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jamjar: (FOB patrick smiling is also love)
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Header and Bonus Content
Part one

Bill's not sure what he expects to happen next. Patrick to keep not talking to him. Patrick to say something to Travis. Sisky to switch from looking concerned to worried and back again. His band to sit him down and have an intervention, the moment they stop being put off by his bad mood and fear that somehow, Bill will be scarier, more dangerous as a girl.

Travis comes over and they watch Jurassic Park as a comfort movie and Bill doesn't ask him if Patrick's said anything, which is okay because Travis doesn't say if he has either.

He's not expecting it when Pete barges into their suite, though he probably should have. Pete gives him a quick, dismissive glance that if Bill actually was a groupie would probably make him feel like yesterday's leftover pizza crust, instead of just leaving him kind of pissed off and kind of admiring, and turns to Travis and says, "Your girlfriend is a bitch."

"Hey, I'm right the fuck here," Bill says.

"Which is exactly the problem," Pete says, not to Bill, but to Travis. "Your girlfriend is an evil heartbreaking bitch." Each word said with care and precision, like he was practising it on the way here, which is probably true, Bill thinks.

Travis looks at Pete, mouth open and gaping and then says, "You. You're calling my girlfriend a bitch? You?"

"Still here!" Bill says, swinging himself upright on the couch. "If you've got a problem with me, you can tell me to my face."

"You saying it's not true?" Pete says, and he's still blanking Bill, like Bill is nothing.

Travis folds his arms and looks big, looking down at Pete. "I'm saying you don't get to call anyone's girlfriend a bitch," he says. "Even mine."

Pete opens his mouth to something, shakes it and says, "I'm not talking it about it when she's here."

Bill looks at both of them, then says, "Fine," walking out and slamming the door behind him, hard enough that it bounces back instead of shutting properly, so he can stand outside and listen in.

There's nothing for a moment, then he hears Pete say, low and meaningful, "She broke his heart."

"It was six years ago," Travis says.

"Yeah, and you weren't there. One day he's talking about her, writing music and singing Marlene Dietrich and saying how great she is, how he can't wait for us to meet her, and then nothing. She doesn't turn up, doesn't even fucking text, and he's panicking like she might be lying in a morgue somewhere." Bill winces, wonders if Pete knows he's listening in, if this is designed to make him feel bad. "Which I would've been okay with," Pete adds. "But no, he finds out that she's gone off with some guy, that she lied to him about everything, her school, her family, their relationship."

"First, sixteen, no one makes good decisions then. And second, maybe she had her reasons?"

"What the fuck reason is there for making Patrick think you love him when you're just using him as a summer entertainment?"

It wasn't like that. Bill bites his tongue on the words, because they're true and meaningless. He didn't mean to let it get serious with Patrick, he didn't mean to let him think they had a future. He just kept forgetting, kept pushing it to one side, not wanting to waste time thinking about it when he could use it just being with Patrick. It was just too easy to let himself get distracted, let himself fake like he didn't know there was an expiration date on their relationship.

He misses the end of Pete and Travis, coming back to himself when Pete slams the door open and Bill has to step back so it doesn't hit him in the face. He can see Travis in the other room, one hand rubbing at his face under his glasses and then Pete's in front of him. Bill looks at him, refusing to be embarrassed at being caught listening.

"You're a fucking bitch and if I see you anywhere near my band, the shows or the studio, I'll call security on you and I don't care who you've fooled into thinking you're worth anything," Pete says, loud enough that Bill knows it's at least half for Travis.

"You're a class act, Pete Wentz," Bill says. He's glad he's still got most of his height, glad he can still look down on Pete. "Wow, it's amazing you're not seeing someone right now."

"Yeah, like I'm going to take lessons on class from some flatchested starfucker groupie."

"You son of a—It's not like I meant for—" Bill throws his hands up and steps back, breathes in deeply. "Okay, you know what, we're both class A bitches, and that's something we can work on in therapy, but this is not your business. If Patrick wants to yell at me, fine, but you're not involved here."

"He's my best friend."

"He's my—" And he hesitates, but just for a second, "I'm his ex-girlfriend, not yours. You don't have trashing privileges." Pete looks at him like he's giving serious thought to punching him and that shouldn't be what makes Bill soften, but it's not like he can blame Pete for being pissed at him for hurting Patrick. "I'm sorry if he got hurt, that's pretty much the last thing I ever wanted. Sometimes you don't get a choice about that."

"So you've got a reason for it?" Pete says. His voice is quiet and hard and vicious. "Because I heard a lot of reasons from Patrick. Maybe you got scared, maybe your parents freaked out, maybe you got knocked up and sent to a nunnery or knocked over on the way to his house, got amnesia or died in the ambulance." He takes a step closer the catches himself and moves back. "Maybe you had a boyfriend the whole time, maybe Patrick wasn't good enough, experienced enough, maybe there was something wrong with him, there had to be because he didn't notice anything wrong with you and he should have, right?"

Bill crosses his arms and his fingers dig into his upper arms. He relaxes them deliberately. "If Patrick wants to talk to me, he can, and you can tell him I'm sorry for ending it—" his mouth twists a little, not quite a smile. "For ending it badly. It wasn't exactly my most shining moment." He takes a deep breath. It's probably a mistake to say this, but he has to say it at least once, and talking to Pete's as close as he can get to saying it to Patrick right now. "I'm not sorry for—" and he's not sure what the right word is, so he settles on, "for getting involved. I really liked him, more than I meant to, and maybe I..." And he's running out of words again because what he wants to say is that it's at least half Patrick's fault for being Patrick, but that's not going to be helpful, so he just shrugs and says, "Yeah, anyway. That's it, that's what I have to say."

Pete looks at him and smiles. "You think that makes it better? That you're sorry now, but oh, not really, that you didn't mean to hurt him, you were just criminally fucking careless, and—"

"Pete, get the fuck out until you've calmed down," Travis says, putting his hands on Pete's shoulders. "Seriously, man, don't say—don't do something you'll regret."

