dancing about architecture

I've been working on this poly!fic for quite a while and finally finished it during . Now I hope it'll kick off the holiday season in nicely... 🙂

Warnings: RPF. Polyamory. Shmoop.
Author's Note: For Jj, the sweetest of the sweet. <333 Not being poly myself, I just hope I didn't mess this up too badly... The title is a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies (and one of the most quotable ones), 'Playing by Heart', in which Angelina Jolie's character tries to express how complicated just talking about love is. Beta: I am so very much indebted to , and ! <333

Patrick had never felt insecure about his relationship with Pete. They had been PeteandPatrick pretty much from the first time they met, if you believed Pete. Patrick usually counted from their first proper kiss, which turned into their first making out session, which turned into their first fuck, all of which happened after the first public gig they ever played, before Andy got over his band commitment issues.

As a band they had sucked, not very surprisingly, but it had still been the biggest rush Patrick had ever experienced, because it was them, it was their band, and Pete had been practically glowing. Patrick hadn't been able to help himself, he had to kiss Pete, had to feel all that bright energy hum against his lips. So, pushing aside his normal dating-related insecurities, he'd leaned in and simply did it, and Pete, usually always in motion, had stilled completely for a long second, before going lax and pliant and responding with great enthusiasm. That kiss had definitely not sucked, Patrick remembered fondly, and neither had the rest of the night.

It really was a beautiful ceremony, fun and loving and slightly off-center, just as all the blogs and glossy magazines would later proclaim, and Pete couldn't help the dorky happy smile on his face when he saw Ashlee walk down the aisle in her pretty princess dress. He wasn't quite sure how he'd ended up in this position, hadn't really expected to ever find a girl it would feel right to marry and start a family with. Whatever he'd done to deserve to fall in love with Ashlee, dorky, sweet, damaged, serene, gorgeous Ashlee, and have her love him back, he only hoped he could keep doing it so this would last forever.

She smiled back at him, bright and wide-eyed, and he could tell that the wedding nerves had finally caught up with her a little bit. Then her gaze flitted past him and her smile changed, some of the tension leaving her face, and Pete turned his head quickly to look at Patrick, found him all in black on his right, where he belonged, looking straight back at the woman approaching Pete, approaching them both. Pete couldn't help but reach out and bump his shoulder against Patrick's gently, the movement causing Patrick to shift his attention and give him the same warm and reassuring smile. Just like Ashlee Pete could feel himself relax, warmth flooding him.

So it was not quite the perfect wedding, still incomplete, but at least for the time being it would do that Patrick was there, supporting them both. And later, when they were back at home, it would be the three of them again, the way it was supposed to be. Pete could hardly wait for the wedding night - Ashlee had promised them both a "special surprise" and he'd found several rather interesting websites in her browser history the other day. He grinned at Patrick, knowing from the sudden spots of color in his cheeks that Patrick was thinking of the exact same thing, and got ready to say his "I do".

Pete had had a number of shitty relationships before Patrick. He still had shitty relationships after they got together, but they never seemed quite as bad, quite as heartbreaking, not when Pete only had to look across the stage or the tour bus to see Patrick, balancing him out, anchoring him.

It never failed to amaze him that Patrick not only loved him back, but that he did not feel threatened by the fact that there were other loves in Pete's life, coming and going and not affecting Pete's love for Patrick in the least. After the whole Morgan fiasco Pete had kind of figured most other people confused "loving more than one person" with "being allowed to screw other people behind your back", but there Patrick was, actually holding Pete while he cried and swore, popped pills and wrote after yet another break-up, completely sincere in his acceptance. It somehow made the pain feel just a bit less soul-destroying, knowing that he still had Patrick, and always would have.

