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i found the cure to growing older (and you're the only place that feels like home)
pete/gabe, ~5500 words, pg-13
warnings:
alcohol abuse and relentless unapologetic ross-bashing
summary: pete gives gabe the gift of eternal youth. as usual, though, there's a catch.
author's notes: there may or may not be a sequel. beta/cheerleader credit to [livejournal.com profile] khereselle and inspiration credit to [livejournal.com profile] marxistbitch for prompting me with "immortality" on a whim a couple months ago.

extras: [livejournal.com profile] khereselle made me a fanmix to go alone with the story and it's so perfect and sweet and amazing and adorable and sad and lovely and you should go take a listen as you read. or after when you actually know what the plot is, i guess. it's perfect and it has alice cooper in it and no-one ever made me a fanmix before so ;_; yay it's lovely and i appreciate her.

+++



Gabe turns thirty and kind of feels like shit about it. Thirty isn't quite halfway or anything, but forty is, which puts a pretty strict time limit on doing all the things he really wants to have done by the time he does hit halfway.

His party's great, and he gets more fucked up than he has in a long time. He feels like there's a tint of desperation to it that no-one else is seeing either, so he doesn't bring it up, but by four AM almost everyone's asleep and Gabe’s sitting on his sofa talking to Pete. Pete never sleeps, anyway. This isn't the first time this has happened to them.

"It's like," Gabe slurs drunkenly. "It's like, I want kids and stuff. I wanna have kids. I love kids. But like, sometimes it doesn't feel like I want kids as bad as I wanna be a kid." He makes a face- he's too drunk to even bother checking how Pete is reacting to this. Instead, he shakes his head and puts it in his free hand, the one that isn't holding his bourbon. "No. Wrong. Wrong. It's like... It's like. I don't know what it's like. I guess it's not like that at all. That sounds stupid."

"That doesn't sound stupid," Pete says, and his voice sounds thick and far away.

Gabe can't feel his own lips when he keeps babbling. "It's more like I wanna stay just like this age for a while, not old but not like a stupid kid anymore, just keep touring and figuring my shit out- I wish I could just pause shit for another decade or something, learn what I gotta learn before I have to grow the fuck up and do all the rest of that shit. But I wanna do that shit too, you know. Just not yet."

"I know," Pete says. Gabe turns his head and the room swings until Pete's head is in front of him, a little bit crooked. Pete is looking at him somberly.

"Yeah, that's it. I don't want... I mean, do I want that stuff? I don't know. If I did this long enough maybe I would want, like, two point five kids in some obscri- some obscure part of the world with like the perfect husband or wife or whatever, but now I just want. I just. And all the people I knew are growing up and doing other shit now. Look at Heath, man. Look at Heath."

Pete says nothing. Gabe squints at him till he's certain Pete hasn't passed out on him. How much has Pete had to drink?

"I think you have some thinking to do," Pete says.

"You’re one to talk," Gabe laughs miserably, “Mister I-didn’t-want-to-die-I-just-wanted-to-shut-my-brain-off-for-a-while.” He takes another sip of his vodka. "You're still here, at least. Man, fuck this shit. Kids ten years younger than me are fucking retiring. What was that kid from that band that you- the Cars? The Cab?"

"The Cab," Pete offers gently, and rests a hand on Gabe's thigh.

"Yeah, the fuckin' Cab, that kid's, the one that left's, that kid's out of the biz and he's like twenty one or something. He's a kid. And I'm thirty goddamn years old and all I have to show for it is-"

"A number fuckin’ one single?" Pete suggests helpfully. Proudly, even.

"I wish there was a way that that could, like, you know, mean as much to me as a kid or something," Gabe says.

Pete is silent. Gabe squints at him again. Still not asleep, just looking at Gabe seriously.

"I think you have some thinking to do, yeah," Pete says, and pats Gabe on the back.

"You're not fucking helping for once, Wentz," Gabe grumbles bitterly. He tries to take another sip but Pete's hand is in the way all of the sudden and Gabe gets a mouthful of it and pours liquor down his lap.

"That was a nice- what the fuck," he says numbly, barely processing what just happened. Pete takes his drink away before he knows what's happening.

