With thanks to iuliamentis for beta and overwhelming enthusiasm.
Title is from Regina Spektor's "Poor Little Rich Boy," a song I think could have been about someone Pete used to be.
Pete and Patrick (Pete/Ashlee, Patrick/Elisa). PG. 2,018 words.
Argentina, March 2008. It was such a stupid, selfish thing to feel so shitty about.
All the World Is Okay
It wasn't the first time Patrick had hesitated in a hallway outside Pete's hotel room, or the first time he'd felt weird about feeling weird about wanting to talk to Pete. After all this time, Patrick wasn’t sure he and Pete had any firsts left.
It still sucked, though, and Patrick was still hesitating. He shook his head, took a breath, and knocked as he called out, "Pete?"
"Trick?" Pete's voice came back immediately, sounding bewildered.
Patrick winced and took a half step back, but Pete's voice kept coming closer as he said, "Did you lose your keys? I thought that was my job still."
Pete opened the door, and he was just Pete, like always, with a semi-stupid haircut and a fully ridiculous hoodie.
Patrick shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Just got the final report. The flight's grounded. We'll have to head home tomorrow."
"Oh," Pete said. Two days ago, he would have been crushed, or furious, or at least faking his nonchalance, when he heard that this whole Antarctica stunt wasn't going to work out. Now he just said, "Uh, yeah, I figured. I have the radar loop up."
He waved back toward his laptop.
Patrick tried a smile. "You really couldn't give a shit less, could you?"
Pete's grin burst out. "Oh, man, seriously. It's such a good thing, I probably would have blurted it out to MTV if I had to go be excited about a Guinness Record. Or tried to name the baby Guinness."
Patrick wondered whether he should preemptively veto that one--like he had any right, but Pete listened to him sometimes about things he had no reason to--or if Pete would already be over that idea since they weren't going to get a world record the same week he found out about the baby.
"Patrick," Pete said, grabbing him in a sudden fierce hug. "Patrick, I'm having a baby."
Patrick sighed and hugged Pete back. "Actually, I'm pretty sure Ash is having a baby."
"Yeah, yeah," Pete said, letting go of Patrick to gravitate back to his laptop. "But it's my baby! When the baby gets here, I'm going to be the dad! I'll have a baby that's mine!"
Patrick had no idea what to say to that, but, as usual, Pete didn't really need him to say anything; he was perching on the edge of the bed again, turning the laptop so Patrick could see.
"I've been shopping," Pete said. It shouldn't have been surprising, not really, and even if it was surprising there was no way it should feel like a punch in the gut, not after everything else. Patrick had no right, no reason, to feel like that about it. But the page on Pete's screen wasn't full of ridiculous baby clothes or baby toys or baby accessories.
It was full of engagement rings.
"I was thinking of emailing her a picture of the ring, but that would sort of suck if I didn't actually have the ring yet. I mean, what if it's out of stock or something? And anyway that's not how I want to propose, I want to see her face--and this was her thing, the email, I'd just be ripping her off. I think I'm going to ask as soon as I get back, maybe even if I don't have the ring yet--except I don't want it to seem like a shotgun thing, or like quid pro quo or whatever. I mean, it's not--it's because of the baby, but it's not just because of the baby, you know? I mean, she emailed me a picture of her pee-stick, and I just knew I had to marry this girl, right? And we're gonna have a baby, so--it's all because of the baby, but it's not--"
Patrick shut his eyes and then sighed, opened them, and went to sit beside Pete. He was getting pretty good at fishing meaning out of Pete's words, when he needed to. It was even harder than getting them to fit into a decent rhythm, but he'd had practice. "You've realized you want to ask her to marry you now because she's as excited about having a baby with you as you are about having a baby with her. Because that's already a huge commitment and she's good with it."
Pete was nodding frantically, bouncing. "Oh my God, Patrick, when have I even dated anybody who wanted to have a dog with me?"
Technically, Patrick thought Jeanae had been all over the idea of having a dog with Pete because of the leverage it gave her; it was just that holding out had given her even more leverage, for a while. Patrick didn't think this was the moment to bring up the Jeanae nightmare, though, if there ever was such a moment at all.
"Ash actually loves you not in a love-hate way," he agreed instead. "She's gonna say yes. And not just to keep her dad from shooting you on sight."
Pete giggled. "Oh man, her dad. My dad! My mom! My mom is going to cry, Patrick. This is going to be amazing."
Patrick nodded solemnly. "Your parents have been waiting for this day for fourteen years, Pete. You have finally gotten your girlfriend pregnant."
Pete actually looked up at that, and his smile dimmed as he looked at Patrick. Patrick looked away so he wouldn't have to watch it happen.
"Hey," Pete said, and then there was a thump as the laptop got tossed aside, and Pete crawled closer to him, leaning against his side and setting his chin on Patrick's shoulder. "Hey, is this bumming you out? Not getting to go? Or..."
Or. Well, and that was the problem, because even Patrick wasn't sure what the fuck this or was about.
