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. Liz, you are amazing for making whatever I write make sense. R, you want to peddle Nyquil with me illegally so you're obviously wonderful. Everybody that's left comments or talked about this on tumblr, I love you.
Disclaimer: If you found this by Googling yourself, stop it. And go away. Trust me. Real people, fake things.
Part III: I Will Say Your Name Before I Sink.
There's a time between sleep and awake that Jesse loves. It used to freak him out when he was a kid, resting in a state of semi-awareness. His limbs aren't coordinated yet, but his brain works enough to process whatever information he's taking in.
There's a cat on him, his neck kind of hurts, and he's still on the couch. Andrew's legs aren't touching his, and Jesse doesn't like that. There's a blanket on him, a fleece one with tied edges that his mom made him that he doesn't recall grabbing out of his spare room. Andrew isn't touching him. There's no contact. Jesse doesn't like it.
But he hears Andrew's voice carrying in from the other room, which gives him enough motivation to open his eyes. Judging from the view he gets out of his window, it's already the afternoon. He hasn't slept this late in — fuck, in ages. Despite his slightly sore neck, he feels good. Well-rested.
He feels capable.
His hands absentmindedly reach to rub behind Alexander's ears. The cat just purrs low, happy to have Jesse's attention. He's trying to hear what Andrew's saying. His tone doesn't sound happy; Jesse hates that. There's an obvious amount of curiosity pumping through him right now, wanting to know who Andrew's talking to. He doesn't want to seem like he's eavesdropping or anything, but he really needs to piss, and his only bathroom is between his bedroom and the guest room.
Alexander flicks his tail at him in disgust when he sets him on Andrew's end of the couch—or what was his, at least—and gets up to fold the blanket and head to the bathroom.
Jesse pauses for a moment to look at the dry erase board on his wall. It had been blank yesterday, but now there's Andrew's handwriting there, plain as day. Jesse's heart swells when he reads it, and he grabs his phone off the coffee table to take a quick picture.
He wonders if the lyric Andrew chose reminds him of the same moment it makes Jesse think of.
Andrew's not in the guest room, but in Jesse's room. The door is ajar, and he can see Andrew's left hand running through his absurd, post-shower hair. Jesse wonders how long Andrew has been awake.
"Are you kidding me?" Andrew is huffing, but his tone is far from the playful one he uses with Jesse regularly.
Jesse is as quiet as he can be when he puts the blanket on the bed in the guest room and practically tiptoes into the bathroom. He's not listening, he's not listening, he's not listening. His stomach clenches because Andrew isn't happy.
So maybe he listens while he's in the bathroom. A little bit. He's got the door open a minute later while he brushes his teeth. They feel gross and fuzzy, that post-alcohol feeling lingering in his mouth. He's spitting when Andrew appears in the doorway. He's got his hip cocked out to the side, leaning against the door frame. Jesse's got his glasses on and his hair is fucked up. He looks twelve years old. Andrew is freshly showered and dressed in what he had on the previous night. There's a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth while he watches Jesse finish brushing his teeth.
He's trying to not look like an imbecile.
"So," Andrew starts, once Jesse is almost finish rinsing, "how much did you hear, exactly?"
Jesse kind of blushes, which gives him away. He was totally listening. His apartment is small; it was an accident.
He wipes his mouth on the bathroom towel.
"Uh, you sounded pissed." At least he's truthful.
"Curiosity killed the cat. Or in my case, shady plumbing killed my apartment." Andrew says "apartment" naturally, and Jesse inwardly cringes over it because, well, he likes Andrew's Britishisms. Andrew's been spending too much time on this side of the pond (even if Jesse never wants to let him out of the goddamn city, let alone allow him to flee back to England).
Jesse's eyes widen when he turns around to face Andrew. "Wait, what?" He sounds so intelligent. "I thought it was just your thermostat— How?"
Andrew moves back from the doorway so they can both walk back into the living room. Jesse looks like death and Andrew looks perfect. This pretty much sums up their existence.
"The guy, the landlord's fix-it guy, or whatever, went over this morning to see what was going on. It wasn't even the thermostat. Well, it kind of was, but. Something leaked, behind the wall? I guess it started a while ago, before I even moved into the bloody place, and there's, like. Mold. Behind my walls."
Jesse assumes he's making a disgusted face because Andrew looks embarrassed for a moment, as if the situation was his fault and he's gross. Andrew messes with the folded up piece of paper he has in his hands for a second, but Jesse just rolls his eyes to tell him it's fine and to continue.
