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Fic: In Love and Death (Joe/Patrick, R, 1/3) - painted fiction

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March 22nd, 2009


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likethepaint
11:22 pm - Fic: In Love and Death (Joe/Patrick, R, 1/3)
Title: In Love and Death
Author: Matte (likethepaint)
Pairing:: Joe/Patrick
Rating: R
Summary: Set in the aftermath of the Sixteen Candles video. After a particularly nasty brawl Joe and Patrick try to pick up the pieces and carry on.
Warnings: This is vampire fic, and consequently it will cover death and violence.
Authors Notes: Beta’d and encouraged by the wonderful rosiedoes. I started this fic at her suggestion in January 2008, and she’s basically held my hand the whole way through.
Word Count:: 19,419




It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right.



Before a hunt they always checked their weapons, and made sure to have a meal. No one wanted to get out there and find that they had a bad weapon or end up so hungry by the end of the night that they couldn’t see straight. All they wanted to do was kill as many vampires as possible and get back to the warehouse safely.

Andy and Joe were eating in relative silence, while Patrick was tucked into his work area as normal, cussing at Joe’s weapon; no matter what he tried he couldn’t get the thing to work like it should. He tended to get pretty obsessive over little things like that, stopping a weapon from jamming, or putting the finishing touches to his latest invention and quite often he’d forget to stop for food or sleep and one of the others would have to come and drag him away.

It was an unwritten rule that when Patrick got like that the others left him alone unless there was an urgent reason to bother him. Usually they only bothered him when he was about to pass out or something, because they all understood that getting the weapons right was important. Patrick generally stopped working a few hours before a hunt, but on occasion he’d try to work right up to the last second in a desperate attempt to finish something before they left.

Once Joe had finished and left his plate in the sink, he took Patrick’s dinner over to him. It tended to be easier to get Patrick to eat while he was busy if he didn’t actually have to move away from his work, that way he could carry on reading through notes and looking over things.

“I brought you some food, dude. You need to eat before we leave,” he said, gesturing slightly to the plate while Patrick tested the weapon again, grimacing when it failed to fire.

“No, what I really need to do is fix this, Joe.”

“I thought you said it was like no big deal, just a small thing.”

“It is, I suppose. I just don’t want it to jam on you tonight.”

“Well, maybe I can like, help you or something and then once it’s fixed you can eat.”

“I don’t know; I don’t even know what’s wrong with it. It should fire when I do this, but it keeps jam…” the weapon suddenly fired at the floor, narrowly missing Patrick’s feet. “Huh.”

“What?”

“Nothing, that’s just exactly what it’s supposed to do.”

“So, you fixed it?”

“Yes, no. I didn’t actually do anything before I tested it that time.”

“But it’s fixed?”

“Maybe, I don’t know.”

“Well, maybe you should eat something and then you can like test it again before we go.”

“If it jams while we’re on the hunt I’ll kill you for distracting me.”

“If it jams while we’re on the hunt, I don’t think you’ll like, get the chance to kill me,” he laughed nervously.

“Joe.”

Joe pulled him into a bear hug, “It’s all good, dude, if it jams on the hunt I’ll just have to kick their asses the old fashioned way.”

“I don’t want you getting hurt because I didn’t fix this, Joe.”

“Well, I don’t want you getting hurt because you didn’t eat, dude. C’mon, just eat it quickly and then we can double check the weapon still works and still have time for like, a cuddle before we leave.”

“Just a cuddle, huh?” Patrick said teasingly.

“Eat fast or we won’t even have time for that.”

“I don’t know, we’ve still got plenty of time, aren’t you overestimating yourself a little?”

“It’s like pretty much sunset any minute, dude. We’ve got maybe fifteen, twenty minutes at the most.”

“What? Shit Joe! Why didn’t you tell me I’d worked this late?”

“I’ve been trying to get you to eat this whole time, man.”

“I just wish you’d told me how late it’d gotten; now there’s not enough time to do everything I have to.”

