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i knew it was you all along (i knew it was you, i knew it)

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Gabe's throwing french fries. Joe’s catching them in his mouth, grinning as he does, and then the table dissolves into laughter as if it’s the punchline to the world’s biggest joke. All Pete wants to do is put his head on the table and sleep forever.

He is, currently, nursing a grade-A hangover that makes him feel like he’s swallowed sand. It’s awful now, but had bordered on intolerable during practice, where the coach hadn’t ceased his screaming over how Pete needed to pull himself together before the game season started. The entire experience had brought a throbbing pain to the boy’s temples, one that a Gatorade and Saporta’s antics does nothing to stifle. 

This is the life. 

He goes to soccer practice, feeling the blood rushing in his ears and the adrenaline high as it kicks in. Nothing is the same as when he’s on the field. When he’s done, body aching and sore and tired, he crashes into bed and hate-listens to another record of someone who’s doing something he’s not. In the mornings he’ll wake up stiff with sleep, drive to school, and pretend he can stand a single person there. 

He goes to parties because he’s never been one to turn down free booze and a girl hanging off his arm. It clouds the night so easily he forgets all about practice, and his friends, and his parents and how he’s gonna be a fucking political science major by this time next year.

Pete leans into his hand and feels the throbbing of his temple beneath his fingers. He should have taken another Advil after practice, he knows, but the others had whisked him away before he had the chance. The mall is far from empty, and the noise only makes it all worse. It’s just past peak hour, with bustling crowds and storefronts bright and blaring music. All around the food court, small groups huddle around their tables over takeout. 

People-watching is one of his favourite hobbies. Being able to sit there and get out of his own head, think about someone else instead. When someone would catch his eye, he’d conjure up his own story for them, something to explain how they found themselves there. That gaggle of teen girls are on a day out to cheer up their friend after a bad breakup. That old couple are shopping for their newborn grandson. The lone guy with the cane, tucked into the food court corner, is waiting to see an old friend again. 

His eyes linger on the guy with the cane for a moment longer before travelling to the far corner. There’s another group of kids, similar to his own, circled around two tables pushed together. Laughing over something, tossing popcorn at each other, encapsulated in their own little world. A few of them are in his classes, Pete recognises quickly. The tall, skinny kid with the long hair is Will, William, whatever , and he’s one of Travie’s friends. So maybe he isn’t that bad. The shorter one; with the buzzed sides and the lip ring - that’s Frank. Iero, the kid who spent more time smoking in the toilets than actually in class. The others, though, he can’t speak for - unfamiliar faces.

There has to be six or seven of them, maybe, and he conjures something new for each of them. William is, well, William, and he's Travie’s friend, and that’s about it. The girl with the plucked-thin eyebrows and packed-on eyeliner is sipping at a coke instead of engaging in the antics because she, like Pete, has a hangover. The kid with the glasses and the long hair and the lip piercing had gotten said piercing to piss his parents off, maybe did it in some dingy bathroom to really sell how hard he is.

The next face Pete’s tired gaze landed on is, well, he really is a sight for sore eyes. Dirty blonde hair flopping over his face and glasses, but beneath it all he can discern a sharp jawline and thin face. Everything about him is sharp, Pete decides, pointed elbows and awkward knees and a long thin nose. His forearms are less decorated with less bracelets and wristbands than his peers, revealing wiry muscle beyond the sleeves of his band shirt - Iron Maiden. 

This, he realises after a moment, is a familiar face. When he transferred in at the start of the school year, Pete hadn’t bothered to learn his name, but the kid sat a few rows behind him in Spanish class. Some days when Pete would head out to the parking lot after practice, he would spot the boy leaning against his car and smoking. 

“Dude, you’re fucking staring.” Joe nudges Pete, snapping him from his daze. Glancing up, the two are looking at him curiously. They’ve given up on their french-fry toss. With a shrug, Pete turns back at the group. They’re still laughing over something, doubled over.

“I thought I recognised one of them.”

“They probably go to our school. I don’t know. I don’t pay attention.” Gabe didn’t pay attention to anything he can't fuck or get high off of. Both of them know this.

“That’s Travie’s friend. Bill. Or Will. Or something. The skinny one. With the hair, you know.”

“Whatever you say, dude.” Gabe’s voice is far off, dismissive. He isn’t even looking in the direction of the group anymore, much more entertained by stabbing a fry into his ketchup with all too much vigour, “Just stop staring. They’re gonna think you’re fucking insane. Or gay.”

“Fuck what they think, man,” Joe snorts. As much as he hates to admit it, Pete really does care what people think. He wants people to like him. He wants people to think he’s attractive, that he’s cool, that he’s good at what he does. 

“Will is Travie’s friend,” Pete’s mouth echoes numbly, the words not quite feeling his own, “Travie’s cool. Maybe they aren’t that bad.”

“Not that bad,” Joe agrees. And then the boy with the Iron Maiden shirt glances up. As if he could feel someone looking, peering around before his eyes finally settle on Pete. 

“But they now also think you’re gay.”

Once Pete eventually manages to break his gaze away from the table, instead focusing on the food in front of him, the conversation slips easily back into something more along their wavelength.

“Oh, dude, that’s fucking disgusting,” Joe scowls widely as Gabe speaks - no one ever wants to hear about Gabe’s latest strange sexcapades, and yet he always tells them. He tunes it out anyway, as he always does. Achy hands pick at the lettuce of his burger, tearing it into smaller and smaller shreds. Joe had taken all the fucking ketchup, and they hadn’t put enough on his food to make it not taste like cardboard, and Pete just wants to go home. Crawl under his blankets and sleep until next year.

When Gabe and Joe finally grow bored of the bland food and Pete being in a mood, they make their leave. Trailing a step and a half behind, he can't help himself. He turns for a final time and glances back at the sharp smoker boy with the awkward knees.  Their eyes meet. The boy grins. Pete grins back.

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

Pete’s first exposure to capital-H Homosexuality was when he was in 7th grade and hanging out in the park with his buddies. They’d been playing soccer on the flat field, knees stained green with grass and scraped up from the tussle. Much younger, then, softened around the edges. This was before highschool, before things like college and the future actually mattered. 

Gabe had been about a foot and a half shorter, a scrawny kid, but they didn’t mind because he was the only one who could get away with stealing booze from his parents. Not Pete - his parents only kept nice liquor, the kind that’s aged for 50 years or some shit and the kind that you keep locked in a cupboard high enough where no kids can reach it. Joe was there, a little less muscle on his bones and hair a little more wild because he hated getting haircuts. He’d been weirder, then, and Pete didn’t quite get why Joe had to tie and untie his laces six times before getting on the field or why he isn’t allowed to stay out past 5pm. But he thought Joe was cool, so he paid it no mind.

There was Travie, too, Travie from 8th grade who imparted his 8th-grade wisdom on them like it was the gospel. Everything important in life, like the secret codes to all their favourite video games and how to convince the convenience store cashiers to just let him buy the cigarettes, dude, come on!

Which is how they found themselves buzzed and kicking around a soccer ball as the sun set. Pete’s parents wouldn’t want him home for another hour, odd, they had some work-friend over and didn’t want him running his mouth and saying something he shouldn’t. As he so often did. He kicked the ball harshly in Travie’s direction, watched as the ball soared farther than he intended and disappeared into the treeline. 

