Shut Up I'm Dreaming (of Places Where Lovers Have Wings)
Author Notes: Dates and things might be a little bit off, and other things I can't say (they're spoilery, sorry!) have slightly changed. Present day. Thank you to Liz, my amazing beta, because she's ridiculously kick-ass at deciphering my weird writing tendencies. Huge thank you hugs to all of you lovelies that read + commented. And to R, who keeps me acceptably insane. xx
Disclaimer: If you found this by Googling yourself, stop it. And go away. Trust me. Real people, fake things.
Part II: Oceans Never Listen to Us, Anyway.
Word Count: ~7,500
Jesse's nervous. He doesn't know why, really; he's had dinner with Andrew numerous times. It's definitely not a date because, well, fuck. Jesse hasn't even seen Andrew in, like, four months. Andrew definitely has a girlfriend now, and it's weird to think about it not being Shannon, who was never really around, and Jesse really, truly likes Emma. He does. It just somehow feels foreign to him, like he woke up and flipped on the wrong world sensors.
He spends a few minutes debating between shirts that are strewn out all over his bed. They're just flannel button ups, and he doesn't want to clash with whatever monstrosity Andrew will surely be wearing (one time Jesse saw horrible blue pants in Andrew’s closet. He was disgusted and wanted to shout, "WHO WEARS WEIRD BLUE PANTS AND STILL LOOKS ATTRACTIVE?" at Andrew, because life is not fucking fair), and he makes sure his jeans actually fit. It's a big improvement over typical Jesse wear. He doesn't think he's making any vital fashion mistakes.
Except for how he can't choose between the red/blue plaid or the yellow/grey plaid.
He grabs his phone, takes a picture on his trendy Hipstamatic app — Andrew hounded him to buy it, but Jesse actually uses it to show him the things he sees — and sends it to Ellen.
Left or right?
Left, she replies, because even I would fuck you in that shirt. I'm sure Andrew will find you irresistible, darling.
Yellow/grey it is. Jesse felt better about that one, anyway.
Not that he thinks Andrew is going to want to fuck him, because. There's only a certain level he allows himself to think at, and he absolutely refuses to venture there. That's a ten, and Jesse's brain hovers at about a two. Perhaps a three on a brave day. He thinks it's likely that Andrew views him as some sort of asexual entity anyway, with no sex drive and too naive to want something like that. He isn't, but he doesn't really do anything to change the notion, either. He can go without sex, and it isn't a big deal to him.
He never quite understood people who complained after not having sex for a few weeks or even months. Sex is nice, but it's a lot of work. Sometimes it takes too long, and there are other things he would have liked to be doing, like reading or writing or having really fucking incredible sushi at Morimoto on 10th Avenue. He debates for a second before getting his phone and sending Andrew a text, the shirt dilemma momentarily forgotten.
Is it wrong to be okay without sex?
He's in the middle of buttoning up his shirt when the reply comes.
pardon me did you mean to send this to me because i think i just snorted in the elevator
Yes, and I'm serious. I just realized I don't care about sex.
you're probably doing it wrong
Jesse pauses. He feels a little bit offended.
I did it right.
maybe you just haven't met your sexual match because i've heard those exist by way of dr phil
but we are not discussing sex before dinner because i am about to walk out the door and you need to get on the ball pervert
i am strictly an after dinner kind of lady
I am judging you for watching Dr. Phil, just so you are aware. I'm leaving.
He waits two full minutes to send the last message, or until he's walking out the door, just so he isn't lying.
He makes sure he takes the same amount of steps in each slab of cement on the sidewalk. He's actually taking a cab, so he doesn't have to count steps for long.
One, two. One, two. The numbers count off in his head like second nature.
* * *
Andrew's selected this large, open space of a restaurant for them to eat at. Jesse's never been here before, but he trusts Andrew's judgment. There's something like a pang in his chest, buried down deep below layers of flesh and veins and muscle. It expands in a moment of anxiety when he steps closer to the direction of tables, and Andrew's arm is up and waving him over. Andrew just.
He stands up and grins, and the pang in Jesse's chest is dulling now, subsiding into nothing but a tiny little pinch he barely notices.
He's always had this thought that the universe has a fucked up way of throwing people into your life when you least expect them. The unexpectedness makes you unable to handle the things they do to your head and to your guts, twisting and jumbling and mixing. He's blank for a moment, though he knows it isn't long enough to notice. The universe is colliding with his brain, he thinks, at that very moment. Andrew is there, looking at him with this look of fucking joy, and all Jesse can manage to do is think about how he would follow Andrew into a fucking black hole if it meant that they would go together.
