Everything takes it's toll at sometimes.
"Fucking hell, Pete. What the fuck are you playing at?"
"Huh?" Pete asked, struggling to sit up. His head hurt like hell and his throat was raw.
"Jesus, put some clothes on. We're going home." Andy said, throwing Pete what he could only assume were his pants.
"Wha-?" Pete started.
"We got a call from this restaurant." Andy told him, angrily. "Apparently our associate was causing a scene in the men's bathroom, with a girl. Some guy who actually had to use the bathroom was hearing strange noises from a cubicle. And, apparently it was you! Boning away in the men's room. Fuck, Pete. What the hell?"
"You know, people don't usually appreciate it when there's a guy boning with some whore he's picked up in desperation of getting laid, especially when it's in a nice, respectable restaurant." Andy said, pulling him up, as Pete obviously couldn't even get up himself.
"And Patrick tells us you guys had a fight? About what?"
Pete started to laugh, his drunken state appearing again.
"Girls." He replied, clutching Andy's arm while trying to pull his pants on with one hand.
"And you took a dig at him about Amanda? That's real nice, Pete."
"Hey, you. Be nice! I'm hurting inside." Pete slurred, laughing.
"Oh, yeah. You're obviously really hurting." Andy said, grabbing him as he stumbled.
"I'm taking you back to mine."
"I just had a fuck. I don't really need another." Pete giggled.
"Well, you're /fucked/, that's for sure." Andy said. "Let's go."
"Why are you taking me home? Can't resist me?"
"You bet, you're a real catch when your eyes are bloodshot from alcohol and you can hardly speak."
"Why?" Pete pressed him, as Andy opened the door and guided him through.
"So you don't pass out again and never wake up."
"I'm not letting you choke on your own vomit, you're staying with me until you sober up."
"I'm sober. Hey, let's go have a drink to celebrate my soberness..." Pete said.
"You better sober up real quick, Pete."
Patrick stared at his reflection in his bathroom mirror the next evening. He'd had an extremely stressful day trying to cheer Danielle and Josh up after they'd heard his argument with Pete, along with straining to complete all his chores and work on songs, and since the summer was gone, fall had started to arrive and the cold weather was causing him to feel even more down than the kids. He shivered despite wearing two shirts and a hoodie, shaking his head at himself in the mirror.
"You're an asshole. Pete was only warning you." He told his reflection. But something in his mind told him, so what? He then realized how pale his face was, and scanned his face as his head became light and fuzzy, his knuckles turning white as he clutched the sink. His stomach seemed to lurch as his knees gave way, and the last thing he heard was his head colliding with the sink.
The room was dark, he could hardly see anything from where he was lying in the bed. What was wrong with him? He tried to open his eyes but his eyelids were heavy and it took him immense effort to open them. His head throbbed and his heart was still racing, his body soaked in a cold sweat.
"Oh, thank God." Pete's voice was quiet but it grew louder in Patrick's head, making him grimace in pain. Why did he feel so heavy?
He tried to talk but it hurt too much, keeping his eyes open to focus on Pete was effort enough.
"Huh?" Patrick said, out loud.
"Patrick, it's me, Pete." Pete said, waving his hand in front of his face. Patrick frowned, and as he did a shooting pain erupted in his temple.
"No..." Patrick said, groggily, attempting some movement of shaking his aching head.
"It's okay, please, don't be mad at me. But you passed out on the floor, Josh came through to your room and you were unconscious, then I heard him crying when I came around to apologize. So I let myself in. Don't be mad. I'm so sorry for everything, I never meant a word of what I said. I promise."
Patrick exhaled in pain and groaned, his head felt like it was split in two.
"Okay." He managed to whisper. His hands felt like lead as he lifted one to his head and gingerly touched the spot where it ached. It felt tender and warmer than usual.
"Where's my hat?" Patrick asked, slowly.
"It's over here." Pete said, holding it up. "I had to call the doctor, and he had to give you a few stitches. You've got a nasty gash on your head. So don't touch it."
Patrick obediently let his hand rest by his side as he closed his eyes and slowly let his head touch the pillow again.
"He gave you some morphine, too, so you'll be a bit groggy."
"Morphine?" Patrick repeated, his voice croaky. Glancing at the clock, it was 11 pm. He'd been unconscious for hours.
"Yeah." Pete nodded. "For trauma. If you saw the amount of blood coming out of your head, believe me, you would have freaked. Josh thought you were dying. He accused me of trying to kill you because he heard our fight."
Patrick's eyes filled with worry and Pete held his hand up.
"It's okay, I explained to him that you had just hurt yourself. He's okay now, he's asleep."
"She's asleep, too. I read them both a story - they're pretty much conked out."
"Why did I pass out?" He asked, slowly.
"The Doctor said exhaustion or stress. Personally, I think both." Pete said, quietly.
Patrick closed his eyes again and breathed in to concentrate on something other than how badly his head was aching.
