[identity profile] rosiedoes.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] damagereport
Series Title: Moving Pictures
Title: Truckstops & Statelines
Summary: Patrick's perspective on the aftermath of the events in Chapter 14 of TWNW.
Author: [livejournal.com profile] rosiedoes
Rating: PG.
Pairing: Joe/Patrick
Words: c. 4,000.
Author's notes: This series is a collection of alternate perspective pieces to accompany the chaptered fic, The World's Not Waiting (For Joe Trohman To Stop Being A Pussy And Start Going For What He Wants).

The short stories in this series will be from Patrick's perspective and will not necessarily follow a linear timeline - they'll be ad hoc and posted when time allows, or for specific reasons.

This part was written as a gift for my bandom secretary and PR dude chicagowinters on its birthday.

Truckstops & Statelines was the original working title of Chapter 14.

Truckstops & Statelines
And if you're evil I'll forgive you by and by

"Wait here," Pete ordered, opening the door to the van and sliding out of the driving seat. Andy went with him, climbing over the pile of gear to get to the back doors and slamming them closed.

Patrick had no idea where they were. It was a motel parking lot somewhere across the state line and it was almost two in the morning, but he still didn't feel like they were far enough away. They'd driven for nearly two hours once they were back in the van, after getting their merch washed and dried and folded in a stolen laundry basket. It was so battered and old that Pete had insisted it wouldn't be missed, but that hadn't stopped Patrick ducking back to the closed counter at the back of the store and slipping a $5 bill under the shutter by way of apology, as they left. The piss-soaked cardboard box wasn't any use to anyone, anymore, they could hardly put their salvaged shirts back into it.

He couldn't help scanning the street outside the lot, anxiously wondering how far gangs of neo-nazis would go to satisfy their pride. He was still half-convinced that they'd been followed even when they stopped at the laundromat and had to take an enforced break. He hadn't wanted to stop at all at the motel, cursing Pete when he insisted on pulling in because he was tired and no one else was in any better state.

Beside him, in the middle seat, Joe was tenderly poking at his own swollen face, the bag of ice long since melted to a puddle in the bottom of the bag on the floor.

"Fuck. I'm so glad my mom isn't gonna see me for a few days, dude," he joked lamely, when Patrick looked up at his pained hiss.

"You okay?" Patrick asked him, unbuckling his seatbelt and turning in his seat to cup his face. "Y'know, I can get you more ice, there has to be a store or something - "

Joe caught his hands and gently pulled them away with either a smile or a grimace, he couldn't completely tell with the puffy eye and swollen cheek, leaning nearer to kiss his forehead. "I'm okay, little dude," he said, like he knew Patrick didn't really believe it. "I mean, I look like a badass, but I guess you're like, getting used to that, right?"

"No," Patrick replied, indignantly. He didn't want to get used to Joe looking like a 'badass', he wanted him to look like Joe again. It was sheer luck that the can had missed his eye - Patrick loved Joe's eyes, they'd been one the first things he'd had noticed about him.

"I'm gonna be okay, you know."

"Yeah, I know, but I just… I'm sorry, dude... I feel like if I hadn't been so flaky about the whole thing with Pete and the apartment, you wouldn't've been pissed with me, and that asshole wouldn't have seen us, and…"

"It's too late, though, basically. It happened, nobody died."

"But what if -"

"Who cares? It didn't. We're like, two hundred miles from that place, nobody's coming, dude. Look on the bright side: we're just gonna get to sleep in a nice, safe motel room, yeah?" He ducked his head and bumped their noses together fondly, then pressed his lips to Patrick's with gentle deliberateness.

Patrick let him, but only fleetingly. They were sitting in the cab of the van, what if some new southern shithead saw them? They'd be in no better position than a few hours ago.

Joe gave a long sigh and kissed his forehead again, probably seeing what was wrong written all over his face. Usually, Joe was the paranoid one, but he was being painfully stoic about the whole thing. Patrick found it a little maddening - Joe only ever got really mad about stupid stuff, but he acted like things like this just washed over him.

At the sound of the back doors being yanked open, Patrick grasped reflexively at Joe's t-shirt, ready to pull him down behind the back of the seat and hide.

"Dude - it's cool, it's just Hurley," Joe assured him, looking surprised at how jumpy he was and rubbing at his arm.