“You’re so fucking gay , dude!” Gabe groaned, “That was my good fucking ball!”

Realising he was actually gay came later. By that point he knew what the word meant, knew a variety of much crueller words for it, and he knew it wasn’t a good thing. He must have been fourteen or so.

Pete has been pretty firmly secure in his sexuality for years now. He’d figured it out in his early teens when he’d ogled a little too long at Johnny Depp during Nightmare on Elm Street. Something about the way talking to boys - pretty boys - made his stomach flip and his throat tighten up, well, he knew it wasn’t normal. 

He knows by now that girls just don’t do it the same. He also knows, however, that highschool is torture enough as a straight kid. And that his parents hate him enough for being moody and all over the place, and not wanting to go to college (in the end he’d given in when they informed him he would no longer be welcome at home if he didn’t attend). Coming out is a deathwish. So he’s spent the past few years biting his tongue, swallowing back the knowledge and instead sleeping with any girl who shows interest in him. Ignoring any guy who made his heart race.

Okay, that last part is a lie.

Mystery boy with the Iron Maiden shirt is in his fucking Spanish class and had smiled at him and Pete’s been thinking about it for the past two days and if he thinks about it any longer he might explode. In the morning, Pete spends about ten minutes rifling through various piles of laundry to find just what he needs, slipping it on with a triumphant grin. Usually, he doesn’t put much thought into what he wears - today, though, he manages to find his Green Day shirt and hopes it’s enough to prove to mystery guy that he’s actually cool, he swears, but subtle enough that he doesn’t look like he’s trying too hard. He pulls his hoodie over it to ease the early morning chill, leaves it unzipped so the world can see. 

Pretty mystery boy doesn’t know how to sit in chairs properly, Pete decides. At the food court, his knees had been awkward, one foot kicked up onto his friend’s lap. This time, at the back of the Spanish classroom, he’s leaning back on his chair. It teeters dangerously, threatening to tip back at any moment. When their teacher runs through the register, Pete listens closely for the mystery boy’s name. 

“Mikey?” The teacher calls, and when Mikey speaks his voice is lilted with a distinctly New Jersey accent. The sort of twisting, turning voice where he sounds like he has something perpetually stuck in his throat. It’s kind of charming, he thinks. Cute. He wants to know how his name would sound coming out of the boy’s mouth, but that’s edging into dangerous territory that he doesn’t want to encounter in the middle of revising subjunctives. 

All lesson, Pete resists the urge to turn around and catch a glimpse of stupid pretty not-so-mystery-anymore boy. He’s getting creepy, probably, but he’s got a thing for making things difficult for himself. It’s the Wentz Way of Life, patent-pending.

When lunch time comes, he spends it behind the art building with a cigarette between his lips. A part of him, beneath it all, hopes mystery boy - Mikey - will be there too, but he’s alone. Gabe and Joe probably haven’t even noticed he's gone, but he's okay with that. It's nice being alone, sometimes.

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

Whatever band that’s playing is kind of shitty. Beyond the point of shitty, even, the lead singer puking halfway through the set and on the verge of blacking out at any point. The guitar is out of tune and the drummer can’t drum for shit. But then again, neither can Pete, so he figures he isn’t one to criticise.

This is a nice callback, for him, to junior year. When he’d finally gotten his drivers licence and took full advantage of it, sneaking out in the night to go to shitty underground shows a city away. Where no one knew his name, or his face, where he could hide under the darkness and pretend for a moment that everything is gonna be ok. He’d get tipsy and make out with whoever made eyes at him, boy or girl. 

It's so hot in the crowd, skin slick against skin and stinking of sweat and booze. Someone had pushed up against him from behind, holding his bare hips beneath the hem of his wifebeater tank. He’s gelled his hair up and even broken out the fucking eyeliner pencil for this, pulled on his tightest jeans. No one here knew him, no one cared, god.

The darkness of the club offers this sort of reprieve. A safety blanket from the world of plausible deniability where he could say No, dude, I don’t do that. You saw someone else. 

There's something about the music pulsing through his veins, thrumming through his ribcage as a make-shift heartbeat that's so addicting. Feeling everyone around him, every sense overloaded and feeling that rush of adrenaline. He wished it would never end, that he would never have to go home or go back to football practice or go to college.

The crowd surges. Someone in front of him stumbles back, elbows flying out as they try to catch themselves. It collides with Pete’s nose with a nauseating crack and he immediately reels back in pain. A burning sensation blooms across his face, and when his hand shoots up to his nose he's met with a wet sensation. Drawing back, dark crimson blood paints his fingers. Breaking away from whoever’s hands are on him - turning around, Pete realises it’s a taller, blonde guy - he pushes forwards and weaves through the crowd. His face has already started to ache dully, and the blood streams easily from his nose, hitting his bitten lips with a sickening metallic taste.

The dingy club bathroom’s only source of light is a dim, yellowed bulb, and half of the stalls didn’t even have doors. Pen doodles and numbers decorate the walls in scrawls, and with every step his shoe sticks sickeningly to the tile with what Pete prays are just spilt drinks and not piss. He leans up against the sinks, not even caring about how grimy the tiles feel beneath his hands, wipes at his face with a tissue. Everything is so quiet here compared to out there. The music has dissolved into a muffled blur of bass and drums and he can't distinguish any of the lyrics - not that he had been able to before, with the singer’s drunken slur. It’s colder, too, the film of sweat across his skin making him sick and clammy.

When the door gives a whining creak, Pete glances up in the reflection of the mirror to see who it is. And- oh .

“Didn’t think I would see you here.”

Mikey’s hair is even messier than Pete’s, somehow, sticking up in odd directions. He’s not wearing glasses this time. Contacts, maybe. The Anthrax shirt he’s wearing sticks close to his skin, criminally tight. He doesn’t even try to be subtle as he looks at the muscle of Mikey’s arms, lanky and pointy-elbowed and oddly endearing. Pete leans against the cool sink. Watches Mikey look him up and down, from the tight jeans to the tank and the eyeliner. Soaks up the attention easily, it’s what he does best.

“I guess I’m just full of surprises.” He grins a little. Easily. There’s something about the boy that’s a little bit electrifying. Makes him feel giddy and fuzzy around the edges and makes it easy to find something to smile at. He continues;

“You’re Mikey, right? Will’s friend. He’s Travie’s friend, who’s my friend, I guess. Small world.” 

“I am.” Mikey nods solemnly. “Your nose is bleeding.”

Reaching up again, Pete wipes at the slowing flow of blood from his nose and sniffles a little. He gives a dismissive shrug.

“It’s fine. Makes me look badass. I’ll tell Gabe I got into a fight or something. He won’t know any better.”

“Gabe Saporta?”

“Unfortunately.”

Mikey doesn’t say anything for a long moment, just looks at Pete with careful eyes. It makes him nervous. The feeling of being picked apart, scrutinised, isn’t unfamiliar - but with him, something is different, something that makes his palms feel sweaty and his heart beat a little faster in his chest. He swallows the down lump in his throat and rocks awkwardly on his heels. Outside, the music swoons, cutting through the heavy silence between the two.

Mikey clears his throat.

