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. And to R, who keeps me acceptably insane. The link in my music section is the download link for Jesse's mix to Andrew. You can also find it by clicking on the picture of his mix. :) xx
Disclaimer: If you found this by Googling yourself, stop it. And go away. Trust me. Real people, fake things.
Part I: You're on the Distant Shore.
Word Count: ~7,000
Jesse shifts around in his bed. He's restless. It's a little after midnight, and it feels like time is dragging on and moving at rapid speed at the same time. He's anxious, but he doesn't know why. It isn't a rare occurrence in his life, though he wishes it was. He doesn't really know any different.
His brain keeps ticking, quicker than a clock, jumping from one subject to another. He tries to relax, but turns again. His pillow makes him angle his head all wrong; it feels like his neck could break in the middle of the night in a position like this, and so he shifts around, yet again. He's on his back, even though he hates sleeping like he's in a coffin, but his neck doesn't feel like it could snap, and his spine doesn't hurt, so he figures it's okay.
He closes his eyes.
They pop open.
His Xanax hasn't kicked in, and he doesn't see the point in trying to sleep if it's eluded him this long. His pitch black room is suddenly lit up, pale blue light from his cell phone illuminating the ceiling above him and the wall to his right. It's a text message, and he has a feeling he knows who it is.
They have this weird brain thing, kind of like a Spidey sense, he figures (which is kind of really ironic), and the tips of his fingers tingle before he even touches his phone. He unplugs it from the charger and slides his finger across the screen to unlock it simultaneously. His phone opens the text message automatically.
you should make me a mix
Jesse wants to scoff—really, he does—but he smiles instead, just a small little gesture that can't be seen. But he feels it. He replies right away.
Wow. Somebody sure is bossy.
He bypasses the desire to mock Andrew for the millionth time about his lack of punctuation and capital letters. In fact, he knows that Andrew makes an effort not to use capitals since his phone does it automatically, which means he actually took the time to turn off a setting to give the middle finger to English teachers everywhere. The last time he had brought it up Andrew simply stated, "fuck the rules."
It seemed like a very reasonable logic.
He tries to pretend as though he isn't waiting impatiently for a text back, but it's quite futile since nobody can actually, you know, see him. It's a minor detail. His phone never actually leaves his hand. Luckily, Andrew writes back in less than a minute.
c'mon. mix up or shut up.
Andrew using punctuation means it's obviously pretty serious business. Jesse equates it to something like receiving a military draft card during Vietnam, except this task doesn't make his heart sink and family cry and leave him feeling doomed. Okay, so it's nothing like being drafted during 'Nam. Well, then. Sometimes he has a flair for the dramatic.
I'm rolling my eyes. Go to sleep.
that's a yes so thank you in advance
That's a "go to sleep, Andrew."
He doesn't get a reply, but he knows Andrew's smiling. So is he.
His brain stops ticking.
Sleep comes easier.
* * *
When he wakes up, he has a running list of tracks in his head, but nixes most of them before he's given his cats food in their bowls. Hephaestion won't even look at him, like he knows that Jesse is more preoccupied with a potential playlist than with scratching him under his chin like he prefers. Instead, Hephaestion rubs up against Alexander. His cats are kind of in love. A big, gay, feline love.
It isn't until he hears the crunchcrunchcrunch of cat food that he realizes he's got his phone in his hand.
You don't even like the music I listen to.
He sets his phone down on the counter and figures he should eat. Nothing sounds appetizing, but he grabs cut up cantaloupe and shuffles back into his bedroom, phone in hand. The text conversation is still open when Andrew replies.
who doesn't love music from before they were born
Mid-bite of cantaloupe, he quickly replies.
Ke dollar sign ha, probably Justin Bieber, and also it's likely that 99.9% of hoodlums don't appreciate anything prior to 2005 that wasn't done by R. Kelly. Kelley?
It takes a moment for Andew to reply, but when he does, it's worth the wait.
HAHAH ten billion points for you, sir but i'm positive i'll be a massive fan of whatever you bestow upon me
The inclusion of capitals in an almost-but-not-quite proper manner makes him happier than he would like to admit, but he opens his Macbook and figures he should get to work on this thing, anyway.
