“Monoamine oxidase A, or MAOA, is a gene that works with our mitochondrial enzymes to regulate our dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin,” Patrick says, clicking to another slide. He looks out to his students and tries not to chuckle at some of the glazed over expressions. It’s an eight am class, so he gets it. He wouldn’t be up here talking if Northwestern didn’t pay him the big bucks.
He steps away from his podium to walk around and wake himself up some more. “When there’s a mutation, it can cause various psychological concerns, such as antisocial behavior,” he continues, then pauses and glances out to the crowd. “Any guesses why we’re talking about this gene today?”
He waits to see if anyone is even paying enough attention enough to raise their hand, then he notices some shifting at the top of the stadium seating near the door. He sees a flash of a grin in the dim lighting and rolls his eyes. Fuck, he was not awake enough for that. “Um, so, we’re interested because there’s theories that people who have low activity in this gene are more aggressive when they’re provoked. It’s nicknamed ‘the warrior gene’ for a reason.”
He’s trying not to pay attention to where he can see Pete’s horribly tacky sweater--he’s pretty sure there’s sequins. He doesn’t even understand how he’s able to wear what he does at work, but then again the fact that he’s Pete Wentz sorta is an answer for everything. Enough that Patrick tries not to dwell on his rationality for too long or he’ll end up with a headache.
He walks back to the podium and looks up at the clock. He could end the class now, give them all a break and talk to Pete about whatever he’s here for. Pete hasn’t been up to the university since they stopped working cases together and it’s unnerving to see Pete standing in the back of his lecture hall. And Pete probably knows it’s putting Patrick on edge. But the annoying part of it all was that Patrick knew Pete wasn’t being vindictive about it, that it was just their weird little game. A game that they had been playing for years and Patrick wondered if there would ever be a winner.
So he stretches out the class a bit longer, bringing up the Waldroup case from 2009 where the defense team used the Warrior Gene to get his death sentence reduced down to a thirty-two year sentence. He hears Pete scoff at that and decides, “Alright, that’s it for me. See you guys Friday.”
He smiles a bit at the murmured appreciation of getting out of class early and jots down his notes so he knows where to pick up next class. He feels Pete getting closer, hears his stupid shoes clicking on the tiled steps and making their way near him. Patrick holds up a finger, signaling him to wait and he holds back the grin that’s threatening to form when he hears Pete sigh in annoyance.
Patrick’s just fucking with him at this point, jotting down what he needs to get from the store later.
“You know I’m trying to stop serial killers, right?” Pete drawls.
It’s the attitude that goes straight to Patrick’s childish impulses, and he shrugs. “I waited forty-five minutes,” he reminds him, “you can wait a few more for me to finish my notes.”
Pete huffs and Patrick keeps his head down as Pete leans over to rest his forearms onto Patrick’s podium. “You’re never going to let me live that down are you? At least it was a nice restaurant and they had good bread to munch on.”
Patrick bites his lip to keep from snapping at him about how fucking embarassing it had been, but he shakes it off because it doesn’t matter anymore. That ship has sailed, he reminds himself. And no matter what, he’s not going to put himself in that position again. Not with Pete. Even if he does smell like home and the heat coming off him makes Patrick want to lean in and curl into that ugly sweater.
“You’re not even writing down anything important”--he says, leaning over to read what Patrick is writing-- “ is that your shopping list ?”
His lips quirk up a bit, but Patrick keeps writing. He needs to get more fish food for Shamu and he’s definitely out of trash bags.
“I’ve got a case I need your help with,” Pete says.
“Oh?” Patrick feigns innocence, “You weren’t coming by just to say hi?”
“You stopped answering my phone calls,” Pete points out, “I tried, you’re the one who slammed the door on us.”
“Pretty sure there is no us,” Patrick says, forcing his voice to resemble an indifferent cadence.
“I’m sick of doing your job for you,” Patrick cuts him off, just to throw in another punch. Patrick’s been imagining how things would go down when they undoubtedly ran into each other again. He’s thought about various scenarios ranging from Patrick slapping him to them falling into bed together.