“You should pinch here,” He motions vaguely to the bridge of his nose, “To stop it bleeding.”

And Pete does, huffing as Mikey steps closer. The taller boy rips a new tissue from the holder and wets it under the sink, leaning in to wipe the smeared blood from Pete’s cheek.

“You missed a spot.” His voice is a soft murmur now. So low it could almost be criminal, god, the sensation of his warm breath against Pete’s skin going straight to his dick. What the fuck , he thought, what the fuck .

“So this is what the famed Pete Wentz does on his time off.” 

“Famed is a stretch,” Pete hums a little, hating the stuffed-up feeling his nose is giving him. Gingerly, he pulls his fingers away to see if the bleeding has staunched. It has. 

“Popularity doesn’t mean shit in the real world.”

“Eh, gets you somewhere.”

There’s a beat. Mikey glances down at Pete, and it’s like something clicks. Properly, and suddenly Mikey is leaning into him and pressing his full weight against Pete and pinning him to the counter. One hand firmly at the base of his neck, sliding up from his shoulder, the other gripping Pete’s wrist.

Mikey kisses like he’s been starved for days and Pete is a full course meal. Waiting to leap, devour him and savour every bite. It’s a messy clash of teeth and it’s desperate and their jaws are scratchy with stubble but they can’t find the will to care. His hair is easy for Pete to thread his fingers through, pull his head even closer in until they’re flush against each other.

When they pull away, the first time, Mikey is panting and grinning like an idiot. His hand rises to cup Pete’s jaw easily, thumb stroking at his glitter–stricken face. He releases Pete’s wrist. Hands immediately find Mikey’s side, feeling the soft down of his skin before dipping to the sharp bone of his hips. The movement draws a sharp inhale from Mikey.

God bless low-rise jeans, Pete thinks, God bless.

“You’re wearing eyeliner,” Mikey states bluntly, looking down at Pete. The corner of his lips quirk up for a moment, revealing crooked teeth. “I like it. You’re pretty.”

The word sends a wave of something through Pete. It’s a warm, good feeling. No one had ever called him pretty before. He likes it, he decides, coming out of Mikey’s pretty mouth. He doesn’t say anything as Mikey slowly rubs his thumb along the skin of Pete’s cheek, pulling away to show the stray glitter. 

“You should wear it more.”

He doesn’t wait for Pete to respond, dives down to the boy’s neck and starts to kiss the sensitive skin. Nibbling just below his ear, first, and every now and then he’ll pull away and the sensation of Mikey’s hot breath against his skin makes his heart race.

Pete works more on slipping his hand down along Mikey’s front, trailing calloused fingers below the hem of his shirt and testing the waters. Mikey submits easily, rolls their hips together with a satisfied gasp at the friction. The knowledge that he’s just as needy as Pete feels sends a pulsing jolt through his body, an ache for something more. His hips buckle forward without even meaning to, against Mikey’s own. Their knees knock and it’s awkward and tangled but the sensation makes Mikey gasp again, so he figures he’s doing something right here. Despite being far from a virgin, there’s something about this that makes him feel so clumsy and inexperienced - like he’s doing it all for the first time again.

“I need-” Mikey whimpers a little under his breath as he speaks, and the vibration against Pete’s skin sends his mind into overdrive. He hums. Whatever Mikey needs, he’ll do it, he doesn’t care if someone could walk in right now. Damn the consequences, damn everything in the world except for the pretty boy in front of him.

“Yeah?”

“Let me- fuck- let me touch you?”

Swallowing, Pete nods. God, yeah, Mikey could do whatever he wanted with him. 

And suddenly Mikey is pulling away, and his nimble fingers work quickly at Pete’s jeans and shimmy them down to his mid-thighs. Pete’s eyes go impossibly wide as Mikey cups him, tented through his boxers, sucks in a sharp breath at the sensation. It feels so good, better than he could ever have imagined, and Mikey is giving him these stupid wide doe-eyes that make him melt a little against the counter. Everything is so much, and so fast, and he’s coming around Mikey’s hand before he even knows it. Arching his back up into Mikey, heaving and panting into the boy’s shoulder. Beneath him, his knees feel so weak he almost gives out entirely, legs trembling like jelly against Mikey’s own. 

“So fucking pretty,” Mikey whispers in a low voice, so fucking erotic that Pete feels like he’s been wrenched out of some low-budget porno. The man’s other hand sits gently at the base of his back, ghosting over his spine, inviting a shiver with the gentle touch. 

When Pete gets home, it’s late into the night and the lights are still on inside when he pulls up into the driveway. This is bad news, he knows, but he’s still riding the high of everything that had happened. The feeling of Mikey on his skin is still there, and he’d get it tattooed if he could, hands all over him. A phone number is scrawled all down his forearm. 

He reeks of every liquor under the sun and sweat and sex, traces of eyeliner smudged around his eyes and blood on his face, and his parents give him that familiar disapproving look. The one where they pretend he isn’t failing his classes and deeply unhappy and on a fast-track to becoming the family trainwreck. And his dad will remind him snidely that he isn’t a rockstar, no matter how much he wants to be, and that he has to grow up one day.

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

When morning comes, so does an early practice. Damn his football coach and damn football as a whole, he figures. He loves the game but he hates this - where’s the fun in it all? 

It had started raining buckets outside halfway through. Pooling up on the tarmac and slicking the grass easily, but coach just insists they’ll survive on the fake turf for now. Football season’s starting soon and he can’t take any chances, not when he’s riding on this being his ticket to a good college.  He had felt off all practice, out of place. The coach had screamed at him halfway through the game to get his shit together and pull himself up by the bootstraps, threatened to replace him with some sophomore who apparently played for local clubs. As if the school could fucking afford to lose Pete - he's their best player, and the two of them knew it. He just grit his teeth, sprinted back into position on the field and tried not to let his thoughts get too loud. Focus on the game, Wentz. 

The changing rooms are warm and full in the early Saturday morning, bustling as the team change out of their kits. Coach had given in and cranked the heat up full, blasting hot air down on them. Pete savours the feeling on his skin, ruffles his hair as it dries. Ten-fifteen minutes before he had been soaked to the bone and feeling like a wet dog, so the heat is welcomed. 

Gabe is struggling with the laces of his cleats in the corner - it’s a miracle he even got on the team with two left feet - and Joe and Ryland are smacking eachother with towels around the backs of the knees, launching into deep and raucous laughter then the other collapses to the tile. Alex and Adam are bickering in the corner over something ridiculous, trying to tug Mike into the conversation to act as a tiebreaker but he’s not going to fall for that. The new guy on the team, Bob, had fallen for that last week and ended up benched for enabling their back and forth bickering.

Pete sighs, closes his eyes tight and wishes he could be back at the club. Sweat slicking his skin and glimmering under the neon lights. He tilts his chin up at the ceiling, wishing the ground would swallow him whole. Maybe then he’d get a good night’s sleep. Beside him, Gabe snickers. 

“Dude, you’re a whore .” Gabe motions to the trail of red bruises beginning to form on the skin of Pete’s neck. They started beneath his ear, under the curve of his jaw and travelling down the side of his neck. Pete just clenched his jaw and tugged at the hem of his shirt, pulling it over his head. There are more just below the neckline, one along his collarbone and one by his shoulder. Red and blazing and angry, soon to turn a rich vivid violet with time. Gabe claps the tender skin of his shoulder. 

