Pairing: Mikey/Pete, Mikey/OMC, Pete/OMC, background Brian/Gerard
Word Count: 20k
Summary: Based on the movie Serendipity. An AU about summer, friendship and fate.
Notes:Written for dancinbutterfly for help_haiti
Thanks go to themoononastick, clumsygyrl, chalcopyrite and undeny for looking this over. Any remaining mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Mikey’s standing in the dark between the bunks, using his thumbnail to scrape off some crusted something from his jeans when Gerard jerks back the curtain of his bunk, his mouth curved into an unhappy line as he says, "The fuck? It's the middle of the night."
Standing up straight, Mikey shrugs one shoulder as he tugs at the edge of his hat, ensuring that it's sitting perfectly.
"Mikey," Gerard says again, frowning under the tangled mess of his hair. "You're never up this early."
Mikey looks at the clothes that he's thrown to the bottom of his mattress, bottom lip caught between his teeth as he wonders about changing back into his Smiths t-shirt, even if it does have ketchup spilled down the front. Undecided, he's got one hand on the pile when Gerard suddenly pokes him in the side -- hard.
"You're waking everyone up," Gerard says and Mikey's t-shirt is pulled tight across his belly as he's suddenly tugged back. Caught off guard, Mikey falls ass-first into Gerard's bunk, the curtain getting trapped under his body and ripping from two rings.
Hunched over, his thighs digging against the edge of the bunk, Mikey pulls up his legs and rolls onto his side so he's facing Gerard. "The fuck?"
"You were clattering around. Before midday." Gerard's eyes are still half-closed and flakes of liner are scattered on his cheeks. He yawns, making no attempt to cover his mouth. "It's not natural."
Mikey rests his head on Gerard's pillow; it's still warm, and slightly greasy against Mikey's cheek. It's comforting, familiar. "Pete sent me a text."
Gerard blinks hard as if fighting off sleep. "Pete's texted you every day this tour."
"It's his last day," Mikey says. "Last days are special. Like the last day of school where you get to goof off."
"So you're going to spend the day goofing off with Pete?"
"Something like that." Mikey jabs at Gerard’s arm in a delayed retaliation and then slides out of the bunk. He adjusts his hat, tucking some hair under the brim. "I'll be back for the show."
"'Kay," Gerard says, his eyes sliding closed as he wiggles his fingers at Mikey.
Mikey makes his way toward the front of the bus. All the windows are covered and the lounge is dim apart from a beam of light that shines from under a curtain pushed up by someone's hoodie. Mikey steps over the beam and opens the door.
"Mikey Way." It's no surprise that Pete's waiting. He's sitting on the grass, legs crossed and holding a Popsicle that's melting over his hand. There's a cup of coffee at his side -- coffee in a real mug, one with flowers around the rim. Pete grins and holds the Popsicle toward Mikey. "I brought you breakfast."
Mikey jumps down the last step, squinting a little in spite of his over-sized sunglasses. Even though it's so early it's already hot and the grass is brittle under Mikey's feet as he makes his way to Pete. Lowering himself down Mikey mimics Pete's pose, their knees touching as he takes the Popsicle, sucking off the drips before biting off the end and giving it back to Pete. "Thank you."
Pete grins, says, "Cheater. You're not supposed to bite."
Mikey crunches ice between his teeth as he picks up the flower print mug and takes a long drink. The coffee is hot and he enjoys the warmth that flows over his frozen mouth. "You get more if you bite."
"So I've heard," Pete says, his eyes gleaming as he sucks at the Popsicle, his cheeks hollowing as he reaches back and grabs a crumpled brown bag. “I bought something.”
Mikey's mouth tastes like strawberry and coffee and he can feel sweat beginning to bead at his neck. Taking the half-eaten Popsicle from Pete he says, “As long as it doesn’t include public nudity I’m in.”
“Public nudity is a liberating thing.” Pete’s got his head tilted forward as he looks in the bag but Mikey can see the edge of his smile and the way Pete’s cheeks are rounded. It makes Mikey want to reach out and touch, press his fingers in the dip at the corner of Pete’s mouth. Pete looks up, his smile widening as he looks directly at Mikey. “You should try it one day.”
“How about I don’t,” Mikey says and bites off the rest of the Popsicle. Dropping the stick inside the empty coffee mug he watches as Pete reveals a plastic bag full of firecrackers, each one shaped like a mini-bomb.
Pete tugs at the plastic with his teeth and takes out a firecracker, holding it by the fuse. “I’ve been saving them for a special occasion.”
“Ending your tour with a bang,” Mikey says softly, taking the firecracker from Pete. It feels solid in his hand, the outside covered in black paper that crinkles under Mikey’s fingers. He looks at the buses that surround them, each one silent and full of sleeping people, knowing Pete's plans before he even says the words. “Hide or run?”
“Hide,” Pete says immediately, clutching the rest of the firecrackers. “It’s not as much fun if you don’t see the reaction.”
Mikey nods and eyes his own bus. If he was smart they’d start elsewhere, away from Bob who fiercely guards his sleep and Ray who was up until the early hours chasing an elusive melody. This time Mikey doesn’t want to be smart. It’s hot and still and Pete is just there, his zest for life contagious. Right now Mikey wants to shatter the silence, laugh with Pete, the two of them against the world on this last day together. He reaches out and brushes his hand against Pete’s. “The window to our bathroom is open.”
