Less Than Our Breathing
Less Than Our Breathing
"-I love you too, you stubborn ass." He says, and Pete just closes his eyes and lets it happen.
It isn’t their first kiss. And really, Mikey isn’t even Pete’s first guy kiss. Mikey isn’t even Pete’s first sober guy kiss. Mikey is actually somewhere closer to fourth or fifth actual kiss of a guy, on the lips, while sober (third with tongue.) Mikey says Pete is his second, and when Pete asks if Gerard was his first, Mikey hits him, hard. Which okay, Pete probably deserves, but still, it wrecked the mood, and Pete almost doesn’t want to kiss Mikey again. Almost. Almost goes a long way in Pete Wentz’s universe though, so he just tilts his head back and lets himself be kissed. Because even though Mikey was not Pete’s first guy kiss, and even though he was totally sober and Gerard is gonna come and find them, he’s sure, then he will kick Pete’s ass, Mikey is an amazing kisser, and when his lips brush Pete’s and his tongue darts out, just a little, just enough that Pete can’t help but surge forward, wanting more, Pete feels the kiss all the way down to his toes, all the way to the tips of his fingers, and has to hold onto Mikey’s waist to stop himself from falling over because wow.
"Wow," Pete says stupidly and Mikey grins and chuckles, the sound low and a little breathless, nervous, Pete can tell, from the way his hands shake just a little, clutching Pete’s sleeve.
"Yeah." He says.
"Mikey. Mikeyway I-" He kisses Mikey again. Yep. Right down to the toes all right. Mikey laughs
"You okay Pete?"
"Your brother’s gonna fucking kill me." Pete says numbly, pulling away. He’s not stupid, he sees the darkness flicker in Mikey’s eyes for a minute, and Mikey jerks his face up and glares defiantly at Pete.
"Leave my brother out of this Pete. I’m practically a grown-up, you know?" Pete clutches hard at Mikey, as hard as he can, under the circumstances.
"I just meant- If he thinks he’s getting you back after this Mikeyway, we’re gonna have a turf war on our hands. And I fight dirty." Mikey bites his lip in a way that is both adorable and deviously sexy.
"Really?" He says. "How dirty?" And Pete’s so dumbstruck for a second he can do nothing but let himself be pulled forward for another kiss.
It happened like this: They’ve been on tour for a few weeks now, and Pete’s a social guy, see. Only, in Pete terms, ‘social’ really translates to ‘over-caffinated pain in the ass.’ and Pete can sort of tell when his bandmates have had enough of him, so he spends a lot of time wandering around by himself, giving them the space they need. He’s sitting outside someone’s bus that’s not his own, the first time he sees Mikey. Mikey steps out the door and looks at Pete curiously over his glasses.
"Hello?" He says catiously, like Pete’s an apparition that can go up in smoke if he’s not careful. Pete jerks his head up, lost in his own thoughts.
"Hm? Oh hi." He says, relieved when he notices the person standing above him isn’t actually that much taller then he is. Mikey steps down and looks at Pete curiously.
"You’re from Fall Out Boy aren’t you?" Pete nods.
"Yeah, I’m Pete And you’re... shit you’re from My Chemical Romance, aren’t you? You guys rock." Pete notices a flush coating his companion’s cheek, and he feels his stomach bubble a little, affection not unlike the feeling he gets around Patrick. This kid is too cute.
"Thanks. I’m Mikey. Mikey Way."
"Aren’t you old enough to be a Mike yet?" Sometimes, it’s like Pete can’t stop the asshole in him from coming out. He hates that about himself.
Mikey doesn’t seem to. He laughs. "Gerard." He says, as if this makes sense. Pete blinks. Mikey explains. "My brother. Gerard. He’s kind of... stupidly protective. And he sort of babies me a little." Mikey seems almost proud of that. "He calls me Mikey, so Frankie calls me Mikey, and then everybody’s calling me Mikey. You know?" Pete nods. Mikey sits down gingerly, like he’s tired of waiting for an invitation, but he’s afraid Pete would say no if he asked. Pete wouldn’t. He’s an asshole, but he’s a friendly asshole. "So," Mikey says when he’s settled. "What are you doing here?"
"Patrick threatened to kill me if I didn’t give him some space. So here I am."
