Fandom: The Social Network RPF
Rating: PG-13, for some alcohol consumption LMAO.
Word Count: ~11,000
Summary: Written for this prompt on the tsn_kinkmeme : I just really want an AU in which one person runs a bookshop, and the other becomes a regular customer. Flirting, romance, etc. follows!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything except my own thoughts. Perhaps not even those. What am I talking about.
Jesse wipes down the counter and sighs when the dust lifts up and makes him sneeze. It's been a bit dead in here all day, what with his little shop still being relatively new and a Barnes and Noble just round the bend. He gazes out the window, watching the people pass by, oblivious to his complete and utter boredom.
Something slinks between his legs. He looks down into the face of his cat and reaches down to smooth her fur. "Looks like it's just me and you today, Mrs. Norris," Jesse says, smiling when she purrs contentedly. "I know, my company should make you that excited."
She hides away right after that of course, because being in Jesse's company is not at all exciting, not even to his own cat.
Normally Jesse would let this go, he'd pull out that book on Russian czars and read until he had to close up shop. But he's bored, okay? He's been here a week, and the only customers he's gotten are those wondering if he has a Starbucks in here, too. Which no, he doesn't. But he does have books that need buying and rent that needs paying and attention that needs filling.
It's that last one he's worried about now, mostly. He's been bored for a week straight and for the first time ever, reading a book is not going to alleviate this problem.
So Jesse follows Mrs. Norris towards the Biography section of the store she's wandered over to and clicks his tongue a bit to get her to come out. It never works, this time is no different, but Jesse does catch the slightest glimpse of a tail wagging beneath the last bookshelf in the aisle.
"Here, Mrs. Norris," Jesse coos, dropping to his knees and crawling towards the shelf. "Here, kitty kitty. Come to me, and I'll paint your nails or something. A real girl's night."
Still nothing, but that doesn't stop Jesse. He's a man with a plan.
The wooden floor creaks beneath his weight and makes his knees ache. "Mrs. Norris, don't be difficult. We'll scrap the nail polish plan. How about a chick flick? I know how much you love The Notebook. We'll watch that."
"That's my mum's favorite movie," someone says from behind him. "She watches it with all her girlfriends every Sunday night."
Jesse closes his eyes and hopes that when he open them again, he'll either be dead or dreaming.
He opens them carefully, and nope, alive and fully conscious. What a shame.
He turns around carefully before he realizes he's still kneeling on the floor. He stands quickly, ignoring the blood rushing in his head and the dust covering the knees of his pants. He feels Mrs. Norris slide against his leg, the little traitor, eying the stranger with much less humiliation than Jesse.
"Hello." Jesse says, hoping his skin hasn't flushed beyond belief and his voice still sounds more like a grown man than a prepubescent girl. "Welcome to Eisenbooks. How may I help you today?"
The man grins at Jesse and holds out a list with chicken scratch written all over it. "Yeah, I need to find these books." He runs a hand through his hair, sticks it up at angles Jesse is sure he's never seen before. "I really need them for an article I'm working on, and Barnes and Noble didn't have them."
"Lucky for me, then?" Jesse asks, wondering if he should be unhappy about being a last resort. Business is business though, and he is rather tired of living off Cheerios and tuna.
Jesse takes the list, eyes scanning down until he gets the bottom.
"Well?" The stranger says. "Have you got them or should I just go cry to my boss and beg for an extension?"
That startles a laugh out a Jesse, mostly because everything sounds strangely humorous in the man's distinct accent and somewhat because he genuinely looks like he may actually cry.
Jesse nods, and gets in return a smile filled with teeth and relief. "Yes, I should have these for you actually."
"That's lovely," The man tells Jesse. "That's absolutely lovely. I kind of want to kiss you right now, I'm so grateful."
Jesse thinks if he were in a movie, this would be the part where he'd blush and stammer out something inevitably ridiculous, and this strange man with his strange accent would be inexplicably charmed and he and Jesse and Mrs. Norris would all be sat on a sofa or something, a completely happy little family as the credits rolled past.
This is real life though. And in real life Jesse does always inevitably say completely ridiculous things, but no one every finds him charming, inexplicably or otherwise. So he just sort of nods shakily, tripping over Mrs. Norris and gathering up the books his first real customer needs.
The man sorts of...prances along behind Jesse, humming appreciatively with every book Jesse produces for him. He smells like outside mostly, which is strange enough because Jesse doesn't know why anyone would want to spend too much time outdoors. There's murderers and kidnappers and thieves and huge, corporate bookstores that threaten the very existence of every small-scale bookshop on the block, not that Jesse's bitter.
He's almost relieved when the man pays and leaves. Jesse's life has never been like anything from a movie. There were no sparks or instant attraction or the slightest hint of interest.
But still, he supposes, it would have been nice.
That night, while he and Mrs. Norris watch The Notebook, Jesse wonders what it would be like to date someone with a British accent.
"I'm sure I'd have a terrible time understanding anything he said." Jesse tells her during a quick moment when she's not ogling Ryan Gosling. Mrs. Norris really only likes this movie for the eye candy more than the plot, but she knows Jesse won't judge. "He'd say things like loo and trainers and fish and chips, and I'd have no idea what he was talking about, you know?"
Ryan Gosling proves to be more interesting than Jesse's theories though, not that he can blame her. Jesse is nowhere near as intriguing as Ryan, he knows.
He gets up and goes to pour another bowl of Cheerios. "Cheerio, mate!" He tells the box, trying out his own British skills. He needs just a bit of tweaking, but other than that, he's completely ready to hop across the pond and salute the Queen.
Jesse's in the middle of packing a hypothetical suitcase filled with trainers and jumpers and ale when his phone rings.
There's a pause. "Jesse? Why are you talking like that? Are you sick?"
Jesse sighs, a little put out. There goes his entertainment for the night. "Hi, Mom." He says, flopping back on the couch beside Mrs. Norris. "No, I'm not sick, just something stuck in my throat, sorry."
"Well, that's good, dear. You know I worry about you. What are you doing?"
Jesse's eyes flick to the screen. Allie and Noah are kissing of course, and Jesse wonders why Mrs. Norris likes this movie so much. It's so cheesy.
"Oh, nothing." Jesse tells his mother. "Just watching some wrestling and doing some push-ups. The usual."
His mother chooses to ignore this, also as usual, and proceeds to tell Jesse all about Hallie's new boyfriend and lack of respect. It's all very interesting to him, of course, which he tells his mother every time she demands to know if he's listening.
