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Every Shade of Purple

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They love each other, but when it comes to food, love has nothing to do with it.

Leftovers, take out, even the shitty stale cookies at the bottom of the plastic sleeve forgotten about at the back of the pantry: if it wasn’t yours, don’t eat it. Wait, you already did? Well now you’re in for it.

Pete’s curled up on the couch with Stan, lazily picking the soft remnants of chocolate chips caked to his molars. He’s not even considering any consequences, sure that the most he’ll need to do when the empty baggy is discovered is to do that thing that makes both Stan and Michael melt, that bashful blink of his eyes and a hushed apology followed by a sickly sweet kiss tasting of whatever was not his.

“Um,” Michael says from the kitchen. “The cookies? Who ate them?”

“What?” Stan says, truly oblivious and not really listening.

“Who ate the cookies?”

Stan wipes his nose, continues to watch television without answering. They’re already moving on from the conversation when Michael hurriedly enters the living room.

They blink up at him. Michael raises his eyebrows, shakes his head. “Well?” 

“They’re just cookies,” Pete murmurs.

“‘Just cookies’? You wish. Whichever one of you is the sneaky bastard once again eating what isn’t yours, brace yourself because they’re about to kick in real fucking soon.”

Pete bolts upright, eyes wide. “What!?”

“I knew it,” Michael mumbles as an aside.

“You better be freaking joking, Michael.”

The tallest goth combs a hand through his black curls, shrugs. “It was supposed to be for the three of us. We were supposed to split it three ways but you ate it all.”

“Oh my God.” Pete clutches his chest. He pants heavily, suddenly can’t catch his breath. “This has never happened to me before.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to not eat what isn’t yours?”

“This is my fault!?”

“It’s no one’s fault, okay?” Stan says. He’s sitting up beside Pete now, his hand between the smaller’s shoulder blades. “It was an honest mistake. It’s fine.” 

“It’s not fine, I’ve never dropped acid! What do I do!?”

“Relax, for one thing,” Michael says. “Just relax. You go into this with bad thoughts and you’ll have a bad time.”

“Oh Jesus. I- I don’t know what to do. What the fuck do I do?”

“Breathe,” Stan urges.

Pete tries his best but it isn’t very fruitful. Literally a few seconds ago he was absolutely fine and now apparently he’s minutes away from endeavoring into the the nine circles of Hell, alone, Virgil nowhere to be seen. 

The couch dips to his right. A hand drapes over his currently gripping the edge of the cushion.

“We’ll guide you through this trip, all right?” Michael says. “You don’t have to worry about anything. Stan and I will take care of you.”

“Yeah, of course,” Stan agrees.

“How long ago did you eat them?”

“I don’t know. Forty-five minutes ago? Almost an hour?”

“Yeah, okay. Just relax. There’s nothing you need to worry about for the rest of the night. We got you.”

“You’re such an asshole,” Pete mumbles and then leans into him so he can hide his face against his shoulder. Michael presses a kiss to the top of his head, doesn’t pull his face from his hair.

“I’m sorry, Pete. We’ll get through this together. Deep breaths.”

Ten minutes later and he’s starting to feel a little weird. His fingers feel tingly and he feels a little dizzy and he’s awake but he feels bleary but also really clear and this is a lot. For some reason, Pete chooses to focus on the fact that he’s getting a little warm, bordering on uncomfortably so.

Michael’s hand is pulling him from the couch the second he says so and he leads him to the bedroom to change into something more comfortable 

Pete's clear enough to refuse the dirty clothes Michael tries to offer him, and he ultimately settles for a pair of basketball shorts and an oversized shirt, both of which are Stan’s.

They smell like him: lilac detergent and warmth and boy.

Pete closes his eyes. He holds the shirt up to his nose. He breathes deeply. When he exhales he sees the faintest swirl of air spiral out in front of him. He cocks his head, squints, tries to reach for it with his fingers because it looks like fine powder suspended in the air.

His attention is interrupted by Michael’s hand where it gently squeezes his.

“Let’s go back to the living room, okay?” he murmurs soothingly. Pete nods and the room rearranges itself. 

