There’s a sharp, pounding pain in Andrew’s head when he opens his eyes, so he closes them again immediately.
“Ouch,” he says, confused, and tries to cover his face with his hand. Something catches on the back of his hand and he opens his eyes again, squinting down the length of his arm.
There’s a needle in the back of his hand, a tube leading from it into a clear bag over his head. He’s in hospital, apparently. What the hell?
“Andrew?” someone says and Andrew turns his head to see a girl jump up from a chair across the room. She’s about his age, with long blonde hair scraped up into a ponytail, an untucked white blouse and smart black trousers. She grabs his hand and squeezes, asking in what he’s fairly certain is an American accent, “Oh my god, are you all right? I was so worried.”
He has no idea who she is.
“Yes?” he tries, not wanting to be rude in case she’s his doctor or something and he should recognise her. “What happened?” Maybe if he knows that, he can work out who she is.
“You fell.” She clutches his hand tighter. “I mean, duh, you probably guessed that, right? One of the cables snapped and, I don’t know what happened, you landed on the crash matt but you still managed to hit your head really hard and.” She shakes her head. “Fuck, it was scary.”
Cables? Andrew thinks. Why cables? He just finished filming an adaptation of a Jonathan Trigell novel and he has an audition soon for a part in Doctor Who; he has no idea why he would have been near any cables.
Some of his confusion must show on his face, because the girl frowns. “Don’t you remember?” she asks.
Andrew thinks about lying, but he’s starting to get a little worried so, “No,” he says, “Not at all.”
“Right.” She pulls her hand away from his to clap both hers together briskly. “Well, that’s probably because you have a concussion. I’m gonna get the doctor and you’ll be a-okay in no time.”
She still looks worried and Andrew feels bad about that. “Thank you,” he says then hesitates. “I’m really sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.”
She stills, her face losing colour. “Are you bullshitting me?” she asks. She strides back to the bed, grabbing his shoulder. “If you’re bullshitting me, Garfield, I will end you.”
Andrew bites his lip. “I’m sorry?” he tries.
She stares at him. “Oh my god,” she breathes softly. “Oh, this can’t be good.”
Emma - the blonde girl’s name is Emma apparently and apparently it’s really bad that he doesn’t remember that - fetches a doctor and then suddenly Andrew has far too many people prodding and pinching and asking too many questions.
Andrew tells them his name (which gets him a nod), his age (which gets him a frown) and the year (which gets him a head shake and a quiet hiss from Emma).
“Just wait here,” the doctor tells him, patting his hand and then Andrew’s left alone with Emma who’s sitting on the windowsill, swinging one leg. She’s taken off her shoes and looks set to stay.
“So,” Andrew says, wishing he knew how he knows her at least so he’d have some idea of the right way to interact with her. “I take it it’s not 2007?”
He feels like he should feel more panicked about that, but his head is throbbing again and he’s too tired to work up much feeling about anything.
Emma shakes her head. “No,” she says slowly.
Okay. Andrew has no idea what else to say. “2008?”
Emma chews on her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you,” she says. “In movies amnesiacs always have to remember by themselves.”
Is that what Andrew is, he wonders. He really wishes he had the energy to care more. “If we were in a movie, I’d hope it would be more interesting than this,” Andrew tells her. There’s a blank space where everything should be and he just wants to go to sleep and wake up back in 2007.
“If we ever -” Emma starts to echo. “No, yes, I think you’re right about that.” She hops down off the windowsill and walks over to sit back at the side of Andrew’s bed. “Does your head hurt?”
Like hell. “Only a little,” Andrew tells her, because he doesn’t want to make a fuss.
She smiles, putting her hand on his forehead. That isn’t where the pain’s radiating from but her hands are cool and the pressure’s nice so Andrew closes his eyes.
“Are you and I...?” He loses the thread of what he’s saying but she seems to get it anyway.
“No.” She strokes his fringe back from his eyes when he can’t manage to keep them open. “Don’t worry, you don’t have a surprise wife or anything. At least, I don’t think so.”
“Good.” Andrew knows it’s rude to fall asleep while she’s talking to him but he can’t help it. He just hopes his memory comes back while he’s asleep.
Andrew’s memory doesn’t come back while he’s asleep. Excitingly, he does develop a really horrible case of vertigo though and he spends the next day flat on his back, staring at the ceiling while more doctors come and do more tests on him.
His dad’s sister arrives sometime during the afternoon, bringing him magazines full of celebrities he doesn’t recognise and tales of his cousins who are apparently now at high school when, in his head, they’re barely primary school age.
This whole thing is ridiculous. Andrew hates it.
“I don’t even know why I’m in LA,” he tells his aunt, reckoning that if he can be a little whiny to anyone, it’s probably her.
“You’re making a movie,” she tells him brusquely and he feels helplessly guilty for worrying her.
Although, “That’s pretty cool.” Andrew wishes he felt better so that he could do a dance at the fact he’s not only making a film, but he’s doing it in LA. That has to be a good sign for his career at least.
His aunt’s expression softens. “Totally cool,” she assures him. Her mobile phone buzzes before she can say anything else. She pulls it out of her pocket, reads her message then passes Andrew the phone. “Your mom. She’s pretty worried.”
Andrew takes the phone and tries to focus on the screen. The words jump out at him, scrambling together and he pushes it away, nauseous.
“Andrew?” his aunt asks. “Honey?”
Andrew tries to shake his head but the pain at the back of his skull is getting worse. “I don’t think reading’s a very good idea at the moment,” he tells her, keeping his voice steady with an effort. “Could you just tell her that I’m okay?”
His aunt frowns. “You’re not okay, though,” she says, but she takes the phone back and taps out a message. “She’s trying to work out a way to come out here, but your grandfather hasn’t been well lately, so it’s difficult for her.”
“Oh.” Andrew remembers his grandfather as the most active eighty year old ever. Every time Andrew or his brother are home, they always spend Sunday mornings playing football with him in the park. “Is he okay?”
“Sure.” His aunt pats his shoulder and doesn’t meet his eye, which he’s fairly certain means she’s lying.
Andrew stares up at the ceiling and wishes it would stop spinning. He hates this.
The door squeaks open just then and Emma sticks her head around the door. “Hey,” she whispers, like Andrew’s on his deathbed. “The nurse said you weren’t feeling too good; should I fuck off?”
Andrew doesn’t know her, but he’s pleased enough by the distraction that he feels his welcoming smile grow five times bigger than is probably appropriate. “No,” he says, “Please. Come in.”
Emma exchanges a look with Andrew’s aunt but Andrew can’t even lift his head at the moment so he can’t decipher it.
“How’s everything on set?” he asks, interrupting whatever they’re worrying about.
Emma spins around. “Do you remember?” she asks, voice rising in excitement.
Andrew feels immediately bad for disappointing her. “No,” he says. “Not yet.”
“Oh.” Emma sighs and sits on the side of Andrew’s bed. “It was boring,” she says. “Everyone’s freaking out about rescheduling your scenes so I mostly just hung out with Sally and Martin.”
“Sally and Martin?” Andrew asks. Presumably he’ll be going back to this film, whatever it is, at some point, so he thinks he should probably learn some names.
“Field and Sheen,” Emma tells him.
Andrew tries to sit up, groans and sinks back down. “Fuck,” he mutters, pressing his hand to the top of his head in the hope that that will stop it flying away. “Sally Field and Martin Sheen are in this film? Is this a wind-up?”
Emma laughs, patting his knee. “Well that’s something you’re gonna have to get better to find out, isn’t it?” She grins suddenly, wide. “Speaking of incentives, Jesse totally freaked out when he found out you were hurt so he’s on a plane to LA right now.”
Andrew looks at her, hoping he looks more curious and less blank. “Jesse?” he asks.
The face Emma makes is complicated. “Oh,” she says, “You’re going to love Jesse. Seriously. This is going to be great.”
Andrew’s aunt clears her throat. “Andrew,” she says, “I’m going to get some lunch. Do you want anything?”
Andrew’s body isn’t in any state to accept food right now, but it worried her when he said that earlier, so he asks her to buy him a sandwich.
As soon as she’s gone, he lets himself sink deeper into his pillows and sighs.
“Okay?” Emma asks and Andrew snaps his eyes open again. He hadn’t forgotten she was there - he’s a little bit terrified of forgetting anything else at the moment - but he feels more comfortable with her than he does with his aunt right now. Mostly because he doesn’t remember knowing her so he doesn’t feel like he’s letting her down by not getting better immediately.
“Yes,” he lies, “Just tired.”
Emma tuts at him then kicks off his shoes and, before he can react, curls up against his side on the bed.
“Poor Andrew,” she says, putting her head on the pillow next to his. “Don’t worry, you’ll be back to your superhero self soon.”
Andrew snorts. “Superhero, right,” he mutters. He turns his head slowly, taking in the comfortable way she’s tucked against him. “Emma?”
“Shh,” she whispers, “we’re napping.”
“Okay,” Andrew whispers back. “But are you sure we’re not dating?”
She grins and reaches out blindly, putting her finger over his lips. “Totally sure, sweetie. Ask me that again when Jesse gets here.”
“What?” Andrew asks, but she doesn’t answer.
When Andrew wakes up, there’s a guy with messy brown curls and worried blue eyes peering down at him from about ten centimetres away.
“Gah,” Andrew says, jumping. The movement makes the room spin but he’s almost used to that by now.
The guy jumps back as well, eyes going wide. He doesn’t say anything, just keeps staring at Andrew like he’s waiting for something.
“Hello?” Andrew asks. “Hi?” He checks, but Emma is no longer napping by his side so it looks like he’s going to have to deal with this by himself.
“Hi.” The guy wanders back toward the bed, hands stuffed into his pockets. He jerks his chin at the table by Andrew’s bed where, Andrew notices, a paper cup is now sitting. “I brought you some chai tea.”
“Oh. Thank you?” Andrew contemplates trying to sit up then wonders if he can drink tea through a straw.
“Jesse,” the guy prompts. “Hi.” He waves without fully removing either hand from his pocket.
“Oh, hi.” Andrew manages to get one elbow against the mattress and levers himself up slowly, eyes squeezed shut against the vertigo.
He feels hands curl lightly around his arms, just above his elbows and then Jesse’s helping him to sit up and lean back against the wall.
Cautiously, Andrew opens his eyes. Now that he’s stopped moving, the dizziness is no worse, at least. Jesse is really close to Andrew still, watching him like he expects Andrew to keel over at any second.
Andrew clears his throat. “Emma said you were coming,” he says. He blames his concussion for the fact that he really wants to reach out and find out how springy Jesse’s curls are.
Jesse’s mouth twists up into a smile on one side. “Damn,” he says, “She’s spoiled the surprise. Which wouldn’t have been much of a surprise since you have no idea who I am.”
“Of course I do,” Andrew tells him, “You’re the guy who flies to LA to bring me a cup of tea.” As soon as he’s said that, he stops and thinks because, huh, Jesse did just do exactly that. He wonders what that means.
Jesse opens then closes his mouth. “Well,” he says, “Yes.”
Andrew peels the lid off the top of his cup and takes a sip of chai. It’s warm and soothing and immediately calms something in Andrew’s soul.
“That’s lovely,” he says. “Thank you.”
Jesse bounces a little onto his toes. “Are you, um. Are you sick of people asking how you are?”
Andrew shrugs. It makes something in the back of his head twinge, which is just ridiculous; concussions are ridiculous. “A little,” he admits. Then feels horribly ungrateful. “But, I mean. It’s really nice how much people care.”
“Well, yes.” Jesse makes an awkward little shrugging motion with his shoulders. “Everybody loves you.”
Andrew feels himself blush and concentrates on drinking his tea. “So,” he finally manages. “How do you and I know each other?”
“Oh, we were in this movie together once,” Jesse says. He puts his hands on the back of the visitor’s chair but doesn’t sit down. “We got to be kind of, um. Friendly. Sort of?”