"Does that happen often?"
"It’s sort of worked into a routine, yeah." Pete grins, "I’m kind of a little shit when I’ve got too much time on my hands." Mikey raises an eyebrow.
"Aren’t you old enough to be a big shit yet?" Pete laughs, and Mikey laughs with him. He has a great laugh, and when Pete puts a hand on his shoulder to shift himself further back against the side of the bus, Mikey doesn’t flinch, like he’s used to being touched, and when he goes to sit back up an hour or so later, and pulls Mikey up by the hand, Mikey squeezes his hand when he says goodbye, and Pete feels a little tingle in his tummy, a little different than Patrick, but nothing to be concerned about. He doesn’t stop grinning the rest of the day, so much so that Patrick has to ask what the hell he’s been up to and Pete can only say he was hanging out with the sweet little dude from My Chem. And that’s how it starts.
Mikey is, in fact, the first guy to ever give him a blowjob. Pete tried to tell him this as Mikey was pulling his belt off him. "M-mikey you can’t- I don’t- I haven’t- I could-" And then Mikey just dropped to his knees and took Pete’s way-too-tight-to-be-decent pants with him, his lips covering Pete’s cock, gently, carefully, slowly and then- not, so very very not. And Pete still gets embarrassed when he thinks about it, about how it was maybe five or ten minutes of hot, wet, and Mikey humming softly against his dick, before he just lost himself, coming hard, and Mikey pulled away but some of it still colored his lips and oh my god Pete had never thought that was particularly sexy before but it was. Mikey wiped his mouth, grinning at Pete like he knew exactly how he looked right then, a little embarrassed but kind of proud too, and a little defiant, like he’s daring Pete to argue with him now. Pete flops down on the bed and curls up next to Mikey.
"Fuck Mikeyway, have you done that before?" And Pete could feel the heat on his face when he "hmmed" into the crook of Pete’s neck, and knew he had, and a rush of possessiveness hit him so hard and dark if he hadn’t already been lying down, it would have levelled him. He kissed Mikey, first his cheek, because of the angle and then, when he’d gained capacity in his limbs, he twisted Mikey’s face against his and kissed him on the lips, hard, but chaste.
"Who?" He demanded, and Mikey laughed, probably at the petulant tone of his voice, and said,
"Nobody you know. Some dudes in high school. Don’t worry about it."
"I don’t like the idea of you getting on your knees for some skeeving jock or something." Mikey laughed again.
"You were some skeeving jock, weren’t you?" Pete shrugged.
"S’different. I wouldn’t have taken advantage of anyone."
"You dated high schoolers til you were like, 25. And who says I was taken advantage of. Maybe I liked it. Maybe you’re totally ruining a moment for me." Pete gawped at him.
"Fuck you Mikeyway." Pete shoved him, but there was no venom in it, and Mikey just grabbed Pete’s arm to steady himself and yeah, Pete could admit that was sort of the point, in retrospect. Mikey leaned forward and kissed him gently.
"Go to sleep okay?" Pete’s a realist (shut up, he totally is) and he didn’t think, at the time, that was likely, but he snuggled in anyway. "Mikey. Mikey. Mikeymikeymikey." He said, breathing Mikey in and hearing him snuffle around, looking for the best sleeping postion. Mikey ran a hand down his back and settles.
Just before he drifted off, something occurred to Pete. He sat bolt upright in bed.
"Mikey!" He said. Mikey jerked awake roughly.
"I’m still not touching your dick. If that was the plan, you can totally forget it."
"Hypocrite." Mikey mumbled sleepily, and pulled him back down. Pete let him. He fell asleep grinning.
Two weeks after their first meeting, Pete sort of realizes he may be crushing on the sweet little dude from My Chem. It’s kind of a girly thought to have, so he shoves it aside, as if someone psychic could just peer in and find it. They start hanging out a lot between sets. Mikey brings Pete coffee after his particularily late nights (and if that’s not love, Pete doesn’t want to know what is) and they spend long hours talking comic books, cartoons and transformers. Mikey has this way of looking at Pete, this slow, easy smile, like he knows Pete’s full of shit and doesn’t care, and unlike most of the people in Pete’s life, Mikey doesn’t seem to mind Pete’s total lack of personal boundaries. If Pete wants to curl up half-next-to and half-on-top of him, that’s cool with Mikey, he just moves over, and sometimes nudges Pete’s shoulder or pets his hair or something, to get him to sit still. It’s really nice. He thinks maybe Mikey likes him back. And why wouldn’t he? Pete’s awesome. He knows. Everybody says so. Well, everyone says so with a little cajoling, but seriously, he’s totally awesome.