"Yeah, really don't think I'm gonna regret—"

"Patrick know you're here?" Travis says. The question makes Pete freeze and Travis nods. "Yeah, didn't think so. I could phone him, recap the last five minutes?"

Pete doesn't say anything but he winces and Bill's not sure if he should be relieved that Pete's doing this on his own, that Patrick didn't send him and probably wouldn't want him here, even if it is for Pete's sake more than Bill's. The silence stretches, grows, and between the three people there, one of them should be able to manage something. He's almost grateful when Butcher slams open the door, cell-phone in his hand and says, "Yo Beckett, Joe says something about Pete coming over here to kill some girl Travie's—oh." He looks at them and Bill's not sure how much he's picking up on, other than the incredibly obvious tension, but it's enough to have him stop mid-entrance and say, "Uh, should I go be somewhere else?"

Pete's laugh is loud and vicious as throwing stones. "Yeah, it's not you that should leave." And then something makes his eyes widen. "Wait, Beckett?"

Butcher's eyes go wide and bill opens his mouth for an explanation, but Butcher beats him to it. "Yeah, she's Bill's cousin."

"You told Patrick your name was Sandersen or something—" Pete says, like he's pretty sure this is another sign of Lily's basic guilt, but he's not sure in what way.

"Mother's side," Butcher says. "But I just call her Beckett because she looks like one. A Beckett."

Pete frowns a little and looks Bill over. Bill knows that he's logging in the similarities. "So I'm guessing Bill's side of the family are the ones that got the heart-genes?" He looks at Travis. "And you, that's fucking incestuous. Settling for the cheap copy? Does she even have anything Bill doesn't."

"Okay, that's kind of harsh," Butcher says, shifting. "Pete, man, you shouldn't talk about someone's cousin like that, it's not..." He trails off, shrugging.

"True. Also true is the fact that this is my room, Wentz." Bill folds his arms and resists the urge to be rational about this, to see things his way. Flat-chested starfucker groupie.

Pete gives Bill one more look over, before turning and saying to Travis, "If you wanted to date someone else's bad idea, you should have come to me. I could have given you one of my exes." A great exit line for Pete to leave them with, pushing past Butcher in the doorway and slamming out of the room.

"I'm just gonna—" Butcher says, waving vaguely at anywhere that isn't here.

"Yeah, you do that," Bill says.

"Okay, I'll just... You're okay, right?" Butcher's look of sympathy is genuine and Bill really wishes his band was less sensitive, less aware, because he's pretty sure he'd feel harder, tougher about all this if he didn't have the option of breaking down and knowing they'd take care of him. "I didn't mean to—you think it's okay, that I said you were your own cousin?"

"It's fine, really. Honest." Bill gives Butcher a smile that he knows won't convince him, but might tell him Bill wants to fake like he's good. "Not like it can make anything worse. And it gives you guys an excuse to be around me, when they get all..." He gestures at the door Pete went through.

Butcher nods like he gets that and leaves. Bill's pretty sure he has maybe ten minutes before Butcher tells Sisky and then the rest of the band finds out by osmosis. He stays staring at the door for a minute, trying to focus on being impressed at the power of Pete's bitchiness more than anything else, then Travis pulls him in and hugs him and Bill leans his head on his shoulder. "Thanks," he says, muffled against Travis's neck.

"Hey, gotta protect my fake-girlfriend's honour." Travis snorts. "Pete Wentz calling my girl a bitch."

"He hates me, doesn't he?" Bill says. "Jesus, I was sixteen."

"Pete can carry a grudge," Travis says. "He's a bitter, bitter man." This close, Bill can feel Travis speak as much as hear him. "Unless you weren't talking about Pete," Travis adds.

Bill gives a little laugh. "Yeah, I don't know what I mean."

"Sucks to be you, huh?"

Bill inhales, then pushes back, standing up. "It's fine. I'll just hang out with you guys and my guys, and when I flip back, you can bond with Patrick about bad ex-girlfriends. Get a few songs out of it." He hums the opening bars of Queen and I, tapping the beat on Travis's arm.




The thing is, it's a lot easier to avoid someone if you're in different cities, your friends aren't their friends and you don't hang out at 90% of the same places. Just the thought of it, having to weigh every outing against the chance of running into Patrick makes him feel tired. The last thing he wants is Joe or someone asking Sisky or Mike why they're picking Bill's cousin's side over Patrick's. Or worse, why Bill never mentioned her. It sucks and leaves him feeling clingy, so he makes Sisky sit in front of him on the couch and messes with his hair, before going over the same chorus with Mike a hundred times and trying not to think that the plan was to have Patrick produce this song.

Mike's tracked down the one place in the city that he swears does real Chicago-style pizza, but Bill's not in the mood. It's not that he wants to stay in his room and brood, but going out seems like so much effort, not worth the risk, so he lies on his back and listens to himself sing and thinks about painting his nails until he realises he's thinking about the time Patrick painted his nails, about seeing his own hands across Patrick's skin, and that just leaves him unsettled, bad tempered and turned on and his hands go across his body, tracing over his sides and one hand up to curl against one of his breasts, just feeling himself up, which he's still not bored with. It's tempting to use the memory of Patrick to get off, close his eyes, let his hands work, but he did that a few times after and it wasn't—it was never—it just left him feeling colder, after.

There's a knock at the door, two quiet then two louder. Bill rolls to his feet to answer and if he was thinking, he still wouldn't expect to see Andy there. The urge to close the door right there is pretty strong, but he resists and puts on a politely disinterested expression. "Travis isn't here right now," he says, helpful girlfriend style.

"Yeah, I wanted to talk to you first," Andy says. He has his arms crossed and Andy Hurley being a scary motherfucker is kind of a label-joke, but it's also maybe kind of true.

Bill shrugs and his body feels off, awkward. He's tall for a girl, but still shorter than he normally is and he feels it, like Andy's eyes are a few inches above where they should be, the proportions off. He holds the door open and waves Andy in, but Andy stays where he is, arms folded.

"Pete overreacts sometimes. I just want to make sure that's not going to be an issue."