"Gabe," Pete says.

Gabe squints at him.

"Pete," he responds, smiling wearily.

"I need to tell you something very, very important, but I'm not sure how fucked up you are," Pete says.

Gabe smiles charmingly. "Oh, I'm not that fucked up. Just a couple drinks," Actually, he's been popping pills all night, as they're offered and as they wear off, and at some point he had some lines of coke but he's like 70% sure it was too long ago to matter. But he wants to know. If Pete's got advice or even gossip or shit, Gabe wants to know. That, plus he doesn't wanna seem sad and desperate on his birthday. Pete has enough sadness in his life to be babysitting Gabe's first world problems all the time.

Pete looks at him seriously.

"Wha-?" Gabe prompts.

"Gabe. This might be the most important thing you'll ever hear in your life. I need to know that you're here enough to take it."

And, well, now Gabe's gotta hear it. He nods. "Pete. I'm good," he says, and focuses really hard on looking Pete in the eyes.

"There's a way," he exhales in a rush, and Gabe stares at him blankly for a long minute. “There's... a way,” Pete repeats. “There's a way you can have that. Those things."

"What," Gabe repeats. That advice isn't making sense right now. "There's a... What's the way, Pete?"

Pete looks around at the people on the couches and then says, “Come with me.” Blearily, Gabe follows him up the stairs, desperately clinging to his understanding of gravity, until he finds himself watching his own feet walk into the familiar carpet of his bedroom. He sits on the bed. Pete sits beside him. Pete’s staring at him seriously.

“Are you sure you’re sober enough to take this?” Pete asks again, and Gabe rolls his eyes, or at least he thinks he does.

“Yes, Pete, God,” Gabe grumbles, and Pete claps a hand on his shoulder.

“Gabe. I’m immortal.”

Gabe blinks. He wasn’t really expecting that one, but he’s high as shit so this is funny and he can roll with it. Just in case Pete had tried to say something that made sense, though, and Gabe missed it, he asks, “What?” so if Pete says it again he can just enjoy his hallucinations.

“I’m immortal,” Pete says, and he’s looking Gabe dead in the eyes. Gabe grins and nods along. Sweet. Is he even at is house? Is Pete even here, or is he just imagining Pete as, like, Peter Pan or something?

“Can you fly?” Gabe says, and Pete doesn’t laugh, doesn’t smile, doesn’t turn green and float away or become a clown or a ghost or melt or anything. He just looks at Gabe.

“No. That’s all. No superpowers. The catch was that I could be immortal until I give immortality to someone else. Whenever I want. And then I start aging again.”

Gabe becomes aware of his own face, which is frozen in a dopey grin. “Wha?” he says again.

“I’m immortal. The catch was that I could be immortal as long as I wanted which is until I give immortality to someone else. And then I start aging again,” Pete repeats, slowly and clearly. Then he asks again, “Gabe, are you sure you’re sober enough to take this right now?”

Gabe cracks the fuck up- he has a little giggle fit, leaning back from Pete and punching him softly in the arm. “I mean, I thought I was, man, but now you’re saying you’re immortal and you’re probably gonna become the walls soon, that happened last time I was on acid but I didn’t do acid tonight, I don’t think I did anything hallucin- hallucinogenic. I mean. I thought I wasn’t that fucked up but you just said you’re immortal. You’re immortal.” Gabe chuckles again, leaning back and covering his mouth.

Pete relaxes. “Oh, okay. No, you’re not that fucked up. I’m immortal, Gabe, I swear to God, but it’s not- I don’t think I want to be immortal anymore. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Gabe cackles and sits up straight. “Yeah, yeah, okay, you’re immortal and it’s so hard, emo kid,” he laughs, clapping Pete on the shoulder, but Pete cuts him off with, “Gabe. I can give it to you.”

Gabe chuckles again and Pete says, “Saporta. Shut the fuck up.”

Gabe swallows his laughter and obeys. “Okay, look, if you think you’re so fucking serious, tell me in the morning. And if I believe you when I’m sober then fool me twice, shame on me, right? Y’know, because I am pretty sure you’re about to, like, fly to Neverland, man, first star to the right and straight on till morning, ha ha ha.” He chuckles and reaches for Pete’s hand, where he’s got his 1*R tattoo, lacing their fingers to the bed. “Hey, okay, come snuggle. I’m tired. Fly me to Neverland in the morning.”