Jesse shifts and hears something crinkle in his pocket. He pulls the paper out and realizes he still has the list of books that man was looking for. Jesse lifts the paper to his nose. It smells like the outside too, just like the man, full of life and coffee and nights out with friends. Jesse inhales deeply, wondering if he does this long enough, if it will finally be like he's a part of something outside of his apartment and his bookshop.
It isn't like that at all though. It just feels like Jesse's watching The Notebook with his cat and idly gossiping with his mother on a Friday night.
He throws the list away.
Jesse decides to scope out the competition. By competition, he means Barnes and Noble. And by Barnes and Noble, he means the international powerhouse that isn't really his competition because Jesse is so far off their radar that it actually is a bit funny.
Just a bit. Like when he's home alone at night drinking beer by himself and wondering why he ever thought getting a degree in History was a good idea. Then it's a bit funny. In that pathetic, morbid way that seems to cloud over everything in his life.
The store isn't crowded, which does make Jesse feel a bit better. It's still early Saturday morning though, so the store just has those elderly stragglers looking for a coffee and the paper. Waste of time, in Jesse's opinion, but maybe that's because he doesn't sell newspapers or coffee.
Jesse manages to dodge an employee trying to assist him. He's undercover, goddamnit, and he has a mission to accomplish. He hums the James Bond music under his breath as he stealthily makes his way through the aisles. He may have done a quick somersault through cookbooks a few rows back, but he'll deny it during the interrogation.
The Man somehow manages to catch his attention with the Sudoku puzzles. Jesse doesn't know why, but Mrs. Norris loves them. He always has to correct her though, because she has never quite understood the rules of the thing. Not that he's any better. They usually end up with angry scribbles right down the middle, abandoned on his kitchen table for months.
"Sir?" A voice says from behind him. Jesse freezes, awaiting the handcuffs and reading of his Miranda rights. He sighs internally. The life of a spy is a risky one, he knew that from the start. "Sir, I'm sorry, but I have to ask that you stop doing somersaults through the store. Some of the customers have complained."
Jesse eyes the woman. She's wearing khakis and a plain, white button down shirt and a nametag. Barbara. A mindless sheep. A victim of Retail America. Jesse feels for her, he really does. Mission accomplished, because he's figured out that his bookshop is indeed superior. No one will ever catch Jesse in a nametag. He is a rebel without a cause, okay?
"Over and out, Barbara." He tells her.
He sprints out of the store, face flushed with adrenaline and excitement, not embarrassment.
Definitely not embarrassment.
Jesse ignores Mrs. Norris' pointed gaze when he gets back to the shop. "Mission accomplished," He tells her snidely. "No thanks to you, you conformist."
She pleads the fifth. Typical.
Jesse spends the rest of the day reading. He doesn't much want to, because he's sure he's read every book in here a million times, but there's nothing left to do.
He briefly considers putting up flyers around the neighborhood. Lonely, Jewish bookshop owner looking for love. And customers. Preferably with money. Yes, yes I am a gold digger.
Mrs. Norris is not a fan of this idea.
"Well, where are your ideas for getting us some business, then?" Jesse asks. He pulls out some paper, ready to jot down any good ideas she has. "Because honestly, all this criticism is getting tiring. You're not pulling your weight, Mrs. Norris. I'm sorry, but it's the truth."
"My suggestion would be to never go into business with a cat." Someone says from the door. Jesse looks up and sees it's the same man from yesterday, with the chicken scratch handwriting and the toothy smile. "But I do think the flyers might be a nice thing to try."
Jesse nudges Mrs. Norris off the counter, for once happy when she goes into hiding. "So," Jesse starts. "Your advice is to stay away from all cat ventures and take business advice from strangers?"
The man shrugs carelessly, eyes raising towards his hairline. "You're in no place to mock me, you know." He tells Jesse. "That's twice I've caught you having deep conversations with your cat."
"Mrs. Norris is not a cat." Jesse says imperiously. "She is a top-notch businesswoman with a degree in Business from a very prestigious school."
The man fully enters the store with a slight smile on his face, walking until he's standing across the counter from Jesse, leaning on his elbows. "Yeah?" He asks expectantly. "What prestigious school is that?"
"Mrs. Norris is modest and doesn't like telling people exactly what her credentials are." Jesse says. He leans in closer to Andrew though, because this isn't real. He's pretending, of course, and his anxiety and neuroses seem to go away when he's pretending. "But since you want to know so badly I'll tell you. She graduated from Catlumbia University. Keep it to yourself, though."
The man laughs, covering his face with his hands and his shoulders shaking. When he lifts his head, his face is red and he's smiling at Jesse. "You are deranged. That was terrible wordplay. Absolutely terrible. Maybe the worst I've ever heard."
Jesse shrugs. "That's what happens when you spend all your time with a cat." He shoves his hands in his pocket, a sudden flare of self-consciousness making his palms sweat. "Welcome to Eisenbooks, how may I help you?"
The guy laughs again. Jesse isn't usually around people who laugh this much. He feels distinctly uncomfortable. "I'm going to take a wild guess and say 'Eisenbooks' is another one of your attempts at clever wordplay. Though I will say it's much more clever than Catlumbia."
"My last name is Eisenberg." Jesse explains. "I was very proud of myself when I came up with it. Mrs. Norris thought it was rather egotistical of me though."
The man hums in agreement. "I suppose she would know best, considering she's a top businesswoman and all that, you know."
"Are you going to tell me your name?" Jesse asks. "Or just loiter in my shop and think of ways to steal my business partner from me?"
The man sticks out a hand. "Andrew." He says. "Andrew Garfield. I'm sure there are some cat jokes you're dying to make."
"Mrs. Norris wouldn't be pleased if I took to mocking the customers." Jesse tells him, Andrew, honestly regretting not be able to show off his word prowess.
Andrew full on cackles, startling Mrs. Norris out of hiding. Andrew reaches out to pet her, glancing at his watch at the same time. He frowns regretfully. "Fucking hell, look at the time. I'm off my lunch break." He glances at Jesse. "I really just came in here to say thanks again for your help. I wouldn't have made my deadline otherwise. You were a lifesaver, so thanks, really."
Jesse shrugs off the compliment, instead thinking of trimming Mrs. Norris' nails later. "It's my job." He finally settles on.
Andrew says goodbye.
Jesse and Mrs. Norris dissect the entire conversation, and of course Jesse realizes he never told Andrew his first name.
