“Alex?” Justin asks, and Jesse can hear him frown him over the phone line. He can also hear him slurring, but then Jesse called him at midnight; he has only himself to blame. “Wait, shit, Alex Branson? Fuck, Andrew hooked up with him?”
“I don’t know?” Jesse says snappishly. He’s home now and lying on his bed in the dark. He’s okay with admitting that he feels sorry for himself; he should be in bed with Andrew right now. That would have been a much nicer end to the evening. “Who’s Alex Branson?”
“Some British popstar, actor wannabe,” Justin says dismissively. “I think Andrew did a movie or a TV show or something with him in like, 2001 or something? Google if you want the details, but that’s probably your guy.”
“Not my guy,” Jesse says, still feeling grumpy.
Justin laughs. “Dude, are you jealous? You’re totally jealous.”
“I’m not,” Jesse protests and then, because he’s a terrible liar, so bad that he knows Justin won’t believe him even while drunk, he amends, “Well, wouldn’t you be? We were on a date and then all of a sudden we weren’t anymore because this Alex guy kept calling.”
“Duuuude,” Justin says, dragging it out and okay, Jesse amends his previous assessment of drunk to stoned. “Alex Branson is just this hot, toned famous guy.”
Jesse waits, but nothing else is forthcoming. “Thanks? I feel so much better now?”
There’s a clatter - probably Justin remembering he’s on the phone and detaching from his bong. “Yeah, but, I meant that that’s all he is. You’re the guy Andrew’s crazy over. That’s way more important than whatever used to be going on with them.”
“You’ve met Andrew once,” Jesse points out even though he is feeling slightly reassured. Somehow.
“Twice, Jesse, twice. I met him that one time when you fucked him over the back of your sofa then sent him off in your NYU sweatshirt, remember?”
“I spilled coffee over him, I didn’t fuck him over anything,” Jesse starts then gives up because Justin’s still talking.
“ - so I saw the way he was looking at you then and I saw the way he looked at you at my party. The guy is way beyond gone for you, bro.” There’s a voice in the background and then Justin says, “Shit, gotta go. Brit says the bath water’s getting cold.”
Jesse blinks. “Britney’s there with you?”
“Yeah.” Justin sounds too happy to be totally smug. “Showed up at the party after you guys bailed on me and, well, she hasn’t gone home yet.”
At least someone’s love life is going well. “I’m glad, Justin,” he says, meaning it. “And thanks for, um, you know.”
“Don’t sweat it,” Justin says cheerfully. “Your boy’ll be calling you up tomorrow, spewing apologies, just you wait. Later.”
“Yeah,” Jesse tells the ceiling, dropping his phone onto the bed. “Maybe.”
Jesse doesn’t sleep well that night and he ends up jerking off at three a.m. because he can’t stop replaying the feel of Andrew’s mouth dragging across his chest, the way the slightly damp friction had made Jesse’s skin want to jump toward Andrew’s lips. It should help him sleep, but it doesn’t because then he just feels guilty for getting off on memories of Andrew when Andrew’s dealing with whatever the problem is with his ex.
At least, Jesse hopes it a problem (and then feels terrible for hoping it’s a problem).
He opens the store at six because he’s awake so he might as well then sits at the counter, staring blankly at his accounts until his first customer comes in at eleven.
“Good morning,” she says brightly, “Do you have an ebook portal here?”
“An ebook portal,” Jesse echoes. He might not know much about technology, but he knows about ebooks. They’re the devil. He takes a deep breath. “No, no we don’t. We don’t and we never will. We do however have actual books with actual pages which you can touch and smell and feel. Are you interested in any of those?”
His voice maybe rises a bit toward the end there but he doesn’t think to feel bad about that until she’s already eyeing him like he’s a crazy person and backing rapidly toward the door.
“Have a nice day,” Jesse mutters to the closing door then sinks down between the two nearest aisles, banging his head repeatedly against a shelf (while being careful not to let any grease from his skin or hair touch the books).
Jesse looks up. He didn’t hear Abigail come in but there she is, standing over him. “Oh, right. Hi?”
“Are, um.” She tugs on the end of her braid, frowning. “Are you having a breakdown? Emma said I had to call her if you looked like you were having a breakdown.”
Is Jesse having a breakdown? He doesn’t think so. “No,” he decides, stumbling back to his feet. “No, I’m just beating myself up so I don’t beat on the customers. Sensible, right?”
“Um, I guess?” She glances around the empty store. “You don’t looks all that busy so I could watch things if you want to get a coffee or something over the road. Or maybe not a coffee. Maybe an herbal tea?”
Jesse isn’t sure if she’s kicking him out of the store for his own good or for the store’s but he still goes, slouching into Joe’s coffee shop and slumping down at the counter.
“Shit,” Joe says, “Justin said you were emo but this is bad.”
“I’m not emo,” Jesse protests, not even bothering to ask why Justin’s been telling everyone about their conversation. To be honest, he’s impressed Justin even remembers it. “I’m just...” He fiddles with the wooden stirrer that Joe kindly sticks between his fidgety fingers. “I think I’m worried?”
Joe nods sagely. He also passes Jesse a mug of coffee because unlike Abigail, he doesn’t approve of caffeine-free drinks. “Well, yeah, I’d be worried that my boyfriend had run off with his hot popstar ex, too.”
Jesse chokes on his coffee. “Um, that’s not really what I’m worried about.” It was at four a.m. but he’s a bit more rational in daylight. “I’m worried that something bad is going on. Andrew looked really upset.”
