"Just take a step back and let Patrick be the dad he needs to be. And while you do that, get your own fucking life on track."
"Oh, we are." Patrick replied, bobbing up and down excitedly. He looked behind her shoulder. "Is Riley in?"
"Uh, yeah, how come?"
"What would you say if I took her out for the day?"
"Yeah. Just me and her. A sort of bonding thing." He said, shyly.
"Wow. You are too sweet." Addison smiled. "Sure, I'm sure she'd love that."
"Great." Patrick said, returning the smile. "Uh, so can she come out now?"
"You sound like a kid yourself." Addison laughed. "I'll go get her."
She left the door open while she disappeared down the hallway, and Patrick stood looking around and tapping his foot on the ground. A few moments later, Addison returned with Riley.
"Okay, now Patrick's gonna take you out for a while, yeah?"
"Yeah!" Riley grinned, jumping at the sight of Patrick.
"Hey, buddy." He said as she stood next to him. "You and me will have some fun today, right?"
"Yep." Riley said, taking his hand.
"We'll be back in a few hours." Patrick said, subtly planting a kiss on Addison's lips while Riley was looking away.
"Okay. Have fun." Addison waved.
During the course of that day, Patrick took Riley to the park, where he sat with her under a tree and talked about almost anything and everything four year old girls like to talk about. He took her to the cafe in the park and bought her lunch, and after she got tired, he picked her up and put her in the car. She slept for a while, and Patrick took the time to catch up on the news in the papers. When she awoke, he grinned at her and took her to the shopping mall, where he bought her a new toy and some item of clothing she had been chattering about for months.
"How do you do it?" Patrick asked Addison, when Riley was completely lethargic and so barely able to stand, that Patrick had taken her home.
"Riley. She was so polite. She didn't argue back once. I mean, not that we were having an argument, but she didn't take tantrums or pout or anything."
"And?" Addison laughed.
"And... if that were my kids they would have screamed bloody murder if I had turned them down on their request to go to New York." Patrick laughed himself.
"Oh, my God. She asked you that?"
Patrick nodded and shrugged.
"It was my fault. I was blabbing about it."
"She's really great, you know." Patrick said.
"She is, isn't she?" Addison said, looking around into the living room where Riley had fallen asleep on the couch.
"Yeah." Patrick grinned. He looked at his watch. "Look, you can stay home tonight if you like, she's absolutely shattered. Why don't you just stay home with her?"
"Or better yet..." He leaned towards her and rubbed his nose on her. "Why don't you two stay over?"
Addison looked surprised. In the near year they had been dating, they had never "slept over" at each other's place.
"Deadly." Patrick replied. "Come on. It'll be fun. We can watch movies and eat junk and... other things." He winked.
"That's ambitious." Addison laughed. "But are you sure?"
"I'm sure as sure can be." Patrick said, reaching his hand out towards her and gesturing as though he wanted her to take it so he could lead her to his car.
"Hang on, I have to pack first." Addison said, pulling him indoors.
"Oh, man. You're not one of those women who practically brings her whole house back in her bag, are you?"
"You wish." She called from the bedroom.
"Pete, man, come on. You've gotta sober up." Joe said, shaking Pete as he slumped across the bar. He sat bolt upright suddenly and caught sight of Joe. He grinned a lopsided grin and his eyes were half glazed over as he pulled Joe towards him and ruffled his hair.
"My little Joey. You're a weird kid."
"And you're stinking drunk." Joe said, pulling away, causing Pete to stumble. "You're becoming an alcoholic."
"Hey. Says the druggie."
"Watch your lip, smart ass." Joe replied. He hauled Pete to his feet as he whined and clutched at his glass.
"Come on. I'm taking you home."
"No. I don't need anyone."
"Yes, you do."
"No. I looked after Patty, didn't I? Oh, little Patty. He's been through a lot, you know." Pete said, matter-of-factly.
"How you looked after Patrick but can't look after yourself is beyond me." Joe said, shaking his head. He had realised he'd run out of reasons to make excuses for Pete. The truth was, Pete was drinking away his depression and solitude.
