It also fits my hc_bingo brain injury square, which is coincidental but very helpful.
Title: Nameless But Not Unknown (AO3 link)
Warnings: Amnesia. Ridiculous amounts of h/c (with emphasis on the comfort).
A/N: huge thanks to harriet_vane who was once again the MOST supportive and who helped make everyone sound like they were actually American. ♥
There’s a sharp, pounding pain in Andrew’s head when he opens his eyes, so he closes them again immediately.
“Ouch,” he says, confused, and tries to cover his face with his hand. Something catches on the back of his hand and he opens his eyes again, squinting down the length of his arm.
There’s a needle in the back of his hand, a tube leading from it into a clear bag over his head. He’s in hospital, apparently. What the hell?
“Andrew?” someone says and Andrew turns his head to see a girl jump up from a chair across the room. She’s about his age, with long blonde hair scraped up into a ponytail, an untucked white blouse and smart black trousers. She grabs his hand and squeezes, asking in what he’s fairly certain is an American accent, “Oh my god, are you all right? I was so worried.”
He has no idea who she is.
“Yes?” he tries, not wanting to be rude in case she’s his doctor or something and he should recognise her. “What happened?” Maybe if he knows that, he can work out who she is.
“You fell.” She clutches his hand tighter. “I mean, duh, you probably guessed that, right? One of the cables snapped and, I don’t know what happened, you landed on the crash matt but you still managed to hit your head really hard and.” She shakes her head. “Fuck, it was scary.”
Cables? Andrew thinks. Why cables? He just finished filming an adaptation of a Jonathan Trigell novel and he has an audition soon for a part in Doctor Who; he has no idea why he would have been near any cables.
Some of his confusion must show on his face, because the girl frowns. “Don’t you remember?” she asks.
Andrew thinks about lying, but he’s starting to get a little worried so, “No,” he says, “Not at all.”
“Right.” She pulls her hand away from his to clap both hers together briskly. “Well, that’s probably because you have a concussion. I’m gonna get the doctor and you’ll be a-okay in no time.”
She still looks worried and Andrew feels bad about that. “Thank you,” he says then hesitates. “I’m really sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.”
She stills, her face losing colour. “Are you bullshitting me?” she asks. She strides back to the bed, grabbing his shoulder. “If you’re bullshitting me, Garfield, I will end you.”
Andrew bites his lip. “I’m sorry?” he tries.
She stares at him. “Oh my god,” she breathes softly. “Oh, this can’t be good.”
Emma - the blonde girl’s name is Emma apparently and apparently it’s really bad that he doesn’t remember that - fetches a doctor and then suddenly Andrew has far too many people prodding and pinching and asking too many questions.
Andrew tells them his name (which gets him a nod), his age (which gets him a frown) and the year (which gets him a head shake and a quiet hiss from Emma).
“Just wait here,” the doctor tells him, patting his hand and then Andrew’s left alone with Emma who’s sitting on the windowsill, swinging one leg. She’s taken off her shoes and looks set to stay.
“So,” Andrew says, wishing he knew how he knows her at least so he’d have some idea of the right way to interact with her. “I take it it’s not 2007?”
He feels like he should feel more panicked about that, but his head is throbbing again and he’s too tired to work up much feeling about anything.
Emma shakes her head. “No,” she says slowly.
Okay. Andrew has no idea what else to say. “2008?”
Emma chews on her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you,” she says. “In movies amnesiacs always have to remember by themselves.”
Is that what Andrew is, he wonders. He really wishes he had the energy to care more. “If we were in a movie, I’d hope it would be more interesting than this,” Andrew tells her. There’s a blank space where everything should be and he just wants to go to sleep and wake up back in 2007.
“If we ever -” Emma starts to echo. “No, yes, I think you’re right about that.” She hops down off the windowsill and walks over to sit back at the side of Andrew’s bed. “Does your head hurt?”
Like hell. “Only a little,” Andrew tells her, because he doesn’t want to make a fuss.
She smiles, putting her hand on his forehead. That isn’t where the pain’s radiating from but her hands are cool and the pressure’s nice so Andrew closes his eyes.
“Are you and I...?” He loses the thread of what he’s saying but she seems to get it anyway.
“No.” She strokes his fringe back from his eyes when he can’t manage to keep them open. “Don’t worry, you don’t have a surprise wife or anything. At least, I don’t think so.”
“Good.” Andrew knows it’s rude to fall asleep while she’s talking to him but he can’t help it. He just hopes his memory comes back while he’s asleep.
Andrew’s memory doesn’t come back while he’s asleep. Excitingly, he does develop a really horrible case of vertigo though and he spends the next day flat on his back, staring at the ceiling while more doctors come and do more tests on him.
His dad’s sister arrives sometime during the afternoon, bringing him magazines full of celebrities he doesn’t recognise and tales of his cousins who are apparently now at high school when, in his head, they’re barely primary school age.
This whole thing is ridiculous. Andrew hates it.
“I don’t even know why I’m in LA,” he tells his aunt, reckoning that if he can be a little whiny to anyone, it’s probably her.
“You’re making a movie,” she tells him brusquely and he feels helplessly guilty for worrying her.
Although, “That’s pretty cool.” Andrew wishes he felt better so that he could do a dance at the fact he’s not only making a film, but he’s doing it in LA. That has to be a good sign for his career at least.
His aunt’s expression softens. “Totally cool,” she assures him. Her mobile phone buzzes before she can say anything else. She pulls it out of her pocket, reads her message then passes Andrew the phone. “Your mom. She’s pretty worried.”
Andrew takes the phone and tries to focus on the screen. The words jump out at him, scrambling together and he pushes it away, nauseous.