Jesse decides to do the flyers.
He uses blue paper (Mrs. Norris' suggestion) and tries to think of the perfect words to get people to come to his little bookshop instead of Barnes and Noble.
In the end he comes up with this:
Single, lonely Jewish man looking for love and customers. And money to feed cat. Otherwise she'll eat me. Feel the guilt, retail shoppers of New York, feel the guilt.
Also, don't go to Barnes and Noble. They kill ants with magnifying glasses. I've seen it firsthand.
There's the address and phone number right at the bottom, along with a picture Jesse found on ClipArt.
"What do you think, Mrs. Norris?" Jesse questions, looking over the final result. It looks good. Clean, simple, straight to the point. "Think business will pick up?"
She meows at him. He considers it a victory.
Jesse and Mrs. Norris walk around the streets of Chelsea, putting up their flyers. Mrs. Norris is quite unhappy, she never has liked walking on a leash, but Jesse cannot risk losing his business partner. They're on the brink of success, and the last thing he needs is her running off.
He's plastering the window of Starbucks with flyers when he feels someone walk up behind him.
"That cat doesn't look like she'd eat you." The guy says, coffee in one hand and a Barnes and Noble bag in the other. The nerve.
Jesse glances down at Mrs. Norris. She's laid down on the sidewalk, licking her paws, obviously bored with putting up flyers.
She won't be getting Employee of the Month, Jesse thinks spitefully.
"Looks are deceiving." Jesse tells him. "I used to have a brother."
"Oh, yeah?" The guy asks, chugging a gulp of his corporate coffee. Jesse struggles not to knock it out of his hands. "What happened to him?"
Jesse looks pointedly at Mrs. Norris. "She ate him."
The guy stares long and hard at Mrs. Norris. Jesse silently compels her to seem dangerous and bloodthirsty.
She nuzzles his leg.
"She's already eaten." Jesse says convincingly. "The poor guy had just finished shopping at Barnes and Noble. Mrs. Norris hates people who shop at Barnes and Noble."
The guy takes another sip of coffee, glancing again at the cat. "So, she hates the people who shop there, but loves the taste of them?" He asks. "Good thing you put up flyers then. I would definitely feel guilty if this savage beast ate you just because I didn't buy books from your shop."
The Corporate Coffee man introduces himself as Justin Bartha.
"Jesse Eisenberg and Mrs. Alberta Norris." Jesse tells him.
Justin quickly becomes a regular, much to Jesse's pleasure. Effective marketing has always been his forte.
Justin's sitting on the counter with his coffee and a book about the Great Famine in Ireland a day later. It hasn't taken him very long to get comfortable in Eisenbooks. Even Mrs. Norris adores him.
She barely tolerates Jesse.
There have been three customers in today, which makes Jesse ecstatic. He keeps shooting Mrs. Norris smug looks, because she was so sure his flyers wouldn't work. But Jesse will not let her negativity bring him down. He has customers and he will singlehandedly run Barnes and Noble out of business.
"So, how was business before your creepy flyers?" Justin asks, taking an apple out of Jesse's bagged lunch.
Jesse levels a look at him. "My flyers were effective, not creepy. Need I remind you that it was my flyers that brought you here, eating my fruit?" Jesse points to the book Justin's been reading for the past hour. "I have a strict 'you read it, you buy it' policy, just so you know."
Justin keeps reading. "So? How was business before you were graced with my presence?"
Jesse shrugs, recalling with only slight horror being caught discussing weekend plans and business strategies with Mrs. Norris. "One guy. Though he liked the store so much that he came back the next day to say thank you."
Justin marks his place and closes the book. "He liked the store or he liked you? What normal person comes back to thank someone for having books in a bookstore?"
"I am a god at what I do. I deserve recognition." Jesse says imperiously, puffing out his chest when both Justin and Mrs. Norris give him incredulous looks.
"Right." Justin drawls. "Sounds like he had a crush. Has he been back?"
"No." And not because of anything Jesse did. Talking to cats about advertising is completely normal. Jesse knows this. He Googled it.
Justin shrugs, returning his attention back to his book. "Maybe he discovered he liked Barnes and Noble better." He says offhandedly.
And suddenly, Jesse needs to know if this is true. He refuses to lose to Barnes and Noble.
A plan begins to formulate in his mind. It involves binoculars, a ski mask, and copper wire.
He knows how much Mrs. Norris loves being a lookout, anyway.
A week later Justin is talking Jesse out of painting his face black.
"I need to blend in with the shadows, Justin. I'm going undercover." Jesse whines, looking for an ally in Mrs. Norris.
She scratches him.
Justin's busy scrubbing Jesse's face, nose wrinkled as the paint comes off. "Jesse, I'm sorry to tell you this, I really am, but it's three in the afternoon. There are no shadows to blend in with." He gestures absently towards the window. "Look outside. Very bright and sunny, okay? So no paint."
Jesse disagrees, but a sign of a good leader is sometimes taking the advice of your inferiors.
He sighs heavily, fingers running over the copper wire in his pocket. No one will take that away from him. "Aye aye, Captain." He replies snottily. He sticks out his tongue once Justin's done, making sure his displeasure is known.
"God, you are so weird, Jesse, you know that?" Justin tells him.
Only it doesn't sound derogatory, the way it always had when Jesse was in school. When Justin says it, Jesse doesn't feel weird. He just feels like he finally has a friend.
And that's kind of nice.
"Why are you even doing this anyway?" Justin continues, petting Mrs. Norris the way Jesse always wants to. Jesse flicks her when Justin's not looking, and gets another scratch for his troubles.
He shrugs, fixing his black turtleneck and ignoring the customers that give him funny looks. They're here to buy books, not sit front row at a fashion show. "You're the one who said Andrew liked Barnes and Noble better than here. I just want to make sure that's not true."
Both Justin and Mrs. Norris roll their eyes, though Justin swears he's never seen her do it. "Who cares?"
They've had this conversation maybe fifty times today. but Jesse never gets tired of explaining why this mission is of utmost importance. "Justin, I'm the one who had the books when that mob mafia Barnes and Noble didn't." Jesse feels himself getting worked up again, but he doesn't mind. "Eisenbooks is obviously the superior bookstore, and therefore I would like to know if and why he's still giving money to that Corporate Catastrophe."
"Corporate Catastrophe, Jesse? Really?" Justin doesn't seem as impressed with Jesse as Jesse is with himself.
