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03 October 2012 @ 09:02 pm
fic: my heart with you  
Title: My Heart With You
Summary: Jesse and Andrew first meet when Jesse is 6, and Andrew is 30. Time cannot hold Andrew steady, but somehow, they find their way to each other. A Time Traveller's Wife AU.
Pairing: Jesse Eisenberg/Andrew Garfield (TSN RPF)
Warnings: Mentions of depression and self-harm. Descriptions and discussions of attempted suicide.
Word Count: ~19000
Notes: You guys have no idea how nerve-wracking it is to be posting after moogle62. Anyway. This is my first Big Bang and by far the longest fic I've ever written. (I know 19K isn't much, considering the ridiculousness of this fandom, but it's a milestone for me.) Thank you to serenatechair for feedback, the gorgeous art and the fanmix! It was awesome working with you :D Thank also to my beta, roofpizza, who was lightning-fast and very accommodating. And to happymaybe for looking over the very first draft and not telling me to junk it :) ♥ Any mistakes in this are definitely all mine. Title is from a song by The Rescues.

This fic was originally an Andrew/Jesse fic, and then I wrote it as a Mark/Eduardo fic, and then rewrote it back to how it is now. There's still a Mark/Eduardo draft in my laptop with a very different storyline and much more complicated timeline, which is why I decided to give it up (it may show up someday, still). Timelines are annoying. Please feel free to point out any dates and ages that may seem weird.

Lots of love and thanks to the people who mod-ed this Big Bang! The outpouring of quality fic and art from this fandom, even after two years, astounds me. I love everyone in this bar!

Art + fanmix! Go go go! by serenatechair

On to the fic!



Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.


- from Love at First Sight by Wislawa Szymborska

I.
Prologue: in which Jesse waits

[November 18, 2011. Jesse is 28, Andrew is 33]

Jesse:

It’s been five days.

Jesse wakes up in the mornings and the bed is empty and the sunlight puddles on the sheets like it is lost without Andrew to take it in. He drinks coffee at the kitchen counter all by himself and writes Andrew’s mannerisms into the hobo character in one of his stories, the way he purses his lips when he’s concentrating and the feathery mess of his hair in the mornings, the way his stubble grows out on the weeks when he’s being lazy. He writes Andrew’s hands into a girl who works at a bakery, Andrew’s laugh into a brave school kid who learns to stand up to bullies.

When Andrew is away, Jesse uses his laptop and not his typewriter, because Andrew loves waking up to the sound of Jesse loudly clacking away, and it makes Jesse’s skin itch to do the things Andrew loves when he is not here.

He takes long walks because he can’t stand to be in the apartment they share, reminders of Andrew strewn across the sofa, neatly fixed into photographs. Both his absence and his presence are strikingly obvious in the mess of clothes in the hallway that Jesse can’t bring himself to pick up. But he can’t stay away for long, either. What if Andrew comes back and Jesse isn’t there to meet him? What if he comes back bruised and hurt (as he often is) and Jesse isn’t there to patch him up?

At night he goes to sleep pressed into Andrew’s space on the bed, curled up into Attila, his fat calico, while Growltiger keeps vigil by the window. His cats are just as sad as Jesse when Andrew is gone.

(Attila and Growltiger are their cats, actually—his and Andrew’s—but Andrew isn’t here—and it makes Jesse sad to acknowledge it, so, when Andrew is away, everything is Jesse’s. It’s strange and neurotic but it makes things easier and Jesse will take anything by now. Easy is hard to come by when Andrew is away.

If Andrew were here, he’d say, “Everything is yours anyway.” And he’d grin and kiss Jesse sweetly and say, “Especially my heart, always.”

And Jesse would blush and rolls his eyes and Andrew would—

But Andrew isn’t here. He’s not. Jesse tries so hard to keep the longing at bay.)

It always feels like this. When it gets too much, he opens Andrew’s closet and takes out his scarves and his cardigans and Jesse buries himself in them and shuts his eyes, hoping that when he opens them again, Andrew will be back.

That’s all he can hold onto whenever this happens: the hope that Andrew will come back.

Later, later, he will be back, he always is, he promised. But for now, all Jesse can do is wait. Time doesn’t hold steady for Andrew. He’s beautiful, wild and reckless like that, but Jesse is stuck in the present and Andrew always goes where Jesse cannot follow, where Andrew would never allow him to follow.

So he waits and he writes and he misses Andrew terribly.

--

Andrew:

The worst part isn’t the horrible hooking feeling in his stomach when he gets pulled away, or the nauseating sense of being out of his own time. It’s not even the experience of landing in a dark, cold place, all alone—or worse, in a brightly lit, open area full of people—that Andrew hates the most.

It’s the thought of Jesse, alone, in their apartment, waiting for him to come back.

Jesse, beautiful, patient Jesse, who deserves so much more than a man who will leave him behind, again and again and again.

There’s no pattern to it, no straight line from point A to point B to point C, no connect-the-dots diagram that will explain the movement from now to then to will be. He falls, repeatedly, into a time that is not his own, into a time where he does not belong.

He has never been able to bring anything with him on any of his journeys: it’s like his body dissolves into atoms and molecules, blown away by the wind’s fancy to another time. No money, no worldly possessions, no clothes.

It’s easier when it’s all a rush, when all he has to think about in the moment after landing is the consuming urgency to cover himself up and run and hide, like an animal. It’s the moments afterwards that are horrible: when he is stuck, waiting, wishing for Time to set itself straight again and send him home, back to his lover and his books and their cats.

Time shudders and jolts in starts and stops, starts and stops.

Andrew lands on a familiar carpet, thanks God, falls to his knees, and starts vomiting on the floor.

