s hands and stuffing it into his pocket. “I’m here on the strict basis of getting you home.”

“Okay dad.” Pete sneers at John, but he doesn’t argue.

John stands up, offering his hand to Pete, who takes it to help pull himself out of his chair. As they shuffle across the club, John can feel the outline of Pete pressed against him, leaning on him for stability. Their fingers occasionally brush, and soon enough John finds himself wrapping his pinky around Pete’s. There’s something familiar about touching Pete, the feeling of holding someone that feels like they could break at any second. It’s almost like holding Anna’s hand, only he knows if he ever told her this, he’d never hear the end of it. Although, extremely small and lithe, Anna was the most fiery soul he had ever meet, and it seem impossible that such a small body could contain such multitudes of passion, and yet, there she was. Living and breathing proof of such thing.

Pete on the other hand was the opposite. He knew there was a very good possibility that he could crumble into his hands at any given second, which is why John was one hundred percent focused in getting him home into bed. He raced up to the street, waving for a taxi of some sort. Luckily, the drivers of New York took no nights off. Within a minute, Pete and him were both seated in the back of a cab.
“Thanks for getting me man.” Pete mumbled, already nodding off, his head drooping tiredly. And there’s a part of John, a small part, that wishes that they weren’t in taxi cab with a driver in the front seat. He wants nothing more than to pull Pete up against him and let him doze off in his arms. Seeing him like this; heartbroken, tired, and vulnerable made something John could only describe as fierce protectiveness cloud his stomach.

“Off course, you know I’m only ever a call away.” he reassures him, leaning over to look Pete in the eye.

A light pink splotch creeps along Pete’s neck and he self-consciously swallows. They had exchanged numbers back in April when John had gotten to host SNL, and since then had texted almost everyday, but rarely called each other.

“I should have seen this coming right? I mean everyone else did.” He mumbles glumly, his eyes back down, not meeting John’.

“How could you? You were in love.” John whispers to him softly, his heart breaking for his friend.

“Still it was so obvious that this was the only outcome. I mean she was so fucking sexy, beautiful, and talented, and chooses me of all fucking people to be with. A fucking piece of trash.” he growls angrily, he hands clenched up in fists.

“Come on don’t say that, you know that’s not true. It’s not your fault, it’s not her’s, it’s no one’s fault this was the outcome. You both are beautiful, talented people, at the end of the day she just wasn’t the right one for you. “

“Yeah well I’m starting to think there is no right one for me.” Pete sighs, his voice cracking ever so slightly.

“You know that’s what I thought when I was your age, right? And I was in a much worse place than you.”

“Okay dad, whatever you say.” he taunts, but there’s a slight smile on his face.

“Come one! I’m serious! At least you can say you never did a shit ton of cocaine the night you got dumped.” John smiles, and he is really smiling because he can see the slightest grin on Pete’s face.

“That you know of.” Pete retorts back, but now he really is grinning. “Man I really do wish I had some coke right now.” he yawns, stretching his tattooed arms over his head.

“Well next time you get some, call me.” John laughs shortly, hoping that Pete is just saying all of this to unnerve John, and not seriously considering it. Although how the hell did he know this kid’s intake of substance abuse? For all he knew, Pete could be snorting coke on the regular, and was just keeping it on the low.

The taxi stops at Pete’s place, and John gives the driver a generous amount of money. He helps Pete up the stairs to his apartment, despite Pete’s constant protesting.

“You know I’m not a baby right? I can walk up the fucking stairs by myself.” He snorts, but doesn’t try to untangle himself out of John’ arms.

John just smiles tiredly, and leans against the apartment door. Pete grabs his keys, but he’s shaking so hard he can’t even get them into the lock. Jesus Christ.

“Need help with that?” John smirks at him. Pete hands over the keys with a glare that could definitely kill, or at least faze a normal civilian.

As he pushes the door open, John goes for one last cruel retort, “Now can you tuck yourself into bed, or do you need daddy’s help for that too?”

“Shut up man,” Pete says, but he’s smiling, and it’s the biggest smile he’s seen on him tonight.

“Love you man.” he says right before he closes the door. He doesn’t bother leaving it open long enough for John to say anything back.

“Love you too.” John whispers back to the closed door.

Chapter Text

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Summer 2008

A young woman flopped down onto her date’s bed, her black dress riding up her thighs as she kicked her legs up into the air. Her date laughed jovially, and rushed over to a vinyl record player located in the corner of the room. The woman cocked her head, a huge grin stretching across her face as she watched him fiddle with the tone arm. I can’t believe he has vinyl. What a dork. They were both too old to pretend they were part of the new wave of hipsters with their Beatles vinyl and iced coffees, but too young for a vinyl record player to be seen as a relique from their days as youth.

“Here lemme play you something real nice, I really think you’re gonna love it,” the young man staring back at with pure excitement and anticipation in his eyes exclaimed.

As the record began to spin, upbeat tangy funk filled the room. The woman cocked her head, attempting to put her finger on the instruments being used. Were those maracas?

In the mornin you go gunnin'
For the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in
But they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all sangin'
As they drag you by your feet”

The woman’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, attempting to find meaning in the song that her date was so anxiously awaiting for her approval. Okay obviously the water stands for something deeper, maybe it just stands for something that the singer can’t live live without, right? Love, drugs, sex; hell it could be anything. Whatever it is, the singer has gone way too far in his obsession and had been caught red-handed, and all the victims, the people who he had hurt were finally getting to see the tables turn on him. She mused.

So far, not impressed, she decided, and turned to give her date a look.

“You go back Jack do it again
Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back Jack do it again”

Unconsciously, the woman bit her lip, just a little bit. Her eyes closed, letting herself get lost in the music. Maybe the chorus isn’t the worst.

“When you know she's no high climber
Then you find your only friend
In a room with your two timer
And you're sure you're near the end
Then you love a little wild one
And she brings you only sorrow
All the time you know she's smilin'
You'll be on your knees tomorrow”

You know she’s no high climber? What the hell is that suppose to mean? The woman raised her eyebrows, giving her date a glare. Her date, however, paid no attention as he danced around the room.

“Come on! Isn’t this great?” He smiled down at her to only be met with a pair of rolling eyes.

“Now you swear and kick and beg us
That you're not a gambling man
Then you find you're back in Vegas
With a pair of cards in your hand
Your black cards can make you money
So you hide them when you're able”

At this point, the woman no longer cared. The song’s meaning was obviously about a man with an addiction to gambling, which wasn’t exactly new in the world of music. And she definitely wasn’t too fond of this weird funk-rock, jazz fusion.

“You go back Jack do it again
Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back Jack do it again”

“What is this?” The woman cocked her head instiquely at her date as the song blared it’s chorus one last time.

“Steely Dan!” Her date practically yelled, enthusiasm coursing through his veins.

“I hate it.” She bluntly stated, glad the song had finally come to an end.

“Okay, well, umm..” her date paused, trying to collect himself, “why don’t you listen to this song then? Please?”, he fiddled with the vinyl player, adjusting to a different song.

“Of course,” she smiled, snuggling deeper into the bed. Even if the next song was going to be as atrocious as the first, at least she could watch her date make a fool of himself ‘dancing’ (which she secretly loved to watch him do).

Another upbeat, funky rock song swelled through the room, and the woman couldn’t help but roll her eyes once again. The singer’s voice sounded like sound off-brand Queen.

“Mmmm… Interesting. I hate this song very much as well.” she smirked at him, watching his face drop in dismay.

“Oh come on, don’t be a baby,” she sighed, pulling her heart-broken man into bed with her. “A shared taste in music doesn’t make-or-break a relationship.”

“I know”, he whined, not meeting her eyes, “I just really wanted you to like them.”

“C’mon….I think I know a way I can make you feel a whole lot better”, she smirked, pulling herself into his lap.

“Oh really, do ya now?!” he smiled, finally meeting her eyes.

“Oh yeah baby, I know so,” she giggled, pushing him down against the bed and then leaning down for a kiss.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Present Day

Ten years later, no matter what channel (Sirius Satellite Radio, The Bridge usually), Anna would find herself changing it whenever Steely Dan came on. To say that she hated them might have been a slight understatement, she hadn’t let John play her any songs from them since the summer of 2008, and insisted on leaving the room whenever he played them for friends.

But she had more pressing things to focus on right now, including finishing grad school. She had been working at home, day and night to get her degree, and could slowly feel herself slipping into the quiet, grad-student insanity that often comes with finals week. She was pretty sure she would’ve gone full Jack Torrance, if it hadn’t been for John. He made sure to cover all the meals and chores that were usually her responsibility if she had complained that she needed extra time to study. Plus, his smile and chipper tone were extremely contagious to her. Then again, they always had been.

Speaking of which, her darling husband had just entered the room with a grin on his face and a spring in his step.

“Hey honey are you going out tonight by any chance? I just wanna get out of the house and do something.” She sighed, rubbing her temple where she had been experiencing an obnoxious headache for the last two hours.

“Well I have good news and bad news,” he smirked, leaning down and planting a kiss on the top of her head, “Yes I can take you somewhere, but that somewhere is a Steely Dan concert.”

“Holy shit, that’s tonight?!” she cried in anguish, turning around to face him.

Once a year, John and his old college buddies would book tickets to go see Steely Dan in concert. The last ten years, Anna had made painstakingly sure that she had something else planned that day, so as to give a valid excuse if John ever invited her. This year, however, she had been so caught up in her studies that she had completely lost count.

“Okay, fine.” she said, after lamenting for a moment. Seeing Steely Dan in concert would probably be terrible, but spending another hour cramming for her various classes would be absolutely unbearable.

“Really?!” John gasped, a shocked smile stretched across his face, “This is so great! Pete’s going this year as well!”

“Does Pete even know who Steely Dan is?!” Anna scoffed. If she had to describe Pete in two words it would be young and hip. Ironically, Steely Dan fans tended to be neither of those things.

“Oh I’m sure he does, he sounded so excited on the phone! Besides, who doesn’t know who Steely Dan is?! They’re legends!” he cried with excitement, skipping out of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Who is Steely Dan?” Pete asked, as he jogged up to Anna and John outside the theater.

“It’s a band.” he stated, slightly taken aback.

Anna smirked and gave John her best I told you so look.

“It’s not a comedian?!” Pete muttered, stepping through the theaters’ doors and holding them open for the married couple.

“So you don’t know anything about them?!” John questioned, still bewildered by Pete’s ignorance.

“Nope.” Pete shrugged.

“Okay, well then, know anything about pop-jazz fusion?” John asked, stepping through the theatres doors.

“Uhhhh No. I don’t think so?” Pete’s eyebrows burrowed, as if trying to remember if Kid Cudi had ever experimented with that genre.

“Oh Pete, there’s no possible way I can prepare you for what’s about to happen.” John chuckled, grinning smugly.

Oh my god, if he thinks he about to be able to take credit for Pete falling in love with some weird, obscure band and making them hip and cool, he is sorely mistaken. Anna moaned internally, and taking Pete by the shoulders, proclaimed:

“Pete, sweetie, it’s gonna be awful.”

As the three friends took their seats, Anna couldn’t help but notice that the audience was….not young, to put it nicely.

“Now you don’t stand up or dance at a Steely Dan concert.” John smiled, turning to Anna and Pete.

“Well what the hell are we supposed to do then man?” Pete laughed, bewildered.

Anna could feel her heart warming in her chest. Since her husband had first introduced her to the younger comedian she had felt this strange, but warm affection for him. In a lot of ways he reminded her of her husband; a younger, wilder, more reckless version of her husband. But still, there was a resemblance. Both Pete and John had this sense of childlike giddiness, and just seemed to overflow with joy and love for those around them. The only difference between Pete and John when it came to this particular thing was when Pete fell, he fell hard. Anna had been unsured when Pete had started a new fling just a month after her and her husband had met him. It all seemed so fast, the announcement, the engagement, the wedding planning.

