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jamjar: (FOB patrick smiling is also love)
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Headers and Bonus Content
Part one
Part two
Part three

They start touring again, which isn't as much of a relief as it usually is. Bill loves touring, straight up loves it. It's everything he likes best in his life, as long as you don't think about eating or sleeping. His best people with him, going on stage, looking for familiar faces in different crowds every night. Not having to think about anything, because it's so all consuming and he knows that some people hate that, the way 45 minutes on stage can eat up your entire day and leave you wrecked the day after, but Bill honestly, genuinely likes that. He even likes the bad moods he gets on tour, the way they have reasons and causes, like the quality of a grudge or fight is somehow better, like being back at elementary school.

He was looking forward to that, but he'd, not forgotten, so much as deliberately overlooked the fact that one of the things he was looking forward to was touring with his friends. Which meant, fuck, all of them.

It's not that Bill doesn't appreciate the effort Patrick's putting in to being normal, the way he's spending time around Bill and the band, the way he's talking about music and sitting next to Bill if there's an open seat, but not making a point of it. Bill appreciates that, he does, it's just that it's actually a lot like the early days after the first time, when Bill was trying to find his way to being Patrick's friend and having to relearn all these facts about him and unlearn all the habits of touching.

Not quite the same, because now Bill is a friend, a good friend, the kind of friend that you're cool sharing space with, squashed up next to on a bench or leaning against in a line or something.

Hugging when you come off stage after joining in on Sophomore Slump, Patrick then Pete or maybe Joe if he's near, but that's it. Bill was thinking about it like it'd be like it was on the last tour, when that summer was sectioned off from both their lives and had nothing to do with anything happening now. Or maybe it'd go the other way and it'd be awkward, painful, distant, a time to retreat and lick their wounds.

Instead it's this, with Patrick being deliberately, carefully okay and pushing his band to be the same, and Bill feeling on edge and aware, crowded and missing at the same time.

"What did you expect?" Sisky says without looking away from the laptop. "Really, being sane about everything, being rational and sensible, being like that, what did you expect?"

He kind of wants to say that he wasn't expecting to have to be rational, sensible and sane about everything, but he also doesn't want to admit that. Instead, he just nods at Sisky sitting at the counter, concentrating hard on the screen.

"I'd feel so much better about you spending all day on that thing if I knew you were using it for porn," Bill says.

"I can quit anytime I want," Sisky says. "Except for the stopping bit." He turns the screen around to face Bill. "What do you think?"

"Ceiling cat is not amused," Bill says.

"Ceiling cat wishes he was this fucking cool," Sisky says, adding an extra exclamation mark to a traumatised looking kitten.

Bill contemplates trying to explain to Sisky that just because you like something, that doesn't make it cool, but he's not sure he really wants to be the one to disillusion him, so he joins Mike in the front and they go over some of the new songs.

The bus pulls in and the driver calls out fifteen minute break, long enough to stretch their legs and get some fresh air, but Bill and Mike are just about getting the bridge on what Bill's pretty sure is their next single in to shape. They look up when someone knocks and the bus door opens and Patrick walks in. "I knocked," he says, miming it. "Uh, can I come in?"

Mike looks at Bill for his cue, but Bill just shrugs. "Sure, it's fine."

Patrick hovers In the doorway, then pulls himself together and steps in. "So you're still working on that new song, the one with the dreaming girl and the MST3K reference?" Patrick says.

"Yeah," Mike says, like he's trying to verbally defuse a bomb. "But we're calling it Sleep now. Easier to fit on the liner notes." He eyes them like he's expecting them to start having passionate sex on his bunk or maybe pull out a knife or something.

"Yeah, that would work," Patrick says. "You fixed that problem on the bridge?"

"We're still working on that," Mike says, shifting position slightly, looking at the door longingly. Patrick meets Bill's eyes and rolls his own and Bill smirks back. It's a moment of being in sync, shared irritation and amusement and it's broken when Patrick says, "So I didn't just come here to see how you're doing with the next album. I wanted to ask Bill something."

Mike looks like the bomb's just started ticking faster, but Bill waves him off the bus and stands up to get a drink out of the fridge. He's not thirsty, but he wants something to do with his hands, something to look at that's not Patrick. Bill doesn't feel clumsy or awkward, but that's because he's concentrating on not letting himself be.

He takes a sip of the coke and then rolls the can between his hands, letting them get cold. "So, you wanted to say something?" He says when Patrick stays silent.

Patrick jumps and looks up at Bill. "Oh! Right, yeah. I wanted to ask you about Pete and Joe and Andy. They don't know about—" he shrugs into the pause. "I mean, I haven't said anything, I don't know if you want me to." He pushes his glasses up a little. "If this is. I mean, if it's going to happen again, Pete's probably a good person to know, to run interference with you and the label and fake you being around, that kind of thing. If you wanted to tell them."

"Oh," Bill says. He crosses his arms and leans back. "You really haven't said anything?" and then, because that could be taken the wrong way and it feels like it'd be so easy to do that right now, he adds, "Not that I don't believe you, I'm just surprised." He looks at his hands and says, "You don't want them to know?" It's probably better if they don't, easier at least, but the idea that Patrick doesn't want them to know sends a queasy feeling through his stomach.