--
In which the narrative is muddled

[Andrew is 22 and Andrew is 33]

There is nothing quite as disconcerting as looking up from a puddle of vomit on the floor and seeing yourself looking down at you.

“Are you all right?” Andrew asks, and Andrew nods unsteadily.

(And that’s the trouble with this time travel thing, really, Andrew hears Jesse saying in his head, because it’s a conversation they’ve had before, the narrative gets jumbled up, and it gets too confusing.

“Jesse, ” Andrew says, exasperated. “Has any of this ever not been confusing?”

Well. ” Jesse looks up from the notebook he’s been writing on and shrugs. “It’s not when you’re here. When you’re here, things make sense.”

And as Jesse goes on to talk about how using epithets all the time will just make things worse, Andrew just has to lean in and kiss him, because what else can he do? Jesse—

—isn’t here. Jesse isn’t here. Pull yourself together, Garfield.)

So Andrew shakes the memory away and looks up at himself and he is younger, still windswept around the edges, still a bit lost, untethered. It’s strange, seeing him like this. Andrew remembers being twenty, feeling like the world owed him something.

He remembers being twenty the way he remembers most things before Jesse: distinctly lacking most semblance of meaning.

(Andrew is a dramatic person.)

(He misses Jesse already.)

Andrew steals the mug of tea that the other Andrew is holding, with the air of someone who is very used to taking things without permission. Other Andrew just grunts and acquiesces, throwing an afghan over Andrew instead of giving him proper clothes to wear.

Andrew sits on the bed, bounces on it a bit, and regards his younger self and notes the skinniness, the height of his hair, the messiness of the bookshelves.

The state of the bookshelves is jarring. In Andrew’s apartment now, the books are arranged by author, then by year, then ranked by awards garnered: Jesse’s doing. Of course, it's not just Andrew’s apartment, anymore.

But right now they're in his—their—his room, very much a bachelor’s room—dirty, rumpled sheets, and, under the pillow, what Andrew guesses is a piece of underwear from the latest fling.

“When are you from?” Andrew asks, and Andrew says, “2011.”

Andrew smiles and jokes, “Oh, so I live till then,” but it falls flat and Andrew sort of hates himself a bit.

“Still seeing Vanessa, then?” Andrew says, trying to get a conversation going.

Andrew, who’s been picking at his nails, looks up. “It’s Caroline.”

“Ah.”

“You remember? The one with the teeth—“ Younger Andrew makes a gesture and Andrew nods. He actually can’t remember. It makes him feel guilty, but memories of his early twenties all blur together in nameless, faceless men and women; cold awkward cups of tea in the morning and a hundred broken promises to call back.

He grimaces. “Yeah.”

A beat. Andrew wonders how it’s possible to be so awkward talking to someone who’s basically him.

Younger Andrew (epithets he hears Jesse say venomously), jumps up and scrubs a hand through his hair.

“So. I have to. Go. There’s this thing—”

“Caroline.”

“Yes.”

“With the teeth.”

Yes.

“Well, go on then, don’t let me keep you.”

Younger Andrew is already putting on a sweater, pulling it over his head. He says something that gets lost in the polyester and emerges with a frown, fluffy hair and all.

“Okay. Well. You know where the things are. I’ll be—going.”

“Bye,” Andrew says, watching himself disappear out the door to meet Caroline with the teeth and the underwear under the pillow.

Andrew remembers hating himself when he was younger, and isn’t surprised to realize that he still does—and, well, Andrew has spent a lot of his life hating himself.

He sighs, stands up to get some more tea, maybe clean up a bit—there's still that puddle of vomit on the floor and he knows himself well enough that he'll probably forget all about it and end up stepping in it—when he feels his extremities start to tingle. When he looks down, his toes and fingers are disappearing.

The mug falls to the floor and the tea spills but Andrew can’t feel the wetness of it seeping into the god-awful carpet because his feet are gone—and, oh, there goes the rest of him, and there’s one great tug and everything disappears.

--
A summary: Jesse Eisenberg’s life in less than 500 words

Jesse:

When you are 6 years old and it is the first day of school and you are trying very hard not to cry at the bus stop, it is very hard not to remember the man who comes up to you and hands you a lollipop (his clothes are very strange, and you wonder why someone would wear a Spider-man costume in the morning, at the bus stop) and tells you that everything is going to be okay.

And then he comes back when you are 7, and your cat has died, and he promises that, when you are older, you can have all the cats you want, though you will probably only want one or two (though you insist you want five), and again when you are 8 and your mother has just told you that you are going to have a younger sister.

(And so many times in between, innumerable times, a steady hand on your back and a smile just for you. How could you have known just how greatly he would affect your life? He was just a man out of time. But he kept coming back to you--and maybe not just for you, and maybe not all the time, but he was there and it mattered. And maybe one day you will finally feel that you deserved it.)

When you are 11, he teaches you how to play the guitar and when you are 12, you see him in the crowd in your school play. And when you are 13, 14, 15, he is there to hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be okay. That school is terrible, yes, but you'll make it through, I know you will.

And it's cheating, kind of, this amount of certainty, but he tells you that sometimes you need to allow yourself some measure of selfishness.

(And he touches the scars on your wrists, gentle, reverent.)

And when you are 16, and everyone is going to prom, he takes you out of the house and you watch the stars together.

And when you are 17, he reads you poetry and kisses your cheek on your birthday.

And when you are 18, you kiss him first, properly, on the lips, and put your hands on his skin, and shake and shiver when he puts his hands on yours. And you tell him, yes and please, and already you know that you love him more than you will ever love anyone in your life.

And then you are 19, 20 and 21, and he is gone.

And you wait.

--
Meeting

[September 14, 2005. Jesse is 22, Andrew is 27]

Jesse:

It is autumn in New York.