Which did not mean that Pete did not do more than his share of teeth-gnashing and childish tantrums when Patrick met Anna and seriously fell in love with her. Until then Patrick had been his alone, and he'd delighted in being his first male kiss, his first proper fuck, his first and only everything. Pete had never been good at sharing, and a part of him wanted to be the only one who made Patrick happy, ridiculous as that was, all things considered. Luckily Pete was only a beginner when it came to throwing tantrums in comparison to Patrick's complete mastery of the skill, and while Pete might have the self-preservative instincts of a proverbial lemming at times, he managed to realize that he had to stop being a childish, selfish prick before Patrick actually killed him. Or worse, decided he was more trouble than he was worth and left. If sometimes jealousy did eat at him, a knee-jerk reaction he wasn't proud of but couldn't quite suppress, he learned to work it out in lyrics, the occasional passive-aggressive shouting match and, most of all, possessively passionate sex. Seeing the look in Patrick's eyes, unshielded and open, hearing his gasps and curses as Pete pulled him ever closer, was the best Pete knew how to deal with his trust issues.

Patrick's relationship did not have anything to do with Best Buy - if it had, Patrick might just have finished the job Pete had started. That one Pete managed to screw up all on his own. Lucky for him he had people waiting for him at the other end, and the mix of fury and fear on Patrick's face had been enough to make Pete determined never to let it get that far.

Sex with Pete had always been amazing. Patrick hadn't had a whole lot of experience when they started, but he'd never felt self-conscious around Pete - sharing a tiny, dirty van for long stretches of time didn't leave any room for embarrassment - and that had made him bolder and more adventurous, less afraid to ask for what he wanted and to give whatever Pete desired in return. He might snicker, he might demand that they do some internet research prior to trying something, he might blush when talking dirty, but ultimately the way Pete looked at him, the way his body reacted to Patrick's touch, didn't leave any doubts in Patrick mind that they were pretty mind-blowing together.

Sex with Ashlee, therefore, took him completely by surprise. He'd had great sex with girls before - most recently Elisa had proven that a smidgeon of jealousy was not altogether a bad thing, at least in bed. But it had never quite reached the perfect mix of understanding, trust and passion that years of being best friends and lovers with Pete had led to. Sometimes Patrick had even suspected that he was leaning more towards the gay end of the Kinsey scale, but then he'd usually fallen in love with another pretty, warm-hearted and funny woman and forget about that. Now, with Ashlee straddling him, giggling breathlessly into his ear as he pushed up into her with helpless arousal, he buried that thought for good. Girls were good. Girls were great. Ashlee... Ashlee was amazing.

He managed to open his eyes and meet Pete's, who looked almost as shocked and incredulous as Patrick felt. Pete was kneeling on the far side of the bed, just watching, not touching either of them, fingers bunched in the fabric of the sunflower comforter Ashlee had picked out. When Patrick bucked up and hit what was obviously a sweet spot, Ashlee bit one of Patrick's earlobes, and Patrick couldn't help but laugh through a moan. Still laughing he held out a hand. He couldn't quite reach, but as always Pete knew exactly what he wanted and scooted closer, sliding in behind Ashlee, who greeted him with a happy smile, leaning into his embrace as he kissed her hungrily. Watching, Patrick tightened his grip on fingers calloused from bass playing and allowed himself to fall apart.

Anna had always known about him and Pete, Patrick had made sure of that right from the start. She didn't quite understand it but she said that she didn't need to, as long as Patrick was honest with her and with their relationship. That was one of the things he'd liked about her from the start, the way she might not be into the same things as he was but always respected what he did. It was so different from the way he'd heard Jeanae refer to Patrick as "Pete's cute little mancrush" - one of the reasons why he kept his distance from her as much as he possibly could. The other of course being that he usually was the one picking up the pieces after one of their epic fights.

Patrick had been rather glad when Jeanae was finally out of the picture for good. Ironic that Pete had actually tried to keep Anna's cheating from Patrick, considering that it meant that he had Patrick to himself again. A typical Wentz Hallmark moment, Patrick figured: Wanting your boyfriend to stay with his girlfriend because she made him happy. But then, even when he was a miserable fuck and wanted to hit everything around him, Patrick knew Pete would always volunteer to be the one between Patrick and the world. Not just on stage and in interviews, shielding him from unwelcome attention, but also literally at times, a warm hand holding Patrick back as he attempted to claw out the eyes of some stupid jerk for some reason or other or stopping him from throwing one of his beloved Gibsons to the ground by quickly substituting it with something equally breakable but less valuable. Sometimes he even drew Patrick's wrath to himself on purpose - which was probably the main reason why Patrick had done his best to get a hold of his temper. Pete deserved being yelled at more often than not, idiot that he tended to be, but Patrick always felt like crap when he did it undeservedly.