He doesn't need to look at Patrick to know that he's biting his lower lip, thinking about what to say, how to say it. "I don't know," Patrick says. "I guess I want them to know, but I don't want to have to tell them. Or maybe I want to tell them, but I don't want them to know." He smiles, but mostly at himself. "I'm not the most coherent about—"


"You." Patrick looks at him, meeting his eyes. It's not the same expression he had back then, but it's an echo of it. Something soft and affectionate and maybe still a little broken. His T-shirt is old, stretched out at the neck enough for Bill to see where he caught the sun, skin turning pink.

If Bill didn't know Patrick, he thinks, he'd probably still offer to go down on him or make out with him, just for looking like that. In that moment he can see how Patrick would look if this was the first time he'd ever seen him, without two months of dating and seven years of friendship colouring everything, if this was the first time they'd met.

And for a second, he wishes it was, that Patrick was new and he was being introduced for the first time and then he remembers that it wouldn't matter, because Patrick would still turn him down—more politely, maybe, if he was a stranger—but still, no.

"It's fine, you can—you know, it's your choice," he says. He knows he sounds sharper than he should, more abrupt, even without Patrick flinching back. "They're your friends first."

Patrick retreats, pulls back into himself just enough to make Bill realise he was reaching out a little before. "I didn't want to make it awkward for you," he says. He shrugs and Bill can see pale skin just where the t-shirt's slipped. Patrick needs to wear more sunblock or stay in the shade more and it's distracting Bill, because he knows exactly how it would feel to touch, the skin just a little warmer than it should be.

"I think we've gone past critical awkward mass," Bill says. "Unless someone turns out to be a long lost cousin or there's accidental public nudity, it's all coasting from here."

He debates not doing it. Patrick's been deliberately casual about touching him, overly normal, but Bill hasn't actually made the first move since he switched back to being a guy. It's the right thing to do, he knows, what the moment calls for to make it seem all okay again, and he's still not sure if he can do it.

He puts his coke down and comes out from behind the counter. It's a deliberate gesture, not the fast and easy way he'd have hugged Patrick before, but Patrick doesn't pull back. It's okay, it's fine and Bill's perfectly okay, he is, doing this. His hand must feel like ice after holding his drink, but Patrick doesn't jump at all and it's just a normal hug, platonic. Bill concentrates on that, focussing on how weird it feels to be awkward about this, the way it's uncomfortably careful and he doesn't let himself think about anything else.

Patrick is warm and solid and he's good to touch, always has been, just something about him that makes him feel appealing. Bill pulls back as casually as he can and goes back behind the counter, finishing off his coke.

"Okay," Patrick says. He hesitates, then nods, pulling his cap a little more securely on. "I'll, I guess I'll see you later?"

Bill smiles his agreement and Patrick leaves, then he lets his head fall forward, bending down almost in half so it's leaning against the top of the can. It's a cold, hard circle against his forehead and it'll leave a weird mark if he stays like this too long

Which is kind of pathetic, sure, but the alternative is going into the bus shower and jerking off and if Bill's going to be pathetic, at least he won't be creepy-pathetic.

It feels weirdly like he's gate-crashing, because he doesn't know the guy throwing this party. He's just someone Victoria knows, with a house and a pool and, apparently, no sense, because he invited her and her band and pretty much the whole tour over for a party.

It's hot and muggy and the pool is already filled with more musicians than can possibly be good for it. The owner will probably have to have the thing deep cleaned and disinfected because Bill knows for a fact that at least two techs are using it as a chlorinated bath, and that's even before someone threw in Sisky fully clothed. Bill loves Sisky like a brother, but they've been touring for weeks and he's not even close to fresh.

Andy and Butcher are talking about something by the food, Andy holding a bowl of popcorn protectively and the sight makes Bill relax a little. Fall Out Boy collectively are still weird around him, leftover anger and confused affection, but they're okay with his band and he thinks -hopes- it'll work out.

Patrick's even talking to Mike and maybe it's the fact they've both been lurking by the booze table, but Cardin looks less terrified of Patrick going psycho and Patrick looks happy, gesturing enthusiastically and spilling half his drink when he makes a point about something.

It's not like him to be quiet and on the edges on his own, but everyone is loud and busy and no-one seems to have noticed that he's not a part of it, and it's a relief not to have to watch himself, not to worry about his guys worrying about him. A relief, and kind of depressing because it looks like they were right ton worry because he's just standing here quietly and watching Patrick.

He needs to be over this already.

"Hey, Billvy, hiding over here in the shadows." Travis's hands land on Bill's shoulder, hard enough to make him jerk and he follows Bill's gaze. " Shit, are they still talking about Thundercats versus..." he trails off and Bill resolutely doesn't look at him, not even when his hands tense a little, and he says "Holy fuck," like he's almost impressed.

"Holy fuck," Travis says. "Holy fucking fuck. You're still—"

"Shut the fuck up!" Bill says. He's skinnier than Travis and maybe even a couple inches shorter, but he's got momentum and he shoves his hand over Travis's mouth and pushes him back into the garden, behind an orange tree. He ducks to avoid an unripe orange and hisses, "I don't know what you think you—"

Travis licks the palm of his hand and Bill pulls it back automatically. "You, motherfucking mooning over Patrick. T—That's not first time nostalgia—"

"He was not my first—"

"That's you wanting to jump his bones and take him home and have his kids." Travis stops talking and starts laughing. "Which a month ago was a lot less of a metaphor. Fuck, Bill." He definitely sounds more impressed than anything else.