Jesse’s been cooped up in the apartment for days, working on a paper for his Contemporary Literature class, and Justin had finally had enough of it and forced him out to get some sun before winter actually came and froze him to his desk. Justin said he was scared Jesse would become some sort of mold, growing steadily all over his books and becoming one with his chair, like the green slime that had started to crawl between the dishes in their sink that one time they’d forgotten whose turn it was to do the washing.

“Go to the library or something,” Justin had said, hauling him up by his arms and knocking Jesse's pens and his glasses to the floor, and Jesse had scowled and muttered, “You only want me gone so you can bring some girl in here—not that I’m making assumptions on the type of girl you’d bring in here—or really, assumptions on, um, on any woman at all, because society does enough of that without us, um—“

“Jesse.”

“—forcing our own stereotypes—but you’ll doing things on the couch and we agreed that the couch was off-limits—”

“What, you don’t think I care about your well-being? Jesse, babe, you’re driving me crazy in here.”

“You’re pushing—you’re pushing me out the door, Justin. At least let me put my contacts on—“

But Justin had only grinned and slammed the door in his face, which is why Jesse is currently biking very carefully down the street, myopic without his contacts or his glasses, and squinting at the road. Everything’s a blur around him. The leaves on the trees are smudges of yellow and red and orange, and Jesse tries not to hit anyone.

Between deciding whether to go to the grocery store or going back to the apartment and yelling at Justin until he's let back in—ugh, Jesse is going to kill him, or leave cat hair on his pillows or something—he ends up stopping at the New York Public Library.

The woman at the counter has black hair streaked with gray, and she looks up at him through her bifocals when he asks her about getting a library card, because he's been in New York for a couple of years but he's only ever used the library at his university. It is something he feels guilty about, but in the vague way that he feels guilty about so many other things, like not squeezing out the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube, or when other people don't throw their trash properly when there are instructional pictures on the bin anyway.

“Oh, well, let's see. Mr. Garfield will help you, honey.”

She leans towards Jesse and whispers wide-eyed and well-meaning, “He’s from the other side of the pond, dear, just got here from London.”

“Um,” Jesse says. “Um. Okay.” He fidgets with his hoodie sleeves and looks around. There is a human-shaped blur heading towards him, and when that blur resolves itself as it gets closer, Jesse realizes who he’s looking at.

“Andrew.” And the name falls from his mouth in a gasp, a trembling breath. Because it is—it’s Andrew, in the flesh, younger than Jesse has ever seen him before.

Andrew, here and now.

Andrew, coming closer, and saying in an accent that is so distinctly English and so distinctly him that Jesse wants to cry, “Hi. Can I help you with anything?”

“You don’t know me,” Jesse says delightedly, giddy with it. “You don’t know me at all, but, I, I’m um, oh my god, Andrew. Andrew.” His hands reach out to touch but Andrew’s smile has frozen, politely confused, and Jesse aborts that mission and hugs his arms across his chest instead.

His face hurts from smiling and he’s aware that he must look deranged, but. It’s Andrew.

“I’m sorry?” Andrew tries, looking awkward and uncomfortable. “Have we met?”

“I—we, when I was a kid. I’m Jesse. Jesse Eisenberg and I—I knew you when I was a kid and you don’t remember me, but you have to have dinner with me—I can’t cook but my roommate can and—”

He’s rambling and he doesn’t care, even as Andrew just looks on helplessly. Andrew has to say yes. Surely, the Andrew who loves him in so many permutations of time must love him now. Here and now. Andrew is here and now, and he looks so young.

“I mean—I’d just. I’d love it if you joined me for dinner tonight,” Jesse finishes, blushing madly and biting on his lower lip. His fingers are clenched too tight around his arms.

His heart starts to fall, and his mind starts to backtrack—take it back, take it back, God, why hadn’t Andrew prepared him for this before, he hadn’t even told Jesse how old they’d be when they met—when Andrew doesn’t say anything, just stares at Jesse with wide eyes.

Jesse chokes on his words and closes his eyes hard, shaking his head. “I’m sorry—I didn’t—“

But then Andrew says, “Oh, no, don’t do that,” with dismay, reaching out with a hand and pressing his palm to Jesse’s cheek.

They stare at each other for a beat, Jesse with his lower lip caught between his teeth, eyes wide open at the sensation of Andrew’s skin on his—that small patch of contact that makes him want to curl up into Andrew forever—and Andrew, mouth open in wordless awe, just realizing that some part of him in some other time knows the man standing in front of him in impossibly intimate ways Andrew cannot even begin to fathom.

Another beat, and then Andrew draws his hand away and says, “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“It’s fine,” Jesse says quickly. What he really means is, I’ve missed you so much, you idiot. I want you to touch me.

“Dinner?” Jesse asks again, looking up at Andrew hopefully.

“Okay,” Andrew says, but it comes out more as a breath than it is a real word.

Andrew is smiling now and Jesse can’t help it—he leans forward and kisses him.

In the middle of the library.

Jesse kisses the corner of Andrew’s mouth then and stumbles backwards a bit. Andrew catches his arms before he falls over.

“I’m sorry—that wasn’t—“

“It’s…okay,” Andrew says slowly, looking at Jesse like he is the most wonderful being on the planet, not some random creepy stranger who just kissed Andrew in the middle of the New York Public Library.

“Your hair is ridiculous,” Jesse blurts out, and Andrew’s eyebrows furrow before he throws his head back and laughs. The sound strikes a chord in Jesse and he knows, with complete certainty, that this is his Andrew.

“Dinner,” Andrew says, “We should. Have dinner. Jesse?” Andrew says Jesse’s name like he’s testing it out, and his eyes crinkle in the way Jesse is very familiar with.