“Ah.” Joe makes a face. “Right, my bad.” He cuts a slice of coffee cake and loads it onto a plate for Jesse. “That makes way more sense.”
Someone else comes in so Joe moves away from offer Jesse moral support (or whatever that was supposed to be) to serve them. While he’s gone, Jesse checks his phone for the fiftieth time that morning and is surprised to find that somehow a text message has snuck in without him noticing.
Feb 2 11:17
Sorry about last night :( putting out fires today but are you free tomorrow? I miss you. Ax
Fires? Jesse thinks. Fires sound worrying but if Andrew has the time to remember to text him then it can’t be anything catastrophic.
Feb 2 11:32
I’m always free.
That’s nothing but the truth but Andrew sends him back a smily face emoticon straight away so it was hopefully also the right thing to say.
When Joe comes back to the counter, he takes one look at Jesse’s face and starts laughing. “See,” he says, “I said there was nothing to worry about. More coffee?”
Jesse manages to spend the rest of the day blissfully not freaking out about anything beyond the usual. He works until five, lets Emma drag him out for an early dinner then falls into bed and sleeps like the dead until six the next morning when he wakes up to someone hammering on his front door like the zombie invasion has finally started.
Adrenaline pumping sickly from the sudden wake up, Jesse stumbles down the stairs and flings it open to find Joe, pale-faced and holding out a newspaper.
“Sorry, man, sorry, but I picked up the papers this morning and this shit is all over fucking all of them.”
“What shit?” Jesse asks, taking the one Joe’s thrusting at him. He scans the page quickly then finds he has to sit down on his doorstep. “Oh, shit.”
There’s a slightly blurry, low-quality photograph of Andrew locked at the lips with a skinny, blond guy wearing sunglasses and a stupid hat. From the angle of the unknown guy’s arm, Jesse thinks it looks like a self-taken cell phone picture. Andrew looks younger, his hair longer and shaggier but he’s still unmistakably recognisable.
Underneath the picture, the headline is big, bold and obnoxious:
Oh god. Jesse breathes, forcing himself not to freak out. This is bad, so, so bad. Oh god. Poor Andrew. No one deserves this; least of all Andrew’s, who’s the sweetest guy and...
Joe sits down next to Jesse, dropping a hand onto his knee and squeezing. “Apparently his ex wasn’t trying to get back together with him. It looks more like he was threatening to go the papers.”
Jesse puts his head down on his lap, accidentally head-bumping Joe’s hand and probably getting newspaper print all over his face. “Why would anyone do that?” he asks his jeans. He needs to get to Andrew, he thinks wildly. Except he can’t go to Andrew; that would make everything so much worse right now.
Joe hugs him, quick and sideways. “Call him,” he advises. “And, look, whatever shit is about to go down, it doesn’t mean that you and him can’t still have something. You can be there for him and whatever.”
Jesse turns his head, squinting at Joe in the watery winter dawn light. “I’m going to call him,” he decides.
Joe claps him on the shoulder. “Good idea, wish I’d thought of it.”
Jesse spends the next hour trying to get in touch with Andrew, but his phone is constantly busy. He leaves one message, presses the key to delete it before it can be saved and then forces himself to shower and get ready for work.
His personal life and Andrew’s professional life might be in crisis but people still need books.
Jesse doesn’t know if everyone’s too busy exclaiming over Andrew’s ‘scandal’, sticking their noses into other people’s business (and fuck, how he hates celebrity) but the store is even emptier than normal this morning.
When the bell dings at lunch time, he’s half-way through trying to call Andrew again so he doesn’t look up until it too goes to voicemail. Then he does look up and nearly falls over fucking air trying to get to his feet at light speed.
“Andrew, oh god,” Jesse says, holding out his hands and coming around the counter.
Andrew stops in the doorway, just rocking on the balls of his feet. He’s wearing a heavy jacket with the hood pulled half way over his face and dark shades on. It’s a pretty good disguise - if the look he’s going for is in disguise.
“Hi.” Andrew swallows, hard enough that it’s audible. His voice sounds shocking, like he’s been talking, or maybe yelling, all night. “I’m sorry to come here like this but I didn’t know where else to go.”
“It’s fine,” Jesse says quickly, leaning around Andrew to lock the front door and flip the closed sign over. (Sure, people deserve access to books but no one’s making use of it today and Andrew sounds wrecked.)
“Thank you.” Andrew shakes his hood back and pushes his sunglasses up into his hair. Jesse thought they were just part of the disguise but he sees how red and sore Andrew’s eyes look, and starts to wonder. “I tried to go to work but the set’s impossible and they’ve staked out my hotel.” He runs a shaky hand over his face and half-sags against the counter.
“I tried to call you,” Jesse says inanely, like that’s relevant here.
Andrew bites his lip. “I’m sorry. I turned off my mobile. I had to come out to my grandfather at four o’clock this morning so he didn’t hear about it first from the press and I just...” He stops, swallows. “I couldn’t deal with anyone after that.”
Jesse wants to hug him really, really badly. Instead, he puts his hand on Andrew’s back, guiding him through the store to the back. “You can stay here as long as you need to,” he promises. “And I have a no cell phone rule so you won’t have to worry about talking to anyone.”
Andrew lets himself be led up the stairs and through into Jesse’s apartment. He’s quiet and biddable and a whole load of other defeated adjectives that Jesse has never associated with Andrew before.
“Sit down on the couch,” Jesse says, trying to adopt the same brusque-but-caring tone that his mom always put on for him when he needs it. “I’ll make tea.”