“How are you even supposed to fall in love with a person that fast,” Anna mused one day, lying her head in her husband’s lap, “much less get married to them?”

As most predicted, they didn’t last. Things had ended for them earlier this month and Anna was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It almost seemed like Pete hadn’t quite realized yet, like he was in some type of denial. But at the rate he was drinking and smoking, Anna was terrified to see what it would be like when the denial finally wore off.

She had found that subconsciously her hand had wrapped around Pete’s in some form affection that was half comfort and half protectiveness. She hadn’t even noticed that the concert had started, the people around her swaying back and forth in their seats with their purses seated in their laps. Suddenly, an older woman stood up, a grin stretched across her face as a new song started.

Cute, thought Anna, this must be her favorite song.

The other members of the audience, however, must have not found this as cute as she did, “Sit down!! Sit down!!” they screamed at her until she recutlantely sat.

A little less than an hour later, Pete leaned over to Anna and admitted, “I can’t take this no more!”

Anna hummed in agreement, and nudged his shoulder, “I don’t think the people behind us can either,” she giggled.

The row behind them was almost passed out. And sure, it was a bunch of old people who probably would’ve been asleep anyways, but Anna was sure that this couldn’t have been an enjoyable way to spend $50 dollars, even for them.

“Hey guys, if I stand, will you stand?” Pete leaned over his chair, plastering a charming smile onto his face, “they can’t take us all down now can they?”

“I’ll stand!” croaked one older man, and his friends around him nodded in agreement.
“All right! Now we’re talking!” Pete grinned, jumping up and swaying to the beat

Anna jumped up, following his lead, because hell, if she was going to be stuck at a Steely Dan concert for another hour she might as well enjoy it. She turned towards her husband, giving him her best, Come on John, you know you want to look, and smirked as he slowly gets up. Then, just as they had promised, the row behind them stood up, followed by another row, then another, and another. Soon the whole theater was on their feet.

“Ayy everybody’s getting up!” Pete cheered, turning to face John with excitement in his eyes.

Anna laughed, grabbing her husband and friend by the hands and bringing them towards her, “Well what are we waiting for, let’s dance!”

“Hell yeah that’s what I’m talking about!” Pete yelled, as he twirled Anna around, letting John catch her in his arms.

“This is amazing!”, John shouted back in glee, swaying back and forth, his hands on Anna’s hips, guiding her.

Something in Anna bubbled up inside of her. She felt new and warm and so unbelievably happy in both John and Pete’s arms. She could feel herself slipping into some kind of dazed, dreamy state as she watched her two boys sway to the beat, excitement sparkling in their eyes like constellations in the sky. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than with them right here, right now she mused, as John leaned over and kissed her on the check.

The happiness stayed bubbling in her stomach, slowly growing to her chest a hour later as she and the boys made their way out of the theatre.

“That was….. actually pretty fun.” she gushed, one arm wrapped around her husband’s, the other holding Pete’s hand.

“You know, I’ve seen Steely Dan for twelve years and no one ever stands. And tonight you changed that, thank you Pete.” John smiled softly down Pete, his eyes glazed over with the same dream-like haze that Anna was currently feeling.

“Ay no problem man, anything for you,” Pete nodded sincerely, staring at John’s lips for what would’ve much too long for Anna’s liking if it had been anyone but Pete. But it was Pete, and Pete could do no wrong in her eyes. Especially after making her husband so happy.

“Well this is where I leave,” Pete smiled at them as he got outside, waving over a taxi, “Thanks for the great night you guys.”

And as they waved him goodbye, Anna could feel the happiness flowing through her veins dim just the tiniest bit.

Chapter Text

The Steely Dan concert had been a fluke. Pete wasn’t a fan of leaving his apartment, not if he could help it. Especially after a breakup. And especially if it was to some middle aged white man’s favorite childhood boyband. Or at least that’s what Pete had been telling himself for the last month or so. But deep underneath he knew that if it was John, he’d hitchhike with him across the country if he had asked him to. His mind still kept replaying the events of that night over in his head.

John’s face lighting up when he saw Pete jogging up to him and Anna at the theater. John’s eyes glazed over in complete bliss as he watched Pete and Anna dancing with the rest of crowd in the theater. And of course, John’s face, looking so sincerely and so softly at Pete after they had left the theater. He had looked at Pete with this expression that Pete hadn’t been able to shake. It had made him feel like an actual person that John really cared about, not like the disgusting piece of shit that he actually was.

These days Pete had grown use to seeing two different types of reactions when people recognized him; disgust or pity. It had been one thing to see strangers on the street look at him, but another when he saw the same expression fluttering across his friends’ faces, even if it was brief and hardly recognizable. The more he went out, the more he saw it, and the more he saw it, the more he felt this cold, empty feeling grow inside of his stomach.

It wasn’t a feeling he was extremely unfamiliar with, he had felt it bubbling at the bottom of his stomach for as long as he could remember. But these days he could fill it growing within, like a parasite growing within its host. He thought of those films he watched in middle school science class, the parasites taking over the host, consuming it from the inside out, until the host no longer existed, just the parasite wearing the creature’s flesh. He was wondering if the same thing was happening to him, if one day he was going to wake up and he just wouldn’t be himself anymore.

That already happened to you a long time ago and you know it. He reminded himself, digging his nails into the palms of his hands.

Pete couldn’t remember the last time he felt like himself, if he was being completely honest. He had felt it, a little bit, with her, but part of him knew he had been grasping at straws just to feel something real, just for once in his life.

Is that so much to ask for? Just to be able to feel happy in my own skin for once in my life, and not to be able to lose the person that makes me feel that way? He grimaced, uncurling his fingers, marveling at the deep red dents that decorated his palms. It was always nice to feel something, even if it was painful.

He had started to feel that way again, this time with John. At first Pete had tried to convinced himself that John could be some kind of mentor to him. And in a lot of ways, John was the perfect mentor. He was older, wiser, in the same line of work as Pete, heck he had worked at SNL for four years, he already had all the tricks of the trade. But there was something inside of Pete that jumped whenever he and John brushed fingers or he felt John’s eyes on him. He knew deep inside he viewed John as more than a mentor, he just wasn’t sure exactly what yet.

There was one thing Pete was sure of though, and that’s that he could never find out what exactly John meant to him. Pete prayed (is it still praying if you don’t believe in god?) everyday that John could simply be a mentor to him, or even just a close friend would be nice. But Pete could tell his feelings were a lot deeper than that. And he couldn’t stand to let himself get closer to another person again, not after her. So he would stop hanging out with John, simple as that.

Self-preservation, he convinced himself.

So when John called Pete asking if he was free to go to some other middle aged white boyband, Pete agreed instantly. What could he say? Ultimately he knew the best role he could play in his own self-destruction was the innocent bystander.

Coincidentally (and luckily for Pete) the concert was at the same theater that the Steely Dan concert had been at. Pete had smoked a shit ton of weed right before, and he wasn’t sure he could handle trying to navigate the taxi driver somewhere he had never been before.

“Pete!”, John’s face light up when he saw him and Pete felt like dying.

“Hey man, what’s up”, he sniffed a little worried about his asthma in the chilly New York winter. Probably shouldn't have smoked so much weed.

“Are you high right now?”, John inquisted, half-amused, half-disappointed.

“Yeah, a little”, Pete smirked at him, taking in John as the frosty air bit at his fingertips.

John always had this magical power of being able to look like a 1920s school boy while also looking like he was middle aged white dad who held backyard barbecues for the neighbors on the weekends at the same time. It was extremely infuriating to Pete that John could so easily carry himself when he looked like that. And that didn’t mean ugly, John was anything but that to him. It was just that wherever they went, John stood out like a sore thumb. Meanwhile, Pete was constantly trying his hardest to blend in with the crackheads of New York.

And it wasn’t just that John stood out, it was that he stood out in such a warm, likeable way. On the rare occasion that Pete actual tried to make some kind of statement, he always somehow managed to make himself look like a more mentally unstable lunatic than he already was. Self-consciously he ran his fingers through his bleach blonde hair, jealously taking in John's perfectly gelled, pushed back, brunette hair.

Now that was what was bugging Pete. Not just the fact that John stuck out like a sore thumb, but that he did it by looking so classically handsome. Outside of his perfectly gelled hair, he had a stupidly perfect smile and stupidly beautiful blue eyes. Occasionally Pete spotted what he thought was a mischievous twinkled in John’s eyes, and it was in those moments that Pete could feel his heart leap in his chest.

“What are you doing just stand there?! Come on, you’re gonna get frostbite!”, John laughed, ushering Pete into the theater.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pete was trying his hardest to take in John’s weird white boy music, but his mind was so loud with thoughts that did not have anything to do with Bob Dylan.

“I do know who Bob Dylan is”, Pete felt the need to clarify to John, “I do not know any one of these songs though.”

“God, Pete you make you make me feel so old, you know that right?, John chuckled, amused.

“You are old, dude,” Pete laughed, his heart on fire. He loved seeing John like this, he seem to carry himself with a sense of superiority when he was explaining or showing Pete something he didn’t know about. There was a sense of familiarity in seeing John with that extra confidence on shoulders. It reminded so much of his father, and the way he would sit on the edge of Pete’s bed at night and play him his favorite songs, the same excited and proud expression on his face as he waited for Pete’s input. Mind you, his father had a much better taste in music than John did, but Pete still wouldn’t trade this moments with John for the world.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People call, say "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
But you thought they were all kiddin'.”

John turned to Pete, a stupidly huge grinned plastered across his face, “This is a very famous song”, he informed him.

“Yeah okay,” Pete laughed, watching John shake his head in disbelief, the stupid smile still stretched across his face.

And then, just when Pete was starting to enjoy himself, John had the audacity to do something he had never done to Pete before. John wrapped his hand around his shoulder, his fingers curling around Pete’s arm. Pete felt himself shudder under John’s touch, then quickly looked over to make sure John hadn’t noticed anything. Luckily he hadn’t, too busy being preoccupied in enjoying the music.

“How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home?
Like a complete unknown?
Like a rolling stone?

John was having the time of his life, swaying to the music, singing along. Meanwhile, Pete felt like he had fire ants crawling up and down his body.

 

“Aw, you've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
Nobody's ever taught ya how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes"

For the last part of the verse, John leaned up against Pete, singing the song a little too loudly, and directly into Pete’s ear. Pete tried not to notice the way John’s fingers gripped at shoulder, or the fact that his face was only a few inches from Pete.

“What the hell dude?! Are you drunk of something?!”, Pete tried to laugh it off, playing cool, but if John kept touching him like this he might actually spontaneously combust on the spot.

“Maybe a little”, John laughed, untangling himself from Pete, to his great relief.

Aw, you never turned around to see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you
Never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get on your kicks for you
You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at”

While John was dancing, Pete felt mesmerised in watching his movements. John’s dancing wasn’t good, it was this dorky hybrid of a white dad trying his best with a drag queen sauntering around a platform. There was something about him though, the way he looked, so confident and carefree, that made it impossible for Pete to take his eyes off of him.

“How does it feel?
Aw, how does it feel?
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?”

And in the final moments of the song, John twisted towards Pete, catching him watching him. And in that moment the spell was broken. John froze, his smile faltering, and Pete felt his heart drop to his stomach. He felt like John could see right through him and knew every little dirty secret Pete was keeping from him.

“Uuhhh I’ll be right back. Bathroom,” Pete explained quickly, brushing past John before he could say anything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pete walked around the theater for a good ten minutes before he finally found a suitable bathroom. Right now he needed to get somewhere dark and grimy, somewhere no one else would bother going. Unfortunately, the theater’s bathrooms were immaculate and very well lit, so it was a miracle when Pete finally found somewhere that was moderately unkept. Once he closed the door, he let himself grow limp, resting his arms on the counter, staring at is face in the mirror.