He doesn't like how heavy his thoughts feel, so he shakes them off. His feet start moving.
The restaurant is busy, bustling and trendy, and apparently serving Mediterranean food. Jesse likes hummus and would never turn down a good shawarma. Sometimes he's easy to please, like when one of his cats just wants a Greenie at three in the morning.
"I just ordered you a beer, and stuffed grape leaves are coming," Andrew announces before Jesse is even close enough to step into the hug Andrew is offering. Most guys wouldn't do as much in public, and at most would offer a one-armed, weird, hug-like greeting. But Andrew is, like. He's engulfing Jesse tight, as though they didn't just see each other just a few hours earlier.
Jesse doesn't have a choice but to return the sentiment.
"Hey to you, too," Jesse says casually, noticing there's a table set for three. It's theirs. "Who is —" he starts, but Andrew's speaking at the same time as they slip out of the embrace.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you before; I didn't want you to decide not to come or something, but —"
"Jesse!" he hears.
Emma is two feet behind him, tiny and pale and blonde, and coming at him like a freight train wanting to maul him in the kindest way possible. She hugs him, and Jesse wants his space, even if he does think Emma is fucking fantastic and pretty and confident in ways Jesse will never, ever be.
Andrew has a girlfriend.
She's moving to Andrew next, pulling him in tight, and now people around them are looking, watching suspiciously. A few of them are probably catching on that hey, that's Spiderman and his fucking girlfriend, maybe they should gawk some more. Jesse takes a seat on the other side of the table, and Emma excuses herself to the bathroom after dropping her purse off in her seat. It's next to Andrew's spot at the table. Jesse tries not to feel bitter.
"I'm so sorry," Andrew's starting, leaning in closer with his elbows on the table. Jesse leans back into his chair instead of in.
"No, no. There's really no — you don't need to apologize for anything, she's. She's good company." His words sound like lies, even though he means them. They aren't what he wants to say. Maybe their fleeting moments alone earlier were all they were destined to get for the time being. Somehow Jesse just isn't okay with that.
"They like seeing us out together; people will talk. She wanted to see you. She thinks you're so fantastic, and it sort of worked out so." Jesse wants to ask who 'they' is, and he thinks he knows but really isn't sure. He hates feeling like he's on the outside of some big thing, trying to sneak a peek inside some fucking crack in a door or something. Like a social pervert. He totally feels like he's been caught with his hands down his pants.
Jesse grabs for the nearest cold beer the second Andrew grabs for it, too. Jesse thinks it's a weird mistake at first, but then Andrew does some weird, absurd thing only drug dealers should know how to do. He gracefully makes the entire thing seem like a mundane accident while managing to ever-so-stealthily slip a tiny, folded up piece of paper into Jesse's hand.
"I guess I wasn't paying attention," Andrew states plainly, but his eyes are meeting Jesse's, and the statement feels like so, so much more. Jesse realistically knows it means nothing, but there's a paper in his hand he knows he shouldn't read right now, so he slips it into his pocket instead.
Stuffed grape leaves appear from the kitchen the moment Emma comes back to the table, and suddenly there's a flurry of activity around him that Jesse feels removed from. He enjoys the people he's sitting with, and knows he should be having a good time, but he feels off and hates it. If there was a button he could press to be sucked in to some vortex, or something with blankets and pillows and a good book, then he would have pressed it exactly seven minutes ago.
"I'm so glad we're getting to do this. Fuck, you think it would have happened sooner," Emma says with a flick of her wrist, pausing to reach for her water and take a drink. "I know we're all busy, but we're in the same fucking city, come on." Andrew's nodding and kind of smiling, so Jesse tries to match his enthusiasm.
But then something clicks, and Jesse settles into himself. He's there, he’s composed, and there's a paper in his pocket weighing him down. He's anchored to the spot, to wherever Andrew is, and something about that feels like energy running through his veins. There's a split second where Jesse realizes that Andrew and Emma aren't even touching each other, there's a good foot of space between them, and he can handle this because he only wants Andrew happy.
They order and food comes, beers arrive full and leave empty, and they're trading stories and embarrassing themselves willingly.
Jesse only thinks hey, don't you think it's kind of fucked up that I kissed your girlfriend before you did once and immediately hates himself for doing it.
Under the table, Andrew is kicking his ankles and Emma is laughing over something Jesse's just said.
"Seriously, though, all Andrew wanted to do the first few days we actually, like, spent around each other for work was ask about how you were to film with. I think he might have actually taken notes one time, like some compare and contrast list. It must be a British thing," Emma shares, and Andrew is blushing while Jesse feels a spark of something he identifies as curiosity. "I told him about basketball and how you did that impression of Woody that killed everybody, and how you were constantly keeping me on my toes. I swear, Jesse — I, I couldn't even make this up, he was taking notes on his own accord, like he wanted to ask you questions about this shit later."