Jesse takes a quick glance at his watch and rushes to get everything together. "Okay, since you nixed the two-way radio idea, you'll just have to text me if something comes up." He tells Justin quickly. "Mrs. Norris can help you if you forget the codewords, okay? She's been in the field before." Jesse bites his lip, looking at Justin with just the tiniest hint of caution. "You won't rob my store or burn it down or anything while I'm gone, right?"
"You're so weird, Jesse." Is the only response he gets. It'll have to do.
"Okay, if I'm not back by five, call my mom. Tell her I went out in a blaze of glory." Justin is pushing him out of the store, but Jesse isn't deterred. "Mrs. Norris knows where I keep my will. I added you in a few days ago. You get my map collection!"
And then it's just Jesse and his mission.
In hindsight, maybe Justin was right about the turtleneck. It is a bit warm outside, but Jesse's willing to suffer for the cause. He'll gladly take the role of the martyr.
At least Barnes and Noble has air conditioning, Jesse thinks begrudgingly. Very begrudgingly. Very, very begrudgingly.
His phone buzzes in his pocket. A text message from Justin.
Are you done making a fool of yourself Jesse?
Jesse thumbs out a quick response, careful to keep his eyes peeled for Andrew.
StarbucksLover, please remember to use the codewords or our presence may be detected. CurlyFro out.
Jesse moves toward the Current Events Section, remembering the titles of the books that Andrew had asked for. This is Andrew's lunch break, the same time he came in to thank Jesse for the books, so Jesse's a bit hopeful that he can catch Andrew in the act of a book buying faux pas.
His phone buzzes again.
Fine. StarbucksLover to CurlyFro, come in CurlyFro. Lady's asking for books on Soviet Union. Where?
Jesse crouches behind a bench by the magazines and signals to the lady sitting on it to keep quiet. He doesn't need any civilians getting in the line of fire.
European History. Obviously. CurlyFro out.
Jesse keeps low as he makes his way towards Gardening. Still no Andrew though. A little girl points him out to her mother.
"Santa isn't real." Jesse tells her before sprinting away.
The cafe's crowded, so Jesse takes his time looking at each face. He tugs his hat down over his curls and orders a drink to keep his cover.
"Grande or Venti?" The guy behind the counter asks, reeking of brainwashed retail idiocy.
Jesse stares him down, but the guy doesn't bat an eye. "I don't speak Spanish," Jesse says finally, abandoning ship. "Adios!" He yells to the patrons as he makes a beeline for New Age. Maybe Andrew's over there.
Jesse's phone buzzes again when he reaches the bibles. He'd take it as a sign but the spines all say Catholic, and Jesse's pretty positive that he's really, really Jewish.
Sorry AfroBoy, mission's over. Garfunkel's here and he's waiting to see you.
I didn't give Andrew a codename. Jesse types back, a little upset that his mission's failed.
Too bad. If I have to suffer, so does he. Now come back. JBiebs out.
Jesse winds the copper wire around all the legs of the chairs before he leaves. There's no way he's leaving without using it for something.
"CurlyFro! You've returned unscathed!" Justin yells when Jesse walks back into the store.
Jesse takes off his ski cap, not caring about the state of his hair. His failed mission is more important. Jesse is no closer to finding out if Barnes and Noble has won or not. He gives Mrs. Norris a look, raising his brows a few times so she understands.
Mission failed. He sends telepathically. Report back at 0800 hours.
Jesse has no idea if that's even right, but Mrs. Norris has a military background so she'll make it work.
Justin hops up on the counter, Mrs. Norris scrambling to get into his lap. "Garth Brooks here says he saw you doing gymnastics in Barnes and Noble. He was worried about your sanity. I told him it was too late for that."
Jesse sighs, giving up on codenames right then and there. "I was not doing gymnastics. I was, uh--buying more Sudoku books for Mrs. Norris," He says pointedly.
"Oh yeah?" Andrew asks. He looks far too pleasant to have just been shopping at that soul-sucking retail book hell, so Jesse allows himself to hope.
"Yes." He replies curtly. "She loves Sudoku, what can I say. Keeps the mind sharp and all, you know."
Andrew and Justin give him identical looks of disbelief, and Jesse bristles under the scrutiny.
"Ask her yourself." He tells them. "You don't have to take my word for it."
"Where are the books, then?" Justin asks him, eyebrows still raised expectantly.
Jesse falters, just for a second. "What books?"
"You said you bought books for Mrs. Norris. Well, she and I would both like to know where they are." Justin just keeps staring, and if Jesse's learned anything while being in the force, it's that you're not paranoid if they're really out to get you.
He huffs loudly. "If you really want to know, Justin, I got mugged on the way back. All Mrs. Norris' lovely Sudoku puzzles were stolen. So there." Jesse throws down his cap and rolls up his sleeves. Justin must have turned up the heat in the store. It's only 88 degrees outside, Jesse should not be sweating in a turtleneck, he's sure of it.
"You got mugged?" Andrew repeats, looking genuinely horrified.
Justin snorts. "Garth Vader, you have so much to learn about our friend Jesse here." He gets off the counter, taking Mrs. Norris with him and sends a final look towards Jesse. "Come along, Mrs. Norris. Let's give Garfield and Odie some time to discuss their craziness together."
Andrew looks at Jesse a bit helplessly. "So, I'm a bit confused." He says, running a hand through his hair. "Justin said you were looking for me in Barnes and Noble?"
Do not tell him about the mission, do not tell him about the mission, do not tell him about the mission.
Jesse's mind races as he scrambles to find a suitable excuse for his behavior. "It's a funny story, really." He starts, tugging at his shirt and ignoring the sweat gathering beneath his clothes. "I have a..." Think, Jesse, think. "A crush. On you. So I decided to follow you around Barnes and Noble. Like a puppy waiting to have his head scratched. Or Mrs. Norris waiting for me to turn Jeopardy on every night at eight."
"A crush." Andrew says disbelievingly. "You do realize you've only met me twice, yes?"
"Three times, now." Jesse tells him convincingly. "And I can barely keep my hands off you. Which is why I followed you around the store and did somersaults to avoid detection, er--being seen. By you."
Andrew nods his head slowly, never taking his eyes off Jesse. "Well, okay then. Would you like to have lunch now, then? If you're not busy."
And this is the in Jesse was looking for. His mission hasn't failed. If anything, it's only increased in danger. And Jesse lives for danger. He signals Mrs. Norris behind his back, hoping she's not too enthralled with Justin and can actually see him.