“Andrew?” his aunt asks. “Honey?”
Andrew tries to shake his head but the pain at the back of his skull is getting worse. “I don’t think reading’s a very good idea at the moment,” he tells her, keeping his voice steady with an effort. “Could you just tell her that I’m okay?”
His aunt frowns. “You’re not okay, though,” she says, but she takes the phone back and taps out a message. “She’s trying to work out a way to come out here, but your grandfather hasn’t been well lately, so it’s difficult for her.”
“Oh.” Andrew remembers his grandfather as the most active eighty year old ever. Every time Andrew or his brother are home, they always spend Sunday mornings playing football with him in the park. “Is he okay?”
“Sure.” His aunt pats his shoulder and doesn’t meet his eye, which he’s fairly certain means she’s lying.
Andrew stares up at the ceiling and wishes it would stop spinning. He hates this.
The door squeaks open just then and Emma sticks her head around the door. “Hey,” she whispers, like Andrew’s on his deathbed. “The nurse said you weren’t feeling too good; should I fuck off?”
Andrew doesn’t know her, but he’s pleased enough by the distraction that he feels his welcoming smile grow five times bigger than is probably appropriate. “No,” he says, “Please. Come in.”
Emma exchanges a look with Andrew’s aunt but Andrew can’t even lift his head at the moment so he can’t decipher it.
“How’s everything on set?” he asks, interrupting whatever they’re worrying about.
Emma spins around. “Do you remember?” she asks, voice rising in excitement.
Andrew feels immediately bad for disappointing her. “No,” he says. “Not yet.”
“Oh.” Emma sighs and sits on the side of Andrew’s bed. “It was boring,” she says. “Everyone’s freaking out about rescheduling your scenes so I mostly just hung out with Sally and Martin.”
“Sally and Martin?” Andrew asks. Presumably he’ll be going back to this film, whatever it is, at some point, so he thinks he should probably learn some names.
“Field and Sheen,” Emma tells him.
Andrew tries to sit up, groans and sinks back down. “Fuck,” he mutters, pressing his hand to the top of his head in the hope that that will stop it flying away. “Sally Field and Martin Sheen are in this film? Is this a wind-up?”
Emma laughs, patting his knee. “Well that’s something you’re gonna have to get better to find out, isn’t it?” She grins suddenly, wide. “Speaking of incentives, Jesse totally freaked out when he found out you were hurt so he’s on a plane to LA right now.”
Andrew looks at her, hoping he looks more curious and less blank. “Jesse?” he asks.
The face Emma makes is complicated. “Oh,” she says, “You’re going to love Jesse. Seriously. This is going to be great.”
Andrew’s aunt clears her throat. “Andrew,” she says, “I’m going to get some lunch. Do you want anything?”
Andrew’s body isn’t in any state to accept food right now, but it worried her when he said that earlier, so he asks her to buy him a sandwich.
As soon as she’s gone, he lets himself sink deeper into his pillows and sighs.
“Okay?” Emma asks and Andrew snaps his eyes open again. He hadn’t forgotten she was there - he’s a little bit terrified of forgetting anything else at the moment - but he feels more comfortable with her than he does with his aunt right now. Mostly because he doesn’t remember knowing her so he doesn’t feel like he’s letting her down by not getting better immediately.
“Yes,” he lies, “Just tired.”
Emma tuts at him then kicks off his shoes and, before he can react, curls up against his side on the bed.
“Poor Andrew,” she says, putting her head on the pillow next to his. “Don’t worry, you’ll be back to your superhero self soon.”
Andrew snorts. “Superhero, right,” he mutters. He turns his head slowly, taking in the comfortable way she’s tucked against him. “Emma?”
“Shh,” she whispers, “we’re napping.”
“Okay,” Andrew whispers back. “But are you sure we’re not dating?”
She grins and reaches out blindly, putting her finger over his lips. “Totally sure, sweetie. Ask me that again when Jesse gets here.”
“What?” Andrew asks, but she doesn’t answer.
When Andrew wakes up, there’s a guy with messy brown curls and worried blue eyes peering down at him from about ten centimetres away.
“Gah,” Andrew says, jumping. The movement makes the room spin but he’s almost used to that by now.
The guy jumps back as well, eyes going wide. He doesn’t say anything, just keeps staring at Andrew like he’s waiting for something.
“Hello?” Andrew asks. “Hi?” He checks, but Emma is no longer napping by his side so it looks like he’s going to have to deal with this by himself.
“Hi.” The guy wanders back toward the bed, hands stuffed into his pockets. He jerks his chin at the table by Andrew’s bed where, Andrew notices, a paper cup is now sitting. “I brought you some chai tea.”
“Oh. Thank you?” Andrew contemplates trying to sit up then wonders if he can drink tea through a straw.
“Jesse,” the guy prompts. “Hi.” He waves without fully removing either hand from his pocket.
“Oh, hi.” Andrew manages to get one elbow against the mattress and levers himself up slowly, eyes squeezed shut against the vertigo.
He feels hands curl lightly around his arms, just above his elbows and then Jesse’s helping him to sit up and lean back against the wall.
Cautiously, Andrew opens his eyes. Now that he’s stopped moving, the dizziness is no worse, at least. Jesse is really close to Andrew still, watching him like he expects Andrew to keel over at any second.
Andrew clears his throat. “Emma said you were coming,” he says. He blames his concussion for the fact that he really wants to reach out and find out how springy Jesse’s curls are.
Jesse’s mouth twists up into a smile on one side. “Damn,” he says, “She’s spoiled the surprise. Which wouldn’t have been much of a surprise since you have no idea who I am.”