It must have been more than sort of, Andrew thinks, since Jesse flew all the way out here from... wherever it is that he lives.
“What was our movie about?” he asks instead of pointing that out because Jesse seems rather nervous.
“Oh, um, Facebook?” Jesse is tapping a rhythm on the back of the chair. Normally, Andrew wouldn’t mind but it’s making his head hurt right now; he barely has time to wince before Jesse says, “Sorry,” and sticks his hands back into his pockets.
“Facebook?” Andrew asks. “So that took off then?”
Jesse’s smile is small but amused. “Yes,” he says seriously, “Mark Zuckerberg has taken over the world.”
Andrew doesn’t know who that is, but he finds himself smiling back anyway. “Why don’t you sit down?” he asks. “It’s making my head hurt, having to look up at you.”
He doesn’t mean for that to work as some kind of emotional blackmail or anything, but Jesse looks worried and sits down immediately. “Sorry,” he says, leaning forward, “Do you need anything? Pain pills or something?”
“I’m fine,” Andrew tells him. “Tell me more about our film?”
Jesse stays with Andrew until the doctor comes back for a check-up and it’s surprisingly easy to talk to him considering Andrew doesn’t remember him at all. Jesse doesn’t try to talk about people Andrew has never heard of or TV shows Andrew has never watched like his aunt did yesterday, and he doesn’t crack private jokes and look disappointed when Andrew doesn’t respond like Emma has done a couple of times.
He just chats to Andrew about their jobs - Andrew has a BAFTA; that’s amazing - and the weather and the plane ride from New York and how Jesse had to bribe his neighbour to mind his cats while he was gone.
Andrew nods and listens and, every time Jesse stops, finds himself asking another question in the hope of prompting more of Jesse’s random and hilarious little asides.
“You’re looking better,” the doctor tells Andrew, picking up his chart and making a mark. She gets out her penlight, coming to stand over Andrew and Jesse starts to get up.
“No, please,” Andrew says, not realising he’s going to reach out and grab Jesse’s hand until he’s done it. “Stay?”
The doctor looks between them but doesn’t argue so Jesse sits back down. He scoots his chair as far away as he can though, which makes Andrew feel strangely lonely.
“Well,” the doctor says when she’s done. “You still have a concussion and the memory loss is obviously worrying, but since there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with your short term memory, I am prepared to let you recuperate at home.”
Andrew feels his heart soar, then drop again when he realises that he doesn’t even know where he lives.
“But only,” the doctor continues, lifting a finger, “If you’ll have someone living with you to monitor you.”
Andrew doesn’t know if he lives with anyone; probably not or presumably they would have come to visit.
“I don’t have any - ” he starts to say, thinking of his aunt then ruling her out; she’s got a house full of teenagers, she doesn’t need him getting in the way as well.
“I could do that?” Jesse says, mostly like it’s a question and he’s expecting someone to say that no, he’s not allowed to.
“Really?” Andrew asks, trying not to sound too hopeful in case Jesse is just being nice.
Jesse shrugs. “Sure. I mean, I can’t leave you alone, right? You probably don’t even remember how to fly a hover car.”
“Hover car?” Andrew starts, voice rising, before something about Jesse’s perfectly straight face tips him off. “Hey! It’s not nice to mock a broken man.”
Jesse ducks his head so Andrew can’t see if he’s smiling but apparently he was serious about taking care of Andrew because two hours later, Andrew is checked out and sitting next to Jesse in a taxi.
The taxi is horrific. Just the regular movement of the car makes Andrew feel more travel sick than he can ever remember being and every time they stop and start - which is a lot, traffic’s ridiculous - he wants to curl up and die.
“Hey,” Jesse whispers, reaching between them and picking up Andrew’s hand. “Don’t forget to breathe.”
Andrew is worried that if he breathes, he might vomit. He can’t tell Jesse that though since he’s working on never opening his mouth again.
“Okay,” Jesse says and presses down on Andrew’s wrist with his thumb. “Breathe.”
Andrew does this time and something loosens, just a little, until he’s only somewhat miserable, not actively dying.
“Better?” Jesse asks.
Andrew nods. “Thank you.” Jesse tries to let go of Andrew’s hand and Andrew means to let him but, instead, finds that he’s curling their fingers together, holding on tighter.
“Sorry,” he says, but doesn’t let go because his head is ridiculously light and it feels good to be tethered to something.
Jesse stares down at their hands then slowly squeezes Andrew’s fingers. “That’s okay,” he says, “Don’t mention it.”
It turns out that Andrew - owns? rents? - has a flat somewhere just outside LA. It’s a nice place, big and expensive-looking and full of stuff that feels like it could be his.
The problem is that Andrew doesn’t recognise it or anything in it. He picks up a photograph sitting on the windowsill of his brother holding a baby and frowns. Why is his brother holding a baby? His brother wouldn’t even hold Andrew’s hamster when they were kids.
“That’s your niece,” Jesse tells him. He’s lurking in the doorway like he doesn’t know quite where to put himself. That makes two of them.
“My niece?” Andrew echoes. He stares at the photo until he can’t see it any more. “Shit.”
He needs to sit down and the sofa’s a long way away so he settles for folding down onto the floor and leaning his head back against the wall. The wall’s cold and it doesn’t help his headache but Andrew doesn’t have the energy to move.
“Are you okay?” Jesse asks softly then, “Sorry, sorry, I know we’re not asking that anymore.”
Andrew swallows hard. He can’t make himself say that he’s fine again. “I’m just going to stay here for a little while,” he says instead. “Possibly until the next ice age.”
“Cool.” There’s a creak of floorboards and then Jesse’s sitting next to him. “The next ice age is scheduled for Thursday, isn’t it? But if we get hungry before then, I’m sure the polar bears will bring us takeout.”
Andrew doesn’t want to smile, but it’s hard not to. Jesse seems to have a habit of saying things like that and it’s his perfectly straight face that makes it funnier.
They sit in silence until the pounding confusion in Andrew’s chest has subsided to a low gnawing feeling. Jesse is tapping the fingers of his left hand on the carpet, quietly enough that Andrew can’t hear it, but otherwise he’s completely still.
“What were you doing in New York before you decided to rush out and visit me?” Andrew asks eventually. He probably should have asked sooner; he hopes the amnesia isn’t messing with his manners.
Jesse tips his head, not quite looking at Andrew. “I got a new cat last week,” he says, “So mostly I was trying to stop her from eating my shoelaces.”
Andrew laughs quietly. “Mm, yummy shoelaces.”
“Apparently.” Jesse nods, becoming more animated. “She also likes drinking out of the toilet and eating yoghurt out of the trash. She’s not the kind of cat you could take to visit the Queen of England.”
“Does the Queen often invite you and your cats for tea?” Andrew asks, happy to be distracted by the mental images.
Jesse nods seriously. “All the time. But I had to put her off last time I was in London because I was visiting you so, you know, don’t expect a knighthood any time soon.”
“Shame,” Andrew says solemnly then ruins it by having to ask, “Did you really come to London to visit me?”
“Oh, what? Yes.” Now Jesse’s stopped looking at him properly again. Maybe they should have stuck to talking about cats. “Last summer. You said you wanted me to meet your niece so I couldn’t exactly say no.” He sounds so apologetic, like Andrew is going to retroactively withdraw the invitation.
Andrew knocks his knee against Jesse’s. “Well that’s useful,” he says, “Since I can’t remember what’s going on with my family, maybe you’ll be able to tell me instead.”
He doesn’t ask, but he can’t help wondering exactly how close they are. Andrew likes people and he always has a decent number of friends, but he can’t think of anyone who he remembers being friends with who he would have invited to fly half way around the world to meet his family.
It’s confusing, but it’s not exactly a bad thing. He might not remember if Jesse is his best friend in the world or if Future Andrew was just really desperately needy, but he’s glad Jesse’s here now. It’s better, it turns out, to have someone sitting next to you when you’re having a minor breakdown on your living room floor.
Eventually, they have to get off the floor and then Andrew lies on the sofa, feeling dizzy and useless while Jesse putters around, investigating Andrew’s kitchen for a while before giving up and deciding to order takeaway.
Andrew’s landline rings while Jesse is sorting through menus on the living room floor and Andrew stares at it, feeling ill-equipped to talk to anyone right now.
Jesse looks at him and Andrew doesn’t know how pathetic his expression is, but Jesse reaches over and picks up the phone without a word.
“Hello?” Jesse says, “Andrew’s phone.” He listens for a second then jumps. “Oh, hello Mrs Garfield. Yes, he’s here.”
“No, no, no,” Andrew mouths because he’s been avoiding talking to his mum ever since he woke up in the hospital but Jesse makes a guilty face at him and hands over the phone.
“Hi, Mum,” Andrew says, wincing preemptively.
“Was that Jesse?” his mum asks, which is wonderful, because she doesn’t sound at all panicked or upset like he’d expected her to be.
“Yes,” Andrew says slowly. “He’s looking after me.” He looks up to smile at Jesse and finds that Jesse’s already looking at him. Jesse looks away quickly when their eyes meet.
There’s a pause on the other end of the line. “Good,” his mum says eventually. “I’m so relieved. Listen, darling, I’m doing my best to get out there, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
“No, Mum, it’s fine.” He wants to cause as little fuss as possible, this whole losing his memory thing is strangely embarrassing. “Jesse and I can manage.” He watches, amused, as Jesse blushes and smiles but still won’t look up at Andrew.
Stretching out a leg, Andrew pokes Jesse in the shoulder with his toe. Jesse jumps and looks up, frowning at Andrew questioningly.
“Hi,” Andrew mouths while his mum keeps talking to him, apparently planning to update him on everything that’s happened to the family in the past five years.
The blush in Jesse’s cheeks darkens. “Hello,” he whispers.
“Andrew?” his mum says and Andrew startles. “Sorry, Mum, sorry. What did you say?”
She sighs and he can hear it clearly. “Never mind. Do you need to rest? Are you tired?”
Andrew hasn’t done anything but rest really, which doesn’t mean that he’s not tired. “Yes,” he says and it’s not really a lie. “Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Call anytime if you need me,” she says. “Don’t worry about the time difference.”
“Right, Mum, I will. Love you.” Andrew grins when Jesse bounces to his feet, apparently thinking that Andrew needs privacy to say goodbye to his mum. He hangs up the phone then catches the first part of Jesse he can reach, which turns out to be his hand. “Hey, where are you going?”
Jesse looks down at their hands then back up at Andrew. “Um, takeout?” he asks. “I was going to use my cell, but since you’re finished with the landline.” He tries half-heartedly to free his hand but Andrew doesn’t let go.
“You mean humans haven’t developed the ability to order food telepathically yet?” Andrew asks. “I’m so disappointed.”
Jesse smiles but doesn’t play so Andrew lets go, not sure what’s put Jesse so on edge all of a sudden.
They settle on Chinese takeaway and, while they’re waiting, Andrew gets three texts messages, none of which he can read.
“Ugh,” he says, handing the phone to Jesse. “Will you check that none of them are emergencies?”
Jesse frowns, poking uncertainly at Andrew’s phone. “Why is your phone so complicated?” he asks. “No one needs this many buttons.”
Andrew shrugs. “Don’t ask me. The last mobile I remember having is a Nokia N77, so.”
“I have no idea what that means,” Jesse says, then, “Aha!” He pauses for a minute then, “Well, Emma wants you to know that she’s taking herself out for margaritas - why do you need to know that? - and your brother says you owe him two hundreds pounds - that’s probably a lie, don’t pay him without some kind of proof - and Justin says ‘fdgdthhfd’ which probably means he’s drunk texting again.”
Andrew doesn’t know who Justin is but if he’s drunk texting in the early evening then he can probably wait a while.
“Thank you,” he says, meaning it. He sighs, staring up at the ceiling. He hates that he can’t even read.
“What’s the matter?” Jesse sits down on the sofa next to Andrew’s shoulder. He holds up a finger preemptively. “And that isn’t the same as asking how you are, so I’m allowed.”