Andy stared down the van at them, pulling his bag off the stack of drum cases by the end of a strap. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," Joe said, catching Patrick's eye and giving him a lopsidedly reassuring smile. "We're fine, right?"

Patrick nodded. Joe's night had been bad enough without needing to worry about Patrick feeling stressed, too. Nothing had even really happened to him.

The room was plain: oatmeal and burnt orange soft furnishings on a background of off-white, and clean enough that Joe didn't turn his nose up at it as soon as the door was open, which was a relief. There had been a couple of occasions when the cheap motels with '70s decor and hair in the shower drains had tripped his icky-switch. He'd taken one look at a room outside Tulsa, OK, and had a meltdown, flat out refused to sleep in it until Patrick had convinced him they could use their sleeping bags as bedding to protect them from what were probably perfectly reasonable sheets.

Joe gave the appearance of being a laid back, easy going dude, but Patrick had learned early on that underneath it, there was a brain much smarter than his, working overtime, making abstract connections and trying to reroute itself into some kind of logic, constantly. It left him a ridiculous mess of non-sequiturs and barely controlled obsessions, continuously seeking some kind of order and permanently wired on nervous energy. He was weird, but so was Patrick, and he liked that about them. They fitted together neatly, evening each other out. Joe got him and he got Joe. The day Patrick explained his synaesthesia, Joe had looked at him like he had confessed to some incredible superpower. He was the first person Patrick had opened up to about it who hadn't just scrunched up their noses and said, "Huh?"

They may only have been dating a year, and Joe might still only be seventeen for a few more weeks yet, but Patrick felt like maybe he could do this forever. He didn't need anyone else if he could have Joe. And that was partly why the prospect of someone taking Joe from him was so frightening.

"I'm gonna shower," Joe announced before anyone could call it first, stretching and bumping his fist lightly on the top of Patrick's shoulder as he relaxed, sending a small, irrational wave of worry through his belly - like a vanful of thugs might be waiting in there. "I'll be right back."

"Well, congratulations, now you're gonna get serial killed!" Andy yelled as he shut the door, sprawling himself across the bed on the left. Patrick supposed that meant the one on the right would be his and Joe's, and crawled onto it, exhausted. He flopped on to his back and stared at the textured ceiling, feeling his eyes beginning to droop.

"Hey, Rickster, we're gonna be roomies, man!"

Patrick gave a half-hearted huff of a laugh. He wasn't even sure he wanted to be, anymore. He was probably going to spend every day thinking that the stupid apartment was the reason that Joe got hurt. He let his eyes drift closed and snapped them open again at the feel of someone climbing on to the mattress, next to him. He was surprised to find the overhead light was out - it had been on, just a few seconds ago, he was sure - and the room was lit by the single lamp between the two beds. He squinted at Joe as he gently shook him, whispering, "C'mon, man, bedtime," and mustered just enough energy to kick off his jeans and take off his glasses, then let Joe usher him under the covers and fell asleep almost the moment Joe curled around him.


The room was dark when Patrick started awake again, a cry from his dream pulling him back through to consciousness as it escaped his throat. He could feel panic rising in his chest, even as he sat up, fumbling frantically to pull the sheets away, feeling around on the sagging twin mattress for the body beside him.

"Hey - hey," Joe's voice said softly, and Patrick felt arms gently pulling him back down to the pillow. "You're okay, you're safe, dude, I'm here."


"Yeah, it's me, it's okay. C'mere."

He was shaking as he laid back down, half-collapsing now that the adrenaline was dropping, and buried his face almost in Joe's armpit, clinging to him and trying to steady his breathing.

"He okay?" Pete's voice asked from across the darkened room.

"Yeah," Joe replied firmly, "I've got him."

They laid in silence for a few minutes, Joe's arms wrapped around him, one hand stroking at his hair soothingly. Just feeling him breathing was reassuring - it confirmed that he still was, that the horror and violence in his dream was nothing more than his terrified imagination living out his worst fears.

"What was it?" Joe whispered, when Pete's breathing had settled and Andy's small, familiar snores were rumbling quietly from the foot end of the other bed. "You were kind of like, talking in your sleep, but I couldn't figure it out…"

He shifted, lifting his face and turning his head to rest his cheek on Joe's chest, swallowing. He wasn't sure if he should say anything. He wasn't sure that Joe needed to know what his sleeping brain had conjured up to terrorise him with. There had been a moment, earlier that night, when he'd been sure that something like this was a true possibility. In the moment, all his instincts had been to abandon their things and run. He'd wanted to order Joe into the van and lock him there, bar anyone from getting close to him so they couldn't hurt him again. He'd already had his face half-smashed by some dick's drink, he didn't want to see anything else happened to him.