“My man!” He grins widely, leans down in a teasing way to emphasise the height difference between them.

“Damn,” Ryland whistles loudly, interrupted swiftly as Joe lands a devastating towel-blow to the small of his back that sends him doubling over. Karma, Pete figures. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Pete grimaces, “Laugh it up. At least I’m actually getting some, assholes.”

Once they’re all changed back into their normal clothes, Pete shrugging on his letterman jacket and revelling in the cosy warmth of it, they figure there’s nothing better to do with their free day. It’s a Saturday, but neither Pete or Joe are feeling the large crowds that come with the mall, and the weather doesn’t exactly permit for the park, so they decide instead to take a drive around town. That’s one thing Pete really likes about Joe. He gets along well with Gabe, sure, but Joe gets him in a way that’s a bit more than skin deep. Joe can tell when he’s tired or out of it, familiar with the feeling himself, and he knows just when to stop pushing and prodding.

Pete waits patiently as Joe twists the volume dial to 15, waits even longer as Joe decides it doesn’t feel right that time so he has to do it again. He doesn’t mind, really, figures he’d rather listen to the yo-yo-ing voice of the random pop girl on the radio than hear Gabe’s crude remarks. 

He leans back in his seat and hums along to the song on the radio. Joe’s a better singer than him by a mile, so he keeps his mouth firmly shut, takes the opportunity to admire the view of town in the rain. No one is out, the sky a dim grey that casts everything into a neutral tone. They get some shitty ice cream at the Mcdonald’s drive thru that doesn’t really taste like ice cream, dial up the radio a little louder and cruise down the streets. Revel in the moment. Pete grips the steering wheels and let’s his mind wander a little on the longer stretches, lets himself remember the early hours of the morning with the boy’s hand around him and how kissing him felt like breaking the water’s surface. 

Joe’s eyes catch on Pete at a stop sign and they linger for a moment too long. Glance across his face, down his neck where the bruises are bright and visible, back up to his face. He opens his mouth, but pauses before speaking.

“Are you wearing eyeliner?”

“What?” Pete quickly moves to rub at his eye and see if there really is any eyeliner left over. He thought he had managed to scrub it off in the shower, but there’s a noticeable black smudge on his hand when he pulls away. He pretends to not see it. 

“No, dude.”

“It looks like you are.”

“I’m not.“

Joe tugs his lip between his teeth. Looks at him again, the kind of gaze where it seems to burn through Pete and unpick him. Peel him away in layers. As if he knows Pete beyond the crafted persona. 

“It would be fine if you were. Like, I wouldn’t give a fuck.” He says slowly, catching Pete’s eye, “-But you aren’t, so it’s fine.”

“Yeah.” Pete nods a little too forcefully, turns and keeps his eyes trained on the road.“Yeah.”

“I’m not like Gabe or the other guys, you know. You can talk to me about shit and I’m not gonna make fun of you like they would.”

“Nice to know, dude. Thanks.”

“Pete.” Joe’s words are firmer than usual, and Pete grits his teeth. He knows what’s being implied here, tucked away beneath Joe’s tongue because he’s trying to give Pete an ounce of dignity here. But he isn’t going to let up. 

“Look, dude, I don’t know what you want me to say. There’s nothing to talk about.”

“You look like you’ve been dragged sixty miles down the interstate. And you’re all…. spacey.”

It’s in Joe’s nature to be kind, and to be sensitive - more so than the others. He always has been. As kids he is the one who cried when he fell and yelled at Travie the time he stomped on a caterpillar. Pete figures it’s one of his best traits, aside from the awesome hair, and why he believes that Joe’s concern is genuine. He’s more of an angry-write about it and never talk about how you feel out loud sort of guy, though.

“It’s just a bad day,” He brushes him off easily, gives a dismissive shrug like he always does. “I’ll be fine.”

“Okay, okay.” Joe paused, “But the offer still stands.”

Trohman.”

“Seriously. Any time.”

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

He thinks about it for weeks afterwards. Of course, he’d never admit it out loud but - god. Those long stretches in the night where his brain is too loud to let him sleep and he finds himself staring at the ceiling, he thinks of Mikey. Of the heat of his lips, wet and breathy kisses along Pete’s jaw, the feeling of Mikey’s hands ghosting the small of his back. He thinks of Mikey’s croaky voice calling him pretty as he comes undone, and then his dick is aching in his boxers and it hurts to ignore it. 

Tonight is one of those nights. Laid in bed, covers kicked off because the thoughts leave prickling goosebumps all over his skin that make him feel like he’s burning up from the inside out. That’s how kissing Mikey felt - Mikey is gasoline and Pete is gulping him down, feeding the ever-growing flames in his stomach. Mikey had struck matches beneath Pete’s tongue and set everything alight, every touch shaking his body and leaving him restless and panting. 

He trails his hand along the bone of his hip, recalling with hitched breaths every lingering touch the boy had left. Hearing his whimpered breaths as their hips rolled against eachother’s. A few slow, laboured movements at first, but when he closes his eyes it’s like he’s there again, and the hand wrapped around him is Mikey’s own and not his. Calloused and spindled and more bone than flesh. It isn’t long until he’s reaching his peak, hips buckling involuntarily as he pants, trying to keep his breathy moans contained. 

He fumbles for a tissue first, mops up the mess he’s made on his stomach and tries to steady his racing heart. And then when his hands stop shaking he grasps his phone. 

Mikey had given him his number that day at the bar, scribbled in bold sharpie all down his forearm like he doesn’t care who would see. They’d texted back and forth briefly between now and then, but never anything big - Pete never knew where to start. He never knew what Mikey wanted. But fuck, he figures, even if all Mikey wants is someone to get off with, he’ll step up to the role.

U + Me + shitty horror flicks? 2sday after practice?

There’s a pause, before Mikey’s little ‘typing’ icon pops up, and for a moment Pete holds his breath. 

free snacks n im down

He gives a sigh of relief, feeling the stuttering of his heart through his fuzzy limbs relax. Worn out, he sets his phone down and allows himself to finally drift off, a contented smile ghosting his lips. 

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓



After that, it’s easy to fall into this comfortable sort of routine. Mikey calls, they get buzzed enough where they can both pretend it’s the liquor keeping them wrapped around each other and when they wake up in the morning they can laugh it off. Mikey picks Pete up from practice every other Tuesday and they go back to Pete’s place before his parents get back from work. Put some movie on, get eachother off, same old same old. This is the good thing. Mikey doesn’t ask questions. He never stays longer than he needs to. When they’re at school, it’s an entirely separate world - Pete doesn’t even exist to him. And Pete likes that, he thinks, likes feeling invisible for those brief moments. It makes everything feel like it’s his and his alone. 

There have been slip ups, at times. Pete once ran into Ryland and Gabe at the store buying booze and condoms with a fake ID and almost threw up in his mouth at the sight of them. It sent a shockwave of panic through him that only a minor meltdown and two cigarettes in the parking lot could quell. Joe definitely thinks something is up, and he would be right to do so. Pete’s debated biting the bullet and just telling him, but he doesn’t know. He’s scared he’ll jinx it all, somehow, that Joe will turn on him.

