Title: CJ Cregg Never Had This Problem
Pairing: Pete Wentz/Patrick Stump
Disclaimer: Pete, Patrick if you want to read this one, go with it. Not only is this not true, it's total AU.
A/N: A million years ago, thepouncer asked for Pete and Patrick in DC and I *know* this wasn’t what she meant, but the idea took hold and wouldn’t leave. (Apparently I have to write an West Wing AU in every fandom *hands*)
PS: People on my flist who don't know who these people are? This is Patrick. We love Patrick. And this is Pete. We want to do naughty naked things to Pete. They're in this band called Fall Out Boy. You may have heard of them.
Pete Wentz was the kind of reporter designed solely to make the life of the White House's Press Secretary more difficult than it otherwise needed to be.
As the White House’s Press Secretary, Patrick was in a pretty good position to judge.
If the President were moving on any of the usually controversial stuff: school vouchers, abortion, global warming and the like, Pete would make interested noises, scribble a couple of notes, print a paragraph or two of largely manageable opinion and that would be it. But bring up gay rights or the President’s policy on Africa and Pete suddenly went from that kind of lazy, kind of crazy guy who popped up on TV now and then to an eloquent, impassioned writer who could get half the country rallied at his feet before breakfast.
It really did not make Patrick’s job any easier. More entertaining possibly, but not easier.
Then, one day, the President passed a bill on potato tax. A tiny, innocuous little bill that no one was supposed to notice let along object to and suddenly Pete’s paper was printing a double page, full-colour spread, bemoaning the plight of underprivileged potato farmers everywhere.
Patrick was perplexed. Also pissed.
“I just don’t get it,” Patrick moaned at lunch, hiding his head in his hands and hoping the world would make sense when he could see it again.
“Mmm,” Joe said. He was understandably preoccupied: Gilmore Girls was on.
Patrick rolled his eyes and reached forward to snag the last cinnamon roll. It was Andy’s day on the Hill so they were indulging in his absence. Also making use of his empty office to watch his television. “Thanks,” he said. On screen, Rory rolled her eyes. Patrick could sympathise.
“Okay,” Joe said, not taking his eyes off Loreli, “The thing is that Pete’s crazy.”
“Thanks,” Patrick said again. “I know that.”
Joe held up a finger. “Pete’s crazy,” he repeated, “But you’re kind of dumb.”
Patrick spluttered. Patrick spluttered a lot, he knew, but this one was particularly impressive because his mouth had still been full of roll at the time. “I’m what, excuse me?”
“Kind of dumb,” Joe repeated amiably, giving Patrick a look. Food-related events were the only thing guaranteed to divert his attention away from lunchtime TV. “You don’t seriously think Pete gives a fuck about potatoes, right?”
Patrick had never thought Pete would give a fuck about penguins before the morning he’d opened his inbox and found out that Pete was unexpectedly in Antarctica.
“Who knows,” he said tiredly. Except wait. There was someone who would know.
Patrick jumped to his feet. “Thanks, Joe,” he said, patting Joe’s shoulder.
“Wait,” Joe called after him as Patrick hustled from the room. “You get what I meant, right?”
“Sure!” Patrick called back over his shoulder. He was lying; unless it was to do with policy, beer or naked chicks, he hadn’t gotten what Joe meant more than once in the three years they’d worked together.
Ryan Ross’s office was four doors down from Patrick’s and, being Deputy Communications Director and Press Secretary respectively, they worked together a lot. None of that meant that Patrick ever knew what to say to him.
Ross was… well, weird seemed a good word. ‘An enigma’ Patrick would probably have said if any of his journalists ever asked. Luckily, fashion magazines liked to snap pictures of Ross, not often White House correspondents.
Gerard was waiting by the printer in the Communications bullpen and he waved at Patrick cheerily as Patrick passed. He had Post Its stuck in a haphazard line all across his jumper and bright blue lines of ink over his hands and face so Patrick didn’t stop to talk.
Ten seconds later, he wished he had when he bumped into Spencer Smith coming out of Ross’s office.
“Hey,” Patrick said. Smith didn’t like him, it was pretty obvious, but Patrick was fucked if he knew why; Smith was nice normally, friendly to everyone.
“Mm,” Smith said and walked away, back to hell presumably, or Accounts, whichever he reached first.
“Ross,” Patrick said, catching the door behind Smith before it fully closed. “Need to talk to you.”
“Mmhmm.” Ross’s eyes were fixed on his computer screen while his fingers flew over the keys. “Two seconds.”