It made the heartbreak a bit more bearable, knowing that there was someone right beside him who still thought that Patrick was worth the world. Who would always think so and would take on dragons and monsters to prove it if he felt that Patrick needed it. Picking up the phone that had been unplugged for the past three days, Patrick pushed #1 on his speed dial.

While on tour with them for the first time, Ashlee went on a massage kick, and when Pete had a string of interviews all through an afternoon he practically begged Patrick to be a good sport and keep her company. Only he said "babysit", after which Patrick promptly had to smack him for disrespecting his girlfriend. Still, Patrick almost declined, and only the excited smile lighting up Ashlee's face when Pete announced that Patrick had volunteered to let her try her latest hobby on him convinced him to go along with it. It was really hard to say no to that smile, that much Patrick had already discovered.

Another thing he discovered as he was laying on the bed, his back being kneaded by Ashlee's small, soft but still surprisingly strong hands, was that Ashlee knew just when to talk and when to be quiet. She did make little content humming noises as she worked on Patrick's Garageband-damaged shoulders, and Patrick couldn't stop smiling into the pillow. Then, just as he was about to drift off, Ashlee suddenly said his name, hesitatingly. He roused himself and hoped the conversation wouldn't be too awkward. She had seemed okay with sharing Pete so far, but maybe the reality just hadn't sunk in before. Patrick hoped he'd be able to talk her out of breaking things off with Pete, and not just because he didn't particularly enjoy dealing with post-breakup Pete. He wasn't quite sure how it had happened, but he genuinely adored her, messed up and beautiful as she was. Like a sister. Except really not like that at all.

Once again Ashlee surprised him when she finally asked: "What do I have to do to get you to like me, Patrick?"

Patrick tried to twist his head so he could look at her, but her fingers were pressing firmly into his neck, so all he could see was her knee in what he recognized as one of Pete's sweatpants. But he figured his surprise would be evident enough in his voice: "Ashlee, I like you, I really do. Do you think I'd let someone I don't like cause potentially nasty damage to my back?"

Her fingers stilled and Patrick turned around to look into her eyes. She was twirling her hair around one finger, a habit he already recognized. She was staring intently at a spot right next to Patrick's head as she blurted out: "So if you like me, why do you avoid me?"

Patrick couldn't help but think she was rather adorable and smiled as he answered truthfully: "I figured it'd be easier for you if you didn't have to see me so much, especially around Pete." He paused and laid a careful hand on her leg, noting how warm she was even through the fabric of her pants. "Ash, I really want you and Pete to work out - you're good for him, and you're pretty awesome, I'd like you to be around for a while. And I know it's not always easy to know that you share your partner's love, so I figured I'd give you guys as much alone-time as possible."

He broke off, uncomfortably, hoping he hadn't said too much. But Ashlee was regarding him seriously, having transferred the lock of hair into her mouth. Patrick surprised himself with the urge to lean up and pull it out from between her teeth, but before he could make the decision to act on it, she looked him full in the eyes and stated matter-of-factly, relief evident in her smile: "Oh, if that's all you can stop it - I really don't mind. Actually, I totally understand." Her voice dropped off, and Patrick had to strain to hear her next words: "I can see why Pete loves you. I... I might even have a bit of a crush on you myself."

As Patrick tried to wrap his mind around what she had just admitted, her hands flew up to her flaming face to cover her mouth, but her eyes remained on him, wide and clear, and Patrick suddenly realized that she was probably not the only one with a crush.

Pete had had a gigantic crush on Mikey, as pretty much the whole world suspected and everyone on Warped that summer knew for a fact. Mikey was quirky, fun, sweet and able to provide the calm that Pete desperately needed sometimes, and he liked Patrick. Pete thought they might have had a shot at something real, if Mikey hadn't fallen in love with Alicia.

Not that Pete blamed him - his own thing with her had barely started when it ended, but he knew she was pretty awesome. He also knew that she was "a one-man kinda gal" as she'd put it with a grin when he'd mentioned his own particular relationship situation, without mentioning Patrick by name. "And I don't share, Pete, not when I really care about my partner." So that had been the end of that, with no bad feelings on either side.