You disgusting piece of shit, great job on fucking up another perfectly good relationship with someone that actually cared about your sad, pathetic life.

Pete exhaled, letting his self-loathing flow through him like a river.

Look at that face. So so ugly, so so perverted. He knows how you feel about him now, so there’s no use denying it now is there?

Pete squinted his eyes, trying to block out the thoughts from his head, despite knowing that it was useless.

There had been all these little moments where Pete could’ve sworn that John was flirting with him. Which he knew was all in his head, after all, John was a married man, and Pete was well….Pete was just himself. But that was already enough of a reason anyways.

Still, now there was all these moments Pete couldn’t get out of his head. Not necessarily the night with him and Anna at the theater, that had just been harmless fun anyways. Instead, now he couldn’t stop thinking the night John had rescued him from the bar. The night of the breakup. The way he had protectively wrapped his hand around Pete’s, or the why he couldn’t take his eyes off Pete when they were in the back of cab. All of that Pete could’ve just brushed off, it could’ve just been John being nice. But then they’re was that one thing that John had said to him,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Now can you tuck yourself into bed, or do you need daddy’s help for that too?”

And the way John had said it, with that stupid twinkle in his eyes. It was like he knew exactly what those words would do to Pete. When he had first said it, Pete tried ignore him, tried to pretend that John didn’t have that kind of effect on him. But as soon as he got into his bed, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Was he flirting with me? Pete frowned in disbelief. He wouldn’t, not like that. He knows what happened to my dad, he knows how fucked up it would be to-

But Pete couldn’t stop thinking at the way John’s eyes shone when he said it, or the way he lips had stretched slowly over each syball, articulating his sentence perfectly. Those stupid, stupidly perfect lips were all Pete could think about. Pressed up against his skin, whispering dirty things in his ears, taking him into his mouth.

Pete whimpered, flipping himself around his bed, feeling himself getting hard. He kicked of his pants, then his boxers, and slowly moved his hand around his dick, giving himself temporarily relief.

“Aww do you need daddy’s help getting off too?” he could imagine John sardonically whispering in his ear, his hand tracing the various tattoos on Pete’s stomach and thighs.

Pete closed his eyes, letting scenario play over in his head. He knew how deeply perverted he was being, how disgusting this was; getting off to your married best friend should definitely not be on the top on anyone’s erotic fantasies list. And yet he Pete was, and fuck it felt good.

Pete cried out as he came, and instantly felt regret wash over him. Hastily he cleaned himself up, jumped in the shower, and got dressed into a clean pair of boxers. By the time morning came, he could almost convince himself that it had all been a really weird, fucked up dream.

Almost.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Hey aren’t you that douchebag that cheated on Ariana Grande?!”, the sound of a very drunk man’s voice snapped Pete out of his thoughts.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me right now.

Pete really didn’t have time to put up with this bullshit, and yet, he knew exactly how he could use this to his advantage.

“Yeah, you wanna know who cheated on her with?” Pete whispered, leaning over as if he was truly sharing a piece of confidential information with a drunken stranger.

Pete could feel his heart beating rapidly, delight running through his veins as the man looked at him expectantly.

“You’re mom, and god her pussy is tight!” Pete threw back his howling with laughter, and the man curled his hands into fists.

Pete looked at the man, wiping tears from his eyes, as he waited for the man’s reaction. It felt like an eternity, but in reality it was probably only a few seconds. Pete could hardly take it, adrenaline pumping through him, his heart beating right through his chest.

And then the man was on him, slamming Pete against the wall. Pete’s head hit the wall hard. He felt dizzy and he could feel blood in his mouth.

Yes yes yes yes!! This is what I want, this is want I need, this is what I deserve.

Pete closed his eyes, letting the man’s screams at him wash over him as he fell into a wave of bliss. Please more. He felt himself internally begging.
In what felt almost like a daze, Pete watched himself out-of-body as he was pushed onto the ground, and the man began to grab at his clothes. Pete didn’t help the man, but he didn’t fight back. He had been through all this before, various men in bathroom stalls or men promising to give Pete the role he had been auditioning for, if only he did a little for them too. He knew it was probably unhealthy, but there was always this little voice in the back of Pete’s head, telling him that this is what he deserved, that this was the closest thing to real love he was ever going to get.

Now on the bathroom floor, Pete grimaced in pain as he felt the man enter him. It felt so good, being used like this, in such a vile, painful, disgusting way.

You can finally be useful to someone for once in your life, huh? He thought to himself.

And even if that way was fulfilling some man’s violent, internalized homophobic rape fantasies, he would gladly take it. It was still better than being a complete waste of space, because lord knows he is.

“Are you getting off on this, fucking fag?”

Pete let out a little whimper of relief as he felt the man finish in him, and attempted to stand up, his legs shaking as he felt a few tears fall down his face.

“Did you think we were done here?”, the drunken man laughed, pushing Pete back onto his knees. “I want you to suck me off”

Pete ashamed, wiped the tears from his face as he took the man in his mouth. He felt like he might pass out in exhaustion, but he was too terrified to let himself slip into unconsciousness. There was no telling what this man might do to him unconscious, if this is how he treated him while he was conscious.

“Pete are you in here?! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”, a familiar voice rang out, breaking Pete’s concentration.

Fuck fuck fuck!

Instantly, Pete took his mouth off the man, wiping saliva off of his chin. As John pushed through the door, he didn’t see Pete at first, instead he saw the man. And then he lowered his eyes and there was Pete. Something in John froze, and his face formed a horrified expression Pete had never seen before. Pete couldn’t take his eyes off him, because, in a way he knew this was the last time he could ever look John in the eyes again. He felt shame building up inside of him, crushing his heart and his lungs, and god he couldn’t even breath. He felt his naked body burning up in embarrassment, and his hearting beat so loudly he could hardly hear the man speak.
“Is this your fucking boyfriend or something?!,” the man questioned, pointing a finger accusingly at John. As if John, of all people, was the one in the wrong here.

“I need you to leave. Right. Fucking. Now.” John turned towards the man, his voice in a low and menacing tone that Pete had never heard before. It sent chills down his spine.

“Fine,” the man huffed, pulling up his pants and heading out the door.

Almost immediately John bent over Pete, gathering his clothes and helping him get them back on.

“Pete, are you okay? I won’t- I won’t ask you any questions, I just want to make sure you’re okay.” John whispered softly, using the same voice one might use when they’re trying not to spook a startled animal.

“I need a ride home.” Pete mumbled, still in a dazed state from everything that had just happened.

“Yeah, yeah of course!,” John assured him, “Of course you can have a ride home,” his voice still soft and comforting.

And then it was like the first night bar. Pete leaned up against John as he felt himself fading away into exhaustion. John’s arm was wrapped protectively around his waist, helping guide him through the crowded theater. Pete felt too tired to protest against John arm around his waist, just gratefully that John hadn’t abandoned him in the bathroom, even if Pete had deserved to be left there.

And this time, Pete didn’t protest as John led him up the stairs to his apartment. Or when John reached into Pete’s pocket and pulled out his keys, opening the door for him. Not even when John shuffled into the apartment with him, his hand still on his waist.

“Where's your bedroom?” John whispered softly into Pete’s ears.

Pete directed John to his bedroom, his feet dragging across the floor as he felt himself slipping into unconscious. He let himself fall onto his bed, not bothering to undress or even pull up the covers. Eyes closed, nodding into sleep, he felt someone’s hands shifting around the blanket, and held back from making a joke to John about how he really did need his help to be tucked in. As he felt the bed dip until the weight of someone else getting into it, he felt himself tense up.

Please no, not again. Not John, anyone but John. He felt his heart hammering in his chest.

“Pete, it’s okay, I’m not- I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, but is it okay if I sleep with you tonight? It’s super late and I don’t really want you to be alone right, to be honest.” John inquisted, hesitation creeping into his voice.

Pete relaxed and let himself sigh in relief, “Yeah that’s fine, just don’t rape me dude. I can only take so much in one night”, he figured John would relax once he heard Pete making his usual dark, morbidded jokes, but John only stiffened besides him.

“Goodnight Pete,” John whispered into his ear, planting a cautious kiss on Pete’s neck, as he once again wrapped a protective arm around him.

“G’night dude,” Pete mumbled, falling into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Pete might have been able to past out as soon as his feet touched the bed, but John’s mind was racing with thoughts and newfound anxiety. He kept wondering if this was going to be a new thing for him, recusing Pete and dragging him back to his apartment at 3am in the morning. Still, he couldn’t help it, one look at Pete’s big, scared eyes and his heart had fallen to the floor.

 

Plus, he had been in the same place just ten years ago, and he felt like this was some kind of test given to him by God to prove that he was a somewhat decent person. He knew he probably wouldn’t be alive right now if it weren’t for people like Anna, Bill, Nick, or Dan; and he wanted to try to be one of those people for Pete. He thought things had been going good for Pete, he had been smoking and drinking more than usually, but that didn’t seem any drastically different than the average person’s reaction would be after being broken up with by their fiancée. A world-wide popstar fiancée, that was. In fact, now that he was thinking of it, Pete had seemed to be taking the whole breakup thing a little too well. John should have known, of all people he should have been the one who noticed Pete, who could have taken him in, protected him, cared for him. And instead Pete had been letting himself get raw dogged on filthy bathroom floors. Protectively, John felt himself pull Pete closer to him, drawing him into his body’s heat.

 

He had been so worried he was overstepping his boundaries with Pete, but he couldn’t help himself. When he had first met Pete he felt something warm and fierce engulf his body, as if Pete was just sending out signals that he was vulnerable child that needed protecting. Maybe it was because John saw himself in the boy, maybe it was the fact that Pete was so young working in a field that was so cutthroat and heartless, maybe it was those big stupid brown eyes ( Seriously, John had never met someone with eyes as big as Pete’s). He briefly remembered seeing some comments about online about Pete’s eyes being ugly but John thought that they were the cutest eyes in the world. It was like the kid was trying to take the whole ‘doe-eyed’ expression to the next level. And unfortunately, those eyes worked on John everytime.

 

But still, John didn’t want Pete to get uncomfortable with him, or worst, push him away. He wondered if tonight had been too much. There was no way in hell he would’ve left Pete alone in that bathroom, he had looked so scared and helpless, and not in that teenagery my-parents-caught-me-doing-something-I-shouldn’t have-done look . John knew the difference between sex you shouldn’t want and sex you didn’t want, and the look on Pete’s face had definitely been of the latter. So John had no regrets there. But he had to wonder if it was right of him to be right here, right now. Despite what he had said, John couldn’t be sure that Pete wanted another man in his bed, especially after what had just happened to him. But he still found he couldn’t move himself from his side, a mixture between this fiery protectiveness and utter fondness that he had for Pete forbade him from getting up.

 

Is this weird? Is this creepy? Probably.

 

The kiss had definitely been creepy right? Even if it had been a quick peck on the neck to establish comfort, and a platonic one at that.

 

It was platonic , right John?

 

John felt his stomach seized up as that last thought enter his head, and as if it was just on time, his phone buzzed in his pocket. Now I don’t have time to unpack all of that, thank God, John sighed with relief, flipping over away from Pete and digging his phone out of his pocket.

 

Anna : Hey John, is everything okay? You were suppose to get home a hour ago and I’m a little worried. Please text me if you’re out drinking with the boys, and don’t forget to drink responsibly!”

 

John felt a massive wave of guilt wash over him. He had forgotten about Anna in this whole mess.

 

You forgot about you wife?! You’re wife of all people, seriously John?! Husband of the fucking year award right here folks!

 

“Emergency with Pete. Please come over. I need you.” John quickly typed, his fingers dancing across his phone’s keyboard.

 

Anna : Got it. On my way” John’s phone buzzed, and instantly he felt safe and relieved.