But Mikey makes Pete feel so unimportant in the best way. When it’s just the two of them, up against each other, the rest of the world melts away. It makes everything feel like it might be alright, for once, and Pete holds onto that as tight as he can. He has to, he figures, to get through it all. 

This routine is how Pete finds himself beneath Mikey in the backseat of the latter’s car. Their knees knocked together awkwardly and their legs had tangled up but he figures Mikey’s all skin and bones and sharp edges so really he shouldn’t be surprised. 

The space between their lips is minute, but there, swapping heated breath as they panted against each other. Beneath Pete’s palms, Mikey’s chest rose and fell rapidly, and the beat of his thumping heart seemed to shake through him. He liked this part - getting the taller boy all flustered and pink at the cheeks.  Mikey doesn’t know where to put his hands, or maybe he just can’t keep his hands off of Pete, because they travel from his shoulders, curving around the globed muscle, to tugging at his shirt, to tracing along Pete’s thigh and pulling his hips impossibly closer. Like he just can’t get enough of him. 

The friction feels amazing, the kind that catches Pete’s words in his throats and leaves him a stuttering mess of wandering hands and jerking hips. Mikey’s knee slides easily between his legs, pressing right on Pete in a way that forces curses to tumble from his lips. When Mikey gives a breathy chuckle against his lips, it seems he’s satisfied with the reaction. Pete leans up and pressed a hot kiss to Mikey’s neck - right in the centre - and sucks at the spot lightly. The skin is tender and bruised easily, and feeling the vibration of Mikey’s moans beneath his lips seemed to only motivate him further. The mark would be impossible to hide, they both knew, but there is an odd thrill in that. There is just something about him that left a lump in his throat, made his hands shake. He isn’t usually like this - so nervous, so desperate. 

Mikey parts his knees easily, so easily that it’s almost humiliating, but Pete’s so dazed he doesn’t even register it for a moment - Mikey looks so fucking cool, he thinks. It’s all so goddamn cliched with the calluses on his hands and the muscle of his forearms and the swept down fringe, like some sort of rockstar. He gives way easily.

“Good,” He says, and Pete’s heart pounds against his ribs, “Good boy.”

The sex is rough, and fast, and Pete digs his nails unapologetically into the flesh of Mikey’s shoulder as their bodies push against eachother. His jeans are bunched up around his ankles and Mikey had decided his shirt only got in the way earlier, tugging it off and running his hands down across Pete’s toned stomach. The friction stings against him, his head pushed into Mikey’s shoulder to stifle the stuttering groans he can’t keep contained.  Mikey just makes him come undone, cracked open through the middle and vulnerable and begging to be picked apart. He wants Mikey to know him. More than just physically, he figures, beyond the valleys of tanned skin and the sore muscles and the tired eyes.

“Good,” Mikey praises again, and again, like some mantra or prayer,  “So fucking good - so pretty,”

He pulls Pete’s hips up slightly, changes the angle just right as he pushes into him and watches as the boy beneath him squirms. Lets a string of filthy curses spill from his lips as the pleasure rises, the knot in his abdomen growing larger and larger. 

“You’re so desperate,” Mikey breathes, “For me. Look at you,”

“Yeah, yeah-“ He nods vigorously, glances down at his fumbling hands grasping at Mikey’s shoulders, pressing his nails in every time he drives in deeper. With each push, he presses against the sensitive spot that sends Pete’s mind into overdrive.

“Fuck- I’m gonna- I can’t-“ He stammers. 

The pressure grows and it grows, and Pete figures he won’t be able to hold on much longer. When Mikey wraps a large hand around him and grazes his thumb along the aching, sensitive head, it’s only seconds before he’s spilling out over the boy’s hand. Mikey rocks against him, pace slowing as he rides his own orgasm out. Doesn’t even try to keep composure or contain his groans as he does so, and it’s maybe the hottest thing Pete’s ever seen. They’re both shimmering with sweat and worn out and it’s perfect. For a moment, he can pretend it’s more than this - more than car sex and movie handjobs. 

When their hearts have stopped racing and their clothes are pulled back on - with a cigarette break, of course - Mikey starts to drive. To nowhere, really, just an effort to kill time so Pete can avoid his parents for as long as possible. He turns the radio up to let whatever rock station is on blare through the speakers and taps his hand on the steering wheel as he does. His eyes linger on the burning red hickey in the centre of Mikey’s neck. Can’t help but watch as he swallows, see how it moves. 

This is the part Pete isn’t so good at. Small talk. Usually, he can get by pretty well - Pete’s good at pulling conversation out of thin air, but when it comes to talking with Mikey it’s like his brain short circuits and words escape him entirely. 

“So,” Pete’s mouth is dry, “What’re you doing after graduation?”

Snorting a little, Mikey glances away from the road momentarily to grin at him, “You sound like my fucking mom, dude.” 

And then, after a moment of deliberation, he just shrugs. 

“No fucking clue. Hopefully we’ll be signed by then.”

“Signed?“ 

“Yeah, dude. My band. Didn’t I tell you?” Mikey cocks his head to the side. Like a curious dog, Pete thinks. A part of him hoped Mikey had already told him, or he had already known somehow, because he wants to know Mikey like the back of his hand. 

“No,” He says blankly, before realising he probably sounds rude- “What do you play?“

“Just bass,” He shrugged. Tapped on the steering wheel as he glanced back and forth at the crossing. “It’s all Gee, really. The whole thing is his idea. And Ray, and Frank.”

“Oh.”

“Gee’s my brother. Gerard. He’s in college. For art, I think, or design, some shit like that. I don’t really know the specifics.”

“Oh, cool.”

“You’re going to college?” Mikey raises a brow, asking for confirmation, even if they haven’t really discussed this before. Pete swallows thickly. There’s a lump in his throat, one that hadn’t been there before, with the rising panic of talking about it all. He doesn’t want to think about growing up - he doesn’t want to grow up at all. Not really. Nervous hands find the edge of the seats.

“Mhm. Yeah. Depaul, hopefully, my parents want me to go. That’s where they went.” This answer seems to please Mikey, as he gives a small nod in understanding. They turn the corner as the song on the radio changes. Something louder, more upbeat than before - Pete leans to dial it down a little. 

“You could probably secure a scholarship. I’ve seen you out on the field - you’re good.”

That surprises him. For some reason. It makes sense, really, seeing as they go to the same school, and it’s Mikey that picks him up from practice. Somehow it hadn’t connected in his mind that Mikey had actually ever seen him play, let alone enough to form a solid opinion on his playing. 

“That’s the plan, at least. To do political science. And then rot away in some office somewhere until I’m seventy.”

“Sounds like you’re headed towards a fulfilling career,” Mikey snarks, smiling despite, before glancing back at Pete. “Why political science? If you hate it so much.”

“My parents did it. It’s the only way they’ll get off my back. That or I get kicked out and rot away in the streets.”

Something about how Mikey keeps looking at him, sneaking looks when it seems he thinks Pete won’t notice - it sends his heart racing. Like it had the first time they’d seen each other, the first time Mikey had smiled at him. It’s like he blossoms under the boy’s gaze, in a way, like laying in the sunlight and feeling the heat against your skin. He likes it. Pete continues, clearing his throat a little;

“I never knew you had a brother.”