"The guy said I was lucky that happened last night, otherwise I'd be potentially sick over the next few months from breathing in mold spores, like I wouldn't have noticed it otherwise, or something so like. They don't want to get sued or pay my medical bills, so I'm out of a place to stay while they do the whole— whatever it is they do, over the next three weeks. I've got to go get my stuff and get a hotel room."
If this is fate throwing them a very fucked up curveball, Jesse is pretty angry he didn't get a heads up. Or a verbal filter.
"Just stay here," he says with a shrug.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm completely positive," Jesse reassures him. Andrew breathes out a shaky, "okay," like he's being deflated of high amounts of stress.
He had put up much less resistance than Jesse had expected, honestly.
"Okay," Jesse responds. Things don't feel so bad.
"What's that?" he asks, pointing to the paper that's still in Andrew's hand.
"It was on your dresser. I didn't mean to notice it, but. I went in there to charge my phone and make a call so I wouldn't wake you. It caught my eye." Andrew unfolds the paper to reveal Jesse's barely legible scrawls in green ink. It was the list for the mix Jesse made him. Jesse tries not to be embarrassed. "And I feel like it's rightfully mine, so."
"Oh, do you now?" Jesse asks, but his tone is teasing and light. There's something that flitters through him, quick and light. A spark, or a notion of a spark maybe. He's terrible at flirting, but he thinks this might qualify as such. It feels like it, and Andrew's looking at him like he adores him.
"I'm a homeless actor; give me something to keep me going. Something written by the famous Jesse Eisenberg." Andrew's all dramatics and batting eyelashes, and so Jesse responds the only way he knows how.
"Ass," he scowls, and when he leaves the room to shower and get dressed, he elbows Andrew like any mature human being would do. Andrew grabs his hand, though, and brings it up to his mouth. He chomps down on the side of it, just enough to make Jesse pull back like a reflex, but not enough to leave marks.
"You are an insane person. You bit me! What a monster." He's trying not to smile as bright as the sun.
"Hurry up before there's mold all over my precious scarves," Andrew tells him.
Jesse just flips him off as he enters the bathroom.
* * *
* * *
* * *
Jesse knows a lot about Andrew. Looking back in retrospect, he knows they bonded abnormally fast. Andrew seemed intimidating at first, all serious business and working to impress Sorkin and Fincher, but then he had sort of just. There was one moment during their very first table read when he locked eyes with Jesse and Andrew gave him this blinding, spell-binding, all-encompassing smile that made Jesse's entire existence shift. Something inside of him felt like it was churning, set into motion for the first time, and it all felt so significant.
He had grown into Andrew, so to speak. At first he felt like it was all too big and too encompassing, like a sweater you get for Hanukkah that doesn't quite fit right. The first couple of weeks made him unsure of anything else he had ever experienced; it freaked him out because things with Andrew were so easy. Too easy. Jesse adjusted, though. He molded into the spot next to Andrew. Nothing felt overwhelmingly large anymore. He just benefitted from it all; Andrew made him feel safe and not so guarded. Jesse told him lots of things; Andrew told him more.
Jesse knows that Andrew doesn't ever put sugar in his tea, and that he drinks his coffee black. He knows about the time Andrew tried to run away from home when he was six (it was a terrible incident, really. Andrew's mom refused to let him eat ice cream with spray cheese for breakfast, and Andrew packed his shit – a t-shirt and the spray cheese in question – and hit the road. He returned five minutes later when it started raining), and about the time he was ten and tried to convince everybody his dad worked with the Backstreet Boys so a girl he liked would sit next to him in class. Jesse knows all about how Andrew's first kiss wasn't with a girl, but with a boy (Jeremy, who Jesse would probably scowl at without remorse if given the opportunity), and he knows Andrew occasionally keeps in touch with him.
(Occasionally Jesse asks Andrew, "How's Jeremy?" out of absurd jealousy, because he would probably burn everybody that has touched Andrew with a laser, if he could get away with it and not feel guilty. Andrew always laughs, says "He's fine," and Jesse makes a joke about hoping Andrew doesn't decide to ignite the old flame. "We were, like, ten," Andrew tells him with a laugh, but Jesse sulks and tells him, "At least you knew at an early age, I guess." Andrew usually just tells Jesse that he adores him, like his weird paranoia and jealousy is endearing instead of creepy.)