Jesse doesn't realize until he's done it, but he's kicking Andrew's foot back, just once, while looking in his direction with inquisitive eyes. Andrew's gaze meets his, and if Emma notices, then she doesn't let on that she's aware they're playing a game of footsie under the table. Andrew's eyes are shining, but not only from the alcohol. He's looking at Jesse like he did sometimes when Jesse tried to make them breakfast on their days off, or when Jesse did his laundry once and only ruined one of his shirts. He feels lighter.
"In my defense, I wanted to know if you always worked the way you did with me — with the film. It was intense. I just," Andrew is shrugging in a "fuck off" sort of way, and Jesse doesn't know if he wants to hear anything else. He feels pretty content right now. Andrew wanted to take notes on him and not just fuck Emma, so that has to count for something.
"He didn't go all Zuckerberg in Zombieland," she quips, and Jesse isn't even really saying much; he's content to watch and listen and only speak when he needs to.
"Listen, Emma, that's not what I'm saying; what I'm saying is that you're a pain in the ass." Emma is swatting at Andrew and laughing, and Jesse joins in.
It isn't so bad, he convinces himself.
When they all depart, two versus one, Emma tells him she "fucking loves the shit" out of him, and Jesse returns the sentiment.
Andrew just smiles at him.
Jesse feels like he's giving away far too much.
* * *
Jesse knows he can't be the only person on the planet who does things without thinking about them. He has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of making his way back to his apartment, but he has. If he's truthful, he's been too immersed in his own thoughts. There are constantly ten thousand things, or so it seems, short circuiting in his brain, but he's so used to it that it typically doesn't phase him.
This is different; this involves each of those thoughts being Andrew-centric, and it's freaking him out. He's not the type to cling to something so drastically, but he can't help it.
Jesse gets out his key to open his door but his mind isn't on the physical action of the moment; he's thinking about the way Andrew's foot had brushed his. At first it had been playful, soft sort of kicks or pokes beneath the table. But then. But then Andrew's foot, the very tip, had grazed Jesse's ankle, and it was slower, softer. It was like Andrew was coaxing something out of him in this bizarre, public setting. He's unable to shake the look Andrew had given him from across the table, with Emma still oblivious.
He feels like Offred. Suddenly he's in A Handmaid's Tale.
He hates his life for just a split second over making the comparison.
Jesse leans down and picks up Alexander as soon as the door is closed behind him. The cat's purring happily, actually excited to see Jesse. Jesse's brain is on the way Emma was so much less affectionate towards Andrew than he had expected. It wasn't. It didn't seem —
Andrew was more affectionate with him in between takes in front of the rest of the cast and crew than he was with Emma during dinner.
There was something there, and it's driving Jesse insane that he can't put his finger on it. It's frustrating and driving him up the wall. Even Alexander is fed up with his inability to solve this bullshit and leaps out of his grasp effortlessly to hurry over to lay himself right over the top of Hephaestion. The other cat doesn't mind, just curls into it.
"Get a room," Jesse tells them, but neither of them pay him any attention.
He doesn't know how to analyze these things. It's too late to call Anna, and Ellen will kill him, so he kicks off his shoes and gives in to the need to shower. He feels the city all over him. He's sure he smells like pita bread and beer, but he feels. Something. There's a mess trying to work itself out in his brain, and he feels as though he is only making it worse. He's complicating things by thinking too much.
His jeans are on the floor, and he's halfway into the shower when his phone goes off. He pauses for a moment, in a sort of limbo, before ignoring it. The water is hot. Jesse watches the skin on his forearms turn pinkish-red, far from their normal hue, due to the heat. He breathes in deep, steam and all, and exhales.
He's in over his head. He is silently freaking out.
He leans his head against the tile wall, allowing the water to beat against him incessantly. It's soothing, but it doesn't help him relax. He has too many things on his mind to simply let go and blank out, even if that's all he wants to do for the next fucking twelve hours.
Every once in a while, Jesse allows himself to be caught up in something he can't shake. The last time it happened was—
He groans when he realizes it was acting. Acting. He's obviously done a fantastic job at getting over that one.
Andrew is one of those people the universe has thrown at him. He was so unexpected that it nearly knocked Jesse over when it happened. He has this thing where he never feels connected to anybody or anything, sometimes (a lot of the time), and the ability to form lasting bonds with people makes him feel uneasy and unpleasant. It's never been like that with Andrew, who has always been all smiles and jokes and putting his fingers flirtatiously in Jesse's mouth when they were being filmed.