“You’re allowed to ask me anything,” Andrew tells him. It should probably worry him how quickly he trusts Jesse but he’s worrying about enough other things that this one doesn’t even register.
“Okay.” Jesse nods. “What’s the cube root of nine hundred and fifty six?”
Startled, Andrew laughs. He smacks Jesse’s thigh. “Anything I can answer, arsehole.”
“I did,” Jesse reminds him. “I asked what the matter was, but I assumed you were avoiding the question.”
Andrew doesn’t feel like laughing any more. “No. No, I’m not. I’m okay. I’m just fed up, I guess? It’s as if there’s this huge hole where my life should be, and I could put up with that, temporarily at least, but I can’t even read. If I can’t read, how can I learn lines ever again?”
“I’m sure there have been actors who couldn’t read,” Jesse tells him. Andrew’s glad that Jesse didn’t just automatically reassure him that he was going to get his memory back; he’d rather do without those sort of promises.
He smiles up at Jesse, incredibly glad he’s here. “I’m glad you’re here,” he says, because it’s the sort of thought that should be shared.
Jesse reaches down and squeezes Andrew’s shoulder. His hand is big and warm through Andrew’s jumper and Andrew turns his head automatically, pressing his cheek against the back of Jesse’s hand. It feels familiar. Really familiar, actually, and he adds that to the list of things he’s wondering about.
The Chinese doesn’t take long to come and Jesse sends Andrew to the kitchen for cutlery while he goes to pay, which surprises Andrew since Jesse doesn’t strike him as someone who voluntarily interacts with strangers.
Jesse shrugs when he comes back, stuffing his wallet back into his pocket. “You would have been at the door forever signing autographs,” he says, “It’s happened before.”
Andrew blinks at him, too flustered to point out that he definitely saw Jesse sign something for the delivery guy and that he doesn’t think it was a receipt.
“Okay, let’s eat,” Jesse says, which Andrew thinks is a great idea.
He hasn’t been at all hungry since he woke up in hospital, but he’s finally starving again and he finds he’s eaten two of the portions Jesse ordered without really stopping for breath.
“Oops,” he says, fork poised above the final bite of chicken chow mein. “Sorry. Did you want some of this?”
Jesse is chewing happily on some ginger beef and shakes his head. “Everything with chicken is for you,” he says. “You eat so much chicken that one day you’re going to grow feathers.”
“Chicken’s my favourite,” Andrew agrees, grinning because he knows that about himself, that hasn’t changed. He pulls the lid off a portion of princess chicken and pushes across the table toward Jesse. “Share?”
“Yes, okay,” Jesse agrees and lets Andrew scrape half onto his plate. The whole thing is surprisingly comfortable; Andrew could get used to this.
After they’ve eaten, they try to watch TV but the pictures make Andrew’s head spin and Jesse turns it off after a couple of minutes.
“I don’t mind,” he says, when Andrew apologises. “I don’t watch TV.”
“Ever?” Andrew asks and he must sound more shocked than he means to because Jesse frowns and starts clearing up the takeaway debris. “No, wait, I wasn’t mocking you. I was just surprised.”
“I watched a couple of episodes of Dr Who,” Jesse tells him.
“Yeah?” Andrew asks.
Jesse hums. “Mm. You were very good.” He flashes Andrew a smile then flaps a hand at him when Andrew tries to stand up. “No, sit down, I’ll do the dishes.”
Andrew wants to complain about that, but he’s not really in a position to try to be a good host right now. “Yell if you want help drying up?” he asks.
“Sure,” Jesse agrees but Andrew doesn’t believe him.
By the time Jesse’s finished washing up - without asking Andrew for any help - Andrew’s starting to flag and can’t stop yawning.
“Right, you’re going to bed,” Jesse says after taking one look at him.
“No, I - ” Andrew cuts himself off to swallow another yawn. “Wait, do I even have a spare room? Where are you going to sleep?”
Jesse shrugs. “The sofa, I guess?”
That makes Andrew feel terrible. “I could - ”
“You could not,” Jesse interrupts. “You have a concussion, you think I’m letting you sleep on the sofa? Come on.” He holds out his hand to Andrew and Andrew takes it.
Jesse leads him into his bedroom, frowning down at the unmade bed.
“Oh, it’s a mess. Sorry,” Andrew apologises even though this doesn’t feel like his bed; he blames Future Andrew for not making his bed and making Andrew look like a slob.
“What? Oh, no that’s...” Jesse trails off, fingers twitching against his thigh for a second before he huffs and bends over the bed, smoothing the sheets and straightening the duvet.
“You really don’t have to do that,” Andrew protests, because he didn’t ask Jesse to come home with him to be his maid.
“I really do,” Jesse tells him. “I like things to be tidy. You’ll remember that when you remember me.”
He finishes plumping Andrew’s pillows and turns to the wardrobe, sliding the door open and going straight to one particular shelf, pulling out a clean t-shirt and some pyjama bottoms.
“How did you know where those were?” Andrew asks, curious. Come to think of it, Jesse seems to know whether everything is in Andrew’s house. It’s been proving so useful today that Andrew hadn’t thought to question it.
“What?” Jesse drops the clothes on the bed. “I just...” He shrugs. “I secretly tidy your apartment when you’re not here like a creepy stalker person.”
Andrew smiles because he’s clearly expected to but he’s thinking hard enough that he’s not sure it’s convincing. He’s thinking about how he asked Emma if they were dating just because she was a little bit affectionate toward him. Jesse’s been affectionate and helpful and wonderful all day and Andrew feels like quite an idiot.
“Jesse?” he starts to ask.
Jesse looks up. Moonlight shines through the window onto the top of his curls, tinging his profile in silver. He’s really attractive, Andrew thinks suddenly, and finds himself tongue-tied.
Andrew clears his throat. “Nothing,” he says. “Never mind.”
Andrew waits for Jesse to leave him to get ready for bed then digs his phone out of his pocket.
“Andrew?” his mum sounds sleepily annoyed for the first syllable then panicked for the second. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Andrew tells her quickly. “Sorry, I should have waited until tomorrow. I just wanted - ” He feels stupid now, but it seemed important when he made the call.
She yawns and the static washes across the line. “What, darling?”
Andrew sneaks a look at his closed bedroom door then asks quickly, “Are Jesse and I together?” He knows he’s come out to his parents at least; thank goodness he remembers doing that.
There’s a pause. “Honestly,” she says eventually, “I’ve never quite been able to tell. You do talk about him an awful lot and you spent New Year with him.”
“I did?” Andrew asks. He frowns, wishing he could remember something. “We must be. I don’t... I don’t see how we can not be.” Andrew rather hopes they are and he’s only known Jesse for a day; he can’t imagine knowing him for years and not having at least tried.
“Let me know if you find out,” his mum asks. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Yes, sorry. Good night.” Andrew ends the call without really paying any more attention. He stands up slowly, leaning into the bed for support when the room spins, takes a deep breath and walks across the bedroom.
He finds Jesse in the bathroom, washing his hands. He’s up to his elbows in soap suds, a towel draped over his arm and he’s humming tunelessly to himself.
Andrew feels a wave of... something wash over him, indescribable and sudden. It’s not quite a memory but it’s definitely something, a fondness so strong that it must have come from more than just the past twenty-four hours.
“Jesse?” Andrew says.
Jesse jumps, turning around. “Hi?” he says. “Is everything okay? I thought you went to bed.”
He looks worried and tired around the edges and Andrew means to find a way to ask, he really does, but before he can stop himself, he’s stepping into Jesse’s space and curling a hand around his shoulder. “Thank you,” he says and means for everything.
“You’re, oh.” Jesse’s eyes drop to Andrew’s mouth for a fraction of a second and that’s all Andrew needs to give him the courage to lean forward and brush his mouth over Jesse’s.
Jesse makes a soft, complicated sound but he doesn’t demand to know what Andrew thinks he’s doing so Andrew tries again, lingering for longer this time.
“Andrew?” Jesse asks, voice barely more than a whisper against Andrew’s lips.
“Yes,” Andrew agrees, certain of that at least, and leans in again. Apparently three times is what it takes because Jesse suddenly shivers all over and brings his wet hands up to clutch at Andrew’s back, pulling him closer and cautiously deepening the kiss.
Well, this is going well Andrew thinks, pleased, and kisses back until he’s dizzy from something other than the concussion.
“Um,” Jesse says when they finally have to take a break. He licks his lips, looking happy and flushed and overwhelmed. Andrew feels pretty much the same. “I only made your bed. How do you thank someone who does the vacuuming?”
Andrew laughs, relieved because he’s got this right at least. “I could definitely show you,” he says, pleased when Jesse’s blush spreads. He reaches out and pokes Jesse lightly in the shoulder. “No, seriously, why didn’t you tell me, you idiot?”
“I...” Jesse rubs the back of his neck. He keeps sneaking peeks at Andrew like he wants to check that he’s still there. “I didn’t know you’d take it so well?”
“Are you joking?” Andrew thinks about poking him again then realises that he’d rather smooth his hand over Jesse’s chest. He feels warm and solid and reassuringly there. “Seriously, I’m so relieved. It’s wonderful to know that I have someone, that I don’t have to figure out my way through this on my own.” He smiles and Jesse smiles back. “And at least now I know that Future Me has something going for him, if he has you.”
“Future you - ? Oh. Right.” Something weird and complicated crosses Jesse’s face and he hesitates for so long that Andrew wonders if he’s messed up somehow. “Right. Of course. You think future you...” Jesse shakes his head. “Future you is amazing.” His smile is smaller now and Andrew feels guilty for not having considered how horrible this must be for him, to suddenly have his boyfriend forget him.
“I’m really sorry I’m not him,” Andrew tries, squeezing Jesse’s shoulder.
Jesse shakes his head, looking down at the floor. “It’s okay, I like this you too,” he says. He chews on his bottom lip. “Especially when you kiss me.”
That has to be an invitation, Andrew thinks, and leans in again happily, but Jesse steps back. “My teeth. I should brush my teeth.”
Andrew wants to say forget about that and push Jesse up against the nearest flat surface but he isn’t exactly well enough for energetic sex right now and Jesse looks like he might crack the mere suggestion so Andrew lets him turn back to the sink, watching with a frown as Jesse’s hands shake around the toothpaste.
“Jesse?” Andrew says.
“Mmhmm?” Jesse doesn’t turn around.
Andrew hesitates. “Don’t sleep on the couch,” he finally settles on.
Jesse stills for a moment. “I won’t,” he promises eventually. “You should go back to bed, I won’t be long.”
Andrew walks slowly out of the bathroom, glancing back over his shoulder to see the way Jesse’s body folds in on itself a little, his knuckles turning white around the sides of the washbasin. Andrew wishes desperately that he could get his memory back so he’d know how to stop Jesse from looking so sad.
Andrew dreams he’s flying. He’s soaring higher and higher and something is nagging at him, telling him to be careful but he can’t seem to stop and he keeps flying until suddenly, something snaps like a whip crack and he’s falling...
He wakes up with a start, jerking upright and reaching out for something to stop his fall.
“Hey.” Arms wrap around Andrew, holding him tight. “Andrew, hey. Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.”
Andrew grips handfuls of Jesse’s sleeve and holds on. His head is pounding and he has to rest it on Jesse’s shoulder. “Sorry,” he mumbles, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Jesse shakes his head, his hair brushing Andrew’s. “I wasn’t asleep,” he says, “I don’t really sleep sometimes.”
He’s stroking his hands up and down Andrew’s back and it’s quiet and soothing, calming Andrew’s racing heart.
“I think I remembered falling?” Andrew guesses it was something like that anyway, something based on the fact that he fell, at least.
Jesse’s arms tighten reflexively. “Is that all?” he asks. “Did you remember anything else?”
Andrew shakes his head. “I really don’t think I want to, if it’s going to be like that.”
“Don’t say that,” Jesse tells him, but it’s distracted and Andrew would rather pay attention to the feel of Jesse’s hands on him anyway.