He knows a million little things but they don't seem to add up to anything.
What Jesse didn't know, however, is just how many clothes Andrew has. It is entirely too much. Like, if H&M exploded, Vampire Weekend had a yard sale, and old ladies made ten scarves a day, it wouldn't add up to the massive amounts of shit Andrew has all over his bedroom and shoved into his closet. Jesse has a favorite outfit; he’s wearing it.
Jeans, check. Burgundy t-shirt, check. Plaid over shirt, check. Indiana baseball cap, check.
Andrew actually likes clothes. He has a lot of them. Jesse assumes it's because he realizes he looks good in like, well. Everything, basically. Why not make girls everywhere have their hearts all aflutter, if you're capable? Andrew is so very capable.
"You need to donate so much of this bullshit, Andrew. This is disgusting," he says. Andrew throws another jacket and three scarves into his second huge duffle bag and just laughs at him like he's amused over Jesse's faux disgust.
"Says the boy who wears the same clothes five days a week?" Andrew retorts, giving a little huff of disbelief.
"I am not wasting fabric. When was the last time you wore this?" Jesse asks him, and holds up the most hideously ugly scarf he's ever seen in his life. It looks like martians threw up on it.
"Last week," comes the reply, and there's more packing. And more packing. Jesse sort of blances at the thought of Andrew actually wearing that terrible scarf. He would be able to pull it off. Awful.
Andrew's second duffle bag is so full Jesse thinks it might not even zip up. It's gigantic. It might weigh as much as Jesse does, at this point.
"I'm breathing in mold spores here, pal. So if you could, you know, actually hustle. That— that might be pretty awesome." His voice is flat, trying to hide his amusement.
"You gave up and sat on the floor. This is free entertainment and you know it. Besides, you're breathing in mold spores for me. How romantic." Andrew takes two scarves out of his bag – thankfully the one that looks like aliens threw up on it included – and shoves them back into his closet.
Jesse just rolls his eyes. It's not like he needs to encourage Andrew or anything. The more he pushes in one direction, the more Andrew pulls in the other. It's one of the first things they teach you in science as a kid: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
He's trying to find level ground. Jesse just wants to meet in the middle.
"I've got my toothbrush, right?" Andrew asks him.
"You do, yes."
"I think... I think I'm good. I've got work stuff all sorted out in that bag. And I've got my toothbrush, and..." Jesse sort of zones out when he goes through his check list out loud.
He's totally not staring at Andrew's frame. That would be ridiculous.
Obviously Andrew's filled out. He's all lean muscle and fit and not as skinny as he used to be. Jesse isn't sure how he feels about the change yet. He's in fucking Spiderman shape, for crying out loud. The world isn't fair. He's going to have to live with this, this thing, and look but not touch.
Okay, he appreciates it.
A lot. Maybe.
He wonders if Andrew's hipbones would still be prominent. There's a split second where he imagines himself digging his fingers in there, pressing against the bone, just to see if Andrew's eyes go wild, pupils blown and breathless.
"Uh. Hello?" Andrew's saying, offering Jesse a hand up off the bedroom floor where he had been situated.
"I was, uh— thinking, obviously." He's pretty sure he sounds vapid.
Andrew's eyes meet his, and he has to look away before he takes his hand for help up. He offers to carry a bag out, but Andrew refuses.
So Andrew's moving in with him for a few weeks.
No big deal.
Jesse is still not thinking about Andrew's hipbones.
* * *
They make it home and eat. Andrew calls it home, actually. Just shatters Jesse's existence when he walks in and says, "Ah, home sweet home," like an idiot who is clueless about what things like that do to Jesse's heart, Jesus Christ. It's obviously flippant and means nothing, Jesse isn't stupid because Andrew is going to be out of there in just a few weeks, and then the space will just be his, but it still makes Jesse smile like a douchebag frat boy who just picked up the hottest girl in a ten mile radius at the bar.
Andrew brought more books than Jesse realized. He doesn't put them in his room, though. After eating, he'd pushed himself off the couch and went for his books first, tucking them into spaces on his bookshelf in the living room. Jesse realizes there's no way Andrew is going to read all of these in the next few weeks, but he doesn't say anything because it ignites a tiny feeling of hope down in his guts. Like maybe there's a chance Andrew wants to spend more time there afterwards, in between being home and all over the world for press and premiers and in-between projects. Maybe he plans on leaving something there to make Jesse's place feel more like home.