He hasn't ever figured out how to handle Andrew. He figures it's probably impossible to, because Andrew is always changing. He's always got a new band to love, or a book to be obsessed with, or a hilarious story to tell. His core stays the same, it never wavers from the perfection that Jesse (unfortunately) adores, but Andrew's phases happen enough to keep Jesse completely interested and scurrying to keep up.
The universe, he has determined, is most likely laughing at him.
But sometimes this comes and goes in waves. This time it is a fucking rogue wave.
He has no idea how to hide from it.
Maybe he doesn't want to.
The skin on his fingers is pruned by the time he gets out of the shower, but he’s feeling a bit better and clear-headed. He doesn't bother looking in the steam-obstructed mirror as he dries off; his body's average, nothing to write home about, and he's too skinny and too pale to be impressive. He's plain. It's okay.
It isn't until he's carrying his clothes into his bedroom he thinks about the note Andrew slipped him at the beginning of dinner. He gets dressed first, sliding on a pair of grey sweatpants that are almost too small and a hoodie. He's comfortable. He grabs for his jeans and digs in the pocket, briefly relieved that he didn't manage to lose the small slip of paper between then and now. That would be his luck.
He opens it, red ink bleeding through the paper. It's written in careful print, much neater than Andrew's usual handwriting.
He understands the definition, but he isn't as clear on the rest of it. Part of a poem he doesn't know? Maybe a lyric? More than likely a lyric with what they were currently working with. He's happy with...? His mind races, and then slows, and he's kind of okay with not knowing what the fuck is ever going on, really, because how is he expected to keep up with the way the fucking world works, anyway?
He grabs for his phone, finally seeing Andrew's text message.
it was so good seeing you in proper light and not in a poorly lit back room :)
Jesse ignores the topic at hand and instead writes back so fast he almost typos. He wouldn't dare.
of course give me two minutes to call you
When Andrew says two minutes, it isn't a figure of speech. Jesse knows he means it. He feels a bit claustrophobic, so he hurries to slide out of his sweatpants and tugs on jeans instead, and opts to leave his hoodie on. It's after ten, but he grabs his wallet and keys and decides to walk. His phone rings when he's closing his front door behind him.
It's been exactly two minutes.
"Hello there, stranger," Andrew says to him, before Jesse can even speak.
"Oh, hey, funny seeing you here," Jesse ebbs back. There's a moment where everything feels okay because Andrew is there, talking to him. He's a handful of blocks away, in his own apartment, and telling the rest of the world to fuck off while he talks to Jesse. Jesse feels like he's won something spectacular.
"Seeing? Jesse, are you spying?"
"Listen, hey. No. Look, I think I should be asking you that. Not the other way around." They're both laughing in between spoken words. Jesse is smiling, and he knows it's more than evident in his voice. Andrew is, too. He can sense it.
"What? I am not. What!" It's all coming out like some shocked, baffled sort of reply, like Jesse has nothing to base his wild accusation on.
Jesse is willing to make him a powerpoint presentation, if he would like. Example A, Example B, Example C (see photo of Andrew's serial killer smile on next slide for further convincing).
He scoffs. "You knew where I was eating, who I was with, what I ordered, and you knew I was nake — uh. I was getting into the shower, and the water was running. Who just knows those things? You don't have some sort of gumshoe following me around, do you?" He kicks at a rock up on the sidewalk.
He always likes that his little section of the city is somewhat quiet at night. The further away he walks, the more little places he sees that are open. Things nestled in between apartment buildings and closed businesses. A laundromat has six occupants, and he knows a few bars are far from closing down. New York never fully settles down, kind of like his brain. But some parts, later on at night, feel almost removed from the hustle and bustle of everything surrounding it.
Or maybe Andrew's just calming him down.
"I've told you this! Two of the girls who do set design saw you lunching there, taking up all of twelve days it took you to get my mix done—"
"It was six days, not twelve. Dramatic. And the shower?" he asks. God, he really hopes Andrew never sees him naked.
"It was a lucky guess, at best. I did live with you, you know. Shared space. Sometimes you work like such a creature of habit, you usually shower at around that time. When you actually remember."
"I showered twice today, fuck you."
Andrew laughs at him, and Jesse feels light. Andrew remembers his schedule. That, to Jesse, means something.
"I am so glad you fit me into your schedule," Andrew says softly. Jesse still feels unburdened, but Andrew's serious, and he can't just laugh it off, even though he tries. Andrew stops him, though. "I know you're busy, and I am going to be so ridiculously swamped between the play and promotion, but. You're a thirty-five minute walk away from me, most days, and yet I haven't seen you since I programmed my own ringtone on your phone."