Patrick shrugged a little, not hard enough to dislodge Pete from his shoulder, and stared at the door. "I never knew you wanted kids, I guess."
They barely ever talked about it--though they finally could, the last half-year or so--and Patrick had mostly stopped compiling lists of things he could have done that would have made those wildly experimental weeks end any way but Pete overdosing on Ativan. Still, for the last twenty-four hours he hadn't been able to stop turning over the fact that be a girl and get knocked up should maybe have been on that list, even above be actually gay. And of course both of those had been impossible; the whole thing had always been insane and impossible. Patrick had always known that.
Still. He'd maybe started to think that it hadn't been him--that Pete was just insane and impossible.
"Dude, hey, hey," Pete said, and Patrick didn't have it in him to pull away when Pete's arm went around him. "This isn't--I mean, it's going to change things, but not--obviously I'm going to need some time off, but we all wanted some time off anyway, and we'll work shit out, otherwise. Ash and the baby can come on the road with us sometimes, and when she's touring--we'll deal, Patrick, it's gonna be fine."
"I know," Patrick said, and it was such a stupid, selfish thing to feel so shitty about. He did know. Pete was going to be fine. Because Pete had Ashlee and the baby. "I just--fuck."
He was going to have to actually say it. He did shrug Pete off, then, pushing himself a little further down the bed, and reached up to fiddle with his hat so his face was half-hidden as he spoke.
"I know you're happy, and I know everything's going to be good, and I'm so fucking happy for you, Pete, I could die from it. I'm just sorry I never--you were never--"
Everything he and Pete had ever done or made together, every song, every album, every show--there had been moments when Pete had been this giddily excited, days and even weeks--but when Patrick looked at this as the crescendo to the last several months, when he realized that everything was just going to keep climbing from here instead of culminating in the crash he'd been half-waiting for, like he always did with all of Pete's relationships (even with him, especially with him)...
"I'm sorry I never made you this happy," Patrick said finally, straight out, and then forced himself to look over at Pete so he could see what Pete thought of the world's most presumptuous apology.
Pete was staring at him, open-mouthed. Speechless. Patrick had done that to Pete about a dozen times in his life; half of them had ended in Pete punching him.
"Oh my God," Pete said finally, sounding dazed. "Oh my God, Patrick, you are such an idiot."
Patrick nodded and looked down, picking at the cuffs of his hoodie.
"Seriously, fuck, I was worried about Hem being jealous, you are such a nutjob."
Patrick looked up at that--he wasn't jealous, he honestly fucking wasn't, he had Elisa and they were good, and he was glad Pete had Ashlee, Ashlee and a baby even, he just...
Pete tackled him. Patrick flailed a little, too startled to fight him off, but Pete just got Patrick more or less flat and then sat on him.
"Dude, seriously. Do you think I could possibly be this happy if I had Ash and a baby but not you?"
Patrick shook his head--Pete had a point, maybe, but it wasn't Patrick's point. Patrick had never been enough, and he hadn't even known it until now.
"Patrick. I can't--blaming you for not making me happy is like blaming my left arm. It's like blaming my left lung and my left kidney and half the chambers of my heart."
Patrick squirmed a little, trying to breathe, but Pete seemed to take it as an attempt to escape and leaned closer, jabbing a finger into Patrick's ribs. "Dude, it's like blaming my left eye and left ear and the right half of my brain--" typical anatomical correctness from Pete, Patrick thought, starting to feel a little dazed, "--for never seeing enough happy shit to make up for the sad, or never being sane enough to make up for the crazy. It's like blaming my left nut for only being into girls who treat me bad."
Patrick blinked. "I'm your left nut, now?"
"Shut the fuck up, I'm on a roll." Pete was smiling, and despite himself Patrick was starting to smile back--because he knew what Pete meant, sort of. As much as anybody ever knew.
"If somebody took you away, if I didn't have you to begin with--I'd be fucking hideous and broken. I'd have bled to death. If I didn't have you I'd never have made it to Ash, not alive, not sane enough to work."
"Oh," Patrick said, because. Oh.
"You were with me," Pete said, sitting back a little and waving his hands wildly. "You were with me for everything, all the fights and all the crazy shit, you were in it with me. Ash was someplace I got to. You're with me on the road. Without you, man, I'd just be doing donuts in a parking lot."
"Please," Patrick muttered, "no more parking lots."
Pete blinked--like his brain was just catching up to what he'd said--and then he nodded seriously and laid himself down half on top of Patrick, snuggling in the most immobilizing possible way. "Yeah, no. No more parking lots."
"And," Patrick added, sensing an opening. "No more golf carts down stairs."
"Hey," Pete said, "Hey, hang on, now--"
Patrick shook his head and curled his arms around his best friend. "Pete, you're going to be a dad."
Pete started laughing a little hysterically and clung tighter. "Holy shit, Patrick, I'm going to be a dad."
At the bottom of the world, fogged in at the end of an upside-down summer, one TV broadcast away from becoming this week's music news punchline, Patrick smiled. "You're going to be fine."