Andrew finally makes himself pull back and lie back down. He doesn’t remember falling asleep the previous evening, but it must have been before Jesse made it to bed. To make up for that, he holds out his hands and makes grabby motions until Jesse huffs out a laugh and lies down next to him.
“No, no,” Andrew tells him, “That’s still far too far away.” He wonders if he should be feeling shier about pushing for this, but he’s still half asleep and the left over adrenaline from his nightmare is making him fearless.
“If we were any closer, we’d be fused together,” Jesse tells him then coughs.
“Yes,” Andrew agrees, “I’d like that.” Since Jesse won’t come to him, Andrew rolls over and puts his head on Jesse’s pillow, tucking his chin against Jesse’s shoulder.
Jesse’s arms come around him tentatively. “I’m not going to break,” Andrew tells him even though his head is informing him loudly that it doesn’t like nightmares or being awake in the middle of the night.
“No, that’s not...” Jesse doesn’t finish his sentence, just pats Andrew’s hair lightly.
He’s still holding himself stiffly and Andrew doesn’t get it. Unless, “Do we not normally cuddle?” Andrew asks. He can’t imagine that that’s the case; he’s always been touchy with the people he dates.
“We cuddle all the time, actually,” Jesse tells him, sounding much more confident suddenly. He rolls onto his side, arms slotting more comfortably around Andrew. “Is that better?”
Andrew can feel the warmth of Jesse’s breath brushing across his face. “Much,” he agrees and closes his eyes.
When Andrew wakes up the next morning, Jesse is fast asleep and breathing moistly against Andrew’s collarbone. His left hand is cupping Andrew’s hip and his knee is pushed between Andrew’s, his thigh brushing Andrew’s half-hard morning erection.
Andrew has a half-second flutter of embarrassed panic at waking up this intimately with someone who’s essentially a stranger to him, but it doesn’t last. Jesse isn’t waking up and hasn’t noticed and anyway, Andrew tells himself, they’re dating; they must have been more intimate than this.
That thought makes Andrew feel too warm but it’s definitely not unpleasant. He thinks about rolling over and kissing Jesse awake but every time Andrew woke up in the night, Jesse was a still awake and Andrew doesn’t want to disturb him now that he’s finally sleeping.
Carefully, Andrew peels himself out from under Jesse’s hands and crawls out of bed.
His whole body aches, worse than it did yesterday and it takes a lot of twisting to get his t-shirt off in the bathroom.
His entire right side is mottled with purple and red bruises, a few of them darkening to black around his shoulder and hip. It makes sense, considering Andrew fell however many metres it was; he’s just been too distracted by the whole brain injury thing to really pay attention until now.
He takes a long, hot shower, even though his doctor warned him against showering on his own, then slowly towels off and changes into a jumper and the only pair of non-skinny jeans that he can find in his wardrobe. He isn’t really sure what Future Andrew thinks he’s doing with some of those outfits.
He makes himself a cup of coffee and takes some painkillers then curls up on the sofa to experiment again with the TV.
The bright colours make Andrew’s head pound sickly, but he fumbles with the remote and finds a mode that switches everything to black and white, which definitely helps somewhat.
He finds an episode of CSI then flicks away when he realises that he doesn’t recognise half the characters; he finds a programme full of high school kids singing, which is sort of fun but too confusing to follow, and finally settles on a news channel.
He’s still watching, fascinated, when Jesse shuffles out of the bedroom.
“Michael Jackson died,” Andrew tells him.
Jesse stops in the kitchen doorway, rubbing his eyes. “Yes, I noticed that,” he agrees.
Andrew waves a hand. “David Cameron and some guy I’ve never heard of seem to be running the country really badly. And William and Kate finally got married.” It’s like getting a sneak peek into the future; Andrew is enthralled. “What else did I miss?”
Jesse scratches his arm. “Um. Heath Ledger died too - you liked him. Barack Obama won the presidential election. Robots have taken over the world.”
“Seriously?” Andrew asks, following Jesse into the kitchen and watching him pour himself some coffee.
Jesse takes a sip and leans back against the counter. “Well, okay no, I lied about that last one.”
Andrew smiles then realises they haven’t actually said good morning yet. To fix that, he steps into Jesse’s space, amused by the wide-eyed way Jesse watches him, and kisses him softly.
“Good morning,” he says, pulling back.
“Huh,” Jesse says. “Not a dream then,” and “Right, yes, good morning. How’s your morning going?”
“Good,” Andrew tells him and it’s mostly not a lie. “You should see my bruises; they’re amazing.”
Jesse’s hand tightens where he’s cupping Andrew’s elbow. “I think I’d just rather you weren’t bruised,” he says which makes Andrew have to kiss him again.
Jesse parts his lips in response this time, so Andrew kisses him deeper, tasting coffee and warmth, which reminds him to take the mug out of Jesse’s hands and set it on the counter. Jesse doesn’t argue, just kisses back, touches warm and sleepy over Andrew’s chest and down his back. His hands slow when they get closer to Andrew’s arse but Andrew pushes back against him and kisses his jaw and it looks like they’re on their way to some slow, disconnected morning sex, when a phone suddenly rings in the living room.
Andrew laughs. “Is that mine or yours?”
Jesse’s hands slowly unpeel from Andrew’s skin and drop, open, to his sides. He shakes his head, frowning. “Yours,” he says. There’s something off in his voice, but Andrew doesn’t blame him; he’s frustrated too.
“Damn.” Andrew kisses him again. “I’ll be two seconds, don’t go anywhere.”
Jesse doesn’t say anything but Andrew can’t think why he’d disagree so he leaves him in the kitchen and goes to find his phone. It’s on the coffee table and Andrew still doesn’t know how to work it but he presses the greenest button and that seems to do the trick.
“Hello?” Andrew says.
There’s a buzz of sound and then, “Hello to you too. It’s Emma. Do you remember me yet?”
“Hi, Emma,” Andrew says, raking a hand back through his hair and sneaking a look at the kitchen door where Jesse is now standing. Andrew thought he looked gorgeous against the counter and he tries to will him back there with only the power of his mind. “Of course I remember you. I only saw you yesterday.”
“Jerk,” Emma says affectionately. “I meant have you remembered me but since you’re avoiding, I’m guessing the answer is no.”
Andrew sits down on the sofa and braces his feet on the table. “Sorry.” He grimaces at Jesse who’s leaving the kitchen and crossing to the bedroom. Andrew wants to ask him to wait, but can’t because Emma’s talking again.
“Oh boy,” she’s saying, “that’s not what you need to be sorry for. Do you know what kind of heart attack you gave me when I went to visit you last night and you weren’t there? I thought you’d died or something.”
“Oh, shit,” Andrew swears. He hadn’t even thought of that. “I didn’t realise...” He trails off, not sure how to say that he just hadn’t remembered that he needed to think of her.
“You’re one of my best friends, asshole,” Emma tells him. “If one of the nurses hadn’t told me you’d taken Jesse home with you, I would have come around to smack you last night.”
He wonders if she knows about him and Jesse; if they really are best friends then she probably does. “Jesse would have protected me,” he tries.
Emma snorts. “Jesse would have tried,” she says darkly. “To make it up to me, I think we should go to Urth Caffe for lunch.” Her voice softens a little. “If you feel up to it?”
Andrew mostly just feels fuzzy from the kissing, but the thought of getting some fresh air is tempting. “I don’t know where that is,” he reminds her.
She makes a pfft noise. “Jesse does. Meet me there at two.” Someone says something in the background and she shushes them. “Got to go. Bye, doll.”
“Bye,” Andrew says to silence. Shaking his head, he goes in search of Jesse. The shower in the guest bathroom is running and Andrew grins, but when he tries the handle, the door’s locked.
“Jesse?” Andrew tries, knocking.
The only answer is the hiss of the spray.
“Jess-e!” Even dragging out the word doesn’t get Jesse’s attention. “Emma wants to have lunch with us.”
The shower cuts off. “What?”
“Emma wants to have lunch with us,” Andrew repeats. He tries the handle again, hopeful, but Jesse hasn’t unlocked it. “If you - “ Andrew cuts him off. There’s no way he can say if you wanted to have sex this morning, we’re going to have to hurry up. Maybe he could say that if he remembered ever having had sex with Jesse before, but he doesn’t so it feels terribly rude and presumptuous.
“Okay. I won’t be long,” Jesse says and then the shower switches back on.
Disappointed, Andrew turns away from the door.
Urth turns out to be a cafe with an outside seating area that Andrew is sure he saw on Entourage once, which he thinks is pretty cool.
When he mentions this, Emma laughs and pats him on the hand. “You’re adorable,” she says.
Andrew fake-scowls at her, but when he turns to Jesse for moral support, he finds that he’s looking around worriedly.
“Jesse?” Andrew asks, wondering randomly if they have any pet names for each other. Probably not, he decides; he can’t really imagine Jesse calling anyone ‘snookums’.
Jesse taps his hands on the table and slouches down a little in his chair. “It’s too exposed here, people are going to bother you.”
“Too exposed?” Emma laughs. “Are we in a Western?” When Jesse doesn’t smile, she sobers, jostling her ankle against Jesse’s. “It’s okay. Andrew’s okay, aren’t you?”
Andrew doesn’t really know what they’re talking about and the sun is too bright for his headache but, “Yes,” he says, “Absolutely.” He pokes Jesse in the elbow with the corner of his menu. “What are you going to have?”
“Hmm? Oh.” Jesse takes the menu and frowns down at it. “Green tea muffin.”
“There are muffins?” Andrew asks. He hasn’t wanted to make a big deal about the fact that he still can’t focus to read so he’d just been planning to order waffles and hope.
“Yes, right there... Oh.” Jesse stops, looking guilty. He leans into Andrew. “Do you want me to read it to you?”
Over Jesse’s shoulder, Andrew spots their waiter approaching the table. “Why don’t you just order for me?” Andrew asks. Jesse has to know what he likes, right?
Andrew’s half aware of Emma looking at them curiously, but their waiter appears before she can say anything.
Emma orders and then Jesse orders for himself and Andrew, looking wide-eyed and flustered the whole time.
“Coming right up,” the waiter says then hesitates, biting his lip and looking at Andrew from under his eyelashes. “Sorry, this is totally lame, but I just wanted to say that you were awesome in Spider-man. When’s the sequel coming out?”
Andrew’s just about to tell him that he’s mistaking Andrew for Tobey Maguire when Emma leans over, saying, “Oh, thank you so much. We’re hoping for a release next summer.”
The waiter glances at her and smiles quickly before his attention bounces back to Andrew. “It said on TMZ that you’d gotten hurt?”
“I’m fine,” Andrew tells him automatically. “Thank you.”
The guy doesn’t move, just keeps hovering until Jesse clears his throat pointedly. Emma giggles as soon as he’s moved away. “Aww, that’s adorable. You have a fan.”
The expression on Jesse’s face suggests that he didn’t find it adorable.
“Spider-man?” Andrew asks.
Jesse and Emma look at each other. “Didn’t you tell him?” Emma asks.
Jesse shakes his head. “Didn’t you?”
“Hm, good point.” Emma leans her head on Andrew’s shoulder, grinning up at him. “You’re Spider-man, baby. And I’m your Gwen Stacey.”
Andrew is so confused. “But they just made Spider-man. I mean, I know I’m missing a few years, but it still wasn’t that long ago.”
“Yeah.” Emma wrinkles her nose. “We try to avoid those questions when we get asked them by the press.”
“But - ”
Jesse puts his hand over Andrew’s wrist, shaking his arm gently. “You’re great,” he tells him quietly.
“See.” Emma clicks her fingers in Jesse’s direction. “Jesse enjoyed it and he doesn’t even watch movies.”
Andrew hums noncommittally at her and decides that as soon as he can read again, he’s going on the internet to find out exactly what else everyone has forgotten to tell him. Spider-man, wow. That’s big.