 

He wasn’t exactly sure what the emergency was now that Pete was safe in bed. All he knew is that he needed Anna with him, right here, right now. This current environment was so strange and foreign to him, all he wanted a sense of familiarity. He knew it had only been a few hours, but God, was he homesick for her. If anyone would know what to do, it would be her.

 

Forty minutes and lots of pacing on Pete’s unkempt tile floors later, there was a knock at the door. Swinging open the door with the enthusiasm of a Sunday morning cartoon, John greeted his wife in a warm embrace.

 

“Whoa there! Someone’s happy to see me.” she smiled up at him, her brown eyes shining in the moonlight.

 

“What are you talking about? I’m always happy to see you,” he leaned over to caress her cheek, kissing her gently.

 

“Uh-huh, now what’s this funny business about?” she smirked, pushing past him and stumbling into Pete’s apartment.

 

After finding a light switch, (John hadn’t bothered to turn on the lights, too scared of what the safety hazard called Pete’s living room would look like in the light), Anna flipped it on in a flourish.

 

“God, what fraternity died in here? It smells like pizza, booze, and death.”

 

“Don’t forget about weed!”, John input helpfully.

 

“Yes of course, how could I forget about weed?” Anna wrinkled her nose as she overturned a haphazardly thrown together pile of laundry.

 

“Laundry basket, I need a laundry basket. Jesus Christ, he’s got to have one here somewhere.” she muttered, sorting through Pete’s various articles of clothing. “John get me a laundry basket and then put away the groceries I brought.”

 

“You brought groceries?”, John inquisted, whirling around. Sure enough, a bag of Whole Foods groceries lay on the counter. “How did I not see those?”

 

“You’re not very observational. Where’s my laundry basket?”

 

A hour later, Pete’s apartment looked like an after picture from a HGTV show and his refrigerator was filled with various overpriced, organic foods.

 

“How are we so good at this? Should we audition to be the next Queer Eye?” John said, taking in the work he and his wife had accomplished, hands on his hips.

 

“Sure, Jew Eye for the Atheist Guy,” Anna sauntered over to him, wrapping her hands around him. “We’re calling it that because I did most of the work.”

 

“What?! I put away the groceries, that was very helpful!” John insisted, as Anna leaned up to kiss him slowly.

 

“Uh-huh,” she said, playfully patting his cheek before tip-toeing over to the kitchen section of Pete’s apartment. “Let’s see how good of a job you did.”

 

“How did you know he would need groceries anyways?” John questioned, following her into the kitchen as she swung open the fridge’s doors.

 

“Call it a hunch,” she murmured as her eyes scanned the contents of the fridge, looking as judgemental as the panel at the Westminster Dog Show, “Plus I remember what it was like being in my 20s.”

 

“Is that wine? Why would you get him wine?” John input, seeing a bottle of red wine nestled in the back of the fridge.

 

“You were the one who put it in the fridge!”, Anna deflected, “And besides I was just trying to do something nice.”

 

“Alcohol is the last thing he needs right now,” John muttered, pulling it out of the fridge.

 

“Well it would be a shame to let it all go to waste though, wouldn’t it?”, Anna smirked, taking it gently out of his hands.

 

“Well now that you mentioned it,” John grinned back, walking over to Pete’s cupboards to grab some glasses, “I’d hate for that expensive wine to go to waste.”

 

“Stupid Whole Foods’ prices,” Anna agreed, using the counter as leverage to pop the wine cork off. The cork flew off with a satisfying plop!, causing John to let out a surprised squeal that had Anna doubling over with laughter.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

A little while later (John wasn’t sure how much time had pasted to be truthfully), Anna and him were on the kitchen floor, backs pressed against the fridge, the bottle almost emptied.

 

It was at this time that John felt like he had the courage to tell Anna exactly what had happened to Pete. Anna wouldn’t be nosy, but she had the right to know what had caused John to feel the need to stay with him overnight.  Anna, as always, was a great listener. She nodded intently, her lips pressed together in a concerned, thin line. And as the story neared its end, Anna leaned over, her head pressed up against his shoulder, taking his hand in hers.

 

And then the story was over and it was quiet. Both parties on the floor, neither knowing what to say. Finally, John broke the silence.

 

“I’m worried about him, Anna.”

 

“I know.” She mumbled, sounding elsewhere. Her eyes were dazed and tired, her whole body slack.

 

“Hey, you okay? I don’t wanna my two favorite people to spiral in one night.” John asked gently, the fingers on his free hand brushing over her shoulder gently.

 

“You really care about him, don’t you?” Anna mumbled, and John could tell she was coming back into reality.

 

“Pete? I suppose so,” and then, “Yes, yes I do.” He said, correcting himself.

 

Anna whipped her head around, a look blazing in her eyes that John, although familiar with, feared seeing. It was a look of intensity and concern, a look that usually flashed across her eyes when John was doing/was about to do something incredibly stupid. John felt his brain do a record scratch sound, and replayed his words over in his head, trying to recall if he had said something stupid. But just as fast as the look had appeared on her face, it was gone. Intense Anna melted back into gentle, loving Anna and John felt himself relax.

 

“Well you never have to worry about me, love,” she whispered, “As long as I’m with you, I’ll never be anything less than perfect.”

 

Anna face was so close to his, her warm breath tickling against his lips. John couldn’t take his eyes off of her, her long brown hair cascading down her beautiful porcelain skin, her brown Bambi eyes staring up at him, wide and waiting. John took her chin delicately with the tips of his fingers, leading her mouth to his. He kissed her slowly, savoring the taste of her lips, and the feeling of her mouth opening up, allowing him in.

 

“God, you’re so beautiful, you know that right?” He whispered, pulling himself off of her, the need to come up for air only adding to the feeling high he was currently experiencing. “Those big, brown doe-eyes. I can’t get enough of them.”

 

“Shut up, you’re such a cliche,” she retorted, but the way she’s blushing and biting her lip lets John know that she’s just as turned on as he is.

 

He leans over, kissing her neck slowly, the smell of her shampoo intoxicating him as he brushes her hair out of the way. He trails his way down to her shoulder, slipping her dress strap off her shoulder, leaving delicate kisses all over her skin. Finally he lifts his head back up, meeting her gaze. There’s an unspoken agreement that takes place between them, and then Anna slips her dress’ other strap off, not taking her gaze off him the entire time.

 

John knows this game, and he’s good at it too. Without breaking their gaze, he reaches forward and grabs her dress before it can slip past her chest. Anna has her arms up, ready, as John pulls the dress off, over her head. John loves taking off Anna’s clothes for her, it makes him feel like a gentleman, and like he has control. John likes to initiate the dominance, but he secretly thinks he only likes it because it makes Anna even more controlling and dominant during the actual sex. At this point in their marriage they’ve had plenty of practice to figure out exactly how dominant or submissive the other partner likes it, and they’ve gotten quite good at working out a routine.

 

Still in control, John carries Anna over to the counter, laying her down so only her legs are draped over. Anna sits up, scooting up to the edge to get as close to John as she can. She wraps her arms around his neck, kissing him so passionately that John thinks he might see stars when he opens his eyes. John’s hands trails downward, his fingers brushing gently against her soft skin. He reaches for her bra strap, unhooking it and throwing it to the ground with a flourish, all while still kissing her.

 

When does John’s does come up for air he’s pretty sure he actually does see stars. Or maybe it’s just her eyes, shining so bright. John’s pretty sure he could get lost in them for ages. But there are even better things to look at now. Bending downward, he cusps her breasts in his hands, kissing and massaging them as she purrs quietly in agreement.

 

And then he’s moved onto her stomach. He knows that both him and Anna are regarded as being thin, pencil-stick people by the general public but they have fat tucked into places where the general public can’t see. For instance, Anna’s stomach. It’s soft and round, and John loves every inch of it. He plants as many kisses as he thinks he can get away with before Anna gets bored. Then he’s on her thighs, lips and tongue tracing over her cellulite, loving the way Anna’s breathing has become labored and her legs spread open for him, the space between them getting wider and wider. He gently pulls off her underwear, aware of her insatiable, hungry gaze on him. God, he loves this.

 

“So beautiful, head to toe, every inch of you,” he murmures, anchoring his hands on the skin between her hips and ass.

 

“Thanks,” she gasped, her voice strained and tight, and John loves the way she fights so hard to keep herself together during foreplay. He also loves the fact that he knows each and every way to get her to break the act. Doing so, he runs his tongue over her clit, just once, quick and gentle, but it’s enough to earn himself a breathy gasp from his lover.

 

He tries again, this time taking all of her into his mouth, burying his face into her. She responds voraciously, breathy moans and gasps escaping from her mouth, faster and louder as John continues.

 

“Ahhh fuck!” she cries out, just as John comes up for air, and, “Mmmmh yes”, as he returns back to eating her out.

 

John now has his arms wrapped around each of her thighs, his knees on the floor, while Anna is leaned back, her eyes closed, mouth open, and God, is she vocal. She gets louder and louder, her breathy moans turning into Mmmmhs, and then as John’s finishing, she’s lets out a sound like a hurt animal.  

 

Standing back up, John wraps one arm around her, holding her. The other hand makes it way down to her pussy, his fingers massaging her gently as she lets out more yelps and squeals, her head pressed against his neck as she cries out in pleasure. He starts gentle, slowly running his fingers across her clit, and then he works his way up to a faster pace.

 

“Oh, oh oh!,” Anna cries out, throwing her head back letting out ahs and ohs.

 

And then, just as she’s on the edge, John pulls away. He licks the taste of her off his fingers, cleaning them thoroughly. He then takes her face in his hands, kissing her softly. She responds eagerly, arms wrapped around his waist as she takes him into her mouth. He loves how she tastes salty from the sweat, and how her kisses are so desperate, so passionate at this stage in their love-making.

 

“I love you so much, you’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world,” he whispers to her like it’s a secret.

 

She giggles back, “I love you too”. They both have these stupidly huge grins on their faces, taking in each other like it’s the first time, two pairs of eyes brimming with unadulteratedly love for each other. John thinks that when he dies, he wants his last moments to be like this. He thinks that she is the best thing that’s happened to him in his whole life.

 

And then she tackles him, sliding off the counter, catching John by surprised. Her arms thrown around his shoulders, planting a dominating kiss on his lips. There’s a look of mischief in her eyes when she pulls up for air, and John knows that it’s time to let her take control. She drops to her knees, unbuckling his belt with a flourish, and throwing it onto the ground right next to her bra. As she pulls down his pants, she looks up at him, her wide eyes sparkling with excitement.

 

And then she’s taking his cock into her mouth, and John lets a moan escape from his lips. She keeps her hands firmly planted on his hips, licking and sucking the head a few times until she takes half his cock in a smooth, quick motion. She repeats this several times, basking in John’s moans and sighs, until she finally gets reaches the base. She does it again, and again, her eyes fixed on John, watching him give himself up to her.

 

John gently grabs her hair, guiding her slowly, gently, but efficiently as she keeps her haughty gaze on him.  And as soon as he lets go, she’s up on her feet, meeting his eyes with hers.

 

“I need to change positions,” she orders, jumping back up onto the counter, and laying herself down, flat on her stomach. She stares up at John, opening her mouth in the perfect O shape as he grabs the nape of her neck.

 

This time they synch in a perfect, achingly slow, deliberately painful beat. He knows Anna wants to leave him on the edge, just like he did with her, but he’s not sure how much he can take anymore. He has his hand in his mouth, biting down to stifle the God-awful noises he knows he makes. At one point, he loses control and feels himself break the skin, blood bubbling up in his mouth. He cries out, yanking his hand out of his mouth, Anna breaking her act as she rolls onto her back, her body shaking up and down from laughter.

 

“Oh baby, I keep telling you not to do that,” she giggles, “And besides, you know I love to hear you when you’re like this.”

 

“I know, I guess I‘m just-” John starts, but he’s interrupted by Anna wrapping her arms around his waist, and hoisting him onto the counter with surprising strength. He falls onto his back and Anna straddles him, that mischievous smirk back on her face.