“I’ve been waiting years for someone to make that joke,” Pete mumbles gently, and follows Gabe’s tugging up to his pillows. “Peter Pan.” Gabe doesn’t pull the blankets up, just drapes himself all over Pete.

“Wait wait wait,” Pete manages to mutter grumpily, “You can pass out in your clothes but- hold on,” he says, already struggling out of his sweater. When he’s down to his boxers and everything’s lumped at the foot of the bed, he drags the covers out from under Gabe and Gabe octopuses his legs and arms around Pete again, squeezing him like a teddy bear.

They fall asleep.

+++

In the morning, Pete’s stubble is rough against Gabe’s. It’s a good feeling. Everyone’s gone. They go out for breakfast at lunchtime once their teeth are brushed, fuck showering, and when they come back Pete tries again with the immortality business that Gabe had pretty much forgotten about. He remembered it clearly once Pete brings it up, but he wouldn’t have thought to ask about it.

“So explain- there was a catch, I remember. What was that catch?”

“Well, there’s two, but one’s kind of a good one,” Pete explains. He tosses his keys in his hand nervously, jingling them as he sits curled on Gabe’s sofa again. “I can stop being immortal when I give my immortality to someone else. And there’s a catch about, like, as long as you’re immortal you can’t be with your true love.”

“Your true love?” Gabe asks. He’s still unlacing his boots, but he glances up at Pete. “Who’s your true love, then?”

“Dunno,” Pete mumbles. He pulls his sleeves down his palms. “Maybe because I can’t be with them. Maybe I’d know if I wasn’t immortal.”

“You don’t even know?” Gabe says. He sits up straight and toes both his boots off, kicking his long legs all the way towards Pete and leaning back against the arm of the sofa. “So that’s kind of a pussy-ass, catch, then, you don’t even know what you’re missing, y’know?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Pete says. He looks at his fingernails, scratching absently. “But I’d like to know. You know? Maybe if I gave it to you I’d wake up tomorrow and be in love. Maybe I’d wake up tomorrow and spill a coffee on someone at Starbucks and they’d like move in with me two weeks later. I dunno.” He makes a wrinkled face at his hands. “Kinda puts a damper on dating, knowing that everyone you’re thinking about either isn’t your true love or is your true love and it won’t work out. I’ve made a nice career out of doomed relationships, but like. I’m kinda ready.”

Gabe watches him talking, watches his lips moving and watching how little and stressed he looks talking about it. He looks tired. Just tired, mostly. Yeah, that’s it. Gabe can understand. “So how long have you been immortal?”

“Since 2000,” Pete answers. He grins at his hands like he’s remembering something.

“Who gave it to you?” Gabe asks, smiling just at how Pete’s smiling.

“Hoppus,” Pete laughs, and beams at Gabe.

Gabe laughs. He cracks up. “So this is like, magic rock star fame, too? You become immortal, thirteen year olds love your band?”

Pete looks jokingly offended. “I said no superpowers! That was all me, motherfucker.”

Gabe snorts and reaches over to pat Pete’s knee. “A’ight, cool. That’s fine, teenagers already love my band, I don’t give a fuck.”

There’s a moment’s pause.

“So you’re thinking about it?” Pete asks, and Gabe shrugs, stretching his arms behind his head.

“I mean, it’s not like I’m damning myself to vampirism or some shit, right, I can get rid of it like you’re getting rid of it- What’s really the downside?” he asks, and Pete laughs.

“Man, now that you said that, it’s gonna be awful,” Pete cackles, but he’s not totally joyful when he does it. Gabe looks at him and Pete looks back.

They’re dancing around the issue.

“I want it,” Gabe says, holding Pete’s eyes, and Pete is quiet.

“If you keep it for ten years, we’ll still be old farts together,” Pete says, a shy smile on his face. Gabe shifts closer on the sofa to take Pete’s hand and give him a clap, a shake and a fist bump.

“Brothers,” he says.

“Forever,” Pete answers solemnly, and they both smile with quiet, assured sincerity.