"Oi." Pete said, as Joe managed to put him in the car and clambered into the driver's seat. Within seconds of pulling away from the club, Pete was asleep.
He mumbled when Joe tried to wake him up to take him inside. He clung onto Joe like a lost little boy as he stumbled up the driveway to his house. He refused to let Joe put him to bed, but didn't let him leave either.
"If you think I'm leaving you on your own, you got another thing coming." Joe told him.
"Why do you do it, Pete?" He asked, sitting by Pete's bed.
"This. Get blind drunk and keep repeating yourself. Is it really that bad?"
"That bad? That bad?" Pete asked, raising his voice, quickly sobering up now he was preparing himself for a fight.
"Okay, Joe. You try it. You try having the love of your life ripped out from your arms and to hear those words that she doesn't love you anymore. On top of that, throw in some papparazi that never leave me the fuck alone when I'm trying to get through this the best I can. And, if you can manage, throw in a little baby boy. My son. The only person in the world I've done something right for. Because I gave him life and now he's got to grow up in a completely different country to me. If you can handle that, how about all the nights of missing them? The empty beds? The silence in your house? The microwave meals for one? If you can handle all of that, Joe, and not take one spliff, or drink one drink, I salute you."
Pete left the bedroom and slammed the door, thudding down the stairs as he made his way to the living room to pass out on the couch.
He woke up hours later to find the room empty, the house cold and still. The only sound was the hum of his refrigerator and the wind whistling on the windows. His head was throbbing, but he had woken up with so many headaches he had begun to forget the thudding of his head and the pounding of his heart. As he stood, the room spun in a way that he had become used to, and he made his way into the kitchen where he found Joe sitting at his kitchen table. He looked worn and tired, exactly the equivalent of how Pete was feeling. It took him a while to register Joe was sitting in front of a table full of beer cans and take out cartons.
"Mornin'." He croaked, his voice hoarse. Joe didn't even look up.
"What've you turned into, Pete?"
"Alright, Joe, if you're gonna keep badgering me about it, I'll clean it up." Pete said, reaching towards him and picking up two beer cans.
"No, it's not the fucking beer!" Joe burst out, knocking one can of beer out of his hand and standing up to face Pete. He really was quite a lot taller than Pete.
"I mean you. You're someone else now. And we hate seeing it. You don't eat much, you barely sleep, and you drink way too fucking much. What are you playing at?"
"I told you last night." Pete spat back. "You try living my life. You wouldn't last two minutes."
"Because your life is so fucking perfect! You've got a girlfriend you've been with since you were like, 18, you don't have press following you everywhere you go, and you don't have an estranged fiance and a baby son who you'll never see grow up!"
"Oh, you think my life is perfect?" Joe retorted. "Well, let me tell you something, Pete. Just because I've been with my girlfriend for years and years, doesn't mean we don't have problems. How about the fact she wants to get married whereas I'm perfectly happy with our arrangement now? Or the fact that I find it hard to leave her to go on tour because I'm always certain she'll find someone better?!" He spat back, just as angry. He snatched the remaining can of beer out of Pete's hands and pointed at him, his hands shaking with anger.
"You think you're the only one with problems, Pete? You're so unbelievably selfish, that, if I'm honest, I don't fucking blame Rachel for leaving!"
"You don't know half of what went on!"
"And you don't know what's gone on when I go home!" Joe replied angrily. "Maybe if you stopped pestering Patrick and let him live his own life, maybe you can get yours back on track."
"Pestering Patrick? What the fuck?"
"You know. You're always fucking round there. Because you love Danielle and Josh like they were your own. Let me tell you something, Pete. Patrick's moving on, and he's doing fucking brilliantly. See how long it's taken him to get here? Maybe you're the one that's been holding him back. Just take a step back and let Patrick be the dad he needs to be. And while you do that, get your own fucking life on track."
"You don't know the half of it." Pete hissed.
"Well, take a look around. We're in a band with a fucking problem." Joe replied, his eyes piercing anger and venom into Pete's own glazed ones. Joe threw the beer can in his hand to the ground and stepped over the mess to slam the door behind him.