"I can do that." Jesse says. He waves to Justin on his way out, briefly wondering if he should actually start paying him wages, and follows Andrew down the crowded sidewalk. He can do this. Figure out if Andrew's a Barnes and Noble fiend, and then never see him again.
Andrew leads Jesse into a small cafe about two blocks from Eisenbooks.
Andrew smiles at him, picking up the menu and handing Jesse his own. "Lunch is on me, yeah?" He tells Jesse.
Jesse nods absently, trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to get answers. "Barnes and Noble kills ants, you know." He decides to go with. They say it's always best to start with the facts. "I really wouldn't peg you for an ant murderer, but to each his own."
Andrew nearly chokes on the breadsticks they've been given. For a second, Jesse struggles to remember the Heimlich Maneuver. He'd practiced on Mrs. Norris for four straight hours before deeming himself a professional.
"I'm sorry, did you just call me an ant murderer?" Andrew gasps out, shoulders shaking and face red.
Jesse frowns, completely unable to read Andrew's reaction. "The welfare of ants is no laughing matter. Every time you buy a book, another ant is hauled off to the slaughterhouse. Just think about that for a second."
Andrew finally gathers himself, straightening up in his chair and looking at Jesse with twinkling eyes. "Justin was right." He manages to get out through the residual laughter that lurks in his voice. "You are so, so weird. But I think I find it far lovelier than he does."
"You call absolute strangers lovely. I think you're the weird one." Jesse tells him, fighting down a bright red flush. He's never been called lovely before.
Andrew nods, a grin stuck on the edges of his mouth. "You're absolutely right. Speaking of lovely, how's Mrs. Norris? I barely got a chance to chat with her."
"She's just fine," Jesse says. "She told me to thank you for your advice about the flyers. They worked wonderfully."
Andrew sits up straighter, eyes wide with disbelief. "You really used my idea? Seriously? And it worked?"
"Technically it was my idea." Jesse tells Andrew with an imperious sniff. "You just gave your input. But yes, it worked. Very well."
"Where are they? Can I see one?" Andrew asks excitedly.
Jesse reaches into his pocket and pulls one out. Mrs. Norris always says you'll never know when you'll need to network. He slides it across the table to Andrew, waiting for him to revel in the sheer genius of Jesse's marketing skills.
He watches Andrew's eyes travel across the enthralling and captivating words.
"Single, lonely Jewish man?" Andrew inquires.
Jesse nods sadly, putting on his best ashamed expression. It's always a hit with the ladies at his grandmother's retirement home. Sometimes you have to play dirty to win Scrabble. "Yes, single and lonely. Lonestar Jesse, that's what they call me."
"I thought they called you CurlyFro?" Andrew asks him.
"That's what they used to call me in the force." Jesse says.
"The force?" Andrew asks him. "You were in the military? Really?"
abort abort abort
"Did I mention I have a crush on you?" Jesse says hurriedly, almost knocking over his water in his haste to divert Andrew's attention. "Big, huge crush on you. Remember when I said that? Let's not forget that."
Andrew smiles at Jesse again. "You mentioned that, yeah. I didn't forget." He takes another bite of breadstick. "I'm still not sure why though. I've not done another particularly crushworthy. If anything, you're the one being all lovely and crushable."
"You've done plenty of crushworthy things." Jesse tells him quickly. He only flounders for a second when Andrew stares at him expectantly. "Like uh, the way you chew with your mouth open is simply divine. Really."
Andrew lets out another one of those choking laughs. "Oh my god, you are unreal." He says. "We should definitely do this again?"
It's later, when he and Mrs. Norris are watching a The Price Is Right marathon, that Jesse realizes he still doesn't know if Andrew shops at Barnes and Noble.
"No matter." He tells Mrs. Norris assuredly. "That's why I tricked him into having lunch with me again. I'll find out next time."
And he will. Because that's all lunch is. Completing his mission. And absolutely nothing to do with the warmth of Andrew's hand when he wrote his phone number on Jesse's palm or the way he giggled when Jesse complimented him on going fifteen minutes without realizing food was stuck in his teeth.
It was all a part of the plan, of course.
After a month of sitting around and reading books for free, Justin decides that he is now an employee of Eisenbooks.
Jesse is concerned for many reasons. Mostly because he's been giving Mrs. Norris money to pay Justin for three weeks now. He thinks they might need to have a business meeting. Partly because Justin has taken to playing matchmaker between Jesse and Andrew, and if Jesse's learned anything from being in the covert mission business, it's that relationships are bad. Very, very bad.
He tells Justin this to no avail.
"Jesse, there's nothing you can say to convince me you two together is a bad idea." Justin tells him. "You're the Paula Abdul to his Simon. Only you're crazier than Paula and he's a lot nicer than Simon."
Jesse and Mrs. Norris share a look of suffering.
Besides, Jesse's mission is more important.
Jesse keeps trying to figure out if Andrew buys at Barnes and Noble.
He tries getting the security tapes.
"Sir, we don't show the public the security tapes." The woman at the customer service desk says. "It's against store policy."
She doesn't even budge when Jesse slips her a twenty.
"Are you trying to bribe me, sir ?"
Jesse smiles, glancing around. "It's only bribery if there's money involved." He says, knowing all the tricks of the trade. "Do you see any money here?"
The woman looks down at Jesse's hand pointedly. "I see a twenty dollar bill right there."
Jesse cuts the bullshit. "Look," He glances at her nametag. "Cassandra. I'm not going to play games with you. I have a direct line of communication to the president. The. President."
Cassandra doesn't look impressed. "What does the President have to do with you bribing me about our security tapes?"
"Good question." Jesse tells her, already backing away from the desk. "Just think about what I said Cassandra! The future of the free world is in your hands!"
Jesse tries hinting at Andrew.
"If I were a bookstore that had sweatshops in a third world country, would you buy from me?"
Andrew gives Jesse a confused look, pausing from the sandwich he ordered for lunch. "Why would a bookstore need a sweatshop?"
"You're useless." Jesse tells him.
Finally, Jesse decides to be straightforward.
He sticks an unsigned letter into Mrs. Norris' collar and waits for her to make her way over to Andrew, who's browsing through the art books.
"Hey, Mrs. Norris." Andrew says, reaching down and scratching her head. "What's this girl?"
He glances at Jesse and unfolds the paper.
Do you shop at Barnes and Noble? Check yes or no.
