Electricityscape, or: The Subtlety Is Always What Kills You
It was a little awkward at first, because Ryan had a pretty obvious crush on Pete, and got blushy sometimes when Pete talked to him, and ended up staring at his shoes a lot and hiding beneath the brim of his hat and answering questions with one word or less. So Pete spent a lot of time talking to Brendon and Spencer and Brent while Ryan would pretend to be really interested in the posters on the wall, or the threadbare edges of his vest, or anything but Pete Wentz standing like, right in front of him, just being there. Because, oh my god, PETE WENTZ. Ryan tried to be the cool guy who was in a band and wrote lyrics and had informed opinions and actually spoke in words, and he totally, totally failed.
He could talk to Andy just fine, and Joe was sort of impossible not to like, but he ended up really getting along with Patrick, who smiled at him and listened when he talked and had really interesting things to say about music, and sometimes, whenever the bands were together, he and Patrick would just find a wall and sit down and talk for awhile until Pete came over kicking Patrick for attention or Spence sat down and started talking about whatever was on his mind at that precise moment. But Patrick was always there next time, and not long into the tour, Ryan realized that they had become pretty good friends. He still couldn't manage more than a few sentences at a time around Pete, but hey. Baby steps.
But then sometimes Pete would come around trying to talk to them and Ryan found himself wishing that he'd just go talk to Brent or something, because he and Patrick got involved in these really intense discussions about life and being on the road, and Patrick knew things, like, he'd been doing this since forever, practically, and Ryan just liked to lean his head back against the wall and listen to Patrick talk and watch his mouth move and the light glint off his glasses. He just. He liked Patrick.
Brendon had dragged him over to their bus so he could talk to Pete about something, and Patrick was actually off doing something, so Ryan looked around the bus, touching things and imagining what it would be like to have one of their own someday, a mode of transportation that came with actual beds, and wasn't, you know, a van. Although the bus was a little cold. Ryan wished he'd brought a sweater.
A grey newsboy cap was smashed into one of the couch cushions; Ryan was pretty sure he'd seen Patrick wearing it the other day. It made his eyes look really blue. He pulled it out and shook the shape back into it, and the motion caught Pete's eye and he glanced over, grinning. "You look cute in hats," Pete said, putting it on Ryan's head, and after the moment of hysterical speechlessness passed, Ryan muttered, "thanks." He didn't take the hat off.
"You're the one that stole my hat!" Patrick said the next time Ryan saw him.
Ryan reached for the brim guiltily, saying, "No, no, it was Pete, he, um-"
"Say no more," Patrick said, with a grand wave of his hand. "Keep it, it looks better on you."
Ryan muttered something about that being totally not true and Patrick must have at least half heard him, because he smiled and flicked the brim of the cap lightly and Ryan felt sort of like he was standing in sunshine in a field of wildflowers. Or like, something less stupid but no less accurate.
"Hey, come over to our bus later, I've got something you should listen to," Patrick said, and that was cool because Patrick always had random awesome music that Ryan had never even heard of, he was totally a music geek, but in the like, really cool way that Ryan couldn't really get the hang of. Ryan said okay and there was a moment where they were walking pretty closely together and the backs of their knuckles brushed and Ryan felt suddenly, absurdly electric, and he licked his lips and looked over but Patrick only smiled and said see you later. Ryan watched him go.
The show that night was amazing, and Ryan wore Patrick's hat and played music and smiled and smiled and smiled. And after, as he walked the backway through the venue to where the buses were parked, he heard voices around the corner, and stopped cold.
"He has a crush on you, Patrick," Pete was saying, and Ryan felt a sudden sick certainty in his stomach, because Pete. Pete wasn't wrong. Pete knew, he knew, Ryan must have been so obvious-
"He's just gonna hang out for awhile, I don't see what the big deal is," Patrick said, "I like his company, okay? He's a good guy."
"Oh, nice," Pete said. "Keep leading the kid on-"
"I didn't even know I was doing anything!" Patrick protested. "We just hung out a lot! We're friends! My friends don't usually get crushes on me, excuse me for being suprised!"
Pete shook his head. "How could you not notice? I mean, he looks at you like he's about to rip his fucking heart out and hand it to you-"
"He does not- he doesn't look at me any differently than you do! God!"
Pete didn't say anything to that, but he wasn't looking at Patrick anymore either.
Patrick said, "Oh."
Patrick said, "Oh."
Ryan took the hat off. He left it in the corridor.