They make it through lunch without Andrew discovering that he’s playing any other superheroes in any other unexpected remakes of movies from his teens. Jesse and Emma chat about mutual friends and other projects and Andrew smiles whenever they try to include him.
“Andrew thinks so, don’t you?” Emma says and Andrew starts, realising that he’s stopped paying attention. His head and neck are aching and he thinks he can feel yesterday’s vertigo trying to make a comeback.
“Yes,” he says helpfully. He probably does think whatever it is; he can’t quite tell.
“Hey, excuse me, do you mind?” It’s their waiter and he’s pushing a piece of paper and a pen at Andrew. For a second, Andrew thinks it’s the bill then he realises the guy wants an autograph.
“Oh,” Andrew tells him, “Of course.” He hopes that no one notices the way the pen shakes when he tries to put it to paper. “What’s your name?”
The guy tells him and Andrew scribbles something, managing a little conversation to go with it. As soon as the waiter leaves, he reaches out and grips Jesse’s thigh, looking for an anchor.
“I think I need to go home,” he says and feels his face heat with embarrassment. He hates having to make a scene.
Emma leaps into action, paying the bill and hailing them a taxi while Jesse asks him worried questions and lets Andrew hold his hand. Andrew’s guessing their relationship isn’t public knowledge, but he can’t worry about any potential pictures right now; he can’t think past the pounding in his head.
In the taxi, Andrew leans his head gratefully on Jesse’s shoulder and closes his eyes. It’s cool in here out of the sun, and he starts to feel better before they’re even half way home. As his headache lessens, his embarrassment increases.
“I’m so sorry,” he says for at least the third time. “You two should go back and finish your lunch. I’ll be fine.”
“Stop apologising,” Emma tells him, smacking his thigh lightly. “If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine for dragging you out.”
Jesse shakes his head. “It’s mine. I should have gotten you home earlier.”
Andrew laughs helplessly. “Maybe we all fail,” he compromises. “I fail the most though.”
Jesse’s soft laugh blows through Andrew’s hair. “Okay,” he says, softly, “You can fail the most.”
Andrew smiles. He’s leaving his head on Jesse’s shoulder for as long as he can and even Emma’s tiny little frowns in their direction aren’t discouraging him.
“What’s up with you two today?” Emma asks Andrew when he catches her eye.
Against his side, Andrew can feel Jesse stiffen.
“What do you mean?” Jesse asks quickly. “We’re not... Nothing’s up.”
Okay, maybe Emma doesn’t know about them. It’s Andrew’s turn to frown; that seems strange to him.
The taxi pulls up in front of Andrew’s building before Andrew can try to work this all out and the three of them pile out, Emma leading the way up to Andrew’s flat, holding doors for them while Jesse hovers at his side, hand waiting under Andrew’s elbow as though he expects him to keel over at any moment.
“I’m fine,” Andrew promises for the nine millionth time as soon as they’re inside his flat. He pats Jesse’s left cheek and kisses the corner of his mouth. “I’m going to lie down. You two should do something more interesting than fretting about me.”
Behind him, he can hear Emma’s voice rise as she says, “I knew it!” and he smiles to himself as he opens his bedroom door and collapses on the bed, exhausted by his busy day of kissing and lunch.
It’s dark when Andrew wakes up but Jesse is right at his side, lying on his stomach and reading a book.
“Hi,” Andrew says croakily, rolling over and kissing Jesse’s cheek because he likes the way Jesse smiles when Andrew does things like that. “Is Emma gone?”
“Yeah.” Jesse smile dips. “She’s very happy for us, by the way. And I’m thrilled that you decided to tell her like that.”
Andrew frowns. “Are you pissed off at me?” he asks. “I didn’t know she didn’t know.” He’d surmised it perhaps, but that doesn’t count.
Jesse sighs. “No,” he says, “Of course not. It was just...” He stares down at his book like he’s hoping the word he’s looking for will appear. “It was difficult to handle by myself. She was very excited.” He bites his lip, looking sad, and Andrew feels terrible.
Andrew leans into Jesse and rubs his nose against his jaw. “Sorry,” he whispers.
Jesse twitches. “Stop that,” he says fondly. “I phoned your doctor and she yelled at me for letting you get too tired. You’re not going to do anything but lie still and recover for the rest of today.”
Jesse telling him what to do is strangely hot; Andrew hopes they’ve explored that at some point in their relationship.
“Yes, dear,” Andrew says and squirms, laughing, when Jesse snaps his head around and tries to bite Andrew’s nose.
Andrew rolls over onto his back, smiling up at Jesse. Jesse’s hand brushes the top of Andrew’s hair before he snatches it back.
“Wait,” Andrew says, catching Jesse’s hand and pulling back. “I like that.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Jesse tells him, looking so conflicted and serious that Andrew definitely feels a little tug on his heart.
Andrew kisses Jesse’s fingers, trying to get him to smile. “You’re not,” he promises.
“But I might.” Jesse sounds genuinely scared, more than Andrew can see any reason for, but then Andrew doesn’t know how hard it is for him to see Andrew hurt.
“Jesse,” Andrew murmurs. He tugs on Jesse’s hand. “Come down here.”
Slowly, stiffly, Jesse lies down next to him. Andrew rolls onto his side, kissing him lightly. “Hey,” he says into the space between them. “I don’t even know your surname.”
That probably wasn’t the right thing to say but it just occurred to Andrew and it seemed wrong.
“Eisenberg,” Jesse tells him. “Of the famous New York Eisenbergs.” It’s not quite a smile but one of Jesse’s dimples reappears.
“Cool.” Andrew touches Jesse’s cheek. “Tell me something else.”
Jesse makes a face. “No, come on, I’m really not interesting.”
“You are to me,” Andrew promises him. “I’d offer to tell you something in return, but you know more about me than I do at the moment.”
The look on Jesse’s face is complicated. “I...” He reaches up and strokes Andrew’s hair back behind his ears. “I like books. Sometimes I’m in movies. I... I’ve been really lucky in the people I’ve managed to trick into liking me.”
Andrew wants to argue that, but Jesse probably wouldn’t listen to him right now. “Okay, what else?”
Jesse looks stumped for a minute then his expression clears. “I adopt cats.”
Andrew laughs to himself; this guy is perfect, it’s ridiculous. “Okay,” he says, pulling Jesse’s phone out of his pocket and handing it to him. “Well now you’re going to have to show me pictures.” He holds up a finger. “And I want a story for every one of them.”
“You’re really demanding when you’re sick,” Jesse tells him, but he takes the phone and says, “Okay, this one’s Samson...”
The next couple of days pass in a vaguely confusing, somewhat achy blur. Andrew’s bruises turn from black to brown, purple to green, he speaks to his mother every day and Emma more often than that, Jesse cooks for him and kisses him and spends the time in between reading books and phoning people in New York to check on his cats.
They’re living together but it doesn’t feel like they’re really living together, everything feels like it’s in limbo, waiting for Andrew’s memories to come back, although when Andrew says that, Jesse shakes his head quickly and says, “No, no, this is good. I’m not. This is fine.”
Andrew does get some memories back: he remembers his American grandmother dying and his English grandfather getting ill; he remembers his brother’s wedding, but still not the baby or the woman he married; he remembers filming Dr Who, but more about Freema Agyeman than David Tennant; he remembers going to Battersea Dogs’ Home once and wishing he was home long enough to adopt a puppy without feeling selfish.
He remembers so many little things but he doesn’t remember Jesse.
“Maybe there’s a reason,” Jesse says one evening and Andrew doesn’t understand how Jesse can be so calm about this.
“What reason?” Andrew snaps then feels horrible for snapping. “Sorry, sorry, I’m just frustrated.” He drops his head down onto the breakfast bar and doesn’t deserve it when Jesse carefully pets his hair.
“Maybe you’re just remembering more important things first?” Jesse suggests quietly.
Andrew’s head snaps up - it hurts, but it doesn’t bring him to his knees like it would have done a couple of days ago, which he hopes is a good sign for his recovery. “Now you’re just being silly,” he says, teasing but not really because Jesse sounded like he meant that.
Jesse’s mouth curves up but it’s not really a smile. “I’m never silly,” he says, “I”m always serious and sensible.”
Andrew leans into him, their shoulders warm together. “I really wish I remembered you.”
Jesse doesn’t say anything. Eventually, he clears his throat and pulls away. “I’m going to make dinner. Is there anything you want?” He’s rocking back and forth on bare feet, jittery and nervous-looking.
“No preference,” Andrew says softly, “Whatever you want.”
He watches Jesse go and sighs. This is getting ridiculous; he’s going to have to do something if he ever wants to get his memory back and wipe that horrible, sad expression off Jesse’s face, but he can’t think of anything to do.
They have a beer each with dinner. It’s the first drink Andrew’s had for a long time and he’s definitely not drunk, but he is warm and relaxed and it makes it easier to catch Jesse’s wrist once they’re ready for bed, to pull him in and kiss him with intent.
Jesse kisses back, the way he always does, but he stiffens when Andrew tries to push his tongue deeper, stepping back and keeping his hands on Andrew’s shoulders so Andrew can’t close the distance.
“Wait,” Jesse says, “What are you doing?”
Andrew’s heart is hammering in his chest but he wants to do this and he can’t pretend that it’s only because he thinks it might trip something in his memory.
“Can’t you tell?” he asks, reaching across the space between them to stroke his thumb along Jesse’s damp bottom lip.
“Um.” Jesse swallows. “I think, I think I can. But I’m often wrong about these things. Well, not often, because I’m not often in this position. I mean. I mean.” He steps back. “I really don’t think we should.”
Really, Andrew thinks that he should be the one who’s scared right now, but he’s not. “It’s okay,” he tells Jesse. “You’re not taking advantage. I know it’s not the same, but I really like you. Not just because I know I’m supposed to; I really do.”
Jesse shakes his head sharply. He’s staring at Andrew looking half full of wonder and half completely lost. “You don’t,” he says but it sounds more like a question than a statement.
Andrew stares at Jesse’s hopeful expression and lowered eyelashes and can’t breathe. It feels like something is shifting in the air between them. “Jesse,” Andrew whispers because anything louder feels like it would shatter something important. “I think I more than like you.”
Jesse makes a startled, wounded noise. He puts his fingers against Andrew’s lips. “Don’t,” he says. “You don’t. You don’t even remember me.” He starts to pull away but Andrew holds his hand and doesn’t let him go.
“Jesse,” he says, pleads really. Not for sex, just for Jesse not to leave it like this. “Please.”
“No,” Jesse says but his expression softens and he strokes his fingers over Andrew’s cheek. “It’s really okay. You don’t have to feel bad. I love you and that’s enough.”
Strangely, Jesse doesn’t blush, which Andrew would have expected him to after saying something like that. He doesn’t look anything but miserable, really, like he might cry if Andrew says the wrong thing right now.
Andrew feels like an impostor in his own bedroom. It’s painfully obvious that Jesse doesn’t want him here, he wants the Andrew who remembers him. He doesn’t know what to say.
Jesse looks away then. “Look,” he says. “I shouldn’t... I’m doing this all wrong.”
“No, hey.” Andrew can’t stand seeing Jesse look this sad. He reaches out and wraps his arms around Jesse’s shoulders, pressing his lips against Jesse’s jaw. “You’re not doing anything wrong,” he promises. “I’m sorry, okay? I’m so sorry I don’t remember. I know it must be horrible for you.”
Jesse shakes his head. “You don’t know. I’m not... I’m not a good person.”
Andrew parts his lips a little, breathing against Jesse’s throat. “You’re an amazing person,” he says. “You’re looking after me so well.” He’s not trying to start anything this time, he’s just holding on, but Jesse doesn’t seem to realise that.
“You shouldn’t,” he says, shivering and rolling his shoulder, gently dislodging Andrew.
Andrew leans back. “Sorry,” he says, quickly, “I didn’t mean to - “
“You didn’t.” Jesse reaches for him, then drops his hand. “Sorry, I’m sorry, this just isn’t right.” He backs up, moving away from the bed. “Look, I’m going to go read in the other room. I’ve got, there’s this book. I’m going to read a book.”