“Risky,” Pete says, and gets to his feet in one easy movement. “I like it.”
Mikey stands too, side by side with Pete as they look at the bus. The easy thing to do would be to open the door and throw in the firecracker, but today isn’t meant for easy. Today is meant for laughter and adventure. Mikey points at the open window that leads to the bathroom. “In there.”
The window is high up the side of the bus, well out of reaching range. Pete tilts his head to the side, then nods, says, “You can stand on my back.”
Mikey considers, imagining Pete on hands and knees, but even with that extra boost he knows he won’t be able to reach. “It won’t be enough; you should get on my shoulders.”
Pete grins, says, “Works for me.”
If he’d been asked Mikey would have said giving a shoulder carry was easy. He’s got vague memories of being carried that way by Gerard when they were kids, how Gerard always felt solid and safe as he staggered around the room pretending to be a raging dragon. In reality giving a shoulder carry is hard. Crouched over, Mikey tries to stay still as Pete wraps his legs around Mikey’s head and clutches onto his neck. It’s not the most comfortable position ever, already Mikey’s back is twinging and Pete’s sneakers are digging in, his jeans rubbing against Mikey’s jaw, but despite all that Mikey can’t help laughing as he tries to straighten.
“Up, Mikey Way, up!” Pete says, urging Mikey on. “You can do it!”
Mikey isn’t so sure, Pete’s not heavy but he is awkward, unable to stay still until finally Mikey's standing upright. He crosses his arms over Pete’s legs and takes a step forward. “Ready to engage in battle?”
“Weapons locked and loaded,” Pete says, and swings one of the firecrackers in front of Mikey’s face. “Target in sight, approach at will.”
Staggering a little, Mikey creeps forward until they’re close to the bus. Standing sideways, he looks up, watching the flare of flame as Pete lights the fuse of the firecracker and says quietly, “Firing in three, two, one, go,” and then drops it through the window. At first nothing happens, anticipation making Mikey's skin prickle as he waits. Then there’s an explosive bang and a puff of smoke curls from the window. Pete laughs with delight as he wiggles to the ground, grabbing for Mikey’s hand. “Retreat. Retreat. Go!”
They go, running full speed to the next bus, and as one, roll underneath and hide behind the tire. Panting slightly, Mikey watches white smoke billow against the bright blue sky and can’t help his laughter when he hears Bob shout and sees Frank jerk back one of the lounge curtains, his hair standing up on one side and frowning as he looks around.
“That was sweet.” Pete rolls even closer, so much so that Mikey can feel his body move with silent laughter. “Did you hear Bob? He sounded mad.”
“He is mad,” Mikey says when Bob explodes out of the bus in a back-to-front t-shirt, cargo shorts and bare feet. “I think we should….” Mikey stops talking when Bob suddenly looks their way before sprinting forward. “Go go go!”
Scrambling back, they roll from under the bus and get to their feet, beginning to run then speeding up at Bob’s yells. They dodge trash cans and the few people who are up this early and Mikey's still laughing when they finally skid to a stop, hidden behind the flimsy tarpaulin of a merch tent.
Pete’s bent forward, his hands on his knees as he grins up at Mikey. “I think we’ve lost him.”
“He’ll remember though,” Mikey says, but even the thought of Bob’s inevitable revenge isn’t enough to stop his smile. He feels happy, alive in a way that feels new. It’s why Mikey reaches into Pete’s pocket and tugs out another firecracker. “Want to do it again?”
“You know it,” Pete says, his grin getting even wider.
Five firecrackers later and Pete's legs ache, his knees bruised from throwing himself to the concrete after firecracker number three. They’re sitting behind the main stage, side by side and resting against a wall that’s vibrating with echoing bass, hidden from the crowds of wandering fans. Pete can feel the vibrations sink through his skin, travel down his spine and flow to his fingers and toes. His eyes are closed and his mouth is curled into a slight smile as he taps his fingers against Mikey's arm.
"You missed a beat," Mikey says when Pete's rhythm stutters, falling behind the sound from the stage.
"Never said I was the best at keeping a tune." Pete leans in, his head against Mikey's shoulder and stops tapping all together, wrapping his fingers around Mikey's arm. "It's your fault, anyway. You're too distracting."
Mikey's hand is warm and he smells of sweat and gunpowder as he relaxes so he's leaning heavily against Pete. "I'm not distracting. You're the one everyone looks at."
"Fishing for compliments." Amused, Pete clicks his tongue against his teeth and then, in a sudden movement, rolls onto his side and straddles Mikey's knees. "But I'll play your game."
Mikey rests his hands on Pete's legs, thumbs against his inner thigh. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." Pete says, staring intently at Mikey. "You're distracting because your eyes draw me in, your mouth seduces me, your angles slice my skin and capture my heart."
Mikey's mouth curls at the corner and Pete feels lighter than he has for years, the weight he carries on his shoulders pushed aside for midnight conversations and days spent running and sheltering from the sun. Mikey kneads Pete's thighs with his thumbs, says, "Flatterer."