Except thirty minutes later, he doesn't have a single song decided on. Sometimes he's a bit of a perfectionist. He wants it to be right; he wants it to flow. Instead, he picks up his phone again. He's got four unread messages and feels antsy before he reads them.
but don't put any eric carmen on there that guy was a tool and deserved to be lonely
should i have not insulted eric carmen??
i'm sorry to both you and eric over the joke which was in poor taste
i didn't know you had such a deep connection to the man sorry mate
Jesse is laughing out loud by the time he finishes reading them, his poor excuse of a breakfast forgotten. He's smirking when he replies, sure he looks like a smug bastard. He definitely doesn't wonder if this is considered flirting.
Now it's going to be fifteen covers of "All By Myself" just to prove a point.
A reply comes a split second later, typoed and perfect and so typically Andrew.
i absholutelyyy loathe you
you'd have thunk autocorrect would have caught that for me
He doesn't know what to reply with, so he doesn't. He knows Andrew is busy with rehearsals for hours each day and Jesse has writing to work on and two scripts to look over, so it isn't like he really should be spending so much time texting. He doesn't even really like technology, if he's honest about it. He just thinks that the ability to text message is kind of nifty. It allows him to keep people at a distance, while keeping some people closer. One person closer.
He's thirty-five pages into a script when he eventually glances at his phone again, and he's got two text messages. One is from Ellen, the other from Andrew. He opens Ellen's first.
Don't blow off our lunch plans, Eisenberg. Tiny Canadians can be pretty fierce.
He needs to shower. He texts her back that he'll be there.
It isn't until his shirt is off that he reads Andrew's text message, and huffs to himself after he's turned the water on in his shower.
jesse + eric carmen = <3
* * *
The small place he's meeting Ellen for lunch is just a few blocks uptown, so he's showered and ready to go in less than thirty minutes. His hair's a mess, but it always is, and he doesn't have anybody to impress right now anyway. Or ever, really.
Jesse is pretty disillusioned with most of the world, but not jaded. Things still excite him when they're worthy, but the effort to impress strangers has long since passed him by. He doesn't try to fit in anymore because he knows he doesn't. He's essentially a square peg that will never weasel its way into the round hole of society, and he's okay with that. Some people even seem to like that about him, which is even more strange than he bothers to comprehend.
There's a bike rack out front, but the tables are crowded with people. None of them are Ellen, so he locks up his bike and heads inside, eyes scanning the room. She's kind of hard to miss, even though she is smaller than he is.
"Eisenberg," he hears, and turns to the corner to his right. She's got a table and two waters and getting looks from the girls at the table closest to theirs. She gets recognized a lot, even more than Jesse does.
"How did you even beat me here?" he asks as he sits down, placing his helmet at his feet. He does a sort of half nod, acknowledging his company, before squeezing lemon into his water. He is the absolute worst at greeting people, especially in person, and he hopes the minuscule gesture (a slight smile added to his awkward nod) he gives Ellen while he gets the last bit of juice from the lemon wedge suffices. It's standard Jesse etiquette.
"Magic," she replies with a straight face. With anybody else, Jesse would barely register a half-hearted fake smile, but his is genuine. He likes Ellen. He thinks she's smart and funny and good to be around.
Lunch is smooth and not awkward, which is kind of ironic since they're both known for being less than socially graceful. And okay yeah perhaps it cancels out, come to think about it. Maybe it does fit. He liked working with her, because actually liking the person you're standing next to for 80% of every day is definitely a relief when you're exhausted on set.
Kind of like with Andrew, except that was magnified by roughly ten billion. Realistically, Jesse knows that he isn't going to have a relationship like that with a co-star again. Oddly enough, he's quite alright with it. Andrew doted on him and made moony eyes his way whenever he was too cold or sleepy. When he would slip into Mark for hours, drained and exhausted and aching (even if the Mark in him wouldn't admit it), surfacing for air hours later with Andrew was like. Well.
It was like coming home.
He knows it's cliché and a tired analogy, but it doesn't make it any less true.
As if on cue, his cell phone that's on the table between them and their discarded, still half-filled plates alerts him of a text message. He was in the middle of saying something, but it's forgotten, and his words trail off as he checks the message. It's from Andrew, but he isn't surprised.
Also, Andrew has his own text tone. It's 'ladder'.
you can eat lunch with ellen page and not with me i'm offended :(
He immediately cranes his neck to look around, wondering where Andrew is at.