“Never came up,” The dismissive shrug is a favoured move, it seems, because Mikey seems to do it every time he speaks. “Not like we do an awful lot of talking, Wentz.”

“Yeah, I guess.” The lump in his throat is back, “I kind of just thought I would know, somehow. Like, overhear you in class or something.”

“Do you have siblings?”

Pete nods shakily. Keeps his eyes trained on the dangly little air freshener Mikey kept hanging from his mirror - fresh pine, apparently. Thinking about home makes this hollow, aching feeling bloom through his chest. Opens up this gaping void that swallows everything within it.

“Two. Sister and a brother. They’re both way younger. Closer to each other than to me, you know.”

He doesn’t talk to them enough, he knows. Years ago, they had been closer, when he is less all over the place and less of a mess and less hopeless. His parents seem to think he’s a bad influence, though, like he’ll somehow cause them all to fall apart like he had.

“See, I never knew that about you. Never came up.”

A heavy silence fills the car quickly, neither quite sure what to say. How to move on from here- Mikey’s eyes are trained on the road in front of him as he turns again, and Pete doesn’t know where to look. His gaze flickers between the radio to the air freshener to Mikey and along the sharp line of his jaw, before he realises what he’s doing and looks out of the window instead. He clears his throat awkwardly. 

“You wanna get Wendy’s?”

“Huh?” Mikey tilts his head again, but shakes the confusion quickly, “Sure. I don’t know why I thought you wouldn’t be able to have that. You know, soccer player things.”

“Coach wants me to live off chicken and veggies for the rest of my life. But he doesn’t have to know.” When Mikey turns to face Pete, now, his lips are curved up into a mischievous smile. He winks.

“Your secret is safe with me, Wentz, your secret is safe with me.”

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

Friday afternoon, Pete is pissed . Everything in the fucking world is against him, he decides. His parents, his friends. God, if there even is one. He isn’t sure anymore. 

During practice, coach had been on his ass yet again about how he was falling behind and how he needed to get his act together. Stop being a mopey little shit and focus on what actually mattered, apparently. And then his jersey had ripped and there is a group of kids smoking by his car and they had their shitty little speaker cranked up all the way and it is giving him a headache, for fuck’s sake.  He had come home to an empty house, with a sticky note on the fridge. Something about how they had gone to dinner to celebrate his sister winning the 7th grade spelling bee. 

And then his phone rings, and it’s fucking Mikey. He takes a few seconds to debate whether or not to pick up - he’s not in the mood for it, he doesn’t think, wanting nothing more than to fall asleep and wake up in the summer when everything would be over. But it’s him, so he picks up anyway. 

“Hey,” He can almost hear Mikey’s toothy grin through the phone, his lilting accent and twisting voice. It never fails to make his heart pound a little harder in his chest. 

“Mikeyway. Hey.” 

“Uh- how is practice? You sound tired.”

“Same old. You know, getting yelled at in the rain for a few hours. The usual.”

“Sounds like a riot,” There’s a rustling, briefly, on the other end of the line before Mikey’s voice is clearer, breathier, “You- you should come over.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah- It could be chill. My parents are out.”

“I’m not gonna suck your dick, Way.”

“For a movie,” Mikey says bluntly, and his words take Pete by surprise, “I like having you around, you know, even when you aren’t sucking my dick.”

And- oh, okay, maybe he could handle that. A movie sounded nice. 

And it is nice. Mikey is waiting for him out by the porch, hands tucked awkwardly into his jean pockets. The overhead lights cast deep shadows on the hollows of his cheekbones and the sharp curve of his jaw, paints him golden. He waits until Pete is inside of the house to kiss him gently, on the lips, hand settling on Pete’s shoulder as if he had done it a thousand times before. They pick out a movie - some shitty horror, as per their brand, and Mikey curls up on the couch with a blanket and tugs Pete into his side. It’s so simple, so easy, without askance or expectancy. He just wanted Pete by his side, and the thought alone makes something warm bloom in his chest. Mikey’s hands are warm, so warm, one rubbing absent circles with his thumb over Pete’s shoulder, the other relaxed flat on his own thigh. It’s all so comfortably intimate. 

This is the first time that they’ve just hung out together, as friends. No expectation of sex or affection. Just the two of them and a bad day and a maybe-okay-pretty-good evening. 

He figures he’s in like. That kind of hopeless highschool like, the kind you see in shitty romcoms. Not yet love, but there’s no mistaking the giddy feeling Mikey brings that washes over him like warm summer rain. Being around the taller boy is like living in sun. Hot and intense and scalding at moments; carefree and easy and kind in others. He could live in Mikey’s light forever, if the boy wanted him to. All he has to do is ask. 

With his heart thrumming through his fingertips, Pete reaches down. Slides his hand into Mikey’s own and knots their fingers together. They fit perfectly, like two jigsaw pieces built for each other. He doesn’t say anything. Neither of them do. But maybe it’s better that way. Sometimes things don’t need to be said out loud, he decides. Beneath Pete’s ear, he listens to the gentle beat of Mikey’s heart. It’s steady and ripples through his body with a sort of familiarity - like a song he’d heard years before but forgot about. The movie drones on, and for the first time in a long while, Pete is happy. 

They get halfway through the movie, at best, before Mikey’s on his knees. Of course. But when it’s all over, and the evening has drawn in sluggish and with darkness at its heels, Mikey proposes he stay over for the night. His parents won’t be back before afternoon the next day, he assures. You’re good company.  

There’s this moment when Pete is laying in Mikey’s bed beneath his stupid star wars bedsheets, when he thinks that maybe things could be okay. The room has been swallowed in shadow aside from the dim golden glow of a bedside lamp. He watches, calmly, as Mikey shrugs off his shirt and jeans, angles cut into his form with the shadow. 

The realisation that this could be his future settles in. It settles in deep. That one day he’ll be away from it all, and he might be able to live the life he always wanted. Loving whoever he wanted - cooking dinner, watching movies, leaning into their side in bed at night. And maybe he really does just need to hold on a little while longer. Mikey clambers into the bed beside him. It’s a tight squeeze, legs tangling together quickly and Pete leaning into the other boy’s body. Icy, bare feet press against the warm skin of his calves, but Mikey just laughs when he squirms. 

“Can’t help myself. Sorry,”

“You’re not sorry, fucker,” Pete grumbles. He hears Mikey hum in drowsy agreement. 

“I’m not.”

“Bastard.”

To shut him up, Mikey just leans down and presses a kiss to Pete’s lips. One of those gentle ones, again. His hands trace idling lines across Pete’s arms as they do. The action is strangely intimate, the feeling of his fingers ghosting gently along the skin, so removed of lust. When they pull apart, he’s flushed pink at the cheeks and his lips are still swollen, and he gives Pete these big, careful eyes. With a voice barely above a whisper, he says;

“Me and the guys are having a show tomorrow. If you can- you should come. It’d be nice to see you there.”

“I’ll be there,” Of course he will. It’s a promise, and not one he intends on breaking. They settle down pretty comfortably after that. Mikey remains tracing lines into Pete’s skin easily, tells him a little bit more about the band. He’s the bassist, Pete knows this, but his brother is the singer. Gerard - the one doing art in college. Or design. The guitarists are some guy called Ray, who’s been a friend of Gerard for years, and Frank Iero. 

