tides they turn (here we are)

Author's Note: Marriage!fic - I'm apparently set on making my way through all sorts of fandom clich├ęs. Y'all probably know this bit from this Hard Rock Live interview in spring/summer 2005:
Joe: You guys should get married!
Patrick: We are.

Same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts in May 2004. Also according to Wikipedia, the Best Buy incident happened in February of 2005. I hope I didn't mess up the timelines too badly. Lyrics used in the fic are from "Saturday". Title nicked from Jason Mraz' "Beautiful Mess".

The first time Patrick brought it up again after it happened, it was to ask for a divorce. Well, "ask" was maybe a misleading term, considering that the demand was screamed while Patrick had his hands around Pete's throat and Pete was attempting to get away, twisting and turning.

But as soon as the words had left Patrick's mouth, Pete stilled completely, going slack in Patrick's grasp and just looking at him with eyes like bruises, and Patrick immediately felt like shit. He released Pete and took a step back as Pete sank to the floor and wrapped his arms around his knees. Patrick was not sure whether the gesture was meant to signify surrender or offer comfort, but the fight was over, that much he knew. "I'm still mad at you," he offered, sitting down next to Pete, not quite touching but close enough he could feel the tension in every line of Pete's too-skinny body.

Pete looked at him sideways, resting his head on his crossed arms. "I know. And I'm... fuck, Patrick, you know I'm sorry. I've been saying sorry ever since the hospital, it seems, and I really fucking mean it." Patrick nodded, acknowledging the truth in that, but Pete continued: "It seriously had nothing to do with you, or us, any of it, okay? It was just my messed up head. I'm better now, I promise."

Patrick shifted his weight slightly, just enough to touch his shoulder to Pete's in the softest of motions. "I know. And I'll get over it. Eventually." He couldn't suppress the wry smile twisting his lips, and Pete's body relaxed another fraction. "I guess I just never expected to become a widower before my twenty-first. Or before our first anniversary."

This got him a laugh from Pete, still slightly brittle around the edges but more genuine than anything in a long time. Patrick felt something inside him loosen when Pete uncurled slightly and rested his head against Patrick's shoulder. Without comment Patrick let him, and they just sat there for a while, not talking until Joe came looking for them. The look of sheer relief on his friend's face when he saw that Patrick had neither killed Pete, nor did Pete wear that horrible, determinedly cheerful mask of the past few days, made Patrick feel even guiltier about the way he'd been acting.

It should not have taken a fistful of pills in a parking lot to make Patrick talk about it, it really shouldn't. Stubborness was not one of the character traits Patrick was proud of, but he had to admit that Pete had tried to address the issue several times and Patrick had refused to deal with it. Admittedly, Pete's attempts had usually happened in the aftermaths of either particularly satisfying post-show sex ("You're my favorite husband, Tricky-trick!") or especially vicious fighting ("No wonder you married me - who else could put up with you, asshole!"), but it had been Patrick's decision to treat the fact that yes, he was legally married to Pete Wentz as some sort of alternate reality or big fucking cosmic joke. Which was particularly unfair considering that it had been his idea in the first place.

Everyone knew that Pete had been throwing around the fact that he'd marry Patrick in a heartbeat pretty much since the day they met, but after the first gig they played that actually felt as if the band might work out for real - incidentially it had been one of the first shows Andy had joined them for - it had been Patrick who grabbed Pete, pushed him against the wall of a storage room and kissed him. Pete had valiantly resisted for exactly ten seconds, gasping something about the band and Patrick's age - which had made Patrick scoff even as his hand went to work on Pete's too-tight girl jeans - before Pete gave in and responded with the pent-up hunger Patrick had always suspected lingered just beneath his touchy-feely buddy attitude. It had been one of the best nights in Patrick's life.