“Dude, calm down, there’s still enough time for food and a weapon check, that’s all you have to do.”

“What if it’s not fixed though, Joe, what if it messes up on you again and Pete doesn’t have your back? I couldn’t,” he cut himself off abruptly, looking away from Joe.

“C’mon, just eat the dinner and then like we can worry about what happens next then. You can’t go out there without eating first.”

“Yeah, yeah. Alright, I’ll eat the meal.”

“Eat fast, then snuggles,” he teased, testing the weapon a few times to make sure it was still working fine. On the desktop Patrick’s phone vibrated; Joe snatched it up, frowning at the caller I.D. as he passed it over.

Across the room, Andy had been practicing again, throwing vicious kicks and punches at the punch bag and Pete had been making enough noise that they knew he was awake even though they hadn’t seen much of him. As Patrick spoke quietly to the priest, Joe moved the blend they’d prepared earlier from the fridge. Patrick was still trying to find something they could add to make it slightly easier for Pete to drink, but the attempts were few and far between. Secretly, none of them had much hope for a ‘magic’ ingredient, but trying occasionally meant none of them had to admit they’d given up hope of something else. It was the same as when Patrick would sit down with huge, ancient books and trawl through them, looking for some small indication of a cure for Pete, even though he’d already confided in Joe he thought it would take longer than a lifetime to do.

Extensive testing had proved having the blend straight from the fridge didn’t do Pete any actual harm, or affect the blend significantly, but Pete really didn’t like drinking it that way, so when there was a pre-prepared blend, Joe always tried to anticipate Pete needing it and take it out so it warmed a little. It wasn’t much, because Pete would usually make the blend when he needed to drink it, but it was just something Joe could do to help.

Patrick’s phone snapped shut, but he made no move to collect his dinner or explain why the priest had phoned him. In fact he didn’t really make any attempt to move at all, sitting very still with his phone clasped between his hands, staring at it.

“What did he want, dude? Arranging to bring some more water?”

“No, no, not that. Joe, I…” he cut himself off, looking crushed.

“Dude, what’s up?” He’d been able to hear the panic in his voice, enough to make Andy stop and look over, even though they were all completely used to Joe’s tendency to worry too much (and how it predated any real need to).

“They got Dirty,” he mumbled, as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it.

The door to Pete’s room had slid open slowly, cutting off Joe before he could ask who had got Dirty, like he didn’t already know. He’d taken one look at the scene and laughed nervously, “Whoa, who died?”

Patrick had raised his head a little, somehow managing to be even more pale than normal, voice tense, “Don’t.”

“Oh,” his face fell; they were all too used to this, there were often losses, people who got too close and got hurt. “Who?”

“Pete,” Patrick had begun softly again.

“Who?” he demanded, more viciously than he really needed to.

Patrick sighed, “Dirty. Pete, they…” he cut himself off, unable to finish. He didn’t know many details; the priest hadn’t either, but they all had a rough idea of what must have happened anyway, of who ‘they’ were.

“Get ready, we leave in ten minutes.”

“Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

“Five minutes.” He stormed to the kitchen, crashing around, slamming the cupboards.

“Fine.” Patrick’s voice was tight and Joe hadn’t been sure who he was talking to.

Andy had gone back to the punch bag and Patrick had been doing his best to hold it all together; Joe had just felt numb. Dirty was, had been, their eyes and ears and a good friend who stuck by them. He’d wrapped an arm around Patrick, pulling him close. Patrick had curled into him and tucked his head into Joe’s shoulder.

Patrick’s unfinished dinner had hit the wall in the kitchen, along with the container Pete’s blend had been in. Andy hadn’t even flinched; they’d expected it. Joe had glanced over as much as he could and he couldn’t see the blend amongst the wreckage so he assumed Pete had at least had the common sense to drink it first. It wasn’t exactly unusual behavior for Pete, given everything, but it wasn’t common anymore, either. They’d run out of any kind of cup within two weeks of Pete returning, but Pete was more in control these days. Coming off a hunt without feeling like they achieved anything or a plan foiled was more likely to send Pete into a quiet angry sulk than cause him to smash up the entire warehouse the way he had when he’d first been turned.