Or maybe he's just delusional.
He just likes that Andrew's things are now mixed in with his on his bookshelf, tucked in between Into the Wild and The God Delusion on the top shelf. His things fit.
It's not until he's listening to Andrew humming something from the other room that he checks his phone, feeling content. They have no plans for the day, nothing feels rushed. It's nice. There's a message from Anna.
Pleeease don't forget to water my plants, Jesse, it says
I promise not to let them die. How much attention do plants need, anyway?
Enough. There's plant food under the kitchen sink, I left instructions
For plants? He's totally scoffing. This is ridiculous.
How to rotate them, how much food they need. Meeting time, thanks again!
People are so weird.
Fine, but I guess I should inform you that Andrew's staying here the next few weeks. Apartment disaster, etc. etc. You're welcome.
He immediately gets a !!!!!!!!!!! back, but ignores it. Serves her right for being so picky about her plants.
He says essentially the same thing to Ellen, but when he doesn't get a reply, he figures she's busy and pockets his phone again. He's anticipating her freak out.
"So," he says, heading towards the guest room. Andrew is still humming, kind of singing under his breath: "Now and then, I think of when we were together, like when you said you felt so happy you could die..." Jesse doesn't melt much, or anything— only acknowledging him with a nod and a shimmy of his hips. Please, Jesse thinks, like he needs any of this terrible torture. "So, Anna's in Boston for work, and I'm stuck watering her plants and making sure they don't die or revolt or something while she's away. Wanna come? Hey, are those my extra hangers?"
Andrew nods, hangs up his last shirt, and looks right at home there in Jesse's space. He fits in so easily. He's taken up a corner of Jesse's apartment and a big chunk of his heart.
Andrew nods, says, "Sure, let me grab my phone," and Jesse realizes he's probably in love with him. In love. With Andrew. He is. Oh, god—
He feels sick to his stomach.
"Are you okay?" Andrew asks, concern all over his face. He presses the back of his hand against Jesse's forehead. "You don't feel warm but — you just went pale, like you've seen a ghost."
"Yeah, I'm. I'm fine." He doesn't sound confident in his reply, but Andrew's hands are both on his shoulders now, rubbing them soothingly like he isn't sure if Jesse is being completely honest with him. He just sort of nods but doesn't move. This is nice, and his eyes want to close and lean into it. He's doing it anyway, leaning in the slightest bit, letting himself mold to Andrew like he always does.
Andrew's bending down the slightest bit, just enough to make Jesse's heart race in a quick thought of oh fuck oh shit oh fuck oh shit oh fuck oh — and then Andrew's mouth is connecting with Jesse's forehead. Jesse tenses, freezes right there, because Andrew's mouth is lingering.
He hates it when Andrew pulls away, grins at him, and pats his back as he passes back into the living room like he's ready to go. Jesse needs to count down from ten to calm the fuck down, he's totally freaking out here, okay, doesn't Andrew know what he does to him?
But he rationalizes it. Andrew was making sure he really wasn't running a fever, and just being so Andrew-like. Calming, nurturing, making sure Jesse felt okay before they left. He's pretty positive his face is red, red, red. His heart is racing, racing, racing, and he's thinking Andrew, Andrew, Andrew. He loves him.
It wasn't significant, it wasn't. It was– Andrew's just like that, all touchy and feely and clueless about personal space.
When Jesse grabs the keys for his place and for Anna's, Andrew opens the door for both of them and puts his hand on Jesse's lower back when they walk out. It only moves for a moment to run his fingers through Jesse's hair, tugging on a curl there absentmindedly while they close the door behind them. A shiver runs through his body, though he's suddenly burning up.
Jesse is doomed (and other dramatic declarations).
* * *
Anna's place is nice. Jesse hates it. She's left a shit ton of notes about her plants (if she sings to them, Jesse is going to mock her until they're both dead because he can't believe she cares this much about house plants, shit), and Jesse wonders if maybe she does have a few screws loose. She did date him for entirely too long, the better part of a decade, which probably qualifies her as crazy.
The place is decorated to reflect who Anna is. Jesse can't help but feel okay here, like he's in a place where he kind of, sort of, belongs. Everything is all warm colors and inviting.
"This place is the complete opposite of yours. It's so – feminine and light," Andrew says.