“Jesse. Yes. That’s me. And you’re—god, you’re Andrew. Hi. I’m sorry, I’m usually not like this, it’s just—you, you understand, don’t you?” Jesse starts babbling again, mostly just to keep Andrew’s attention on his words and not to the way Jesse is frantically trying to map out all of Andrew’s features with his eyes, taking him all in and trying not to drown, but it’s hard because Jesse wants too. God, he wants to.

“You’re still holding on to my arms, by the way,” Jesse says. Andrew blushes and lets go. Takes a step back and breathes.

“Sorry,” Jesse mumbles, “I’m overwhelming you. You told me not to do that.”

“I told you not to do that,” Andrew repeats faintly, mostly to himself. “Just how well do we know each other, Mr. Eisenberg?”

“Quite well. Very well. You—you’re—“ there are so many things to choose from. Jesse is suddenly barraged with memories of Andrew: Andrew at his high school play, handing him a bouquet of roses; Andrew teaching him how to conjugate French verbs in Jesse’s father’s dusty study; Andrew licking chocolate off his fingers. The last one makes him flush.

“I get off at seven,” Andrew says, tapping Jesse’s shoulder because Jesse is spacing out.

“Seven sounds lovely,” Jesse says. Everything seems lovely to him at this moment. He doesn’t even care that the woman at the information desk and some of Andrew’s co-workers are staring at them.

“I’ll show you around, if you’d like? The woman at the counter said you’d just come over from England and—“

“I’ve lived here for years, actually,” Andrew says. He tilts his head in the direction of the information desk, “She likes to dote. Thinks I still need help getting around the city, but…” Andrew trails off with a shrug.

“Okay,” Jesse says again, “Okay, sorry, but I just—I have to—“ and he reaches and touches Andrew’s cheek with his fingers and laughs when he feels solid skin.

“This is very strange,” Andrew says, but he sounds fond. He catches Jesse’s hand as he’s about to pull away and squeezes gently, and their hands sway between them, perfectly linked.

“I know,” Jesse smiles.

Jesse gives him the address to his apartment, and though the warning bells in his head go off like they always do—DON’T GIVE YOUR HOME ADDRESS TO SOMEONE YOU JUST MET—it’s easy to push them away.

Andrew watches him write the address down on a piece of paper, still with that wondrous, dazed look on his face, and Jesse might as well be in the middle of the ocean with how deep he’s already sunk into this.

(Who is he even kidding? He hit rock bottom a long time ago, let Andrew tangle into him like seaweed and pull him under the waves.)

When Jesse rides home, he cheers and lifts his arms like he is nine years old again and Andrew has just taught him how to ride a bike, and he is trying to skim the clouds with his fingers and he realizes he’s crying and doesn’t wipe the tears away.

It only hits him later on, as he gets off his bike and sits on the steps outside the apartment building, dazed, that he is treading on completely new ground. From here on out, everything will be new and different and unknown.

And Jesse isn’t scared at all.

--

Andrew:

It is autumn in New York, and Andrew is watching a man with unruly hair fidget at the information desk. He tries to surreptitiously check his phone—it’s technically against library rules but Andrew likes living life on the edge—and sighs when he sees that Emma hasn’t texted him back, guilt churning heavily in his stomach.

Laura is gesturing towards him, so Andrew puts on his best librarian face and heads over, only to have the man turn around and gasp at him, breathing out his name in a way that makes Andrew feel uncomfortable and undeserving at the same time.

“You don’t know me,” the man says, and he sounds lightheaded with it, staring at Andrew. It hits him that this person knows him, in ways he doesn’t even know himself. It’s very strange and disconcerting, but then the man—“I’m Jesse. Jesse Eisenberg and I—I knew you when I was a kid…” finishes talking and Andrew still has no fucking idea what to say.

Jesse’s smile starts to falter and he starts apologizing and Andrew moves without thinking, cupping Jesse’s cheek with his palm. It seems like something he should do. The thought that accompanies it —that things that make Jesse sad are just no good—settles into him like it’s been there forever, waiting to be manifested in this moment.

And Jesse leans into the touch like he’s felt it countless times before, and Andrew is in complete awe, mouth hanging open, heart singing, and he doesn’t understand, but doesn’t feel the need to, not at all, and when Jesse kisses him, the lightest touch of his lips against Andrew’s mouth, Andrew feels something deep inside of him shift and rumble into place—and he feels.

He feels acutely whole, and alive, and unbearably, unceasingly happy, like happiness is the sea, and Andrew has finally gotten over his fear of the water and stepped in and let the tide wash over him.

When Jesse pulls away and stumbles backwards, Andrew catches him and holds him and doesn’t think to let go because this feels right too. It feels like the most right thing he’s ever done.

Andrew says things, and Jesse says things and everything is just words, and what does it matter, when Andrew has just realized that something inexplicably wonderful has happened, and there is a man with impossibly blue eyes standing in front of him, smiling like Andrew is a miracle? How can anything else matter?

Jesse leaves and Andrew follows him out and watches him ride away on his bicycle, a wobbling figure on the sidewalk with his arms stretched to touch the sky, and Jesse cheers and Andrew laughs and twirls in place, again and again and again.

--
Later

Andrew:

His phone buzzes as he’s rushing up the steps to his studio apartment. “Studio apartment” is actually a pretty glorious name for what is essentially a living room full of bookshelves and tables with books on them and stacks of books haphazardly piled on the floor.

The text is from Emma, which Andrew was expecting but had started hoping would never come. He cringes but reads, i forgive you, asshole. dinner?, which, thank God.

Sorry, he texts back, maybe tomorrow?

why, what’s up??, she texts.

He hesitates for a moment before deciding to text, dinner. date with a guy.

He’s anticipating the call as soon as he hits send, so he runs to his bedroom to put on something decent before it can come. It’s on the fifth ring by the time he’s put on one of his less dirty dress shirts and he picks it up to Emma saying, dryly, “When I told you you’d get over me, I didn’t expect you to follow up so quickly.”