“Of course I do,” Andrew tells him, “You’re the guy who flies to LA to bring me a cup of tea.” As soon as he’s said that, he stops and thinks because, huh, Jesse did just do exactly that. He wonders what that means.
Jesse opens then closes his mouth. “Well,” he says, “Yes.”
Andrew peels the lid off the top of his cup and takes a sip of chai. It’s warm and soothing and immediately calms something in Andrew’s soul.
“That’s lovely,” he says. “Thank you.”
Jesse bounces a little onto his toes. “Are you, um. Are you sick of people asking how you are?”
Andrew shrugs. It makes something in the back of his head twinge, which is just ridiculous; concussions are ridiculous. “A little,” he admits. Then feels horribly ungrateful. “But, I mean. It’s really nice how much people care.”
“Well, yes.” Jesse makes an awkward little shrugging motion with his shoulders. “Everybody loves you.”
Andrew feels himself blush and concentrates on drinking his tea. “So,” he finally manages. “How do you and I know each other?”
“Oh, we were in this movie together once,” Jesse says. He puts his hands on the back of the visitor’s chair but doesn’t sit down. “We got to be kind of, um. Friendly. Sort of?”
It must have been more than sort of, Andrew thinks, since Jesse flew all the way out here from... wherever it is that he lives.
“What was our movie about?” he asks instead of pointing that out because Jesse seems rather nervous.
“Oh, um, Facebook?” Jesse is tapping a rhythm on the back of the chair. Normally, Andrew wouldn’t mind but it’s making his head hurt right now; he barely has time to wince before Jesse says, “Sorry,” and sticks his hands back into his pockets.
“Facebook?” Andrew asks. “So that took off then?”
Jesse’s smile is small but amused. “Yes,” he says seriously, “Mark Zuckerberg has taken over the world.”
Andrew doesn’t know who that is, but he finds himself smiling back anyway. “Why don’t you sit down?” he asks. “It’s making my head hurt, having to look up at you.”
He doesn’t mean for that to work as some kind of emotional blackmail or anything, but Jesse looks worried and sits down immediately. “Sorry,” he says, leaning forward, “Do you need anything? Pain pills or something?”
“I’m fine,” Andrew tells him. “Tell me more about our film?”
Jesse stays with Andrew until the doctor comes back for a check-up and it’s surprisingly easy to talk to him considering Andrew doesn’t remember him at all. Jesse doesn’t try to talk about people Andrew has never heard of or TV shows Andrew has never watched like his aunt did yesterday, and he doesn’t crack private jokes and look disappointed when Andrew doesn’t respond like Emma has done a couple of times.
He just chats to Andrew about their jobs - Andrew has a BAFTA; that’s amazing - and the weather and the plane ride from New York and how Jesse had to bribe his neighbour to mind his cats while he was gone.
Andrew nods and listens and, every time Jesse stops, finds himself asking another question in the hope of prompting more of Jesse’s random and hilarious little asides.
“You’re looking better,” the doctor tells Andrew, picking up his chart and making a mark. She gets out her penlight, coming to stand over Andrew and Jesse starts to get up.
“No, please,” Andrew says, not realising he’s going to reach out and grab Jesse’s hand until he’s done it. “Stay?”
The doctor looks between them but doesn’t argue so Jesse sits back down. He scoots his chair as far away as he can though, which makes Andrew feel strangely lonely.
“Well,” the doctor says when she’s done. “You still have a concussion and the memory loss is obviously worrying, but since there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with your short term memory, I am prepared to let you recuperate at home.”
Andrew feels his heart soar, then drop again when he realises that he doesn’t even know where he lives.
“But only,” the doctor continues, lifting a finger, “If you’ll have someone living with you to monitor you.”
Andrew doesn’t know if he lives with anyone; probably not or presumably they would have come to visit.
“I don’t have any - ” he starts to say, thinking of his aunt then ruling her out; she’s got a house full of teenagers, she doesn’t need him getting in the way as well.
“I could do that?” Jesse says, mostly like it’s a question and he’s expecting someone to say that no, he’s not allowed to.
“Really?” Andrew asks, trying not to sound too hopeful in case Jesse is just being nice.
Jesse shrugs. “Sure. I mean, I can’t leave you alone, right? You probably don’t even remember how to fly a hover car.”
“Hover car?” Andrew starts, voice rising, before something about Jesse’s perfectly straight face tips him off. “Hey! It’s not nice to mock a broken man.”
Jesse ducks his head so Andrew can’t see if he’s smiling but apparently he was serious about taking care of Andrew because two hours later, Andrew is checked out and sitting next to Jesse in a taxi.
The taxi is horrific. Just the regular movement of the car makes Andrew feel more travel sick than he can ever remember being and every time they stop and start - which is a lot, traffic’s ridiculous - he wants to curl up and die.
“Hey,” Jesse whispers, reaching between them and picking up Andrew’s hand. “Don’t forget to breathe.”
Andrew is worried that if he breathes, he might vomit. He can’t tell Jesse that though since he’s working on never opening his mouth again.
“Okay,” Jesse says and presses down on Andrew’s wrist with his thumb. “Breathe.”
Andrew does this time and something loosens, just a little, until he’s only somewhat miserable, not actively dying.
“Better?” Jesse asks.
Andrew nods. “Thank you.” Jesse tries to let go of Andrew’s hand and Andrew means to let him but, instead, finds that he’s curling their fingers together, holding on tighter.
“Sorry,” he says, but doesn’t let go because his head is ridiculously light and it feels good to be tethered to something.
Jesse stares down at their hands then slowly squeezes Andrew’s fingers. “That’s okay,” he says, “Don’t mention it.”