"Yeah, you wish," Bill mutters. "I am not still hung up on a relationship I had when I was sixteen."

"Hey, it's okay, I get it." Travis grins and then says, sing-song. "You like him, you want to kiss him. William and Patrick, sitting in a tree K-I-S-S—You should go for it," Travis says. He slaps Bill on the back and then slides his hand around to his shoulder, enthusiastic about playing cupid. "He's not seeing anyone, right? And he already knows that you're occasionally a girl and frequently a bitch—" he shifts his body away, grinning and waiting for Bill to hit him for that. Bill elbows him, but his heart's not in it and Travis frowns. "Seriously, I get that you have history, but fuck it. Next time you see him, just—" He mimes frenching someone two foot shorter than him. It's funny-creepy-awesome, in the way Travie usually is, but Bill's not in the mood to appreciate it.

"Patrick doesn't go around kissing men," Bill says, slowly like he's talking to a child. "Patrick, just in case there was some confusion, is pretty fucking straight."

"Patrick kisses guys," Travis says. "I've kissed Patrick. Bill, what the fuck, you were there, you saw me at Pete's party."

"Yeah, and I saw him turn you down after," Bill says.

Travis shrugs. "Yeah, but dude, I was wasted. And I think my girlfriend was there." He pulls Bill in for a hug and Travis is one of the few people that can make Bill feel small, covered. "It's hard to accept, but there are lots of reasons for someone to not want to have sex with me that aren't because I've got a dick."

"No, really?" Bill says, trying to look shocked. "And look, it's not just you, but I haven't heard anything and it's not like I wasn't listening, so..." he shrugs, trying to make it casual instead of bitter. It's not unrequited love or whatever, it's just missed potential or something like that. Okay?"

"Okay, if you're going to be deeply deluded about it," Travis says.

"I'm not—look, I'm being sensible about this," Bill says. "I'm being sane."

"Convincing," Travis says. "Yeah, it's easy to see that, what with you lurking in the shadows and everything."

"Travis, please." Bill pushes his hair back off his face. "Don't make this something it's not. I'm moving past this." He leans back against the tree and wishes for a moment that he had the kind of friends that hated the emotional stuff, that just fucked off or were uncomfortably silent when anyone was miserable like this. "He's over it, I'm getting there." He just needs to remember how he did it the last time.

"If he was over it, he wouldn't have slept with you again," Travis says. "Patrick's not casual about that kind of thing."

"He didn't sleep with me, he slept with Lily."

"Who is you, unless you're getting split personality about the whole thing,"

"He didn't know that," Bill says.

"And now he does."

"Exactly!" Bill says. Travis looks at him, frowning like one of them has started speaking mandarin or something. Bill brushes past him and walks back to the party before Travis can say anything.

He touches base with Gabe and joins in with the dancing and avoids getting drunk. He's already on edge, unsure of his own actions and he doesn't trust himself not to do something stupid if he doesn't watch it. He sticks to beer and lets his friends be a distraction, but he still finds himself staying outside when they head in. It's getting just a little to cool to be out by the pool, night breeze taking away all of the summer heat, but he takes off his shoes and sits on the edge of the pool.

It's the kind of quiet that you only get when people are being noisy in the distance and Bill lets his feet dangle in the water.

He hears someone walk up behind him and he's not surprised when he looks over and sees Patrick. It might be easier, he thinks, to get over him if he didn't keep seeing him.

"Hey," Patrick says. "How's the water?"

"Wet," Bill says. It's odd, looking up at Patrick. Patrick's not slurring, but there's a softness to him that means he's probably a lot less sober than Bill is right now.

"I feel bad," Patrick says. "For making you feel..." he shrugs. "I don't know, I know it was probably a weird time for you too, and..." he trails off, tilting his head up to look at the sky.

"Pete kind of gives the impression that I fucked you up pretty well," Bill says. He's not drunk, not really, but Patrick kind of is and that makes it easier to speak. "And that it's only because you're an amazing person with great emotional grounding that you're emotionally healthy now, mostly."

Patrick's laugh is closer to a giggle. "Pete's—you know, he's Pete about this. It's not... It hurt, but it's— you know, it made me cautious after you—after it ended, but that's not a bad thing, right? To be careful about getting seriously involved with someone."

"Wow, you are well-balanced about this," Bill says after a moment. "I'm not that zen about any of my exes."

"I guess. It helps that you had actual reasons," Patrick says. "And you're my friend, I can't afford to be exish about you or avoid you or normal things like that. I've got to get over it or I lose you twice. Three times, maybe."

I don't want you to, Bill thinks. It's clear enough that he's afraid, just for a second, that he thought it out loud. It's a painful thought, but it's true. He doesn't want Patrick to get over it, he doesn't want him to be philosophical about it. He doesn't want Patrick to hate him, but he doesn't want him to move past him, to put him, them, in the past.

He's not that guy, except he's starting to suspect he is, because he wants Patrick to stay a little fucked about what happened, so long as it means that it was important, not just act one, scene one in his love life. Was it—it's a nasty thought, one he almost doesn't want to think, but it's still there. Was it on purpose, the way he broke up with him? Maybe he didn't want to do it any better, to make it easier on Patrick, maybe he'd wanted him to be heart broken and—

No, he's pretty sure he was just being really, really stupid about the whole thing, thoughtless and stupid and cruel, but not deliberately. He thinks. But then it's not like he's going to win any prizes for self-knowledge, is he, and what's he doing now, sitting out here with Patrick?