"I'm not going to be posting clips of it to myspace," Bill says, folding his arms to match Andy's and standing up straight.

"I was more worried about messing with my friends than bad publicity," Andy says.

Bill doesn't let the hit show, but he wishes he was armoured with more than just his T-shirt and jeans. It doesn't matter what Andy thinks, he has to remember that. Andy doesn't know him, doesn't know this is him, Andy never even met him when he was Lily before. "You don't need to worry about that," Bill says, then corrects himself. "Not from Travie anyway. It's not—he's not gonna lose his friendship with you guys over a girl, right? If Pete—if Patrick doesn't feel—"

"Patrick's fine," Andy says. "He wasn't expecting to run into you, but..." He shrugs, casual enough that it has to be fake and says, "It's not like you were Anna or someone he had a meaningful relationship with."

That's—wow. Bill thinks he should be insulted, but he's mostly kind of impressed, because that's a statement designed to put him in his place when Andy has to know, Patrick couldn't have kept from them, that Lily was Patrick's first real girlfriend, the first woman he slept with, which, not to get all cult of virginity about it, but that's a pretty big fucking deal by anyone's standards. And maybe he's not Anna, maybe technically two months isn't the same as two years, but it was still pretty damn significant.

Or maybe this is what Patrick's telling himself now, which is good, right? Bill shrugs at Andy and says, "Teenage romance." Like that's an explanation. And then, because he can't help himself, he's leaning forwards a little, uncrossing his arms and saying, "He's okay, right? I don't want him to be—"

"Hurt?" Andy drops the word in there with perfect timing, one eyebrow raised.

"I never wanted that," Bill says. He stops himself from crossing his arms again. "Things just happen."

"Which you had no control over?" Andy says, then he stops, takes his glasses off and cleans them with the bottom of his T-shirt. He puts them back on and says, "We don't need to talk about this. It doesn't matter anymore, as long as you're not rubbing whatever you have with Travis in Patrick's face, and you don't screw Travis over like you did him."

Bill looks at him for a moment, leaning against the doorway. The edge of it pushes against his forearm and the side of his hip. "You know, you're kind of making me miss Pete right now," he says. "Look, I'm not the one making this a big deal right now. You, you weren't even around back then, and Patrick and me aren't seventeen anymore, okay?"

He shuts the door and leans his head against it on the sign warning them what to do in case of a fire. The exit is at the end of the corridor, there are extinguishers here, here and oh god, is he going to have to deal with a visit from Joe, too? Because he only met Joe a couple of times when he was Patrick's girlfriend, but he thinks Joe liked him then and he really, really doesn't want to deal with Joe not liking him now.

Okay, fuck all of this and he's not going to stay in his room, even if he wants to, he's going to go out and get pizza, get drunk, maybe get laid—with a girl, maybe, because he really did not do that enough the last time he had breasts, and he thinks Travis might cry if Bill doesn't at least make out with another girl at least once—and he's not going to think about Patrick once.

It's a little strange when he heads out. He does feel weirdly off-balance and he hadn't realised just how much of the time he'd spent around Patrick last time. Now that he's letting himself think about it, in his memories he was always leaning on him, Patrick's arm around his waist, slipping his hand in Patrick's pocket. In retrospect, he was possibly a little clingy, but at the time, it was just automatic. Touch Patrick, pet his hair when he was next to Bill, lean on him, sit on his lap if there weren't enough seats. It feels strange to just put his hands in his own back pockets when they're cold, to not have the option of putting them up the sleeves of Patrick's sweatshirt instead, curling them around Patrick's wrist.

He finds the guys and that makes it easier. He can focus on what Mike's saying, and when Butcher, Mike and Sisky move on to a club, he goes with them. Butcher drags him on to the dance floor, he can shut his eyes and feel his body move, occasionally banging into Butcher. It's not the kind of music anyone can look good dancing to, flailing limbs and jumping and it's good, pure and physical and enjoyable, a lot like being on stage. He jumps a little when he feels someone come up behind him, checks over his shoulder and it's just some random guy being hopeful, trying to bump and grind to the wrong music. Bill shakes his head a little, moves away. He catches Butcher's eyes and they dance together for a bit, stupid and careless and fun.

The music changes to something slow and they head back to the others, Bill leaning on Butcher and it takes Bill a moment to register that Mike's talking to someone. There's a moment more for him to remember why it's probably bad that Joe's there and, because life is cruel and has a sense of humour that makes Gabe's look sophisticated, there's Patrick.

Bill goes to step away from the Butcher, but Patrick sees him before he can, so he freezes. Moving would make him look like he feels guilty and he's done nothing wrong, nothing he should feel guilty about, Butcher's hand tightens and Bill can feel him wondering what his cue is.

Patrick's hand goes up like he's going to wave or adjust his hat or something, but doesn't quite make it.

"Hey," Bill says, careful to direct it at no-one in particular. It's barely audible over the sound of the club.

"Hey," Patrick says back, yelling to be heard over the background noise and then wincing at the sound. Bill's acutely aware of everyone watching them with varying degrees of subtlety. "Uh. I didn't realise you'd be here." His smile is fast and awkward and oh, they're going to be grown-up about this, like everyone's going to play nice and be just old friends, like Bill didn't have half of Fall Out Boy warning him off in the past twenty-four hours.

Bill can see Mike try to work out what story they should be telling. He says something too quiet to be heard over the crowd, then repeats it louder. "Bill asked us to look out for her while she was in town."

"And you know I knew Sisky from way back," Bill says.

Patrick nods at him. "Right, I guess you met through Bill? He, uh. He never mentioned you." His face looks kind of grim, but not vicious, just powering through a not-good situation. His shoulders are tense and he's wearing a jacket, shiny and black, despite the heat of the club. Covered and tense and Bill flashes on Patrick in the back of his car, shirt off and jeans open, boneless and sweaty and smiling and all that exposed skin picking up the sulphur orange from the streetlights.