"You think? Perhaps a sign that we weren't meant to live together forever," Jesse replies dryly. He's well aware that his dark colors and old, sturdy pieces of furniture are nothing like the things surrounding them now. But, still. He allows himself to relax, knowing it's a place he's welcome even when she isn't here.
"Listen to this, I can't even deal. I need to rotate the plants daily, but only the ones closest to the window. The ones in her bedroom are apparently her favorites, seriously, it says this on the note, and they get plant food two days a week." He's laughing, and he doesn't even care. Andrew is chuckling a little, too, and they share a moment over the mutual thought of women are such different creatures, and I will never understand the way they work.
"I'm going to see these favorite plants of hers," Andrew announces, and Jesse decides to water the plants in the living room and rotate them. This is seriously his life. If plants had thoughts, they would totally be mocking him right now, and he knows it.
Andrew kind of smiles at him before disappearing into Anna's bedroom, and Jesse's heart feels like it might burst. It's weird that he's in here, in her apartment. He seems okay, and obviously it isn't something he cares about. It would be stupid for Jesse to think that he actually might be bothered by something like this, because that would require feelings of something more than friendship on Andrew's part. Of course he doesn't care about things like this.
"Are they decorated with ribbons and shit?" he calls out to Andrew a second later as he's finishing up.
"What?" Andrew replies, but it's taken a second, and he sounds a little bit off or something. Jesse frowns and heads that way.
"The plants— are they. Are they all decorated and special or something?"
But Andrew's setting something down on the dresser near the closet. He looks like he's been caught red handed. Andrew doesn't blush a lot, he's too confident for that, but there's definitely a hint of red creeping up his neck.
Jesse's gaze catches a framed picture of him and Anna behind Andrew. Obviously what he had been holding a moment ago for however long. It had been from Rio, and they were grinning even though they had realized they were probably going to officially break up once they were back home. It was still fine and there was no animosity, and Jesse's grinning, too. His arm is around her waist and she's laughing, probably over something he had just said. It's a nice picture. It's only one of about fifteen that are on the walls and on the dresser, though. Jesse's only in that one, and the rest consist of her family and other people, some are even guys Jesse doesn't know. He feels no sense of jealousy.
He's been reduced to one picture among many, but it's a picture that matters. He feels like that suits them and the way they still fit into each other's lives.
But Andrew is definitely blushing now. "They're just. There's only two, I don't think she has a plant fetish or anything, Jesse." He's bringing a hand to the back of his neck and sort of rubbing it sheepishly. The way he says Jesse's name feels cold; the last syllable makes it feel too formal or. Something. He can't put his finger on it.
Jesse doesn't know how to say anything. He freezes up. Words aren't forming. He sort of gapes for a moment, trying to process whatever just fucking happened. It feels heavy between them, and he doesn't understand what piece of the puzzle he seems to be missing. It's like he should reassure Andrew he's just friends with Anna now, really. One picture is there, but it symbolizes the beginning of their relationship as friends who no longer double as lovers.
It represents a new chapter.
"Let me just." And he heads over to the plants.
Andrew escapes out of the bedroom before Jesse can blink.
The trip back to Jesse's apartment feels weird at first. Something is lingering there between them, like a space he cannot fill. There's a frown tugging at his mouth. Andrew seems lost in his thoughts.
Jesse doesn't know what to say, because he's really awful at this part. He doesn't know how to comfort Andrew, or reassure him, or whatever it is that he needs. He looks down at his phone instead, in the back seat of the cab. Their knees aren't even touching.
Please tell me you're joking and he's just decided to stay with you, Ellen had said almost an hour ago.
Actual problems. He's got enough stuff for ten people at my place. It looks like there is a hoarder in my guest room. He just got really weird at Anna's when we went over to water her plants. He was looking at a picture of me with her, and now he's barely talking?
He loves you. You are so dense.
Anna's texted him three times.
Get your shit together, he looks at you like you're the second coming. As your ex-girlfriend and also the one who knows you better than almost anybody, I demand right this second that you just tell him you're in the love. The Love.
If you are mocking me for my plants, then shut up. I got them when I first moved out, it gave me something to do. You jackass.
Love you, Jesse. I'm rooting for you.
She's the best.
He puts his phone away and makes a small move that feels like a big one. He moves his legs just a little bit so their knees knock together. Andrew turns to look at him and Jesse smiles first, genuine and soft. He wants to say that it's okay, whatever Andrew's thinking about, but he's right here and the only person who has any claim over any part of him (his head, his heart), is right next to him.
"Hey," he offers.