Patrick's put his arm around his waist, Bill realises. Leaning in with the heaviness of someone who's drunk just a bit more than they should, just enough to forget how much their own body weighs. His head's still tilted up to the stars, or where they would be if the lights weren't so bright.

"Hey," Patrick says. He reaches up to touch the side of Bill's face, slight pressure on his cheek and Bill's head turns down to look at him and Patrick kisses him. The world tilts and Bill has a moment of disorientation so strong, he wonders if he's the drunk one, because this is—Patrick's kissing him and he tastes of something vaguely herbal and very alcoholic and Patrick's kissing him and—

Patrick doesn't kiss him. Patrick kisses her, kisses Lily, he doesn't kiss Bill and certainly not like this, easy and focused and familiar. His hand is around Bill's waist, resting on his hip and there are jokes about low-rise girl-cut jeans showing off his girlish figure, but Bill knows himself, knows his body and the differences in the bone between male and female and Patrick will notice them any second now. Bill closes his eyes and lets himself have this, just this moment, then he pulls back and leans his head against Patrick's shoulder.

"You don't want to do this," Bill says quietly.

"Pretty sure I do," Patrick says. He moves in again, one hand coming up to rest on Bill's thigh. Bill catches it, holds it still. Patrick stops, frowning a little.

"No, you don't," Bill says, trying to make the words as clear as possible. "Patrick, you don't do this."

"Kiss someone I like at a party?"

"Kiss me, kiss guys," Bill says. It's probably healing, he tells himself, necessary and cathartic to actually say the words, like he'll be better for it even if it doesn't feel that way right now.

"No, you—look, whatever revelation you think is happening here..." Bill trails off and tries to think of a better way to put it than, "Just because your ex-girlfriend has a dick, it doesn't make you gay."

But then Patrick's kissing him again, his hand flexing on Bill's thigh and he moves so he's on his knees, facing Bill, one hand on his shoulder, brushing his mouth against Bill's and Bill's hands go up to Patrick's waist to steady him automatically.

Bill's hands are bigger, his fingers are longer and they spread across more of Patrick's skin, soft feel of his stomach and he's not even touching skin, just the slightly damp cloth of Patrick's T-shirt and he opens his mouth, kisses Patrick back. He can feel Patrick grin, feel him push a little harder, press against him and Bill's more than half-hard already, and the thought of it, Patrick's weight against him is enough to make him groan. He can picture it so clearly, and then that stupid little voice of reality starts screaming again.

Bad idea, don't make this any more awkward than it already is. If he wanted you, it says, you would have found that out any time in the past seven years.

He pushes himself away from Patrick, sliding back and leaving Patrick kneeling and staring at him. "I can't do this," he says. "This isn't—" You. Me. "Us. I don't want to do this again."

Patrick looks at him like Bill's just punched him. He's backlit by the pool lights. "No," Patrick says. "My fault, I shouldn't have—I'm sorry, I just thought we could—fuck it." He shakes his head, his face pale and stiff. "I'm just going to—" he gets to his feet awkwardly, unsteady enough that Bill wants to pull him away from the edge of the pool, and then walks off back to the house.

Bill leans back against the paving, hitting the back of his head a little too hard and contemplates sliding into the pool and staying under for the next twenty years or so.

Bill doesn't actually need coffee in the morning, not the way Sisky or Tony or Mike does. It's just that the world is nicer for him and everyone around him if he has his black coffee, two sugars, before anyone tries to talk to him.

Pete fucking Wentz has known him long enough that he should be aware of that fact, instead of turning up on his bus while Bill's still trying to remember how the coffee maker works.

"So Patrick thinks you don't want him," Pete says.

"Hello is just too last year for you, huh?" Bill says, trying to find the on-switch.

Pete jumps up on to the counter next to him, heels kicking at the door. He gives Bill a sidelong glance and says, "It's seriously weird looking at you now. Like, I see you, but there's also this overlay of you as a woman, and it's not actually that different."

"Gee, I've never heard that one before," Bill says flatly. "How original. Maybe you can smash a watermelon or tell a knock-knock joke as an encore. Cover Stairway To Heaven on the next album."

"I'm guessing you're not over me calling you a flat-chested starfucker groupie?" Pete says. "Helps if you plug it in," he adds.

"I'm completely over it," Bill says, finding the wall-socket and switching it on triumphantly. "And starfucker groupie is redundant."

Pete nods. "In my defence, I really fucking hated you."

"I really, really got that."

"Yeah, I don't think you did." Pete sits down next to him. "From my point of view, it was like—There's Patrick, and you know how he was at that age. Even more fucking adorable than he is now, like sometimes I actually wanted to ask his mom what the fuck she was thinking, letting him hang around with me. And he was pretty well-balanced, but not exactly brimming over with confidence, you know?" He raises an eyebrow at Bill like he actually wants an answer.

"I don't need another round of how I did him wrong, Pete. I've had that from you and Andy both."

"Okay, the point is, after you guys..." He mimes an explosion with his hands. "After he stopped being miserable, after he stopped feeling like he was a dumb schmuck and no-one would ever really be interested in him, after—"

"Tell me this has a point," Bill says.

Pete rolls his eyes but talks more quickly. "With his next girlfriend, he played things closer to the chest. He didn't really talk about her until they were properly dating, and we knew he really liked Anna when he stopped mentioning her for about a month, and then he introduced her as his girlfriend. You get me?" He sighs, big and dramatic, at Bill's what the fuck expression. "Look, he doesn't make a move on someone he likes unless he's really sure it's worth the risk."