Andrew laughs, one of those full body ones that exposes his neck and makes Jesse's hands all sweaty.
"Oh my God, Jesse." He laughs, walking over with Mrs. Norris in his arms. "Is this what you've been trying to ask me? With the sweatshops and all?"
Jesse shrugs innocently. "I have no idea what Barnes and Noble even is." He says, turning his attention back to dusting. "A complete stranger came in and asked Mrs. Norris to give that to you. I have no part in this."
"Right." Andrew says. "Well if that complete stranger comes back, can you tell him I much prefer Eisenbooks to that Corporate Killer Barnes and Noble, yeah?"
Mission accomplished, Jesse thinks smugly.
"Anyway," Andrew continues. "I have to go, I'm late for a meeting. Are we still on for dinner tonight?"
Jesse freezes. With the mission a success, he really has no reason to even see Andrew again. He hesitates, watching the smile start to fall from Andrew's face.
Jesse looks to Mrs. Norris for backup. She hisses. He sees Justin glaring at him from the Pet section.
"I'm um." He starts, nervousness and guilt overwhelming the feeling of accomplishment he should be feeling. "I'm actually busy. Really busy."
"Oh." Andrew says, and Jesse has to turn away before he changes his mind. "Okay. Well, then I guess I'll see you around then, yeah?"
Andrew leaves, and suddenly Justin is right next to Jesse.
"Relationships are too hard when you live the dangerous lifestyle I do." Jesse says, but for once, his heart's not really into it.
Justin sighs, picking up Mrs. Norris and looks out the window, where they can still see Andrew, shoulders hunched as he walks back towards his office. "Oh, Jesse." Is the only thing he says.
Mrs. Norris meows her agreement.
Justin follows Jesse and Mrs. Norris home.
"We have important things to discuss. Like your failed attempts at being a person." Is his only reply every time Jesse asks him why he's coming.
They get back to Jesse's apartment. It's a little weird, because his mom and Hallie Kate are the only people who ever come over. Usually they take over, cleaning and nagging Jesse about all the cat hair, so right now Jesse has absolutely no idea what he's doing.
They kind of stand around in front of the sofa until Justin flops down, an expectant look on his face. "Well?" He asks.
"Well?" Jesse looks at Mrs. Norris, wondering if she has any idea how to act. But she's already retreating into the kitchen, apparently not in the mood for visitors.
Justin sets his feet up on the table. "Order some Chinese or something, Eisenberg." He says, as if Jesse is just supposed to know. "Then we'll drink a bit of alcohol and you'll tell me why you broke Garfunkel's heart today."
Jesse huffs, already headed for the phone. Mrs. Norris keeps a menu to the place down the street by her litterbox. "I didn't break his heart. It was just a mission, Justin, really."
Jesse can almost hear Justin rolling his eyes. He doesn't say anything though until Jesse's back in the living room, seated on the couch with nowhere to hide.
"Alcohol." Justin reminds him. So Jesse comes back with a six pack of beer that he usually saves for Friday nights.
He and Justin both take long swigs, staring at the baseball game playing on the television without really watching. Finally, Justin turns to him, expression already something Jesse hates.
"Now," He starts. "Tell me why you're not out right now having dinner with Garfunkel."
"Garfield, Justin." Jesse says snidely, defenses already up and ready.
Justin sighs, rolling his eyes at Jesse and taking another long swig of his beer. "We'll compromise. Why aren't you out right now having dinner with Andrew?"
"I've already told you," Jesse cuts in. "The mission's over."
Justin sets down his drink and takes Jesse's as well. "Jesse. Seriously. Talk to me for real, okay?" His face looks so sincere, more sincere than anyone's looked at Jesse in a long time. At least besides Andrew. "You don't have to hide behind that mission bullshit or Mrs. Norris or this "I'm so weird" facade, okay? I'd like to think we're friends now, right? You can talk to me."
Jesse opens his mouth to say...something. He doesn't even know. But without the mission and without his cat and without everything he's worked so hard to build, he's just...Jesse. And no one likes Jesse. He's learned that over the years.
"Let's start with the basics." Justin says. "You like Andrew, right?"
"And without your mission, would you still like him? Would you still have had lunch with him and agreed to have dinner?"
Jesse nods again.
"Then, what's the problem?
And the thing is, Jesse doesn't know.
"What if--" He starts, for once not looking over at Mrs. Norris for confirmation, though he wants to, he really, really wants to. "What if he doesn't like me back?"
Justin pats his leg, hands him back his beer and settles back into the couch cushions. "Welcome to the world of normal dating woes, my friend. Enjoy your stay."
Jesse sits back too. This was a lot easier to think about when it was only about his mission.
He thinks about Andrew's phone number, typed innocently into his phone under Ant Murderer.
He thinks about texting him like a normal person, confessing his feelings, going to dinner.
Jesse gets another beer.
Jesse's on Beer Number Three when Justin finally convinces him that it would be a good idea to call Andrew. Justin's on Beer Number Five and Mrs. Norris has chosen sleep over being their Designated Driver so Jesse figures he has nothing to lose.
Jesse can feel the alcohol emboldening him. He feels invincible, powerful, like he can't fail. He feels like he's at the top of the world, looking down at all his royal subjects, waving as he surpasses all of their hopes and dreams. Jesse is the man, and from his perch in the sky he can look down on all the little people. Like Justin who's passed out beside him and Mrs. Norris who's sneezing in her sleep.
The little people he had to step on to get this high up. It's a hard life, but somebody's got to do it.
"Jesse, what are you talking about?" Jesse startles when he hears Andrew's voice on the line. He didn't think he was speaking out loud.
He drops the phone for a second, staring at it like it's grown a head. Or feelers. Or something equally terrifying as Andrew being on the phone. Jesse's too drunk for this, really he is. He wishes Mrs. Norris was awake because Justin obviously gives terrible advice and Jesse's never failed once by listening to the cat.
"Jesse?" He can hear Andrew say. "Jesse, are you there?"
Jesse stares at the phone, hoping maybe eventually Andrew will hang up.
"I'm not hanging up, Jesse. Not until you tell me why you called."
Close but no cigar.
Jesse picks up the phone again. "Sorry, but I think you have the wrong number."
Andrew sighs heavily. "You called me, Jesse. Talking about loyal subjects and taking naps on clouds or something."
Jesse lies back on the couch, glaring at Justin. He's still asleep, completely passed out by the time Jesse even worked up the nerve (and drank enough) to call Andrew. "I'm drunk." Jesse tells him. He hopes he sounds miserable enough that Andrew will take pity on him and feel sorry. Andrew laughs though and Jesse feels just slightly betrayed.