The memory actually makes Jesse smile again, and he wonders if it's possible for his face to physically split in two due to his shit-eating grin.
"I don't even know what this damn song is, but I always end up humming it at random times during the day. It sounds like Williamsburg puked it out," he says. Andrew's laughing before he even finishes his commentary. It makes Jesse feel really, really good. He could listen to Andrew laugh forever, he thinks.
"You're brilliant, you know I think you are, but you could have looked online to see what I put on there. Have you heard of Google? It's a pretty awesome tool; sort of like arrows and fire, with less chance of killing yourself." Andrew is the most sarcastic ass he knows. He digs it.
"You named it ‘A hearts J’, and I figured that was maybe a sign I shouldn't even know the name, you asshole. If you really hearted me, you would have told me the name of the song. I don't want it to ring when I'm out getting coffee and have some girl with one of those big bull rings through her nose hump my thigh or something because it's her fucking jam, man." He's out of breath when he finishes, and Andrew is wheezing with laughter.
"Hump your leg? Jesse, I." He stops speaking because he's laughing too hard, and Jesse's heart pounds inside his chest. Everything right now feels so natural; he feels connected to something outside himself.
"Shut up, you're fine," he tells Andrew, but Andrew's gasping at him. Jesse thinks he hears a zipper and he really, really hopes he doesn't have to listen to Andrew get undressed while he's walking around the city at night.
"You are so rude. I'm telling your mother. You forgot to call her, by the way. I bet she cried all night."
"We had company, and I doubt Emma wanted to listen to you bother my mother on the phone. Are you — Um. Are you taking off your clothes, you floozy? Because if this is a bad time —"
"I'm putting clothes on, actually. You're obviously on a walk, so I should go on a walk. I like doing what you're doing, even if we aren't doing it together."
Jesse's unable to give a snarky reply to that one, even though he wants to. The sentiment is there, it's blindingly sweet. He doesn't know how to process Andrew's brash form of sweet talk, or whatever it is, so he chooses to ignore it instead, even though it'll churn in his brain for the next sixty hours.
"I'm sorry we didn't end up having dinner alone and catching up properly, but when Em knew I was going to eat with you, I could tell she wanted to see you, too. And, so." Andrew stops talking, and Jesse hears a car drive by on Andrew's end of the line, the sound mimicking his own environment; their apart-but-together environment. It makes sense to Jesse. It would make sense to Andrew, if he said it out loud.
"It's okay," he reassures him. "It was nice. I've always liked her; she's hilarious." He isn't lying, even if he wants to inform Andrew that really, Emma is probably all wrong for him because she isn't Jesse.
From the other end of the line, Andrew lets out a deep sigh that rattles Jesse's bones. It sounds heavy coming out and over the line, like Andrew's got a weight on his chest over the topic at hand. Jesse does, too, if he's honest.
"Do you ever feel like you signed up to do the wrong thing with your life?" Andrew asks him a moment later, and Jesse doesn't skip a beat in saying, "Yes."
"Really?" Andrew asks, seemingly baffled by him saying such a thing.
"Yeah, of course. Sometimes, when I'm being asked a question for the twentieth time, I wonder what the hell I'm doing. When I'm freezing in between takes and my eyes are gritty with sleep, I have to ask myself if what I'm doing is just selfish bullshit, really. Why, do you— Are you?" He doesn't know how to ask Andrew if everything is too much for him. How do you ask somebody if they're miserable with the path they've chosen? He doesn't think there's a delicate way to approach a topic like that. His words feel useless.
"No. Yes. Maybe."
Jesse just stays silent, waiting for Andrew to continue.
"Sometimes I find myself agreeing to questionable things because it's easy enough and good for business. I don't. I'm not a businessman, you know? I'm an actor. I love acting, most days. I didn't sign up for a circus, though I know it's ridiculous to expect — I don't know. I didn't expect it to be like this. Before I walked out of my flat, I had to check the windows to see if anybody was out there this time at night. Sometimes I think the waiting paparazzi are burglars, which is stupid, I know."
Jesse chuckles a little at the thought, and says, "Don't worry about the thieves. I'll protect you."
"I know you would," Andrew says easily.
Jesse's stopped now, standing near a street corner and watching a group of college-aged kids emerge from a swanky enough bar. Jesse knows they probably spent fifteen dollars per drink, but they feel grown up and maybe alive. They've all got their arms linked together, like it's them against the world, and he sometimes wants that so bad with somebody he could scream.