So when Mikey shows up on his bus with an almost apologetic grin and a quickly muttered explanation of, "see, we’re in town and there’s this movie playing I’ve been dying to see, and Gee’s promised to take me but he’s- not feeling well, and I mean, I know it’s stupid and you’ve probably got better things to do, but I just thought I’d ask-" Pete tells himself his mind isn’t reeling, because Mikey just asked him on a date! he’s just trying to keep up with Mikey’s rapid speech. When he ducks inside to change his shirt and brush his hair, he tells himself it’s only partly for Mikey’s sake, he also doesn’t want to be seen in real civilization looking like he hasn’t slept in a week (he hasn’t.)
He loops an arm around Mikey’s neck, and Mikey laughs and pokes him in the ribs, but says nothing, does nothing, 'til they get to the theatre. At the candy counter, Pete is forced to disengage to carry two Cokes, a bag of Sour Patch Kids (for himself) and a box Reese’s Pieces (for Mikey.) He tries not to jump up and down and pump his fists when he sees Mikey get a big bag of popcorn to share.
The theatre is dark. Pete expected Mikey to be taking him to some indie art film, but it’s a superhero action movie, and they spend the whole movie making fun of the plot, and ruefully cheering the hero. Mikey throws popcorn in Pete’s lap, and when Pete sticks his hand in the bag to retaliate, Mikey ‘s fingers are there, and they squeeze his. Pete’s brain tells him Mikey’s just being playful, just forming a preemtive strike, but he has to take a long swig of Coke to fix his suddenly dry mouth.
The walk back to the buses is the best part of the night. Mikey does his impression of the leading lady, swooning and falling into Pete’s arms, with exaggerated batting eyelashes and a southern belle accent, what the fuck? And Pete catches him like three times, and on the last time Mikey pulls Pete down into the dirt with him and Pete loses his balance and falls on top of Mikey and is suddenly very aware of all the places Mikey’s skin touches his, aware of Mikey’s hip digging into his own, the skin of Mikey’s bare wrist on Pete’s clothed back, Mikey’s cheek nestled in the crook of his neck, and it’s not sexual, not even close, but Pete can feel the slow uncurling of desire, deep in his stomach. He squirms. Climbs off Mikey.
"Mikey. Mikey, get up." Mikey raises an eyebrow at him, looking... hurt? Pete’s stomach twists uncomfortably.
"Come on," he says, "we have to get back." Mikey stares at Pete like he can’t believe it for a minute, and then nods. Pete reaches out a hand to help him, but Mikey scrambles up on his own, offers Pete a small smile, and they continue walking. The rest of the way back is silent.
They stand outside Pete’s bus, Mikey watching him carefully, like he wants to say something. Pete flinches a little. He knows he did something wrong here, but he doesn’t really have a clue what it could have been that he did.
"I’ll see you okay?" Mikey sighs, a little too heavily, Pete thinks, but it could just be that he’s tired.
"Yeah." He turns around. Pete wants to call him back, wants to hug him or cuddle with him, or invite him in for a while, just to keep Pete company for a few of his loneliest hours, but he swallows again. Mikey sighs again, kicks a few stones, takes a few steps, and then turns around.
"Fuck, Pete." He says. Pete blinks.
"What’s wrong Mike?"
"You’re a shitty date." He says slowly. Pete stares, the words not quite registering in his brain.
"I’m- sorry?" He says stupidly, and Mikey squares his shoulders a little bit, looks at him, all determined defiance, and leans forward.
Pete’s so shocked his head turns almost on it’s own accord, and Mikey’s lips just barely graze the corner of his own. Mikey stumbles back.
"Okay. Okay then." He stutters out. "Okay I’ll just-" No! Pete’s brain is pretty much running on autopilot, and his animal instincts kick in just that second. He clutches Mikey’s arm like a drowning man.