Losing Mikey, though, that had hurt, and it had taken Pete a while to get over it. What he would have done without Patrick by his side, turning angry lyrics into amazing songs, Pete had no idea. Sometimes he wished he could build other relationships just half as stable, as positive, if only to spare Patrick the trouble of cleaning up after his break-ups. Mikey had been the closest he'd come, and Pete was close to giving up, despite the small voice in his head that told him that there was still room in his heart for at least one more. But who was both crazy enough to interest and keep up with Pete, and sane enough not to let it lead to pain and destruction? He might try calling Jeanae again in a little while - for now it was enough to rest his tired head against Patrick's shoulder as he tried out the new lyrics, singing softly of friends and lovers.

Elisa breaking up with Patrick caught Pete rather by surprise. As far as he'd been able to tell, the relationship had worked quite well - but then he really couldn't see anyone not jumping at the chance to be with Patrick, so maybe the looks of mixed curiosity and anger Elisa sometimes gave him had been more than annoyance at not having Patrick to herself all the time. Maybe she'd really not been able to cope with knowing that Pete would always be in Patrick's life, in Patrick's heart, and that was why Patrick appeared one morning on Pete's doorstep with bags under his eyes and a small duffle under his arm. Obviously Pete tried his best to get Patrick to talk about it, and not just because the curiosity was killing him, but Patrick had always been rather good at guarding his privacy. He did curl up next to Pete on the couch, however, and allowed Pete to gently comb his fingers through Patrick's hair, a rare privilege.

After a while they got out the Nintendo and played Mario Kart until Pete had enough of losing and dragged Patrick into the bedroom he more often than not shared with Ashlee these days. Afterwards, while Pete was still trying to get his heart rate back to normal, he noticed that Patrick's eyes were on the photo of Pete and Ashlee that was standing on the nightstand, next to one of Pete's family, an old-school picture of the band and Pete's favorite shot of him and Patrick. Patrick was staring at the picture with Ashlee, a strange expression in his eyes. Poking Patrick gently until he turned to face Pete with the familiar mix of annoyance and tenderness in his eyes, Pete smiled innocently: "I'd much rather you pay attention to me than to my girlfriend. Especially since you're here and she's, well, not..."

It was with great surprise that he saw a hot blush color Patrick's cheeks and make its way down his chest. The fact that Patrick was firmly looking at a point somewhere around Pete's left ear also clued him in that something was decidedly going on, even without Patrick hemming and hawing: "Fuck. Pete, I... Ashlee. I. Shitshitshit..."

Patrick turned on his back and hid his eyes with one arm, and now Pete got really worried. He sat back against the headboard, hesitating for the first time in what seemed like forever to reach out and touch him. "Patrick? Tell me what's going on here? Please?"

Just then they both heard the door downstairs open and Hemingway greeting the new arrival with a friendly bark. Pete was almost grateful that he wouldn't immediately have to hear whatever Patrick had to say. He bolted out of bed, grabbed a pair of boxers that turned out to be Patrick's, and left the room with one more confused look at Patrick's tense form. What if for some reason Elisa breaking up with him had made Patrick re-evaluate their whole relationship? The thought brought a bitter taste to Pete's mouth just as he turned the corner and saw Ashlee sliding into the pink bunnyslippers Patrick had given her last Christmas.

He'd really thought Patrick and Ashlee got along, much more so than with any other old girlfriend of his. He knew that at first Patrick had kept his distance, same as with Pete's previous relationships, but lately it had looked as if Ashlee had wormed her way into Patrick's good graces; not that this surprised Pete, who thought that Ashlee was pretty much irresistible with her quirky personality and infectious giggles. Patrick had never before asked him to choose - and if he did now, would Pete be able to give up the closeness, the laughter, the closest thing to a healthy relationship he'd ever had with a girl? Would he be able to give up Ashlee?

Having reached a dead end in his mind, Pete stilled at the bottom of the stairs, aware of Ashlee's welcoming smile turning questioning and slightly worried: "Pete? What's the matter? I noticed Patrick's bag - is everything okay?"