Ross’s two seconds were never less than ten minutes. “Now, Ross,” Patrick said, coming and leaning over Ross’s desk. He liked it when people were sitting down; it made them much easier to menace. “It’s important.”
“Jeez. You’re worse than Spencer.” Ross tapped out a couple more words then looked up at Patrick expectantly.
As Ross and Smith stuck together with an almost frightening level of intensity, Patrick was not particularly offended. “What’s Pete’s deal with the potatoes thing?”
Ross blinked at him. There was something freakishly slow about this kid’s blink. “How would I know?”
“Because,” Patrick thought maybe speaking equally slowly might help Ross to understand, put him at ease or some such shit. “You’re fucking him?”
Ross laughed. Actually laughed. A bright, startled chuckle. Patrick hadn’t known he was capable of that. “I’m really not.”
“Look,” Patrick closed the door behind himself, belatedly realising that this might be kind of delicate. Patrick was awesome at handling delicate situations from his podium, not so much in real life. “I get that you’ve got to keep it on the down low but everyone here knows okay.” Not that he’d ever been able to get anyone to admit that they knew. “It’s cool.”
Ross stood up and rounded his desk. His hands fluttered for a second before landing on Patrick’s shoulders. Patrick tried to surreptitiously push himself up onto his tiptoes so he wasn’t being looked down on. “Patrick I swear to God that I’m not sleeping with Pete. I have a boyfriend. His name’s Brendon, he plays with the Washington Symphony Orchestra and he’s awesome.”
Ross stopped, looking at him expectantly but Patrick wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say. If Ross was telling the truth and he looked like he was then all Patrick’s certainties had suddenly become… less so. Next thing he knew, Spencer Smith would stop glaring at him in the corridors and Crazy Bill the tour guide wouldn’t say anything inappropriate to anyone on his tours and Mikey in IT would grow a pair and ask out that Goth chick from the First Lady’s Office.
“Pete’s awesome,” he finally managed except wait, what?
Ross smiled. Ross smiled. Patrick’s day was getting weirder. “Sure. But he’s not for me, he’s for… someone else.”
“Who?” This was absolutely not the conversation that Patrick had been intending to have when he came in here, except maybe if he could find out who Pete was sleeping with, he could get back on track with the Find Out What the Fuck Wentz is On plan.
Ross’s smile, if anything, got wider. He patted Patrick’s shoulder. Patrick glared. “Think real hard,” he said knowingly. “I’m sure you can work it out.”
Patrick stomped back to his office and fumed for a good minutes then straightened his tie, squared his shoulders and set off down to the press room. Unless orphans were in trouble somewhere, Pete spent most of his time filing copy from the White House press room, even the stuff that wasn’t White House related.
Today, Pete was at his favourite workstation, the one with the view of the door and direct line to the coffee machine, his iPod in his ears, his feet propped up on the trash can, and his shirtsleeves pushed all the way up past his elbows.
One day, someone was going to think to enforce a dress code and Pete’s red Converses and pink-tipped bangs were going to go. Patrick would not be sorry; he was a professional.
Pete waved when he caught sight of Patrick, pulling out one ear bud. “Hi, Patrick, hi,” he said happily. “Hey, listen to this song. Political education through music all the way, baby.”
He held out his second ear bud, but Patrick pushed his hand away. “No,” he said though really he meant not now; Pete had a pretty awesome taste in music. “Come with me.”
Pete’s eyes widened in that way that meant something dirty was about to come out of his mouth. Patrick glared and several people on the periphery of his vision ducked. Pete just closed his mouth again and got up to follow Patrick. The one thing Patrick loved about his press was how well he’d gotten them trained.
“So?” Pete asked, when they were tucked away from sight in the tiny office that Patrick could technically use down here if it wasn’t for the much bigger office he had in the west wing.
“Yeah.” Patrick put his hands on his hips. “So. You told me you were seeing Ryan Ross.”
Pete blinked. So did Patrick.
“Um,” Patrick started quickly, “I-” That was not the first point he’d been meaning to make. It was something like the tenth, way down near the bottom of the list where he’d never actually reach.
“I didn’t,” Pete said, apparently not getting the memo that they were going to pretend Patrick hadn’t spoken yet.
“You really did, but that’s not the point, I meant to ask-”
“Ryan? Ryan already has a boyfriend… Patrick what?”
“Potatoes!” Patrick yelped helplessly.
Pete stopped. Staring. “Patrick,” he asked eventually, “Are you okay?”
Patrick took a deep breath. “Why are you trying to screw the President’s potato bill?”
Expression clearing, Pete smiled slowly. “I’m not.”
There was a ninety per cent probability that Patrick was turning purple with rage. He’d seen it caught on camera enough to know that this was an effect Pete often had on him.