It turns out that Andrew - owns? rents? - has a flat somewhere just outside LA. It’s a nice place, big and expensive-looking and full of stuff that feels like it could be his.
The problem is that Andrew doesn’t recognise it or anything in it. He picks up a photograph sitting on the windowsill of his brother holding a baby and frowns. Why is his brother holding a baby? His brother wouldn’t even hold Andrew’s hamster when they were kids.
“That’s your niece,” Jesse tells him. He’s lurking in the doorway like he doesn’t know quite where to put himself. That makes two of them.
“My niece?” Andrew echoes. He stares at the photo until he can’t see it any more. “Shit.”
He needs to sit down and the sofa’s a long way away so he settles for folding down onto the floor and leaning his head back against the wall. The wall’s cold and it doesn’t help his headache but Andrew doesn’t have the energy to move.
“Are you okay?” Jesse asks softly then, “Sorry, sorry, I know we’re not asking that anymore.”
Andrew swallows hard. He can’t make himself say that he’s fine again. “I’m just going to stay here for a little while,” he says instead. “Possibly until the next ice age.”
“Cool.” There’s a creak of floorboards and then Jesse’s sitting next to him. “The next ice age is scheduled for Thursday, isn’t it? But if we get hungry before then, I’m sure the polar bears will bring us takeout.”
Andrew doesn’t want to smile, but it’s hard not to. Jesse seems to have a habit of saying things like that and it’s his perfectly straight face that makes it funnier.
They sit in silence until the pounding confusion in Andrew’s chest has subsided to a low gnawing feeling. Jesse is tapping the fingers of his left hand on the carpet, quietly enough that Andrew can’t hear it, but otherwise he’s completely still.
“What were you doing in New York before you decided to rush out and visit me?” Andrew asks eventually. He probably should have asked sooner; he hopes the amnesia isn’t messing with his manners.
Jesse tips his head, not quite looking at Andrew. “I got a new cat last week,” he says, “So mostly I was trying to stop her from eating my shoelaces.”
Andrew laughs quietly. “Mm, yummy shoelaces.”
“Apparently.” Jesse nods, becoming more animated. “She also likes drinking out of the toilet and eating yoghurt out of the trash. She’s not the kind of cat you could take to visit the Queen of England.”
“Does the Queen often invite you and your cats for tea?” Andrew asks, happy to be distracted by the mental images.
Jesse nods seriously. “All the time. But I had to put her off last time I was in London because I was visiting you so, you know, don’t expect a knighthood any time soon.”
“Shame,” Andrew says solemnly then ruins it by having to ask, “Did you really come to London to visit me?”
“Oh, what? Yes.” Now Jesse’s stopped looking at him properly again. Maybe they should have stuck to talking about cats. “Last summer. You said you wanted me to meet your niece so I couldn’t exactly say no.” He sounds so apologetic, like Andrew is going to retroactively withdraw the invitation.
Andrew knocks his knee against Jesse’s. “Well that’s useful,” he says, “Since I can’t remember what’s going on with my family, maybe you’ll be able to tell me instead.”
He doesn’t ask, but he can’t help wondering exactly how close they are. Andrew likes people and he always has a decent number of friends, but he can’t think of anyone who he remembers being friends with who he would have invited to fly half way around the world to meet his family.
It’s confusing, but it’s not exactly a bad thing. He might not remember if Jesse is his best friend in the world or if Future Andrew was just really desperately needy, but he’s glad Jesse’s here now. It’s better, it turns out, to have someone sitting next to you when you’re having a minor breakdown on your living room floor.
Eventually, they have to get off the floor and then Andrew lies on the sofa, feeling dizzy and useless while Jesse putters around, investigating Andrew’s kitchen for a while before giving up and deciding to order takeaway.
Andrew’s landline rings while Jesse is sorting through menus on the living room floor and Andrew stares at it, feeling ill-equipped to talk to anyone right now.
Jesse looks at him and Andrew doesn’t know how pathetic his expression is, but Jesse reaches over and picks up the phone without a word.
“Hello?” Jesse says, “Andrew’s phone.” He listens for a second then jumps. “Oh, hello Mrs Garfield. Yes, he’s here.”
“No, no, no,” Andrew mouths because he’s been avoiding talking to his mum ever since he woke up in the hospital but Jesse makes a guilty face at him and hands over the phone.
“Hi, Mum,” Andrew says, wincing preemptively.
“Was that Jesse?” his mum asks, which is wonderful, because she doesn’t sound at all panicked or upset like he’d expected her to be.
“Yes,” Andrew says slowly. “He’s looking after me.” He looks up to smile at Jesse and finds that Jesse’s already looking at him. Jesse looks away quickly when their eyes meet.
There’s a pause on the other end of the line. “Good,” his mum says eventually. “I’m so relieved. Listen, darling, I’m doing my best to get out there, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
“No, Mum, it’s fine.” He wants to cause as little fuss as possible, this whole losing his memory thing is strangely embarrassing. “Jesse and I can manage.” He watches, amused, as Jesse blushes and smiles but still won’t look up at Andrew.
Stretching out a leg, Andrew pokes Jesse in the shoulder with his toe. Jesse jumps and looks up, frowning at Andrew questioningly.
“Hi,” Andrew mouths while his mum keeps talking to him, apparently planning to update him on everything that’s happened to the family in the past five years.
The blush in Jesse’s cheeks darkens. “Hello,” he whispers.
“Andrew?” his mum says and Andrew startles. “Sorry, Mum, sorry. What did you say?”
She sighs and he can hear it clearly. “Never mind. Do you need to rest? Are you tired?”
Andrew hasn’t done anything but rest really, which doesn’t mean that he’s not tired. “Yes,” he says and it’s not really a lie. “Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Call anytime if you need me,” she says. “Don’t worry about the time difference.”