“I’m an asshole,” Andrew says. He wishes there were a way to make it sound more sincere over the phone. Emma deserves better. She deserves the best. It’s why he broke up with her.

“You’re supposed to come over here with a pint of ice cream to cry with me about my break-up. That’s what best friends do,” Emma says and she sounds raspy but otherwise fine, like Andrew knew she would be. Okay, the guilt’s definitely back. He doesn’t really know what to say, contemplates calling the whole thing with Jesse off, but Emma continues without waiting for his response.

“Though I guess it doesn’t count if the best friend was the one who did the breaking up, right?”

Emma’s sigh is loud and rough across the phone, but she says, “You’re buying me lunch tomorrow, got it?” And Andrew loves her, still.

He says so, and she says, “It was never going to work out, was it?” as he’s about to hang up.

“No,” he says because he owes her his honesty. The guilt’s gnawing at him, but he thinks of Jesse and Jesse’s smile and he’s raised his hand to touch the corner of his mouth before he realizes what he’s doing.

“Lunch,” Emma says, and hangs up.

Andrew looks up, blinks, and realizes he’d gone all way down the block without paying attention.

--

“He spent fifteen minutes crying into his cat, you better be worth it,” is the first thing Jesse’s roommate ever says to Andrew, stepping to the side to let Jesse out of the apartment.

“Shut up, Bartha,” Jesse mutters, closing the door on Justin’s, “Don’t be out too late, honey, it’s a school night!”

Andrew catches sight of a couch in the apartment and a cat perched on the window ledge, before the door is closed and Andrew focuses on the person in front of him.

Jesse blinks up at him.

Andrew suddenly can’t breathe.

“Did you really cry into your cat?” he blurts out.

“I might have,” Jesse says and a bit of Andrew’s awkwardness dissolves. He laughs.

In the light of the hallway, Jesse looks radiant, and Andrew fumbles a bit with his hands—he doesn’t know what to do with them—before Jesse tugs at him and, okay, they’re holding hands. It’s nice. Neither of them makes the move to head down the stairs.

Jesse clears his throat, “I—um.”

“May I kiss you?” Andrew interrupts, squeezing Jesse’s hand gently.

“Oh,” Jesse says. “Oh, um, okay. Just,” he brushes at his shirt (it’s a blue button-down. Andrew decides that Jesse looks very good in blue. Andrew also decides that Jesse would look good in anything) and frowns.

“What’s wrong?” Andrew asks. He places a hand on the crook of Jesse’s elbow and smiles when Jesse leans into him, like it’s a reflex.

“Cat hair,” Jesse mumbles, but Andrew’s already leaned in so close that their lips touch and Andrew swallows his words in a kiss, and then kisses him again, and then once more. Jesse sighs into all of Andrew’s kisses, like he’s missed them.

It’s all very strange.

Andrew doesn’t really care.

“Hnn,” Jesse says, pulling away finally. He looks flustered.

“Sorry?” Andrew tries. He feels flustered too, sort of caught in between letting Jesse go, pretending that his body isn’t aching with how much he wants to touch, or leaning in all the way and finding out for himself if the flush on Jesse’s cheeks trails down his neck to his collarbones.

There’s already so much history between them for Jesse, but for Andrew this is all new. Nothing is certain for him except that he wants, very badly, to touch Jesse, to hold him and feel him in his arms. Andrew has never—it’s never been like this for him.

“I don’t really know how to do this—I just. Can we. I really want to—“ Jesse is stuttering, licking his lips, and it’s hypnotic.

“We should get this out of the way first,” Andrew says. He doesn’t even know what this is, magnetism or attraction, something that slides down his spine like electricity. Jesse shivers, full-bodied, and nods, and kisses him. And then—there’s a lot of kissing.

“Not in the hallway,” Jesse gasps out.

‘Why not?’ Andrew wants to whine, because Jesse’s kissing down his throat and God, he’s never—God, but through the haze that’s filling his head, Andrew manages to nod and say, “My apartment’s a few blocks down.”

Jesse makes a small noise when they pull away.

“This wasn’t how I meant for this to go,” he says, mildly disgruntled.

“What,” Andrew says dazedly.

“Have I broken you?” Jesse asks, and he sounds genuinely concerned.

Andrew takes a moment to realize that he’s in the middle of a hallway, horny and desperate for a man he’s known for all of three hours. He composes his thoughts, very aware of Jesse’s hand still wrapped around his wrist, the lowered curve of his eyelashes, his wet mouth. Fuck.

“Feel free to stop me if you think I’m going too far here,” he says finally, and Jesse looks up from his intent study of the freckles that trail up Andrew’s neck.

“I met you when you were younger, presumably sometime in my not-so-distant future, and we’re meeting each other now, and you have all these thoughts of me and I know nothing of you, and, again, presumably, it would be ideal to take this slowly—but—since we’re doing this whole thing out of order anyway—would you mind very much at all if I—if we—“

“God, shut up,” Jesse says finally, grabbing the back of Andrew’s neck and dragging him down for a searing kiss. Their teeth clack together and it’s awkward and then it’s not. Jesse’s tongue in Andrew’s mouth is seriously unfair when he’s trying to be rational.

Andrew flails and makes a choked off noise when Jesse says, “If we don’t get to a bed within the next 10 minutes, I’m going to have to do something drastic.”

“Oh,” Andrew says.

“Though you could fuck me against the wall?” Jesse wonders aloud, like he’s seriously considering it.

“Jesus,” Andrew says weakly.

“Your apartment?” Jesse asks, smiling beatifically.

Andrew all but drags him down the stairs.

--

Jesse:

The cool night air hits him when they get out of Jesse’s building.

