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Title: Ever Song That I've Ever Loved
Author: [personal profile] smallearthcat
Pairing: Pete/Patrick
Rating: PG-13
Summary: They've always written songs together – Pete's words, Patrick's melody. Only this time, the words are Patrick's.
Author notes: Comments and con. crit. are much appreciated. Also, I wrote this with Favorite Record on repeat, because apparently I'm crazy enough about the song to write fic about it the very first day I heard it.



Back before they were famous, when they used to drive around in a van hoping to make it big, there was a thing. There were lots of things, of course, but there was only one thing, that they all sort of knew but nobody talked about. For the most part, anyway.

Patrick couldn't say for sure that none of the others talked about it when he wasn't around, but no one ever brought it up to him. And he only slipped once, even though he knew better than to bring it up. It wasn't entirely his fault, he didn't think; or maybe it was, just directed by the right confluence of events. Not that it mattered either way, not really; it'd happened regardless.

He stared down at the notebook in his hands, that one little phrase bringing the memory back more clearly than he'd known he would be able to remember it. That night, what? Ten, fifteen years ago now? They'd been driving, as they so often were in those days. It'd been a clear night, and Andy had been tired enough to let Patrick take the wheel when Patrick had claimed he was plenty awake enough to go for a few hours.

There had been a quick glance exchanged between Andy and Pete, who promptly grinned and called shotgun and slid into the passenger seat. That was another thing they never really talked about, though for no reason other than that they didn't need to. Patrick knew he was young and didn't have that much experience driving, so he never protested when Andy or Pete inevitably slid in next to him. It might have been different if they'd said something, because he knew himself well enough to know he'd have felt they were babying him, that they didn't trust him without one of them keeping an eye on him, no matter that they did the same with Joe.

But no one did, and though Patrick had been as awake as he'd claimed, he was still glad for Pete's company. More than he should have been, probably, but that was nothing new. He'd been feeling good that night, riding the high of a better-than-average show where there'd been a few people who actually cared, and he'd put the radio on, letting it rest when he landed on a rock station.

Everything had gone quiet after that, or as quiet as it ever got on the road. Quiet enough for Andy and Joe to fall asleep in the back, despite the radio being loud enough to hear over the wind rushing through the open windows. Pete was quieter than usual, too, and Patrick would have wondered if he'd fallen asleep if he hadn't been sneaking glances often enough to know that Pete was plenty awake and hanging further out the window than he probably should.

Eventually, Pete pulled himself back in, and he was smiling, though Patrick was probably imagining the flush he'd have sworn he saw painting Pete's cheeks. All the same, it made him smile in return when Pete turned it on him. Pete's grin widened, and he began beating out a soft tattoo counterpoint to the one Patrick had unconsciously been drumming into the steering wheel. Patrick's heart fluttered, but instead of turning away shyly like he normally might, something made him add an extra flourish to his straight beat, letting go a little and moving the rest of his body with the beat.

Pete got a glint in his eye then, one that usually spelled trouble for anyone in his immediate vicinity, and let loose himself. When Pete let loose, he was...breathtaking. He moved like there was no one else watching, like he didn't care about anything but the music, like it was flowing through him and any movement he made was merely a byproduct.

Patrick wasn't at all sure what was driving him to it, but for once, he let himself move like he did when he was alone. It almost felt like he was flying, speeding along the highway, wind in his hair, allowing himself to feel the music like he always wanted to, like Pete always seemed to. In that moment, it felt like he could do anything, like nothing was out of reach, and maybe that's why he let words that never should have seen the light of day escape his mouth.

"Oh man, this song," Pete said as it wound down. "It always gets stuck in my head. It's gonna be there for at least the next two days."

"You're the song stuck in my head." It was a thoroughly nonsensical thing to say, but when Patrick looked over at Pete, worried about how Pete would react to it, there was definitely a flush to his friend's cheeks. For some reason, that spurred him on further, compelled to clarify before Pete could shut him down and he was forced to swallow back the words that seemed perpetually to be on the tip of his tongue. "I'm kind of in love with you."