"Just telling the truth," Pete says in reply, "And it got me you."
Mikey shakes his head. "Not with those lines. You tried to take my soda and then asked if I wanted to throw water bombs from the bus roof."
Pete sits back, Mikey's knees under his ass. "The soda was still in the cooler, technically it wasn't yours."
"Touchers keepers, you snooze you loose," Mikey says instantly, apparently parroting a saying from years before. "I had hold of it first."
"By all of a second." Pete rests his hand on top of one of Mikey's, curling his fingers so his fingertips press against Mikey's palm. "You still gave it to me."
"I was raised right," Mikey says levelly, and Pete rubs at the back of his neck as he remembers that first meeting -- heat and noise and in the middle of it all, Mikey. Cool and collected as Pete laughed the loudest and longest, his attention scattered as he reached out for that last ice-cold soda. "And you pulled it out of my hand."
"Lies." Pete grins, delighted with Mikey's story. "All lies, you gave me that soda because you recognized the inevitable nature of our love."
Mikey bends his knees, making Pete list to the side. "How could I forget? I saw you and suddenly the signs made sense. The stars that spelled your name, how I saw your face in my cereal, the way white noise always said Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet."
With each example Pete feels his grin widen until he propels himself forward, wrapping his arms around Mikey's neck and tugging him sideways so they both fall to the ground. It's not comfortable in the slightest: Pete's elbow jabs against Mikey's back and the grass is dried out and scratchy, more brown than green; Mikey doesn't move at all. He lies still, staring up at the cloudless blue sky as Pete props himself up on one elbow, serious as he looks down at Mikey and says, "You delight me, Mikey Way. I knew we were destined to be."
Mikey stares up at Pete, his expression flickering, closing off and then changing to something like seems like hope. "You think we're destined to be together?"
Pete thinks of lengthy nightly conversations conducted by words and screen, the wonder and fear he felt when he realized their relationship could become something more than a fling. "I think right at this moment I love you."
Mikey doesn't reply at first, then he reaches up, his hand behind Pete's head, pulling him down for a kiss. It's not a showy kiss, despite being hidden from view there are still people walking nearby, but Pete hears the unspoken words when their mouths touch, Mikey's hand against Pete's neck, snatching this moment in the sun.
"We need to do something," Pete says. "Something big."
They're sitting at one of the rickety picnic benches, a plate of fries between them. Mikey takes a drink of his water then presses the bottle against his cheek. He feels overheated, his t-shirt wet under his arms and back and knows if he pulls off his hat his hair will be soaked. The sensible thing would be to go inside, back to one of the air conditioned buses. Instead he keeps his foot hooked around Pete's and runs a fry through the ketchup blobbed on the side of the plate. "I was online earlier..."
"Yeah?" Pete interrupts, talking as he eats. "Did you check out that sweet link I sent?"
Mikey swallows and licks ketchup from the corner of his mouth. "Yeah. It was fucking gross."
"I know, right?" Pete grins, gesturing with his hands as he says. "You'd think it wasn't physically possible. I had to send it."
Mikey understands, he'd sent it to most of his contacts, too. "They had to have been using a box, but that wasn't what I was talking about. I was reading how to make a smoke bomb."
Pete leans across the tablet. "Tell me you bookmarked the instructions."
Mikey rolls his eyes. "Of course I did," and he's already starting to stand when Pete jumps to his feet and steps over the bench of the table.
It's too hot to run. Instead they plunge from shadow to shadow, making a game of hiding from the fans who have collected near the fences, cameras ready and hands pressed against the mesh. Pete stands on tiptoes, his mouth next to Mikey's ear. "If we had super speed we could run right past."
Mikey shakes his head. "Invisibility. Always." It's nothing Mikey even has to think about. Invisibility is always the best option. It's just how it is.
"We need a distraction," Pete says, dropping back down. "We should have kept some of the firecrackers."
"Or we could walk the long way back." It's something that's fine by Mikey. It's that or separate, either Pete or himself going by first before the other follows minutes later, because as much as Mikey respects their fans, this thing with Pete is private, a part of his life that he doesn't want shared.
A last look at the crowd and Pete turns, says, "The long way around it is."
They take a circuitous route back to the bus and when they approach Mikey slows, looking at the windows that seem dark and empty. He can't see anyone inside but he hasn't seen any of his band elsewhere either.
"I won't let them kill you." Pete wraps his hand around Mikey's wrist, holding on as they reach the door.
"They won't kill me," Mikey says, and then adds thoughtfully. "Well, Gee won't, not unless he wants to be in deep shit with mom. He could kill you, though."
"I could take him." Pete's dancing in place, one hand fisted in what Mikey assumes is supposed to be a boxing pose. "I'm tough."
"Gerard's tougher," Mikey says simply as the door opens with a hiss. "Come on, if we're lucky they've gone out."
Mikey's inside for all of seconds when he's suddenly grabbed and hefted into the air. Caught by surprise he gasps and presses his hand against his sunglasses, keeping them on his face when he finds himself upside down and looking at Bob's ass.
"You threw a firecracker," Bob says, his voice threateningly calm. "I thought the bus was on fire."