"Looking for something?" Ellen asks, quirking an eyebrow in his direction.
How do you know where I'm eating lunch, and who I'm with? Where are you?
"It's, uh. Andrew just texted me; he knows I'm having lunch with you." The end comes out sounding more like a question than a statement, because Jesse can't see Andrew's huge mess of lion's mane hair anywhere around, but it's weird that he knows where Jesse is.
i have my sources and also you didn't even apologize :(
Jesse is fucking grinning. Andrew is such an idiot.
"He knows... what? Is your boyfriend keeping tabs on you?"
Jesse ignores her to write back, knowing she isn't mad about it. She sounds amused.
Aren't you rehearsing and doing Garfieldy things?
It's a mature reply.
"He isn't my boyfriend, and I just. I don't know how he knows. That's so weird. Maybe he's following me. He even included one of those sad-faced smiley things."
Ellen laughs at him.
"The dude keeps tabs on you long after you're involved with the same project, he knows where you're eating lunch, and he's giving you... sad face emoticons about it?"
maybe but perhaps i am also following you around in a clever disguise (or members of the stage crew were lunching there and saw you order a salad -- since when do you like raw tofu)
She does have a point. But their friendship, a lot of people don't get it. He doesn't expect them to because nobody else was thrown into their situation.
Nobody else experienced the apartment with the funny smelling closets, or the way their things eventually mixed together nicely, or the snowy days in Boston that made Jesse discard personal space in exchange for the small amount of body heat.
But he's laughing now, and Ellen reaches across the table and snatches the phone out of his hands with her tiny little grabby baby paws before Jesse can process what's going on. She's reading the messages and, for some reason, Jesse is blushing the slightest bit. The back of his neck feels hot. Jesse isn't exactly the blushing type.
"He demanded a mix? Jesse, what even." She's rolling her eyes, thrusting the phone back in his direction. "This is a courtship ritual I think eleven year olds around the world participate in. You realize this, don't you?"
"He has a girlfriend, and it isn't. I mean, it hasn't ever been like that. Really." He's definitely informing her and not reminding himself.
The look on her face tells him that she doesn't particularly believe him, but he's used to that look. He's seen it on Hallie Kate and Anna and Justin and once he thought Sorkin himself was giving him a similar eye.
Hey, I ate it in Boston. Now I'm the one that's sad, since you seem to have forgotten.
"All I'm saying is that Clea and I wouldn't object to seeing that go down. Pun intended."
you ate it because i ordered for you and you wanted to appease me
"All I am saying is that you're delusional, and, just. Ew." He sounds convincing. At least, he hopes he does. Lately he just feels transparent, and suspects everybody around him can see whatever is happening inside of his pathetic brain.
What a presumptuous friend.
"Don't expect me to check up on you after the film is out and promos are done. That's an Andrew-only thing. This lunch, and maybe a few more after this, and we're done for good, Eisenberg."
Jesse isn't sure if she's kidding because her voice is flat and serious. He manages to look up from his phone and can tell she's kidding.
It won't be like with Andrew.
is my mix done yet
Not yet. Almost.
It's a lie, because he hasn't even chosen a single song. He wants it to mean something.
"That's fine, I'll just set up camp and cement our friendship publicly by showing up to wherever you're hanging out." He shrugs nonchalantly like it would be easy for him to do, though they both know it's an empty threat. They'll part ways and be casual friends who maybe meet up when they happen to be in the same city and aren't so busy they don't have time to breathe. Occasional text messages and that's really it. They're both okay with that and know that's how the business works. Close pals for a couple of months, and then you fray the ties that bonded you and go on your way.
"Nobody holds up rehearsals to text a friend about how an acquaintance saw them out to lunch."
"Nobody your size should have a mouth that sassy, it could get them into serious trouble."
She throws her chewed up straw at him from across the table.
can't wait x
* * *got asked about you 3 times today, told everybody you're secretly an egomaniac with a chip on his shoulder (it's after 2:00am and i can't sleep so maybe if you had finished the mix i would have nice music to fall asleep to) (nobody believed me)
* * *Sometimes normal people sleep, Andrew. Do you know what else? I'm keeping the mix to myself. You're far too bossy and greedy for your own good. I am teaching you a lesson.
twelve song minimum :)
I see I've really helped you change your ways. How did you manage to get even more demanding?
stop letting the water run and get in the shower instead of texting me
Jesse wonders if Andrew has set up hidden cameras in his apartment. He is very, very naked.