Pete's trying to tell him something and Bill's honestly just confused about what it is. "I don't—"

"I know he kissed you," Pete says. "And I know you guys fucked before you got your dick back."

And oh, right. When he'd told Patrick he could tell his guys about everything, Bill had somehow forgotten that this meant Patrick might actually tell them everything. Pete's looking at him and Bill feels uncomfortably exposed, all his bad ideas that he regrets but wouldn't take back on display. He stalls for time by turning back to the coffee maker, finding a cleanish cup with unnecessary focus.

"Patrick wouldn't have tried to kiss you if he didn't think you might work. Or," Pete adds, taking the coffee from Bill, "if he didn't at least hope it enough to try." He grins, wide enough to make any passing dentist happy. "He can be stupidly brave about lots of things, but that's not one of them. Fuck, you make terrible coffee." Pete grimaces and Bill rolls his eyes and attempts to snatch it back.

"Hey, I didn't say I wouldn't drink it!" Pete says, defending the cup. "So what I don't know is why you'd turn him down. Or anyone, but in particular you when you're obviously still hung up on him."

Bill isn't really prepared to deal with this, not with Pete being casual and smiling a little in a way that reminds Bill that Pete has a beaten the crap out of people for hurting his friends in the past. "You're exaggerating," Bill says.

"Bill, you slept with him." Pete leans forward and pokes Bill in the chest. "You slept with him. Patrick may have had sex with his old summer fling, but you slept with Patrick." He takes another sip of coffee and keeps his eyes on Bill, like he's waiting for him to run.

"I didn't intend to," Bill says, which is as close to an excuse as he can get.

"You didn't intend to do a lot of things," Pete says with an edge to his voice. "But you still did them."

Bill wants to explain, but the only thing he can think of is, "In my defence, it's really hard not sleeping with him," and he doesn't think that'll go over very well. He has the unnerving suspicion that he won't be able to lie to Pete, not with him watching Bill like this, so he offers up a different truth instead. "Okay, you're right, I did sleep with—" And he spent years keeping them apart in his head, Patrick-his-boyfriend and Patrick-his-friend, and even if he knew that was a bullshit difference, it's still hard to actually say this, "Patrick, the guy who's been my friend for the past seven years, the guy I've been on tours with and—" He cuts himself off. "But Patrick didn't sleep with William Beckett, he slept with Lily, who is, was, a girl. And I'm not. And if Patrick had any interest in guys, I would have seen it by now, but he doesn't and maybe he got a bit confused last night, but..." He trails off because Pete's looking at him with the strangest expression.

Pete puts his cup down by his side very carefully, and says, "That's what this is about?"

"The fact that Patrick's never shown any interest in me and it's not like I'm not..." Bill tries to find the right word and settles on, Bill doesn't actually care about his tendency to get flirty and laidback and get laid when he's drunk, but he's not sure how to point out that Patrick had to know he could have had him any one of a hundred times without it sounding wrong. "Accessible." He pushes his hair back off his face. Pete should have picked up on Patrick's basic lack of interest in fucking guys by now, but it looks like Bill's going to have to point out that Patrick not minding being hugged and leaned on and petted a little does not equate to Patrick actually want to give some guy a hand-job. "I've been there, he's done the thanks-but-no-thanks."

Pete looks at him for a moment, waiting for Bill to focus on him. "Wow, you're really fucking dumb sometimes."


"Let me guess, you made a pass at a party or after a show, something casual and friendly?"

"I never actually—"

"Bill, Patrick doesn't do casual hook-ups with people he likes, that doesn't mean he doesn't do guys." Pete winces. "I walked in on him and his boyfriend once, before the punk-ass bitch decided to move back into his nice little closet and told Patrick that he'd just been experimenting. Like he needed to experiment for three months to come to that conclusion." Pete snorts and looks at Bill, taking in his expression with smug amusement. "You were the first guy to break his heart, not the only one. Girl. Guy. Whatever."

Bill's distantly aware that he's giving Pete exactly the reaction he wants, mouth hanging open, speechless, but he can't even think about it except to say, "No, you're wrong. Patrick doesn't—"

"It was scarring! I love Patrick, but I really don't need to see him blowing some guy, especially when I have to look his mother in the fact the next day and tell her what a great time he had on tour." Pete shudders dramatically.

"I would have heard!" Bill says. It's a small label with some of the biggest mouths in the business and the Chicago scene isn't that big. "This is just your idea of a joke."

Pete grins. "It'd be a great one, right?" He reaches for his coffee again. "But after David the punk-ass bitch, there was Anna and then no-one for a while after that, and—look, Patrick's shortest ever relationship was with you."

Bill's still lagging five minutes behind the rest of the conversation. "He dates guys? Dated a—You walked in him giving his boyfriend a blow-job?" He can hear his voice getting more and more high-pitched and he winces and tries to bring it down. When was that? How old was—before Anna, so it must have been before Andy joined the band and—

David? He tries to think of all the Davids he knows and gets a photostream of them and Patrick, all the ones he's met or just seen on TV. He tries to think of Patrick, go through every memory he has of him, but he keeps running into "boyfriend" and "does guys" and derails him before he can actually bring one into focus.