“Can it be tea laced with vodka?” Andrew asks, collapsing down onto the sofa and tilting his head back against the cushions. There are dark, puffy circles under his red-rimmed eyes. Jesse has never been a violent person but he’d happily beat this Alex asshole to death if it would make Andrew stop looking like that.
“That sounds disgusting,” Jesse says honestly. “But I can stick a shot of whiskey in a cup of coffee, if you like.”
Andrew lets his eyes close and breathes out. “Yes, please,” he says quietly.
Jesse moves through the coffee-making process so hurriedly that he ends up scalding the web of skin between his thumb and forefinger. He curses and sucks it into his mouth but he can’t stop for triage right now; he doesn’t want to leave Andrew alone.
When he gets back to the couch, two mugs of coffee in hand, Andrew has his head in his hands. His shoulders are shaking but he’s perfectly silent and Jesse could, if he wanted to, pretend that he hasn’t seen.
Jesse really wants to, he only really knows how to comfort cats, and Andrew probably wouldn’t appreciate being scritched under the chin or offered an extra bowl of kibble.
“Hey,” he says, swallowing back a thick knot that forms in his throat at the thought of Andrew upset. “Okay, no, that’s not acceptable behaviour.” He puts the mugs down on the table, not waiting to deal with coasters and sits next to Andrew, wrapping his arms around him, firmly like if he pretends to have the right, Andrew will let him.
Andrew turns toward Jesse a little, letting his head rest against Jesse’s shoulder, rubbing at his face and making sounds like he’s mad at himself for getting upset.
“You’re okay,” Jesse says, trying to make it true. He rubs at Andrew’s shoulders in what he hopes is a comforting way. “Shh, come on.”
“Sorry,” Andrew groans after a couple of minutes. He sits up, wiping his face on his sleeve before Jesse can offer him a kleenex. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I’m such a mess.” He looks across at Jesse, smiling wryly. “I bet you’re so hot for me right now, aren’t you?”
“You have never been more attractive,” Jesse agrees, deadpan. “I find snot a real turn-on.”
Andrew laughs shakily and accepts the box of tissues Jesse passes him. “I hate this,” he says once he’s sorted himself out, sitting back against the arm of the couch with his doctored coffee clutched in both hands. “I don’t know what to do; I’m so tired. Everyone’s acting like this is the worst thing ever. Hollywood is full of fucking domestic abusers right now, but apparently they’re still less of a liability than me. It’s not - ”
“You haven’t done anything wrong,” Jesse interrupts, just in case Andrew’s starting to forget that.
Andrew makes a face. “Except that I apparently had terrible taste in men when I was nineteen.”
“Well, I didn’t want to say,” Jesse agrees, pleased when Andrew manages a real smile.
After a minute, Andrew’s smile fades. “You can ask,” he says, sounding resigned.
Jesse frowns. “What do you think I want to ask?” Mostly, he just wants to ask if Andrew’s all right and if he’d mind much if Jesse locked all the doors and refused to let him go back into a world that gives this much of a damn about who anyone sleeps with.
Andrew shrugs. “The usual seems to be did I really date Alex Branson, how long for, what did I do to make him sell me out, are there really sex tapes. That kind of thing.”
“Sex tapes?” Jesse asks, surprised.
Andrew blanches then blushes. “Apparently there are a couple of papers in a bidding war for it. God. We, um. It’s not really a sex tape, it’s just... I mean, it is, I suppose, but it wasn’t for - ”
“Stop.” Jesse puts his hand on Andrew’s leg. “This is none of my business, please don’t tell me.”
Andrew curls his hand around Jesse’s, his fingers warm from the mug. “Do you really not mind if I stay here?” he asks.
“You can stay as long as you like,” Jesse says. Usually, he’s touchy about having people in his space, especially for unknown amounts of time, but he surprises himself by how much he means it.
By nightfall, Andrew’s agent is still texting him to tell him to stay put and Jesse’s starting to get hungry. It’s irrational, but he doesn’t want to call for takeout, just in case the delivery person somehow senses that a wanted celebrity is hiding upstairs, so Jesse decides to cook.
He’s half way through cheese and ham omelettes when Andrew comes to lean against the kitchen counter.
“Thank you,” he says, looking at Jesse from under his eyelashes.
“You haven’t tasted them yet,” Jesse jokes, deliberately misunderstanding.
“Jesse,” Andrew chides. “Thank you.”
Jesse decides that the omelettes can survive on their own for a minute and drops his spoon, curling his arms around Andrew instead. “I wish I could do so much more,” he says seriously. “I wish I could make everyone realise what a stupid non-issue this is.”
Andrew nods, looking a bit flushed and bright eyed again. He drops his mouth to Jesse’s and kisses him clumsily. There’s none of the fun and skill from the other night; this is more desperate, hungry for something that Jesse probably doesn’t have to offer. He tries though, kissing Andrew back as hard as he can until Andrew pulls back, sniffing.
“I think the food’s burning,” he says apologetically.
Jesse spins around. There’s some singeing at the edges but nothing serious. Still, he swats Andrew on the arm with his spoon and says, “Go set the table, you’re a menace in the kitchen.”
“That’s what my mum says,” Andrew agrees, nodding. “Not for quite the same reasons though,” he adds, grabbing some knives and forks and heading to the living room.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Jesse says deadpan. “I’m going to make you eat the burned one, by the way, so be prepared for crunch.”
“You wouldn’t,” Andrew calls confidently. “You’re my hero, Jesse Eisenberg.”
“Oh, shut up,” Jesse mutters, but he can’t help the little swell of pleasure in his chest.