He looks around suspiciously as he sets his phone down on the counter and steps into the shower.
* * *
It's nearing two o'clock in the morning when Jesse's phone rings. It's on silent roughly 98.762% of the time, and it figures that the one time he leaves the ringer on it goes off and wakes him up at some blasphemous, unmentionable time. His Xanax has left him feeling drowsy, eyes heavy and a little loopy, but it's Andrew's ringtone—he doesn't know the song, but it sounds like a hipster anthem—and he kind of fumbles for the phone before it's too late.
"Are you dead?" he grumbles, but it doesn't sound very rude or scary. He sucks at this.
"Jesse, Jess, hey. Hi. Did I, um. Have I woken you?" Andrew asks him. One thing is abundantly clear.
Andrew is drunk.
"No," Jesse lies.
"You're a terrible liar, and I'm completely pissed. I found this brill little bar; it tried so hard to be a pub, but Americans are usually so silly with these things, and there was this completely beastly bartender. But these drinks, Jess. Jess, they were so ace." He's rambling and rambling, and then it suddenly stops.
Andrew becomes overly British when he's drunk.
"You become overly British when you're drunk," he says.
"It's true," Andrew says sadly. Jesse can almost imagine him shaking his head. "My place here is so quiet. Some of us went out for drinks tonight, and it was so, so loud. And now my place is just quiet. Make it liven up a bit, please."
Andrew is also very polite when he's drunk.
"You're so polite when you're drunk."
"Oh, sorry. I thought you were going to continue giving me a wide range of compliments, from the mundane and boring to extravagant and brilliantly false."
Jesse laughs and yawns at the same time, a hand over his face. He probably just sounded approximately eight kinds of awkward—if there were really multiple kinds, Jesse would definitely be all of them rolled into one—but he's still half asleep and can't be bothered to worry about it. Alexander jumps up onto his bed for a moment, and Jesse tries to pet him, but he slinks away just as quickly. Even his cats don't want to cuddle with him. Shit.
"Your head is big enough without me giving you compliments. What're you doing?"
"Taking my pants off," Andrew replies casually.
It feels like Jesse's been given the tiniest electric shock, and he's kind of shaking a little bit, like he's wired up and has just consumed fifteen black coffees.
He is so, so glad that Andrew can't see his eyes go wide. Well, wide for a sleepy person. He probably looks like the squirrel in that Hyundai commercial with that Salt-n-Peppa song playing in the background.
He decides to bypass the comment completely because wow, okay. How is he supposed to answer that anyway?
"And getting into bed," he hears from the other end of the line. Smooth transition. He can handle it. His hand is just casually resting on his stomach, two fingers barely slipped under the elastic band of his plaid pajama pants. It feels wrong, but Andrew doesn't know and he can't see him (unless Jesse's hidden cameras theory is correct which, yeah, he hopes it isn't), so he doesn't bother to shift around much.
"Did you have fun with your new pals?" he asks, and Andrew gives a happy sigh in return. There's another moment of silence, and it isn't awkward. It drags on, seconds ticking by on the clock in his head, and he never feels like he needs to fill the silence with something stupid.
There's a lot to be said for a moment like this, because Jesse only operates on extremes. Depending on the situation, he's either silent—he's been mistaken for a mute—or he talks so much people get annoyed and tell him to shut the fuck up already in the nicest way possible. Also, sometimes people are not so polite.
Right now, all that matters is that it's nice to have somebody on the other end of the line. He's tired, and when he closes his eyes, he sees faint pink and yellow dots that remind him of spring. His partner in silence would be weird if it was anybody else. It has to be Andrew, and he thinks that the other man gets it. If he listens closely and lets go of his own thoughts, he can hear Andrew inhale and exhale. It's comforting.
"I love that this isn't awkward," Andrew tells him softly, sleepy and drunk and probably smothered under ten blankets, surrounded by thirty pillows.
"So do I," Jesse replies. It isn't enough to cover how he feels about it, and he hates his stupid comment the second it leaves his mouth. Things never come out the way he wants them to.
"Hey, you need to, like. You've got to drink some water and take a couple aspirin or you're going to regret this tomorrow," he offers lamely, because he's genuinely worried about the sleepy boy on the other end of the conversation.