Michael puts on some music and dims the lights considerably once they're back in the living room. He lights a few candles: red, white, black. Stan’s waiting on the couch, propped up against the armrest. He guides a vulnerable-looking Pete into sitting in the space between his legs. 

Pete leans back against his boyfriend’s chest, closes his eyes.

“Now what?” Stan whispers, afraid he’ll ruin the gentle atmosphere with anything more than a breath.

“Now we wait,” Michael says as he takes a seat at the opposite end of the small couch, armrest at his back as he faces them.

They wait in silence, nothing but the white noise hum of the AC to join the hush of their breath. They might even nod off to sleep at the intense silence but then Pete’s shifting and his boyfriends are attentive once again.

“O- Oh shit,” Pete groans with a clammy hand through his hair. “I don’t think I like this.”

“Relax,” Michael advises him with a professionalism that’s loving in its own way but a little too detached for Pete’s liking. He suddenly feels like Michael’s really mad at him or something and the pattern on the couch looks to be swimming in circles.

Pete whimpers.

Stan huffs quietly in frustration. 

All his life he’s been incredibly protective. This was true with his friends or his significant others, but when it came to Pete, he was exceptionally so. He was the first to provide him with his jacket, had carried him when he complained that his boyfriends walked too fast for him, was the first to wipe away the tears down his cheeks on those nights Pete woke from nightmares he would never talk about.

So this, this is torture. Because this time he can’t take Pete out of this place like all those other times. He couldn’t make it better, could he? 

Stan’s own panic begins to swell within him. His heart is racing. His fingers twitch on his thigh.

“Hey,” Michael says, firm but soft. “He needs you.”

“I don’t know how to help him. Tell me how to help him.”

Michael reaches out and strokes Stan’s knee, Stan who’s looking at him with the most heartbreaking expression. “We can help by keeping his mind positive.”

Pete's far from it at this point. He's shivering a little, small and scared.

“I'm, uh, I think I’m kinda, um, afraid.” Pete hugs his arms around himself. He squeezes his eyes shut. “Fuck, is Stan here? I need Stan. Please go get Stan.”

“Baby, I'm here,” Stan says behind him. “I'm here, Petey.”

Pete’s hand hurriedly meets his. He squeezes Stan’s fingers.

“I'm sinking into the floor. I'm gonna disappear forever.” Pete's voice wavers. His bottom lip trembles, “I want Stan…”

Stan actually whines this time as he nuzzles the back of Pete’s neck.

All he wants to do is help. He wants to comfort, to soothe and he fucking can’t .

The desperate sight has Michael acting fast as he leans in and holds Pete’s cheek.

“Darling, look at me. Listen to me, okay? I’m here. Stan’s here. He’s holding you and taking such good care of you. Let’s relax, now.”

They breathe together just like they used to breathe back in school whenever the day became too much. Of course they put on a front in front of their poser peers but in the quiet behind the school or in a bathroom stall in an empty bathroom, they breathed, breathed, breathed. They’d done it since at shows or at any public event on the rare occasion they decided to show their faces in this god-forsaken town.

 

“I’m- I’m-“

“I’m right here. Focus on my touch,” Stan hums under his ear.

Pete shuts his eyes and focuses on how the very tips of Stan’s fingers trail from the outsides of his biceps down his arms to the curve of his elbow. Then he’s drawing them back up and back down again and again, slow.

Stan plants his hands on his thighs. He pets them gently, the gesture grounding and careful.

“D- Don’t leave...”

Stan’s arm slides under Pete’s shirt as he holds him around his stomach. 

“I’m not leaving you, Pete. I’m staying right here.”

And he does stay with him for a whole hour and at this point, Pete’s really starting to peak. Thankfully he enters that state of psychedelic wonder with a clear mind mostly stripped of most fear. Pete’s learning to swim now, no longer drowning. He’s floating without a worry and speaking without making much of a point.

“And- And- I, um, we-“

Michael’s resting his chin in the hand holding his smoldering cigarette. He blinks slowly as Pete tries and fails to formulate a sentence. 

Pete growls and thumps his hand on the couch, a well-known move for when he believes he isn’t being listened to.

Michael smirks but his eyes swim with loving amusement.