"I didn't know you did that." Andrew says, still laughing. "Get drunk, I mean."
Jesse shrugs, mostly because he knows Andrew can't see him and Jesse is a rebel, okay? Still a rebel without a cause. "Justin made me do it."
Andrew is silent for a bit, and Jesse wonders if this phone call is even real. He tries to remember how he got here. Sulking, drinking, phone call. Right. Not a dream.
"Were you busy with Justin?" Andrew asks after awhile. "Is that why you couldn't have dinner with me?"
"Nope." Jesse says, all alcohol-induced honesty and no sense of keeping his mouth shut ever. "We're having a sleepover." He whispers, thinking of how nice it would be to fall asleep like Justin has, all loose limbs and spread across Jesse and the couch. "Because I like you. But shh Andrew, that's a secret."
Andrew laughs again,and Jesse's eyes fall closed at the sound. "I like you, too, you know." He tells Jesse.
Jesse hums, eyes refusing to open for more than a second. "No one likes me." He murmurs, already half asleep.
"That's not true." Andrew says, voice lowering as if he knows Jesse's a few minutes from pure unconsciousness. "Mrs. Norris likes you. And Justin. And me."
Jesse leans his head against Justin's shoulder, getting comfortable. "Hmph." Is all he says.
"Sleep, Jesse. Let's get breakfast tomorrow, yeah? Promise." Andrew whispers into the phone.
"Promise." Jesse whispers back, phone call still connected as he falls asleep.
They do eventually go on their first date.
"I want to go on a mission with you," Andrew says when he's sitting on the counter in Eisenbooks. He's started taking his lunch breaks there, enabling Justin and plying Mrs. Norris with disgusting hummus.
Justin gives Jesse a look that he pointedly ignores. "That's amazing," Justin says, sounding disgusted and awed at the same time.
"What's amazing?" Andrew asks, because he hasn't learned yet that you shouldn't listen to Justin when he talks.
Jesse is steathily ignoring the both of them though, instead drawing a map of Barnes and Noble from memory and wondering if anyone would notice if he tried to gain entrance into the building through the roof.
Justin snatches Mrs. Norris from AAndrew, nuzzling her fur that's sticky with hummus. "It's amazing that Jesse has managed to find someone as crazy as him," He tells them both. "Actually, maybe I shouldn't be amazed. Maybe I should be terrified. Maybe I should contact the authorities."
Andrew laughs and gives Jesse this delighted sort of look, and it almost makes Jesse forget where the Employees Only doors are on his map.
"Jesse's not crazy," Andrew says, barely meeting Jesse's eyes, face hidden by this red flush that makes Jesse's heart do utterly ridiculous things. "I happen to like trying to take down Corporate Catastrophes."
Justin scoffs, hopping off the counter. He makes a face when Jesse takes his place, hesitantly showing Andrew his map. Justin peers over both their shoulders, more unidentifiable noises coming from his mouth the longer he looks.
"Jesse!" He shouts, obviously exasperated. "You cannot get into Barnes and Noble through the roof."
"Why can't he?" Andrew asks, eyes wide and innocent. "I'll hold the rope while Jesse inches down. That can be our first date."
Jesse jots a few notes down on the map.
1. Will a suit rip if you rappel down a rope while wearing it?
2. Is it possible for your cat to eat the flowers meant for your date?
3. Will Andrew's hair fit under a ski mask?
"I think this is a good idea," Jesse says finally. "There are a few kinks to work out, but I've already made note of them on the map."
Andrew reads them over, elbowing Jesse in the side once he's done. "Cats don't eat flowers, Jesse, everybody knows that."
Justin stomps away and ignores everyone for the rest of the day.
Mrs. Noriss is not happy about the change of plans.
"I know, I know! I know you are the one that usually goes on missions with me," Jesse hisses, glancing back at Andrew and Justin who are too engrossed in debating the merits of code names to notice anything else.
"So that's why you keep calling me Garfunkel?" Jesse hears Andrew ask.
He turns his attention back to Mrs. Norris who's glaring at him as she licks her paws. "Andrew really wanted to go though." Jesse fidgets, feeling his face flush like it hasn't done in, well, forever, really. "It's our first real date."
Mrs. Norris blinks, clearly unimpressed. Jesse sighs, reaching out a hand to pet her head.
She scratches him.
"At least Andrew doesn't cause me bodily harm," he says snottily, glaring right back at her. "And I didn't want to say this because I'm a nice person, but it was actually Andrew who came up with the idea for the flyers. So there."
"Wow," Justin says from behind Jesse. "I just witnessed a literal catfight. If you're about done with that, your boyfriend's ready to go misshelve some books or whatever it is you do when you go to Barnes and Noble."
"He's not my--" Jesse starts, but then Andrew's waving excitedly from the door and miming all sorts of gestures before he eventually just yells, "I'm ready to bring down this Corporation of Destruction!" and wow, so much for stealth.
Mrs. Norris mewls judgementally and Justin gives him a final look of disdain before Andrew drags Jesse out the door.
"You've got to teach me proper mission etiquette," Andrew says, arm gripping Jesse's tight. "I don't want to get anything wrong, you know."
Jesse hurries to keep up with him. "There's not much to it," he explains, hot beneath his turtleneck (still maybe a bad idea, yet to be decided) and skull cap. "Mostly I try and get past the minions. Or see if they're willing to volunteer some information."
"Right," Andrew says, concentrating hard. "Charm the minions, got it."
Jesse pulls his hat down further, frowning when two women give him suspicious looks. "I think I'm being recognized," Jesse tells Andrew, pausing to tuck his curls out of sight. "I've always wondered what it would be like to be infamous."
Andrew adjusts his own hat, both of them sweating in the heat of the afternoon. "This is so cool," Andrew whispers excitedly when they're reaching the entrance to Barnes and Noble. "I'm practically dating a criminal."
"Are we--?" Jesse starts to ask, but then Andrew's pulling him into the store and he's lost all his nerve.
Andrew ducks behind the bargain section, both of them tucked in between dusty cookbooks and huge biographies on dead presidents. "Okay, here's the plan--"
"You have a plan?" Jesse interrupts. "You've never even done this before!"