Mikey braces his hand against Bob's leg and lifts his head until he can see Gerard and Brian lounging on the sofa, an open laptop on Brian's knee.
"I was asleep." Frank this time, but despite his frown Mikey can tell Frank's more amused than annoyed. "The bus was full of fucking smoke."
"My hair reeks of it," Ray says and crosses his arms across his chest as he stares between Mikey and Pete. "I had to wash it in a bucket. Do you know how hard it is to wash my hair in a bucket?"
"Joe washed his hair in a bucket once." Pete takes a few steps into the lounge, inching toward Gerard and Brian. "He said it was refreshing."
"Refreshing?!" Ray's voice climbs in pitch as he stares at Pete. "He said it was refreshing?"
Pete shoves the ends of his fingers into his jeans pockets and scruffs his shoe against the sticky carpet. "Technically he said it was fucking cold enough to freeze the balls from a brass monkey but in essence it's the same thing."
Brian stops typing and looks at Pete. "The fuck?"
Pete shrugs. "He'd been hanging with a British tech."
"Do brass monkeys even have balls?" Gerard taps his fingers against his knee, his face screwed up in thought. "And was he talking about a statue or an actual brass monkey? Because that would be fucking awesome."
Momentarily, Pete seems thrown, then he grins wide as he announces, "I'm going to have the best weird brother-in-law ever."
For a long moment there's silence, then Gerard forces a small smile. ""You got engaged? That's... Congratulations, I just, uh, thought you'd tell me."
Dangling upside down from Bob's shoulder isn't a good place to deal with Gerard's confusion but Mikey knows he isn't going anywhere, not when Bob's holding so tight. Craning his neck he opens his mouth to explain when Brian shuts his laptop, his fingertips white where they're pressed against the case. He looks from Mikey to Pete.
"I don't care what you do. I don't fucking care, okay? But if I go online and find a blog announcing your engagement I'll kill you. Both of you."
"There's not," Pete says, looking earnest as he adds. "I wouldn't do that."
There's a mass noise of disbelief and Mikey understands, because the fact is, that's exactly what Pete would do.
"Okay, fine." Pete holds out his hands. "I've shared some stuff in the past, but getting engaged is different."
"Especially as it hasn't happened," Mikey puts in when Pete seems set on leaving out that important fact. "There's no engagement, no blog. Nothing."
"There was a firecracker and a lot of fucking smoke," Bob says, and circles in a fast spin until Mikey's head is swimming. Taking a few steps back, Bob lets Mikey drop to the couch where he lands in an ungainly heap against Gerard. "Do that shit again and I'll shove a firecracker up your ass. Both of you."
Mikey struggles upright, jabbing his elbows into Gerard's side in the process. "No more firecrackers."
"Promise," Pete adds, attempting to look innocent as he sidles toward Mikey. "You were going to show me something in your bunk."
"Show him something in your bunk." Frank shakes his head sadly. "That's the lamest euphemism for sex I've ever heard."
"No," Ray says, looking stern. "No it's not because Mikey knows there's no sex on the bus. It's number two on the rules."
Brian looks up from his re-opened laptop, his hands held over the keys. "I thought number two was no shitting in the toilet?"
"That's number three," Bob says and plucks a sheet of paper off the wall. "Number two, no sex on the bus."
"Especially when I'm here," Ray says. "And Gerard. It's not right."
Gerard looks up from where he's curled up, his head on Brian's shoulder. "I don't mind. It's nothing I haven't heard before."
Ray sighs. "Addendum, it's not right for anyone that's not a freaky Way."
Seeing his chance, Mikey indicates that Pete should follow him while the others are distracted. Making their escape, Pete follows Mikey into his bunk. As always the space is tight, barely room for Mikey himself never mind Pete, but they do fit, Pete lying plastered against Mikey's side as Mikey powers up his laptop. Waiting for it to load Mikey turns his head, says, "Brother in law, really?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." Pete turns his head too, so close that Mikey can feel his every exhale. With a beep the laptop finishes loading, but Mikey doesn't look away, not at first. Not until Pete smiles, small and barely there before brushing a kiss against Mikey's mouth and pulling away. "Smoke bomb, we haven't got long."
The spell broken, Mikey brings up the right page, reading what they need out loud. "Sugar, got it. Baking soda, can get it. Potassium nitrate and organic dye, that'll be harder."
Pete flops onto his back, hips pushed up as he pulls out his phone. "Not if you know the right people."
Prising his own phone from his pocket, Mikey scans through his contacts, sharing a grin with Pete before they both start to dial.
Mikey feels wrung out, exhausted but also exhilarated, his fingers still aching from playing. Carefully, he wraps duct tape around the hastily constructed smoke bomb, ensuring each overlapping circle is level. The table in front of him is littered with supplies, the tubes from inside toilet paper rolls -- the paper itself is heaped inside Joe's bunk -- scraps of tape and spare fuses. Pete's standing at the small sink, trying to scrub the pan they used to mix the chemicals and dye. Mikey suspects he'll give up soon, the pan's just too coated and blackened on the bottom; he's just glad they poured out the contents before breaking off for a kiss.