"But not me?" he says, and then winces at how pathetic that came out. "So the reason he turned me down wasn't because I was a guy, he just wasn't interested in me?"

"I'm guessing, and I wasn't there when he—" Pete puts his cup down so he can make the quote marks, "'turned you down' but if you came across like it was casual, like it was something meaningless, then he probably assumed you didn't mean anything by it." There's an "idiot" strongly implied there, even if Pete doesn't actually say the words. "He already likes you," Pete says. "He didn't know that you liked him. And now he thinks you're just not interested."

It hits Bill then, seven years worth of memories and last night, last night when Patrick had—when he had—he'd pushed him away and said he didn't want this, but he did, does, he just didn't know.

"I don't know if you're a good thing for him,' Pete says. "As some people have pointed out my judgement isn't great with this kind of thing." He hops off the counter. "And if you don't want something to happen, fine. It's not like this is his only chance at love. But..." he shrugs. "I'm picking up that you're kind of all about him too, and he deserves that."

Patrick sees Bill coming, which is probably why he turns around and starts walking back, too fast to even fake being casual. Bill's long legs are good for more than just aesthetics and buying top-shelf magazines, though, so he catches up with him before Patrick can disappear in the endless carpark of buses, vans and cars in varying states of decay.

"Hey," he says when he has Patrick trapped between a Miata and a flatbed truck. Patrick looks kind of like he wants to make a break for it anyway. "I wanted to—"

"I'm sorry," Patrick says before Bill can get anything else out. "I shouldn't have—you had years, if you wanted to—" Patrick flails a little. "I mean, you would have, we would have, just because it didn't occur to me until now doesn't mean—- so I'm sorry if I made this awkward and—" He stops talking because Bill's moving closer. "Bill?"

"I'm just having a weird moment,' Bill says. "Déjà vu or telepathy."

Patrick's eyes widen. "Does that run in your family too? Fuck." His expression turns a little panicked.

"No! Just the sex-change thing," Bill says. "Telepathy would kind of ridiculous, you know?" He looks at Patrick for a long moment, his slightly flushed face, the way he's definitely got a good case of sunburn going on his shoulders which is oddly endearing. He leans in slowly, telegraphing his move so clearly people in China are probably picking up on it, but Patrick still looks surprised when Bill kisses him. He puts one hand either side of Patrick's face, holding it between his hands and makes it real, makes it count.

And then he leans in and makes it dirty, his hands going down to hook into the loops of Patrick's jeans and pull him in, grinding against him and letting him feel Bill getting hard. Patrick doesn't pull back, doesn't do the fuck-that's-someone's-dick flinch.

He licks at Patrick's mouth and he can feel Patrick getting hard, but that's not what convinces him. What does it is the way Patrick pushes back against him, the automatic reaction of yes, this is good and when Patrick does break the kiss, he doesn't move away.

"I thought you didn't want this," Patrick says. His hands are still on Bill's waist and he has to look up at him. Bill slides one hand around to Patrick's back pocket.

"I do. I did last night, and on and off for about the last seven years," Bill says. "I'm kind of maybe a little bit stupid about you. It means I don't always make smart decisions."

Patrick blinks behind his glasses and Bill's glad he's wearing them, glad he can see him clearly. "I... I don't really know how to take that." He looks at Bill, tilting his head back a bit so he can see his face, then lifts his head and Biill leans in and Patrick kisses him, pulling him down and he says, "You want to maybe try this again? As us?" against the skin at the corner of Bill's jaw.

Bill's nod gets lost when Patrick kiss him again

Patrick seemed like a good bet, cute and interested but not so pushy Bill would spend the whole date smacking him down, and it's kind of reassuring that Bill's pretty sure he's got more experience than Patrick. Makes him feel a bit more confident, even if he knows intellectually that he'd probably be better off with someone who knows what they're doing first hand. But Patrick's hot and doesn't know it and Bill likes the notion that he can show him things, that he can do this, sex with a guy as a girl for the first time, and leave a good impression.

It's just that he keeps getting distracted when he tries to get to the point. They start talking about music and Bill gets off track talking about vinyl and Green Day and studio versus live and then he's watching him sketch out drum riff and Bill's mind gets derailed looking at his hands. They're kind of awesome, maybe.

But he's got a mission here, and Bill can concentrate if he has to, so he puts his hand out and grabs one of those moving hands, locking his fingers in to keep them still so Bill can focus. "Hey," Bill says, "I really, really want to—"

And then Patrick kisses him, mid-sentence and Bill's too surprised to do anything at first.

Patrick pulls back and says, "I'm sorry, I just—"

"No! Don't be sorry, get back here," Bill says, leaning over and pulling him in and oh, yes, good choice, Bill obviously made the right decision here and Patrick is—mmm, Patrick's mouth and his hands on Bill's waist and he kisses kind of polite at first, which Bill didn't know was a turn on before. He wants to keep doing this, just like this, for ages, and he wants more now. He's normally better at waiting, not pushing, but—oh, Patrick's hands dip up under his shirt, cautious like he thinks Bill's going to object, and Bill presses in as close as he can.

"I'm glad I did that," Patrick says, sounding happy and out of breath. "Uh. You want to maybe do that again some time?"

For a moment, Bill feels nervous, which is crazy. It's not like he's never done this before, just from the other side. And he likes Patrick, likes this, and it's stupid be nervous because it's going better than he thought it would.