"Mikey no I-"
"It- It’s okay Pete I-" Pete surges forward and kisses Mikey with everything he’s got. In his current sleep-deprived, shocked, state, that is, truthfully, not much. But he tries. When he breaks away, he notes with dim satisfaction that Mikey is breathless.
"You- you don’t have to-"
"I want to. Oh man, Mikey, you have no idea. I want to-" He kisses Mikey again, his teeth grazing gently over Mikey’s bottom lip. Mikey lets out a little noise that Pete’s never heard before, midway between a moan and a sigh of contentment.
"But you-" Mikey tries again when Pete lets him up for air.
"Christ, you should have said something." Mikey stops him leaning in for another kiss and stares.
"I thought I made it pretty fucking obvious, Pete. God." Pete grins, his skin prickling a little in embarrassment.
"I’m kinda pathetically stupid Mikeyway. You really have to hit me over the head with this stuff." Mikey laughs and reaches up, Pete thinks, to cuff him playfully on the back of the head. Which is why his eyes are closed when Mikey yanks him forward and kisses him, laughing into Pete’s mouth.
There’s only two weeks left in the tour. Pete is lying on his back, his body aching pleasantly, and comfortably overheated, because Mikey’s lying on him. Pete drags a finger across Mikey’s bare back.
"Tour’s almost over." Mikey says. Pete sighs. He wouldn’t be surprised if by now, Mikey could read his mind.
"Mmhmm." He said, noncommittal. "Your dark and devious plan to bed me seems to have come to pass Mikeyway." Mikey laughs into his bare neck. "Whatever will you do with the remaining time?"
"Enjoy you while I have you." Mikey whispers into his neck, and Pete feels his gut twist painfully. Of course, he knows, deep down, they can’t continue past this summer. Long distance relationships never work, touring is tough, Mikey’s bi-polar and Pete has god-knows-what issues of his own. Plus, he’s marginally straight. He’s said so, lots of times. What if some girl came along and Pete couldn’t help but miss it? How could he hurt Mikey like that? Still though, hearing Mikey acknowledge, without even questioning or thinking or asking Pete to try for him, hearing him give up on them without a thought, hurts Pete more then he imagined it would.
"Mikey I-" Mikey puts a hand on his lips.
"Don’t, Pete. Please, okay? let’s just make this our summer, okay? Let's not make it anything else." Pete’s brow furrows in concentration, trying to swallow the words he needs to say, and his fingers itch to write it down, so maybe Mikey won’t let him say it, but he can show it to Patrick, all veiled in metaphor and misery, and Patrick will understand. Except then it’ll be about the three of them. And Mikey, he wants for himself. Pete swallows.
"Yeah" he says slowly. "Just the summer. Okay." He grips Mikey’s shoulders tightly, and Mikey kisses along the thorns around his collar, like he can heal them. Pete doesn’t want to think maybe he can, but he does anyway. Somehow, that just makes it worse.
Pete falls in love with Mikey Way at exactly 2:36 pm on Tuesday, July 17th. He knows the exact time, because of the watch. What happens is this:
They’re out shopping together, holding hands and sneaking kisses and being goofy, which Pete loves, which Pete loves even more because Mikey really loves it, loves to stand next to old blue-haired ladies and kiss the corner of his mouth, to walk through the automotive aisle and stand behind the toughest looking guy there, leaning his head on Pete’s shoulder and sighing contentedly, watching them walk away in disgust. They’re pretty tame, really, they don’t want pictures of them everywhere, but the town they’re in is so backwater, it really doesn’t take much. Pete is buying dorky presents for his friends, a task he takes very seriously. He buys beef jerky for Joe, and when Mikey raises an eyebrow, Pete explains gleefully, "When Joe gets the munchies, this is what he eats. It drives Andy crazy. It’s awesome." For Andy himself he bought a T-shirt with Animal from the Muppets. Mikey burst out laughing and didn’t even ask for an explanation. But Patrick was tough.
"Patrick’s awesome." Pete explains, as if Mikey doesn’t know this. Mikey does know, everyone knows, not only because Pete has to tell them, but because Patrick has played a couple times with MCR, and everyone had universally agreed on his awesomeness. But awesome, Pete explained, was hard to buy for. Pete is eying the watch section, "Hey Mikeyway, what about a pocket watch? Do you think Patrick would like? I think he’s kind of classy like that." Mikey shakes his head.