"You aren't doing the wrong thing. The bullshit you put up with is awful. The closer the movie gets, it's going to get worse. Nobody goes through life without making questionable choices, so. As long as it's not something, like. As long as it isn't breaking you," Jesse concludes.
"No, it. It's nothing like that at all. I just." Andrew sighs when his phone makes an atrocious little beeping noise Jesse dreads.
"I'm, like, halfway to your flat and my phone's dying and I'm going to get kidnapped," Andrew tells him.
Jesse's eyes practically pop out of his head. "Andrew."
"Don't be mad; I can plug in my phone when I make it home. I'll tell you I'm safe, and we can keep talking. It's totally—"
Jesse's listening, but only halfway. The line goes dead, but he's running across the practically empty street, dodging around the group of college students, and tapping Andrew on the shoulder. Andrew jumps, and Jesse grins, and Andrew looks like he's just been slapped with happiness or submerged into a fucked up land of dreams. His face looks fucking adorable.
Jesse's insides are doing noteworthy gymnastic moves all over the goddamn place.
"Or I don't have to wait, you know, because you kind of stalked me," Jesse says.
Andrew's bumping his arm to Jesse's when he speaks. "Says the one who just surprise tapped me from behind."
Jesse snorts at the comment, Andrew's cheeks get kind of red, and Jesse just wants to kiss him.
He has serious trouble resisting.
He hasn't counted steps since the start of their phone call.
* * *
Jesse doesn't drink very often. It's always social, not something he does alone. He likes vodka tonics with dinner when he's out, and the occasional bloody mary with lunch. It usually isn't for the purpose of getting drunk. He had a few beers with dinner but didn't even feel buzzed.
He feels pretty good right now, though.
He and Andrew are both underdressed for the place they ended up at. Jesse wonders if they're at the table the group of college kids had shared. It's a big, dark blue booth. Everything is sunken in, and it's a little bit private. The place is dim, blue and white lights adorn the wall, and there's music playing that Jesse doesn't know but Andrew seems to. He's thankful it isn't too loud.
He doesn't feel out of place, because his company is the best looking asshole in the whole city.
Minus the asshole part, really; Andrew is entirely too nice for his own good.
Andrew's bought Jesse two drinks, Long Islands, and they're entirely too good, and he doesn't taste the alcohol at all anymore. Andrew's had four, and his eyes are glassy. They're so big, Jesse thinks, and always full of expression.
Andrew's got on jeans that Jesse's seen before and Converse on his feet. His flannel shirt is too big, the sleeves pushed up to the elbows, and he is probably the only guy that can pull off plaid with purple in it and not look like an annoying fuck you know to stay clear of.
It's nearing midnight, and Jesse never wants to leave this spot.
"What do you mean, though? You said earlier, like. They like seeing you together or something. And —" Jesse just stops, because he doesn't know how to even address what he wants to say. He's finishing his second drink, and Andrew's starting on his fifth, but he also has a water in front of him that's almost empty.
"Them, you know. People just like it; Spiderman and his girlfriend, or some rubbish, and it's just sort of fucking weird, you know?" Andrew says, and Jesse knows he doesn't really expect an answer. He's gesticulating with his hands, even after Andrew's done talking, probably along to the thoughts in his head.
He just nods, anyway. He thinks he knows what Andrew's getting at.
"But you don't want to —?" He asks, but Andrew interrupts him with, "No, no. I want to act, of course I do, but the other stuff is just. It's daunting, I guess. It keeps me up at night."
Jesse really does understand. He hates everything that comes along with his profession, which is selfish and stupid because he knew what he was getting into. There's always somebody analyzing things too much, asking the wrong questions, or wanting to talk to him for the wrong reasons. His world—their world, really—has the ability to seem effortlessly glamorous, but it's hard work, great money, and can cause a severe lack of sanity. He doesn't do it for the money, anyway. He has no reason to keep it; it just makes him feel guilty. He's taken care of, and his family is good to go without whatever he makes, and so he gives a lot of it away. It eases the guilt, but then he feels guilty for turning giving into such a selfish act, and then he does more and takes in more cats or something.
Andrew's thumb is brushing over the back of his hand from where he's situated across the table. It feels like a dull, burning heat. The sensation travels up his arm, spreading in his chest, and settles in his stomach. He wants to pull his hand away because he feels uncomfortable over feeling so comfortable. He doesn't know how to handle anything, and it's mortifying.
He doesn't move his hand.
Andrew's eyes are asking him what's on his mind. He can read him so well sometimes.