“Right, Mum, I will. Love you.” Andrew grins when Jesse bounces to his feet, apparently thinking that Andrew needs privacy to say goodbye to his mum. He hangs up the phone then catches the first part of Jesse he can reach, which turns out to be his hand. “Hey, where are you going?”
Jesse looks down at their hands then back up at Andrew. “Um, takeout?” he asks. “I was going to use my cell, but since you’re finished with the landline.” He tries half-heartedly to free his hand but Andrew doesn’t let go.
“You mean humans haven’t developed the ability to order food telepathically yet?” Andrew asks. “I’m so disappointed.”
Jesse smiles but doesn’t play so Andrew lets go, not sure what’s put Jesse so on edge all of a sudden.
They settle on Chinese takeaway and, while they’re waiting, Andrew gets three texts messages, none of which he can read.
“Ugh,” he says, handing the phone to Jesse. “Will you check that none of them are emergencies?”
Jesse frowns, poking uncertainly at Andrew’s phone. “Why is your phone so complicated?” he asks. “No one needs this many buttons.”
Andrew shrugs. “Don’t ask me. The last mobile I remember having is a Nokia N77, so.”
“I have no idea what that means,” Jesse says, then, “Aha!” He pauses for a minute then, “Well, Emma wants you to know that she’s taking herself out for margaritas - why do you need to know that? - and your brother says you owe him two hundreds pounds - that’s probably a lie, don’t pay him without some kind of proof - and Justin says ‘fdgdthhfd’ which probably means he’s drunk texting again.”
Andrew doesn’t know who Justin is but if he’s drunk texting in the early evening then he can probably wait a while.
“Thank you,” he says, meaning it. He sighs, staring up at the ceiling. He hates that he can’t even read.
“What’s the matter?” Jesse sits down on the sofa next to Andrew’s shoulder. He holds up a finger preemptively. “And that isn’t the same as asking how you are, so I’m allowed.”
“You’re allowed to ask me anything,” Andrew tells him. It should probably worry him how quickly he trusts Jesse but he’s worrying about enough other things that this one doesn’t even register.
“Okay.” Jesse nods. “What’s the cube root of nine hundred and fifty six?”
Startled, Andrew laughs. He smacks Jesse’s thigh. “Anything I can answer, arsehole.”
“I did,” Jesse reminds him. “I asked what the matter was, but I assumed you were avoiding the question.”
Andrew doesn’t feel like laughing any more. “No. No, I’m not. I’m okay. I’m just fed up, I guess? It’s as if there’s this huge hole where my life should be, and I could put up with that, temporarily at least, but I can’t even read. If I can’t read, how can I learn lines ever again?”
“I’m sure there have been actors who couldn’t read,” Jesse tells him. Andrew’s glad that Jesse didn’t just automatically reassure him that he was going to get his memory back; he’d rather do without those sort of promises.
He smiles up at Jesse, incredibly glad he’s here. “I’m glad you’re here,” he says, because it’s the sort of thought that should be shared.
Jesse reaches down and squeezes Andrew’s shoulder. His hand is big and warm through Andrew’s jumper and Andrew turns his head automatically, pressing his cheek against the back of Jesse’s hand. It feels familiar. Really familiar, actually, and he adds that to the list of things he’s wondering about.
The Chinese doesn’t take long to come and Jesse sends Andrew to the kitchen for cutlery while he goes to pay, which surprises Andrew since Jesse doesn’t strike him as someone who voluntarily interacts with strangers.
Jesse shrugs when he comes back, stuffing his wallet back into his pocket. “You would have been at the door forever signing autographs,” he says, “It’s happened before.”
Andrew blinks at him, too flustered to point out that he definitely saw Jesse sign something for the delivery guy and that he doesn’t think it was a receipt.
“Okay, let’s eat,” Jesse says, which Andrew thinks is a great idea.
He hasn’t been at all hungry since he woke up in hospital, but he’s finally starving again and he finds he’s eaten two of the portions Jesse ordered without really stopping for breath.
“Oops,” he says, fork poised above the final bite of chicken chow mein. “Sorry. Did you want some of this?”
Jesse is chewing happily on some ginger beef and shakes his head. “Everything with chicken is for you,” he says. “You eat so much chicken that one day you’re going to grow feathers.”
“Chicken’s my favourite,” Andrew agrees, grinning because he knows that about himself, that hasn’t changed. He pulls the lid off a portion of princess chicken and pushes across the table toward Jesse. “Share?”
“Yes, okay,” Jesse agrees and lets Andrew scrape half onto his plate. The whole thing is surprisingly comfortable; Andrew could get used to this.
After they’ve eaten, they try to watch TV but the pictures make Andrew’s head spin and Jesse turns it off after a couple of minutes.
“I don’t mind,” he says, when Andrew apologises. “I don’t watch TV.”
“Ever?” Andrew asks and he must sound more shocked than he means to because Jesse frowns and starts clearing up the takeaway debris. “No, wait, I wasn’t mocking you. I was just surprised.”
“I watched a couple of episodes of Dr Who,” Jesse tells him.
“Yeah?” Andrew asks.
Jesse hums. “Mm. You were very good.” He flashes Andrew a smile then flaps a hand at him when Andrew tries to stand up. “No, sit down, I’ll do the dishes.”
Andrew wants to complain about that, but he’s not really in a position to try to be a good host right now. “Yell if you want help drying up?” he asks.
“Sure,” Jesse agrees but Andrew doesn’t believe him.
By the time Jesse’s finished washing up - without asking Andrew for any help - Andrew’s starting to flag and can’t stop yawning.