It had been an awful few months for all of them, but they’d adjusted and they were slowly carving their own version of a ‘normal’ life out of this one. Officially the band was on the backburner, but they were still playing whenever they could, because none of them could really give up on the music. Sometimes Patrick found himself humming a new song without ever having realised he’d been writing one, and never knowing if he’d even get a chance to jot it down, let alone come back to it and fix it up. With taking careful notes on his research and trying to find a cure, or perfecting the blend and the weapons there was often not enough time at the end of the day to even spend two minutes on a song. But he tried, he always tried. Not that it mattered, because even if he had an album full of songs, he wouldn’t have the words to go with them, not since Pete got turned and started keeping his words to himself. He knew if they ever found the time to seriously sit down and write Pete would have enough lyrics to fill albums for a lifetime, put words to every single scrap of music in his head for the rest of his life, even if that was forever.

Pete was out of the door and in the car before he’d even had a chance to clean up the dinner; he took a long mournful look at it, and grabbed his weapon.
Right, he thought, let’s do this.



It was bright outside when I finally got back to the warehouse, but once I was inside it was dark and quiet, and even though I would rather have had everyone back safe already, the peace was somewhat welcoming. Pete wouldn’t return until after sunset, I could be sure of that, but I had no idea about Andy or Patrick; I hadn’t seen either of them since the brawl.

I kind of just wanted to like, collapse onto my bed and sleep for hours or something, but instead I dragged my ass over to the couch and collapsed there, just for the couple of hours until the guys got back. Then I could like kidnap Patrick away for a cuddle and then sleep for like, forever.

Patrick was pretty great for stealing cuddles from, and like not just cuddles, or whatever, if we ever get like, a break from being action heroes and stuff... But it’s like, he’s totally awesome, even if he does build weapons that jam when I’d really, really like for them to just shoot the chick about to fucking bite me or something.

We’d been together forever, practically; since we were teenagers, back before we even knew this sort of shit went down. I’d liked him for like, forever, but I swore he’d never go for someone like me, never even consider it. Besides, as far as I’d known he wasn’t even gay, but we were good friends, and that was awesome. And then he’d invited me to this record fair in the city, that he’d been excited about for weeks, couldn’t stop like, going on about it at practice and shit. I’d figured he’d have at least invited Pete as well, but it had been just the two of us the whole day. I hadn’t realized it was a date until afterwards when we stopped for pizza, and that should have been like, majorly awkward but it was just something for us to laugh about, really.

I was seriously exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep until the guys got home, couldn’t relax until I knew they were safe. Still, I couldn’t help but think how nice it was going to be to crawl into bed with Patrick once he got home and just sleep; it’s actually like, really hard to sleep in a jail cell, especially with like, freaky vampire-cops watching your every move. And you don’t know whether one of them’s gonna turn around and think like, ‘Hey, you seem like you might be a nice meal’ or something.

We’d gone out on a pretty serious brawl; they were getting more and more frequent though, more and more usual for an evening to be spent like that than for us to be able to hunt the damn things down on our own grounds. I liked it better that way, we were like… much better prepared, people tended to get hurt in the brawls.

Over in the kitchen area, Patrick’s dinner and the smashed remains of the plate and the container Pete’s blend had been in were still all over the floor, like some kind of nasty reminder of what we’d lost. I set about carefully cleaning them up, so at least the others wouldn’t have to come home to it.

Almost as soon as I’d finished and sat back down the door smashed shut, and even though it was dark in the warehouse I could see Andy walking over.

“Where’s Patrick?” Andy threw himself down onto the couch, like, practically on top of me. I’d been kind of expecting Patrick to come back with Andy, with like, excuses about getting lunch or whatever before they returned.

“He’s not back yet.”

Andy frowned. “It’s nearly sunset, he’ll be back soon.”