Pretty much as soon as they’ve finished eating, Andrew starts yawning and he doesn’t stop throughout insisting that Jesse lets him help do the dishes.
“Look,” Jesse says at last, brandishing the bottle of dish washing soap at him and trying not to laugh when a pathetic little bubble flies out. “I have a particular order to how I do the dishes and I don’t trust anyone not to mess it up so unless you want us to have our first fight right here in the kitchen, go sit down and let me do this.”
Andrew blinks at him. “I don’t think I could cope with any more arguing today,” he says, which makes Jesse feels like an asshole. “Would it be okay if I just sat very quietly on this counter and promised not to interfere?”
Jesse puts down the bottle so he can hold onto Andrew’s forearms while he kisses him. Andrew melts into him instantly, arms turning in Jesse’s grip so he can hold onto Jesse’s elbows.
They only break the kiss when Andrew yawns again, so hard this time that his eyes water. “Sorry,” he says, making a face. “I didn’t sleep at all last night and not all that much the night before.”
“Forget sitting in here,” Jesse says. “Go to bed.” Which is when he realises that he doesn’t have a guest room. Well, he knew that, he just sort of hadn’t made the connection. “By which I mean, you should take my bed. I’ll sleep on the sofa.”
“What, no,” Andrew says, looking appalled. “I’ve already barged into your home without an invitation and blubbered all over you, I can’t kick you out of your bed as well.”
Jesse folds his arms. Since he’s holding a washcloth already, he ends up with a wet and sudsy t-shirt but pretends that that didn’t happen. “If I make you sleep on the sofa, I’ll lie awake all night cursing myself out for being a shitty host.”
Andrew sucks on his bottom lip - which is ridiculously distracting - and then he beams. “Well, you know what the only solution is then, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Jesse says, nodding. “We both stay awake all night.”
Andrew tries smile and yawn at the same time and his face ends up doing something weirdly wobbly and endearing. “Sleep with me tonight?” he asks and there’s nothing suggestive about his tone, he sounds too exhausted for that, but Jesse’s heart still turns over.
“Yes,” he says. “Okay, that works.”
Andrew smiles at him, soft but blinding and kisses him again. “Feel free to wake me up if I fall asleep on your side of the bed or something,” he calls over his shoulder, shuffling off to get ready for bed.
Jesse speeds through the dishes, leaving everything but the mugs to drain, then hesitates outside his own bedroom door, plotting ways to tie himself to one side of the bed so he won’t accidentally try to spoon Andrew in the middle of the night or something.
Then he actually opens the door and completely forgets everything he’s been worrying about because oh look, there’s Andrew, sprawled out and sleeping in Jesse’s bed. Now Jesse’s thinking up elaborate plans to make him stay, just there, forever. Some of those also involve rope.
Careful not to make any noise, Jesse tiptoes to the bed, grabs his sleep clothes off the pillow and goes to the bathroom to change and get ready for bed.
Andrew’s shifted around by the time he comes out, curled up on his side, his face pushed between the two pillows and his neck bent at a funny angle. Jesse tells himself not to, but he has to do something, can’t let Andrew sleep like that all night. He touches his fingers lightly to the back of Andrew’s head, murmuring stupid things that he’s glad Andrew isn’t awake to hear, and Andrew rolls over, settling more comfortably on his pillow.
Pleased that he remembers some of the rites of sharing a bed even though it’s been years, Jesse walks around the bed and climbs in the other side.
It should probably feel stranger than it does to share a bed with Andrew since Jesse has been terrible at sharing his bed with anyone since Anna, worried that he’ll kick or fart or accidentally fall asleep on their face and smother them - which isn’t what happened with Anna. But Jesse’s tired and Andrew’s deep breathing is rhythmic and relaxing and Jesse falls asleep before his brain ever gets around to worrying.
Jesse wakes up to clacking sounds at some still-dark time of night. He sits up, imagining burglars downstairs, trying to steal his books then realises what the clacking actually is: Andrew, awake and turned away from Jesse, Jesse’s clunky old laptop that he hardly ever uses open on the mattress in front of him.
“What’s wrong?” Jesse asks, swallowing down a yawn.
Andrew jumps and turns around slowly. The white light from the laptop makes him look pale and shadowed. “The tabloids have woken up back home,” he says heavily. “It’s all starting up again.”
Jesse wants to rip the laptop out of his hands. “Do you need to read it?” he asks instead.
Andrew laughs shakily. “I think I need someone to stop me reading it,” he says and that’s all the invitation Jesse needs. He leans over Andrew and takes the laptop from him, snapping it closed and shoving it under the bed. It can stay there to rot for all he cares.
When he turns back around, Jesse puts his hand on Andrew’s bare back, spreads his hand over the line of his spine. “Whatever they were saying, it’s not true.” He pauses. “Unless they were being awesomely supportive. Was anyone being awesomely supportive.”
Andrew arches back into the press of Jesse’s hand. “A few people,” he says without lifting his head. “GLAAD like me and, randomly, Perez Hilton thinks Alex is an arsehole. The UK papers are mostly mocking me, which is better than the things I read yesterday about how I’m corrupting America’s children.” He flops over onto his back, blinking up at Jesse with his huge dark eyes. “Surely if they’re letting their kids watch films about a vigilante human-spider person who regularly gets his girlfriends killed, the fact that I like boys isn’t what’s going to scar them?”