"I'm sorry, too." He spoke into the quiet. Pete looked up from where he'd been biting his nails.
"For the fight. I'm sorry."
"Don't mention it. Water under the bridge, right?"
Patrick smiled slightly in agreement and again closed his eyes.
"Alright, I'm gonna let you get some sleep." Pete said, standing up. "I won't go anywhere, don't worry. And don't worry about waking up in the morning. If you're not up I'll take the kids to school. Just make sure you're well rested."
"If you do..." Patrick started, as Pete smiled.
"I'll let her know anyways." Pete said, nodding. "Don't worry. Just make sure you're better."
'Thank you." Patrick whispered, as Pete smiled at him and slowly closed the door over, leaving it ajar slightly, a slit of light spilling across the floor.
The last thing Patrick remembered was hearing Pete tip toe downstairs.
Patrick awoke again a few hours later with a tingling feeling running over the back of his hand. He opened his eyes slowly and his heart leapt at the sight of Addison sitting next to him on the bed, gently stroking his hand.
"Oh, you're awake." She said, a worried smile spreading over her face.
"Yeah." Patrick said. "Not to sound rude, but - why're you here?"
"Pete called me. He told me what happened, and I couldn't just let you be here on your own."
"What time is it?"
"Uh," Addison checked her watch, "It's about 8am."
"Yeah. And don't worry - I'll take the kids to school. Pete's here, he's still asleep so he can keep you company when I'm gone."
Patrick nodded and smiled.
"Thank you. You didn't have to come."
"Oh, I did." Addison replied. "I care about you too much."
"Hey, sleeping beauty." Pete called from the kitchen, when Patrick had managed to get up out of bed.
"Hey." Patrick said, tiredly, entering the kitchen.
"Feeling any better?"
"Not really." Patrick sighed.
"I can't see them." Patrick replied.
"Well, they're red." Pete told him, raising an eyebrow. Patrick groaned.
"Listen, Patrick, I know I said this last night, but I'm really sorry about everything."
"I know. Me too." Patrick said. "As long as you don't get drunk again."
Pete rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that, too. Andy was pretty pissed at me."
"I can imagine."
"Yeah. He took me back to his place, wouldn't let me leave until even my hangover had gone."
"Good." Patrick said. He paused and looked at Pete. "Why did you get wasted?"
Pete shrugged as he sat down opposite Patrick.
"I dunno. I guess I just wanted to forget everything. I lost Rachel and Petey... and I didn't want to lose you."
Over the days, Patrick's physical and mental health improved, and he and Addison resumed their Saturday night dating.
"Can I tell you something?" Patrick asked Addison as they sat in his living room that Saturday night. Danielle and Josh had been in bed for hours, and Riley was at home with the babysitter.
"Sure." Addison said.
"Alright. Uh, I have to tell you who I am." He said.
"Oh, man. Do you have a secret identity?" She joked. He laughed and shook his head.
"Nah, no. It's just..." He stood up and left the room quickly, opening the closet in the hall and pulling out an object with a frame around it.
"I haven't told you this 'cause I thought you'd go off me. Or you'd get scared and not give me a chance." He explained. "You know how I told you I was in a band?"
"Yeah..." Addison said, warily. Patrick said nothing, but turned the object round. It was his framed platinum record, with the picture of him, Pete, Andy and Joe above the CD enclosed.
"Fall Out Boy." Addison read. Her eyes widened. "No way!"
"Yeah." He said, with a shrug. "I mean..."
"I thought I'd seen Pete before!" Addison said. "Is he ever in the papers?"
"Sometimes." Patrick told her. "But look, don't get excited, 'cause it's my job, and I have to do it."
"That's so amazing. I've heard you guys before, on the radio!" Addison said, excitedly. "What do you do?"
"I'm the singer." He said, shyly. "And the guitarist."
"Seriously? Jesus, you have an amazing voice!"
Patrick was flattered, but in all honesty, it was nothing he hadn't heard before.
"Thank you." He said, modestly. He looked up again, worried.
"Since we're on the subject of things I haven't told you... uh. I think I should tell you why I was single when I met you."
"Okay..." Addison said, still shocked at what Patrick had just told her, the wary tone back in her voice.
And Patrick explained everything, how Christina had left him, how he had coped being a single father, how he met Amanda, fought the custody battle to keep his kids, and how Amanda had passed away. Even now, he couldn't stop pausing and wiping his eyes as he spoke.
"Sorry. I just don't talk about her a lot."
"That's okay. Oh, Patrick. I'm sorry." She said, pulling him into a hug. He nodded and clutched her tightly. He needed her.
"You want to talk about it anymore?"
Patrick shook his head.
"You know now. I just wanted you to know why I move so slowly."