I trusted Andy, I mean, he's my go-to guy and he's like a brother to me – he's never let me down - but at the same time I like, kind of felt that there must be something wrong, something keeping Patrick away. He’s normally like, the first back; desperate to scribble furiously in his little notebook and keep track of everything that’s happened.

We’d been talking for hours when the door slid open again, cutting Andy off pretty much mid-sentence. This would be Patrick back, safe with Pete, bringing me back my cuddles or whatever – it had to be. But it wasn't. Pete hardly even glanced at us when he walked through, going straight for our room.

“He’s not here,” Andy called to him. We hadn’t spoken about Patrick since he came in; I wasn’t ready for some kind of in-depth analysis of why Patrick was still out there alone while we were all sat here doing nothing. I should have gone straight out like as soon as I got back; anything could have happened to him while I’ve been sat around. As soon as he got back – and I basically ignored the little part of me that corrected if – I’d totally make it up to him with like, whatever he wanted.

Pete stopped dead in his tracks, which is totally a pun I’d have normally shared with the guys, but at that point it’s just wasn’t funny. “What do you mean, 'he’s not here'?” He spun around to face Andy and me, his expression completely unreadable. Even though I’ve spent years like hanging out with him, or whatever, Patrick was always better at figuring him out. Pete and I are like close and everything – we go way back, back to before all this shit kicked off – but Patrick’s always been his best friend.

“He’s not back yet, Pete,” Andy said calmly, like there was nothing extraordinary happening, but like, I knew it was just because he’s good at holding it together. He’s like an older brother to me, or something, and it’s rare that he’ll let any of this visibly get to him.

"How can he not be back yet? He’s always back, dude.” He turned back towards our room, looking frustrated and angry, “Patrick?” he yelled, “Patrick, not funny dude, just come out or whatever. Joke’s over.”

He searched the warehouse, and there was a small part of me that wanted to believe it was some elaborate practical joke or whatever, and that Patrick was just hiding out in the basement or something. I could see the exact moment he gave up; going tense and heading straight for the door.

“I can’t just sit here,” Pete shouted, and it made me feel even sicker, even though I knew he hadn’t meant to imply ‘like you are.’ “I’ve got to find him, before –” He stopped abruptly, leaving the sentence hanging, but it was pretty obvious what he was going to say. “I’ve just got to find him,” he said, softer this time, like he was really considering the possibilities of what he might be going to find.

“Pete, he’ll come back soon enough,” Andy insisted. “He’s probably just taking his sweet time for a change.” He had a point; I probably wouldn’t have been as worried if Patrick was normally slow about getting back, it’s just he’d never like, hung around or anything, he’d always come straight back to write up his notes. Pete hovered by the door, like he was torn between going out hunting and wanting to believe Andy. “Just sit down, Pete, give him a little longer.”

Pete threw himself onto the other couch, sulking, probably because he like, didn’t get his own way, even though he could have still gone. Everyone was quiet for a little while, and I closed my eyes to try to enjoy the peace; I was exhausted, and I just wanted to sleep forever or something, but I couldn’t stop worrying about everything. With Pete back the whole thing seemed more real, like Patrick was definitely out there alone and possibly hurt. Or worse.

The door slid open again; I guessed because like Pete had won the argument or whatever, and was going out, but when I looked up he wasn’t anywhere near the door. Instead Patrick was staggering across the room, looking like he was a maybe little hurt, or just tired or whatever, but I was mostly concerned with getting to him as quickly as possible and wrapping him in a giant hug.

It was what I’d been waiting for all day, but there was something that was just like, not right. I had so many questions about where he’d been and why he’d stayed out, but none of them seemed more important than having some cuddles and maybe some more sleep, proper sleep, in like a real bed, not the shitty naps on the couch I’d had all day. I felt more relaxed than I had in hours, knowing we’d all made it back safely; slightly hurt, but safe.