“Trick, please,” he breathes, and Patrick looks up at that tone. Because it sounds like Pete’s exhausted and now that he’s up close, Patrick can see how whatever case he’s been working on is draining everything good left of Pete.
Patrick closes his notebook, hating himself for caving to Pete again, and motions for him to follow. “Come on, let’s go to my office.”
Patrick tries his best not to take in the way that Pete’s changed since the last time he saw him. His hair is shorter, his outdated emo hair gone and Patrick feels a little twinge of worry in his heart. There’s a beginning sign of wrinkles working their way around Pete’s eyes and on his forehead. The ones around his eyes are from smiling, Patrick notes, then tries to push away the knowledge that the ones on his forehead are from worry.
He can feel Pete’s eyes on him when he’s not looking. Can feel that he’s doing the same thing and surveying the changes in Patrick’s appearance. He wonders what Pete sees there, if he can tell the last year has been an ongoing battle for him.
When they get to Patrick’s office, Ryan is sitting at the side desk with a stack of papers that he’s helping grade. “Ryan, this is Agent Wentz,” Patrick says, waving in Pete’s direction.
Ryan looks up, looking a bit dazed and not that impressed. Ryan’s Patrick’s new teaching assistant, who Patrick doesn’t hate necessarily. Patrick just doesn’t like other people touching his stuff, especially his work. But he was the last professor without a TA and the students who apply for work study need to have somewhere to do their assistantships. And really, Ryan isn’t awful, he’s just sorta spacey and Patrick has to explain every task to him a couple of times before it sticks.
“Nice to meet you,” Pete says diplomatically, and Patrick narrows his eyes at that.
Ryan stares at Patrick, like he’s a little put off that Pete’s here. Patrick grins like I know the feeling , before saying, “You mind if we have the room? Pete has something he wants to discuss.”
He nods, gathering his papers and heading out without meeting Pete’s eyes.
“Cute kid,” Pete mutters, sitting down in front of Patrick.
Patrick shrugs. “I always get stuck with the weird ones.”
Pete snorts. “I liked Spencer .”
“No, you wanted to fuck him,” Patrick snips back, unlocking his computer and opening up his email so he has something to do while Pete gets to the point. He doesn’t get jealous about who Pete’s fucking, he doesn’t . He just sorta prefers that he doesn’t hear about it, and would like it very much if Pete kept his dick away from people he had to work with.
“Your opinion of me really hurts sometimes,” Pete says, but Patrick hears the smile in his voice, so he knows he really didn’t hurt Pete’s feelings.
“What’d you have for me?” Patrick sighs, annoyed that he doesn’t have any new emails to answer to. He just clicks around to make it look like he’s busy.
“We’ve been trying to keep it out of the news,” Pete starts, which means that this case is pretty fucked up, so Patrick sits back in his chair to give Pete his full attention. “There’s...we’ve called him The Gravedigger. He’s kidnapping men, blonde men”--Pete looks pointedly at Patrick’s recently bleached hair-- “And buries them alive. He’ll ask for a ransom and if he doesn’t get it, he waits until the victim dies before giving us their coordinates.”
“Jesus,” Patrick whispers, leaning forward and bracing his head into his hands.
He hasn’t been on a case in a year, and he used to have thicker skin about these sorts of things. Or, more accurately, he was better about not showing how much they bothered him. He’s been face to face with countless killers, been able to get inside their heads and imagine horrible scenarios that would give motive to kill. He’s been in some of the darkest places that someone just shouldn’t be. But he had been able to handle it.
At least for a while.
“I need you on this one,” Pete says quietly, like he’s almost embarrassed about it. He leans forward so he’s leaning over Patrick’s desk. “Look, I wouldn’t ask you to get back into profiling if I weren’t out of options.”
Patrick groans and lifts his head from his hands. “You're asking me to get into a pretty fucked up brain. Burying people alive?”
“I know,” Pete murmurs, “It’s been keeping me up at night too.”
“You’re always up at night,” Patrick notes, leaning back in his chair again and trying to find some composure.