“So why? Why the fuck would you-”
Pete was still watching him, expression careful but sort of smug. Everybody he worked with was acting like he was missing something. Patrick hated missing things. Missing things made him potentially bad at his job and Patrick rocked at his job.
“Pete,” he said and he’d meant to sound angry except he just sounded kind of lost.
Pete’s smile was soft all of a sudden. “Hey, Patrick Stump,” he said, stepping right up into Patrick’s space. Normally, Patrick would never back down, but today he found himself backing up a step, bumping into the low desk behind. “I thought we were both playing the same game.”
Patrick frowned at him. Pete hadn’t tried to regain the ground between them and Patrick realised distantly that he’d kind of been expecting that he would. His body was titled just right should Pete decide to mould himself to Patrick’s side the way he often did. “Apparently not.”
Pete’s smile dimmed. “No,” he agreed, “Not. You see,” he continued softly. Patrick had to lean in so he could hear. “I kind of like it when you have to talk to people about the things that I’ve said. I like watching you saying my name on TV.”
“Wow,” Patrick said, “Jesus Christ, you’re narcissistic,” except it didn’t come out as scathing as he’d been planning. It sounded more confused than anything.
Pete nodded, agreeing easily. “Probably, but that’s not why. I like knowing I’m in your head, even if it’s just as today’s problem to clear up.”
Patrick, weirdly, was finding it hard to breathe. “Why?” Pete ducked his head but Patrick didn’t believe it; one thing Pete wasn’t was shy. “Pete, c’mon, why?”
Pete shuffled his feet. And okay, yeah, maybe Patrick was wrong about the shy thing. “Because you’re in my head all the time and I like it when things are even.” Pete looked at him, smiling tentatively up through his ridiculous bangs, his fingers twisting in the hem of his ridiculously tight shirt.
Fuck but Patrick was an idiot.
“Oh,” he managed. “Wow. Um.” Suddenly a lot of things made a lot more sense, things like, “Smith hates me because I’ve been a jerk to Ross.”
Pete frowned in sudden confusion. “That’s not- What is it with you and Ryan today?”
It was weird, but Patrick suddenly felt really light. “I thought he was your boyfriend so I’ve been being an asshole to him.”
Pete didn’t look any less confused, but Patrick’s brain suddenly felt like crystal. He smiled. There was laughter bubbling in his throat. “I was jealous.”
Pete looked like he was opening his mouth for more explanation except then the words got stuck. “Oh,” he breathed eventually. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Pete had apparently decided for the first time on record to give Patrick some space so it was up to Patrick to go to Pete this time. He braceleted Pete’s wrists with his fingers and used them to tug Pete towards him.
“Hey,” Pete said when their knees bumped. “You were jealous.”
Patrick knew his face was an unattractive shade of red but he didn’t care. Or rather he did, but he could live with it. “I was.”
Pete smirked. “Because you like me.”
“Because I’m an idiot,” Patrick corrected, squeezing Pete’s wrists warningly.
“Same difference,” Pete replied quietly. He kissed Patrick, starting slowly, just a soft brush of lips and a tentative flick of his tongue.
Patrick pressed closer, bringing Pete’s hands up to rest on Patrick’s hips and leaving them there while Patrick curled his hands around Pete’s shoulders, pulling him in, weirdly anxious that Pete should feel how hard Patrick’s heart was pounding, hard enough to hurt where it banged up against his ribs.
When they pulled apart, Patrick was breathless and feeling far more dishevelled than was appropriate for mid-afternoon on the Thursday. He decided not to worry about it. He was in an office with Pete Wentz with the door shut; his reputation was already shot to shit.
“I can’t believe that worked,” Pete said. He was looking at Patrick like Patrick was some kind of angel or heavenly apparition or something. Patrick couldn’t decide if he wanted him to stop it right the fuck now or keeping looking that way forever.
“Yeah,” Patrick said, rolling his eyes. “It worked. You’re a genius. All good things. But for God’s sake, please don’t do it again. You nearly gave me an aneurism.”
Pete laughed. His hands were still on Patrick’s hips where Patrick had put them, but now they slid around to the small of Patrick’s back, pulling him in to a hug. Patrick put his arms around Pete’s shoulders, stroking one hand slowly over his thin, black shirt and let Pete nuzzle against his shoulder.
“No, but see,” Pete said after a minute. His words buzzed against the skin of Patrick’s throat. “I started off just trying to get your attention, but this potato tax seriously is fucking up communities and-”
Patrick punched his shoulder. Hard. After a minute, he relented and kissed it better.