“I’m listening, my love. You’re not making much sense, but yes, I’m listening.”

Pete forgets what he’s saying and instead decides to take Michael’s cigarette into his own mouth and play with his boyfriend’s now empty fingers. 

“Everything feels like glitter. It’s melting and swirling and, uh!”

Pete falls back onto his other boyfriend’s chest. His arms remain above him.

“Mm, hello.”

“Hi,” Stan laughs. “Are you feeling better?”

“I’m feeling the same as the moon amongst the stars, a hundred werewolves beneath me.” 

“Should I be recording this for him?” Michael asks. “I think he’d appreciate it.”

“At least write some of it down,” Stan says. Michael does on the back of a book of matches, thinks doing so is kinda poetic in a trashy way.

Michael ends up fetching them some snacks: chips, fruit, sweets all the while mentioning how LSD stimulates the taste buds. 

Pete holds a single chip to his lips as tears stream gently down his face. 

“Sweetheart,” Michael coos, and he’s already reaching for his face with his large, soothing hands, “why are you crying?”

“Tastes so good,” Pete peeps.

Michael and Stan share a soft smile. 

“We have plenty more, Petey,” Stan says. “You can have as many as you want.”

“Thank you,” and then Pete’s returned to his nibbling.

Stan strokes Pete’s hair back lazily, twisting a red curl around his finger loosely before letting it go. Michael watching his two loves, the atmosphere successfully comfortable and dim. 

And Stan smiles when Michael gives his ankle a brief kiss. 

“Do you see anything?” Stan asks Pete once he’s laying back on his chest and looking at the ceiling.

Pete hums. “Everything’s going like this.”

He takes his hands and swirls them back and forth as if he were scratching two vinyl records on the wall. 

“And the walls are different colors… purple and blue. It’s breathing… everything is breathing.”

“In a good way,” Stan murmurs. 

“Oh yeah,” Pete sighs and locks his fingers with Stan’s where they’re resting just below his ribcage. “In such a good way. It makes me feel content, y’know. I feel… very thankful for the both of you.”

“We’re very thankful for you too, Red,” Michael murmurs.

“Your hair’s pink, Michael.”

“Does it look good?”

“Wonderful.”

“Hey Michael?”

“Hey Pete.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Pete’s turns against Stan. His fingers tug at the hem of Stan’s shirt before dipping his hands under, palms sliding across his warm stomach.

Michael and Stan watch, more wary of his actions than on any other night where they’d be reciprocated ten fold. 

He’d turn Pete into a blushing mess, have him drooling for it, but tonight he’s not in his right mind, not completely anyway, definitely not aware enough to initiate sex. They get quiet as they watch his next course of action, fully prepared to stop him and direct his wandering hand to his own dick if he needs relief.

Stan lays still and watches as Pete begins to pull up the garment of clothing. Michael thinks he's maybe trying to get his shirt off, his own thoughts going back to memories of his own past LSD trips and how skin to skin contact was almost as intoxicating as any manufactured substance. 

But then Pete slides down a little, pulls the bottom of Stan’s shirt up over his head and the tops of his shoulders and effectively burrows underneath it

Pete curls up in his makeshift cave with walls of soft material on one side of him and a warm, naked torso on the other. It's dark and warm and provides the closeness, privacy and protection he needs.

Stan blinks as he looks down at his bulging shirt, the lump pressed snug against him directly over his heart. He can feel cool fingertips faintly twitch across his sternum, his nipple, the side of his chest. 

“What’s he doing?” Michael asks quietly.

“He’s okay.” Stan lightly scratches up and down Pete’s back. “Sayin’ something. I can feel his lips but I can’t hear him.”

This might not be what they had in mind but it’s more than fine now. They’re staying alert in the event Pete’s attitude nosedives and it all goes to shit, but Pete’s off in his own little world and murmuring to himself and Stan and Michael are relaxing, drifting in the whiffs of burning candles and the pump of the AC.

And they might not be under the influence as Pete is, but in the dimness of the living room and the brimming love they hold for one another, Michael and Stan are finally clued into the intensity of love that exists here in plain sight, coloring the world in shades of incomprehensible color strikingly beautiful.