"Hey Ash... don't worry, everything is alright. Elisa broke up with me, is all." Pete whirled around to see Patrick standing on the top step, wrapped in a sheet. His smile was rueful and a bit nervous, and Pete was just about to call him on his strange behavior from before, when he continued: "I told her. About us, that is, and she couldn't handle it. And now I think we should tell Pete, because anything else is just way too creepy - I just had a major freak-out up there..."

It was almost as if Pete wasn't there, the way Patrick focused on Ashlee and her thoughtful gaze in return, a sensation that did not suit Pete at all, especially when he was still not quite sure what was going on. So he suppressed the urge to stamp his foot and said in his best patient, grown-up voice, which was probably not very good but the best he could do under the circumstances: "Tell Pete what exactly? Please, either one of you, fucking enlighten me!"

That was when Ashlee came up to him, wrapped both arms around his neck and kissed him, in the way that always made him want to do fistpumps of glee for having won the love of such an incredible woman. All too quickly she pulled away and regarded him seriously, all playfulness gone for once: "Well, you know how you told me that you loved me but also loved Patrick? And how one love did not detract from the other?" Pete couldn't help but smile a bit at her earnest tone as she repeated his words to him. Really, people that thought her an empty-headed pop princess had it so seriously wrong. "I didn't mean to, Petey, but somewhere along the line, I fell in love with someone else as well. And only a couple of weeks ago it turns out that he..."

She interrupted herself and looked past Pete. Patrick's hand was warm on his shoulder, as were Patrick's eyes on Ashlee, and Pete didn't really need to hear the next words, things suddenly starting to fall into place: "I kind of fell in love with her, too. We haven't done anything about it, " the 'yet' remained unspoken, but Pete could hear it clearly even over the metaphorical sound of wheels turning in his brain, trying to work through the new information, "but we'd really like to. If you're okay with it, that is, because you know we love you, pretty much more than anything. So any time you want to say something, feel free."

Patrick smiled, his face still flushed but his lips against Pete's shoulder-blade firm and sure while Ashlee tightened her hold on Pete's neck, her fingers just brushing the top of Patrick's head, almost timidly. And the thing was that Pete did know, and he had no doubt they would respect it if he couldn't share them. But, sandwiched as he was between the two people he loved most in the world, there really was just one thing Pete could say: "Shit, we could have been having threesomes for two weeks already?"

Pete knew that Patrick and Bob hooked up two days after they moved in together. It was rather cute, the way Patrick blushed at him when he came into the studio that morning, uncharacteristically the last one to arrive. Patrick had admitted to having a crush on the drummer - Pete had had years of experience of getting private information out of him, after all - but he had thought that Bob was more the monogamous type. Pete of course had known better; after all, Frank had been with Jamia for years already when he and Bob got together. So when it was obvious that either Patrick had decided to believe Pete or that Bob had taken matters into his own hands - big, capable hands, Pete thought with a pleasant shiver - Pete was all for it. A well-loved Patrick was a happy Patrick, and it might make things go a bit easier in the studio. Not that Pete minded Patrick's still sometimes evident temper, but they both tended to get tunnel vision when recording, which had led to some legendary fights over things that in hindsight appeared rather insignificant, and this way Patrick would be at least somewhat distracted. Joe and Andy would also appreciate it, although they had long since learned to ignore what Joe had once called your weird love life(s), indicating the brackets with his hands.

It did catch Pete by surprise, however, when, after a particularly satisfying recording session which had turned into an equally satisfying blow job in the break room, Patrick looked up at him with dark eyes, pupils blown, and asked whether Pete would like to join him and Bob one of these days. "Frank doesn't mind, and you're not back together with Jeanae," was added, the 'again' tactfully omitted because Patrick was a gentleman even when he was naked. Pete just stood there, doing a fish-on-dry-land impression as he tried to get his post-orgasmic brain to formulate words more expressive than "Ngh?" They had never done a threesome - and Pete, who thought he had his own sexual dos and don'ts figured out quite well by now, realized that, even if Frank did not mind, he himself did. He had come to terms with Patrick falling in love with others, but as sexy as he found the mental images Patrick conjured up with his offer, it just did not feel right. Bob was Patrick's (and Frank's, but that was none of Pete's concern), and Pete was not part of that relationship and did not want to be.