Neither one of them had looked back after that, their coming together as unavoidable and as unquestioned as the sun rising in the morning. Then, a number of girlfriends, a couple of albums and many, many nights on busses, in hotels and even some in their own beds later, they had played a concert at the east coast, a far cry from the tiny show at the dirty club of all those years ago. Patrick had read something about gay marriage legislation in Massassuchetts in the newspaper that morning, and for some reason it popped into his head when he looked over to where Pete was horseplaying with some of the crew, his head thrown back in abandoned laughter.

"I want to be with him forever," Patrick remembered thinking. That night he held on just a bit more tightly as he moved inside Pete, and when Pete looked up at him with dark, quiet eyes, Patrick heard himself say, his voice hoarse: "Let's go to Boston and get married, Pete." Looking completely awestruck, as if he had just been handed the moon on a silver platter, Pete came with a curse, and Patrick followed right after. Ten minutes later they were in Dirty's battered old Ford on their way to Massassuchetts and the next morning, after hanging around drinking coffee and grinning at each other like a couple of truant school boys until city hall opened, they signed their names on a piece of paper witnessed by a couple of strangers who thankfully did not seem to have any idea who they were. Patrick most clearly remembered the smell of the gigantic bouquet of bright pink roses on the table, and the smile on Pete's face when Patrick said his "I do". Outside, Patrick broke his no-PDA rule and held on to Pete's hand all the way to the car and most of the drive back.

Back on tour, Patrick offered some stupid lie as explanation for their absence, ignoring the look on Pete's face, and then proceeded not to mention the whole thing ever again. He wasn't quite sure why, except that something in the way Pete's fingers had curled around his had made him feel strangely frightened, as if the world as he knew it had changed forever, and Patrick wasn't sure he wanted it to. It just seemed easier to go on exactly as before, making love and writing songs without any bigger commitment than the one to make good music. Some of Pete's lyrics in the months that followed had felt familiar and Patrick swallowed the slightly bitter taste of guilt and tried not to feel as if Pete's increasing withdrawal into himself - interrupted by bursts of crazy-wild behavior - was his fault.

Whatever the reasons, after his big explosion and the subsequent, still somewhat uneasy, peace Patrick spent a couple of days avoiding Pete, not so much because he was angry still - which he totally was, except it didn't seem to matter so much anymore - but because he finally wanted to figure out what to do about the marriage thing, or rather the whole Pete-and-Patrick thing, for real this time. Avoidance obviously did not work, and if recent events had taught Patrick anything it was that he really did not want to live his life without Pete in it, as much simpler as that might sometimes be. So, shutting down Garageband and telling Charlie he'd be back in time for soundcheck, Patrick chose a hat that hid most of his face and went ring shopping.

That night before the show he came up behind Pete, who was fiddling unhappily with his bass, and hugged him tightly. Patrick not usually being the most demonstrative person, the gesture took Pete by surprise and he stiffened in his arms, but Patrick just held on until Pete relaxed and leaned back into Patrick, hands coming up to cover Patrick's. It was their first proper embrace since Pete's return, because Patrick did not count the angry-frightened way he had fucked Pete the day he came back, which Pete had taken as if it was penance, coming with his face buried in a pillow and falling asleep without touching. "I'm still mad that you didn't get help sooner, Pete, but I'm mostly just fucking glad that you're still around for me to be mad at," Patrick finally said, his voice low so no one except Pete would hear, and then he pressed a quick, gentle kiss against Pete's neck - picking the exact spot Pete liked to lean against when they were on stage - and walked away, manfully resisting the urge to look back and see Pete's reaction.

He didn't really need to, it was obvious to everyone that night that an important thing had been fixed, the band fitting together like puzzle pieces again, even if there were still some loose threads around the edges. Patrick exchanged a relieved grin with Joe when Pete, who had been playing mostly at the back of the stage since his return, made the crowd go wild as if he'd never been away. Pete and I attacked the lost Astoria, with promise and precision, a mess of youthful innocence... The rings he'd bought were a warm weight in his pocket and Patrick closed his eyes and sang.