"No reason why he should." Bill tries a smile and his lips feel dry as a bone, but he doesn't want to chapstick or even lick them when Patrick's there. Patrick flinches at something and Bill can feel it, how everything he says will come out wrong. He's angry, he remembers. He's angry with Patrick, or maybe Fall Out Boy in general, and he has to remember that. It's not as good as being over it, but it's close enough, maybe. "I'd leave, but since your boys are making a point of tracking me down in my hotel room..." he shrugs and says. "But since you and Joe are here, I guess I'm safe." Butcher's arm tenses around him, just a little, and he shouldn't be dragging his guys into it. He shouldn't be saying this in public, especially not when he has to shout to be heard.

"What?" Patrick says. "Who... Did Pete—Joe?" Patrick says, not quite angry but like he's definitely considering the possibility.

Joe shrugs and looking relaxed and vaguely stoned. Bill can just about make out what he's saying, and half of that's body language. "Hey, don't look at me. I'm out here with you."

It doesn't look like Patrick buys Joe's act any more than Bill does. He crosses his arms and says, "Fuck, I told you guys not to make a big deal about this." He turns back to face at Bill, looking resentfully apologetic. Bill shrugs and pushes his hair back off the face, using the movement to step away from Butcher.

"We don't want this to be a thing, right? We can just..." and then Bill realises that he's leant down to say this, automatically stepping into Patrick's personal space with one hand on his shoulder so he doesn't have to yell, and he stops, freezes and then straightens up and steps back.

"You're—" Patrick starts to say, then looks around them, frustrated. He swears and Bill can see him form the words, even though he can barely hear them, and yeah, fuck covers his feelings too right now. It's not just Mike and Butcher and Joe, it's the looks from the people around, the Is that...? glances.

Patrick says something to Joe, then turns back to Bill, pointing at a Staff Only door and spreading his hand out. Five minutes?

His stomach twists and he's not sure if it's a bad idea or a good one, but... Sure, he can do this, he should be able to do this. It's not going to be a thing. He nods, and there's an awkward moment when he thinks Patrick's going to take his hand and pull him along, when he thinks Patrick thinks that and both of them move to do it, and then realise and try to cover it up. He makes an it's-cool gesture to Butcher and Mike and follows Patrick through the door. There's a hallway, lit up with a red light bulb and no shade.

It's not silent and he can still hear the music from the club, but the difference in volume is disorientating. It's like everything is muffled, except for them and all their movements are too loud. Bill's hands are sweaty and he wipes them on his jeans, trying to be discreet, but Patrick's eyes follow the movement and then look away. Bill can't tell if Patrick's flushed or if it's just the light, and maybe guys might talk about how hard is it to tell if a girl likes you, how men are so more obvious, but from the inside, it's pretty fucking clear, and Patrick, Patrick knows him.

He wishes he wasn't wearing one of his usual t-shirts, wonders if Patrick can tell it's a guy's, if he thinks it belonged to some ex-boyfriend or something. Or god, if he recognises it as one of Bill's and wonders what Lily's doing wearing it. Maybe he should buy some new clothes or get his mom to send him the box of clothes from before. He has one of Patrick's oversized sweatshirts with the logo for some obscure-even-then Chicago band, in a drawer back home. And underneath the T-shirt he borrowed but didn't wear much because it was a horrific shade of orange, so he just slept in it. These are exactly the wrong kind of thoughts to be thinking right now, and Bill's trying to be good, but his nerves are on edge and he thinks if he doesn't pick a fight with Patrick, he's going to try to fuck him and that, that would be really bad.

He crosses his arms over his tits and says, "You know, Pete acts like I'm his evil ex, not yours."

"He's my best friend." Which is a reason, sure, but not an excuse, or not one Bill's willing to accept right now.

"How the hell did he even know I was there? You wanted to yell at me, you could have done that in person, not through your friends or MTV." Angry, he's angry, not hurt at that.

"I didn't—Joe was there when you phoned this morning," Patrick says. "I didn't know what they were going to do."

Bill laughs without meaning to, short and hard. "Jesus, Patrick, they're your friends. What did you think they'd do? If it was—" He stops, because there's no way to end that will make look coherent and he's kind of smiling and sees Patrick's mouth echo it and it's too easy to fall back into that, feedback loop of curved mouths and Bill doesn't actually move, but it still feels like his whole body leans in.

Maybe Patrick sense it too because he stiffens and his mouth goes tense. "Fine, I'll—you know, whatever, I'll ask Pete to tone it down."

His voice is curt and his body is all closed off, but Bill sees the way Patrick's eyes drop to his mouth and he knows Patrick wants to kiss him.

"Andy too, you'll call off the—" Not dogs, dogs is giving them too much credit "the puppies."

Patrick lets out a bark of laughter then stops himself, drawing back in and he looks at Bill, lost for a second, same wild-eyed look he used to get before punching someone back in the old days, and then he takes a deep breath and before he can say anything, Bill says, "So we're good, right?" And he reaches out and touches Patrick's shoulder and—oh, he shouldn't have done that, but now he doesn't know how to take his hand back. His hand is just—it's there and it's a good thing, such a good thing he's wearing layers, because Bill can just feel the slick, plastic feel of the jacket and not the warmth of Patrick's skin. He snatches it back and then holds it against himself like it's burnt.

Patrick's quiet for a moment, long enough to make Bill anxious, before Patrick looks away, somewhere two foot to the side of Bill's head, and speaks. "After you left, I went back over everything, all the time we'd spent together, looking for something I'd missed. Some kind of clue." He laughs, just for a second. "The guys were way more patient than I deserved mostly. They had to deal with a lot of the—" he sketches an explosion in the air with one hand. "The, you know, fall out. Not my finest hour." He steps forward and takes Bill's hand lightly by the wrist, turning it palm up like he's checking for cuts. "I don't want to be that guy again, Lily." His voice is soft, bitter and Bill can hear the slight differences he's picked up over the years. "I didn't like it much the first time."