"No way Pete. I know you can do better than that.."
"It’s awesome though, a real pocket watch. How cool would that be? You could be real dashing with one of these. Like Gatsby or something." Mikey shakes his head. He directs Pete to the audio section, and Pete finds a microphone that changes your speech into rap. He grins and laughs gleefully and Mikey says,
"See, that’s way better." Pete grins and nods.
"You’re the boss Mikeyway."
Later, after Andy’s done yelling at him and Joe’s done laughing hysterically, Pete gives Patrick his present. He fiddles with the buttons for a bit, and then laughs and cuffs Pete playfully.
"Fucker." He says, grinning, and Pete tackles him. Mikey walks in.
"Um.. Could- could I- Pete, c’mere." Pete clambers off of Patrick’s shoulders in as ungraceful a way as he can, and dashes after Mikey.
"Mikeyway, you’re a genius. That was such an awesome present." Mikey grins.
"Yeah well, I just didn’t want you to get him the same thing, that’s all."
"Same thing? Huh?" Mikey thrusts a bag into his hands. Pete opens the bag to reveal the watch. He stares.
"Mikey." He says smiling. Mikey shrugs.
"It’d probably look better on Patrick, but I figured you could use some class." He says teasingly, but there’s nervousness in his eyes. Pete stares. Mikey knows Patrick well enough to help Pete get him an awesome gift. Mikey knows Pete well enough to know that stuff like this appeals to Pete simply because it doesn’t suit him. Mikey understands Pete-and-Patrick. Pete opens the new pocket watch. 2:36 PM. He feels a warmth spreading as he grins at Mikey.
"You gotta let me borrow your white jacket though, because how swank would this look coming out of the pocket?" Mikey laughs, and the butterflies in Pete’s stomach grow bat-sized wings.
Pete doesn’t feel right, and if he’s honest, he hasn’t felt right in months, since Warped ended. He hasn’t felt right without Mikey, he thinks, but he doesn’t say, because he doesn’t know how to explain. He hates himself. People have summer flings all the time. But oh no, Pete has to go all emo about it and wreck it. He sighs heavily, and pulls out his sidekick. He types a text message.
Mkywy, whr r u? He waits diligently for the reply, but it doesn’t come. Pete sighs and puts the phone down on his bedside table, getting ready for another night of not sleeping. His phone rings. And Pete can’t help the manic grin that splits his face, but he’s alone and it’s dark, and who cares, because Mikey is so awesome. Pete picks up the phone, and before he can even say ‘Hello,’ Mikey’s voice comes out, loud and clear.
"Goddamn it Pete you know I hate text talk."
"M’sorry Mikeyway." Pete says, feeling a familiar warmth settle in his stomach. Mikey sighs, and Pete hears the affection in it. Seriously, Mikey is so awesome. "You’re awesome."
"When’s the last time you slept?" Mikey counters, and Pete rolls his eyes.
"Dunno. Had to be before Wednesday. Because we had an interview that morning and I was zonked."
"You haven’t slept in four days? Christ, Pete. One day you’re going to kill yourself."
"M’not. Sing me to sleep, Mikeyway." Mikey sighs. The pause is so long Pete thinks either Mikey hung up on him, or maybe he’s actually going to do it. His fingers cross, almost on their own accord.
"I don’t sing." he says finally, soft and gentle. Pete suddenly feels very, very tired.
"Miss you," he says. "Talk to me, Mikey. I miss you." Mikey sighs, heavier this time.
"I’ll see you next week okay? If you sleep this week. We’re gonna be in Miami same time as you so-"
"Not what I meant." Pete says, his eyes closing. "I miss you for real." The pause is so long this time Pete almost finds himself drifting off by time Mikey answers.
"God, Pete." And Pete hates the tone of his voice, even as he finds himself guiltily craving it, because Mikey knows him, and that’s perfect, but Mikey’s tired and fed up and it’s totally his fault.
"You what Pete?" There’s a note of challenge in his voice now, a hot, angry bitterness Pete can’t bear. He doesn’t say it. Mikey breaths in, a little shaky, but that could just be the reception. Pete hopes it is. Almost.