"Why would I regret our late night chat, Jesse?" Andrew sounds posh, and Jesse's name sounds nice coming through the tiny speaker pressed to his ear. He wishes Andrew would say his name again, because he thinks it could lull him into the best sleep of his life. He usually hates when people say his name during conversations, because duh, they're obviously talking to him; they don't need to state it multiple times. With Andrew, it just sort of. Well. It calms him down.
"The drinking and the lousy American imitations, I mean. You need to hydrate and prepare yourself for daylight. You hate the sun when you're hungover, so I think you should—"
"Shh," Andrew's telling him, cutting him off in the middle of his amazingawesomecommon advice. "Taken care of, I promise. It's fine."
Silence happens again. It's still not awkward. It's made up of good things, and Jesse's chest feels pretty fucking light right now. He's still shaking a little bit, but it's calmed down and the electricity that seemed to be hitting him at a steady rhythm has been dialed down to a lesser frequency.
"Sleep," he says. He knows Andrew is already there.
He doesn't hang up, though. He stays like that, listening to Andrew breathe until he hears a noise that signals him that Andrew's phone is about to die. He waits for it to happen, his phone pressed to his cheek, before he finally puts his phone away.
Sleep is overrated, anyway.
* * *
Jesse doesn't hear from Andrew the next day. It's not like it matters or anything. Jesse doesn't talk to anybody else on a daily basis. In fact, he thinks everybody else texts him entirely too often.
When Anna texts him twice, he wants to reply and tell her to shut up for a few days. He loves her, of course. He always will. But two texts in a day? She's expecting actual responses, but he can't be bothered.
Two texts in a single day is entirely too much for Jesse to handle from anybody else on a regular basis. Daily conversation with anybody else feels overwhelming; he doesn't like feeling trapped or as though he's demanded to do something. Communicating with others is exhausting, and Jesse avoids it whenever he can.
His fingers itch to say something first but he doesn't dare. He doesn't want to bother Andrew or anything. Truthfully, that is exactly what it would feel like. He thinks he's going crazy.
Just a few minutes before midnight, Jesse's phone goes off. He can't sleep anyway, so he checks it and feels like telling whoever it is to fuck off. So maybe he's grumpy.
sleep sweet as pie :)
Jesse reads the message but doesn't reply because obviously Andrew had his phone all day and it wasn't broken or dead and he can fall asleep with Jesse listening but not bother saying hello all day until he's just telling Jesse to "sleep sweet as pie". And who even fucking says things like aside from weirdos like Andrew, anyway? He refuses to reply, because he's kind of irritated, even if it is irrational and insane.
He isn't ever that guy; he feels like a deranged teenage girl. Andrew gets under his skin. Hell, Andrew's been there for months—and years technically, fuck—now. It's like an itch that never goes away. It stings. While nothing else phases him and everybody else bothers him, Andrew just. He's there. Right under the surface, making Jesse worthy of three extra hours of therapy a week and self help books for his birthday.
He still can't sleep twenty minutes later, so he grudgingly grabs his phone and sends a reply back. It's short and to the point; it's the equivalent of not kissing your significant other goodnight before bed, he thinks. The cold shoulder of 2012. Not that Andrew will ever be his significant other, so.
And then he turns off his phone. Shuts it down, unplugs it, and puts it in a drawer. Because he knows Andrew will respond, and he wants to fucking sleep and not worry about some stupid boy he's losing his fucking mind over in the middle of the night.
Andrew is neither stupid, nor a boy.
Jesse knows as much, too. He's seen Andrew in the morning—mostly naked, messy hair, and long, masculine limbs, still uncoordinated from sleep. He's followed the dip of his spine from between his shoulder blades to the waist of his boxer briefs. He's felt like his skin was on too tight when Andrew almost caught him staring, sleepy and unaware of the impact he was having on Jesse. Andrew is a man, and Jesse doesn't think he can be blamed for appreciating it.
It's not like Jesse's ever been one to really notice skin, anyway. He remembers, at the time, that whenever he would notice too much about Andrew's skin, he’d try to count the bones in his own body or the buttons on his shirt or cups on a table. It was pointless; though, reluctant to admit it, that's always where his thoughts returned.