Andrew watches Jesse go then kicks the side of the bed hard enough that he stubs his toe and swears. “Well,” he sighs to himself, “I fucked that up.”
Lying in bed beside each other all night is uncomfortable. The next morning, they have breakfast together and they manage to hold a conversation through it, but it’s weird and awkward and Andrew wishes he’d just left things how they were.
He stops Jesse before he can take the bowls into the kitchen. Jesse’s expression is still scared and sad but Andrew doesn’t have any intention of trying to bring up anything serious today.
“Let me wash up,” he says, refusing to let his fingers linger on Jesse’s wrist. “You’ve done enough.”
“You’re supposed to be resting,” Jesse argues but Andrew shakes his head.
“I’ll wash up really slowly,” he promises. “Seriously, you go and sit down, read your book or something.”
Jesse looks torn, like he really wants to argue but also really wants to get away from Andrew. Andrew is probably a terrible person for using that to his advantage. He gives Jesse a carefully platonic little pat on the back, directing him away from the crockery.
With a backward glance over his shoulder, Jesse goes, leaving Andrew alone again. He finds a radio and turns it on quietly so he doesn’t have to listen exclusively to his thoughts.
There’s a station which claims to play ‘retro hits from the 00s’ which makes Andrew feel horribly old. He knows about half of them and, if nothing else, he’ll be able to entertain himself listening to his favourite bands’ back catalogues after Jesse inevitably gets fed up with living with an Andrew-lite and goes home.
Andrew is distracted from his emo - thankfully - by the doorbell. “I’ll get it,” he calls even though Jesse hasn’t reappeared anyway.
He dries his hands on a towel as he makes his way to the door and opens it wearing his most welcoming fake smile.
“Hi!” says the man on his doorstep. “I’m Justin.”
Andrew blinks. He shakes his head a little, wondering if the concussion is making him hallucinate. “Yes,” he agrees faintly. “Hold on.”
He closes the door and leans back against it. There are honestly only so many things he can take in one day.
“Jesse,” he calls loudly. “Why is Justin Timberlake at my front door?”
There’s a creak and a curse and then Jesse opens the bedroom door. The right side of his hair is flattened down like he was lying on the bed and he’s holding his mobile in his hand.
“What?” he asks. He hurries up to Andrew and makes shooing motions with his hands, like he wants to open the door but doesn’t want to physically move Andrew away from it because that would involve touching him.
Andrew steps aside.
“Justin?” Jesse asks, opening the door.
Justin waves. He’s definitely... Justin Timberlake is definitely standing at Andrew’s front door. Andrew assumes that he must be the Justin who drunk-texted Andrew the other day. Future Andrew’s life is weird.
“Why are you here?” Jesse asks, staring from his phone to Justin and looking betrayed. “I thought you were in Florida or somewhere.”
“Why would I be in Florida when my boys need me here?” Justin asks, pushing his way into Andrew’s flat and throwing one arm around Jesse and the other around Andrew.
“Um.” Andrew says. “Hello.”
“Don’t worry.” Justin pats him on the chest. “You adore me.” He steers them toward the kitchen where he lets go of Andrew but not Jesse. “Okay, you make me a nice cup of tea or whatever it is you do in times of crisis and I’m going to borrow our boy here for just a minute.”
“This is a time of crisis?” Andrew asks. He winces and rubs the back of his neck - Justin Timberlake is heavy. Which isn’t a complaint he ever thought he’d have.
Justin doesn’t answer, just waves over his shoulder. Jesse glances back at Andrew just before Justin steers him into the bedroom but he doesn’t look panicked so Andrew can’t even stage a rescue.
He sighs. Tea it is then. Wait. “Do you take milk and sugar?”
His only answer is the sound of the bedroom door closing. Bemused, Andrew flicks on the kettle then pulls his phone out of his pocket. With a little squinting, he manages to pull up his recent call log and presses the entry for Emma.
It takes her so long to answer that Andrew is just about to give up but she does at least sound pleased to hear from him when she says, “Andrew! How are you feeling?”
“We’re not asking that,” Andrew says automatically then feels a pang when he remembers that that’s just a him and Jesse thing. “Did you know I know Justin Timberlake?”
Emma’s laugh is loud and delighted. He wonders if she’s a bit drunk. “You know everyone,” she tells him. “But yes. Justin was in the same movie as you and Jesse.”
Right. That would explain why Jesse has just let him shut them in Andrew’s bedroom. Andrew forces his fist to unclench. He’s not jealous, he’s not.
“Andrew?” Emma asks. “What’s wrong? Did he call or - ”
“He’s here,” Andrew says. “I think he came to see Jesse.”
Emma laughs again and, this time, she doesn’t stop for a while. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry,” she says eventually. “Are you seriously jealous of Justin? You really need to watch your movie.” She giggles some more.
“Emma,” Andrew complains. He shouldn’t have called her; he should have called someone he remembers well enough to get cross with.
“Sorry, sorry. Andrew, Jesse adores you, you have zero things to worry about.”
“He doesn’t even want to sleep with me,” Andrew blurts then wishes he’d lost his voice along with his memory. “I think he hates me for not being, you know. For not remembering who I am.”
“Jesse doesn’t hate anything,” Emma tells him dismissively. “Not even like, cancer or herpes or the tax man.”
“Well,” Andrew says slowly, “I”m certainly none of them.”
“Exactly!” Emma sounds proud, as though he’s got something right. “Okay, well, I’m at a brunch party and I’m being incredibly rude so, I don’t know, go break down the door and declare your undying love or something. Bye!”
“She always hangs up on me,” Andrew tells the kettle then realises he’s talking to a kettle and decides not to mention that when he next checks in with his doctor. He also realises that it has boiled so he pops tea bags into three cups and fills them with water.
While he’s waiting for the tea to brew, he experiments a little with his phone. It might be his imagination but the words don’t seem to be blurring together quite as badly as they have been since his accident. He can almost make out the text of a message from his mum which seems to be about squirrels. No, that can’t be right.
Andrew shakes his head and turns back to the tea, spooning out the teabags and adding a splash of milk. Then he picks up all three at once by looping his fingers through the handles and carries them to his bedroom.
He feels stupid knocking on his own bedroom door but Jesse’s probably slept here more nights than Andrew remembers doing so it only seems polite. He knocks with the side of his foot and elbows the door open.
Justin is sitting on the bed and Jesse is standing with his back to the window, ringing his hands. He looks terrible.
“Tea,” Andrew says, when what he wants to do is drop the cups right there and wrap his arms around Jesse until he gets his smile back.
Justin grins. “Perfect timing,” he says, unfolding himself and taking a mug from Andrew. “Thank you. See you later.” He ruffles Andrew’s hair, which Andrew doesn’t manage to duck away from in time and leaves the room.
Andrew leans back, watching as Justin walks all the way across the flat and lets himself out the front door, still drinking his tea.
“Um, okay,” he says, to no one. “Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to keep my mug.”
“Sorry,” Jesse says. “That’s my fault. I called him but I didn’t know he was actually in the city or anything.”
Andrew shrugs. “Am I particularly attached to these mugs?” He remembers being attached to a Cadbury’s chocolate mug when he was seven but that was probably the last time.
Jesse shakes his head. “I don’t think so.” He takes both remaining mugs from Andrew and puts them on the windowsill. “Okay,” he says slowly, “So at the risk of sounding like what I’m pretty sure is a cheesy line from a soap opera, we need to talk.”
Fuck. “Do we?” Andrew asks. “All right.” He sits down on the bed because his knees feel suddenly weak.
Jesse nods firmly but he doesn’t contribute anything else.
“What is it?” Andrew has to ask, has to know because he thinks he can guess where this is going and he’d like to get it over with so he can curl up somewhere and contemplate how he is such a failure at playing himself in a movie of his life that his boyfriend is dumping him.
“I have to tell you something,” Jesse says eventually. “Justin says I have to tell you and if Justin agrees then, well.”
Andrew feels cold. “Are you breaking up with me?” he asks, his voice coming out too quiet.
Jesse’s eyes and mouth form neat little circles. “I... Not exactly?” he tries. “It’s just. Look, it would be better if we just stopped. Okay? Trust me?”
“Jesse.” Andrew shouldn’t be this upset when he doesn’t remember this relationship, except that doesn’t seem to matter, he doesn’t want it to end.
“I can’t,” Jesse says, ringing his hands. “I can’t. Look, I’ll call Emma, she can come hang out with you, but I just can’t be here any more.”
“Don’t call Emma,” Andrew hears himself say. His voice sounds flat but he digs deeply and manages to rake up a sympathetic smile from somewhere. “I...” He stands up and clasps Jesse’s wrists loosely. “I do understand and I know you’ve tried your best so thank you for that.” He’s proud of the fact that his voice doesn’t shake.
Jesse tugs his hands away. “You need to be less nice,” he says. “This would be so much easier if you were less nice.” He takes one step backward with every word. “I have to go.”
“Right now?” Andrew asks. “It’s...” He can’t say it’s late because it’s not even lunchtime. What he wants to say is that it’s the wrong time of day for Jesse to leave, but any time of day would be wrong for that.
Jesse nods jerkily. “Yes, right now. I can stay with Justin, I’m going to stay with Justin. I’ll just... Look, if you want to call me once you’ve got your memory back then we can talk and that would be good. Maybe. But I can’t keep doing this to you, it’s just really not right.” He’s reached the front door and he fumbles it open without turning away from Andrew. “I’m sorry.”
He pauses for just long enough on the threshold that Andrew knows that he could grab him, beg him to stay. That seems horribly, selfishly unfair though so he doesn’t and the door closes between them.
Andrew didn’t know it was possible to feel like he’d lost more when he’s already lost so much of his memory, but it turns out that it is.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to fly out there?” Andrew’s mum asks that evening. “You sound tired.”
Andrew concentrates on listening to his macaroni and cheese heat up in the microwave so that he can sound completely balanced and normal when he says, “I’m sure. Really. Look, I’ll fly home for a long weekend soon.” He hesitates. “Do I do that? Saying that felt...” That felt like a really natural thing to say.
“You do do that,” his mum says quickly. “You come home every couple of months. Did you remember?”
“I... Maybe.” The microwave pings but Andrew ignores it. He can remember the heavy weight of exhaustion from travelling from LA to London, London to LA, but he can’t be sure if it’s a lost memory returning; he’s been making that journey all his life to visit family.
The microwave pings again, annoyed at being ignored. “Sorry,” Andrew tells it absently, pulling out the carton and hissing when melted cheese burns his fingers.
“What are you doing?” his mum asks. “Are you cooking? Where’s Jesse?”
Jesse. Andrew wasn’t going to answer her anyway - if she found out he was living alone, she’d be on her way to Heathrow before he even finished the sentence - but she’s made him think of something else. “If I visit you sometimes and I’m here the rest of the time, when do I visit Jesse?”
“Pardon?” she asks, sounding baffled. “I don’t know. You didn’t even tell me you boys were dating, remember?” She’s trying to sound sniffy but Andrew can tell that she’s actually pretty hurt about that. He wonders if telling her that Jesse has walked out on him will make her feel better or worse.
“Yes, but. You’d know if I’d gone to New York, wouldn’t you? I would have told you that?” Andrew remembers telling his mum everything; he can’t imagine that that’s changed much.
“I suppose so,” she says slowly. “I don’t know what arrangements the two of you have. Why don’t you ask him?”
“Yeah,” Andrew agrees, the tiny spark of... something he’d felt flickering out. “Good idea.”
After he gets off the phone and picks his way through unevenly cooked macaroni and gunk, he dims the lights, turns off the stereo and tries to remember back to the yoga class that one of his gymnastics coaches made him take when he was an incredibly bouncy twelve year old.
It didn’t make him less bouncy at the time, but maybe it will help him to think now.