Gabe is the first to break the moment. “So how do you transfer it?” he asks eventually.

“I breathe the breath of life into you,” Pete says, smiling again. He shifts closer to Gabe on that sofa, halfway in his lap by now. Pete’s never been fond of personal space. “You wanna wait a week or something?”

“No,” Gabe says, turning to face Pete. “You ‘breathe it into me’? What the fuck does that mean?” he asks, but he’s pretty sure he gets the picture.

“Like CPR,” Pete says, and Gabe interrupts with, “Pete, it’s not like we’ve never made out before, stop being weird,” and Pete says, “Really, I have to breathe into you, it’s a lot more like CPR.”

They’re close. Gabe watches Pete’s brown eyes and they don’t move.

“Now?” Pete says, and Gabe’s eyes skip down to watch his lips move. “Right now?”

“Right now,” Gabe whispers back. He briefly considers the fact that maybe the moment when he becomes immortal should have some more dramatic setting than his living room with Gossip Girl paused on the TV and two untouched glasses of Coke on his coffee table and unwashed dishes in the kitchen behind him and then Pete’s leaning in and Gabe feels his breath against his lips lightly and sees Pete’s eyes still a crack open and their mouths touch and Gabe shudders.

He doesn’t know what it should feel like. The breath itself doesn’t feel like much, just a shallow kiss, and the sensations Gabe’s more aware of are things like Pete’s flat stomach pressed against his side and Pete’s wet lips and Pete’s small, broad hand on his opposite shoulder, thumb moving so it brushes the base of Gabe’s neck. His skin prickles- he doesn’t know if that’s magic or if it’s just Pete.

The whole thing lasts six or seven seconds tops, both of them totally still except for Pete’s chest falling and Gabe’s chest rising, taking in the hot air. Blinking as Pete pulls away, Gabe smiles a little, running his hand up his flannel and t-shirt to touch his chest as if he could feel something different. He’s holding his breath in, giving the magic time to soak in or something.

“It didn’t feel like anything special when I got it,” Pete assures him, and Gabe just exhales slowly, turning to look at Pete. Pete’s lips are wet and his eyes are wide, silently watching Gabe take this in. Pete’s hand is on his throat; Gabe lets his eyes move from Pete’s hand to his jaw to his lips to his eyes, where he finds Pete staring at Gabe’s own mouth.

“So you made out with Hoppus, is what you’re telling me,” Gabe says, face splitting into a shit-eating grin.

Pete punches him in the arm. “Tell me if anything’s different in the morning or anything, okay?”

Gabe laughs and kisses him again fast, laughing, fucking around. “Hey, aren’t I supposed to wait three days to call a cutie after we make out? I don’t wanna seem too eager,” he says, picking an imaginary piece of lint of Pete’s shirt flirtatiously.

Pete shoves his shoulder and climbs into Gabe’s lap. Gabe wraps an arm around his waist and Pete goes, “So. Gossip Girl?”

Gabe tucks his chin over Pete’s shoulder and fumbles for the remote.

+++

Gabe wakes up and still doesn’t feel any different. Which maybe means it’s working? He feels exactly the same as he did yesterday, which means he doesn’t feel any older than he did yesterday. He checks his phone and finds nothing, and then gets up to shower and brush his teeth. By the time he’s finished his breakfast he checks his phone again and finds a call from a number he doesn’t recognize.

The number calls again when he’s checking his email.

“Hey,” the guy on the end of the line says. “We’re looking at setting up a meeting on the fourteenth. How’s that?”

Gabe says, “What?” and then pauses. “Who is this?”

“It’s Carter,” the guy says, and Gabe almost goes, “What?” again, but he stops and thinks about it. Actually- he knows who Carter is. He knows who this guy is. He gets hit with a whole set of memories of a meeting where Cobra got signed to Island and a meeting where they first got introduced to Carter as their manager and about a million phone calls and texts and high-fives and afterparties that Gabe can’t take in all at once, but he gets it- something’s different now and he has these two sets of memories and he’s smooth enough to roll with it and just talk like he’s known the guy for years. Which he has. As of last night.