 

“I forgot my strap-on, so you’ll have to make do with me riding you this time”, she teases, but there’s nothing false about her statement. John loves riding Anna, the feeling of her thrusting inside of him, and the sounds she makes when he bucks, the feeling of looking down and seeing her, wided eyes and panting as just as she’s found his prostate…..

 

This time though, it’s her sinking onto his cock, back facing him. Steadily, she takes her two fingers to draw back her lips as she eases herself onto his cock. She flips her hair out of her face, its long tendrils falling down onto John’s chest as he grips onto her ass to help her rise and fall to rhythm of both their hips. Though John can’t see her face, he can just imagine her, eyes shut, lip bitten, cheeks flushed with arousal. The thought of it alone is enough to bring him close to cumming. He holds on, listening to her soft moans.

 

“Fuck baby, you cock feels so good, oh my God,” she gasps, grinding against him.

 

John grunts in appreciate as he hoists her faster, more desperately. Their rhythm continues to speeds up, both of them getting more and more desperate. John can feel both their bodies burning up with desire, and he thanks God that the countertop is so cool against their skin. In some ways, this is even better than doing it in their own bed. Besides the temperature there’s also the fact that it’s someone else’s countertop, Pete’s to be exact. And for some reason, the thought of Pete walking in a seeing them, well, that did something else completely to John. He never really understood the thrill of public sex, but in this case he supposed he could see the sexual appeal of it.

 

“Ahhh fuck yeah, please baby, please,” Anna whimpered, crying out.

 

Anna moved her hands backwards, trailing from John’s stomach to his chest, her hair now directly in his face. John found this minor adjustment extremely satisfactory for a number of reasons. For one, the scent of her shampoo intoxicated him. It was a scent he loved, it smelled sweet, floral, but sexy all at the same time. Second, the whole hands-on-his stomach had not be particularly enjoy for John. He had still enjoyed the moment, don’t get him wrong, but he didn’t have abs of steel and the feeling of Anna’s hands on his flabby stomach had made him feel tense. And last, but certainly not least, Anna was now doing this fantastic thing with her hips. When she pushed herself up he could feel her make these slow, subtle circular motions, letting himself get a feel of every inch of the inside of her. It was almost too much for John, and he made sure she could tell though the sounds and whimpers flying from his mouth.

 

“Okay, new position mister,” Anna gasped, flipping herself in an almost acrobatic motion to face him. She leaned over, grabbing his cheeks with her hand and kissed him slowly.

 

John let himself bask in the kiss, running his hands over her bare back, feeling the raised goosebumps on her skin. He was enjoying this part quite thoroughly when he felt her ease herself back onto his cock, her face pulling away from his with a grin spreading across her face. John cried out as he felt her pick up her rapid, intense speed almost immediately. Toes and fingers curling up, he fought to keep up with her pace, the room filling with the sound of both of them crying out in pain and pleasure. Anna’s whole body was shaking, and John could tell she was beginning enter a state of heighten passion that often came right before she did. This state often led her to be extremely aggressive and rough, which almost always led John to cumming at the exact same time as her. This time, Anna threw her hands against his chest as she let out a scream of pleasure, the force of it knocking John’s breath out of his lungs. She moaned, tears forming in her eyes as she moved her hands towards John’s shoulders. Anna clung to him for dear life and John felt her let her body go slack, besides her hips, which were now move at an almost impossibly fast rate.

 

“Fuck John! I’m gonna cum, I’m gonna cum!” She cried out, as John gripped her ass, pushing her as far down onto his cock as she cold go.

 

When Anna and John had first started dating they had relied on protection almost religiously. Even though Anna had been on the pill when he met her, both of them had mutually agreed that it was still too huge of a risk to take. Plus, there was always the fear of contracting some kind of God-awful STD, and John and Anna were both too young and driven to want to deal with that extra stress in their lives. However, for the last couple years the condom had vanished almost completely from their sex life. Anna was still on the pill, but they figured an accidental pregnancy would be something they could manage, opposed to a life-altering mistake it might have been a few years ago. And John loved every second of it. It was true that sex felt different now, Anna herself felt more warm, intense, just about more everything. And then the feeling of being able to cum in her, the feeling of himself filling her as he organismed. There was no doubt in his mind that there was no better feeling in the world.

 

Speaking of which, John could feel himself getting close as well. Anna’s whole body shaking against him as she was entering her climax, her hands gripping desperately at his shoulders, neck, and face. He could feel himself getting lost in a sea of desire as her lips pressed against his red-hot skin. He arched his neck, his eyes pointed towards the ceiling, but all he could see were sparks and an explosion of colors. He let himself scream out a few words of passion, as he could feel them rising in his chest, expanding, burning, and fizzing as he came.

 

His head was foggy and his mind was somewhere else, and so, he wasn’t entirely sure what exactly he had said, but at least one of those words had done something magical to Anna. As John opened his eyes (when did he close them?), he lifted his head to see an expression on her face he had never seen before. It was a perfect mix of shock and arousal, like John had just suggestive that they try bondage (or probably something else, because Lord knows neither of them were into that). Her mouth dropped into a shape of a perfect O, her eyes rolling into the back of her head, and she let out one last scream of pleasure, coming all over John’s cock.

 

And then as soon as it had started, it was over. Anna pulled herself off of him, wiping sweat from her brow, and leaning down to give him a kiss. John savored every second of it, the taste of sweat on her lips, and the smell of fresh sex in the air. He ran his hand through her damp hair, tucking it behind her ear as their lips parted.

 

“Holy shit.” Anna smiled, her face stained with tears and sweat.

 

“Holy shit.” John agreed.

 

For what was probably a full minute they sat there, their eyes taking in each other’s naked bodies. Unlike before, there wasn’t the feeling of overpowering lust consuming them, just deep satisfaction and appreciate coursing through their bodies. John loved every inch of her, body and soul, and he couldn’t believe he had gotten to end up with her of all people.

 

“Well I don’t know about you, but I need a shower after that,” Anna chuckled, sliding off the counter.

 

“We can’t just use Pete’s shower without his permission!” John objected as Anna helped him off the counter, both their legs shaking from the from the intensity of their recent actions.

 

“We just fucked on his countertop, I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Anna laughed, hand wrapped around John’s as she pranced off to the bathroom, “Besides, the boy’s practically in love with the both of us.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The shower had been a perfect cool down, but the whole time neither John or Anna could keep their hands off of each other. The shower took a good thirty minutes longer than it should have, filled with the two giggling at the other’s stupid antics, cuddling, kissing, and running shampoo through each other’s hair. It was like a cheesy scene from a rom-com. It felt absolutely surreal to John.

 

And then they were pulling pajamas Anna had brought onto each other. “Did you plan for this?” John questioned Anna, who responded with a sly smile and a kiss. They wandered back into the kitchen, John wiping down the countertop with a Clorox wipe while Anna warmed a kettle of tea on the stovetop. John couldn’t get those last minute of their love-making out of his head. Anna’s face- he didn’t think he had ever seen her so shocked, or so aroused for that matter. It had been so unbelievably sexy. He decided right then that it was absolutely necessary to find out what he had said, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make her feel that way again.

 

Well honesty is the best policy, right? John mused, figuring he would ask her right out as the two of them moved to the living room, lowering themselves onto the couches.

 

“Anna, what exactly did I say to you that made you, uh, do that?” He stuttered, trying to get the words out. “I must have said something outrageous, I’ve never seen you like that before.”

 

Anna looked slightly taken aback, then a slow mischievous grin spread across her face.

 

“Oh my God, you actually don’t remember do you?” She gasped, a glint sparkling in her eyes.

 

“No, but I’d like to,” John smiled, taking the mug of tea to his lips.

 

Anna eyes shone brilliantly as she leaned forward, fingers caressing his jaw as she inched closer, whispering softly into his ear. As the word stretched over her lips John felt himself choke, coughing as tea spilled from his lips, Anna doubled over in laughter.





Chapter Text

It had been a few weeks since The Incident™, and neither John nor Anna had chosen to bring it up. Anna had decided that if anyone was going to bring it up, it would have to be John himself. She had already dealt with his Catholic guilt in the beginning of their relationship; the meek, ashamed, bashful demeanor that would consume John for a good few days after the two made love had almost completely killed their sex life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
7 years ago

“Jesus Christ John!”, she had exclaimed one day after a sensual night, almost a year into them dating, “if you act like this everytime we have sex, I’m not doing this with you anymore!”

“What are you talking about?! I didn’t do anything!” he cried out defensively, almost knocking over his cup of morning coffee.

“Please, everytime we so much as bump hands you tense up. You squealed this time for God’s sake! Squealed!”

“I most certainly did not!”, John declared, and then after watching Anna cross her arms and give her most menacing glare, “okay maybe I did- but only because you surprised me!”

“Mmm-hmm”, she grumbled in disbelief, “and what’s your excuse for not being able to look me in the eyes when we’re in bed together John? Even when we’re not doing anything you act so prudish! I could just be lying completely still next to you and you’d be tense as a bowstring!”

“I’m sorry, I’m just..”John sighed, cupping his face into his hands, “I’m too sober for you.”

“Excuse me?!”, Anna gaffed, mouth open wide in shock.

“No no! God, no! I didn’t mean it like that!”, John anguished, reaching for Anna’s hand. She let him grab it, tracing circles across his palm, slipping her fingers between his. He rested his other hand against his forehead, it wrinkled in concentration.

“It’s just, I met you right I was getting sober, you know? And having sex is so different when you’re sober- there’s, - it’s, it’s so much worse. You wake up and you remember all the dirty details, and I can’t pretend it hasn’t happened, I can’t brush it off. Because I remember all of it, it’s burned into my brain. And even worse, when I wake up you’re happy and making coffee and dancing around the kitchen and acting like you don’t have a care in the world. Like you don’t have a molecule of shame in your whole body.”

“Of course I am, because you but me in such a good mood,” Anna smiled. “But John, I-uh, do you uh, enjoy it? I know I enjoy having sex with you, you’re great in bed, and I’m not just saying that, I promise,” Anna smiled, enlisting a giggle from John, “But I don’t want us to continue if you don’t feel the same way. Please tell me baby.”

“Oh God, of course I do,” John looked at her with such sincerity Anna could feel herself blushing, “You’re so beautiful and so intelligent, and I’m so so lucky to have you. I’m sorry, I don’t want you to think for even a second that I don’t think you’re attractive or that I don’t enjoy us being together, especially carnally.”

Anna leaned over, planting a gentle kiss on his forehead, “Then why all this fuss love? It’s just sex.”

“I know, but, well, I enjoy it but then I feel so guilty about it that I hate it, does that make any sense?” John looked at her, pleading for an understanding gaze but was just met with the shake of a head.

“I’m really sorry baby, but no, it doesn’t,” she sighed softly, “Maybe you can tell me why you feel guilty about it?”

“I just, God, it sounds so stupid, but it’s just how I was raised I guess,” John blushed. “Like, every adult being during my childhood told me I was suppose to wait, and look at me now.”

“Yeah well, now you got yourself a beautiful woman, moi,” Anna said, gesturing towards herself with a cheesy grin stretched across her face, “And you’re having pre-martial sex with her at least once a week, twice if I’m feeling generous, and Satan hasn’t come for you yet. I say you’re doing pretty good for yourself. Hell, I bet those bastards that told you that are either sexually frustrated 70 year virgins now or perverted pedophiles. Most Catholics are one or the other.”

“Hey! My parents were the ones who drilled it into my head!” John quipped defensively.

“Sorry baby, you know I love your parents, I didn’t mean it like that.” Anna pouted, causing John to lean over to kiss the frown off her face.

The two giggled awkwardly and stared into their cups of coffee, until, finally, Anna cut the silence.