Turning down a threesome - Pete felt utterly ridiculous. Good thing Patrick was used to Pete being ridiculous and just smiled and kissed him, as if he had half-expected the reaction. Pete tasted himself on Patrick's lips and that, that felt definitely right.

Looking up at Ashlee, who was hovering in the doorway, as far away as possible from the bed they were currently lounging on, biting her lower lip nervously, Patrick knew his face showed the same gigantic smile that he could see spreading on Pete's face from where his head rested on Pete's stomach. The next moment he was unceremoniously pushed off as Pete practically catapulted himself towards the door and the woman standing there, who began to tentatively smile as well. Patrick couldn't help but laugh when Pete dropped to his knees and hugged Ashlee's middle, managing to be enthusiastic and careful at the same time. He was rambling excitedly, almost babbling, and Patrick casually messed up his hair as he joined them. Pete didn't even notice, but Ashlee grinned at him conspiratorially before letting herself fall into Patrick's wide open arms, clinging to him tightly. They were squishing Pete between them, but no one seemed to mind, and Patrick buried his face in Ashlee's sweet-smelling hair and whispered, loud enough so Pete could hear it, too: "This is the best news ever... I can't wait to be an uncle!"

That brought Pete to his feet instantly, fitting himself into their embrace with long practice and all the grace of a clinging limpet, simultaneously managing to thump Patrick on the head: "Dad, Patrick. You can't wait to be a dad. Right, Ash?"

"Of course. You're both going to be dads - you really should know that by now, Patrick. After all, it's not as if I have any idea who the biological father is anyway." Ashlee sounded calm now, completely certain, and Patrick leaned back enough to look her in the face.

What he saw there made something inside of him relax, and he could feel his eyes getting wet as he nodded, managing what apparently was a convincing smile because Pete kissed his cheek wetly and repeated: "We're going to be dads! It's going to be great - when I go crazy, you'll be the sane influence, Patrick, and when you get tunnel vision about scholarships to Julliard or something, the kid can come to irresponsible daddy Pete... and Ash will be the most spoiled mommy ever!"

"I fucking hope so!" Ashlee laughed and kissed them both, Pete instantly trying to turn it into a make-out session, but Patrick was not quite there yet.

"You should get married," he said after he had kissed Ashlee, lovingly, and Pete as well, keeping it as short as Pete allowed. Seeing the instant outrage on both their faces, he continued quickly: "It's not about the uncle thing or feeling like a fifth wheel or something - but there's going to be enough attention about the pregnancy as it is. It'll be easier on the kid as well, to have a 'proper' family life, at least in public."

He could tell that Pete still wanted to protest, but as he had expected Ashlee understood. She'd been playing the Hollywood game far longer than any of them wanted to think about, which Patrick wished wasn't so, but it also meant that dealing with it was second nature by now. She shut Pete up with a firm hand on his mouth and regarded Patrick seriously: "Only if you'll be there, at the wedding and afterwards. I'm dead serious, Patrick. We're only getting married if you'll move in with us for real, even if you keep your house for show."

That seemed to please Pete as well, some of the force leaving the grip he'd had on Patrick's arm, and Patrick nodded slowly, stating as matter-of-factly as the suddenly released butterflies in his stomach allowed: "As if you could get rid of me!"

The next moment he was on his back on the bed with two very enthusiastic people practically on top of him, Pete's knees digging into his side, Ashlee's perpetually cold fingers already divesting him of his t-shirt. Laughing he allowed himself to be molested for a moment, until he twisted around to return the favor, sliding one hand down the back of Pete's pants while tracing his tongue over Ashlee's still-flat stomach.

As the three of them slid together the way they always did, with a few hitches - like Pete's bony elbows, Ashlee's tendency to hog the fucking covers and Patrick's own alleged snoring (he was not admitting to anything here) - but with satisfying results for everyone involved, Patrick had a feeling they'd fit even better when they were four. If only Pete didn't drop the baby on its head. Because then Ash would kill him, and where would that leave Patrick? Probably arrested trying to smuggle a nailfile into Ashlee's prison cell. At that moment Ashlee bit his earlobe, a move she was quite fond of, especially whenever Pete was sliding a finger inside her, and Patrick stopped thinking. And just danced.