He's half hard and too lazy to do anything about it before he falls asleep.
* * *
Contrary to what people think, Jesse listens to things other than showtunes and Ween. He has forty-eight artists outside of those two categories on his Macbook, thank you very much. While he might be neurotic and oblivious to most all things current and pop-cultury, he is not one to completely shun out good music just to make the point that he marches to the beat of a different drum (quite literally).
Living with Andrew for a short time ensured that he has approximately three Arcade Fire songs (Jesse wants to ask if they dropped the "The" from their name but knows it would be terribly uncool and he just can't be bothered), an entire Phoenix album, and he even went and discovered more on his own, after they were no longer sharing space.
Jesse thinks Andrew would be proud.
He's sitting there, scrolling through songs and occasionally clicking on one to see if it feels right. He's trying to maybe say something here, except without saying it. It's more challenging than he thinks it would be. No wonder he put this off for twelve whole days (emphasis: Andrew's).
He wants to show off the brilliance he's discovered on his own to shock Andrew and immediately puts Blakroc on the playlist he's simply named "J to A" for the time being.
Jesse's just thinking, placing the songs in the most proper order possible, when he hears his door opening. He feels like he's been caught red handed.
Anna has a key to help with the cats when Jesse’s away, and Jesse momentarily wishes he would have taken the key back when she moved out a few weeks after they decided they weren't going to be together anymore.
The whole thing was so anti-climatic, really.
"I didn't know you had Otis Redding over!" she calls from the living room. Her voice tells him that she's coming into his space, and she pokes her head in a minute later.
She's not gorgeous or anything. Not conventionally, at least. Jesse knows that most of the world would probably say that Anna's just plain, or something, but Jesse thinks she's beautiful. It wasn't hard to fall in love with her; they had next to nothing in common, but she was funny enough, smart enough, and tolerant of him enough to make up for it. She never needed him for anything but kept him around anyway, and it meant more to Jesse than most know.
She's still one of his best friends.
"Oh, yeah. Summoned him up. He says times are a hell of a lot different than they were in '67."
The second she reveals the bag she's got in her hand, white and printed with red letters from his favorite Thai place like, ever, his laptop is shoved off his lap and he's out of bed and reaching for the bag.
"What are you bribing me for?" he asks, heading towards the kitchen.
"I'm staying in Boston for a work thing; I wanted to know if you'd have time to water my plants."
And, okay, she's not coming into the kitchen. He stops in the middle of a bite and goes to rush back into the bedroom, but stops when she starts talking again.
"This mix, Jesse."
And, yeah. He hopes the floor swallows him up whole.
"I'm not the ‘A’ in question, so." She pauses, and he decides to scurry back into the kitchen.
Before he's even there, he hears her suck in a deep breath. She's definitely not one to hold back anything she's thinking, and he's just waiting for it--
"You two got your shit together?" she asks.
He just stabs at his pad Thai instead (he hopes she got some of the garlic chicken he's obsessed with), and starts peeking inside the few other containers.
"This should be awkward for you to discuss," he informs her.
"Not really. I had amazing sex last night," she starts, and Jesse cuts her off with a hand in the air with, "Why can't your amazing sex water your plants?"
"Don't change the subject. Look, when we broke up--"
Jesse cuts her off again. "When I was traveling too much and I wasn't emotionally available," he tosses in, using half-assed air quotes on the end of his sentence.
"That was my polite way of kind of putting things. We turned into friends; we were comfortable, but." She pauses, like she's searching for the correct words to use in this situation. "We both know it wasn't the sort of thing you write novels about. Not for the last eight months."
He nods because yeah, okay, sure. Jesse knows this. And he loves her for it all, for being okay with the way life and love and emotions work. He loves her for not screaming or throwing things, and for the way things never morphed into that awkward phase he's always hearing about from friends who break up. They just managed to stop working sex into their schedules, and things were fine. He knows everybody else is not so lucky.
"I just want you to be happy. And for you to water my plants."
There's a slight pause before he snorts out a laugh, and she's laughing, too. Jesse thanks her for the food, and she promises to stop abusing the fact that she still has a key—she never will, but Jesse doesn't really mind, anyway. He agrees to water her plants if she agrees to buy him another meal, and things are easy. She scribbles something down on a note pad but Jesse forgets about it before the door closes behind her. He returns to the bedroom to find both of the cats curled up on his laptop, for the heat undoubtedly, and hopes they haven't deleted anything.