“Right, you’re going to bed,” Jesse says after taking one look at him.
“No, I - ” Andrew cuts himself off to swallow another yawn. “Wait, do I even have a spare room? Where are you going to sleep?”
Jesse shrugs. “The sofa, I guess?”
That makes Andrew feel terrible. “I could - ”
“You could not,” Jesse interrupts. “You have a concussion, you think I’m letting you sleep on the sofa? Come on.” He holds out his hand to Andrew and Andrew takes it.
Jesse leads him into his bedroom, frowning down at the unmade bed.
“Oh, it’s a mess. Sorry,” Andrew apologises even though this doesn’t feel like his bed; he blames Future Andrew for not making his bed and making Andrew look like a slob.
“What? Oh, no that’s...” Jesse trails off, fingers twitching against his thigh for a second before he huffs and bends over the bed, smoothing the sheets and straightening the duvet.
“You really don’t have to do that,” Andrew protests, because he didn’t ask Jesse to come home with him to be his maid.
“I really do,” Jesse tells him. “I like things to be tidy. You’ll remember that when you remember me.”
He finishes plumping Andrew’s pillows and turns to the wardrobe, sliding the door open and going straight to one particular shelf, pulling out a clean t-shirt and some pyjama bottoms.
“How did you know where those were?” Andrew asks, curious. Come to think of it, Jesse seems to know whether everything is in Andrew’s house. It’s been proving so useful today that Andrew hadn’t thought to question it.
“What?” Jesse drops the clothes on the bed. “I just...” He shrugs. “I secretly tidy your apartment when you’re not here like a creepy stalker person.”
Andrew smiles because he’s clearly expected to but he’s thinking hard enough that he’s not sure it’s convincing. He’s thinking about how he asked Emma if they were dating just because she was a little bit affectionate toward him. Jesse’s been affectionate and helpful and wonderful all day and Andrew feels like quite an idiot.
“Jesse?” he starts to ask.
Jesse looks up. Moonlight shines through the window onto the top of his curls, tinging his profile in silver. He’s really attractive, Andrew thinks suddenly, and finds himself tongue-tied.
Andrew clears his throat. “Nothing,” he says. “Never mind.”
Andrew waits for Jesse to leave him to get ready for bed then digs his phone out of his pocket.
“Andrew?” his mum sounds sleepily annoyed for the first syllable then panicked for the second. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Andrew tells her quickly. “Sorry, I should have waited until tomorrow. I just wanted - ” He feels stupid now, but it seemed important when he made the call.
She yawns and the static washes across the line. “What, darling?”
Andrew sneaks a look at his closed bedroom door then asks quickly, “Are Jesse and I together?” He knows he’s come out to his parents at least; thank goodness he remembers doing that.
There’s a pause. “Honestly,” she says eventually, “I’ve never quite been able to tell. You do talk about him an awful lot and you spent New Year with him.”
“I did?” Andrew asks. He frowns, wishing he could remember something. “We must be. I don’t... I don’t see how we can not be.” Andrew rather hopes they are and he’s only known Jesse for a day; he can’t imagine knowing him for years and not having at least tried.
“Let me know if you find out,” his mum asks. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Yes, sorry. Good night.” Andrew ends the call without really paying any more attention. He stands up slowly, leaning into the bed for support when the room spins, takes a deep breath and walks across the bedroom.
He finds Jesse in the bathroom, washing his hands. He’s up to his elbows in soap suds, a towel draped over his arm and he’s humming tunelessly to himself.
Andrew feels a wave of... something wash over him, indescribable and sudden. It’s not quite a memory but it’s definitely something, a fondness so strong that it must have come from more than just the past twenty-four hours.
“Jesse?” Andrew says.
Jesse jumps, turning around. “Hi?” he says. “Is everything okay? I thought you went to bed.”
He looks worried and tired around the edges and Andrew means to find a way to ask, he really does, but before he can stop himself, he’s stepping into Jesse’s space and curling a hand around his shoulder. “Thank you,” he says and means for everything.
“You’re, oh.” Jesse’s eyes drop to Andrew’s mouth for a fraction of a second and that’s all Andrew needs to give him the courage to lean forward and brush his mouth over Jesse’s.
Jesse makes a soft, complicated sound but he doesn’t demand to know what Andrew thinks he’s doing so Andrew tries again, lingering for longer this time.
“Andrew?” Jesse asks, voice barely more than a whisper against Andrew’s lips.
“Yes,” Andrew agrees, certain of that at least, and leans in again. Apparently three times is what it takes because Jesse suddenly shivers all over and brings his wet hands up to clutch at Andrew’s back, pulling him closer and cautiously deepening the kiss.
Well, this is going well Andrew thinks, pleased, and kisses back until he’s dizzy from something other than the concussion.
“Um,” Jesse says when they finally have to take a break. He licks his lips, looking happy and flushed and overwhelmed. Andrew feels pretty much the same. “I only made your bed. How do you thank someone who does the vacuuming?”
Andrew laughs, relieved because he’s got this right at least. “I could definitely show you,” he says, pleased when Jesse’s blush spreads. He reaches out and pokes Jesse lightly in the shoulder. “No, seriously, why didn’t you tell me, you idiot?”
“I...” Jesse rubs the back of his neck. He keeps sneaking peeks at Andrew like he wants to check that he’s still there. “I didn’t know you’d take it so well?”
“Are you joking?” Andrew thinks about poking him again then realises that he’d rather smooth his hand over Jesse’s chest. He feels warm and solid and reassuringly there. “Seriously, I’m so relieved. It’s wonderful to know that I have someone, that I don’t have to figure out my way through this on my own.” He smiles and Jesse smiles back. “And at least now I know that Future Me has something going for him, if he has you.”