But Pete’s looking at him like he can see right through him. Like he sees the fear percolating behind Patrick’s eyes. And it’s unnerving, even if it’s Pete. Or maybe, especially because it’s Pete.
“It won’t be like last time,” Pete promises, “We’re both in a better place.”
Patrick scoffs and crosses his arms. “Are we?”
Pete grins mischievously, and for a minute Patrick feels like he’s twenty-one, fresh out of his undergrad and getting roped into a case with the wildcard that is Pete Wentz. Pete’s always had a smile that brings Patrick to an easier time. To when all he worried about was what trashy trucker hat he was going to wear that day.
“Well,” Pete says, sitting up and folding his hands, “You haven’t thrown anything at me yet.”
Patrick feels his lips quirk upward into an almost smile.
Fucking Pete Wentz.
“It’s still early.”
It’s hard focusing on his afternoon class, even harder to focus on any of the articles sitting in his inbox waiting for him to review. His mind keeps drifting to Pete and the fact that he’s going to be on a case again.
Because while he’s been terrified of diving back into profiling, he misses it. He misses the thrill of connecting the dots, of forming a personality of who they’re looking for. Of making something abstract become more concrete and obtainable.
It used to freak Pete out when they first started working together. And if Patrick was being honest, it sort of scared him too. It was terrifying at first, being able to slip into those dark minds and predict their motives, to feel around and find the shape of their personalities, their wants and dislikes. How they saw themselves and what they wanted to present to the world.
But Patrick was fucking good at what he did. He could look at photos of crime scenes and start to paint the picture in his mind, could find the story in just a few details. And he was even better when he was paired with Pete who would bounce off his ideas, who would take him seriously and work off his theories. Who fucking knew him inside and out, and could fill in the blanks that Patrick didn’t communicate. It was almost like Pete could slip into his brain, or more that they shared one brain sometimes. That they could sit in a room working on a case and find a lead without even speaking.
He’s never had that kind of working relationship with someone before.
Of course, that was when they weren’t at each other’s throats. After the newness of having a real job out of college wore off, Patrick started finding friction between his and Pete’s personality. Patrick just had a certain way he liked to do things, and he wasn’t really open to suggestions. And he knew that people thought the profiling he did was all about impulses and gut feelings, but Patrick had a system. He had steps he followed and there were reasons for what he did. Pete? Pete was a fucking loose canon. One that exploded all over Patrick’s carefully built focus, and would often lead to Patrick losing his temper.
Patrick parks next to Pete’s old Honda with the faded paint job and takes a deep breath, trying to remind himself that he’s in control of this situation. He’s not going to let things get muddled like they had been last time. Now he knows where Pete stands with him, and there’s no danger of Patrick trying to reach out again. He did that already. He put himself out there and Pete shot him down.
So the feelings won’t get in the way, he tells himself. That should make things easier.
And Pete’s going to watch his back this time. He’s not going to let anything happen to him with this case, he’d promised. Pete may be immature and too carefree for Patrick’s liking, but Pete never broke the promises he made.
When he gets out of the car, he keeps his head down as he goes inside. He hands over his university ID and gets scanned through the metal detector before being given permission to continue. It’s weird how much the field office has changed in just a year. He doesn’t recognize the security officer manning the metal detector, can’t remember there being a vending machine near the stairs. It doesn’t matter , Patrick reminds himself as he goes up the stairs towards Pete's division. He pauses outside the door, before realizing he’s just being dramatic, and goes inside.
Immediately he’s got a grin on his face because he sees Joe and Andy bickering at each other like they’re an old married couple. Partners who’ve worked together as long as they have are practically married, Patrick knows, and it sorta hits him in the chest everytime. Affection like that, having someone watch their back and bring out the goodness in another? Patrick’s not a sap, he’s really not, but he fucking aches for that. And maybe it’s because it’s been dangled in front of him for years, almost within his grasp, but always pulled away.
“Patrick!” Joe yells, dropping the candy bar he was holding and rushing to hug Patrick.
Andy’s not far behind and wraps them both in a group hug. “Pete said you were coming on for The Gravedigger case, but we sorta didn’t believe him.”