When the call ends he stares at the floor for a minute, wondering what else has changed and trying to take this all in. He slides his phone open to text Pete only to find that he’s not in his contacts. He texts Travie for Pete’s number and spends a couple minutes sifting through the new memories- his band’s the same, most of their tours are the same, their records are the same. His phone buzzes and Travie’s just replied with, pete? and Gabe taps back, wentz you asshole and immediately Travie replies with, man your emo bassist fetish is out of hnd lol first mikeyway and now that fall out boy kid. i thought you were over tht lol.

Gabe stares at his phone. He replies with ??? and doesn’t take his eyes off his phone until Travie replies, i don’t fukin know man you are such a creep go lstn to more gwen stfani.

Gabe stares at his phone even longer.

+++

He goes through his laptop to see what else is different. He reads his own twitter. Ninety percent of it is the same- he’s got the same half-finished tracks on his hard drive from before Pete breathed into him and most of his drunk philosophical tweets are still there. He goes outside to walk and clear his head with a cigarette, heading for a deli he can actually stand.

The city looks the same. At least he didn’t, like, accidentally make Hitler win the war or something. Things are normal, except he’s signed to Island and Travis McCoy has apparently never met Pete Wentz. And, Gabe is increasingly suspecting, neither has he.

He stops at a corner store to pick up a new pack of cigarettes on his way back, fries and a tomato and mozzarella sandwich in a brown paper bag in his hand. He browses the beer but doesn’t get anything, browses the magazines for a moment until his heart stops.

Pete’s on the cover of Us Weekly.

Like, Us Weekly Us Weekly. Like, the shitty tabloid that passes itself off as a magazine, like, not at all a music magazine that would care about Fall Out Boy, like, that’s his best friend on the cover and he’s holding hands with Jessica Simpson’s lip-syncing pop-music hack of a little sister.

Gabe’s heart is thundering. What did they accidentally do to the world when Pete made him immortal? He buys the magazine, knees a little weak but thankfully his hands aren’t shaking. He sits down right outside the corner store and tears through the pages till he finds the article.

In this strange new world, Pete apparently has a son named Bronx. Gabe’s heart swells, and his automatic reaction is to try to sift for memories of hanging out with Bronx and playing together and being Bronx’s Uncle Gabe or anything until he remembers with an ache that he doesn’t even know Pete in this universe.

He stares at Pete’s picture. He doesn’t have bangs. His eyes are crinkled up, his teeth are taking up half his face, he’s still in grey skinnies and red Nikes, and he’s got a blond two year old on his hip who’s reaching for a handful of Ashlee’s red hair.

The short article, basically only a paragraph, lists Ashlee as Pete’s wife.

Gabe sits with his knees folded up in front of him, magazine open in his lap. He stares at people’s feet for a minute and then looks back at the two little photos they’ve included in bubbles of the family.

”Maybe if I gave it to you I’d wake up tomorrow and be in love.”

Pete looks happy.

+++

Gabe gets drunker alone than he can ever remembering being at one in the afternoon. He stares at the magazine. He googles Pete’s name. He googles Ashlee’s name. He googles Bronx’s name. He googles his own name.

He reads through Pete’s tweets and doesn’t see himself anywhere. When he goes back six entire months, he finds a joking reference to Leighton in Good Girls Go Bad that makes his heart throb drunkenly until he remembers that that song got radio play and Pete probably just heard it there. Pete only knows him as a one-hit wonder. They’ve never met. They’ve never met.

Gabe drinks till Ryland texts him and Gabe can’t even read it, and then decides to close his laptop and pass out.

+++

Gabe keeps pictures of Pete on his phone and Victoria makes fun of him for what she’s decided is a celebrity crush. He can’t stand the press or paparazzi shots because they just remind him that he’s a stranger now, and obviously all the pictures of them together are gone forever, so he reads through Pete’s blog until he finds one of the late-night photos Pete took of himself. He keeps it on his phone to look at it. He remembers that night. They’d been texting. He saves a couple more and flicks through them sometimes when he’s sad and needs comfort or when he’s okay with letting himself be sad.