“Future you - ? Oh. Right.” Something weird and complicated crosses Jesse’s face and he hesitates for so long that Andrew wonders if he’s messed up somehow. “Right. Of course. You think future you...” Jesse shakes his head. “Future you is amazing.” His smile is smaller now and Andrew feels guilty for not having considered how horrible this must be for him, to suddenly have his boyfriend forget him.
“I’m really sorry I’m not him,” Andrew tries, squeezing Jesse’s shoulder.
Jesse shakes his head, looking down at the floor. “It’s okay, I like this you too,” he says. He chews on his bottom lip. “Especially when you kiss me.”
That has to be an invitation, Andrew thinks, and leans in again happily, but Jesse steps back. “My teeth. I should brush my teeth.”
Andrew wants to say forget about that and push Jesse up against the nearest flat surface but he isn’t exactly well enough for energetic sex right now and Jesse looks like he might crack the mere suggestion so Andrew lets him turn back to the sink, watching with a frown as Jesse’s hands shake around the toothpaste.
“Jesse?” Andrew says.
“Mmhmm?” Jesse doesn’t turn around.
Andrew hesitates. “Don’t sleep on the couch,” he finally settles on.
Jesse stills for a moment. “I won’t,” he promises eventually. “You should go back to bed, I won’t be long.”
Andrew walks slowly out of the bathroom, glancing back over his shoulder to see the way Jesse’s body folds in on itself a little, his knuckles turning white around the sides of the washbasin. Andrew wishes desperately that he could get his memory back so he’d know how to stop Jesse from looking so sad.
Andrew dreams he’s flying. He’s soaring higher and higher and something is nagging at him, telling him to be careful but he can’t seem to stop and he keeps flying until suddenly, something snaps like a whip crack and he’s falling...
He wakes up with a start, jerking upright and reaching out for something to stop his fall.
“Hey.” Arms wrap around Andrew, holding him tight. “Andrew, hey. Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.”
Andrew grips handfuls of Jesse’s sleeve and holds on. His head is pounding and he has to rest it on Jesse’s shoulder. “Sorry,” he mumbles, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Jesse shakes his head, his hair brushing Andrew’s. “I wasn’t asleep,” he says, “I don’t really sleep sometimes.”
He’s stroking his hands up and down Andrew’s back and it’s quiet and soothing, calming Andrew’s racing heart.
“I think I remembered falling?” Andrew guesses it was something like that anyway, something based on the fact that he fell, at least.
Jesse’s arms tighten reflexively. “Is that all?” he asks. “Did you remember anything else?”
Andrew shakes his head. “I really don’t think I want to, if it’s going to be like that.”
“Don’t say that,” Jesse tells him, but it’s distracted and Andrew would rather pay attention to the feel of Jesse’s hands on him anyway.
Andrew finally makes himself pull back and lie back down. He doesn’t remember falling asleep the previous evening, but it must have been before Jesse made it to bed. To make up for that, he holds out his hands and makes grabby motions until Jesse huffs out a laugh and lies down next to him.
“No, no,” Andrew tells him, “That’s still far too far away.” He wonders if he should be feeling shier about pushing for this, but he’s still half asleep and the left over adrenaline from his nightmare is making him fearless.
“If we were any closer, we’d be fused together,” Jesse tells him then coughs.
“Yes,” Andrew agrees, “I’d like that.” Since Jesse won’t come to him, Andrew rolls over and puts his head on Jesse’s pillow, tucking his chin against Jesse’s shoulder.
Jesse’s arms come around him tentatively. “I’m not going to break,” Andrew tells him even though his head is informing him loudly that it doesn’t like nightmares or being awake in the middle of the night.
“No, that’s not...” Jesse doesn’t finish his sentence, just pats Andrew’s hair lightly.
He’s still holding himself stiffly and Andrew doesn’t get it. Unless, “Do we not normally cuddle?” Andrew asks. He can’t imagine that that’s the case; he’s always been touchy with the people he dates.
“We cuddle all the time, actually,” Jesse tells him, sounding much more confident suddenly. He rolls onto his side, arms slotting more comfortably around Andrew. “Is that better?”
Andrew can feel the warmth of Jesse’s breath brushing across his face. “Much,” he agrees and closes his eyes.
When Andrew wakes up the next morning, Jesse is fast asleep and breathing moistly against Andrew’s collarbone. His left hand is cupping Andrew’s hip and his knee is pushed between Andrew’s, his thigh brushing Andrew’s half-hard morning erection.
Andrew has a half-second flutter of embarrassed panic at waking up this intimately with someone who’s essentially a stranger to him, but it doesn’t last. Jesse isn’t waking up and hasn’t noticed and anyway, Andrew tells himself, they’re dating; they must have been more intimate than this.
That thought makes Andrew feel too warm but it’s definitely not unpleasant. He thinks about rolling over and kissing Jesse awake but every time Andrew woke up in the night, Jesse was a still awake and Andrew doesn’t want to disturb him now that he’s finally sleeping.
Carefully, Andrew peels himself out from under Jesse’s hands and crawls out of bed.
His whole body aches, worse than it did yesterday and it takes a lot of twisting to get his t-shirt off in the bathroom.
His entire right side is mottled with purple and red bruises, a few of them darkening to black around his shoulder and hip. It makes sense, considering Andrew fell however many metres it was; he’s just been too distracted by the whole brain injury thing to really pay attention until now.
He takes a long, hot shower, even though his doctor warned him against showering on his own, then slowly towels off and changes into a jumper and the only pair of non-skinny jeans that he can find in his wardrobe. He isn’t really sure what Future Andrew thinks he’s doing with some of those outfits.