"I hate that helping out organizations I believe in makes me feel good, but then I feel selfish and guilty, and it's like I can't ever win. I feel like my selfless acts are selfish, and that keeps me up at night," he says. "Maybe we're just crazy."
Andrew finally smiles at him, blinding and bright. Jesse grins back, laughing at the absurdity of it all. This is their lives.
Andrew's hand leaves his as he takes a drink, first of his water and then of his Long Island, and Jesse tries not to stare at the way his adam's apple bobs when he swallows.
"Sometimes," Andrew starts, giving a little pause before continuing. He's looking Jesse straight in the eyes, powerful and honest, when he finishes, "I just get fed up of doing things for everybody else instead of making myself happy."
"You should always be happy," Jesse tells him honestly. The idea of Andrew not being happy stirs something up inside of him, dark and ugly. "You're too. Fuck. You're so fucking amazing, you know? You should be deliriously happy all the time. Well, as often as possible, because continuous, perpetual happiness is likely impossible."
Andrew's just sort of looking at him, head cocked to the side a little bit, as though he's letting what Jesse just voiced sink in.
"It's sort of a publicity thing," he finally says to Jesse. Only now, he's averting his gaze.
"This whole. This thing," he says, but it's too vague to get until.
"You mean. You and Emma?" The dark, ugly feeling is sinking in now, settling into the pit of his stomach. He doesn't want to be slightly inebriated anymore. Andrew is already nodding at him in confirmation, though.
"Oh," Jesse says simply. Andrew still isn't looking at him.
It's not like it's something new; it's a downside to the business, the politics of it all, and the way some studios feel like they own your soul during promotion and press conferences and months in between production and release. He just didn't think Andrew would ever.
He didn't ever fathom Andrew doing something like that.
It feels cheap.
"There's this site I found — I should never internet search myself again, because it's bloody terrifying, let me tell you. Oh, well. Anyway, there's this site, and it was talking about how we have no chemistry in these, these fucking paparazzi pictures. And people are asking, why would we want to see this fucking movie if there's no chemistry between these idiots? It's acting, fuck, it's not. Something so simple could ruin this whole fucking thing, it's like we have to keep this ship afloat. She's fun to be around and it doesn't ever feel forced, but."
Jesse just feels bad for him, above everything else. Bigger productions are different than most films Jesse has worked on. He's never done something on Andrew's freakishly large Spiderman level, he probably never will. Because even though The Social Network had a forty-million dollar budget, it pales in comparison to the budget of this.
There's so much riding on Andrew's shoulders. Jesse hates the way he looks defeated.
"You know this isn't something I'm going to judge you for, right?" he finally says, quieter and more honest than he intended. He doesn't know how to comfort people, not really, but he's going to fucking try.
"I know." Andrew finally looks at him. His eyes are sad, still glassy and drunk.
"Hey," Jesse says. It takes a lot of guts for him to do it, but he reaches across the table and places his hand on top of Andrew's. It feels like it matters.
"Hey," Andrew returns.
"It's okay, you know. You're not making out on street corners or anything. You're a touchy-feely sort of person anyway; it isn't like you're putting on some ridiculous show or something."
"It feels — I don't know. I want the real private things to stay private."
It falls quiet between them then, but it's comfortable and easy. Andrew's drinking water and getting up to piss every few minutes, and Jesse is trying to allow his brain to catch up. It feels like an information overload, though he feels bad for not seeing it sooner. He prides himself on reading Andrew so well, and now he feels really shitty over not— noticing or something.
When Andrew comes back from the bathroom the third time, Jesse acknowledges the silent cue to go.
They're still not sober, and the world feels tilted. Or maybe Andrew's just heavy leaning against Jesse.
It isn't hard to get a cab.
It takes less than ten minutes to get to Andrew's apartment, but he can't find his keys. Jesse gets out with him, helps him, and asks the cab driver to wait a moment.
"I'm doomed," Andrew is saying, but he's grinning. "Can you feel in my pockets, please?" he asks Jesse, and Jesse kind of freezes up right there on the sidewalk. "I'll feel in yours, if you feel in mine," and Andrew's eyebrows are moving in weird directions, and his eyes are the size of the moon.
Jesse knows he won't let it go, so he reaches down into Andrew's right pocket. It's so hot right next to his skin, and Jesse's cheeks burn, but hopefully it just looks like the flush from alcohol.
The pocket is empty.
As he reaches into Andrew's left pocket, Andrew's hand is suddenly shoved into Jesse's right pocket, and they're a disastrous mess of tangled arms. The cab driver is laughing, and Jesse scowls, because it isn't funny. He's kind of being felt up in the least sexy way ever, and Andrew is finding it hilarious.
He finds Andrew's key.