"I give." Pete drops the pan in the soapy water and takes a step back. "It'll never come clean."
"Our first casualty," Mikey says, wrapping a final circle of duct tape before snapping it with his teeth.
Pete nods sadly. "It went to a noble cause." Picking up the pan, he flings it through the nearest open window.
Mikey hears it land outside with a clatter and bows his head. "The sacrifice is noted."
Grinning, Pete thumps down next to Mikey, leaning against him as he looks at the smoke bomb. It doesn't look particularly impressive. A tape-wrapped cardboard tube with a short fuse sticking out one end, but if they've done it right it should produce a billowing cloud of smoke. Mikey's itching to try it out.
Pete picks up the smoke bomb and slips it into the pocket of his hoodie. "Ready to cause some chaos?"
Mikey feels twitchy, lingering adrenaline from the performance flowing through his body; chaos is exactly what he needs. He nods, says, "Always."
A quick look in the mirror and they're hurrying from the bus, almost tumbling down the stairs. Stumbling, Mikey steadies himself, one hand against Pete's back as Pete makes sure the door is locked. Satisfied he turns to Mikey, says, "Let's go."
It doesn't take long to get to one of the nightly parties, this one celebrating Fall Out Boy ending their leg of the tour. Already some of the buses have left, leaving blank spaces surrounded by trash and flattened grass. Walking along one of those distinct lines, Mikey listens to the sound of music and people talking, laughter and the occasional shriek. They're sounds he used to crave, bodies packed into too small of spaces, thumping music and always, people there to distract him from his own thoughts. Now those cravings have been eased a little, the empty spaces inside of him filled with a summer of sunshine and Pete.
"We need to get up high." Pete's looking around, planning out loud as they get closer to the main action. "If we get on a bus we'll see everything."
"Probably fall off and die too," Mikey remarks, but he follows Pete's lead and looks up high as they try to remain hidden, away from the main throng of people.
"That one." Pete points up at a bus. It's not one of the big buses but it is close to the open space where people have congregated. There's also a garbage can close by. Mikey looks from that to the bus.
"You want me to climb up on that?"
"You're tall, you'll make it," Pete says, seemingly unconcerned that mostly all Mikey does is climb stairs. "I'll help you up."
Mikey heads for the back of the bus. "If I die I'm coming back to haunt your ass."
"You wouldn't get the chance, your band would kill me." Pete starts to haul the can close to the bus. "We'd haunt together then. Together for eternity. Dibs being the one to pop up in Bob's bed."
"You've got it," Mikey says, dubious as he eyes how far they'll have to climb, even using the trash can. "You do know I don't climb?"
Pete runs forward and takes a running leap, and in a mad scramble pulls himself onto the roof of the bus. Lying on his stomach he peers down at Mikey. "I know you can do anything you put your mind to."
"Easy for you to say," Mikey mutters, swearing under his breath as he climbs. Balancing on the lid of the trash can he looks up, gauging how far he'll have to jump. "We could have found a ladder."
"It's more fun this way." Pete's hanging over the edge and he reaches for Mikey's hand. "I'll pull you up."
"Of course you will," Mikey says, already reaching. Taking hold he counts, one, two, three, then jumps, feet thumping against the side of the bus as Pete tugs, pulling Mikey up until he flops onto the roof, hip bones impacting painfully against the metal.
"Told you it'd be easy." Pete's lying on his back, grinning up at the dark sky before he rolls over and wiggles to the side that overlooks the party. Mikey does the same, crawling on hands and knees until he can lie next to Pete.
They've got a perfect view. Close by a bonfire crackles, sparks shooting white hot against the dark sky. Further around there's a table of food, hot dogs and burgers ready to be grilled and a heaped pile of open bags of chips. Then there are the people, the men and women who've shaped Mikey's summer. He can see merch kids and techs, members of various bands, the followers that somehow become part of the tour despite having no official role. Within seconds Mikey finds Gerard; he's sitting in a lawn chair chatting to a small group of people who're hanging onto his every word. A little longer and he finds Bob sharing a beer with the techs, Frank with Butcher and James.
"Patrick's over there." Pete nudges Mikey with his elbow, smiling fondly at Patrick who's crouched next to the battered CD player, examining the stack of CDs. Still looking at Patrick, Pete says, "More surveillance or should we engage?"
Mikey considers. He won't see some of these people again after tonight, but he's already said his goodbyes. This time belongs to Pete. He pushes himself onto his side and pulls a lighter out of his pocket. "It's time to cause chaos."
Pete's eyes shine bright as he takes out the smoke bomb, holding it steady. Mikey flicks the lighter, once, twice, three times before he gets a flame. He brings it to the fuse.
"Target sighted." Pete brings back his arm, the fuse glowing red at the end. He waits and Mikey can hardly breathe, excitement surging as Pete says, "Three, two, one, fire!"
Pete throws the smoke bomb to the side of the crowd. It lands on the grass, a small dark shape that does nothing at all at first and all Mikey can think is they've failed. Then the first smoke appears. A tiny trail of pink that keeps swelling, until suddenly it's a huge billowing cloud that rolls relentlessly forward, swallowing people and things alike. People are yelling, looking for the cause and Mikey stays low, chin against chilled metal, Pete lying close at his side.