"Your girlfriend’s pretty." Pete says finally. "I saw the pictures of you two." Mikey sounds surprised.
"Alicia? She’s not my- we’re just friends." Pete’s so surprised his eyes blink open.
"Didn’t look that way to me."
"I- Gerard introduced us. Said it would-"
"Would what?" Another long pause, and finally Mikey says,
Pete is filled with an overwhelming urge to ask Mikey, Help with what?, but he knows what, and he doesn’t want Mikey to think he doesn’t know, doesn’t want Mikey to think he’s cruel like that. He just ‘hmms’ sleepily.
"Are you in bed?" Mikey asks him and Pete ‘hmms’ again. He hears Mikey ruffling some papers or something, and then he begins speaking quietly,
"if i love You (thickness means worlds inhabited by roamingly stern bright faeries
if you love me) distance is mind carefully luminous with innumerable gnomes Of complete dream
if we love each (shyly) other, what clouds do or Silently Flowers resembles beauty less than our breathing."
Pete is too tired to think, but the familiar poem washes over him like warm water, and when Mikey says, "Pete?" he barely responds
"‘Night Mikeyway." And he clicks the phone closed without another thought.
"If you hurt him," Gerard had said, "if he loses any sleep, if he misses any chance, if I find even one angry song about him, recorded or not... the human body is just a whole lot of pieces stuck together, Pete. It can unstick and those pieces can be made so small no one will ever be able to find so much as a fingernail. Okay?" Pete blinked. Gerard was sober, but it was still hard to tell exactly how serious he was. Pete decided the correct response was just to nod.
"Sure, yeah, whatever. Hack me into pieces, use my corpse as a prop in your next show, I got it." He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly very hot, and tried to calm his suddenly erratic heartbeat. It was just Gerard, he thought, and yeah, he couldn’t have expected to try and date Mikey without the occasional death threat between friends. He nodded, nervously. Gerard grinned, so unexpectedly that Pete blinked and took a step back. Gerard clamped him on the shoulder.
"Welcome to the family." He said, squeezing Pete’s shoulder. Pete tried hard not to flinch, tried really hard, because yeah, it’s just Gerard, and they’re friends and he’s awesome but seriously? Gerard can be one scary fucker sometimes. Gerard saw the slight flinch that Pete tried to bury and laughed, a sharp bark of a sound, and Pete smiled back, a little weakly.
When Pete wakes up, he thinks he’s still in a nightmare. Hemmy is barking and there’s someone opening his door and he’s naked, and for one, terrified, ridiculous second he pictures the headlines: Pete Wentz Murdered in Horrible Marilyn Monroe Parody. He scrambles up out of bed.
"Hello?" He calls, which is really dumb because someone is breaking into his house, and Hemmy has stopped barking, so he’s either the worst dog in the world, or he’s... Pete throws a sheet around his waist and runs, because fuck common sense and to hell with calling the cops, Hemmingway needs him!
He skids to a stop on the landing. He skids to a stop and almost falls down the stares, because Mikey is standing there. Mikey is standing there petting Hemmingway and looking like he belongs there, like it’s not weird for him to just walk right in. Pete doesn’t think he gave Mikey a key, or even an invite, but the last couple days are kind of blurry. He remembers talking to Mikey sometime recently, and Mikey read him poetry...
"Mikey?" Mikey grins, looking tired and triumphant, and Pete feels his stomach twist, but it’s dulled by tiredness.
"Morning sunshine. Fuck, you live in LA and you’re still dumb enough to leave a key in the mailbox? Why don’t you just keep a sign out front, ‘Come On In, We’re Open.’" Pete blinks, still trying to get his bearings.
"Mikey?" He says again stupidly. Mikey sighs.
"Okay, so I hate you utterly, because somehow or other you always manage to make me go along with your stupid ideas."
"I- what are you doing here?" Pete gets the distinct impression he has to have missed something. He’s used to that, and so tries valiantly to catch up
"And this is probably your dumbest idea Pete seriously. But you’ve roped me into it. And then you hung up on me."
"I was- tired?" He stumbles his way down the stairs, blinking blearily up at Mikey. Mikey smiles at him and shakes his head ruefully.
"I was trying to tell you I love you too, you stubborn ass