Patrick was freezing; not just like been-out-all-night-worrying-you-sick cold, but cold kinda like Pete is when he’s all over you. He had seemed reluctant to hug for too long, pulling back long before I’d had the chance to share some body heat or whatever.

I figured he was just like, cold and tired and not really in the mood for anything other than sleep. I kinda felt the same; I was exhausted even though I’d done nothing all day except worry. Pete was bursting with questions; the effort it was taking him to like, keep them in was practically visible, but even he seemed to get that Patrick wasn’t in the mood to deal with it and now wasn’t the time to push him.

He gave me a worried look when Patrick left the room, but stayed quiet about whatever was bothering him, so I figured it couldn’t have been that important; Pete shared practically everything with us, even if we completely did not need to know.

Patrick was sat on the edge of the bed, in his boxers and the old shirt he usually slept in, looking almost just like my Patrick should, except he seemed nervous and kind of distracted. He kept rubbing at something on his neck; I figured maybe he’d been hurt, and like, I didn’t want it getting infected or anything if it was nasty.

So I sat down next to him, pulling his hand away so I could like just check it wasn’t anything that needed to be dealt with straight away; I hadn’t noticed anything obvious before, but he’d had his jacket on and everything and it wasn’t like I’d really been looking.

I knew what I was seeing as soon as I moved his hand, but like, I kinda didn’t want to believe it. There were two small scabs on his neck, close together where the fangs had pierced the skin; they already looked days old but I knew that was just him healing fast; they couldn’t have been more than like, a day old at the most.

Patrick mumbled, “I’m sorry,” and I kinda wanted to say ‘no, I’m sorry dude, I should have been there, should have protected you’ but it was like... I couldn’t say anything. I could see he was getting kind of choked and I wanted so badly to protect him, pulling him tightly into me and pressing my face into his neck, even though it was pretty much too late for that. He didn’t really smell like my Patrick any more, not the way he had every other time we’d ended up like this after a hard day. He smelt kinda like Pete; like death. But I still didn’t let him go.

When I pulled back slightly, just enough to look at him, he still looked like my Patrick. He was like, maybe a little paler or whatever, and I knew he’d have the teeth, but he didn’t look like the monster out of my dreams or anything. He was still teary, and I just wanted to change everything; go back and protect him.

“I’ll fix this; I’ll like find a cure or something dude,” I promised him; there had to be something, there had to be a way to make everything okay. Patrick had already found the blend for Pete, made it so that he no longer needed to like, drink blood or whatever; so I was pretty convinced that there would be some kind of cure.

I could tell he wasn’t convinced; I really couldn’t blame him, it sounded so impossible, but like, I couldn’t just write this off or whatever and move on. I was sure there had to be something I could do.

He started practically babbling about how it wouldn’t work and there wasn’t a cure, wasn’t anything any of us could do. I kind of... I knew he’d been looking for a cure for Pete for months, and the way he was saying it kinda made me feel like he knew for a fact there was no way to help him.

I tugged him slightly closer, rubbing softly at his back. It hurt to think that maybe there really was nothing I could do about this; maybe Patrick would be like this forever, while I had to just like, sit back and watch and know that maybe if I’d just been more careful, paid more attention to him or something, maybe I could have stopped him from like getting bitten in the first place.

We weren’t really talking anymore by the time Patrick started falling asleep. It had gotten pretty late, I guessed; we’d been talking round in circles for hours. It was probably like close to sunrise or whatever, but we didn’t have to worry; all the windows were already completely blacked out for Pete.

“You should like, get some sleep or whatever, dude,” I told him when he tried to hide another yawn against my chest. He made a quiet sleepy sound, not quite an agreement but not a protest either. I helped him shift onto the bed, pulling the covers up and stripping down to my boxers to climb in as well.

I leant over to give him a quick kiss goodnight, but he like jerked away from me, rolling onto his side to face the wall. I sat there for a while, just watching him, kinda lame but whatever; he didn’t even kind of like look any different from the back with the covers pulled up high. I’d been holding it together all day, trying not to think the worst, think he was dead, and then trying to hold him together, too. I cuddled up behind him and tried to shake the feeling that he was pushing me away.