“But seriously John, is there anything I can do?” She leaned over sincerely, meeting his soft gaze.

“Marry me?” John suggested, a hopefully grin stretched across his face.

“Jesus Christ, John!” Anna laughed, setting down her cup, “We’ve only been together for a year. We’re not getting married. Yet.”

“Yet?” John raised his eyebrows.

“Yes, ‘yet’ was indeed the key word there.” Anna stood up and made her way to John’s lap, planting a sloppy, but loving, morning kiss on his lips.

“Mmmm… I like the sound of that.” John smiled when he came up, “Say, maybe we can uh, before you leave for work.”

“Yes John, we can fuck before I leave for work, but be a big boy and actually say the word next time. Oh, and if you actually do ever feel uncomfortable during it, please let me know, I’m serious when I say I want you to enjoy it as much as I do.” Anna grinned, standing up and making her way towards the bedroom.

“Yes Ma’am!” John sung cheerfully, following after her like a love-struck puppy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, obviously John’s Catholic guilt hadn’t been magically cured from the one conversation the two had over their morning coffee, but it had definitely helped. But ever since The Incident™ John was acting almost as bad as when they had first met. And even worse, John had refused to see or talk to Pete. This wouldn’t have been so terrible, if only Pete had made an effort to see, talk to, or even text John. Pete had never been one to strike up a conversation or plan a meet up with either one of them, (that was always John’s doing) but after John had walked in on Pete with that wretched man in the bathroom, Pete had been especially quiet.

And frankly, Anna thought John was being selfish. Sure, he was currently experiencing an existential, mid-life, and sexuality crisis all rolled into one, but seriously? Was he going to let all of that get in the way of helping his, no, their, friend Pete? Especially when he needed it the most? Apparently so. And yes, Anna knew she could be the one to check on Pete, but she would have little to no effect on him. She had never known Pete that well, always striking up conversations with him merely because she knew how close he and her husband were. And sure, Pete was a great guy, but he wasn’t the type of guy Anna would naturally befriend. She felt as though checking up on him by her lonesome would be an awkward and unhelpful move.

She was beginning to get so close to the edge though, she couldn’t deal with how aloof and awkward John had been acting lately.

“I’m not gay, Anna,” John blurted out of the blue one morning.

“I know,” Anna sighed, slightly annoyed at this point. She was in the middle of applying winged eyeliner for a new makeup look she was trying out, and really didn’t have time to deal with the fourth sexuality crisis he was having this week. “But you know there’s a whole spectrum out there right? You can be anything you want baby.”

John’s brow was furrowed in confusion, not grasping what she had just said. “Why would I do that? Why would I say his name?”

“Because you’re in love with him.” Anna quipped, slowly tracing the tip of her cupid’s bow with her bright red lipstick.

“Platonically, of course! But I’ve never thought of him...in that way at least.” John panicked, leading Anna to roll her eyes. She knew she was being insensitive, but she couldn’t bring herself to care enough about something she didn’t think was such a big deal. Most of her best friends were in the LGBTQ community, so what if John was too? As long as they both still loved each other she couldn’t see how it would affect their marriage, or the quality of their overall lives for that matter.

“You’re serious? You’ve never thought of him that way at all? C’mon the kid’s pretty cute, granted he needs some concealer to cover up those terrible dark circles, but I’d still get it.” Anna smiled, making her way over to the bed John was sitting in.

“No!”, John said a little too quickly. “I mean...I don’t think so?”

“You don’t think so?, Anna asked softly, leaning against John’s tensed body, “What does that mean?”

“ I don’t know!” John cried, his voice raised, frustrated, “Like some times I have stupid fucking thoughts that I might be like, attracted to him or something! But it’s always when I’m drunk or tired or just somewhere else mentally. And so it doesn’t count! It doesn’t fucking count!”

“Why is it so important that it doesn’t count baby?” Anna’s gaze intensed with protectiveness. She immediately regretted being so insensitive now that she could see how much he was hurting. John literally never raised his voice in anger, and when he did that meant something was seriously wrong.

“Because if I’m in love with someone else that means there’s no us,” John’s voice was now just a quiet tremble, the words cracking in his throat, “And just the thought of us not being together...Anna I can’t breath just thinking about it. I can’t lose you. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I… I’d rather tear myself limb from limb than not be with you. You’re my everything. Please don’t leave, I need you.”

Silence filled the room as Anna looked into his eyes, now brimming with tears.

“Please.” John whispered, tears running down his cheeks.

Anna threw herself against John, wrapping her arms around him and sealing a kiss on his lips. She found that she couldn’t stop kissing him, her lips brushing against every inch of skin she could find. She was losing herself in him now, everything blending together, eyes closed, mouth opened, melting into him. John clung onto to her with an almost suffocating grip, kissing her with a hunger and desperate need. When she finally opened her eyes, she realized she was crying too. A noise between a gasp and a sob erupted from her chest, as she reached up to wipe the tears from her face.

All that good eyeliner gone to waste. Great.

“John...holy shit!,” she cried, not knowing how to respond, “I’m always gonna love you, and I’ll always be with you, no matter who you like or what kind of stupid shit you do. I’m not gonna leave you. Ever.” She promised, grabbing his hands and sliding her fingers in between his.

John’s eyes sparkled with a bit of hope, and a soft smile stretched across his lips. He leaned over to kiss her again, this time tender and slow.

“I don’t deserve you, you know that, right?” He whispered coming up, forehead pressed against hers.

“Of course you do, I couldn’t even imagine someone being anywhere near as perfect as you are.” She whispered back.

“Do you have work today?” John asked, voice so soft and quiet Anna could hardly hear it.

“I’m canceling right now baby, what do you wanna do today?” Anna whispered back, caressing his cheek.

“Stay in bed. Watch TV?” John suggested.

“I like the way you think mister! Queue something up while I call and cancel work, okay?” Anna voice was still soft, but excited as she drifted from the bed to the phone.

“Okay. Thank you love.” John murmured, watching her fingers glide over her iPhone, wondering what he did to deserve such a wonderful woman.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12 hours later

Anna and John had decided to call it a night early and get some rest. Which was great, it was much needed for John (clearly), but Anna despised going to bed early. It made her feel like they were an old married couple, instead of the still young(ish) married couple they were. At this point though, if they kept up with these little squabbles they would basically be one. Was what they had today a squabble? It didn’t feel like one, but Anna and John had never had any fights so it was hard to judge. Either way, she felt like today had been a turning point. There was still lots of progress that needed to be made though. And she didn’t like either one of them being away from Pete for this long, but she felt that it would be a few more weeks, maybe months until John could face him again. And, somewhere in between these thoughts, Anna had drifted into unconsciousness. Apparently, both of them were in desperate need for some beauty sleep.

Now, people had always told Anna the same three things about herself since birth. The first being that she had a natural knack for makeup and embroidery (okay so, maybe not since birth for that one, but like middle school, and isn’t that the same thing?), that she had the most beautiful, luxurious hair anyone had ever seen (which later in her life turned into oh no, don’t cut it all off, what a shame, what a waste, what will people think? And yet, looking back at it, Anna still had no regrets for the pixie cut she rocked for all four years of high school), and, lastly, that she had (apparently) been blessed with the strongest maternal instincts in the universe.

Anna had always brushed off these comments, especially the last one, for as long as she could remember she had no desire to have any children. In fact, in a way she felt as though the last one was almost as bad as the whole “oh no, don’t cut it all off” shabang. What the hell were maternal instincts? One of the many lies told to women to guilt them into giving birth, most likely. That’s what Anna had always believed anyways. And yet, she had to admit, she did have an uncanny knack for knowing the second when Petunia was eating or chewing on something poisonous, even if she was on the other side of the house. And there was that one time she had saved one of her friend’s children when he fell into the community pool during a party. So maybe, yeah, she did have a sixth sense when it came to sensing when younger people (or animals) needed help.

Which is why, when at 3am she awoken covered sweat with a terrible feeling, she jumped out of bed immediately.

“Petunia! Petunia! Where are you girl?” She called out quietly as she raced down the stairs, not wanting to wake John, although she couldn’t push down the panic rising in her stomach.
She squatted under all the tables and chairs, her eyes scanning for that pathetic dog. She could feel her heart beating in her chest, every corner she rounded she expected to see their beloved dog lying dead on the ground. She knew she must be overreacting, but that feeling, oh God, that feeling. She had never felt so scared or alert for something in her whole life.

Where is that damn dog?! She internally cursed.

And then, door swinging open into their living room, she saw her. Curled up into a little ball, motionless.

“Petunia?” Anna voice couldn’t get higher than a squeak.

Everything was still for a second, though it felt like a year, but then Petunia lifted her head, ears perked up, staring at Anna quizzically.

Oh my God baby! I was so scared!” Anna cried, her voice still trembling, coming down from the panic. She ran up to her baby wrapping her in her arms.

A good twenty minutes later, after sufficiently checking to make sure Petunia was okay, Anna stumbled back upstairs. Her heartbeat slowing down to its normal speed, her mind slowly shifting back into sleep mood.

And then, just as she was crawling back into bed, smiling at John snoring in his sleep, her phone made that familiar ding! noise.

Well I’m up anyways, might as well see who else is up at this God-forsaken hour.

To her surprise, as Anna pressed the home button to turn on her phone, her lockscreen was covered in notifications. And while Anna did have a lot of friends, they almost never spammed her, especially not this late at night. That familiar rush of panic poured back into Anna’s stomach, this time more intense, and much more real.

In twenty years from now, Anna would still have these exact moments burned into her brain. She’ll remember how the fear coursed through her body so intense that everything went blurry in her vision. She’ll remember how many minutes ( 2 and 47 seconds, to be exact) it took for her eyes to adjust, just a bit, just enough. Just enough to read through some of the phrases and words that kept popping up in each text message. And of course, she’ll still remember the exact order that she read the phrases and words, and the thoughts and feelings that flew through her brain after reading each one.

John’s friend, the young one on SNL…

That was the first thing Anna’s eyes adjusted to, but it was enough to make Anna’s heart feel like it was going to shoot through her heart. At this point her fingers flew across her screen, trying desperate to read all the message at once, somehow, anyhow.

Of course that was impossible, but Anna was so desperate and so frantic, any common sense she had, had left her head.

In fact, it was only a four more words she was able to put together through the course of what ended up being 80 text messages before let her phone slip out of her fingers, onto the bed. And here are those words in that exact order:

Pete

Instagram

Suicide Note

Chapter Text

Pete kept dreaming of John.

So much in fact, that he was beginning to have trouble waking himself. Whenever he did wake up though, feelings of guilt and shame instantly suffocated him, his own, disgusting fantanties ringing in his head, over and over and over again, like a church bell. He found himself constantly heading to the closest available comfort, which happened to be alcohol. He was going to drink himself to death at this rate but he didn’t care. Life was such fucking hell and the gentle, and the feeling of being absolutely wasted was the only thing that could possibly soften the bluntness of his current reality.

Before The Incident™, Pete would’ve been horrified at the aspect of having a sexual fantasy about his married best friend. It had happened once, sure, but Pete had been extra careful to repress any feelings or thoughts since then. But after that night Pete had stopped trying. There was a teeny-tiny navie part of him that thought John might come back to check on Pete again. John’s a good man, Pete told himself, he’ll come back to check on me, even if it is just out of pity. But it had been weeks and John never came, and Pete honestly couldn’t blame him. John had walked in on Pete during such a disgusting, perverted act, it would make sense that John wouldn’t want to see or be seen with Pete ever again. Especially if John had been smart enough to figure out that Pete wanted John to use him exactly like that man had.

And so, after accepting that he was never coming back, Pete let himself slip away into a fantasy world where John would do exactly that. And at first that’s all it was, John slamming Pete up against bathroom walls, bending him over, fucking him raw. Pete would wake up flustered, his cheeks red, and his briefs stained in come, and called it a day on his erotic fantasies. Lately though, Pete’s dreams had become much more vanilla (and much more frequent). It had finally gotten to the point where sometimes they wouldn’t even fuck, John would just lay down next to Pete in bed and hold him up against his chest, his warm breath tickling Pete’s ear.