Jesse has no idea what to say. He could start a rant, he knows he could, he has a lot of opinions about the stupidity of some people but it’s the middle of the night and he doesn’t think Andrew needs to hear it right now. “The fact that you like boys is no one else’s business,” he says seriously. “You’re gorgeous and talented and charming; you can’t let bigoted idiots get you down.” He clears his throat. “Or, um, something less embarrassingly strident. ‘Chin up, dude,’ maybe? Would that work?”
Andrew laughs softly. “Jesse,” he says, staring up at him like he’s... like he’s said something amazing. He looks rumpled and tired, his hands jittering on the sheet but his eyes look calm when they settle on Jesse’s face.
“Yes, hi.” Jesse smiles and leans forward, kissing him softly on the corner of his mouth because Andrew’s here and because he can.
Andrews arms lift and wrap around Jesse’s neck, pulling him close and turning his head to catch his mouth full-on in a proper kiss. He pushes his tongue into Jesse’s mouth, lush and wet and Jesse feels his heart start to pound, his skin grow hot.
“You’re welcome?” Jesse tries although if Andrew’s only kissing Jesse because he’s grateful that Jesse’s on his side then Jesse might cry.
Andrew shakes his head. “Don’t be silly,” he says. “If that was how I thanked people who support me, I’d be blowing Stephen Fry right now.”
That’s not really a mental image that Jesse was expecting so he has to kiss Andrew again to clear it. Andrew curls his tongue against Jesse’s, fingers sliding around the back of Jesse’s head to push him down, deepen the kiss. Jesse gasps, head spinning, and grabs onto Andrew’s biceps, holding on hard enough that he’d worry about bruising him if he could think of anything beyond the slick, warm slide of Andrew’s kisses.
Andrew squirms under him, pressing one knee against Jesse’s hip, nudging him over so he’s kneeling between Andrew’s legs. Andrew’s wearing boxers and so is Jesse so that’s a lot of bare, hairy skin pressing together.
“What are we - ?” Jesse asks, pulling back with an effort. He thinks he knows where this is going but he has to make sure. “What would you like to do?”
“I want to stop thinking,” Andrew tells him. “I want you to make me stop thinking.” It sounds almost like a question, like he thinks there’s any possibility Jesse is going to turn him down.
“Shit yes,” Jesse says, so quickly that he forgets the comma. “I mean, are you sure? You’re all upset and...” He waves a hand.
“Outed,” Andrew tells him, mouth twisting.
“Don’t think about that,” Jesse says firmly. He puts his fingers over Andrew’s lips. “Please don’t.” Andrew is always so self-assured, so cheerful and confident and happy and just a tiny bit neurotic in a charming way; Jesse cannot stand hearing him sound so defeated.
Andrew rolls onto his side, taking Jesse with him and presses forward for another kiss. He can’t seem to settle, asking for kisses but moving on before Jesse can deepen them. Jesse catches him by the hip, holding him still and pressing him back down into the mattress, straddling his waist and holding onto his wrists while he licks slowly and patiently across Andrew’s bottom lip.
“Oh,” Andrew says, less a word and more a breath and twists underneath Jesse. He tips his head back, groaning. “Jesse, Jesse. Give me my hand back for ten seconds? I can’t get my boxers down like this.”
Jesse’s stomach fizzes at the thought of Andrew, naked in his bed and he lets go of Andrew’s wrists. He’s not exactly a master of domination, here.
Somehow, Andrew taking off his underwear requires a lot more twisting and turning and pressing soft patches of his skin against sensitive parts of Jesse’s than Jesse would expect. Not that he’s complaining.
“Jesse,” Andrew breathes. He’s naked and so attractive that Jesse isn’t sure he should even be allowed to look. He fits his hands to Andrew’s bare hips, just touching.
“Yes?” Jesse asks. “What can I do for you?”
Andrew smiles, reaching his arms up above his head, pale skin stretching over solid muscles. “I’d love to see you naked,” he asks. “Please?”
Jesse kisses him quickly then sits back, glad that it’s dark enough that he can pretend Andrew won’t be able to see quite how pale and skinny he is or the weird pink blotches he gets on his chest when he’s turned on.
“Jesse, god, you’re gorgeous,” Andrew says, sitting up and running his hands over Jesse’s chest as soon as he pulls his clothes off.
Jesse doesn’t say anything, because he thinks denying it and asking if Andrew needs his eyes tested probably wouldn’t be appropriate right now. Instead, he pulls Andrew close and kisses his cheek. Andrew shivers and presses close, hiding his face in Jesse’s shoulder.
Jesse kisses him hard then pushes him back down onto the bed. He rolls Andrew over, kissing slowly down his back. His skin is smooth, a little dry in patches, which Jesse likes because it makes him taste real.
Andrew starts making soft little wanting sounds as soon as Jesse kisses the nape of his neck, but he’s panting by the time Jesse reaches the small of his back and pauses there, overwhelmed at what Andrew’s letting him do and wondering if he has the nerve to move lower.
“Jesse,” Andrew groans, rocking his hips from side to side. Jesse wonders if he wants to push back but is trying to be polite.
Jesse kisses the curve of Andrew’s left ass cheek and Andrew curls forward, resting his head on folded arms.
“Tongue or fingers?” Jesse asks. He means it as an actual question, he doesn’t want to presume anything, but Andrew just groans again. “Andrew?”
“Oh god,” Andrew mumbles. Then, “Fingers. But can I raincheck on the tongue?”
Jesse smiles. “Definitely.” He sits up and grabs the lube from the very back of his bedside table drawer, relieved that it’s still liquid. It’s pretty old, he’d been worried.