Ray is the tall one, Gerard is the average height one, and Frank is the stoned one, so they’ll apparently be easy for him to tell apart. Pete doesn’t know half of these people, but as he listens to the boy launch into another funny story about them, he decides it doesn’t matter. 

And suddenly, Mikey pauses. He looks down at Pete with those hazel eyes. One has a large speck of dark brown, Pete notices, that swallows a portion of his iris. 

 “I don’t know anything about you. At least, anything more than what everyone else knows.”

“Yeah, most people don’t. Know me, I mean. I’m not the talking about me type.”

“Not even Gabe? Or Joe? Travie?”

Pete shrugs. Shifting in Mikey’s grasp, he runs his fingers along the distinct groove of the boy’s collarbone, travelling down from where it dips in the centre along his sternum. The bone blossoms out beneath his fingers, under a layer of wiry muscle. 

“Not properly, man. They know their friend but they don’t know me.”

“Oh.” Pete leans up and kisses Mikey’s jaw softly.

“I don’t know if I want them to. Honestly. It’s weird.”

“Tell me about you, then.” Mikey insists. The phrase makes Pete pull away from where he peppered light kisses across the skin of his jaw, knit his eyebrows together. 

“What?”

“Anything,” He urges, “Come on. Your favourite colour. Your star sign. Whatever.“

Heart stuttering in his chest, Pete glances back down at his hands where they lay flat against Mikey’s skin. He doesn’t know what to say, really, no one’s ever asked. No one really wanted to know the real him, beneath all of the prestige, and it feels like being ripped in two. 

“Uh-“ He stammers, “I’m a gemini, I think. I like blue. Not like, light blue, but deep dark blue. Like the sea, you know?”

“That’s nice.” Pete nods.

“It is. It reminds me of going to the beach when I was a kid. Me and my brother and sister used to build sandcastles and shit. They were way younger so it was mostly me but I think they just liked being there.” He remembers it fondly. The days at the beach slick with sunscreen and hair soaked in salt water. Sand between his toes and sticky popsicles melted all down his arms - he had always loved it there. Being able to feel so close to himself, in a way, all of his senses alive at once. 

“What else- uh, when I was 11, I broke my nose because I walked head-first into a door. Gabe was on my ass about it for months.”

“I didn’t realise you’ve been friends with him for that long.” Mikey is running his hands through Pete’s hair now, combing it easily and trailing them down every now and then to brush against the nape of his neck. The feather light touches feel like dove kisses, like he’s being blessed with the contact of Mikey’s fingers against him. 

“Mhm. We - Joe too, and Travie - we’ve been close since elementary school. We got into a paint fight and the teacher made us all clean it up together.”

“What else?” This time, it’s Mikey’s turn to dip down and pepper kisses to Pete’s skin. Light and without lust, “Something no one knows about you. Anything.”

“I’m gay. You know that, I mean, but you’re- I haven’t told anyone else. I don’t know if I ever will. My parents would kill me.”

He inhales sharply, deliberating for a long moment. Once he puts it out there - well, there’s no taking it back. But it's Mikey. Fuck, it’s Mikey , and he makes him feel so loved that he figures it’s worth a shot. He begins, mouth dry;

“Um.. I.. I have bipolar disorder. I dunno, I take meds for it now so it’s sort of under control but when I was a kid I was just all over the place.”

His gaze tears away from Mikey entirely, focused on the movement of his hands as they run along his collarbones over and over, up to the curve of Mikey’s neck. It feels like the boy is prying him open by the ribs, seeing him wholly and raw for who he is. He isn’t sure if he likes it, yet, so vulnerable under his gaze. 

“I’d spend days, weeks, in bed with these awful lows and then other times it would be like I was running a mile a minute. And I’d stay up for days on end. Writing, playing music, sneaking out and getting blackout drunk and doing all these reckless things cause I thought I was immune to it all, somehow.”

“I think it is when I went on- I went on a bit of a bender one summer. Took my car and disappeared for a few days and when I got back my parents decided that they’d had enough. Took me a year to get my car back, they still haven’t taken the bars off my windows.”

“And the worst part is - god- they kept on screaming at me asking me where I was, what I was thinking, how could I do that to them and I just. I couldn't answer. I didn’t know.”

Mikey’s silent for a long moment. Then, he leans forward, his hot breath fanning over Pete’s cheek for a moment before he kisses Pete. Fully, properly, swallowing him whole. 

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

When he rocks up to the show venue, the next day, there are a few familiar faces in sight already. They’re all Mikey’s friends, ones he recognises from the day in the food court. Will, Travie’s friend, is there - they don’t know each other well enough for Pete to go up to him, but it’s a nice connection. 

The show is electrifying. The lead singer - Gerard, he remembers, Mikey’s brother - is impassioned and rough and sings like he’s going to die if he doesn’t. Beside him, Frank thrashes and Ray rocks violently to the pulsing music, and it’s all so alive and so raw and Pete’s convinced it’s the best music he’s heard his whole life. It’s moments like this, in the throng of the crowd as it pushes and pulls, where he feels like it’s all worth it. This is living, not just existing, this is what he keeps it all together for. It rumbled around him as a rolling thunder, reaching a crescendo every time Gerard addresses the crowd and they respond in a roar. 

Unapologetically, he stays focused on Mikey for the show’s majority. Watches his nimble fingers slide along the frets, pluck at the strings with ease. Unlike the other, Mikey remains contained within a small space on stage, pacing back and forth as he plays. It’s endearing, even if Pete wants to scream at the top of his lungs that he should put some more stock in himself. That he’s crazy about him. 

His name is on some list, it seems, because security lets him backstage pretty easily once the show is over. The band’s other friends come too, in swarms, and Pete watches as they mingle. Ray swallows some girl up in his arms and twirls her around, and Mikey is circled by an array of familiar faces. He figures he’ll give them a moment, not wanting to interrupt. They had all known Mikey much longer than he had, and deserved to celebrate his successes. 

The first person to come up to Pete is, surprisingly, Frank. Hair freshly bleached at the sides and twisting his lip ring with his tongue as he narrowed his eyes at the boy. 

“Pete Wentz.” He said suspiciously, crossing his arms. Perhaps it could have been intimidating, if they aren’t the same height, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Glancing past the boy, it’s clear Mikey is still preoccupied. He’s in deep conversation with the girl with dark hair and thick, black eyeliner, smiling wildly. Frank looks at him expectantly. 

“Mikey invited me,” Rocking on his heels a little, he feels himself shrink back a little under Frank’s scrutinising gaze. He sticks his hands awkwardly into the pockets of his - Mikey’s - hoodie. 

“Oh,” After a moment of consideration, Frank’s eyes widened a little, “ Oh .”

Finally, finally, Mikey comes up to him. With a toothy grin plastered on his face and his hair a complete mess, but he’s so goddamn happy that Pete can't help but grin too. When he tugs Mikey into a tight hug, he inhales the boy’s musky cologne and wishes he could stay in this moment forever.

“You came,” Mikey breathes, before giving a stuttered laugh, “Did you like it?”

“I loved it. You’re incredible. Fucking incredible, Mikeyway.”