Andrew sighs, crouching lower and sneaking peeks in between the slits in the shelves. "I know, I know. But--" He bites his lip, and he's sweaty and a little flushed and overexcited and Jesse has never, ever felt anything like this before. "Just--can I try? I want to do it right."
"Fine," Jesse agrees much too quickly. He never would have caved so easily for Mrs. Norris or Justin. Weak. "Fine, what's the plan?"
Andrew does this beaming sort of grin, one that gives Jesse indigestion or something. "Okay. We'll hit Customer Service first. They know the most, right?" He stands up straight to see over all the shelves. "Okay, there's just a woman there right now. I'll distract her with my British charm and you'll start hitting her hard with the tough questions, yeah?"
Jesse stands on his toes, wishing he was a bit taller. He can just make out the blonde of the woman's hair, the exhausted way she leans against her computer. Another overworked, brainwashed robot. He nods once at Andrew, his heart definitely not racing when Andrew squeezes his hand.
"I hope this works," Jesse tells him, side-eyeing a man that walks past, blatantly trying to eavesdrop. "There are spies everywhere."
Andrew grins, adjusting his turtleneck and cracking his neck. "Of course it will work, Jesse. My plan will ensure that our first date will not be a disaster."
It turns out to be, in fact, a disaster.
It turns out that the woman at the Customer Service desk is the same one Jesse tried to bribe a few weeks ago. And yeah, she definitely remembers Jesse.
"You're not allowed to be here," She tells him pointedly, phone already poised to her ear to call a manager.
Jess feigns confused because, damnit he's a top agent. He can play the 'you've got the wrong guy' card. "I think you've got the wrong guy," he says, eyes wide open and guileless. "I've never been here a day in my life."
She looks unimpressed, not even blinking when Andrew steps in.
"Excuse me, miss? I'm afraid you've got the wrong person." Andrew kicks up his accent, and Jesse swears he heard a pip, pip, cheerio, mate somewhere in there. "My boyfriend is completely innocent of the accusations and charges he's facing."
Jesse sneaks a peak at her nametag and Cassandra glares at both of them. "This is not a murder trial or an episode of Law and Order. That guy," She starts, pointing at Jesse, "Is banned from the store. Manager's orders."
"Surely we can set an appeal date--" Andrew cuts in, but then Cassandra's giving them death stares that actually make Jesse feel like he's dying and he feels Andrew tugging him backwards and out of the store.
"I gave you everything, Cassandra!" Jesse shouts as he's being pulled. "Money, cars, and clothes, we could have had it all!"
"Oh my god, Jesse," Andrew screeches, walking faster.
"I want my twenty dollars back!" Jesse manages to yell beofre they're back out in the sun and he's still sweating and apparently banned.
Andrew doesn't stop pulling until they're down the street and back in Eisenbooks, Justin and Mrs. Norris and various customers staring at them with the same look of thinly veiled confusion.
"That was quick," Justin says, dropping Mrs. Norris to the floor and coming over to inspect the two of them. "You didn't kill anyone, did you?"
"Nope," Andrew tells him, and he starts this weird giggling thing that Jesse just does not understand because their first date just included him getting banned from a store and it's not even dark outside yet. He got banned during daylight hours, how terrible. "But they told Jesse he wasn't allowed in Barnes and Noble ever again." And here Andrew collapses into this helpless fit of childish laughter, hand covering his face and eyes crinkling at the corners. "And Jesse was yelling all these ridiculous things, and really Justin," Andrew tells him, face all lit up, "You should have been there. It was the best 15 minutes of my life."
Justin blinks. "You disgust me," Is all he says before walking away.
Andrew gives Jesse this adoring look, it's far too sappy and Jesse is far too undeserving of such a thing. Mrs. Norris has never even looked like that and he feeds her and cleans up her feces. So, yeah, all he's done for Andrew is find him books. Completely different.
And yet Andrew calls out of work for the rest of the day.
He sits on top of the counter and recounts the story over and over to Mrs. Norris until finally Justin steals her away and they both hide out in the back.
He smiles at Jesse while he's helping customers find books or dusting or shelving books. He gives Jesse this unbearable grin and swings his legs back and forth and repeats, "I cannot believe you got banned from a bookstore, Jesse," until Jesse really can't believe it either.
Andrew learns how the cash register works, because if he's not going to move then he's at least going to work, according to Justin. So he does. Ringing people up from his perch on the counter and sharing this secret little smile with Jesse every so often. Only it isn't so secret because he's told almost everyone ever what they've done today. What Jesse's done today. Which is get himself banned.
He helps Jesse close and shoos Justin off when he offers to stay.
He bites his lip and looks at Jesse with these adoring, hesitant eyes. "So," He starts, after Jesse's locked the door and turned off most of the lights. "Today counted as a date, right?"
"I don't think Justin or Mrs. Norris would agree," Jesse responds. "But, I think we can classify today as a date."
"Cool," Andrew says, "Because I usually kiss after the first date."
"Do you go on a lot of dates?"
"Is this your polite way of saying you don't want to kiss me?"
"This is my embarrassing way of saying I've never been kissed."
"Oh," Andrew says. "Oh. You've never--done anything? At all?"
Jesse lets out a nervous sort of laugh, high and strained and this is why his only friend is a cat. "I've masturbated before, if that counts."
"Jesus, Jesse," Andrew says, leaning in. "You are so weird, you know that, right?"
Jesse nods, eyes glued to Andrew's mouth. He's only seen this in the movies. Mostly The Notebook. And he's hoping like hell his first kiss won't be like that. "Yeah," he whispers, both of them stepping just an inch closer. "Are you going to kiss me now or what?"
And so Andrew does. And Jesse doesn't really have anything to compare it to. But he makes a mental note to tell Mrs. Norris all about it in the morning once she's done her sleepover with Justin. And he'll have to call his sisters because they like to gossip. And his mother, yes. Jesse will definitely have to call her and tell her the news--
"Jesse?" Andrew says, "Is this okay?"
"Yeah, yeah," Jesse reassures him. "I'm just making a mental list of all the people I have to talk to about this."
"Right," Andrew responds. "You know you really are so weird, Jesse."
"Yeah," Jesse sighs, but it's a good sigh. It's a 'my cat will not be cockblocking me tonight' sigh. It's a "I might be losing my viriginity some time this year' sigh. It's an 'I really, really like this guy and he likes me back, this is actually insane' sigh. It's maybe a "is that his tongue in my mouth' sigh, but Jesse can't really think. "Yeah," he repeats when they break apart again, hearts pounding and racing. "Yeah, I know."