This, however, didn’t minimize the guilt that was burning up inside of Pete. It would be one thing if he just wanted John to fuck him, a gross, shameful thing, but something he could deal with, something he could represss if he wanted to. But now Pete was playing on a whole other level, one that he was extremely unfamiliar with. He wasn’t sure, fuck, he didn’t want to be sure, but he was pretty certain he wanted John to love him as well.

And if the chances of John and Pete ever fucking was slim, the chances of John falling in love with Pete was pretty much nonexistence. Pete had never met someone who was so in love with his significant other, he knew the relationship John and Anna had was a rare, one-in-a-million kind of thing, and that only made his guilt worse. How could I want to take that away from him? How could I be that fucking selfish?

And then, one day, Pete stumbled into his kitchen to find he was out of alcohol. Grumbling, he scoured through his kitchen, digging through his fridge and pantry. Beer? Gone. Brandy? Nonexistent. Rum, gin, spirits, tequalia, you name it; Pete had ran out of it.

“God damnit!”, Pete groaned, collasping onto the kitchen floor, “Fuck!”

In a moment of spite, Pete grabbed an empty beer bottle and threw it against the wall. It broke with a satisfying shattering noise as millions of shards rained down onto the kitchen tiles. Pete sat there, his eyes scanning over the mess he had just made, taking it in slowly, hoping to feel something. And yet, Pete still felt empty and cold. These days, whenever Pete felt some kind of human emotion, it always ended up being shame or guilt. Still, better than nothing. Last night (or had it been daytime? Pete had stopped keeping track of time) had been uneventful dream wise, and so the familiar empty void had returned to haunt him. On top of that, Pete was wide awake, and would need some kind of depressant to get him back to sleep, which was his most preferred state of being at the moment.

Pete fell onto his back, contemplating on how to fix his current situation. He felt too tired to even try sitting back up, yet too awake to try falling back asleep. A feeling of cold numbness coursed through his veins, weighing him down, sinking him deeper into the floor. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that to use some kind of depressant to help him get to sleep, Pete would first need to obtain said depressant. Fuck, I’d rather stab myself than get up and leave my house. Pete sighed, the numb feeling coursing through his veins. He didn’t have enough fucking energy for this, he couldn’t fucking do it. He was literally going to stay pressed up against his kitchen’s tile floors until he starved to death.

And then, a stroke of genius hit Pete. In fact, it was probably the first coherent thought he had had in a while. Slowly pushing himself to his feet, he stumbled over to his ‘guest’ room. ‘Guest’ room was really a stupid name for it because the only ‘guest’ who ever stay the night at Pete’s place was his mom.

Should be called Amy’s room, he thought with a little smile creeping onto his face. He really wished he had thought of that one sooner.

As Pete slipped into Amy’s room he came face to face with his own reflection staring at him. His mom had thought it had some kind of fucking genius idea to place a vanity in an angle that made it impossible not see yourself upon entering the room. Pete would’ve had no problem with this besides the fact that he hated looking at himself. He had never really thought of himself as an attractive person, but god he had to be reaching some kind of world record with how shitty he was currently looking. He hadn’t showered in weeks and had been living on a diet that consisted solely of beer, weed, and Dorito chips, and boy did it show. The worst part is the he didn’t even give a shit. Pete tried his hardest to muster some kind of feeling; hate, disgust, anger, anything at this point. Nothing; all he could feel was the empty hole in his stomach. He squeezed his eyes shut, his hands flew to his bleached hair and he pulled relentlessly on it, just trying to feel something other than whatever his chest was trying to do to him.

Fuck, fuck, fuck you always do this to yourself! Why do you always have to go and fuck things up with the people you care about? The few people that care about you, that is.

Pete’s feet stayed glued to the floor as familiar thoughts began to flood their way into his head. He knew he was suppose to be the one in control of his own thoughts/his mind/his happiness or whatever the fucking expression was, but this felt completely out of his grasp. Maybe he was actually conjuring up these thoughts voluntarily; Pete had been so desperate to feel something, after all. And if anything could get him wound up it was his intrusive thoughts.

Maybe if you weren’t such a fucking failure who pushed away every single person that’s ever cared about you, you’d actually feel something good for once in your life.

Pete could finally feel something. It was some kind of cold, empty, melancholy feeling, and he still felt so numb, but it was still something. Pete let the emotion take over him, let it well up inside his chest, washing up against him like a tidal wave. He’s never felt so much and so little at the same time, it was almost too much for him to bear. The closest thing he could think of was one of his panic attacks, but even that didn’t come quite as close to this tsumnia of feelings. He thinks he might be dying, his knuckles white and gripping his mother’s vanity, eyes squeezed closed, breath quick and labored. He feels like the world disintegrating all around him, like his apartment is burning to the ground, and he's caught within it all, slamming into all the doors in order to get out, but they’re all locked. He feels trapped, suffocating, drowning, and dying all at once.

God, you’re such a screw up. A huge pain-in-the-ass burden for everyone to have to deal with. You know they’d all be happier, less stressed, lighter if you didn’t exist, right?

And fuck does that one hurt, it hurts so badly because he knows it’s true. He was such a fucking diasppointment to everyone he knew, they all walked around him like the floor was covered in eggshells, or they secretly hated him. He was such a burden, god. If only his dad could see him now, god, he’d be so ashamed.

Just thinking about his dad made Pete want to throw himself out of his apartment window. He's shaking like some kind of fucking crackhead now, scratching at his lower arms and the back of his neck, pulling at his hair. He's vaguely aware that he's started mumbling his thoughts out loud to himself, muttering the same sentences over and over again like some kind of ballad. He feels like he’s dangerous, a ticking time bomb, a grenade, a firework, some kind of explosive. Like he’s fizzling up and is about to finally go off.

There’s a ringing in his ear when he finally manages to open his eyes. They’re wet, red, and puffy, and his vision blurry, but fuck it. He needs to be able to see for what he’s about to do next, for what he came here to do. He swings the top drawer of his mother’s vanity open, digging his shaking hands into her pile of socks until he finally finds what he was looking for.

Pete marvels at the small orange bottle of his BPD pills. He almost wants to laugh at how funny it is, how he’s always preaching mental-health safety and awareness on SNL and yet the moment he actually gets the medication he needs, he shoves it in the bottom of his mom’s sock drawer. Maybe he wanted to see this happening to himself, wanted to see how fucked-up crazy he could get without any medication. Maybe he was scared of not being able to have a valid excuse anymore for when he did something stupid. Maybe this was how Pete had felt his entire life and he was scared of letting that go, losing his identity. Maybe it was a little bit of all of the above. He feels his breath slow to a moderate rate as he gazes the bottle down. The stinging in his eyes stop for a minute as he contemplates for a minute, feeling his body unwind, his shoulders droop down. He sighs and goes back to the kitchen.

As he enters the kitchen, something catches his eye. The bottle from earlier, shattered into a million pieces all over the tile floor. It looks tragically beautiful in a way and that’s when Pete realizes something. He doesn’t wanna feel like this anymore, but he doesn’t want to ever feel the hollow pit in his stomach either. He doesn’t want to feel anything ever again, period.

He knows how exactly how to go through with this a little too well, he’s thought it over more times than he liked to admit, but he guesses it’s finally paid off. He treads over to the table where his left his phone, types a few sentences, and shares it on Instagram. Then he powers off his phone, he doesn’t want all the notifications he probably about to get distract him from the task at hand. It’s surprising how calm he’s being, but he supposes nothing can really be that scary if you’ve planned it out in such meracious detail. He takes his shirt off and balls it up, placing it in between his teeth. He’s not a complete dumbass, he knows he’s going to need something to bite down, that it’ll hurt like hell no matter how calm and distanced he feels in this moment. Plus he’ll need something to muffle the screams.

He stumbles over to the sink, turning the water on until it’s scorching hot and lets it burn his wrists until they feel soft and tender. He slumps over, falls, trips a little on his way to the ground. His fingers reaching out to grab one of the shards of glass.

And then that’s it. An open bottle of pills in one hand, a long shard of glass in the other. He throws back his head, popping the pills into his mouth and swallowing them dry. He lets the drug that’s supposed to save him take over him, his head getting foggy and his moments getting slow. The bottle slips out of his hand and hits the floor and he turns all his attention to the shard of glass in his other hand. He’s been gripping onto it so tightly, it’s already cut his hand up. Internally sighing, Pete takes the glass and presses down on his wrist, dragging it slowly over his flesh. He feels teeth straining against his shirt, his eyes welling up, and his stomach turning over and over. He feels like he’s going to vomit, and he shaking so hard he can hardly keep his grip on the glass. He knows that it’s going to be an excruciatingly long time before he actually loses blood at this rate. He’s shaking so hard he can hardly hold on, and he certainly won’t be able to get deep enough to do enough damage in the fast, efficient manner he was hoping for.

Jesus fucking Christ, you can’t even kill yourself right.

It’s such a twisted thought, but so true, and Pete can’t help but feel himself internally laugh. He can feel his body writhing due to the suppressed laughter, or maybe it's shaking due to the nerves.

Pete’s still trying to decide which it is when the world finally fades to black.

Chapter Text

John awoke to the sound of sobs, screams, and someone shaking the life out of him.

“Hmmpph? It’s okay love, I’m here, it’s okay.” John slowly turned, brushing his hand against Anna in what he hoped was a soothing manner, eyes still closed.

“No John! It’s Pete! Oh my God, oh my God,” Anna was sobbing, desperately refreshing something on her phone over and over again.

The word Pete jolted John up, his brain alert and awake at the sound of his friend’s name. Memories instantly came flooding back to him; first just the guilty ones; like the way John had cried out Pete’s name during sex, or the way Pete had looked at John, blush creeping up his neck and lips parted ever so slightly, during their cab ride home that one night. But then he remembered everything else; like how drunk and high Pete had been in the cab ride home, Pete trembling on the floor of the bathroom with that despicable man standing over him, and Pete so small, so fragile, huddled up next to John in his bed, wincing slightly under John’s touch. John could feel his stomach doing somersaults over and over again, and a wave of nausea slowly enveloping him. He didn’t want to imagine what might have happened to him, but he couldn’t stop himself. He thought of Pete being arrested for doing something stupid, or being hurt by someone at a club, or even just the bathroom incident repeating itself.

Slowly, he lifted his gaze to Anna who was trembling, tears silently running down her cheeks. Unable to speak, she reached over, hand shaking, as she placed her phone into John’s hand.

John’s eyes skimmed over the screen, his vision blurring. He could feel his breath shortening and his heart racing. The note didn’t seem real, or at least John’s brain couldn’t process it being real. But it was on Pete’s official Instagram and it was written with that all too familiar snarky, witty tone. Still….

“Is this real?” John whispered, tears in his eyes.

“I don’t know, but he hasn’t been responding to any texts or phone calls from me or anyone else.” Anna choked out, wringing her wrists.

“Fuck.” John groaned, crawling out of bed. He felt like he was going to be sick.

“What are we going to do?” Anna’s voice was finally above a whisper, John could tell she was trying to control herself, but her voice sounded strained and eerily high pitched.

“We need to see him. Now.” John asserted, throwing on a coat.

Anna nodded, and sprang out of bed, dashing around the bedroom to grab her belongings.

“Even if he’s fine we should check on him,” John continued, “I haven’t seen him since….”

“I know.” Anna said softly, meeting his eyes. A heavy silence overtook the room, filling John with shame. Was this his fault? If he had been able to get over himself sooner and not isolate himself from Pete, would he have been okay right now? If Pete ended up dyin- no, John couldn’t let himself go there. Fuck.