He fell asleep long before I did; exhausted and probably weak from all he’d had to go through. I still felt kind of guilty that I hadn’t been there to protect him, but I was just so glad to like have him, even though it had come at a cost. I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t come back.



Patrick was still asleep when I woke up, curled up against me the same as always. It could have been any time, really, but I could hear Pete banging around in the kitchen, or whatever; I figured it was past sunset already.

I didn’t really want to wake him by moving; he was so tired when he got back... So I sort of used the time to kind of think things over or whatever. I knew things would be a little different for us now, what with Patrick having been turned, but I was sure we could make it work out somehow; because, fuck - we'd been working around Pete long enough...

By the time Patrick woke up I’d like, worked out what I was going to do and thrown away any lie-ins I could possibly have for like, the next year, basically. I was hoping it wouldn’t take too long to find a cure, if I managed to look in all the right places, but I was willing to look for as long as it took to find one, if it meant fixing this.

I was kind of just thinking about where I could start looking when Patrick started clenching his fist against my chest. He wasn’t really moving much, like he was only just starting to wake up or something. He kept shuffling slightly, like he was trying to get closer, even though I already had him like, pulled as close as possible. If it wasn’t for the icy skin it’d be hard to think that this Patrick, the one who shuffled closer like always and made the same soft sleepy noises in the back of his throat when I rubbed his arm, was any different to the Patrick who’d been here a few nights ago. It didn’t matter if he was now though, he was still Patrick.

“Morning,” I murmured, kissing him tenderly as he started to wake up properly. He didn’t like, flinch away like he had the night before and I felt a little more relaxed or something, like I at least knew he wasn’t pushing me away.

Patrick lifted his head slightly, giving me a small kiss back. Any other morning we might have like, taken advantage of being able to stay in bed or whatever. But like, neither of us were really in the mood for anything more than a lazy lie-in.

We both knew that we couldn’t stay in bed all day, kind of, and as soon as we got up I was pretty sure Pete was gonna pounce on Patrick or something. He’d kept pretty quiet when Patrick had come back; let him sleep... but like, there was only so long Pete could stay quiet for. I couldn’t blame him though; there were questions I wanted answered too.

Pete was hunched over his notebook or something, in the corner; it’s pretty typical to find him like that, writing stuff, lyrics or whatever, for the rare chance we ever have to write more songs. It shouldn’t have been bothered me. Except his best friend, our best friend, had just come home dead, and that was a pretty big deal for all of us.

Andy was like the other side of the room, pounding stake after stake into the wall targets. They noticed us as soon as we came in. Pete could probably smell us and it had gotten pretty much impossible to creep up on Andy, but they didn’t like make much of a big deal about it. Pete glanced up from his lap briefly, but then went back to whatever he was writing. I didn’t see Andy look over, but he was probably watching out of his peripheral vision or whatever; he was getting like, scarily good at that, too. Not that I could complain if it like, meant we all came back at the end of the day.

Patrick curled up beside me on the sofa, kinda like he was craving the contact or something. He seemed kind of out of it, a little, just absently snuggling into me; making himself comfortable. Pete came back still Pete; though he was angrier and more prone to bad moods he was still Pete. I didn’t want to think about the chance that maybe Patrick would change into some monster or something. Vampire or not, right now he was still Patrick, even if he was distracted, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Pete waited patiently, far more than I’d ever seen him before, but eventually he cracked. I guessed he was like, remembering what it had been like for him the first few days, how disoriented he’d been and trying to make that easier for Patrick. But at the same time we’d all known there was things we needed to find out; even Patrick would have been aware of that. None of us were annoyed, although Patrick seemed to tense up against me as the questioning started, like he didn’t really want to deal with it. I remembered his rambling from the night before, and I knew he blamed himself – thought it was like, his own stupidity or incompetency that got him in the situation even though no one else was thinking that. He’d been mumbling about leaving, but I’d put a stop to that straight away; we’d coped fine with Pete and we’d cope fine with him.