Pete inhaled sharply and slumped back against the door, suddenly looking much more serious. "Trick, I know you think you are-"

"I am," Patrick cut in.

"You might be, but I'm not who you think I am."

Patrick disagreed, because maybe they hadn't known each other very long, but he got a good look inside Pete's head every single time he worked at pulling a song from the scribbled snippets of lyrics in Pete's notebook. He already knew that it had been a mistake to confess his feelings, though, and anything he said to contradict Pete right now would almost certainly be brushed aside.

"I can't be what you want me to be," Pete said with an air of finality.

He could, of course, because Patrick only wanted Pete to be exactly who he was. Patrick sighed in defeat. "I know."

***

You're the song stuck in my head

Just seeing the words, even now, caused a virtual quagmire of feelings to spring up – nostalgia, dread, freedom, sadness, and maybe a momentary stab of hope. He crushed that one ruthlessly, but let the others swamp him, even though it meant his stomach was suddenly churning like it hadn't in years, not since he'd met Elisa and let his hopes for Pete go.

It could have been a coincidence that Pete had written the words where he knew Patrick would see them, that to him it was just a half-remembered phrase from the old days, but if Patrick was honest with himself, he knew it wasn't. Pete knew what those words meant to him, and likely at least some of what he'd feel seeing them. The real question here was why. They'd put that night behind them all those years ago, never talked about it or told Andy and Joe, and had even managed not to let it affect their friendship.

Patrick had been devastated, of course, but in the long run, Fall Out Boy had meant a lot more to him than nursing a broken heart, so he'd forced himself to get over it. That hadn't been easy, living in each other's pockets as they had, but it had been necessary, and he'd managed it. Now here he was, staring at his feelings laid bare, and he had the fleeting thought that maybe Pete was tired of it always being his feelings on display and had decided that it was Patrick's turn, but he knew that was unfair to Pete. And anyway, if that had been the reason, Pete also would have known that the words would likely never have made it into a song, let alone one that would make it further than Patrick's notebook.

Patrick ran his fingers over the words, wishing he knew what it meant. Maybe Pete had just been remembering, maybe he'd liked the words, or maybe he meant something by it. There were only two ways to find out, and asking Pete probably would have been the easier option, but the words had already dug themselves back into his brain, wrapping into a melody, and he knew they'd end up in a song. He began to write.

***

The song came easier than Patrick thought it would, but in retrospect, he should have known that as happy as he was with his life at the moment, those old feelings were still crying out to be heard and recognized for what they were. The only issue now was what he did with it. Because it was a good song, and while he was used to pieces of himself showing through in anything he wrote, this was something else entirely. This was him wearing his heart on his sleeve, and he honestly didn't know how he would react to people seeing that. Assuming they'd know what they were looking at, which for the most part, they probably wouldn't.

It was that thought that finally convinced him to play it for them, his best friends in the world, because they might see it, but even if the song made it onto an album, the rest of the world wouldn't. When he sat them down, nothing was any different than usual, other than his sudden bout of nervousness. Patrick was sure it had to be obvious, but if it was, no one said so, not even when he had to clear his throat three times before he could bring himself to start.

Patrick didn't look up once as he played, not sure he'd make it through if he saw anything other than the usual interest in a new song. When he was finished, there was silence for a beat, but it was long enough that he had to know, and so he looked. Joe pretty clearly had no idea there was anything unusual going on, Andy looked like he could at least tell something was up with Patrick, and Pete, well. Pete's expression defied description, even for Patrick's considerable skills as a wordsmith.

He was obviously shocked, maybe a little bit gutted, but also hungry and just a touch hopeful. Looking at him left Patrick breathless, unable to so much as ask what they thought of the song. Pete was doing no better, though he'd usually be the first to comment or offer a suggestion. The longer they stared at each other, the more obvious it had to be that something was going on, but Patrick didn't know what to do, couldn't even string together a coherent thought.

