See, this is why Patrick doesn't like to get crazy-drunk: because he will end up alone in a booth in the back of a club with a completely sober Pete and Ashlee, and when Ashlee starts joking about how pregnancy is making her feel like a hippo, he will say, with the earnestness that only the wretchedly drunk possess, "But your pregnancy boobs are amazing."
And then he will have to bang his head down on the table, because what kind of stupid-ass thing is that to say?
He jerks his head up real fast, though, because the table is kind of disturbingly sticky. Pete and Ashlee are staring at him with identical expressions of surprised fascination, and that's even worse than if they'd been offended.
"Really?" Pete says, slow and considering, and then he starts grinning, and seriously, this is so much worse. "I mean, that's obviously true — " All three of them look down at Ashlee's cleavage. Pete has his arm draped around Ashlee's shoulder and he brushes his fingertips over the soft swell of her breast where it presses against the scoop neck of her top. For a second, it's like they all catch their breath at once, then Pete looks up and meets Patrick's eyes, that wicked grin still lingering on his mouth. "I just didn't realize you felt the same way."
Patrick's face is burning up; he's got to be bright red. Ashlee opens her mouth, and before she can say anything, Patrick struggles up out of the booth. "I gotta, I'm going to the bathroom."
"Patrick—" she says, but he doesn't turn back.
He bounces off of someone, and Pete is there to steady him. Pete steers him away from the public bathroom to the private one attached to the manager's office.
"Are you going to throw up?" Pete asks.
"No," Patrick says, and he's mostly sure he's not lying.
Pete nudges him into sitting down on the toilet, then runs a paper towel under cold water. It feels amazing when he drapes it over the back of Patrick's neck. Patrick sighs and slumps over against the wall. His head spins a little when he closes his eyes, but not in a bad, oh-god-I'm-gonna-puke way. A minute later, Pete presses a cold bottle of water into his hand.
Patrick sips at it carefully. "I hate being drunk around sober people," he mumbles. He doesn't know why he's so embarrassed about this. Yes, it's kind of tacky to compliment your best friend's wife's breasts in front of her, but he's done way stupider things under the influence of alcohol and/or Pete. It's just — he feels weirdly naked, like he revealed something private, personal.
There's a moment of silence, and then Pete says, "Do you really think Ashlee is hot?"
Patrick squints at him. Pete's sitting on the edge of the sink, so close in the tiny bathroom that Patrick can reach out and flick him in the kneecap.
"Dude, yes, of course I think she's hot. She is so far out of your league it's ridiculous."
Pete ducks his head and smiles, that silly, delighted, incredulous smile that Patrick is starting to think of as his married smile. It fades a little and Pete says, "You made fun of her nose job that one time."
Patrick winces and closes his eyes again. "Yeah, well, that was during your creepy stalker phase. I didn't want to encourage you."
Pete laughs softly. When Patrick finishes the water, Pete hops down and pulls him to his feet. "C'mon," he says, "let's go home."
They collect Ashlee and Pete steps away to call their driver.
Ashlee hooks her arm through Patrick's and even though he feels kind of bad about using a pregnant woman for support, he's glad of it, because he's still dizzy. He clears his throat and looks at his shoes and says, "Sorry about earlier. I didn't mean to, to offend you."
She squeezes his arm. "It's okay," she says solemnly. "My sister is totally jealous of my awesome rack, too."
He snorts, and she leans into him. It makes him feel a little better, like they're holding each other up.
Pete looks up, cell phone pressed against his ear, and smiles at them, his luminous married smile.
Patrick wakes up on the couch, feeling like every hangover cliché ever written. There is a brand new bottle of Advil on the coffee table in front of him, along with a big bottle of water in a bucket of ice. He staggers up and lurches to the bathroom. He's only wearing boxers and a t-shirt, which, eh, whatever, even Ashlee's been on tour with them long enough to have seen more than that.
He swallows three Advil and most of the water, and is asleep as soon as he drags the blankets up around him.
When he wakes up the second time, the water has been replaced with Gatorade, and he sees the note.
Out shopping, be back again soon. Call if you need anything. XOXO The again has been squeezed in with a different pen. None of it looks like Pete's handwriting.
Patrick takes more Advil and finishes the Gatorade.