Andrew makes gorgeous, helpless noises into the pillow when Jesse slides one finger inside but he’s faded into breathless silence by the time Jesse is adding a third. “Please,” Andrew groans again, rolling his hips up, needy and so hot that Jesse’s hands shake when he tries to put on the condom.
Andrew is shaking too, trembling beneath him and Jesse just wants to keep him here forever, wrap him up and hold him until the world is no longer full of assholes who’ll sell him out for a quick buck.
He can’t do that, but he can lean back - it pushes his hips forward and Andrew chokes - and grab the edge of the comforter, pull it up over both of them, cocooning them in grey-edged darkness.
Andrew doesn’t ask, just makes fists in the edge of the comforter, rocks back against Jesse.
It’s hot in their blanket fort and Jesse can’t catch a full breath but he’s too busy enjoying the slap-slide that their bodies make together to really worry about that. Andrew’s braced on straight arms now, screwing himself back against Jesse and Jesse does his best to be right where Andrew needs him.
“Fuck, fuck,” Andrew mutters under his breath and sits back suddenly, thighs bracketing Jesse’s, their knees overlapping. He’s half in Jesse’s lap and he drops his head back against Jesse’s shoulder. A gust of cool air blows in from where the movement has lifted the comforter.
Jesse runs his hands down Andrew’s chest, touching sweat-slippery skin and palming his nipples. Andrew swears some more when Jesse twists his nipple, experimenting.
“Sorry,” Jesse mutters, kissing the damp hair at Andrew’s temple. “Did I hurt you?”
Andrew turns his head blindingly, murmuring, “No,” against Jesse’s mouth, so Jesse does it again. Andrew reaches down, grabbing awkwardly at Jesse’s thighs, fingernails biting bluntly into Jesse’s skin and making him rock up instinctively. Something twinges in his knee but he ignores it; he’s having semi-energetic sex with someone important so his creaky old bookstore owner body is just going to have to deal.
“If I don’t come soon, I’m going to die,” Andrew tells him, conversational and hilariously melodramatic.
Jesse doesn’t believe him, but he’s also not prepared to take the risk, so he wraps a hand around Andrew’s cock, working him steadily. He drags his free hand up the inside of Andrew’s thighs, his fingers over Andrew’s tightening balls.
Andrew’s hips jerk forward and he makes a sound that Jesse has never heard or read about or even imagined before.
“Yeah, yes, yeah, please,” Andrew mumbles, gone. Jesse kisses the corner of his mouth and presses the edge of one fingernail just below the head of Andrew’s cock. Andrew comes so hard that he half-twists with the force of it, trying to curl into Jesse and failing because Jesse is still behind him and balls-deep inside him.
Andrew scrambles off him, making Jesse have to physically stop himself from reaching out and reeling him back in. He doesn’t need to worry though, because Andrew just crawls back into his lap, facing him this time and kisses Jesse hard, fumbling the condom off and replacing it with his hand.
Jesse feels his mouth drop open, his head tip back and he’s only peripherally aware of Andrew kissing his jaw, his throat, his collarbones while jerking him off.
“Coming,” Jesse chokes, because it seems polite to tell him.
“Good,” Andrew says, laughing, and then Jesse does.
The next morning, Jesse wakes up with Andrew curled against his side, playing with his hair.
“What are you doing?” Jesse asks then winces at the gummy way his lips stick together, wishing he could go brush his teeth without Andrew noticing.
Andrew tilts his head back and smiles at him softly. “Hi,” he says, “Good morning.” He tugs on one of Jesse’s curls until Jesse leans down to kiss him, gummy lips and all.
“Are you - ” Jesse starts to ask then stops because no, Andrew’s probably not all right. The sex was good but Jesse is under no illusions that he gives magic orgasms. Still, Andrew wasn’t gotten out of bed to check the internet yet, so maybe he did help a little bit. “How did you sleep?” he asks instead.
“Mm.” Andrew slides against Jesse’s side, sinuous and still so very naked. “Not too badly,” he says, laying kisses across Jesse’s bare shoulder. “You make an excellent pillow.”
Normally, Jesse can’t stand lying around in bed when he isn’t sleeping, but Andrew is enough of an incentive to keep him right where he is.
“I can also do a passable comforter and my topsheet isn’t bad. I suck as an undersheet though; my corners aren’t elastic enough.”
Andrew laughs. His hand had been on Jesse’s chest but now it starts to slide down, under the comforter and settling on his belly. “What time do you have to open the shop?”
Jesse feels his eyes widen. Shit. He hadn’t forgotten about the store; he never forgets about the store, but he also hasn’t really thought about it since he left Emma to close up yesterday.
“Emma’s working today,” he says after mentally rolling through his daily schedule. “If she gets there and I’m not in, she’ll probably come knock on the door to check I’m not dead but she’ll also open up, so that’s okay.”
Andrew rubs his palm over the trail of hair below Jesse’s navel, stopping just above the base of his sleepily-hardening cock. “Maybe you should text her then,” Andrew suggests. “I’d like to keep you in bed as long as possible, if that’s okay?”
“That’s, um.” Andrew turns his hand, wrapping it around Jesse’s semi-erection. “Yes, that’s. Whatever you want.” He reaches out blindly and fishes his cell off the nightstand. “I really cannot text Emma while you’re jerking me off, though. Somehow, she’ll just know.”
“Which would be terrible,” Andrew agrees and Jesse can’t tell if he’s mocking him or not. “I’d never be able to look her in the eye again.” He waits for Jesse to start composing his message then squirms around, sliding down the bed and settling between Jesse’s legs.