"When I said I'd wait forever, I never realised how long it was. I told them don't take life for granted, 'cause you regret it when it's lost."
Patrick grinned at the sound of Danielle singing away in the garage. He watched her lips form the words and shook his head as she began to lose herself in the guitar solo her friend and bandmate, Ryan, played. It was strange watching his daughter do what he had done when he was that age, resort to playing in a garage with her best friends, absorbing herself in the music.
"Do you mind, Dad?" Danielle asked, after her band rehearsal.
"What?" He asked.
"You always come in and "clean out those boxes" in the garage when we're practicing." Danielle told him.
"I can't help it. You take after me." Patrick said, fondly ruffling her hair. "You know, you guys remind me of Paramore."
"Oh, they were way before your time. Paramore were a band of kids your age. Hayley was their lead singer and it was a nice change to see a band fronted by a woman."
Danielle frowned. She had no idea who this Hayley person was. She shrugged.
"Yeah. All bands have male singers. It's so boring." Danielle informed him. Patrick pretended to look offended.
"No offense to you. But girl singers are amazing."
"Well, you got my musical side, but you didn't get your confidence from me." Patrick chuckled, ruffling her hair. She ducked and re-arranged her hair.
"You've got some talent, kiddo."
"Patrick? You're not listening."
"What? Oh, sorry." Patrick turned towards Addison, who was leaning on her side in his bed watching him.
"You are so adorable." She said fondly.
"I try my best." He replied.
"You wanna know something?" she asked him.
"Always." He said, nudging towards her eagerly.
"You make me really happy." She laughed. Patrick stopped. He recognised the sincerity in her voice and smiled.
"You make me happy too." He said, before placing a kiss on her lips. He smiled at her and then flopped onto his back, rubbing his eyes.
"You're tired." She said.
"I'm knackered." He told her, turning on his side so his back was facing her.
"Then here," She pulled him closer so her body was pressed against his back. She wrapped her legs around his and kissed his head.
"Go to sleep."
And Patrick did. For the first time in years, he fell asleep with someone's arms around him.
Pete didn't listen to Joe. He seethed for two days straight and cursed Joe in his head, whispering to himself that Joe had "no fucking idea" and that he was "stirring shit". And, as usual, he ventured around to Patrick's house, and wasn't surprised to see Addison's car in the driveway.
"He's a great guy." Addison said, a few hours later, smiling as they watched Patrick running with Riley on his shoulders, and Danielle and Josh at his heels, trying to pull him down. He kept one hand desperately attempting to keep his pants from falling down as Danielle and Josh tugged on them, his other arm somehow wrapped around Riley so she didn't fall.
"Yeah, he really. is." Pete nodded. He turned away and looked at Addison. This was it. He had to make sure what he was doing was right. He had to stop interfering in Patrick's life. As he watched Patrick living the new life he was building for himself and the kids, strings tugged at his heart and it was almost like being broken up with all over again.
"I don't wanna sound like a big brother or like a jerk here, but... can you promise me something?"
"Sure." Addison said, wrenching her gaze away from the dream like scene in front of her.
"Promise me..." Pete started, but stopped.
"Please promise me you won't hurt him."
Addison looked back at Patrick, who was now laughing hysterically and yelling in protest as he lay on the grass, with the three children giggling and climbing over his legs, chest and stomach.
"Pete, I could never hurt him. I don't understand how anyone could."
Pete sighed and shook his head.
"I can believe that. But people can hurt others without realizing. Sometimes I hurt Patrick. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes not. But their mom," He nodded at Danielle and Josh. "She told me the same thing you did. And she made his life hell. He's lucky to even have his kids here with him right now. And his last girlfriend, well, she never hurt him on purpose. But when she died... a part of him never recovered from it."
They both watched him rolling over, picking the kids up in turn and holding them above his head while they giggled.
"I just don't want to see him get hurt again. He's been through stuff you only see happen to characters on TV. And the way he's come back from everything... it's all because of Danielle and Josh. And now, it's because of you and Riley."
"I know. Pete, one thing I never do is lie. That's why you should believe me when I say I won't hurt him."