He kisses Andrew in the middle of the street.

Andrew’s hands immediately slide around him, and Jesse inwardly does a little bounce of triumph for the 17-year-old him who exists sometime and somewhere in this world, the one who spent so much time trying to awkwardly seduce the man who, right now, looks like he can’t enough of Jesse in his arms.

“Sorry,” he apologizes finally, when they untangle, because he’s being unfair to Andrew, he knows, attacking him like this, but—he’s, fuck, he just really wants to touch Andrew all over right now, he can’t even think straight.

The rest of the walk to Andrew’s building is a blur, except for the times that they’re kissing up against a wall or smiling crazily at each other. Someone whistles at them once and Jesse actually yells out a “thank you!” and doesn’t once worry about being arrested for public indecency.

It’s really just Andrew, all of this. Being around him makes Jesse go haywire, prone to recklessness. At least it seems to go both ways, he thinks, when Andrew pushes him against the glass display of a clothing store and they make out until their breaths fog up the glass.

Somehow they tumble into a bed—he vaguely remembers kissing Andrew up against the door, the jangle of keys when Andrew kept dropping them—but now as he slides his hands into Andrew’s shirt and laughs to himself, settling himself on top, with his knees bracketing Andrew, nothing really matters.

“What is it?” Andrew whispers. He sounds wrecked and hoarse. It makes Jesse’s dick twitch.

“You’re so young,” Jesse whispers back. “And I never—I never do this.”

“Do what?” Andrew asks, and then “Why are we whispering?”

“Put out on the first date,” Jesse says, and leans down to kiss Andrew again because he doesn’t know how to answer the second question.

“We haven’t even had our first date yet,” Andrew says, trying to figure out the mechanics of Jesse’s buttons; they’re small and slippery and his hands might be trembling far too much than he’s used to.

“I know,” Jesse says, breath hitching because Andrew’s slid his hands under Jesse’s shirt, stroking his sides.

“Clothes,” Andrew’s mumbling, “are so fucking unnecessary.”

Jesse doesn’t disagree. He’s working on Andrew’s pants, grinning in triumph when he can finally pull the zipper down.

It sort of feels like déjà vu, because Jesse’s done this only once before with Andrew and it had been awkward and fumbling and wonderful. He’s had more practice now, though, and doesn’t need Andrew’s gentle instructions to know how to mouth at Andrew’s cock through his underwear and pull that down and off of Andrew, along with his pants and socks.

“Can I—?” Jesse starts and Andrew blinks down at him and waves a hand and says, “Fuck—go—go ahead, whatever you want.”

“I want you to fuck me,” Jesse says, trailing a hand up Andrew’s inner thigh, and he watches Andrew’s eyes grow wide and then darker.

“You’re going to need to take your clothes off,” Andrew says, and Jesse slides his shirt off and shucks his pants and underwear and Andrew pulls him down to kiss him and they moan simultaneously when they finally touch, skin on skin.

Jesse can’t help rubbing his body entirely against Andrew’s and they both gasp, Andrew bucking up and it’s ridiculously hot and he thinks he could get off on this, just this, but he has a goal tonight, and that is to get fucked into the mattress. Well—the goal was to have a date but. Jesse knows how to prioritize.

Andrew groans and pushes at Jesse’s shoulder, saying, “Lube and condoms. I—we need—let me up and I’ll get them.”

Jesse rolls off Andrew, blinking dizzily up at the ceiling.

Jesse has had sex before. With other people. And he’s always enjoyed it, yeah, because sex is sex and it makes him feel tingly and happy and good about himself.

With Andrew, it feels like so much more.

He sighs happily when Andrew comes back and slides one slick finger inside him. Andrew is mouthing at the inside of Jesse’s thigh, a determined look on his face.

Jesse hasn’t done this in a while, at least not with someone else. Andrew leans up and kisses him, biting and nipping at Jesse’s lips while Jesse grinds down on his finger.

More,” Jesse mumbles, kicking at Andrew’s side. Andrew laughs, breathless, and sucks at Jesse’s neck before sliding his finger out. And then there are two fingers, scissoring inside of him and Jesse breathes out in soft whines, closing his eyes and letting Andrew touch him, his hands on Jesse’s neck, his sides, fingers skimming over Jesse’s dick.

“Gorgeous,” Andrew says, and then he moves his fingers in and up—

Ohhh,” Jesse gasps, “Fuck, Andrew, Andrew, I need, please—“ as Andrew moves his fingers in deeper, making Jesse writhe on the bed, legs splayed out.

“I’ve got you,” Andrew murmurs, mouthing at Jesse’s cock.

He slides his fingers out again and Jesse shifts and squirms at weird feeling of emptiness, and then there are three fingers inside him, stretching him even more and nudging deeper and Jesse can’t—he can’t—

Ahhh.” Jesse screws his eyes shut and comes with Andrew’s mouth around his cock, with Andrew’s fingers nudging against his prostate, making him buck helplessly, and everything is broken open and just, everything, Andrew is everything.

Jesse,” Andrew breathes, watching him come apart underneath him.

“Fuck me,” Jesse mumbles, grabbing at Andrew, and Andrew makes a soft noise and leans up to kiss him.

Jesse sort of loses focus when Andrew pulls away to put the condom on and slick himself up. Andrew touches his cheek and asks—and fuck, only Andrew could look so earnest in the middle of sex—“Can I—? Are you—?”

“Yeah,” Jesse says, reaching up to grab at Andrew’s arms and pull him closer, “Yeah, God, fuck me already.”

Andrew nods, and slides his fingers back inside Jesse, fucking him open, wet and messy and Jesse brings his hand up to his mouth to stop the moans from spilling out and shakes his head from side to side.