"Jesus, Patrick, you've got to—" Let go, Bill means to say, because I can't take this, but Patrick looks up and that's it, game over, because Bill's grabbing Patrick's jacket and pulling him towards him or Patrick's pushing him back against the wall, and Patrick's kissing him, his hands on Bill's waist and Bill's knocked Patrick's hat off, hands in his hair, and that's different, longer, easier to grip even though Patrick doesn't look like he's planning on moving away. Bill bites at his mouth like he's wanted to do for years and Patrick's groan is satisfying in the way that makes him greedy. He rolls up against Patrick, wanting more, friction and skin and Jesus, it's good, it's—he wants, all of him, breathing hard and he doesn't have to think, just react.

"Lily," Patrick says against his mouth and yes, saying his name like that, that tone of voice and his hands on Bill's skin, it's perfect and it's right what he wanted and it's—"Lil, you—"

Wrong.

He thinks it, but he's not sure if he's the one that freezes first or if it's Patrick, just that all of a sudden they're not touching, several feet of space between them and Patrick's mouth looks wet and his own teeth bite one it. Bill wraps his hands around himself to stop them reaching out. His T-shirt's shoved up, not quite showing his tits and his hands touch his own skin.

"Fuck," Patrick says, and Bill has to fight back the part of him that wants to go, Yes, please. He pulls his T-shirt down and tucks it in, mindlessly. He's can't look at Patrick directly. It's—He could do it, he could have him again. It's a bad thought, selfish and guaranteed to cause maximum damage. Patrick didn't want to be that guy and Bill doesn't want to be that girl, but he could—he could just push Patrick, just enough, say the right things or enough of them for Patrick to pretend to himself that he believes them.

Or he could tell him the truth and—

And what? Be Patrick's evil-ex full time, so every time they met, Patrick would look at Bill and see Lily? See Bill as the wrong version, and either be pissed at him full time or—

It's like a cold shower, except that it actually works. He can't afford to do this again.

"That wasn't meant to happen," Bill says. 'You—you mess up my plans."

Patrick tucks his hands in his pockets and looks up at Bill, half-smiling like he doesn't mean to. "I—I really don't know how to take that."

Bill leans back against the wall, head tilted forward. He can see the toes of his shoes and Patrick's feet and he doesn't look up when he speaks. "You might not believe me, but I really missed you when I left."

"Yeah, that doesn't, it doesn't actually help, Lily. You had my number and email and address, you could have..." Patrick trails off and Bill can see his feet shuffle slightly. "I guess it doesn't matter anymore."

Such a fucking lie.

"I need to get back to the hotel," Bill says. His voice sounds a little rough and he rubs his throat and hopes that he's just coming down with something. He pushes away from the wall and tries to look calm, stable, like he's not still painfully aware of how easy it could all be for the next, say, forty-five minutes until they had to deal with it all again.

"You're staying with Travis?" Patrick says, not looking at him.

Bill gives a vague shrug. "I'll try not to see you around."





Generally, if pushed, Bill would say that he goes for people who know what they're doing. People who know what they want -fuck, he likes that- but still. Patrick is just shiny and new and so appreciative of everything Bill does, like he never expected it to happen to him. He looks at Bill like he's some kind of Mata Hari-Ishtar-centrefold genius, like he's not only succeeding at being a girl, but excelling, best fucking girl ever. It makes Bill feel awesome, actually. As does what Patrick's doing right this moment with his mouth and the fact that Bill's the only girl he's ever gone down on means that Patrick has amazing natural talent or Bill is an excellent teacher because, oh, yes, there, again.

"I am never getting tired of this," Bill says, breathing heavily and head falling back against the pillow.

Patrick raises his head and smiles. It's smug, but it's deserved, so Bill pulls him up and kisses him. He can taste himself on Patrick and he thinks, just for a second, of how it'd be if he'd done this before, if they did it after, more bitter, but he stops that thought as soon as he thinks it. It's pointless, and it'll kill the mood, and anyway, he has Patrick here now.

"That's good to know," Patrick says. He looks flushed and sweaty and happy, proud of himself and Bill wraps his legs around him. Bill likes that, even when they're not having sex.

"Seriously, I could do this forever. Like, forever," Bill says into Patrick's shoulder, rubbing the side of his face against Patrick's and then giving him a little nip to match the hickey already there. He likes that, likes the way Patrick hesitates between wanting to cover them up and wanting to show them off, and the way they can just be out at the cinema or something and Bill can just lean over and add to them.

"Also, also good to know," Patrick says, quiet and a little stuttery and oddly intense. Bill raises his head to ask why, but Patrick kisses him instead and it's so good, still, even though Bill came like, thirty seconds ago, that he almost doesn't pick up on what Patrick said, what he said.

Oh! Oh, that's—Bill didn't mean that like it came out, he didn't. He should say something, but Patrick's hand is flat across his stomach, sliding to his hip and later, Bill can tell him later. After.








Bill's mom sends over a box of his clothes from the last time. The T-shirts still fit. The jeans were a little looser then, but they're okay now, and oh, that pair of black trousers which he loved are—yeah, definitely unwearable now, damn it.

It's funny, in the ha-ha-very-funny, ironic sense, that he already has a few T-shirts from back then with him. There's a Third-Eye Blind T-shirt and one with "Rage against the Machine, Man Versus Android" flaking off it and a stupid green one he stole from Patrick one night. The thing is, he's worn them all a couple of times since then, as a boy. Patrick's probably even seen him in them and just—they were in the same area, went to the same stores. He just can't wear them now because it'd mean he was wearing Patrick's old T-shirt and Patrick would know.

Panic arrive for studio work, a charity album thing FBR are doing, and that's better at first. Between that and whatever Patrick said to them, it keeps Pete off Bill's back, busy doing promo work and getting himself into another video. He still has to avoid being there when Joe or Andy comes over, but that's okay, he can work with that.

It starts sucking about three days in, because he forgot that Panic are their friends, too. It's normal for Ryan Ross to hang around with Mike, for Brendon and Butcher to mainline episodes of Firefly. It gets pretty clear pretty quickly that they've been coached by Pete and Andy on Lily, why she ranks somewhere between Lucreiza Borga and Emma Frost. They're not rude, are polite even, when Bill shows up with Travis or Sisky and Mike. It takes Bill a while to figure out that it's not just the normal, slightly distant manners to the friend's girlfriend you're not really sure of, the one you're polite to only because you know being honest about her will just make them cling on tighter.