He folds his legs up into the lotus position - the easy part - and closes his eyes. Jesse, he thinks, he wants to remember Jesse. Then he realises that he’s using yoga like a ouija board and shakes his head at himself.
He keeps his eyes closed and tries to keep his breathing even and just think about nothing. It’s probably not going to help, but he doesn’t know what else to do.
After ten minutes, the back of Andrew’s neck starts to ache from the awkward position. After twenty minutes, Andrew wants to pick up the remote and throw it at the telly.
“Well, that’s not working,” he tells his empty flat and climbs to his feet.
Jesse’s book is sitting on the coffee table where he left it and Andrew bends to straighten it, knowing how much Jesse hates it when things aren’t lined up properly.
He blinks. Does he know that? How? He rubs the centre of his forehead - it’s becoming a habit lately, a nervous tick - is that something he knows or did he just notice it while Jesse was here?
Sighing, head throbbing, he takes a couple of painkillers and climbs into bed. His bed feels too big, too empty without Jesse but Andrew refuses to do anything ridiculous like hugging Jesse’s pillow to his chest. He curls his hand around one corner closest of it, but that doesn’t count.
Andrew calls his aunt to take him food shopping the next day - and makes her swear not to tell his mum that Jesse’s gone - and then Emma comes around in the evening.
He very, very carefully doesn’t think about Jesse or the fact that he doesn’t even know what he did wrong or how he can fix it or...
He doesn’t think about Jesse. And he definitely doesn’t compose text messages in his head that he might or might not be planning to send once he can see to read again.
On Thursday evening, Andrew goes to bed early but it takes him hours to fall asleep. His bed still feels too big and now his flat feels like it’s echoing. His headache is a nagging constant, but even that seems to be fading.
When he finally does sleep, he dreams that he’s picking up Jesse’s laptop and smashing it hard on the floor while Justin smirks at him and Jesse stares at him with big, hurt eyes.
He wakes with a jerk and stares up at the ceiling, thinking holy shit and nothing else.
Because he thinks he’s remembered something rather important. He’s remembered The Social Network and he’s remembered Jesse. He remembers loving Jesse and wanting Jesse but - and this is the important part - he’s almost positive that he remembers never actually having the courage to see if he could have Jesse.
He rolls over in bed and groans into the mattress. He and Jesse aren’t together; he’s almost positive that they aren’t together which means that he’s spent the last few days making the biggest fool of himself possible. No wonder Jesse felt he had to leave.
“Fuck,” Andrew tells his empty bedroom. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
He sits up, puts his feet on the floor and loses momentum, folding over and resting his forearms on his thighs, dropping his head into his hands.
He can’t believe that he kissed Jesse, that he did it more than once when they’re not even together. Jesse must have hated it but felt too sorry for Andrew to turn him down. Fuck.
Oh god, Andrew has to fix this. It’s all flooding back; Jesse is Andrew’s best friend and Andrew honestly can’t lose him over something so stupid - and stupidly embarrassing - as this.
He jumps to his feet, takes a second to marvel at the fact that the world barely tips at all and throws on the nearest clothes he can find.
He picks up his phone on the way out of the flat but Jesse doesn’t answer the first or second call. Andrew tries a third time once he’s in a taxi but that goes to voicemail too.
“Jesse,” he says quickly, “I remembered something. I think... We’re not together, are we? It’s okay. It’s, I need to talk to you, I’m so sorry I put you in that position. Just please, please call me?”
The cab driver is watching Andrew in the rearview mirror. “Audition,” Andrew mutters and hunts around in the contacts on his phone so he can give him Justin’s address.
Justin opens the door wearing fluffy pink slippers which Andrew will have to remember to make fun of later. “Your name’s Andrew,” he says, enunciating clearly. “You’re like, twenty eight-ish and you’re sort of mostly British.”
Andrew rolls his eyes. He remembers Justin now too and hell if he hasn’t missed him. “I know that, arsehole,” he says, “I’m looking for Jesse.”
“Have you tried your bed?” Justin asks then, “Wait. No, that’s a bad joke at the moment, isn’t it? Dude, you just missed him, he’s heading to the airport.”
“What?” Andrew shakes his head; he didn’t think that Jesse would actually leave LA. “What time is his flight.”
Justin shrugs. “Like an hour or so?”
“Shit.” Andrew flops back against the wall, all the adrenaline from earlier seeping away. He rubs his temples even though he doesn’t have much of a headache today. “Justin, I need to ask you something.”
Justin nods, looking fairly serious for once. “Shoot.”
“We’re not... Jesse and I aren’t dating, are we?” It hurts to say that, more than it should; Andrew still feels embarrassed but under that he’s realising that he also feels really disappointed, that this lovely relationship that he thought he had doesn’t actually exist.
Justin makes a face. “It’s complicated?” he tries.
“Complicated like how?” Andrew prompts. What he can remember doesn’t seem complicated, it just seems platonic. “Complicated like I have a stupid crush on him and Jesse was too nice to let me down gently while I had amnesia.”
Justin snorts, actually snorts, which Andrew isn’t sure he’s heard anyone do since he last visited his great-aunt Katie who had sinus issues. “Complicated like Jesse is so fucking in love with you that anime hearts leap from his eyes every time he sees you but this shit all kind of snowballed on him and he’s been torn up and crying inside because he thinks he’s taken advantage of your maidenly virtue.”
“Wait,” Andrew says. “What?” He’ll deal with the maidenly virtue bit later and concentrate on the love part for now. “Jesse doesn’t love me.”
Justin leans into him, resting a hand on the wall behind his head. “Yes, he does,” he says. “Come on, man, this is Jesse, if he honestly hadn’t been interested, he would have found some supersmart and self-depreciating way of telling you to get lost.”
“Jesse wouldn’t ever tell me to get lost,” Andrew argues. Normally, that would make him feel good, but all it does now is make him even more convinced that he could inflict kisses on Jesse that he didn’t want and Jesse wouldn’t turn him down.
Justin rolls his eyes. “Because he’s in love with you,” he says slowly and it’s stupid but something about the way he says it makes Andrew start to believe him, no matter how completely ridiculous the idea of it is.
Andrew has no idea what to do.
He stares at Justin who stares back meaningfully but Andrew’s rooted to the spot by far too many simultaneous emotions and can’t translate Justin’s looks right now. “Well? Come on! This is the moment in the story where the hero races to the airport to declare his undying love. Have you not seen Love, Actually?”
Andrew has seen Love, Actually and, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not the worst idea. It’s pretty bad, but the worst was probably kissing Jesse in the first place, so after that anything has to be an improvement, right? “I’m going to end up on TMZ,” he tells Justin but he really doesn’t care. “Will you drive me? Please.”
A slow smile spreads across Justin’s face. “Fuck yes,” he says, grabbing his keys, and they race for the lift together, Justin’s fluffy slippers and all.
It turns out that it’s not as easy to race romantically through an airport as it looks in films, even if you’re Spider-man. Possibly, especially not if you’re Spider-man.
“Look, I’d be so grateful if you could just use your PA system to help me find my friend,” Andrew tells the guards at the security station, trying to sound as hopeless and English as he can, hoping they’ll think he’s just a confused tourist.
No such luck. “Why, have you lost your buddy the Green Goblin?” the taller of the two guards asks, nudging her colleague in his ribs.
“Something like that,” Andrew says, smiling politely past gritted teeth. “Please?”
She looks at him for so long that Andrew’s just about to give up when she finally sighs and says, “Okay, sure. What’s the name?”
“Jesse.” She keeps looking at him expectantly so Andrew has to add, “Eisenberg.” She doesn’t even blink and Andrew is instantly insulted on Jesse’s behalf; Jesse deserves to be so much more famous than Andrew.
“Jesse Eisenberg to the security station,” she says into her microphone and the words echo around the departure hall. Andrew cringes; Jesse is going to kill him.
Nothing happens. Andrew probably should have predicted that Jesse wouldn’t just magically spring up out of floor in front of him, but it would have been nice if he had.
The guard shrugs. “It’s a big building,” she says.
Andrew nods and leans back against the desk, scanning the people milling around for any sign of Jesse. His phone buzzes in his pocket, but it’s only Justin, telling him that he’s parked the car and asking if he needs an intervention.
Not yet :/ Andrew types back then jumps when a shadow falls over his phone.
Jesse’s standing there, backpack slung over one shoulder, belt clutched in one hand and only one shoe on.
“Did your eyes get better?” Jesse asks, looking at Andrew’s phone rather than at Andrew.
“Yes,” Andrew says, then, “Hi.”
“Hi.” Jesse waves his shoe. “I was in the security line. I thought, I don’t know, I thought something horrible had happened.” His expression falls. “Has something horrible happened?”
The wave of fondness that hits Andrew is exactly the same as the one he felt back in his flat the other day, only this time, there’s more history behind it. He waves thank you at the guards then takes Jesse’s elbow and leads him over to a quiet-ish bench near the toilets.
“Nothing horrible’s happened,” he promises. “Here, sit down and get dressed.”
Jesse nods, bending down to tie his shoelaces. “I can’t believe you paged me, I nearly had a heart attack.”
“Well, if you hadn’t run away,” Andrew starts to say then stops himself when Jesse’s shoulders tighten.
“I had to,” Jesse says, so quietly that Andrew barely hears him.
“Jesse,” Andrew says, reaching out and putting his hand on Jesse’s shoulder. “Come on, look at me.”
Jesse shakes his head. “I no longer look at people,” he says. “It’s my new resolution.”
“That’s a shame.” Andrew says, ducking down and trying to get a proper look at Jesse’s face. “You have lovely eyes. I’ve always thought so.”
Jesse snorts. “Always?” he repeats. “So for the last couple of days, then.”
“No.” Andrew gives up trying to get Jesse to look at him and just folds down onto the floor in front of him instead. He really doesn’t care if people see. “Since you walked into that first table read and put on your glasses and smiled at me over the top of your script.”
There’s a pause and then, “Oh,” Jesse breathes, jerking his head up and staring at Andrew hopelessly for a second before screwing up his eyes. “You remember me?” He doesn’t look pleased; he looks kind of sick.
“Mmhmm,” Andrew hums. He puts his hands on Jesse’s knees, waiting to see how Jesse reacts to that before going any further. Jesse doesn’t react at all; he seems to be rapidly retreating inside his own head. “Jesse. Come on, please.”
Finally, Jesse opens his eyes and Andrew’s honestly shocked by just how bleak and miserable he looks. “I’m sorry,” Jesse breathes, barely more than whisper.
“No,” Andrew says quickly. He hadn’t really had a plan but, if he had, this couldn’t have gone worse. “Jesse, come on, what are you sorry for?”
“I lied to you!” Jesse tells him. “I’m the worst person in the world.”
People are definitely looking at them now and Andrew still doesn’t care but he knows that Jesse does - or will anyway. He stands up and takes hold of Jesse’s arm. “Come on,” he says and pulls Jesse to his feet.
He looks around for somewhere that they can go, considering then dismissing the toilets, and finally tugging Jesse toward the baby changing room.
“We can’t go in there,” Jesse hisses.
Andrew flashes him a smile. “Nothing kinky,” he promises, “I’m not going to make you wear a nappy.” Jesse doesn’t crack a smile and Andrew sighs. “It’s this or the men’s toilets and that’s just horribly unromantic, so.”
“And this is better?” Jesse asks then, “Wait? Romantic? Aren’t you going to punch me?”
Andrew shakes his head. “I didn’t really give you a chance to tell me the truth, did I? I kind of threw myself at you.”
Jesse shakes his head. He starts to lean back against a counter that runs along one wall then makes a face and straightens up again. “Don’t do that,” he says, “Stop being so nice. I had plenty of time to tell you.”
“Why didn’t you, then?” Andrew asks, reasonably, he thinks.
“Because.” Jesse waves a hand. “Because you were so sick and confused and you were happy when you thought we were together and I didn’t want to take that away from you.” He stops flapping one hand to hold it up, halting Andrew’s next sentence. “Which doesn’t make me a good person. I didn’t have to kiss you or anything.”