But is it my fault?

The combined force of guilt and fear welling up inside of John was enough to make him sick. He seriously thought he might be about to vomit, but then Anna’s hand was on his back, and she was helping him out of the bedroom. He could feel her body shaking with nerves as she led them through the house, pushing open the door. Numbly he took her hand, tracing circles on her palm with his fingertips. In this tsumnia of chaos, they were each other’s life jackets.

As John stumbled outside, he was met with the familiar blur and buzz of the taxis and ubers racing through the street. He could feel his mind blanking at the sight of the nightlife and his stomach twisting in pain from the nerves.

“Taxi, we need to hail a taxi.” He mumbled under his breath. However, his legs were frozen to the ground, despite the fact every muscle in his body was screaming at him to go. It was one of those dreams you have that slowly morphes into a nightmare and the monster’s getting closer and closer, and every single thought in your brain is screaming at you to go! and to run! but your feet just won’t budge.

Anna, however, did not seem to have this problem at all. She was marching up the street with the boldness of a military general, and the swiftness of a ballerina.

“If something is seriously wrong with Pete, God forbid, we’ll never get there in time with a taxi.” She yelled over the sound of car horns and police sirens.

John watched, at this point almost sure he was in a fever dream, as Anna strolled up to a motorcyclist. He watched her bat her eyes and flirt, pinching himself in an attempt to wake up. And then the motorcyclist was giving Anna his helmet and Anna was thanking him and beckoning John over and what the fuck is happening.

“Come on John! The nice man is letting us borrow his motorcycle.” She called over to him, straddling the motorcycle with grace and efficiency. She already had on the helmet and sunglasses, which, if not for the situation they were currently in, John would’ve definitely appreciated how great she looked. But also what the fuck is happening?

“We don’t know how to drive a motorcycle….” John mumbled as he trotted over to Anna, still eighty percent sure he was dreaming.

“Yeah I do, learned how to do it back in college.” Anna said so quickly and so self-assured that John jolted back in surprise.

Numbly, John slid on to the bike behind her. Everything in his brain was screaming at him to get off, and he could feel a pinprick of sweat slide down his neck. He was pretty sure that God hadn’t built his body with the intention of him ever riding a motorcycle.

Oh well, this might as well happen, adult life is already so goddamn weird.

“C’mon,” Anna said, “We don’t have all night, John. Put your arms around me.”

He did, clinging to her small body for dear life as she leaned forward and twisted the keys, starting the ignition. To John’s horror, the motorcycle roared to life underneath him. Almost instinctively, John let out a panicked yelp.

He felt Anna’s arm jerk back and the motorcycle lurch forward, sending the butterflies fluttering in his stomach all the way up to his throat. He clutched convulsively as Anna spun the motorcycle around, off the street, and onto the pavement. The motorcycle’s tires skidded across the pavement, scattering pedestrians, who responded with yelps and curses and they leapt away from the oncoming vehicle. He turned his head backwards, yelling out an apology to the disgruntled New Yorkers, but his words were lost by the noise of the wheels, wind, and engine. He could feel the motorcycle picking up speed, going faster and faster. He wanted nothing more than to shut his eyes but something held them wide open as the motorcycle hurtled over the pavement, dipping and and bouncing over the unevenly paved sidewalk.

John was faintly aware of Anna’s laughter ringing throughout the air, though he had no idea how she could enjoy this. It felt like a drop on a rollercoaster, but instead of plummeting downwards you’re plummeting forwards, through what feels like space and time itself. The butterflies in John’s throat were now floating in his head and out of his ears. It certainly didn’t help that the motorcycle would occasional sputter and jerk, causing John to spiral into a panic attack over the idea of the motorcycle crashing or breaking down. He shut his eyes closed and buried his face in the crook of Anna’s neck, his sweaty palms still grasping onto her for dear life as he tried to control his breathing.

And then finally the motorcycle sputter to a stop, and John felt comfort slowly wash over him.
“Okay babe, you can let go. We’re here.” Anna gently cooed, reaching backwards and cradling his face.

John let out a disgruntled whimpered as he stumbled off the motorcycle, his body still vibrating with nerves. He thought he’d feel find by now but his heart was still pounding rapidly and a painful, burning sensation was persisting in his chest. As he slowly opened his eyes he was taken back by how blurry everything was, and fuck he was dizzy.

“Hey it’s okay! It’s okay! We’re off John, we’re okay now,” John was slightly aware that Anna was jumping off the bike and running towards him. “Deep breaths baby, deep breaths.”

And then she was there, with him, in his arms. John wrapped his arms around her fiercely, closing his eyes and breathing in the scent of her shampoo. He felt a little embarrassed over having a panic attack from something like riding a motorcycle, especially when Anna seemed so perfectly fine, but he knew she wouldn’t judge him so he let himself relax.

After a few minutes of deep breathing and focusing on the scent of Anna’s shampoo, John could feel himself coming down from his panic attack. Still a bit numb and shaky, John untangled himself from Anna’s arms, giving her a disdainful look.
“You are never getting me on one of those fucking things ever again.” John angirly muttered.
“C’mon you didn’t enjoy it even just a little? The wind in your hair, the adrenaline flowing through your veins?” Anna smiled brightly up at him, and fuck, John felt hysteria and relief burst through his chest, and his face involuntarily broke into a smile. He hated that he could never stay mad at her.
“Anna, if I enjoyed feeling that way I’d spend my free days skydiving or bungee jumping, not doing standup routines at comedy clubs.” John giggled, hysterical.

“That’s still work though!” Anna protested, “You can’t count it if you make a living from it.”

“Oh come on, that’s not fair. That means you wouldn’t be able to count embroidery since you sell your art.” John pointed out.

“I don’t make all my living from that though,” Anna sighed, but her voice was slightly quieter than before, a familiar sign that meant she knew John had made a valid point. John smirked, he had won this round.

“Whatever!”, Anna scoffed looking up at a gloating John, “We came here to check on Pete, not to discuss our hobbies.

Fuck, I forgot about that.

John felt a fresh wave of fear and guilt come rolling back into his stomach. How could he had forgotten about Pete? And how could he have left him alone for so long? Anger boiled in John’s stomach, upset with his selfish ways, as his hands curled into fists, his fingers digging into his palms.

Anna and John raced up the stairs to Pete’s apartment, rapping aggressively at the door. Anna pushed the doorbell several times, waited a few seconds, and rang it again.

“He’s not coming out.” John muttered nervously.

“Does he have a spare key somewhere? I don’t want to break into his apartment, but I’m not opposed to it.” Anna said.

“Actually yes, I have a spare,” John could feel his face flush with heat as he remembered Pete placing the spare key in his hands, just before Anna and him had left his place a few weeks ago.

“Here”, Pete had smiled, pressing the key into John’s palm, “You guys should have a spare in case I’m flat out unconscious next time one of you recuses me.”

That had been the last thing Pete had said to him. Maybe the last thing Pete would ever say to him if he wa-

No no no no. Fuck fuck fuck. I can’t think that, not yet. John panicked, trying to calm himself. He felt almost as sick as he first had when he had read Pete’s note. He was seriously considering treating himself to an extra cigarette if he managed to get through today without vomiting.

“How do yo-you know what? Nevermind, just open the damn door.”, Anna sighed, impatient.

John nodded, knowing she was more nervous than frustrated. Digging into his coat pocket, he pulled out a small key. He reached forward, his hands shaking as he twisted the key into the lock. There was a click, and then John pushed open the door, and then they were inside Pete’s apartment.

Pete’s apartment was pitch black and freezing. A chill ran through John’s body as he took a few steps forward. Anna muttered something about the house being too cold, especially in the middle of winter, and flick on the light. Setting down her sunglasses and the stranger’s helmet on a counter, she did an intake of the house. John did the same, and found his stomach rolling in disgust. It smelled heavily of weed and mildew, and it looked even messier than when John and Anna had visited a few weeks ago. Empty beer bottles were scattered throughout the house, laying on the floor, and perched on tabletops and counters. Dirty laundry was strewn across the floor and chairs, and marijuana residue stained the walls. John would’ve been so angry at the kid for making such a dump of the place after Anna and him had cleaned it if he wasn’t so fucking scared.

“John,” Anna voice called out, a bit shaky. John followed her voice, his whole body numb with fear.

Anna was pointing at the wall. Or more specifically a mark on the wall, it was a tiny one, and John wasn’t sure how Anna had noticed it or why it was so important, but then his eyes trailed downward. A beer bottle was laying on the floor right below the mark. Or at least, what remained of a beer bottle. Shards of glass covered the floor, glistening in the darkness. John gulped down his nerves, understanding. Someone had to have thrown that bottle against the wall, hard. John knew Pete could suffer from outbursts of anger, but he had never seen Pete get violent or even throw something out of anger.

“Pete?” John called, cautiously stepping around the glass passing into the next room with Anna right behind him, clutching the back of his coat.

“Oh my God,” Anna cried, and then John saw him.

Laying on the floor, crumpled up against the wall was Pete. He was paler than John had ever seen him, which was really saying something since Pete was already considerable pale to begin with, and his eyes were closed shut. And there was blood. God, there was so much fucking blood. John had never seen so much blood in his life. His vision blurred, and the next thing he knew he’s vomiting onto the floor, he can’t fucking see anything and all he can hear Anna screaming like he’s never heard her scream before. He thinks he might die like this, from fear and nausea alone, and in a way it’s almost comforting. To die next to his dead best friend sounded tragically Shakespearian, beautiful in the most morbid way.

Something inside John snaps, and he tears off his coat, then his shirt, and then Anna’s shirt. Anna is still letting out that horrored sound of what can only be described as a mix of screaming and sobbing as he pulls her t-shirt over her head. He feels some new emotion rise up into his chest, he’s so fucking sorry. He’s sorry for bringing Anna here, for letting her see this. He knows that she’ll never be the same after this and neither would he.

Dropping to his knees he takes their shirts, wrapping them each around Pete’s wrists, one shirt for each. “Hold down on this one for me, okay?” John says, and Anna falls to her knees and clutches at Pete’s wrist like there’s no tomorrow. He doesn’t know if this is enough to stop the flow of blood, fuck, he doesn’t know if there’s even enough blood left in Pete for him to still be alive. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

John feels like he might pass out, but the thought of Pete being still alive, the tiniest shred of hope, keeps John conscious. With his free hand he reaches for his phone. It had fallen out of his coat pocket when he tore it off and it’s laying on the floor, screen incredibly crack. With trembling fingers, he dials 911, his heart in his throat.

“911, what’s your emergency?” A woman’s voice on the other side calmly says and John thinks she sounds lovely.

“Please, we need an ambulance right now, I think my best friend is dead.” John chokes out and his voice is anything but calm or lovely.

Both his and Anna’s t-shirts are stained with blood and Anna is still wailing and John still thinks he might be dying. There’s so much blood. How is it possible for a human body to even contain this much blood? Anna and John are both drenched in it, their pants and shoes stained with it, their hands and arms covered in it. John wishes it was his own, he wished he was being ripped apart right now, knives tearing away his flesh, because it can’t be worse than how he feels now. And he’d rather go through all of that than lose Pete. John is repeating Pete’s address over and over again to the lady, and it’s like they’re in an endless loop. It’s like John and Anna are stuck in these few seconds, playing them over and over again, unable to get up, doomed to be stuck on the bloody kitchen floor for the rest of eternity. Anna’s stopped wailing now, or maybe John’s just gone deaf. He feels numb all over. He reaches over pulls Pete up against him, cradling his head in his lap. He prays for the first time in a long time, he prays like he’s never prayed before. He hopes God can forgive him for not attending Church except on Christmas and Easter or ever praying anymore and every other bad thing he’s done, forgive him enough to let Pete be alive and stay alive at the very least.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pete feels hands brush up against his face and thinks he can hear someone saying amen over and over again. Everything is white.