It takes almost a week of constant interruptions, Ryan turning up at Travis's hotel room with some excuse to drag him out, Spencer needing to speak to Butcher just when Bill and Butcher were planning on hitting the local mall, Sisky being asked to show Brendon around town nightly, for Bill to realise that they're practically staging an intervention. Cutting Bill out and keeping Travis out late and Jon keeps introducing Travis to this girl that he knows, increasingly less subtle suggestions that Travis can do better.

"It's a campaign," Bill says. "Those fucking boys are trying to break us up." He's amazed and kind of impressed and thinking he should be a little bit more annoyed, but he keeps wondering if he'd win in a catfight with Spencer Smith.

"I'm holding out for Lily Allen's phone number," Travis says, pulling Bill against him on the couch. Bill curls next to him, Travis's hand on his waist. "Don't dump me before they come through with that."

"You think it'll take long?"

"Nah, they're getting pretty desperate." Travis leans his head against Bill's. "You owe me, though. There was this one girl..." He groans dramatically. "Can we have an open fake-relationship?"

"We could be fake just friends?" Bill says. He looks across the room at the TV, which would probably work better if it was on. "I know you've been working with Patrick in the studio a lot. Might be easier if you just..."

"Dumped you? I'm saving that for our three month anniversary."

"Classy."

"Yeah, I try." Travis pulls him in and Bill leans his head on his shoulder. It's warm and Travis smells good, a mix of weed and shower -gel and he curls in and thinks about it, thinks about maybe just reaching over and just being a good fake girlfriend, and the idea is appealing enough that he shifts slightly, legs crossed, and then Travis says, "So you and Patrick any less complicated? Because you both seem pretty hung up on each other and—"

Bill straightens up and leans away and says, "you know how to kill the mood."

"There was a mood?" Travis turns to face him, eyebrows up above the rims of his glasses. Bill can't tell if it's faked. "An in-the-mood-mood? Fuck, man, I take it back, I—"

Bill rolls his eyes and swings his legs up onto the couch and moving back so his back is pressed against the armrest. "Too late," he says. He kicks at Travis's thigh. "Bringing up the ex? How do you ever get laid?"

Travis picks Bills legs up and stretches them across his lap, petting at them. "Yeah, most of my girlfriends are a lot more fucked in the head than you, so..." He grins at Bill, rolling his head on the back of the couch, looking really fucking adorable and Bill almost wants to blow him just for that.

Instead, he scrunches down on the couch, getting more comfortable, and lets Travis take the remote. They watch two episodes of Venture Brothers before Travis says, "You thought about what you're gonna do after? When you lose the..." He gestures at Bill's body. "And get your dick back?"

"Sure," Bill says. "I'm an old hand at this."

Travis raises an eyebrow, pretty much calling Bill on lying. Like a rug, it says, which is pretty damn mouthy for a n eyebrow. Bill kicks out with his heel, digging it in to Travis's leg and just missing his crotch. "Shut up," he says. "Watch Venture Brothers."

"Yeah, I'm gonna love the aftermath," Travis says, but he shuts up and focuses on the screen.





Travis heads out, maybe to try and work on getting Lily Allen's number, maybe just to spend time with people with simpler love lives, or at least simpler biology. Bill opts for an early night, which is why he gets woken up to the sound of someone banging at the door. He grabs the bathrobe and staggers out of the room, opens the door, scrubbing at his face and says, "I hate you," stepping back to let Travis in.

There's no response. Bill takes his hand away from his face and stares out blearily. Shit. He needs to look before he opens the doors.

"I'm. I'm pretty sure that's my line," Patrick says. His mouth is twisting into something that's more a smile than anything else.

"Sorry, I thought you were..." Bill makes a gesture above his head, shorthand for Travis. "I wasn't expecting to see you again."

"Yeah, I'm—" Patrick shrugs. "Not."

"Yeah, I noticed.' Bill shakes his head, trying to wake up enough to deal with this. "It's—what time is it?"

"Late. Or, you know, early. I need to talk to you," Patrick does that thing, lifting his hat up just enough to push his hair back, then putting it down. Bill blinks, because it's familiar, that movement, but it feels like it isn't. Patrick didn't do it when they dated. "It's late, I know."

"Or early," Bill says. "I thought, didn't we decide to just not..." he gestures at the two of them. "You know?"

Patrick nods and then shrugs. "We are. I mean, I will, I want—I don't want to be here, I'm gonna go, just I need to—fuck. I know we were kids, I know—but I need a reason, I need you to, just some kind of—"

"Patrick, I'm sorry I—" And he can't do this, he really can't, not when his whole body is still leaning towards Patrick. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, then opens his eyes. "I'm so sick of apologising to you," Bill says.

"I don't want an apology," Patrick says. "I just want an explanation, I want to know—" he gets louder as he's speaking, that voice that gets more impressive with every year.

"I was seventeen and stuff was happening in my life—"

"Stuff you never mentioned? Stuff you could have told me about when I thought I was your boyfriend—"

"That was never meant to happen." Bill didn't mean to say that, but the words are there, out. He pushes his hair back out of his eyes -it's floppier when he's a girl, which is still fucking weird- and he sees Patrick's eyes drop to the front of his robe. He tightens it, tucking it more securely and he feels on edge, that tension that feels almost like gearing up for a fight, but not exactly. Not fear, just something saying that a bathrobe isn't exactly dressed and there's Patrick, right there, and jesus fuck, if he was wearing a nun's habit, he'd probably still feel this way.

"You. Where's Travis?" Patrick says, like he's just putting together the fact that it wasn't Travis at the door, that Travis isn't there, that it's just them.