Joe wiggles so Andy will release them and he looks sheepish, “We had a wager that you wouldn’t come.”
“How much money did you lose?” Patrick muses.
“You owe me a nice dinner,” Joe says, sitting back in his chair and throwing his boots up on the desk.
Andy rolls his eyes. “We’re glad you’re here.”
“Yeah, Pete’s about to drop dead from over working dead ends,” Joe mutters, exchanging looks with Andy.
Patrick frowns at that, feeling a little guilty that Pete felt like he couldn’t come to him until it had gotten that bad. “Well, hopefully I can help.”
Andy throws an arm around him and Patrick leans in, feeling like he might cry or something equally embarrassing. Which is silly since it was Patrick’s choice to stay away from the guys. He just hadn’t trusted himself to be around them, had needed the space to breathe and heal from everything that had happened. And being near anything or anyone that reminded him of Pete would have just been picking at the scab.
He hears Pete clear his throat and looks up to see him leaning against the doorway to his office. “How come you’re never that nice to me?”
“Because they haven’t fucked me,” Patrick says with just the perfect amount of bite and pulls out of Andy’s hug.
“Um, we’ve got that thing…” Joe says, gathering his belongings. Andy’s right behind him and Patrick shakes his head fondly.
Pete’s staring at him with dark eyes, but his lips are twisted into a smirk and Patrick really fucking hates that look. Things never end up well for him when he’s on the receiving end of that look.
“Come on,” Pete sighs, nodding towards his office. Patrick follows, feeling a sense of coming home when he walks though the door. Patrick pokes around his office, taking in the chaotic pile of papers strewn across his desk, the collection of used coffee mugs, and the various knick knacks that Patrick knows some of the stories behind. Patrick picks up a picture frame and turns it, smiling a bit at the old photograph of them at a Cubs game. “Summer of 07, right?” Patrick asks.
“Yeah,” Pete says, almost fond but Patrick hears the edge of caution there.
Patrick feels a heat of embarrassment in his chest and mentally kicks himself. He swallows and sets the photograph down before hopping up to sit on Pete’s desk, kicking his feet a little since they don’t reach the floor. “So?” Patrick prompts.
Pete grabs a file out of his desk drawer and hands it to Patrick, “Alright, what we know is that he’s male--”
“How do you know that?” Patrick interrupts, opening the file and scanning the first crime scene report. The tech who wrote it has shit handwriting, and Patrick has to turn the page a bit in his hand to make out some of the notes.
“It’s a male’s voice on the phone calls,” Pete answers.
“He leaves messages?”
“Yeah, it’s how we get the ransom amount.”
Patrick shrugs, not really that impressed. “Could be a voice distortion software.”
“Our previous profiler said male,” Pete says, and then Patrick sees him wince out his prorifery.
For good reason. “Pete,” he says, dropping the file on the desk and crossing his arms.
Pete rubs at the back of his neck. “Yeah, I know.”
“ Pete .”
“You’re not stepping on any toes,” Pete insists, tilting his head a little to catch Patrick’s eye, “I fired him because he was an idiot.”
Patrick glowers at him, then, “I don’t like to work off someone else’s notes. You know that.”
Pete doesn’t say anything, like the year apart has given him some lessons in patience. Patrick gives him a minute to see if he’ll crack but then says, “Give me all the evidence, I want to start from scratch.”
Pete nods and grabs some more files from his desk and hands them to Patrick.
Patrick tucks them under his arm and hops off the desk, heading towards the door.
“Wait, that’s it?” Pete asks, getting up and following him out of his office.
Patrick keeps walking towards the exit. “The quicker I solve the case, the quicker I get rid of you.”
“Oh, baby, you know I don’t do anything quick.”
Patrick hears snickers from some of the agents sitting around and he sees red. His hand lands on a stapler, then he’s turning and chucking it at Pete’s head.
Pete dodges it easily. “And we were doing so well.”
“You’re pushing it,” Patrick grits out, turning back towards the door.
Pete lets him leave this time.