“There was no anything,” Andrew reminds him, “You didn’t let us have sex.” He hesitates then takes a deep breath and forces himself to add, “And you didn’t really lie to me, you just jumped the gun a little.”
Jesse frowns. “What do you mean?”
Andrew needs to be touching Jesse for this. He puts his hands on Jesse’s wrists, pleased when Jesse doesn’t shake him off. “I mean, yes, we’re not together but we were kind of on the path to it.” He swallows, suddenly unable to look away from Jesse because this is too important. “At least, Justin said... And I thought so too, maybe?”
Jesse makes a sound that isn’t quite a word and then he’s sinking back against the wall, covering his eyes with his hand. That really isn’t what Andrew wanted to happen.
“How do you not hate me?” Jesse asks, sounding stunned. “I hate me.”
“Yes, well.” Andrew clears his throat. “I don’t. I love you. I tried to tell you that the other day but you wouldn’t let me.” He remembers something suddenly and feels his pulse quicken. “You said you loved me though.”
“Oh god,” Jesse groans. “I was really hoping you’d develop secondary amnesia and forget that. Can we forget that?”
“No!” Andrew tells him, appalled at the idea. “Well, unless you didn’t mean it?”
Jesse stares at him. “Of course I meant it,” he says, “I’m the idiot who flew across the country to gatecrash your recovery and was so obviously crazy about you that I practically Stockholemed you into thinking we were together and - ”
“Jesse,” Andrew interrupts gently. “What are we arguing about?”
Jesse looks up at Andrew with big eyes. “We’re not,” he says, “I’m just freaking out. Feel free to stop me, if you can.”
Andrew laughs. “Okay,” he says and covers Jesse’s mouth with his own.
“Mmph,” says Jesse, pulling back just far enough to say, “That wasn’t quite what I meant,” and “Really?”
“Really,” Andrew promises.
“I’m sorry,” Jesse says again, staring at him.
Andrew shakes his head. His automatic inclination is to tell Jesse that it’s okay, he really isn’t angry, but he knows Jesse won’t accept that. “I forgive you,” he says instead and, this time, Jesse kisses him before he can kiss Jesse.
Justin lets out a whoop when he sees Andrew leading Jesse across the car park. He’s sitting on the bonnet of his car, iPod in his ears and a ridiculous wooly hat pulled down over his eyes.
“So?” he asks, dragging the word out suggestively.
Stupidly, Andrew feels himself start to blush.
“It was very exciting,” Jesse says, bumping his knee against the back of Andrew’s leg when Andrew stops by the car. “Andrew leapt a security barrier and wrestled a police dog and rappelled down the side of the building to land at my feet.” He’s smiling, all bitten bottom lip and downcast eyes and he’s talking rubbish, obviously, but Andrew is just so pleased that he’s done something to make him happy that he doesn’t even correct him.
“Whoo, go Gadget Garfield!” Justin says, hoping off the car and making victory arms which he then flings around the two of them. He ushers them both into the backseat of the car then turns around from the driver’s seat. “Where do you want to go now? C’mon, I’ll drive you anywhere; I am totally Cupid’s winged chariot today.”
Personally, Andrew wants to go back to his flat and have all the sex that they haven’t been having over the last few days. He doesn’t know if Jesse is prepared to move that quickly though.
“Can you give us a ride back to Andrew’s?” Jesse asks before Andrew can decide what to say. He shoots Andrew an unreadable look. “That’s okay, right? All my stuff’s still there and, um, I miss my book and - ”
“Book,” Justin scoffs from the front seat. Andrew wishes they were in a taxi so he could close the privacy screen. “You get your ‘book’, dude. Should I stop at a pharmacy in case your book needs lube and condoms?”
“That makes no sense,” Jesse says, sounding a little strangled but somehow less embarrassed than Andrew feels.
Andrew’s distracted from his embarrassment though by a horrible realisation. Shit, he has no idea if he does have anything like that in the flat. Not that he’s counting on Jesse having sex with him or anything, but he wants to be prepared just in case.
Jesse puts his hand on Andrew’s thigh and leans in close. “You do,” he murmurs quietly. “In your bathroom cabinet behind the mouthwash.”
Andrew laughs, relieved and still flustered. He covers Jesse’s hand with his and they stay like that for the rest of the journey.
Justin drops them off at Andrew’s building with a truly horrible amount of winks and innuendo but at least he does actually leave.
Andrew and Jesse don’t say anything to each other in the lift up to Andrew’s floor but they keep meeting each other’s eyes and smiling so Andrew doesn’t think Jesse’s having second thoughts or anything.
Andrew locks the door behind them once they reach his flat and they stand looking at each other for a couple of minutes before Jesse moves away and starts to drift around the living room, maybe checking that Andrew hasn’t burnt any of his stuff or something.
Jesse fingers brush the spine of the book he left on Andrew’s coffee table but he doesn’t stop, just turns around and holds out his hand.
“Can we?” he asks. “If you’re sure, I mean. If you’re not sure, if you really do hate me, then just tell me and I promise I’ll slink away and you’ll never have to - ”
“Jesse,” Andrew says, “I just reenacted Life As We Know It for you. I’m more than sure.”
Jesse bites his lip. “I have no idea what that is. Is it a movie?” He flaps a hand before Andrew can answer. “Never mind, that’s not the point.”
Andrew feels himself start to smile. He’s always loved it when Jesse gets so overcome by all the things he wants to say they he goes flappy-handed and non-verbal.
“Yes, it’s a movie.” Andrew catches Jesse’s hands and tugs him forward. “Kiss me, now.”
Andrew doesn’t expect it to work, but it does. The wet drag of Jesse’s lips over Andrew’s sends a sharp, zinging pulse of want through him and he gasps, tipping his head back even though that breaks the contact. Jesse starts to kiss his jaw instead: soft, careful kisses that make Andrew need to sit down.
“Bed,” Andrew groans, looking up at the ceiling because he doesn’t want to lower his head and dislodge Jesse’s kisses. “Let’s go to bed?”
“Yes,” Jesse agrees then, “Wait, no. Your head?”
“Is better,” Andrew promises him. He doesn’t mention all the gaps he still has in his memory because he remembers Jesse and that will do for now.
In Andrew’s bedroom, Jesse blinks twice, says, “Right, then,” and kicks off his jeans. Then he blushes and scrabbles his way under Andrew’s duvet, spreading it across his lap.
“What are you doing?” Andrew laughs, watching him.
“It’s far too early in our relationship for you to see me naked,” Jesse tells him. “I’m thinking we should wait at least another fifty years for that.”
Andrew laughs again, like he knows he’s supposed to and tries not to react to another fifty years like it’s a promise.
“Is it too early for you to see me naked?” he asks, starting to unbutton his shirt.
Jesse sits up straighter, resting his forearms on his knees. “Definitely not too early for that,” he says quickly. He watches Andrew drop his shirt onto the floor and start to undo his flies. “And I would like some points for the fact that I didn’t mention that I’ve watched Red Riding a ridiculous number of times and therefore have already seen you pretty naked.”
“Okay,” Andrew agrees. He’s trying to decide if he should jump on top of the duvet or try to worm his way under it now that he’s taken off all his clothes. Under, he thinks, more skin contact. “In that case, I won’t tell you that I watched Cursed before I even met you.”
“Oh god,” Jesse groans and covers his face.
Andrew takes advantage of the fact that Jesse no longer has a deathgrip on the edge of the duvet to twitch it back and climb into bed beside him.
“Hey,” he says, putting his hand on Jesse’s face and turning him toward Andrew.
Jesse drops his hands, revealing pink cheeks and an uncertain smile. There’s pretty much nothing Andrew wants to do more than kiss him right now, so he does, pressing him back into the pillows which Jesse goes with, running his hands down Andrew’s sides until his fingers hit one of Andrew’s bruises and Andrew hisses.
“Shit,” Jesse says, snatching his hand away. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine.” Andrew shakes his head. He picks up Jesse’s hand, puts it back on his side. “Really. It’s okay.”
Jesse pulls back and looks closely at Andrew, raking his eyes down Andrew’s torso, presumably inspecting his bruises. When he guides Andrew over to lie on his back, Andrew doesn’t resist.
There’s a particulary sore bruise right over Andrew’s right hip, but it doesn’t exactly hurt when Jesse kisses it, that’s not the feeling at the front of Andrew’s mind at all.
“I was so scared,” Jesse whispers against Andrew’s skin, “When Emma called me, I just wanted to be here.”
Andrew reaches down and strokes his curls back from his forehead. “You are here,” he says. “Thank you for being here.”
Jesse looks up at him, propping his chin on Andrew’s stomach. “Anytime,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with you falling off any more high things. Let’s agree that you won’t do that again, all right?”
“Yes,” Andrew agrees. He’d agree to anything right now. “Absolutely.”
“Good. Good. Would you like a reward?” Jesse’s mouth drags slowly across Andrew’s stomach, stopping to drag the flat of his tongue over Andrew’s bellybutton.
Andrew arches up against Jesse’s mouth. “God,” he groaned, “God, Jesse, I’ve wanted this.”
“Sure,” Jesse tells him, wiping his mouth and smiling down at him crookedly. “When you thought you’d already had it.”
Andrew knows he’s teasing but, “Not just because of that,” he says anyway. “I wanted you when I thought I’d never get to have you too.”
Jesse ducks his head, kissing Andrew’s cock almost absently, it feels like. “Well now you’re just being silly,” he says, “There was never a time when you couldn’t have me.”
Then he sucks the head of Andrew’s cock into his mouth which, as a way to get Andrew to stop embarrassing him, is probably Andrew’s favourite.
Two days later, Andrew’s doctor clears him to return to the set for a few hours every day. Emma gives him a lift and Jesse tags along for, well, no reason at all other than that he and Andrew haven’t really been able to stop kissing or touching each other yet.
“Jesus,” Emma sighs, watching them in her rearview mirror when she stops at a red light. “How long have you two been together? Surely you should be out of the honeymoon phase by now?”
They’re not even doing anything, just holding hands and maybe sneaking a couple of tiny kisses, but Andrew still feels himself flush.
They haven’t told Emma that they weren’t really together when she thought they were. Mostly, Andrew suspects, because Jesse is a little scared of her. (“Trust me,” Jesse whispered urgently while they were waiting for Emma to pull up to the kerb. “She’d be much more interested in defending your honour than you were. Also, she hits.”)
“You’re just jealous because your boyfriend isn’t as hot as mine,” Jesse says now, squeezing Andrew’s fingers.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Emma says airily, but Andrew isn’t fooled.
“Do you have a boyfriend, Emma?” he asks, leaning forward and propping his chin on the back of her seat. “Do I know that? What’s he like?”
“Shut up,” Emma says, swatting at him over her shoulder. “And stop breathing on my neck, it’s creepy.”
“Is he dreamy?” Andrew asks, innocently.
Jesse leans in. “Apparently he’s delicious,” he whispers in Andrew’s ear.
Emma makes a strangled, exasperated noises. “I told you that in confidence, Jesse. Oh my god, I hate both of you. You should go back to being on separate coasts immediately.”
Andrew fees Jesse’s hand tighten around his. “No,” Andrew says seriously, “We really shouldn’t.”
It’s fun to tease Emma and Jesse is very good at helping. Andrew half remembers her now, but it’s more the feeling of friendship that’s come back than any real events yet. He’s almost sorry when they pull up to the lot, even though it means he’s one step closer to getting back to normal.
“Come on,” he says, hand on the door handle, anticipation making his leg bounce. Emma pulls into a space and he hops out, leaning back in to wait while Jesse unbuckles his seatbelt. “Oh,” he adds casually, “do you think anyone will mind that I can’t remember a word of the script.”
“What?” Emma accidentally elbows the horn. “Are you joking? Please tell me you’re joking. Andrew?” She twists around in her seat. “Tell me you’re joking.”
Andrew catches Jesse’s eye and grins. “Let’s see,” he says and turns toward the set.