Bill looks at him blankly and fuck, Patrick knows he hates being woken up in the middle of the night, that he has trouble thinking straight between the hours of midnight and nine am. Travis, why would Travis be—oh, yeah. "We don't spend every night together," he says. "I like to sleep at night sometimes and Travie..." he tails off. Travis has this weird habit of starting conversations in his sleep and it always throws Bill off. "You know how he is."

Patrick nods and Bill thinks, he does know. He knows Travis, he knows Bill's friends and when he turns back, Bill's still going to have to see him every day, on tour and in the studio and on TV. "And you can stop acting like I fucked up your life," Bill says. He's grabbing at the neckline of his robe and he forces his fingers to let go. "You turned out pretty good, you're not, you're not Pete or something. You got over me."

"Because I'm not writing songs about you?"

"Because you're not—" Bill's starting to yell and he makes himself calm down. "It's not like you never dated again. You're well-adjusted and successful and you have, you know, healthy relationships with women. You got over me."

"Yeah, I'm not doing so well with that," Patrick says. "I was, don't get me wrong. I pretty much never thought about you anymore, and then you're here and you're dating one of my best friends and you're all I can think about, Lily."

"Patrick," Bill says and he doesn't mean to. It just slips out, two syllables and too much history and he knows, even before Patrick moves in, what's going to happen. He steps forward to meet him. It's too easy, all of it, and—

And yeah, this is probably a bad idea, but maybe it'll get lost in all the others.

Patrick kisses like—like Patrick kisses, his hands on Bill's waist. There's nothing tentative about it, just the feel of his mouth on Bill's, his teeth biting against Bill's lip. Bill pushes against Patrick's hands and enjoying the feeling of resistance and pushing past it, pressing against Patrick. Patrick's reading his mind or something, because he has his thigh between Bill's legs and Bill thinks, he's better at this than he was and then wishes he hadn't.

He feels the edge of Patrick's glasses knock into his cheek and he pulls back enough to pull them off, hesitating and meeting Patrick's eyes. It's just a moment, but it's deliberate and takes away at least half of the excuses (caught up in the moment, sleep-drunk, couldn't help it) Bill's probably going to be reaching for tomorrow.

And that moment passes and everything's just a blur of action, feeling. Patrick's hands on the front of his bathrobe, the friction of Bill's skin against Patrick's jeans, Bill scrambling, trying to get his legs around Patrick, trying to get closer and the moment of panic, fuck, fuck, he doesn't have anything with him, any protection, so he's scrambling in Patrick's pockets, and oh, this might be easier if he didn't have his legs wrapped around Patrick. He drops them, and then gets side-tracked because Patrick's cock is right there, and yeah, maybe they can't do everything right this minute, but that didn't stop them before, right?

He closes his eyes because he can't quite take this, can't deal with the overlapping memories and then Patrick's hands are in his hair and when Bill opens his eyes, Patrick looks like Bill is killing him, breaking his heart all over again. He's biting his lip and Bill wants this, the bedroom, he has—








It's not that he's forgotten, exactly, but it's easier to put it in a box, tie it up and push it at the back of the drawer. No reason to think of Patrick, his Patrick, when he's watching Patrick, his friend, playing with his band. He doesn't even get jealous when Pete hangs all over Patrick, because it's not like Patrick's his to be jealous of. He sees Patrick at parties, at shows, and he just thinks, Patrick, plays drums and a bunch of other stuff, Patrick that I can bitch about the sound system at the Royal with and trying to do math homework backstage at the Knights, Patrick who it's okay to push into the pool, but not to pull under unless you want your teeth kicked in. Compartmentalisation is the key to success, Bill knows. He read it in a newspaper somewhere.

He waves at Patrick when he's coming off stage and Patrick nods back and joins him.

Patrick's glasses are sliding down and Bill pushes them back up his nose and Patrick blinks at him, head drawn back kind of. Bill drops his hands to his side and he sounds perfect, breezy, when he says, "They were falling down."

"Thank you?" Patrick says, looking at Bill like he's judging drunk to crazy to essential William Beckettness.

"Don't mention it," Bill says. Casual, like there's nothing special about Patrick, like Bill's just the kind of guy to go around pushing people's glasses back in to place. "Hey, you seen Mike?"

"I think he was trying to scare your new drummer," Patrick says.

"Yeah? Was it working?"

Patrick shrugs and they look over at Mike and Mrotek, Andy-not-that-Andy. The Butcher. It looks like he's trying to—is that silly string? "It's kind of hard to tell," Patrick says.

"Want to help me rescue him?"

"Wow, tempting as that isn't, I have plans with my girlfriend," Patrick says, tucking his hair back and adjusting his hat.

"Your girlfriend?" Bill says, then realises that maybe he shouldn't sound so shocked. "I didn't know you were seeing someone."

Patrick's smile is bright and Bill's stomach tenses. "Yeah," Patrick says. He's sweaty from being on stage, but kind of glowy and it takes Bill a moment to get why that expression looks strange and familiar. He has seen it on Patrick before, but not for a while. "It's, uh. It's new, but she's really..." He shrugs and smiles again like he can't help it. "And she didn't even flinch when she met the guys."

"They're not that scary," Bill says, trying not to fill in the blanks and the spaces between Patrick's words.

Patrick shakes his head and says, "You haven't seen them when I like a girl. They can be a little..." he shrugs.

"Overprotective," Bill offers and he thinks about it, being Pete maybe, so Patrick is his best friend and yeah, of course he'd be a little bit psychotically overprotective. Happy for him, but only after careful vetting, making sure she's good enough, fearful in case she breaks his heart.

"I was going for more insane, but sure." Patrick shrugs, agreeable and in a good mood. Happy, probably, in that early stage of I-think-this-is-it), and Bill leans across his him for stability, hugging him a little. Patrick is his friend, and he has a girlfriend that makes him smile and Bill is Patrick's friend and it makes him happy, makes him smile back when Patrick smiles.

He leans his head down and rests the side of his face against the top of Patrick's hat and says, "It's how they say they love you."

"Hmm," Patrick says, but his arm comes round to help steady Bill, and he's warm, solid and it's good. This is good. It's not that, but it's this and Bill's okay, he's okay with it. He rubs the side of face against Patrick's hat again, enjoying the feel. It's not everything he wants in this moment, but it's probably still enough.