"Hey," Andrew accepts.
Andrew puts his arm around Jesse's shoulders for the last two blocks, and Jesse leans into it without a second thought.
* * *
It isn't until after dinner when they're finally settled in. Jesse doesn't have a television (people always assume he's lying about that, even when he swears up and down that he's being honest), but Andrew doesn't seem to mind. They had one at the apartment they shared during filming, because Andrew was going through a weird phase where he watched Survivor and The Amazing Race like a maniac ("Jesse, Jesse. Jesse. Listen, we need to go on The Amazing Race, okay? Can you imagine? We could. Jesse. Don't look at me like that.").
Andrew's on his end of the couch, and Jesse is on his. He has other furniture, a chair and everything, but it's like they don't exist. Their legs are tangled together again, and Andrew is seemingly moving more and more into Andrew's space as time passes. He was reading, and Jesse was pretending to, but Andrew's humming, and all Jesse can think of is I routed a labyrinth to your lap.
There's a comfortable silence between them until Andrew huffs when Jesse untangles his legs from Andrew's stupidly long ones for a second.
"Come back," Andrew tells him. Jesse hasn't even moved off the couch, he was just shifting.
"I know it's terrible when I'm all the way over here on this side of the couch and all, but."
Andrew kicks him. Kind of hard.
"This is abuse! Superheroes don't hurt innocent citizens," he groans before kicking back. It's a pitiful gesture. Andrew laughs at him and gives him the middle finger.
"Disney would be appalled to know that one of their staple cartoon characters is making lewd gestures, you ass."
Andrew's eyes widen.
"You heard me. The whole world knows you're Bambi. I learned it on the Internet. Do you know what tumblr is?" Jesse asks, and Andrew's suddenly choking on his own laughter.
"You're on tumblr?" he inquires. Jesse doesn't know why it's so funny.
"No, I just. One time I –"
Andrew is loving this.
"One time when you searched for me online," he offers.
"Listen, no. My sister sent me a link; it was just on there, that’s all, and if you would stop looking at me like you just won the lottery, that would be great because I don't even know how tumblr or whatever works so—" It all comes out in one breath, and he is embarrassed because surely he's said way too much. His sister sending Jesse something in relation to Andrew is probably too much. He wants to hide in the couch.
"You don't ever look at things on tumblr?" Andrew asks him again, a pressing inquiry. It seems important to him, but Jesse is lost.
"Uh, no. I don't know how to use it, so."
"You should one day. Search my name or yours, go through a few pages," Andrew offers.
"Are there death threats?" he asks.
Andrew snorts. "Nobody wants to kill you. How could they want to harm your face? It's quite magnificent." He nudges Jesse's calf with his toes. They're both in sweats and t-shirts, barefoot and probably look homeless.
For the first time in a long time, Jesse feels really happy. Moments are usually fleeting and make no impact on him. Happiness comes and goes, but more often than not, he's just at a lower level than most people. He's not depressed, but he's just – he's just getting by and not always living.
Cramped together on a too-small couch, doing nothing but throwing bullshit back and forth, he feels more alive than he could imagine.
"You and my face," he says. He's shaking his head, but he's smiling. His face hurts, so he wonders how long he's actually been grinning like a moron.
"What about me and your face?" Andrew asks him, and his smile matches Jesse's.
"You're always going on about it, you're ridiculous."
"Well. That jawline," Andrew supplies, earnest and meaning it. Jesse gives him the finger this time.
"Shut up. I hate you and your compliments. I'm going to scalp you."
"I'll leave my flattery towards you on the counter. You can pick it up whenever you so wish."
"And I'll throw it all directly into the garbage disposal." Jesse tries to make himself sound as assertive and serious as possible, but he's pretty sure he's still smiling and his mission has not been accomplished.
"Your mother would be so mad if she knew how difficult you make things," Andrew tells him, pointing a finger in his direction. His book is closed now, and he tosses it onto the coffee table. Jesse follows and sits up a little bit straighter.
"Stop talking about my mother; you're fixated on her. Are you in love with her?"
"I'd like to thank her for having you, actually. I think I do love her a little bit. I stole her number out of your phone once."
Jesse's eyes practically pop out of his head. "What the— How are you so sneaky? If you call her, I will end your life. What else do you do? Rob neighborhood grocery stores, steal things from the mall? Sell children crack cocaine?" He's smiling again, even if he wants to say why would you do such a thing, are you insane?