The disc is burned and he scrawls the title of his mix onto the shiny, silver surface before placing it in a properly sized envelope. He knows where Andrew is, and he doesn't want to keep doing things over text messages or email.
I'm coming to see you, fair warning.
He's just going to take the damn thing to him.
He tries to avoid the fluttery feeling in his stomach.
* * *
* * *
A stage hand went to get Andrew, and Jesse is waiting patiently in a back corridor of the theatre. He feels comfortable here, despite the way his fingers are betraying him by not being stable and the way he keeps biting on his bottom lip. Places like this make him feel okay and safe. He's in his element, even if this is Andrew's environment right now and not his.
He sets the disc down on a desk that's in the room and tries to kill time by looking at old promotional posters that are on the walls. The girl had mentioned she was expecting Jesse, so Andrew had let people know he would be there. He was potentially fucking up rehearsals for the day, but he didn't care. How long could they be in the same city, blocks from one another, without Jesse demanding to see Andrew's stupid face?
It feels like it's taking too long, though, and the level of anxiety in Jesse’s body elevates another notch. He rolls the edge of his right thumbnail against the pad of his pointer finger and then follows the pattern, pressing each of the tips of his fingers against the pad of his thumb. He then starts methodically with the other hand, going in order. Compelled to. Small, weird things happen with his OCD, and he doesn't like letting other people notice or catch on to what he's doing. He hears footsteps down the hall, and, oh.
The door opens.
Andrew is grinning. His face is flushed, and he looks so good in his stupid bright plaids and jeans and mismatched hat.
Jesse's heart catches in his throat.
Jesse can spend months denying what Andrew does to him, but it's all shot straight to hell the second they share the same air.
"You elusive thing!" Andrew exclaims, closing the gap between them with freakishly long strides with his freakishly long legs. He wraps his arms around Jesse tight. Jesse hates when his personal space is invaded without warning, but he leans into the embrace, not hating this at all.
"Talk to me when you're not doing promo for fucking Spiderman," Jesse returns. Andrew's arms are still around him, and Jesse's afraid that if he slips out of this space, Andrew is going to disappear.
His body relaxes, his senses are heightened, and he's trying to get past the fact that Andrew is definitely rubbing a hand over his back.
"You're shaking. Are you cold?"
Jesse just shakes his head "no," and they stay like that for a moment longer before he finally pulls away, not sure how to handle moments like these.
"I brought your mix," he finally says, gesturing to the desk behind them. Andrew's eyes light up, and he moves to grab it excitedly. "Don't look at the track listing yet, ass. You can't do that in my presence, okay."
Andrew is waving him off and pulls out the disc.
"Xenodochy?" he says the title in a questioning manner, and Jesse's relieved he is still able to decipher the hieroglyphics that are his handwriting. There's still a hint of something kind in his eyes, and Jesse enjoys seeing it so much.
"You can, uh. Look up the meaning of it later," he waves his hand, dismissively. He feels fucking vulnerable and exposed.
He doesn't understand how people are able to do much more intimate things than this, because he can't even handle giving Andrew a fucking mix CD in person. He clears his throat.
Andrew gives him a little nod, fingers running over Jesse's handwriting for a second longer before he slips the disc back into the envelope and moves to set it on the desk just a few feet away.
"I'm going to love it, you know. You obviously put thought into it."
Jesse can't lie, because he did. He wonders if Andrew will be able to tell the care he took to place just enough hints in there (hi, you idiot. I probably kind of want to kiss you sometimes, when I allow myself to think such fucked up shit, and also, can you not hate me now?) in between songs that don't really speak volumes. He hopes it evens out; he hopes it plants seeds in the back of Andrew's mind; he hopes it doesn't freak him out.
"I did, but." Jesse just sort of dismissively shrugs, his whole body moving forward as he does so.
"How are rehearsals going?" he asks, but Andrew's just looking at him fondly, and Jesse thinks that five feet is just too far away. He steps closer.
Andrew launches into this rambling mess of words and sentences, going on without punctuation, like he does in his texts, and Jesse is smiling when he nods along. Andrew loves the cast, but he's nervous and full of pent up energy, and he's terrified of drawing a blank on stage.