"Hands out, pervert," Jesse orders, and Andrew obliges. He just leans on Jesse, pressed to his side, and allows himself to be dragged away from the street and up past the gate and to his front door. It's right off the street, and it's like a real home. Jesse hasn't been inside.
Andrew's fumbling with the key, so Jesse reaches down. "Here, hey, just. Let me," but Andrew doesn't let him, so Jesse places his hand over Andrew's to guide it where it needs to be. He helps him turn the key and open the door.
Holy hell. Literally.
"Jesus Christ, why the fuck is it so hot in here?" Jesse asks, blasted with tropical kinds of heat. It's disgusting.
"Oh my god, no. Somebody set the apartment on fire!" Andrew seems drunker than he did before the water.
Jesse suspects the water was vodka.
"It isn't on fire. Let me just—" Jesse kind of plops Andrew down onto his couch and looks around for the thermostat. The apartment is pretty nice, kind of bare, but he doesn't know how long Andrew is planning on staying here, so it makes sense.
He finally locates it, and Andrew is telling him he can make himself something to drink, if he wants, but it's "really, really hot, Jesse," and starts unbuttoning his shirt. The thermostat won't let him lower the temperature.
It's nearly one-hundred degrees.
"Your thermostat is broken."
"Oh," Andrew says. He doesn't care, except when he says, "It's so hot, I am sweating vodka."
Jesse tries not to laugh.
"You can't stay here like this, hang on." Jesse hurries to grab a bottle of water from Andrew's refrigerator and helps Andrew up off the couch.
"Are you trying to woo me with water, Jesse Eisenberg?" Andrew asks, and Jesse swats at him and pushes him away while simultaneously tugging him close. It's a tough task, but he manages. Somehow, he doesn't fumble when he tries to make sure Andrew's shirt isn't, like, all the way open. He managed to get two lousy buttons undone.
He eyes the bit of smooth skin exposed below his throat. It looks inviting, almost a little bit slick with sweat and—
"We'll have to call somebody in the morning, okay? First thing."
"Good. I'm free all day tomorrow. We can come to my apartment and pretend it's a sauna."
They both snort with laughter.
Jesse pats him on the back and leads him to the cab. He knows the single window he cracked open won't help much, but he doesn't want Andrew's apartment to stay that hot. It can't be good for any of his stuff.
So Andrew's going to stay with him for the night.
He's not freaking out.
* * *
Jesse is totally freaking out.
Andrew is on the floor, hoarding both cats in his lap. Jesse is watching him with amusement, trying not to let himself lose his fucking mind.
Andrew's technically single, he thinks, and still a little bit drunk, and his apartment is fucking broken.
"Your cats are so, so, so in love," he tells Jesse, and Jesse just nods.
And Andrew’s sleeping over, which either makes him a middle school girl or just plain ridiculous for being excited.
Andrew's had four bottles of water, four ibuprofen, and has probably been into the bathroom seven times since they got back to Jesse's apartment. It's two o'clock in the morning.
"I feel so much better," Andrew declares. He's significantly more sober, and Jesse's eyes feel gritty in the way they do if he drinks late at night. Andrew's in a pair of Jesse's sweatpants.
They're entirely too short on him, but he pulls it off. He's got on a t-shirt of Jesse's that says I'm plotting against you in my novel, and Jesse thinks he's perfect in his clothes. A bit too small and beautiful and.
He's totally freaking out.
He doesn't trust himself to not do something stupid, like flirt without shame or tell Andrew his mouth looks so, so inviting.
Andrew's sliding into his space. Jesse's on one side of the couch, legs out in front of him across the cushions, and Andrew's maneuvering in at the other end. It's a huge couch, overstuffed and easy to sleep on. Andrew's legs fit perfectly between his. He's flexing his toes, pressing them against Jesse's calves and then his knees. He's humming quietly, something under his breath.
"What song is that?" Jesse asks curiously.
"Sasecret," Andrew mumbles, eyes closed. He hides his toes underneath Jesse's jean-clad legs. He had been too lazy to change, wanting to wait until Andrew was settled.
"You're sleepy, go to bed."
"You go to bed," Andrew shoots back at him, but his voice tells Jesse he's already almost there.
Jesse rolls his eyes and tries not to think of Andrew's hands in his pockets.
He carefully reaches into one, trying not to disturb the slumbering boy tangled up in him, and pulls out something.
A single dollar, but there's writing all over the edges.
His heart kind of swells, and he isn't freaking out as much anymore, now.
If Andrew was awake, Jesse would tell him anything he wanted to know.
* * *
Part III: I Will Say Your Name Before I Sink