"We've caused chaos, Mikeyway, the Sweet Little Dudes are going out with a bang."
"We did," Mikey says softly, and he doesn't want this time to end. He wants it to stretch on, defying the switch to a new day. Gathering courage, Mikey turns to Pete. "There's a hotel close by, we could grab a cab."
There's no reply and Mikey thinks he's finally pushed beyond Pete's ever fluid line, the one that stretched from kissing to hand jobs to Mikey down on his knees, Pete's hands clenched and his pants around his ankles. Then, finally, Pete takes in a long breath, says, "We should go now before we're spotted."
The room at the hotel is nothing special. Generic pictures of flowers on the wall, a beige carpet with a dark stain close to the door.
As soon as they're inside Pete looks into the free-standing closet, opens the drawers of the desk and finally, checks out the small bathroom. The fan whirs on when he opens the door and he takes a few steps forward, his sneakers padding against the lino. Mouth dry, Pete reaches for an upturned glass and winces when he fumbles his grip, the glass hitting the sink with a clatter.
"You okay?" Mikey calls.
"Fine," Pete replies and picks up the glass. Filling it with water he takes a long drink, always watching himself in the mirror - seeing his hair that's lost any sense of a style, his t-shirt that's stained with dirt and sweat. Pete wonders if he should make some attempt to clean up, shower or have a quick wash down at least. Except Pete doesn't want that delay. Not now, when Mikey's waiting in the next room.
Mikey sounds impatient and Pete indulges himself with fantasies of finding Mikey reclining on the bed, already naked and waiting. Which is what happens; sort of.
Mikey is on the bed but he's still fully dressed apart from his hat. That's been thrown to one side and Mikey's hair is soaked through and flat against his head and when he takes off his glasses to rub at his eyes his eyeliner is smeared and clumped. He looks filthy, his clothes torn and rumpled. To Pete he's the most beautiful man alive.
"You're staring," Mikey says and replaces his glasses.
"I am," Pete agrees and takes a sudden running jump onto the bed. Landing on his back he flings out his arms and announces. "Have your wicked way with me, Mikey Way."
Mikey turns and reaches out, his hand on Pete's stomach. "We've got all night, we don't have to rush."
Pete's used to snatching kisses and keeping quiet, biting down on his own hand in his bunk or a bathroom or half hidden behind some stage. He's not used to time and space, where all he can do is lie still as Mikey worms his fingers under Pete's t-shirt, his touch gentle as he follows the lines of Pete's ribs. It's close to overwhelming, the quiet apart from their breathing, the feel of Mikey's hand and the way he's looking down at Pete like he's something precious.
"Shush," Mikey says and leans in for a kiss. The barest brush of his lips before he pulls back. "You don't have to talk."
Pete nods and allows himself to feel. Mikey's hand, the bedspread under his bare arms, the clinging late night heat that rolls over his body. Always Pete has words that flow through his head, a constant stream that clamours for freedom. Right now they're dulled, made sluggish as Mikey folds himself down, lying along the length of Pete's body.
"Let me take care of you tonight," Mikey says.
Pete gropes for the words to reply, but they slip from his grasp, taken away by a gasp as Mikey's hand slips lower, past the waistband of Pete's pants.
Finally he manages, gasps a drawn out, "Please."
Mikey smiles in reply.
It's still dark when they leave the hotel. Sitting slumped in the back of a cab Mikey watches the sun rise over the horizon, an all too visible reminder of the new day.
Pete's sitting in the middle of the back seat. He's pulled in on himself, his hands clasped together and eyes half-closed, the energy of before wiped away. Mikey wants to reach out and touch but he resists the urge, not here in this cab with its too hot heating, soft rock playing on the radio and a palm tree air freshener swaying from the mirror.
"I've got this," Pete says when they finally pull to a stop. Leaving Pete to pay Mikey steps outside, pushing his hands into his hoodie's pocket, the one he's stolen from Pete. Already there's the sound of activity, clangs of metal and muted voices, but those are in the distance; right here, standing at the gates of the grounds, he's alone, isolated in the pools of light that radiate from the cab. Then it pulls away and there's only Mikey and Pete.
Pete steps close and wraps his arm around Mikey, rests his head against Mikey's shoulder. "Thank you."
Mikey looks down. In this light Pete looks grey, his eyes bruised dark. "For what?"
"For everything," Pete says, his fingers digging into Mikey's side. "For this summer, for being you."
It's a goodbye, unexpected and painful. Mikey twists in Pete's grip, needing to see him face to face. "It's not over. We can keep seeing each other."
"I'm leaving the tour, the summer is over," Pete says, gentle, like he's explaining something that Mikey should understand. "Things can't be the same, life doesn't work like that."
"Says who?" Mikey demands, because he knows about life, how it can twist and turn beneath you, bringing you to your knees, but that doesn't mean you give up all control. "So it's not summer, so fucking what? It's always summer somewhere."
"Not for us." Pete smiles, small and barely there. "It's easier this way."
"It's easier to walk away? Not even try." Mikey can't believe that, no matter how sure Pete seems. "What we have is good. You said we were destined to be."