“You’re all right,” Andrew murmurs, shifting so that he is between Jesse’s legs.

When Andrew finally, finally pushes inside of him, Jesse looks up at him and sees only Andrew now, Andrew, here, and he gasps helplessly into Andrew’s mouth, sliding his hands into Andrew’s hair and holding on tight.

Everything else disappears, every other time and place, and there is only here and now, and Andrew’s wide open eyes and his careful, long fingers and him moving inside of Jesse, sending his nerves into a frenzy.

“So good, Jess,” Andrew is saying and Jesse can’t even say words, just arches up and meets Andrew’s thrusts, feeling him slide in and deeper than Jesse has ever felt before. He’s hard again, Christ, and when Andrew wraps a hand around his dick, he keens and shudders.

“Fuck,” he mumbles, “Fuck, oh.”

Andrew whimpers and slides Jesse’s legs around his waist to get into him deeper and fuck him harder. He moves up to kiss Jesse’s slack mouth and Jesse feels him shift inside, and he whines out, “Please.”

Jesse feels it when Andrew comes, his hips losing rhythm and just thrusting into Jesse, and it feels so good, to just get fucked like this, Jesse’s back riding up on the bed with the force of Andrew’s thrusts. Andrew keeps fucking Jesse as he comes, and his thumb keeps rubbing at the head of Jesse’s cock, and it’s all overwhelming and intense and Jesse comes the second time with Andrew’s name on his lips and Andrew’s mouth on his neck.

Jesse sighs when Andrew pulls out, sighs when Andrew kisses him and kisses him and kisses him.

“Beautiful,” Andrew says, like it is a simple fact, and maybe Jesse even believes it.

--

Andrew:

Later on, they move to the living room because Jesse can’t stand lying down on dirty sheets and neither of them is willing to actually get up and change them.

Jesse trails his fingers along the wall of Andrew’s apartment. He’s entirely unselfconscious, here and now, in the darkness of Andrew’s living space. Something pangs deep inside Andrew, and he’s thankful and humbled that he gets to have this, that, through some cosmic roundabout, he’s managed to find someone like this in his life. Andrew could spend the rest of his life just watching him.

When Jesse turns around and quirks an eyebrow at him, Andrew takes him in his arms and kisses him against the wall. They slide together, skin on skin and it’s indescribable. Andrew thinks I would give away all metaphors, in return for one word, drawn out of my breast like a rib, and laughs to himself. He’s so in over his head it’s ridiculous.

They decide to push the sofa out of the way so that they can lie down on the floor next to each other and stare at the ceiling, hands on their stomachs. The night wind is cool on their naked skin and they swim in it, in each other’s intoxicating presence, each other’s here-ness, bodies carved out into the dusty floor.

“Don’t you think it’s strange that we’re doing this all wrong?” Andrew asks.

“Hmm?” Jesse mumbles. His eyes are closed but his eyelids twitch, fingers fluttering restlessly. Andrew has noticed that Jesse is never really still.

“This whole—thing. We met and then we had sex, and I don’t even know who your favorite author is or where you grew up. It’s all very out of order.”

“Andrew, I met you when I was six, I think it’s too late to complain about doing things out of order.”

Andrew’s head thumps back on the floor and he nods. “Yeah,” he says, softly.

Jesse twists towards him and says, “I don’t know if we can—if there’s any way we can go through this normally, but we could, I mean, if you wanted, we could start over?”

Andrew rolls on his side to face him.

“Hi,” he says, and they’re staring at each other, so close that they’ve become cross-eyed. He kisses Jesse, close-mouthed and already so familiar.

“Hi,” Jesse says, knocking their foreheads together.

“If we start over, we’ll have to stop kissing, though. And we’ll probably need to put clothes on.”

“Bad idea,” Jesse agrees, and he’s wrapping an arm around Andrew’s waist and reeling him in.

Andrew lets himself be groped for a few minutes (and he gives as good as he gets) before he pulls away.

“Seriously?” he groans.

“What,” Jesse asks, and his hair is falling all over his face. It’s distracting.

“You’re distracting,” Andrew says. “We have to—”

Jesse kisses him again and Andrew falls into it wholeheartedly.

“What were you saying?” Jesse asks, when they pull away and Andrew has to blink a few times to focus.

“Ugh, you are a menace,” he says, dropping his head down on Jesse’s shoulder.

“Look—hey, no, look, Jesse, take it easy on me, please? I know you’ve probably done all sorts of things with me before, but this is my first time and it’s very hard to stay focused, goddamn, your mouth—but I—I had a point,” Andrew finishes vaguely.

Jesse hums and skates his hands up Andrew’s stomach, fingers moving up like he is playing scales on Andrew’s chest. He pinches a nipple and grins when Andrew whines loudly.

“Future you has much more self-control,” Jesse says, smiling.

“Fuck me,” Andrew says and Jesse asks, “Would you let me?”

And that’s round two.

--

“You look very pleased with yourself,” Andrew tells him much later on, when they’re sweaty and dusty and Jesse has somehow managed to get on the phone and order pizza while Andrew is still on the floor trying to catch his breath.

Jesse sits down on the floor next to him and runs a hand down Andrew’s side. Andrew groans and curls into himself, oversensitive and exhausted.

“You’re insatiable,” he mumbles and Jesse just laughs. They are both sweaty and messy and dirty.

“Did we ever—? I mean—?” Andrew suddenly has an image of Jesse at 16, on his bed, and blushes madly.

Jesse rolls his eyes, “We had sex exactly once. I was 18. You were always very concerned about my virtue, don’t worry.”

“I’m not very concerned about your virtue, now, though,” Andrew grins, but Jesse swats him away when Andrew leans in to kiss him.

“Shower,” he says instead, helping Andrew up, and Andrew goes obediently.