Joe was such a gentle person. Sure, he had moments when he'd punch Pete in the ribs until he shrieked like a little girl, but that was the kind of relationship they had - it was a lot like he and Kevin used to be, when they were kids. But he'd done nothing - nothing at all - to deserve the way people treated him. It was the second time in a matter of months that someone had deliberately hurt him just for being himself. It made Patrick utterly fucking furious. He'd seen to it that the asshole who'd hurt him the first time got a taste of his of own medicine, but the scum who'd started on him at the show were exactly the kind of animals who'd have a switchblade in their shorts. He couldn’t protect Joe or level retribution, this time and it left him feeling impotent and ineffectual - worse than useless. It was that knowledge that had consumed his subconscious and drawn hideous, harrowing images from it.

"Dude?" Joe prompted, pressing his lips to the top of Patrick's head.

"It was just a dream," he whispered, tightening his fingers against the skin at Joe's waist, reassured when they didn't come away sticky and wet.

"About tonight?"

He closed his eyes and nodded, feeling his breath catch in his chest again, just as it had when he was waking from the terror of his nightmare. Joe's own chest heaved with a deep sigh, and he could feel his heart beating in his chest. Lub-dub, lub-dub…

"You died," he confessed. "It was so real, y'know? I couldn't get to you 'cause they were holding me back and I just… I tried, but I couldn't… and then when they let me go, I saw your eyes kind of… change, I guess and I just… I knew."

"Shit, dude." Joe shifted to wrap both arms and one of his legs around him, comfortingly, his voice growing a little loud. "It pisses me off that those assholes freaked you out so bad… Like, what fucking right do they have? I wish I'd kicked their asses…"

A tiny laugh escaped Patrick's throat before he could stop it. "There was a whole bunch of them, Joe…"

"Yeah, well," Joe told him, defiantly, "maybe I'd have been like one of those moms who lifts a car off their kid in a moment of crisis, or something, man."

"Maybe." Never in a million years, you adorable little fool.

Joe gave a small, lazy laugh that vibrated against Patrick's cheek. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, darling."

"As much as I love you, Bambi, you're smart, and funny, and hot, and whole bunch of other things, but you have to acknowledge you're no Chuck Norris." Patrick had named him after a clumsy baby deer, for God's sake!

"D'you want me to be Chuck Norris?" Joe teased. "'Cause I'm pretty sure that, like, I can borrow my mom's jeans, if that's what you're into."

"You two are gross," Andy's voice mumbled from across the room, accompanied by the sound of creaking springs as he turned over.

"Yeah, and F-Y-I," Pete's voice added, "this doesn't mean a free pass for comfort fucking. He's not dead: go back to sleep. Or at least shut the fuck up, or whatever..."

Joe immediately bounced the mattress and made gross noises to taunt them.

Half-mortified, Patrick buried his face in his chest, laughing at both Joe and the repulsed yells of objection from the other two.

"I'm serious, Troh, go the fuck to sleep or I'll be the one kicking your ass!" Andy half-shouted. "It's like five in the morning or something!"

Joe was still chuckling to himself, even when Patrick lifted his head to shush him. It was probably the lingering adrenaline - or mild hysteria, he wasn't sure - he just knew that he couldn't get back to sleep because now he was wide awake again. Joe was just as restless.

"Stay still, this is like cuddling a bag of cats… while, like, someone swings it on the end of a rope."

"I'm kind of too tense to sleep, y'know?"

They laid in silence for a minute before Joe finally sighed and flung the sheets back. "C'mon."

He got out of bed and began putting on his jeans.

"What? Where - ?"


"No! I don't want - Joe, I don't - what if -?"

Joe sat down on the bed beside him and pulled gently on his arm. "We're in the next state, man, it's fine. Just come outside and get some air, okay?"

Reluctantly, Patrick took a deep breath and let himself be hauled to his feet. If he didn't go, Joe would probably go by himself, and he didn't want to risk that, either. He'd only worry himself sick, the entire time he was gone - right now, he didn't want to risk letting him out of his sight for a second.