“What are you doing?” Jesse squeaks. It’s pretty obvious, actually, since Andrew is leaning down and kissing the top of Jesse’s thigh.
“Nothing,” Andrew says, looking up at him with big, innocent eyes. “Carry on texting.”
Static in bed wish Anothers he types, which is apparently what his predictive text decides he wants to say when Andrew is sucking the head of his cock into his mouth and Jesse’s fingers have lost all coherency.
“Andrew, fuck,” Jesse not-complains, “Wait.” He ruins his own protest by arching up his hips and losing his last T to a groan.
Andrew pulls off with a pop. “I’ll wait,” he says, smiling up at Jesse. “But please be quick?”
“Yes,” Jesse agrees blankly, fingers already trying to sort out his nonsense words into real ones. “I’ll be so quick, you have no - ” He thinks his message finally makes sense - he hopes so anyway because that’s a good as it’s going to be - and hits send. Then he practically throws his phone onto the floor, making Andrew laugh and try to go back to blowing him all at once.
It feels so good that Jesse actually forgets to breathe and he drops his hands to Andrew’s hair, carding his fingers through the tangled, fluffy mess of it.
“That feels fantastic,” he groans, wishing he could stop talking but finding it impossible. On the floor, his cell vibrates with a message - undoubtedly Emma texting him back to mock him endlessly - but Jesse ignores it, closing his eyes and stroking Andrew’s scalp with his fingertips and trying not to think about anything else.
They spend the morning having breakfast and making out against the kitchen wall for a while and then have some slippery, potentially dangerous shower-sex. All in all, it’s a fantastic morning, right up until the moment when Andrew finds his cell shoved down the back of the sofa, reluctantly turns it back on, and it starts ringing off the hook, shrill tone shattering their calm.
Andrew takes one look at the display and groans. “It’s my publicist,” he says.
Jesse reaches over instinctively and squeezes his shoulder. “Is that bad?”
Andrew shrugs noncommittally. “She’s better than my agent, I suppose. At least she’s only mad at Alex.”
“Wait, your agent’s mad at you?” Jesse asks but Andrew holds up his hand, making an apologetic face while he answers the phone.
“Good morning, Shauna,” he says, leaning his head on Jesse’s shoulder. Jesse hears a woman’s voice start to shout indistinctly and instinctively leans away.
Andrew lets him go with a rueful little smile then turns and walks back into the bedroom, humming what sounds like agreement every few seconds.
Jesse hovers for a while, trying to think of something he can do to help but Andrew shows no signs of coming back and Jesse hates feeling useless so he grabs his shoes and heads down to the store.
At least if his books are having some kind of crisis, he’ll be able to help.
“Wow,” Emma says, glancing up at him then back down at the book she’s... Jesus Christ, she’s writing in her textbook. Jesse should have stayed upstairs and maybe put his hand in the toaster oven. It would have been less painful.
“Wow?” Jesse asks, subtly-yet-not sliding over one of the ring-bound notebooks he keeps under the counter.
Emma ignores it, enthusiastically underscoring something in her book so hard that all the other pages in the store must feel it and wince. “Wow that you’ve actually gotten out of bed and put on clothes. Where’s lover boy, have you tired him out? Has he gone back to his web for a nap?”
“Shh,” Jesse hisses because there are at least three customers in the store right now and Emma’s constant need to mock him is not a good enough reason for people to find out where Andrew’s hiding.
“Oh, what?” Emma rolls her eyes. “Now if I said, golly, Jesse, how was your night of passion with Andrew... Mmmph!”
Jesse covers her mouth with his hand and glares. One of their customers, a young girl wearing a beret is definitely looking at them. Though might be because Jesse is attempting to smother Emma. He drops his hand and steps back, raising his eyebrows warningly.
Emma sticks her tongue out then huffs. “Fine.” She leans over the counter, elbows on her book. “But seriously, how was it? Was it magic? Are you in lurve?”
Jesse flips her off and doesn’t answer. He doesn’t want to think about any of it too closely; if he lets himself think about it, he’s afraid the answer to Emma’s last question is going to be yes.
Jesse stays down in the store, re-shelving until mid-afternoon when Andrew texts him.
Feb 4 16:09
Come upstairs? Wear something pretty ;)
“Um,” Jesse says, standing up and wincing when his knees crack. He waves his phone awkwardly at Emma, carefully not letting her see the screen. “I’m going to go back up.”
Emma laughs at him. “Put a sock on the door!” she calls. “And if the floorboards start rocking, I’ll just tell the customers that we have really big rats.”
“Oh my god, shut up,” Jesse groans and practically runs out the store before she can say anything even more traumatising.
It’s not until he reaches his front door that he realises that he didn’t pick up his keys when he left this morning. He feels kind of stupid knocking on his own front door, but he forgets all about that when Andrew opens the door and just fucking beams at him.
“What?” Jesse asks, frowning. “Did I accidentally turn into a unicorn again on the way up? I hate when that happens.”
“No, just.” Andrew shakes his head, looking down at his shoes then back up at Jesse, still grinning. He reaches out and touches the bridge of Jesse’s nose. “Your face. I missed it.”
Jesse blushes so fast and so hard that he feels the heat flood his whole upper body. “You’re ridiculous,” he says, trying to move past Andrew and into the apartment but Andrew stops him, wraps his arms around Jesse and hugs him.
“One minute,” Andrew murmurs into his ear. “Please?”
“Sure,” Jesse says, frowning but hugging Andrew back because, well, of course he’s going to give Andrew a hug if he wants one. “Did you, um. So you haven’t had a good day, then, huh?”