Bill wakes up with pins and needles down his arms and his first thought is that he's got it caught under someone, and that leads to last night crashing back on him with this combination of oh, fuck and a lingering warm glow from his body of mmm, yes and maybe again? His breath hitches and he forces himself to even it out because he should not wake Patrick, Patrick who's always worst when he rises out of consciousness, Bill needs to just ease his arm out from under Patrick and escape from the room and—and something, Something will occur to him, he's sure, when he's not lying right next to Patrick and oh, shit, he fucked Patrick and Travis isn't even going to have the grace to be smug about being right, he's just going to be sympathetic and knowing as fucking Yoda and...

And Patrick's waking up. He frowns, his eyebrows drawing together, his eyes squeezing shut before they open. There's a second, just a second where his expression is almost affectionate before Patrick's eyes widen a bit and he says, "Lily?"

Bill nods. "Yeah."

"Oh, fuck," Patrick says.

Bill snorts. "Yeah, just what I was thinking." He starts to roll away from Patrick and feels the pins and needles spread from his arm and that's when he realises that he's not touching Patrick at all. His arm isn't trapped under anything, neither are his legs, and it's been seven years since this happened last, but he can remember the signs and oh, fuck fuck motherfucking not now. "I've got to—" he says, pushing himself up and away, not caring about modesty. "You should leave, you've got to—" And he stops talking, curling in on himself as the pins and needles grow more intense, rising into a whole body cramp.

"Lil?" Patrick says. Bill can hear the concern in his voice and any other time but now and he'd be happy to hear it.

"Seriously, Patrick, get the fuck—Oh, Christ." He curls in on himself, keeping his back towards Patrick.

"I can't leave you like—Are you, I need to call—" Patrick says and Bill hears him shift behind him and then feels his hand on his shoulder. Bill pulls away and runs to the bathroom before Patrick can say anything, locking the door behind him.

"Lil! What's wrong, are you—" Patrick says, rattling the doorknob.

Bill closes his eyes, just for a second, and looks at his reflection. His eyes are wide and dilated, his mouth red and his skull, cheekbones, chin, are still female, but he can feel the beginnings of the shift. "I'm fine," he calls out. "Just get out, get—" Oh, this is going to make it worse, but, "Travis is coming back soon, I'm—" and then another wave and he slides down next to the toilet and dry heaves into it. It's worse coming back, always is.

Patrick bangs on the door and Bill yells, "Get out!" trying to keep his voice high, hoping any roughness is just as normal as any morning after.





He waits and hears the door to the hotel room open and then slam shut a few seconds later, but he doesn't get up. He keeps his breathing steady, just like his mom told him before he went through this the first time, and let it happen. It takes fifteen minutes, maybe twenty, and when it's done he feels weak at the knees and starving hungry. He gets up, pulling himself upright on the sink. Bill runs the water, splashes it on his face and looks down. Yeah, there's his cock again and he missed it, but right now, all he can think is that the timing fucking sucks. A day earlier so it didn't happen, a day later so he could have run damage control... He leans forward at his reflection. He looks pale, but he's still got the fucking hickeys, obvious on his neck, his chest.

Okay, so high necklines for a while -maybe he can borrow one of Ryan Ross's scarves since Ryan probably won't try to poison it. And get Travis to go along with some suitably awful break-up so he gets sympathy for a bad ex instead of Pete getting their buddy tattoos removed, and he's—He catches himself nodding, making the list of things to do because it's so much easier to keep going and not think about making exactly the same mistakes at twenty-three that he made at sixteen, because apparently, his body comes conditioned with the idea that sex with Patrick Martin Stumph is a good thing, even when his head, his heart and every single member of The Academy Is... and Gym Class Heroes says otherwise.

And fuck, he's going to have to listen to all of Fall Out Boy talk about what an evil bitch he is, watch Patrick be angry and miserable and—

And just for a second, he can picture himself with his arm around Patrick's shoulders, telling him it's gonna be okay. Maybe Patrick's a little drunk, just enough to lean against Bill, so Bill can...

Can turn out to that bad ex-girlfriend and that creepy current friend, maybe. Bill catches his reflection rolling his eyes and says, "Yeah, I know," to himself, then turns to leave. He hesitates at the door—he heard Patrick leave, but still—and calls out, "Hey, Patrick?" in as close to his girl-voice as he can.

Nothing and Bill can't hear breathing, so he unlocks the bathroom door and steps out.

The thing is, the thing he should have remembered in retrospect is that Patrick breathes quietly. The other thing he should have remembered is that Patrick is—sneaky is the wrong word, is too light to use when Bill can feel his heart drop through the floor and into the hotel's foundations.

"Bill?" Patrick says.

There's a frown as Patrick tries to make reality make sense. He glances over Bill's shoulder and then at Bill, at his face. "Where'd you—where's Lily? Is she..."

"Patrick," Bill says. His mouth his dry and he licks his lips and gets a sense of déjà vu so strong it hurts, because oh, he probably shouldn't have done that. Patrick's eyes lock onto the movement and he can see them widen like something in a cartoon He looks at Bill, looks him over and Bill can almost see two realities colliding and

"You. You look." Patrick closes his and breathes in, deep and shuddering, before opening them again. "Lily?" And his voice is wrong, weak in a way Patrick's so rarely is these days.

This is the moment where Bill should say something. Laugh, maybe, or say something that'll let Patrick shake his head and think "Wow, what the fuck was I thinking?" but he just can't quite do it.

"No, this is—" Patrick is up, off the bed and moving towards him before Bill can blink, and then one hands on Bill's neck, just above the bite-mark, and Patrick has to reach up, further than he normally does, because Patrick's never—not when Bill was Bill, and the touch feels wrong, the angle just off, so Bill raises his hand to pull it away and then doesn't. His fingers curl around Patrick's. He laughs, just a little, nervously, and says, "So this is kind of a long story."


Part three
Part four
Headers and bonus content
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June 2017

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