The air outside was humid and warm, and there was no breeze. The balcony that ran along the fronts of the first floor rooms wrapped around the corner of the building to a fire escape, dotted at intervals with dim, yellow lights surrounded by moths and mosquitos, and they shuffled down to the end to lean on the metal rail, overlooking a line of small trees to the lights of the city in the distance and the truck stop gas station across the highway. It cast a distant dome of orange across the sky in the east, obscuring most of the stars.

"You feeling okay?" Joe asked softly, bumping Patrick's shoulder with his own, pressing their biceps together lightly.

He nodded, despite the antsy feeling in his chest and the urge to look over his shoulder every three seconds.

"So, tonight was pretty shitty, huh?"

"Yeah. Yeah, that's basically tonight: shitty. And fucking scary."

"But it's done, right? We're hundreds of miles away from those dicks, now. They're probably, like, jerking off thinking of each other under confederate flags or some crap."

"No - I refuse to believe that anyone would be that much of an asshole if they were actually like we are."

"People are weird about gay stuff, though, man. I guess it kind of freaks them out or something, so they like, overcompensate, basically…"

Patrick huffed, frustrated. "Don't make excuses for them, Joe - they're not closet jewish too, are they? They're just… nasty. Ignorant, nasty, mean people, who want to hurt you because of some stupid fucking idea that they're better than you are!"

"Yeah, but - "

"No, I'm serious, don't apologise for them. If that beer can had hit you on the wrong place - "

"They weren't trying to kill me," Joe shrugged. "Not at that stage, anyway… Like, thanks, Pete."

"I hate the South. I hate it! It's hot and sticky, and full of fucking bugs, and the people here are fucking uneducated assholes -"

Joe elbowed him. "Well, that's kind of a gross generalisation."

"Well - okay, yeah, it probably is, but they hurt my Joe, so I'm mad and - "

"Bradley Kennedy's an uneducated asshole, and he's from like, Evanston, and our school is private."

"I'm not saying all assholes come from the South -"

"Yeah, but like, people like that are everywhere, is what I'm saying. It freaks me out, yeah, but I guess something had to happen to make them like that. How shitty is the life they've been through that they're gonna, like, hate people for literally nothing but being a little different? I don't wanna end up like them, dude, just hating everyone and freaking out about everything all the time, basically. I don't have that much spare energy."

Patrick sighed and rested his head on his arms. How can you be so cool about it? "It takes up my energy whether I want it to or not. It's bad enough that people might hate that I love you, because you're a dude, but the fact they actually fucking hurt you for it - why is it always you, anyway? I wish they'd like, pick on me for a change…"

The little splutter of laughter that Joe gave made him straighten up, irritably, but Joe tucked an arm around him and pulled him close to kiss his temple. "You look twelve, what would that prove to their macho buddies, man?"

He wriggled free, looking around them to make sure no one had seen, and gave him a light shove in the shoulder. "I do not look twelve!"

"Well, I mean, not to me - that would be weird - but you do to, like, people who don't get to hear you curse and take orders from you about what to do to your butt…"

Patrick wasn't sure whether to laugh or give him a matching black eye. "You literally cannot say that stuff where people could hear you, Joe!" he hissed.

"What stuff?" Joe asked innocently, raising his voice a little. "Like, 'Patrick calls me the names of Disney animals when we do naked fun time'? Or - "


"- 'Patrick apparently wants to get laid while listening to Prince'? Actually, to be honest, I think like, most people's moms have already beat you to that one… Your mom probably beat you to that one!"

"You are so gross! I can't believe you'd say that!" He could. He totally could believe it. Joe had next to no sense of shame, even if he still blushed and didn't know where to look, every time Patrick's clothes were off. It was just that if he didn't seem appalled, people overhearing him might realise it was true. The Disney thing did sound kind of dirty when he put it like that…

He slapped at his arms in embarrassed protest, only for Joe to slap back, laughing, and push him to the balcony rail with his hips, catching both of his hands and pressing them palm-to-palm. He kissed Patrick's forehead and then his nose, even though Patrick wriggled self-consciously.