He has other friends. He shouldn’t be this upset about it. A really good friend would be happy for Pete, to see that he’s obviously with his literal, magical, fairy-tale one true love and married with a kid and glowing with grins in every fucking paparazzi shot Gabe sees of him (and he sees a lot of them; he tries to keep his stalking on the DL but every single bit of Pete’s life that hits the web also gets to Gabe). This is exactly what Pete wanted when Pete gave him immortality. Pete’s happy.

Gabe tours. The band is big even without Pete, it seems, and he almost regrets naming a song after him in another universe. Here that track was called Smash It Up and they’d made it a single. Turns out he can get by just fine without Pete, except for how nothing’s fine without Pete.

+++

He meets kids after shows. He parties. He lurks LiveJournal. He picks fights and he watches TV and he jacks off in his bunk thinking about Gwen Stefani (and no-one else) and his life goes on like it had before. Like he’d wanted. No more biological clock chasing him like a ticking crocodile; he’s Peter fuckin’ Pan. He stays in Neverland and plays packed shows with his Lost Boys.

He thinks about when he’d say brothers and Pete would say forever and how he never realized what that meant when he didn’t know what forever meant to Pete.

He’s only been immortal for two months and he think he knows what forever means now.

+++

He doesn’t let himself think about the catch to the magic unless he’s drunk. He’s drunk a lot recently, though, and it’s hard to tell if that’s because he wants to think about it or because he doesn’t.

He doesn’t think about it because if he thinks about it, he’ll have to confront the obvious.

+++

He drinks till he pukes three nights in a row. See, it doesn’t matter if Pete is his one true love, because Pete’s with his one true love and that’s apparently Ashlee fuckin’ Simpson.

There was only one possible universe where he could’ve had Pete and he damn well missed the boat on that one.

+++

He jacks off thinking about Pete. No-one will ever know. He’s been immortal for three months and time feels slower than it ever has and there’s no point lying to himself anymore. He thinks about Pete’s lips when he’d breathed into Gabe’s mouth on their last night, think about Pete’s ass in his lap and what would’ve happened if he hadn’t breathed in, if he’d just kissed him and kissed him instead, if he’d pressed him back to the sofa and kissed him and kissed him and snuck a hand up his shirt or down his pants and kissed him and kissed him and.

But he’d breathed in.

+++

Pete’s in love with Ashlee. Gabe retches again, doubled over, the whiskey burning on its way up again.

Gabe should be happy for him. What kind of best friend is he? He knows there’s nothing he can do about it, except maybe the one thing he could possibly do about it.

+++

Days go by. What’s gonna happen, he’ll die of alcohol poisoning? Hah.

Even if Gabe gave up immortality, Pete would be in love with Ashlee. Even if Gabe gave up immortality, Pete would either be with her or never fully happy. Even if Gabe gave up immortality, it would always come down to his happiness or Pete’s, really.

+++

“Man, I started touring when I was seventeen,” Ross chuckles, and Gabe nods understandingly. He’s already drunk enough to lean forward and brace his head against his glass- thing is, he already knows Ryan Ross, but Ryan Ross doesn’t know that he knows Ryan Ross, so they’ve been playing the awkward small talk game for a bit. It’s been getting better as the night’s progressed and now they’re in a pissing contest for scene cred or something, wow this kid’s an asshole, and Gabe wishes that he could either get the fuck out of this fucking miserable excuse for a photo-op of a party or find someone worth talking to. He wants to be back on tour just so he doesn’t have to deal with label events like this one, and this is Ryan’s own birthday party. “I really love it. Like, this is my life, you know? I’m a lucky guy. I could do this forever.”

“Yeah. Y’think that,” Gabe grumbles bitterly into his drink, but Ross is too stupid, too self-involved or too high to figure out how pissed off he is. Gabe is gonna get stupid and break shit when he leaves here, honestly. Or, more likely, he’s gonna go home and hold a pillow and cling to the memory of how Pete had felt in his arms on their last morning with his stubbly little face against Gabe’s jaw and the weight of his arm across Gabe’s chest, which is what he does most nights in the past month or so.

Ross sighs. His phone buzzes and he checks it, giving Gabe another blissful couple seconds to stare out across the party. Ryan glances up at his girlfriend at the opposite end of the bar and then checks his phone expressionlessly. His face spreads into a slow, predatory smile, and he texts back something that takes a full minute to type.