Andrew inhales like he’s going to answer then just squeezes Jesse one more time before stepping back. “Let’s not talk about that,” he says, “Let’s have dinner instead.”
“Oh shit,” Jesse swears, stopping in the hallway. “I need to go to the store, we don’t have any food.” He’s also realising that he forgot to have lunch. Huh, that’s probably what that rumbling sound was around two p.m.
“Jesse,” Andrew chides gently. “Stop panicking and come with me.” He curls his hand around Jesse’s wrist, tugging him into the kitchen and - oh.
“You cooked?” Jesse asks staring at the plates of chicken and bowl of fries in the centre of the table. He arches an eyebrow. “Andrew, do you have magical powers you forgot to mention?”
“Yep,” Andrew agrees, nodding. “Sorry, I forgot to say. I can turn ordinary household items into chicken and chips.” He bounces on his toes, almost like he’s nervous. “No, my publicist wanted to come and see me and I only agreed to give her your address if she brought us food.”
Jesse takes a moment to decide how he feels about Andrew inviting people into his home. On the one hand, Jesse is really not keen on people he doesn’t know getting in his stuff, but on the other hand, he’s stupidly pleased that Andrew feels comfortable here.
“Your publicist knows about us?” is what he finally manages to ask because he’s curious about that too.
“Of course,” Andrew says quickly, frowning like that was a surprising question. Jesse doesn’t know what to do with that. What he does know is that he definitely doesn’t want to be publicised.
“So,” Jesse says, distracting himself from all the feelings, “Let’s see how good a cook you are.”
Later that evening, after they’ve eaten and Jesse has finally agreed to let Andrew do the dishes, Andrew stands in the middle of Jesse’s living room, arms folded across his chest and looks miserable.
“What’s wrong?” Jesse asks. He’s known something was bothering Andrew; he was quiet during dinner and didn’t try to make Jesse blush even once.
“I have to go home,” Andrew tells him, looking down at the carpet. “Shauna wants me to stay and, god, I want to stay.” He looks up at Jesse, looking lost, then shakes his head. “But I need to make sure my parents haven’t had some kind of breakdown or anything.”
Jesse wishes he could pretend to be surprised, but he’s really not. “Did they really not know?” he asks. He tells his mom everything; sometimes he forgets that other adults don’t do that.
Andrew’s breath catches and he shakes his head. “Not really,” he says. “I’m, uh, I’m never very subtle when I like someone so I’d sort of hoped they’d guessed? But they hadn’t and now they’re... I have to go home. I have to - .” He swallows hard but shakes his head when Jesse tries to put a hand on his arm. “Jesse, my grandmother went to buy a pint of milk and some Hobnobs from the corner shop and found that a million newspapers were talking about my sex life.”
“Wow,” Jesse says. “You really do have to go home.”
“I’m sorry.” Andrew reaches out now, takes Jesse’s hand. “This is... I really like you. I desperately want to stay with you. It’s just that the timing is rubbish and - ”
“I understand,” Jesse promises him and he does, that’s the thing. Of course Andrew has to prioritise his family over Jesse. Why shouldn’t he?
“When do you have to go?” he asks, keeping his voice light and steady because he’s not going to be selfish about this; he’s not even going to let Andrew know that he wants to be selfish.
Andrew makes a face that almost manages to contain a smile. “My flight’s tomorrow lunchtime. I, um. I probably should have flown back this evening but I just really wanted to spend some more time with you.” He steps in close and rests his forehead against Jesse. “God, you have to know I’d stay here forever if I could.”
Jesse bites his lip. They shouldn’t be moving this quickly, he’s pretty sure. They’ve only been on one real date and the only reason Andrew’s staying here is that he can’t go home, not because he’s really that attached to Jesse. Except... Except why is he acting like he is that attached to Jesse?
“Jesse?” Andrew asks, cautiously. “Am I being too clingy? I mean, I can’t really help it, I think you’re amazing, but I will absolutely try to tone it down a little if I’m scaring you.”
In any other situation, Jesse would tell Andrew that he’s terrifying. Jesse is a big proponent of telling people how he’s feeling, even if it’s going to make them uncomfortable, but Andrew’s leaving tomorrow and Jesse has no idea if he’s going to come back, so for once, Jesse goes the easy route.
“You’re not scaring me,” he says, feeling less guilty when Andrew flashes a smile at him. “I mean, your taste in men is a little suspect, but otherwise...”
“Be quiet,” Andrew says softly, fondly, moving closer to Jesse and curling his arms around Jesse’s waist. “My taste in men is impeccable.” He makes a face. “This time.”
Jesse feels a twinge of guilt because he didn’t mean to remind Andrew about Alex-the-Asshole. He tilts his head up and catches Andrew’s mouth in a kiss, hoping to distract him.
“Mm,” Andrew murmurs against Jesse’s mouth, sounding successfully distracted. “Since I have to leave tomorrow, I sort of want to have all the sex possible with you tonight. Does that sound like a plan?”
Jesse rolls his eyes. “God, no,” he says deadpan. “Please don’t subject me to such a hardship.”
Andrew’s eyes are getting crinklier every time he smiles, like he’s relaxing, which is making Jesse smile easier in return. “Come on,” he says, catching Jesse’s hand. “The first stage in my dastardly plan is to inflict a blowjob on you. Then I thought I might progress to rimming. It’ll be awful; you might even scream.”
“Here’s hoping,” Jesse agrees and lets himself be towed into the bedroom.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five