Once they were backstage, everyone noticed Pete hanging around Patrick uncertainly, obviously still unsure if he'd been truly forgiven. Andy nudged Patrick and said, loud enough for Pete to hear: "Come on, take pity on the poor boy... He looks lost without you." The slight edge in Andy's calm voice told of lingering anger, but he was giving Pete one of his small, slow smiles, and Patrick could see Pete stick out his tongue in return, more out of habit than anything else. Patrick nodded and walked over, wrapping one hand around Pete's skinny wrist, feeling the blood pulse under his fingers.

They walked to the waiting car without talking, and Pete curled up around Patrick for the ride to the hotel. Even as he talked to Andy about finding the best record store in town the next morning, Patrick gently brushed Pete's hair out of his eyes and smiled when Pete nodded off with his head in Patrick's lap. At the hotel Patrick pulled Pete into his own room, shutting off Joe's lewd comments by closing the door firmly. "Am I forgiven, then?" Pete had apparently recovered somewhat from his uncharacteristic bout of quietness, because he was giving Patrick his best leer even as he threw himself onto the bed and bounced a couple of times.

However, Patrick had no doubt that the question was meant seriously, so he responded in kind, sitting down on the chair opposite the bed and twiddling with the rings in his pocket, suddenly slightly nervous despite all preparation: "I'm getting there, I think. But, Pete, there is one thing I'd like to ask you and need an honest answer for." He held on up one hand to stop what he knew would be instant assurances. "Seriously. Don't think of making things up to me or anything like that, just tell me the truth." Seeing Pete settle back down and look at him seriously, he went on, wishing he had a glass of water or something to moisten his parched throat: "Would you... Shit. I..." Frustrated by his own fumblings, he finally settled for pulling out the rings and offering them on his open palm. "Would you?" he repeated dumbly and saw the moment Pete realized what he was asking, because in an instant Pete was on his knees in front of him, gripping the hand that held the rings tightly, blunt nails digging into Patrick's flesh.

"Fuck, Patrick... Are you for real? Are you..." Patrick was gratified that Pete, the man of words, was lost for them as well at this time, and it made him finally be able to say what he'd set out to say.

"Yes. It's time to stop messing about, Pete. We got married, almost a year ago, but I was a coward and I know you don't blame me, but I do, at least a little bit, because you're my husband, for fuck's sake, and you shouldn't have felt so alone. If you could... Pete, I'd really like it to be real, now." Patrick heard his voice shake, but the gold of the two plain rings in his palm felt warm and secure, as did Pete's hands, one still around his hand, the other gripping his knee. He even managed a grin: "I guess it should be me on my knees, not you, seeing that I'm the one doing the asking."

Pete chuckled and slid his hand up Patrick's leg to rest against his hip: "Well, you didn't get on your knees the first time either, so I don't see why this should be any different. At least this proposal isn't postcoital, so I know you mean it." Patrick leaned forward and touched his forehead to Pete's gently. He didn't need to see Pete's face, he could hear the warmth in his voice clear as day. "And yes. My fucking answer is yes, Patrick, of course. My shrink's going to scold me for making an important decision so soon, but I made that decision almost a year ago, so what the hell, right? Now, gimme that thing already!"

With a laugh, Patrick complied, sliding the band onto Pete's ring finger. Pete's eyes were impossibly big, and he instantly tore it off again to read the inscription on the inside. It was nothing fancy, Patrick not being one for big gestures, just their initials and the date of their wedding, but Pete's smile threatened to split his face in two as he jammed the ring back on, as if to make sure it would stay there forever. Then he took its twin and slid it on Patrick's finger, pressing a kiss to it as he was done. Patrick entwined their fingers, feeling the bands rub against each other, unable to stop the wide grin on his own face.

Then - because this was them, after all, and some things never changed - the relative solemnity of the moment was broken, and he found himself with a lap of joyful Pete, an insistent tongue in his mouth and inquisitive hands wriggling under his clothes, still sweaty from the show. Patrick laughed against Pete's lips. They might never make it to happily ever after, but this would do just fine.