"Nobody's watching, dude, they're all asleep. We're literally the only ones here. It's okay. Look:" he ducked down and kissed him on the lips, open mouthed and unmistakably boyfriendily so that Patrick was compelled to join in, in spite of his worries, then stepped back, hands spread and gestured around them at the empty balcony and deserted corner of the parking lot, "nothing. No angry villagers with like, flaming torches, or like, douchebag fascists, or anything. I mean, I wouldn't do it outside Wrigley Field after a bad game, but… you're usually the one who wants to be out, right? Don't let this crap change that. I guess that's kind of what they want."

Sighing, Patrick reached out both his arms for a hug, and rested his cheek on Joe's shoulder when he returned to press him against the railing. "It's weird when you make sense."

Joe snorted. "Don't get used to it, dude. Every time I say something actually, like, sensible, it's just adding to the backlog of random crap."

Patrick laughed and kissed him again of his own volition, because maybe Joe was right for a change, but he was definitely the sexiest person Patrick knew, in a self-consciously awkward kind of way, and if those guys really were jealous of them, then it was his duty to make the most of what he had.

"I wish we'd got our own room," he muttered, enjoying the rush of air as Joe laughed against his lips.

"Maybe, like, tomorrow possibly? My dad's credit card can take one for the team…"

They lingered on the balcony for a while, watching the sun come up in the distance, Joe tucked behind him with his chin on his shoulder and his hips pressed to Patrick's, and it reminded him of his birthday, standing on the edge of a cornfield, planning their future. Planning to get their own place, when they thought they could literally do anything they wanted. If they hadn't already told Pete he could live with them, he might have made a different decision, in that moment - for it to be just them, a safe little unit figuring it all out together. But it was too late, now.

In the alley near the laundromat, after he and Andy had gone to find a secluded corner to take a leak in, Hurley had caught up with him on the way out, saying, "Hey, Stumph? You and the space cadet are good, aren't you? I mean, all that breaking up business - you're not, right?"

"No, man," Patrick had assured him, because now, more than ever, he was damn sure he wasn't going to let it happen.

"Good, 'cause I really think you kids have got something worth working at, yeah? I mean, I see you two together and I wish…" He looked down for a second, suddenly less confident than the Andy that Patrick knew. "I guess what I'm saying is, I've fucked up perfectly good relationships because I was an idiot and thought I was too young for important stuff. Don't screw up like I did."

Patrick stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged his hunched shoulders, smiling self-consciously as he looked around them, wanting to get back in the van as soon as possible, but easily reassured by Andy's presence. He always seemed so with it - like whatever happened, Andy would be able to figure out how to fix it. "We won't," he'd told him, and he really believed that.



"After everything that happened before tonight - I mean, we really are good, aren't we? You don't think - "

"Shhh - yeah, dude. We're good," Joe said quietly, squeezing him a little tighter and kissing his temple. "We'll figure it out."

"It's just that I don't want you to think I - "

"I don't. You're probably right - maybe we do need a chaperone."

Patrick spluttered with laughter at the idea that Pete would be chaperoning them, rather than the other way around. "Sure. Okay… Just as long as we're fine."

"We are, man, we've never been better."

As the first sliver of sun began breaking across the horizon in the distance, the last of the twinkling streetlamps fading out in the light, Patrick heard a long yawn in his ear and turned to look at him as best he could.

"We should get some sleep, I guess…"

Joe was still yawning as he nodded. "I'm supposed to drive the rest of the way to Jackson, in like, four hours and I only had like two hours' sleep..."

"C'mon," Patrick said, catching his yawn and turning to look at his sleepy face. He'd almost forgotten Joe was hurt and grimaced a little at the growing bruise replacing the swelling on his face. Without thinking about who might be watching, or the fact that the coming dawn made them far more visible than they had been an hour ago, he leaned up on tiptoes and kissed him, tiredly. "Let's go see if I can not dream about you dying for a few hours."

They didn't even bother to get undressed when they went back to the room, kicking off their shoes and slumping together on top of the sheets. Joe's eyelids were heavy and kept dropping closed, only to be forcibly blinked open again as Patrick watched.

"What're you doing, you crazy dork? Go to sleep!" he whispered, resting their foreheads together.

"I will," Joe murmured. "Just waiting for you to go first."

Patrick laughed fondly. "I love you, you idiot," he murmured and closed his eyes. He was asleep before Joe had managed to formulate a response.

Title from The Academy Is...'s Almost Here
Quote from Prince's I Would Die 4 U
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