They pull away eventually, and Mikey looks down at him with these eyes. Like he’s the brightest star in the sky.

“Come on. Let me introduce you to everyone.”

It’s now that Pete realises he doesn’t know much about Mikey’s friends. When Mikey puts his hand on the small of his back and introduces him as ‘his friend, Pete’ it sends a jolt through him. There’s a pause, six-odd blank faces blinking at him before launching to shake his hand. He doesn’t recognise anyone here, aside from Frank and Will, and maybe it’s for the better; there’s no missing the way Mikey’s hands ghost along his hip. And how Pete is glancing up at him like some lovesick puppy, and how they lean into each other's bodies in a way only lovers can.

“Oh,” The corner of Gerard's mouth twitches upward when Pete shakes his hand, catching on to the lingering hands shared between the two, “I like him. Keep him.”

“I intend on it,” Mikey says with a grin. 

Everyone parts ways, eventually, until it’s just the two of them. In the shadows, Mikey pressing hasty kisses into Pete’s neck and clinging to him. 

“I was waiting for this all night,” He says beneath his breath, “I wanted you all to myself-“

Pete wastes no time pulling Mikey into the venue bathroom. This is possibly the most disgusting place for all of this, and he realises this fully but decides that he also doesn’t care. Because it’s a Mikey, god, it’s Mikey , and Mikey’s stupid hands and stupid smile and his stupid tight jeans and he needs him. 

Their lips connect in a clash of teeth and bruised lips and desperation, and it’s hungry. Pete feels like he hasn’t eaten for days when he lays eyes on him, can’t help but ache to put his hands on him. It’s a hunger that remains unsatisfied until he has Mikey up against him, has him unravelling beneath him. And- oh. Pete presses closer and the friction of their jeans sends a whimper through the taller man, into Pete’s parted lips, and it’s so slutty and needy that he has to bite back a grin. He loves seeing Mikey like this - in the palm of his hand, all desperate and restless and blushing bright. 

“You’re so fucking-“ Mikey murmurs against Pete’s skin as he tucks his head into the crook of his neck, before his breath catches when Pete ghosts his hand over the tent in his jeans. Whatever it is that he is saying dissolves into a pitchy whine, all but knocking the breath from Pete’s lungs. Mikey hooks his fingers into his belt loops, desperately tugging him closer. They’re pressed together so intensely that they’ve almost become one. Hips flush, bones digging into each other and knees knocking and Pete is melting into him. Like the curve of his body is made to fit his own.

Pete found himself sinking to his knees a little easier than he would like to admit. 

Locking the door behind him, Mikey doesn’t argue, just watches with reddened cheeks and shaking hands. His breath remains hitched in his throat, waiting in anticipation. Pete’s shoes squeak against the tile, and when he glances up at Mikey he had the biggest doe eyes. Hazel, wide and innocent. Calloused fingers work quickly at Mikey’s belt buckle, and then his jean zipper, and soon they’re slack around his knees.

He’s gonna be honest here - Pete loves sucking dick. 

Taking Mikey’s length in his hand, he watches as the boy grips the tiled sink edge with pallid hands. As Pete moves, ghosting along the sensitive, pink skin, his knees tremble a little and he tugs his lip between his teeth to suppress the loud groans that escape nonetheless. Along the skin of Mikey’s thighs, smooth and pale like much of the rest of him, he presses feather kisses. Feeling how he gets worked up beneath him, what makes him tense up with anticipation. 

“God,” Mikey almost whines when his hips buckle up involuntarily, and fuck, Pete thinks, this boy will be the death of him. 

“Pete-“ Mikey whimpers a little when Pete retracts his hand, breathing against the skin of his inner thigh. And he’s looking so repeatedly, hips jerking, that Pete gives in in the end. He works slowly, at first, teasingly. Swirls his tongue around the tip before taking in more of Mikey’s length. Beneath him, Mikey’s crumbling, struggling to stay afloat as his chest rises and falls rapidly. He doesn’t make any motion to contain himself anymore, whimpers and groans echoing around the small bathroom. 

“Look at you- with your mouth around me,” His grip on the tile tightens so much his knuckles have whitened, “So fucking pretty.”

The moan Pete can’t contain pulls a string of filthy words from Mikey, the vibration of Pete’s mouth wrapped around him apparently sending shockwaves through him. When he glances up, momentarily, the pale light of the lamp behind Mikey’s head paints a halo of gold around his head. 

When they’re finished, panting and shiny with sweat - Mikey insists he return the favour, leaving a constellation of love bites across Pete’s chest as he touches him - Pete decides to wait for Mikey outside by his car. They’ll go back to Mikey’s, most likely, curl up in bed again like the night before. 

His hands tremble from the cold of the autumn wind, but that doesn’t stop him from dialling quickly. It’s only two rings before the call is picked up.

“Pete?” Joe asks, voice heavy wand confused, “What’s up?”

“I think I love him,” Pete says, because it’s late and his mind is still fuzzy with euphoria and he’s always been the one to dive in headfirst and start too strong and to fuck things up. Because disaster feels familiar and they both know he’a been homesick for months now.

“Or at least- I could in the future. And I want to quit school and shave my head and run away and not go to college and have a shotgun wedding and just feel something, fuck. Fuck .”

He knows it’s an awful surprise to spring on Joe, and a confession long overdue. But Joe is the closest thing Pete has to a real friend these days, and he needed him to know. Someone in this whole goddamn world who would know him, unapologetically, who would be there for him despite it. 

The call isn’t long, but it’s maybe the most meaningful discussion they’ve had in years. Joe’s voice softened with sympathy and Pete a nervous wreck, they’re a pretty good duo when they let themselves be. 

Maybe things would be okay.

 

𝅓 𝅒 𝅓 ◈ ★ ◈ 𝅓 𝅒 𝅓

 

Morning comes quickly, with the sun on its heels. Light spills through the gaps in Mikey’s blinds and illuminates them both in a warm haze that feels like home in a way he isn’t sure he can vocalise. Being here, wrapped up in the taller boy’s arms, this feels right

Their bare skin sticks together, legs tangled up and a gangly arm wrapped around Pete’s shoulders. Beneath his ear, Mikey’s heart is slow and steady. At peace. 

“Mikey?” Pete asks quietly, feeling the boy murmur against his skin. He’s awake, it seems, if only half. There’s a pause, before Mikey’s eyes are opening slowly. He blinks the sleep away from his eyes. Pete reaches up and brushes the fringe out of Mikey’s eyes a little. The corner of Mikey’s lips twitch, breaking his stoic demeanour. 

“You’re cute, Peterpan.”

“You’re cute too, Mikeyway.”

Mouth opening slightly, it takes a moment before he can fully form the words. They end up coming out more awkward than intended, but that’s been him from the beginning, around Mikey. Flustered.

“I want you.”

“This early?“

“No- fuck- I want you.” The words feel right when he says them. And he knows it will be okay in that moment. I want to be yours .”

Blinking again, Mikey’s eyebrows rise a little. There isn’t much time to consider his expression, though, because suddenly Mikey’s lips are against his once more and this time it’s so much more. Like a thousand unspoken words wrapped into one touch of tender lips. His hands curve around Mikey’s shoulders, one sliding up the nape of his neck to the back of his head to pull him closer. 

He figures that’s a yes.