“Who?” he asked, throwing his notebook aside and pulling his knees up to his chest. It sounded kind of like the words hurt him to say, and I honestly couldn’t like, blame him. I wasn’t ready to deal with this, wasn’t ever going to be ready to deal with this.

“I don’t know Pete, I…” he trailed off. “They trapped me; I thought they were being attacked.”

“And then they attacked you?” he demanded. Patrick just nodded.

Suddenly the things he was saying the night before made like, a lot more sense, he hadn’t explained what had happened, and I’d just assumed he’d been unable to fight them off any longer and they’d bitten him. I had like, no idea he’d been tricked, but once I did I felt even more protective of him, and understood his guilt a lot more. Not that he, like, had any reason to feel guilty or anything, we’d all fallen into traps at some point, Patrick was just the unlucky one who hadn’t gotten out in time.

Pete stood up, fists clenched at his sides, and like, looking at the door like he was seriously contemplating going and ripping their heads off right then. Andy shook his head though, and I had to agree with him, I wanted to like, kill them with my bare hands, wanted to do worse than that. But it wasn’t the time, we needed to stay put, make ourselves strong again before we went picking fights or whatever.

For a second it looked like Pete was going to disappear anyway, just walk straight out the door and leave us. He’d like, done it before, left us for days without a clue where he’d gone or if he was coming back, but that was before, back when he had only just been turned, back when we weren’t always sure what we were doing. It didn’t feel like we were much better off now, or anything, but we stuck together, and I knew that made us stronger.

“We end this tomorrow,” Pete snarled, stalking off to the basement, and we all knew what he meant, but there wasn’t anything to end. Not anything we could end tomorrow. I wasn’t going to give up hope on finding a cure, but… it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to come quickly. The best we had was like, trying to track down the monsters who did it and kill them, but we’d been like, trying to do that for Pete for months and gotten no where.

Andy returned to his stakes, and I like, tightened my arm around Patrick. He was shaking slightly, face tucked into my shoulder, and I could feel my t-shirt getting slightly damp or something, but I wasn’t going to call him out on it. I knew he hated it when we knew he was crying.

“It’ll be fine, dude,” I reassured him, kissing the top of his head through his hat, and he shook his head.

“I’ve lost everything,” he whispered.

“Hey, we’re still here, you’ve still got me.”

“I’m a…” he choked off, refusing to look at me. “I’m – look at me, Joe. You can’t seriously say this changes nothing.”

I knew he was right, it was going to change things, but I couldn’t help but be like, insanely grateful he’d come back at all. “Pete’s fine, why can’t you be fine?”

“I’m not Pete.”

“No, you’re you, and I totally love you dude, don’t ask me to throw that away.”

“What if I hurt you?”

“You won’t. Pete’s never bitten me, so why should you?”

“How can you be okay with this?”

“I love you, I seriously, seriously love you, and you’re still Patrick. That hasn’t changed.”

“I love you too. But…”

”Please, let’s just try. You don’t know that you’re going to hurt me, you could be fine. I want to try, Patrick. Please.”

“Okay,” he whispered, leaning up for a quick kiss. “Promise me you won’t let me hurt you.”

“Patrick…”

”Promise me, if I try to hurt you you’ll...”

“I’m not going hurt you.”

“Joe.”

“We’re totally not in that kind of relationship,” I laughed feebly, trying to distract him from what he was asking me, what I like, already knew I would ultimately have to do if things went bad. I couldn’t think about that, though, it was like, completely impossible to consider my Patrick turning into one of the bad guys. Even with like, the teeth and everything he wasn’t a monster.

Patrick sighed, trying to pull away from me, but I caught his wrist before he went anywhere. “I won’t like, let you do anything I don’t want, I promise. Let’s just try and make this work, please?”

He didn’t answer me, but he did settle back down beside me, curling against me again, and I figured that was like, enough for the moment. It kinda had to be.



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