Over the next few weeks, Patrick and Addison began to feel like they were teenagers again, hiding their relationship from disapproving parents. Except this time, they were hiding from their kids. They wouldn't disapprove, they were too young to, but Patrick and Addison just didn't want to confuse them until they were completely certain about each other. But every stolen kiss Patrick shared with Addison, every time he held her hand when they wandered around the park while the kids played, it assured him more and more that he liked Addison. That he was sure something was there for him. For them.
Well, she had accepted the fact he was in one of the most influential bands in America, and more important than that, she had listened to him talk about Amanda, assured him that they could move forward when he was ready. She would wait for him.
"Hey, you've never been to my place, y'know that? I mean, asides from when I knocked myself out. But that doesn't count." Patrick said, with a laugh, while they sat on a bench outside the kindergarten after dropping the kids off, their arms wrapped around themselves as the fall wind bit at their faces.
"Y'know, I think you're right." Addison replied. Patrick raised his eyebrows suggestively, and nodded towards the car.
"In your own time." Addison said, but Patrick gently took her hand and guided her to the car.
Fifteen minutes later, Addison stood in Patrick's hallway, looking around his home. It was smart, well decorated, matching furniture with the stairs and doorways protected with safety gates. At first glance, it was a man's home. Very house proud. But at a second glance it was fleetingly obvious a family proud man lived there. In between the guitars and sheets of music that were displayed neatly, there were children's toys stacked up, very organized. Two boxes stood in the living room, filled with toys, the bright colors standing out against the carpet. Addison then noticed he had now put the platinum records up on the wall, now unafraid to display them and see who saw them. In between the painting and the framed records were obvious reminders that this man adored his kids, and was no more proud of the fact that he had come a long way with them. Photos of the children adorned the walls, many of them taken by Patrick, photos of them unaware he was taking them as they played together or slept soundly. Otherwise they posed for them, grinning at their father who was plainly obviously grinning back from behind the camera.
But the best photos were the ones that framed the children and their father in each setting, in the yard in the summer, or in the winter surrounded by snow. The most professional looking ones had been taken at a studio, where Danielle and Josh sat on Patrick's knee, or he had lifted them onto each shoulder, with difficulty, while laughing. Others showed Josh reaching up to take Patrick's hat off, a smile on his face as he giggled, while others showed Danielle as Patrick held her hand as she twirled around. The smile on his face, the sparkle in his eyes said it all. This man lived for his children.
"Your house is beautiful." Addison told him, as he closed the door and pocketed his keys.
"Thank you." He said, modestly, joining her at her side as she looked around. "It's sort of messy, I mean..."
He trailed off as he kicked a fire truck out of the way with his foot, a toy he'd forgotten to tidy away in the rush to get the kids to school.
"Wanna see the best room in the house?" He asked, guiding her to his study. It was his sanctuary, his palace. Everything about this room screamed 'Patrick!'. His laptop sat out on the desk, paper beside it where he jotted down lyrics, notes to himself or music. A piano sat in the corner, music displayed on the stand, ready for Patrick to lose himself in. Multiple guitars hung on the walls, while many more were gathered on stands in the opposite corner.
"This is daddy's room then, huh?" Addison laughed. So did Patrick.
"Oh yeah. This is my stuff that doesn't get touched by them." He told her, turning towards her.
They didn't say anything, just faced each other and surveyed one another, taking in the details of one another's faces. The faces that they'd both come to care for so much.
There were no words as their lips locked, and they stumbled upstairs.
She seemed to take charge of him, it was like she knew what he needed and how gently he needed to be guided. It wasn't that he'd forgotten how to play, he just had trouble remembering how. He emitted small moans that he couldn't help escape as she kissed him, as he felt her body rubbing against his and he remembered how close two people could get. He bit his lip as she continued to kiss him, down his neck, on his cheeks, and as she slowly ran her hand over his crotch, he tensed and froze.
"What's wrong?" She asked him, feeling him freeze.
"Look, I don't want to sound like a jerk. But, I just..."
He sighed as he tried to find the right words.
"I don't think I can do this... now." He said, pausing for her reaction. She replayed the words in her head and nodded slowly, trying to understand.
"It's not that I don't like you, because I do. Obviously." Patrick said, his face flushing slightly, as his erection was blatantly obvious he liked her. "I really, really like you. I just feel, weird."
"Okay..." Addison said slowly as she clambered off him and sat next to him instead.
"Believe me, I want to." Patrick told her. "But there's also a part of me that doesn't. Because I still feel messed up about... Amanda." He said, eventually. "It's been nearly four years since I was last with a woman. And it's taken me a while to get used to everything. And I've only been with two women."
"I'm sorry." He said, watching her closely.
"It's okay, honestly. You're not ready to take it to the next level. That's fine." She said, with a smile. She took his hand and squeezed it slowly.
"It's sweet. And I completely understand, it's hard to move on when you've had such a wonderful relationship before. We'll get through it."
Patrick nodded, slowly.
"When it's time, it's time." Addison said, softly. "And when that time comes, we'll both be ready."