Finally, Joe broke the silence. "That was-" And that was all the further he got before Andy grabbed his arm and dragged him off, protesting vocally but allowing himself to be led away.

"You actually wrote it," Pete said faintly.

"Yeah." Patrick's face felt like it was on fire as Pete looked him over, obviously trying to figure him out.

Patrick wasn't sure what there was to figure out, because he might as well have cracked his own skull open and let everything spill out that way. But then again, just because he'd put his feelings to a song didn't mean Pete knew why he'd done it any more than Patrick knew why he'd written the words in his notebook in the first place.

"Why would you do that?" He looked surprisingly young, in a way Patrick was completely unused to seeing.

"Why would you? You don't write anything in that notebook you wouldn't want me to use."

"I didn't know you'd write it."

"But you knew I'd see it."

Patrick had him there, and he seemed to know it. "I did."

"Then why put them there? Why-"

"Because they're as true for me as they were for you!" Pete blurted out, hunching in on himself like he was trying to protect himself from the truth or from whatever Patrick would say in response, though he needn't have worried about that.

It wasn't that Patrick had been hoping to hear those words, because really, they'd make things so much more complicated, but Patrick couldn't help being glad all the same. "You could have told me."

"What, when you were 17? You were in love with the band more than you were with me. You loved pulling songs from my words."

And sure, Patrick had been in love with writing back then, with everything about that time really, but he'd been in love with Pete, too. "You loved it, too. You don't think I knew how much those words hurt you sometimes? But you wanted people to see you, wanted me to see you, and guess what? I did. I knew who you were, and I still loved you. I know who you are now, and that hasn't changed anything."

"You can't mean that."

"Why not?"

"Elisa." Pete sounded very sure of himself, but at least he wasn't trying to pin it on some self-deprecating bullshit. And this argument in particular, Patrick could counter fairly easily.

"Because that means I can't love you, too?"

"Yes!" Pete stood and started pacing, looking just like he always had when was approaching the end of his rope. Patrick hadn't missed that at all, and no matter how long it'd been since he'd seen it, he still had the nearly overwhelming urge to try to hug Pete into feeling better. Not that that had ever worked, but the desire was still there.

"It really doesn't."

Patrick tried to put as much sincerity into his words as he could, but judging by Pete's scoff, it wasn't getting through to him. So Patrick did the only thing he could think of at that point – he stood up, right in Pete's way, and when Pete bumped into him, took advantage of the closeness to pull Pete into a kiss.

On the plus side, Pete completely went with it, and Patrick finally got the kiss he'd dreamt of. But on the other hand, Patrick now knew he would never be able to get enough of kissing Pete, enough of Pete in general, and given how hard Pete pushed him away, it might be a good long while before he could convince Pete this was right.

"Seriously, Trick. Don't fuck with me, not like this."

"Pete, I wrote you a goddamn love song. One the whole world might hear. What about that says I'm fucking around?" Pete opened his mouth, but Patrick was tired enough of this back and forth to forestall whatever he was going to say. "Look, I'm not saying it'll be perfect. It probably won't, knowing us, but we could have something here. Yes, there's Elisa. She knows I'm in love with you and always has. She wouldn't get in the middle that."

He should know; they'd talked about it enough, especially early on. There wouldn't be any way to keep from her that something had happened now anyway, not that he'd even try. "There's enough love in me for both of you. The only question is whether or not you want to take me up on it."

Pete wouldn't look at him for minutes after that, but Patrick didn't push him, couldn't afford to at this point. Anything he said now would be more than likely to send Pete running.

Eventually, Pete stepped closer, ever so slowly, until they were toe to toe, and he finally met Patrick's eyes. He didn't say anything, just brushed the backs of his fingers down Patrick's cheek, and Patrick couldn't help leaning into the touch. Pete sighed and slid his arms around Patrick's neck, hugging him like he never intended to let go.

"I want."

Patrick smiled.

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