“Who was that?” Gabe asks blandly. He doesn’t really care, but asking is better than sitting in awkward post-interruption silence.

“No-one,” Ryan says flatly. He tucks his phone away, his creepy smile already vanished. Gabe watches his boney fingers slide it out of sight and into his pocket.

“Okay then,” Gabe says, face sliding down his palm and towards his elbow, braced on the bar. Great conversationalist, this kid. And he clearly loves his life in a way Gabe never will, which makes Gabe resent him all the more.

“But, I mean- yeah,” Ryan says, which is his way of saying he wants to talk more about himself. Fine. “Turning twenty-two. Big party, don’t even like most of the people here. Don’t even know most of the people here.”

“Yeah?” Gabe says flatly, but something in him is perking up. Why didn’t he hear this before? I could do this forever.

“So, Ryan,” Gabe says, suddenly interested in everything Ryan’s saying. He turns his head, folding his palm flat to the table instead of under his chin. “You ever think about… retiring?”

“My music’s my life, man,” Ryan says, his face still blank. Gabe’s not sure if he’s too drunk to read Ryan’s body language or if there really is nothing in the world he actually is passionate about.

“Ryan, brother… I have something crazy to tell you,” Gabe says. Ryan moves closer. Gabe doesn’t care about checking to see if Ryan really wants this or not. He just suddenly sees this opportunity and jumps on it.

Ryan doesn’t believe him, obviously, that’s no surprise. But Gabe tells him about how he got it and after thirty minutes of badgering, Ryan reluctantly accepts that it’s true. Gabe explains both catches, being able to give it away and the true love thing, and even the breath of life part.

Keltie sweeps by and kisses his cheek as Ryan’s saying, “I mean, if you’re offering, I have nothing to lose by turning you down. Might as well try it.”

Keltie smiles, bright but empty. “What are you boys talking about?” she says, confused but charming nonetheless.

“Gabe’s done peyote,” Ryan says, his lie seamless and his voice unhesitating. “Knows where I could get some.”

“Ooh!” Keltie says, and is immediately distracted by other guests, flouncing away in her bra and fluffy skirt. This clearly her party as much as it is Ryan’s. Gabe’s been watching her all night; she’s hard to miss. After she’d jumped out of his cake, she’d spent ages hanging onto his arm as guests floated by them, paying tributes to the king and queen of the evening, and then when Ryan has grown tired of the small talk, she’d drifted off to work the room, her giggle flitting over the music. Her energy has been boundless all night. She’s an entertainer, that’s for sure.

“I explained the part about not being able to be with your true love, right?” Gabe checks.

Ryan’s face is still blank as he says, “Don’t worry about that.”

Gabe hates him.

+++

They go to the bathroom. It’s unceremonious; they shut themselves in a stall and Ryan goes, “Okay, now,” and Gabe cups the back of his head and breathes into him.

Ryan coughs a little afterwards. He doesn’t shiver; he doesn’t hold Gabe’s eyes.

“That’s it?” he says.

“Doesn’t feel like much, I know,” Gabe answers.

“So I’m immortal?”

Gabe shrugs. “Enjoy the night. Tomorrow you’ll wake up and stuff will be different. Or maybe it won’t.”

God, let it be different. He just gave up immortality on the chance that it’ll bring him back to Pete. He doesn’t know how this magic works. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever see Pete again. He does know, though, that in forty years, he’d rather be an old man who tried than a young man who didn’t.

“Okay,” Ryan says.

They go back outside and sit in silence again. Ryan’s phone buzzes, and when he’s finished his reply, Gabe sees the blonde not three feet behind Keltie check her phone and smile at him.

Gabe hates him.

+++

The only thing Gabe wants to do in the world is fall asleep and wake up and see what’s different, but in a twist of fate, he’s too nervous to sleep. He lies in bed and stares at his mod, minimalist white walls until he wants to cry.

He drinks till he passes out. His arm feels like lead on the tenth shot in half an hour but after that he’s stumbling towards his bed like a dying man, and finally his eyes are closing.

+++

In the morning, Pete’s stubble is rough against Gabe’s. It’s a good feeling.
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