--

It’s around midnight when they finally calm down enough to stop staring at each other, and the electricity in Andrew’s veins has leveled off to a soft buzz, muted around the edges.

The sit on the balcony, sharing a box of pizza and Jesse is wearing just an Arsenal FC hoodie and a pair of boxers he’d borrowed from Andrew.

Andrew can’t stop marveling at Jesse’s skin and the pale lines of his neck, his jaw, marveling at the way they’ve spent the past few hours and how little he knows about the man in front of him compared to how greatly Andrew feels about him.

“What,” Jesse says flatly, putting a hand to his face, “What is it?”

“Nothing,” Andrew says.

Jesse frowns. He starts picking the bell peppers off his pizza and putting them on Andrew’s slice.

“You like bell peppers,” Jesse says, like it’s an explanation.

“I do,” Andrew says. He does. “What other things do you know about me?

Jesse purses his lips first, thinking. “I know you’re allergic to all kinds of nuts. You’re from Surrey. You have an older brother. Your favorite poem is by a Polish poet,” Jesse says, then goes on to recite, “and just to say—I love—I run around like mad, picking up handfuls of birds.” His accent is impeccable.

“You can speak Polish,” Andrew says faintly, feels something in him fall open, “Where have you been all my life?”

Jesse’s cheeks flush, and Andrew feels close to bursting with how much he loves him. He looks down at his pizza instead, trying not to shake apart from all the feelings. He’s not sure that’s ever happened to anyone, but he feels very close to it.

“But there was a lot I didn’t know about you before today, too,” Jesse says.

“For instance?”

“Your last name. Where you lived. I didn’t know what your job was—I should have known, though. It’s very you.”

“Was the first time you met me the first time I met you?” Andrew asks, and grins when Jesse says no, because the thought of meeting Jesse three different times is exhilarating. They’ve got one down, and it’s been one of the best nights of Andrew’s life.

“What was the first time like?” he asks. “For you?”

Jesse shakes his head. “I intend to make you wait for it,” he says, “You never told me anything, so this is payback.”

“You’re awful,” Andrew says, but he’s scooting closer anyway, just enough that he can trace the smooth line of Jesse’s jaw with the pads of his fingers.

They kiss, slow and languid, unhurried and Andrew mumbles, “Tomorrow. Seriously, we’re going to talk all of this out tomorrow.”

Jesse laughs and pulls him up and into the bedroom again, saying he has to take his contacts out.

They fall into each other when they sleep, and there are awkward fumbles and body parts being squished under other body parts, but when they finally settle, Jesse fits into his arms like he belongs there.

For the first time since Andrew arrived in America, he finally feels like he’s home.

--
A reminder

He wakes up at the same time as he lands, limbs flailing in the air like he’s drowning. When he gets ahold of himself, the first thing he feels is disappointment. He’d wanted to wake up next to Jesse. The next thing he notices is an ache in his chest and a dryness in his throat and he thinks, oh.

Andrew is used to missing people. It's just never been so physical for him before, but now it feels like someone has tied stones to his limbs and he feels weighed down and slow.

He’s in the middle of someone’s backyard, so he takes the opportunity to nick a shirt (too big) and a pair of pajama bottoms (too small) and climb up the tree house. There’s a stack of Agatha Christie mysteries in one corner and he wrinkles his nose at the state they’re in, worn and unprotected up here, but settles down with one of them anyway.

He thinks of Jesse and of Emma, wonders if they’re meeting each other now.

He waits.

--
The morning after

Jesse:

Jesse wakes up the next morning feeling lighter than he has in a long time. It takes a while to place where he is, but he swings his hand and he hits something—someone solid, and he has to laugh, happiness bubbling up inside him.

He kisses Andrew’s jaw, grins when Andrew paws at him sleepily, and then untangles himself from the sheets and makes his way out the room, yawning and rubbing the back of his neck.

There is someone in the living room.

He coughs, once, to be polite, and the stranger swings around, flipping her red hair over her shoulders.

She blinks at Jesse and then her smile becomes a wide grin.

“Garfield, you fucker, you didn’t tell me you were going to have someone over!” she shouts in the general direction of the bedroom.

“I’m Emma,” she says, turning quickly to Jesse, looking him over, “You’re cute.”

“I’m Jesse, actually,” he says dryly, and she laughs.

“I like this one!” she yells again. When there’s no reply from the bedroom, Jesse excuses himself from Emma to go into the room, but the bed is empty and Andrew isn’t in the bathroom either. Jesse’s chest feels like lead.

“Oh,” Emma says, coming up behind him.

Jesse starts, trying to think of what to say, but Emma just steps beside him and says, “Let’s make him some pancakes for when he gets back, okay?” and Jesse is relieved.

--

Andrew:

It’s around mid-afternoon when he gets pulled back to his own time, in his own apartment. The couch has been moved back into place and there’s a note on the fridge that says, “!!! NEEDED TO GO HOME AND FEED MY CAT BECAUSE MY ROOMMATE IS USELESS :(” And then another one, “going out with jesse ;)” in Emma’s handwriting.

He checks his phone and there’s, “come over and join us for dinner :D!!” from Emma, and it figures that she’d be able to slot herself so easily into the life of Andrew’s kind-of-boyfriend-probably-soul-mate type person.

There’s a text from an unknown number that says, “I don’t know if this is on your list of potential deal breakers, but I have a cat.”

He texts, “You have a cat? I’m sorry, but as a consummate dog lover, I’m afraid I just can’t be with you anymore.”

“Well that’s just too bad,” Jesse texts back, “Because there’s no way you’re getting rid of me. Can you get some cat food on the way? Thanks.”

Andrew’s life has been taken over by ridiculous people. He smiles fondly at his phone and goes to find some clothes.

--

Part Two

 
 
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