"Yeah," he says. He chews the corner of his mouth and tastes his own lipstick. "Yeah, I think I'd like that."


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(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 03:27 pm (UTC)
ext_3472: Sauron drinking tea. (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, Patrick/William. I did not see that coming. It was kind of awesome though! Poor silly Bill.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Yes, poor Bill and his ability to make entirely understndable bad decisions.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 04:43 pm (UTC)
sansets: Knee high rainbow socks on a white person's legs, while the legs are toe-ing a pair of sneakers off. (Default)
From: [personal profile] sansets
I have to confess that I actually read the draft multiple times just because it was a genuinely delightful story, even in draft form and the final version is just fantastic.

The Travis/Bill friendship!! *flails* Honestly, all of the friendshippy bits in here made me insanely flaily, but especially the casually supportive way that Travie just accepted Bill and didn't really treat him any different.

The passage of time between the flashbacks and the present was fantastic. I just ... even the little details, like the fact that Bill called him Adam then and Sisky now were so wonderfully consistent.And then the dancing around each other and the confusion and silly Bill thinking that Patrick was straight and just \0/ for the whole thing.

(And I am SO happy that you liked the mix! My musical taste can run towards the eclectic, so the fact that you listened to it while editing kind of thrills me to pieces. ♥)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm kind of embarrassed by the draft -so many typos!- so I'm glad I have the finished version for you to see now.

I really do kind of adore Travis and his interaction with Bill and... actually, pretty much every one, so it's nice getting an excuse to write him. I'm also relieved that the flashbacks worked, that they didn't clash with the current story.

Thank you again for the mix. I love having an excuse to listen to new music and the playlist really does work together, even though the styles of the songs are different.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 06:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey - creepy lurker here. I really loved this story - probably one of the best so far. It was complex without being too trippy, had humor in all the right places, and was completely believable! Thank you for your obvious efforts and I hope I get to read more of you!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm pretty sure that once you introduce yourself, you lose creepy lurker status. I'm glad the story worked for you and that it made sense to the world outside my head.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is not a pairing I ever thought I'd read, but you made it believable (despite the elements of fantasy!) and heart-wrenching. Really lovely story :)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! It's nice to know it worked for you, even with the more fantastical elements.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 08:52 pm (UTC)
ext_12785: A woman in a white dress, facing the camera, while the sunlight reflects off of the lens (Default)
From: [identity profile]
This fic makes me incredibly happy. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, that's pretty much what I was going for.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been waiting for this one and it certainly didn't disappoint. Love your Travis and Bill, and how you managed to make me feel for all of them. Oh, and Patrick's and Bill's teenage romance is like the cutest thing ever. Thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad it wasn't disappointing after the wait! I'm quite enjoying that about big bang, reading the fic and it's sometimes so different from what you imagined, based on the anonymous summaries that went out for art and mixes.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 09:49 pm (UTC)
ext_29684: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
You know what my favorite part of this was and still is? Travis!
Travis is just kind of wonderful here, so endearing.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's quite hard for Travis not to be the best part of anything, I've found.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-06-19 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow. The flashbacks from when Bill was back to being Bill and trying to see if Patrick could be interested in him? They made my heart ache for him.

Awesome fic!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 08:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! Those bits kind of made my heart ache to write, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-18 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, this is really awesome. I like the flashbacks--they seem very well-placed and add a lot to the story and William's state of mind at various points. I like how you let the story of the earlier relationship backstory unfold naturally and kind of piecemeal.

I enjoyed this story a lot, especially since there was such a hopeful/happy ending. I was reading slowly, because I was kind of bummed that Patrick seemed straight and thus unwilling to be with Bill as a guy, but I was unwilling to stop reading because it was just so interesting, but then Bill turned out to have been wrong about Patrick (more wrong!), and I was so glad. \o/!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 12:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I'm relieved that the placement of the flashbacks worked-- that's one of the things I messed around with a lot.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-06-19 08:59 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-06-20 06:18 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I don't even have words for how much I loved this story. It was equal parts funny and touching and you made me fall in love with Bill and I ached for him as he tried to deny his feelings and deal with his past. I really enjoyed all of your characterizations and I think you did a great job of capturing these people and making them sound like themselves-- Travis and Pete in particularly were fabulous. I also really, really loved seeing Patrick in all his various stages through Bill's eyes, it made me feel that much worse for Bill and I was so relieved that it all worked out in the end. ♥ ♥ ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much! I'm happy that the character voices came out okay. I really liked writing Patrick through Bill's eyes, so I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I still really love this. I just want to immerse myself in your Bill voice forever.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! And thank you again for the American-check.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 02:32 am (UTC)
ext_3467: a path from the forground to the background, through a yellow and green field (Default)
From: [identity profile]
This is so awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my god, I kind of want you to write about a thousand sequels to this story so I can see how Bill and Patrick are together, as Bill reminds Patrick about putting sunscreen on and then tangles his fingers in the stretched-out collar of Patrick's t-shirt, and, yeah, I really enjoyed this story a lot. I loved the body-language in this, the way you got it right, the intimacy that means "friends" and the intimacy that means "more than" and the confusing crossover between the two. You made Bill Beckett pine. I'm such a fan, you have no idea, and I've always loved the way you write Patrick.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! That really means a lot, since I love the way you write... well, pretty much everyone. I liked writing that, those differences in what Bill was accustomed to with Patrick and what Patrick was with Bill.