"You are the most outrageous person I've ever met, and I think you're fantastic."
"You stole my mom's phone number out of my phone. I think you deserve a hug yourself jacket and a padded room," he says. Andrew's back scooting into his space, just enough to ruffle Jesse's hair.
"Calm down now, tiger. I haven't called her and tried to flirt or anything, your father would likely hunt me down. I'm too young to die." Andrew's doing this thing where he makes everything inside of Jesse go haywire, but he doesn't seem to care.
"Why did you want her phone number?" he asks, even though he isn't sure if he wants a real answer or if he'll even get one.
"In case reinforcements were ever needed," Andrew tells him, as if that makes all the sense in the world. "So I've just been sitting on it for a couple of years. It's a good thing to hang on to."
Jesse is so confused. He's pretty sure it shows on his face, but their conversation has been pretty bizarre and he can't help it.
Andrew yawns when Hephaestion jumps up onto his lap, all purrs and nuzzles and comfortable. Jesse is envious.
Of all the intersecting lines in the sand I routed a labyrinth to your lap, he thinks again.
"You and the cat should go to bed. You have rehearsals all day tomorrow. I won't be to blame for you being awful. I talked to Anna until one o'clock in the morning a few months ago, and she went to work without any of her notes for a presentation. She almost killed me." The second Jesse says it, he knows he shouldn't have, because Andrew's face kind of tightens up.
"I didn't mean— You'd never be awful; I was just kidding. I just want you all there, present and rested and stuff."
Andrew's face has already softened, big eyes looking at him sweetly. He wasn't mad, just unsure of himself, and Jesse hates that. If anybody can play an emotionally taxing part, it's Andrew.
He's pretty sure Andrew only takes parts that have the ability to make people sob like toddlers.
But Andrew nods as though he knows exactly what Jesse meant. He knows it wasn't personal, just a playful jab that shouldn't be taken to heart. He still holds Hephaestion in his arms and stands up, obviously taking Jesse's orders to sleep quite seriously. Jesse wants to tell him to stay, or come to bed with him, but he doesn't. Instead, he is silenced by insecuritiy.
Jesse really wishes he wouldn't go. He still feels like he's missing something vital.
"I'm taking this handsome devil to bed," Andrew announces, "and I'm almost positive his boyfriend is going to follow." He stops next to Jesse and reaches out like he's going to tug on a curl or pat his back, but stops himself.
Jesse feels like he's been kneed in the chest. He was anticipating contact, looking forward to it, and then there was suddenly just the absence of touch.
"Hey," he says. Andrew looks down at him like he's expecting him to continue, but Jesse just chickens out. It's nothing new.
"Sleep well," he offers up, lame and typical.
"You, too." Andrew doesn't sound too fond, but.
Something heavy is there again.
Jesse gets up and notices there's something new on the dry erase board. He has no idea how it got there, but he eyes it anyway. It erases some of the ache in his chest.
He takes a picture.
He doesn't ever want to forget these.
Even if he's managing to fuck up the best moments, he wants to remember that Andrew cares. He cares enough to be sneaky and write things on the board, things to make Jesse smile and go on Internet scavenger hunts to find and figure out. It's as though he's meant to decode something.
He pisses first, and then plugs his phone in next to his bed to charge. It lights up, makes the 'ladder' tone that only belongs to Andrew, and Jesse feels jumpy.
that jawline goddamn
Shut up, you're a jerk.
and dat ass
Are you delirious?
your eyes looked sad when i went to bed and i don't like that
I'm not sad, I'm okay.
your cats even know you're sad and they don't like sleeping with me maybe you should come in here
Maybe I should just leave my door cracked so they can escape your evil wrath and come in here if they want.
that jawline goddamn
Again with this?
THAT JAWLINE GODDAMN
Jesse is laughing loudly now, and so is Andrew. The world seems a little bit brighter now, filling in a margin of the hollow space residing in between his ribs.
"You're fucking nuts," he calls out, his smile evident in his voice. He doesn't care how obvious he is right now, protected in the darkness of his bedroom and with a wall between them.
"Your jawline is fucking nuts!" Andrew yells back.
Jesse doesn't know what's going on at all anymore. He's clueless and taking it in strides.
Dem eyes. It pains me to type this way.
what about my eyes buttercup
Don't call me buttercup. They're not awful.
Jesse falls asleep with his phone in his hand and without a clue, but it feels like an improvement.
* * *