When he wakes up again, he feels mostly human. He thinks for a split second that the panting breaths he hears are his own. Then someone, a woman, moans, low and throaty, and it's like one of those optical illusions, when all of the sudden a whole new image snaps into focus. Patrick looks past the clutter of bottles on the coffee table in front of him and sees Pete going down on Ashlee in the arm chair across the room.
"Fuck, oh, Pete—" she says. She has one leg thrown over the arm of the chair, one hand knotted in Pete's hair, and her breasts are amazing. There's a bite mark on one of them, Pete's mark, and as Patrick watches, her face twists and her head falls back, and he knows she's coming.
"What the actual fuck?" Patrick says.
Pete turns and grins at him, not his ha-ha-I-got-you grin, but something delighted and joyful. "Patrick," he says, "Patrick, you gotta help me out." He tries to look serious and fails. "Ashlee's at that stage in her pregnancy when she wants to fuck all the time and it's wearing me out. I can't keep up."
Patrick catches Ashlee's eyes involuntarily. She smiles, slow and lazy and just a little hungry around the edges. He's completely hard now. He yanks his eyes back down to Pete.
"C'mon, Patrick," he says, coaxing, teasing, "you've always been my mouth."
That's not exactly what they've said before, right? Pete is the words and Patrick is the voice. Which isn't that much different from Pete is the words and Patrick is the mouth and the tongue and the hands.
And the thing is, Patrick can resist Pete's I've-got-a-great-idea smile, and his trust-me smile, but he can't resist this one, this genuinely happy one, because he never sees it enough. He wavers, and when he looks back at Ashlee, she reaches out and makes grabby hands at him, and he is lost.
He stands up and walks over in a daze to kneel next to Pete. He can smell them both, sweat and come and sex.
"Shirt, shirt," Pete says, and he doesn't even care, lets Pete pull it off over his head. Ashlee is smiling down at him. She is just starting to show, and he wants to put his hands over the taut curve of her belly, but that seems, weirdly, more intimate than sliding his palms down the soft skin of her thighs.
He leans forward and licks her cunt.
She sighs, almost a moan, and cups his head in her palm.
The thing is, the words Pete puts in his mouth, he sings them with everything he has in him, over and over, in the studio and in front of the world. And he thinks they become, in a way, his words too, like something leaks over from Pete into him. It's why he's never been able to dislike Jenae as much as he wants to, or forgive her as much as he should, and why Mikey and Alicia break his heart just a little tiny bit. It's why he goes down so easily for Ashlee, and when he slides his tongue inside her, he thinks, I love you, because I have been singing his love songs for you for so long.
"Patrick," she says, fierce and certain, and he think maybe she understands.
Pete's his hand is warm and strong on Patrick's bare back. He's saying something. Patrick can't really understand him over his own heartbeat and the dizzying rush in his head, but it doesn't matter, he's happy just to have the low, familiar murmur in his ear.
Ashlee's hand tightens on his hair, and her hips lift up, pressing into the touch of his mouth.
"God," she says, "damn," and she twists herself off the chair, squirming down to straddle his legs and kiss his mouth.
She slides a hand inside his boxers and grabs his dick, and he gasps.
"Here," Pete says, breathless, and pushes a crinkly packet into Ashlee's hand. Patrick didn't even notice him move.
"Um," he says, but Ashlee just quirks an eyebrow at him and rolls the condom down on him with a practiced motion. "Okay," he says faintly.
She kneels up and slowly, slowly sinks down onto his dick, and her eyes never leave his.
"Ash—" he says, and she leans in close to whisper in his ear, "You've always been in bed with us, you know." His heart twists strangely at that, and then she says, laughter in her voice, "I'm just glad it's not a metaphor anymore, because Pete's right, I really do need more cock."
He coughs out a startled laugh and she starts moving. He cups her breast and, wonderingly, the curve of her belly, and when she smiles down at him, he kisses the bite mark Pete left. He's not going to last long at all, but fortunately, she doesn't seem to either. He rubs his thumb over her clit, and she shudders and comes.
"Patrick," Pete says, and kisses his neck, and Patrick is coming, too.
After a minute, he realizes he and Ashlee are holding each other up again, breathless and sticky, and smiling, almost shy. Pete grabs both of their hands and stands up.
"Come to bed," he says, easily, not like it's new or different.
And Patrick says yes like he's done it a thousand times before.