I'll trade you a sequel for a sequel if you wrote more "A Common Understanding" universe?

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-10-09 07:38 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-10-09 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 02:45 am (UTC)
vixalicious: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vixalicious
This is really cool, and probably the first fic I've ever read where I had any sort of sympathetic emotional connection with Bill as a character.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm glad it worked for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is delightful. I'm always a total sucker for pining, especially the repressed, in-denial kind, and you've nailed it here. Who knew Bill Beckett would be so good at pining?

I adore your Bill, and love Patrick, Travis, Pete, all the other guys here.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I like pining, and pining for Patrick seems entirely plausible under almost any circumstance.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is wonderfully thought out and perfect in every way.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
!!! this was so fantastic and beautiful. i loved william as a woman, and his and patrick's relationship/friendship was so well written and thought out. so good!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I totally and completely adored this. And I usually am disgusted by genderswap, but this was different and awesome and aweoifjdsasdf. Loved it. And I totally loved Travie in this, and usually Travie tends to piss me off in fic for some reason (even though I totally love him in real life) and you wrote him so well. You wrote everybody so well. And the way Pete was protecting Patrick was aiosdfsdf but the way Andy was protecting Patrick was so unexpected because he's Andy and he's so quiet and calm (well, most of the time) and it was really sweet in a whole "shit, scary man" kind of way. Just. Yeah. Wow. I really, really liked this. Best bigbang I've read so far. Excellent job.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-19 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really do kind of adore Travis in real life (he's 6"5 and still manages to be adoreable, which is just impressive), so I'm happy for an excuse to write him. And I'm glad you enjoyed the bits with Pete and Andy too. They were vicious, but it's often harder to be rational about people hurting your friends than just hurting you.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is fabulous. You've totally captured the sheer awkwardness of that kind of friendship/relationship tangle, where everyone knows everyone else's business and there's no way to escape the mistakes your younger self made. (I was cringing in sympathy at several points.) I really dug the friendship between Bill and Travis as well. And the pining and UST between Bill and Patrick! You totally sold me on them as a pairing.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, there are distinct disadvantages in getting involved with someone you actually know, even more so if they're actually in your social network. Also, "It seemed like a good idea at the time" isn't actually much protection (especially if what you actually mean is, "I knew it was a bad idea, but I did it anyway.")

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 11:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really liked this. I'm so used to fics where William is just kinda swanning around, slutty and silly, and this was an awesome change. While you still kept in parts of that William, yours was serious as well, and I really liked that. So uh, \o/

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 12:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! It was interesting, writing a long fic from Bill's point of view, especially when it was bouncing around era like that.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 04:14 pm (UTC)
littlerhymes: the fox and the prince (Default)
From: [personal profile] littlerhymes
Great characterisations all around, but I love your Bill, he's complicated and confused and sympathetic. I really like that you avoided the usual genderswap cliches and made this something fresh and new. A really, really satisfying story. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you. By the time the deadlines rolled around, I'd pretty much lost any ability to judge it myself (too long? too short? is this needed? is it redundant?) so it's good to hear that it worked for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-20 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

oh wow that is awesome! and a pairing I'd never even considered before, but it worked for me. If anyone could sell me on genderswap it would be Beckett, and Patrick is just so Patrick (read precious)and Travis was hilarious. Great job.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-21 11:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Patrick is kind of precious in real life, so I'm glad that came across in fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-22 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
baby!William/baby!Patrick from back in the day has long been the secret pairing of my heart, and throw in the genderswap and the current-day stuff and this story was something I've waiting for forever and just didn't know it. Fantastic! Your Bill voice was fascinating and somehow felt spot-on to me. And Patrick. Awww, baby!Patrick and grown-up guarded!Patrick, I loved them both.

As lots of other people have said, Travis was completely fantastic in this. But so was all of TAI. And Pete and Andy and their protectiveness! And Gabe and Victoria! I think everyone is this story was drawn really vividly.

Great work!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-22 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Good to know it filled a fic-need for you. I have so many of those where the only way I'll get them filled is to write it myself. And thank you for saying you liked all the different band interactions. I had a lot of fun writing those.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-23 11:38 am (UTC)
ext_19965: greta's backpack (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I'm just getting around to reading the big bangs now, and this really blew my mind. Your Bill is exactly how I imagine him in my mind, and I love your Patrick. Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-24 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! I'm glad the Bill characterisation worked for you-- I didn't expect to be writing so much Bill POV when I started this fic, but then I never expect the stories to be the length they turn out.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-24 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So do you know how sometimes you want something, but you don't know what you want even though you think you do, and then you end up thinking, 'well, I can't have that, so I'll try this' and that thing turns out to be really what you needed in the first place?

That was this fic. And hi, wow, so not my OTP, and yet exactly what I needed and wanted and god, this was amazing.

This comment isn't coherent. Or at least, if it is I'll be amazed. I don't think I could leave a properly coherent comment right now, because. Well. Your fic basically just blew my mind away. And now I have to go find it. (My mind, not the fic, and wow, no, seriously, you killed the part of my brain that has the ability to reason and make any kind of sense with your SHEER AWESOME.)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-25 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Now I'm kind of curious as to what the something you originally wanted was. I have so very many fics I want to read that -dammit!- haven't actually been written. It forces me to resort to writing them myself.

I'm glad you liked it and that it fitted a fic-need for you, even if it's one you didn't know you had.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-06-27 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
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