He makes himself a cup of coffee and takes some painkillers then curls up on the sofa to experiment again with the TV.
The bright colours make Andrew’s head pound sickly, but he fumbles with the remote and finds a mode that switches everything to black and white, which definitely helps somewhat.
He finds an episode of CSI then flicks away when he realises that he doesn’t recognise half the characters; he finds a programme full of high school kids singing, which is sort of fun but too confusing to follow, and finally settles on a news channel.
He’s still watching, fascinated, when Jesse shuffles out of the bedroom.
“Michael Jackson died,” Andrew tells him.
Jesse stops in the kitchen doorway, rubbing his eyes. “Yes, I noticed that,” he agrees.
Andrew waves a hand. “David Cameron and some guy I’ve never heard of seem to be running the country really badly. And William and Kate finally got married.” It’s like getting a sneak peek into the future; Andrew is enthralled. “What else did I miss?”
Jesse scratches his arm. “Um. Heath Ledger died too - you liked him. Barack Obama won the presidential election. Robots have taken over the world.”
“Seriously?” Andrew asks, following Jesse into the kitchen and watching him pour himself some coffee.
Jesse takes a sip and leans back against the counter. “Well, okay no, I lied about that last one.”
Andrew smiles then realises they haven’t actually said good morning yet. To fix that, he steps into Jesse’s space, amused by the wide-eyed way Jesse watches him, and kisses him softly.
“Good morning,” he says, pulling back.
“Huh,” Jesse says. “Not a dream then,” and “Right, yes, good morning. How’s your morning going?”
“Good,” Andrew tells him and it’s mostly not a lie. “You should see my bruises; they’re amazing.”
Jesse’s hand tightens where he’s cupping Andrew’s elbow. “I think I’d just rather you weren’t bruised,” he says which makes Andrew have to kiss him again.
Jesse parts his lips in response this time, so Andrew kisses him deeper, tasting coffee and warmth, which reminds him to take the mug out of Jesse’s hands and set it on the counter. Jesse doesn’t argue, just kisses back, touches warm and sleepy over Andrew’s chest and down his back. His hands slow when they get closer to Andrew’s arse but Andrew pushes back against him and kisses his jaw and it looks like they’re on their way to some slow, disconnected morning sex, when a phone suddenly rings in the living room.
Andrew laughs. “Is that mine or yours?”
Jesse’s hands slowly unpeel from Andrew’s skin and drop, open, to his sides. He shakes his head, frowning. “Yours,” he says. There’s something off in his voice, but Andrew doesn’t blame him; he’s frustrated too.
“Damn.” Andrew kisses him again. “I’ll be two seconds, don’t go anywhere.”
Jesse doesn’t say anything but Andrew can’t think why he’d disagree so he leaves him in the kitchen and goes to find his phone. It’s on the coffee table and Andrew still doesn’t know how to work it but he presses the greenest button and that seems to do the trick.
“Hello?” Andrew says.
There’s a buzz of sound and then, “Hello to you too. It’s Emma. Do you remember me yet?”
“Hi, Emma,” Andrew says, raking a hand back through his hair and sneaking a look at the kitchen door where Jesse is now standing. Andrew thought he looked gorgeous against the counter and he tries to will him back there with only the power of his mind. “Of course I remember you. I only saw you yesterday.”
“Jerk,” Emma says affectionately. “I meant have you remembered me but since you’re avoiding, I’m guessing the answer is no.”
Andrew sits down on the sofa and braces his feet on the table. “Sorry.” He grimaces at Jesse who’s leaving the kitchen and crossing to the bedroom. Andrew wants to ask him to wait, but can’t because Emma’s talking again.
“Oh boy,” she’s saying, “that’s not what you need to be sorry for. Do you know what kind of heart attack you gave me when I went to visit you last night and you weren’t there? I thought you’d died or something.”
“Oh, shit,” Andrew swears. He hadn’t even thought of that. “I didn’t realise...” He trails off, not sure how to say that he just hadn’t remembered that he needed to think of her.
“You’re one of my best friends, asshole,” Emma tells him. “If one of the nurses hadn’t told me you’d taken Jesse home with you, I would have come around to smack you last night.”
He wonders if she knows about him and Jesse; if they really are best friends then she probably does. “Jesse would have protected me,” he tries.
Emma snorts. “Jesse would have tried,” she says darkly. “To make it up to me, I think we should go to Urth Caffe for lunch.” Her voice softens a little. “If you feel up to it?”
Andrew mostly just feels fuzzy from the kissing, but the thought of getting some fresh air is tempting. “I don’t know where that is,” he reminds her.
She makes a pfft noise. “Jesse does. Meet me there at two.” Someone says something in the background and she shushes them. “Got to go. Bye, doll.”
“Bye,” Andrew says to silence. Shaking his head, he goes in search of Jesse. The shower in the guest bathroom is running and Andrew grins, but when he tries the handle, the door’s locked.
“Jesse?” Andrew tries, knocking.
The only answer is the hiss of the spray.
“Jess-e!” Even dragging out the word doesn’t get Jesse’s attention. “Emma wants to have lunch with us.”
The shower cuts off. “What?”
“Emma wants to have lunch with us,” Andrew repeats. He tries the handle again, hopeful, but Jesse hasn’t unlocked it. “If you - “ Andrew cuts him off. There’s no way he can say if you wanted to have sex this morning, we’re going to have to hurry up. Maybe he could say that if he remembered ever having had sex with Jesse before, but he doesn’t so it feels terribly rude and presumptuous.
“Okay. I won’t be long,” Jesse says and then the shower switches back on.
Disappointed, Andrew turns away from the door.