Pete steps close, his hands on Mikey's hips. "We were, and if we're destined to be together we'll meet again."
"Fuck destiny," Mikey says, but there's no heat behind it, because he knows Pete. The way that he stands, the slope of his shoulders, the emotions he keeps hidden behind that beaming smile. Mikey knows it all and right now he knows Pete is trying to pull away, but that doesn't mean Mikey's given up. "I'd travel to you."
"And I'd put out the welcome mat." Pete slides his fingers under the waistband of Mikey's pants and pulls him forward. "And then you'd leave and my heart would break over again. I can't do that, Mikey. I couldn't take it."
"Even if fate meant us to be together?" Mikey asks, knowing he's grasping at straws. "You're throwing up blocks before the big boss, I can't win if I can't fight."
"Then I'll take down a block," Pete says suddenly. He pulls away from Mikey and takes out his wallet. Opening it Pete pulls out a five dollar bill and takes a sharpie from his pocket.
Confused, Mikey watches as Pete crouches and scrawls Mikey's name on the bill. "That's taking down a block?"
"This is me giving fate a chance." Pete stands and holds the bill in the air before letting it be taken by the wind. "If this gets back to me I know fate's sending a message."
Which makes Pete-sense, but it's still a minute chance. Mikey needs to strengthen the odds. "What about me? This is a one player game right now."
Pete thinks for a moment and then grabs hold of the hem of his Clandestine t-shirt. Pulling it up he points at the tag. "When I get home I'll sign this and give it away. If you find it, it's a sign."
Unable to resist, Mikey rests his hand against Pete's stomach, feeling him breathe. "I'll keep looking."
"Good," Pete says and presses a kiss against Mikey's mouth, lingering for a long moment, his forehead against Mikey's. He pulls back a little and says, "Best friends, Mikey Way."
Mikey swallows and knows that it's time. Forcing himself to let go he turns away and with a last look at Pete, says goodbye to the summer.
Five years later
Bob's face is red, his hair falling in front of his eyes as he carries the box up the steps. Stopping at the top he rests the box against the railing of the porch, propping it in place with his hip. "What the fuck's in here? Rocks?"
Mikey looks up from where he's sitting on the ground, Bunny cradled in his arms. Her pink leash -- a perfect match to her fur-lined hoodie -- is wrapped three times around Mikey's wrist. "Comic books, I think. They need to go upstairs."
"Of course they fucking do," Bob mutters, picking up the box and bumping open the front door with his ass.
"Piglet likes the garden." Frank appears at the side of the porch, his feet crunching in the gravel that surrounds the flowerbeds. Reaching the walkway he hesitates, waiting for Piglet to catch up. When she does Frank hefts her in his arms and walks up the steps before folding to the ground next to Mikey. "She found a dead bird."
"Did she eat it?" Mikey asks, ruffling his fingers through Bunny's fur. It won't be the first time if she had, sometimes he thinks Piggie's chops suck up anything in her proximity like a vacuum cleaner.
Frank screws up his face, seemingly caught between distaste and admiration. "She tried to chew at a wing, I had to pull a feather from her flub."
Mikey curls himself around Bunny and stares Piglet in the eyes. "You're not allowed bones. You know better."
Piglet flops to her side in response. Hand on her head, Frank says, "I can't believe you've bought a house. With a stove and everything."
Mikey fixes Frank with a look. "I eat, and you've got a house. This isn't something earth-shattering."
"I've got a house with Jamia, and jelly worms don't count." Frank rubs behind Piglet's ears, then adds, "My house isn't in oldsville, either."
"You know Jason needed a place near his work," Mikey says, defending his new home, even if it's not somewhere he'd choose himself. He pulls up his knees, boots planted firmly against the worn boards and watches as Gerard attempts to fit an armchair through the narrow gate. It's a losing battle and Gerard ends up with his hands on his hips, hair in disarray and huge sunglasses hiding his eyes -- he's a swearing, dark figure in the normal quiet of the street and Mikey knows there's more than one person watching from behind curtains. Abruptly he stands and gives Bunny to Frank. "Watch her, I'm going to help Gee."
Bunny held securely in his lap, Frank leans back and closes his eyes against the sun. "Knock yourself out."
It's only a few steps before Mikey's standing next to the stuck armchair. Staring past Gerard he resists the urge to flip off the people who keep watching, especially the man in the house opposite who shakes his head before dropping the curtain.
"You need a bigger gate," Gerard says, and pushes his sunglasses to the top of his head. "Or a smaller armchair, either would work."
Mikey considers the gate with its white painted slats, the ones that perfectly match the fence. "We could take it off the hinges, it'll give a few more inches."
"Or you could lift it over the top," Ray says, jumping down from the back of the van. He's carrying a statue of Boba Fett and sets it down on the sidewalk, resting his elbow on Boba's head. "It'll be easy if we do it together."
Gerard scowls at the chair. "Easy for you to say, I think the things's stuffed with cement." He looks around then, craning his neck to see into the van. "Schechter, get your ass out here and help."
Ray pushes away from Boba and approaches the chair. "He's gone to pick up coffee with Jason."
"Yeah?" Mikey steps closer, suddenly desperately craving caffeine. "Are they going to that Starbucks we passed on the way? Do they know what to get? Are they getting food, too?"