Andrew's the best actor without a receding hairline Jesse has ever worked with. He knows he'll be fine, and Jesse tells him just that. He wants to wrap his arms around him again but doesn't know how to handle this. It all feels so easy, yet like sleeping on a bed of nails. With his body pressure evenly distributed, it's fine and he can handle it, but if he shifts wrong, then it stings and hurts.
He's drifting, lost inside of his own head, when Andrew pulls him back into the present. Jesse tries to pretend like he wasn't just staring at Andrew's lips, but Andrew's smirking a little bit, like he knows. He feels even more exposed.
"I can't believe we've been in the same city so often but haven't went and done something, or bumped into each other." Andrew says this earnestly, genuine and serious, like he really does want to see Jesse. Jesse, however, doesn't think it would be that hard.
Andrew knows where his apartment is; he knows how to reach Jesse. Andrew knows exactly where to find him almost all the time, and might even have cameras set up in Jesse's apartment if his creepy, all-knowing text messages are anything to go by. If Andrew had really wanted to see Jesse, he definitely has had the chance.
"Yeah, in such a small town," Jesse says, making it into a joke instead. Andrew smiles a little bit, even gives a small laugh, but manages to look a little bit sad.
"We've both been busy. It's not that I haven't wanted to see you; things have just been so, so hectic. I'm constantly followed now, it feels like, and I don't want—" Andrew pauses to gesture between them with a graceful, fluid motion. "Our rel—" He pauses. "Our friendship isn't just something worth photos in a magazine, and people always analyze things; it makes you anxious. I don't want to add to that. You have enough of it on your own, and..."
Jesse just sort of nods, and thinks relationship? Because they definitely don't have. They do. But it's a friendship. He changed his wording. So.
"No, yeah. No, I get it. I do. And you're busy, I've been busy. It's fine."
Jesse wants to dismiss everything and say it's no big deal, really. He's fine, and he doesn't think about Andrew, like, daily or hourly or something, and wonders what he's doing in between text messages because that, well. That would be pathetic. Jesse is most definitely not in that category. Except for how he totally, completely, and absolutely is.
"Come to dinner tonight," Andrew says, stepping closer and putting a hand on Jesse's shoulder.
"I have to call my mom later," Jesse answers automatically, without really thinking. Okay, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He sounds like a loser. Who says these things out loud?
"Call her, then. I'd like to say hello." Andrew's looking at him in a way Jesse can't quite read, but his voice is gentle and his hand is still placed securely on Jesse's shoulder. He doesn't think Jesse is some emotionally stunted mutant who does weird things like call his mom two nights a week. And sometimes on Sundays, too.
Jesse agrees and wants to say more, but the door is opened and Andrew's hand is still on his shoulder. The woman from earlier tells Andrew he's needed on stage, and he tells her that he'll be "right up in a moment," proper and smooth.
"You could stay and watch, if you want." Andrew proposes a brilliant idea, but Jesse is already shaking his head to decline.
"I have other things to do, but—" He's lying, and Andrew knows he's lying. "But I'll definitely see you tonight. Text me where you want to, uh, go. I'll be there. Don't wear that hat."
He's thankful he isn't called out on his obvious lie. He hopes he doesn't seem rude.
There's a moment when Andrew's hand slides up from Jesse’s shoulder. The long, slender fingers brush the side of his neck. They're warm and soft, like Andrew is all over.
Andrew tugs at a curl on Jesse's head and gives him this smile, like, "It's okay; I don't want to overwhelm you," and all Jesse can think about is kissing him.
"It's a date," Andrew says as he lets the curl spring back into place. He's stepping back, grabbing the mix on his way to the door, and grinning like he's just won the lottery.
"I'll let you know, and, uh. Not wearing the hat. Got it."
He's stalling. Jesse doesn't know what to say, so he awkwardly lifts a hand and fucking waves until the door closes.
A date? It's just a figure of speech, but.
Jesse leans against the back of the couch, eyes closed, and tries to calm himself down. He doesn't know how much time passes, but the same woman from earlier sticks her head in and tells Jesse Andrew sent her to see if he needed help out. The gesture is incredibly, uh. It's cute. He wants to slap himself for even thinking it; Andrew's just polite and courteous. Always has been.
His phone goes off as soon as he tells her he can find his way out.
don't freak out just keep breathing
So Jesse does.