Ray bends and grabs hold of an arm of the chair. "Brian's been picking your orders up forever now and you've been practically living with Jason for over a year. They know what to get."
It's true, Mikey has to admit that. Still, he can't help pulling out his phone and sending a quick text. "I told Jason to get grandes, I need them."
"You need to grab hold of this," Ray says, looking at Mikey over the shredded bottom of the chair. "This thing looks like it was attacked by Wolverine."
Mikey hooks his fingers under an arm. "It's Bunny, she's a demon in disguise."
"She is," Gerard agrees, nodding his head sharply so his sunglasses slide back down. "A ninja demon in a pink hoodie."
Mikey glances over his shoulder to where Bunny's lying sprawled over Frank's knees. "I think she's plotting world domination. I found her about to make a call last week."
Ray sighs, cutting off Mikey's tale of Bunny's brilliance. "If we ever get this stuff inside you could make a call, to order pizza, maybe."
One handed, Mikey pulls out his phone again. "I can call from here."
"Or you can get over here," Gerard says softly. "You're about to meet your neighbors."
Turning his attention from Ray, Mikey sees that a man and woman are walking toward them, a large file held in the man's hand. When they get close they give a disdainful look toward Boba Fett and the furniture that's still grouped on the grass verge.
"Mr. and Mrs. Robert Collery," the man says, his gaze shifting from Gerard to Ray to Mikey. "Representatives of the home-owners' association. We've got a welcome pack for Mr. Stiles."
"Jason's on a coffee run." Awkwardly Mikey steps over the fence, wincing a little at the pull of his tight jeans. "I'm Mikey. Mikey Way."
"Oh yes, Mr. Stiles' friend." In Robert's mouth the label is an insult and internally Mikey bristles.
"Boyfriend, technically," Mikey says coldly, staring directly at Robert.
"Right." Robert holds out the file at arms length. "As I explained to Mr. Stiles living in the area comes with conditions. All of which were outlined to him on purchase of the property."
Mikey keeps his hands at his sides, says briefly, "I'm aware."
"Then you'll be aware removal vans are permitted for a limited period of time and the maximum amount of pets is three."
Mikey nods. "That won't be an issue."
"Parties are not banned but we expect them to be civilized and any loud noise curtailed," Robert goes on, as if Mikey hasn't spoken at all. "I trust you'll read the rules and behave in a manner befitting of this community."
"We'll keep the ritual sacrifices out of sight," Mikey says levelly, then adds. "Anything else?"
Robert's mouth is a thin line as he sets the file on an end table. "I suggest you read and memorize the rules. Good day to you."
As one the couple turn and stalk away. Mikey sighs and turns to Gerard and Ray who've both moved to stand behind him. "Welcome to the fucking neighborhood."
Gerard's watching the Collerys walk into their house. When they're inside he turns to Mikey, looking concerned. "You can still change your mind. There's room to stay with us, for both of you. Brian won't mind."
There's a moment when Mikey's tempted to say yes. This isn't the kind of place Mikey ever pictured living, but at the same time, he'd never pictured being with anyone like Jason either, and he knows that's going well. Mikey shakes his head. "I like this house, we both do."
"Then let's get you moved in, then," Gerard says, and takes hold of the chair.
It's half an hour later when Brian and Jason appear carrying trays of coffee and paper bags looped over their wrists. Mikey's sitting on the floor, a box between his legs as he sorts through the contents. Mostly there are framed pictures, each one wrapped in items of clothes and he's got his hand on an old faded Clandestine hoodie, memories of hot sunny days pressing close. They're memories that have lingered for years, in the background but always there and Mikey's glad of the distraction when the front door opens. He looks up, and at the smell of coffee he scrambles to his feet and plucks one of the cups free from the tray Jason's holding.
"We got plain drip," Brian says and points a finger at Gerard. "So no bitching about tall mocha grande venti with syrup shots bullshit."
Gerard takes his own cup, ignoring Brian completely.
We got pastries, too." Jason sets his tray on a box and takes a chocolate muffin out of the bag. Holding it by the paper case he moves next to Mikey. "I got this for you."
Reminded just how hungry he is, Mikey takes the muffin and thanks Jason with a lingering kiss.
"Do I get to thank him with a kiss?"
Mikey opens his eyes and sees that Frank's standing close, his eyes wide and mouth puckered. Amused, Mikey leans into Jason's embrace, feeling secure in his hold. "You'd need to thank Brian, he's got the blueberry muffins."
"Oh no." Brian holds up his hands and scowls when Frank turns his way. "I'd rather kiss Piglet than you."
"Dogs have no lips," Mikey says then. "Frank's the better kisser and Gerard won't mind."
Brian's scowl deepens. "I would, the only person I kiss is Gerard."
"You romantic devil," Frank says, grinning wide as he turns his attention to Bob. "It's okay, I'll kiss Bob instead."
Bob doesn't even look up from where he's attempting to fit together Bunny's cat tower. "Touch me and I'll kill you."
Mikey takes another drink of coffee, leaning heavily against Jason, so content he can't help his smile.
Tags: my stories:bandom