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Splits

Chapter Text

 

A subtle kiss that no one sees,
a broken wrist and a big trapeze

- Read My Mind, The Killers

 

It started with a broken wrist.

Your relationship with the Valeska twins was one of great complexity littered with moments of confusion, aspects of misguided trust, and interwoven tidbits of love over the years. Jeremiah and Jerome Valeska became your firsts for many things: kisses, dates, sex... It was strange to think that it all began with a broken wrist.

Well, a broken wrist, a chat in the woods, and a bottle of whiskey.

Life on the carny-circus circuit was still new to you. You'd been used to living here and there. It came with the territory of having two parents who longed for fresh soil after planting their roots somewhere new every few years. An aerialist mom and a dad with a knack for fire-eating were enough to catch the attention of the ringmaster for Haly's Circus. Next thing you knew, your dad quit his day job, your mom ended her contract with a performance group, and they bought a silver travel trailer. Three weeks into being stuffed into it, traveling around the States, your mom started the coaching.

She specialized in silks, a perfect accompaniment to the Flying Graysons according to the ringmaster, and she thought it'd be a great idea for you to return to the art. You agreed if for no other reason than to prove that you did not give up on it. You'd preferred tumbling. A month later, you were performing alongside your mother during a small section of her act.

Of course, during your third month in Haly's, this would happen.

You'd done the tricks loads of times, only this time your act consisted of a slip, a crack, stinging, and blinding pain. Your grip faltered. Your head wasn't in it. The silks may have shielded part of the audience from the nastiness of the fall, but they didn't grant you the grace to save yourself from it. The circus healer set the bones as best she could, splint and wrapped your wrist, and sent you on your way. The ringmaster made it clear this would not exempt you from performing. You would be tumbling as entertainment to the people in line, as many one-handed and no-handed tricks as you could tolerate.

Later that night, due to the pain, you snuck out of the trailer and attempted to walk it off in the woods. That's when you ran into them. Two red-headed kids about your age who looked very much alike, unless the aching surging through your fingers and up your forearm impacted your eyesight, standing in the woods, one on top of a log laughing, the other arms folded. The one on the log had a bottle of something dark that smelled sharp, the other wore glasses and chided that someone, she, would be pissed and he'd get beat again. The one on the log lifted the bottle to take a defiant sip, his eyes on you the entire time until he stopped. He screwed the cap back on and held out the bottle, eyebrows lifted in a silent question. You stepped closer.

"It'll take the edge off," he said. That you know you wanna tone drawing you in. "Have it all."

"Jerome, stop!" The other whispered, his teeth clenched tightly. "Neither of you should be drinking!"

"She can make her own decisions, Miah." Jerome kept his eyes locked on you. "And I didn't drink any of it, you know that. The bitch drinks enough for both of us."

"Don't call our mother that!"

"You know she deserves it."

The one called Miah made a face as if his brother had a point and he didn't want to admit it. "Just...just give me the bottle. I might be able to get it back before she realizes it's gone."

"No. She doesn't need it back...Splits, here, needs it more."

"She doesn't need alcohol."

"Of course she does. It'll relax her and make her hurt less. You saw that fall—they didn't even take her to town for a real doctor. Negligent fuckers."

"Because Haly is a tightwad. But what if they gave her pills? She shouldn't have alcohol."

Jerome broke eye contact with you for the first time since you'd stumbled upon them. His smile slowly faltered. "Jeremiah..."

You looked down at your broken right wrist and held out your left hand. "I haven't had pills. Mostly ice. If it's not better by morning, the ringmaster says he'll allow me to go to the doctor. They put a leather strap in my mouth for me to bite on when they set it."

The twins locked their attention on you. Jeremiah seemed disturbed yet slightly intrigued at your experience while Jerome's grin returned wider than before. You took another step toward them and could see them clearly now. One in a plain t-shirt and jeans, the other in a tank top and shorts. Freckles littered their skin. They both parted their hair on the left, though they seemed to be slightly different shades red. The longer you looked, the more you realized it was possibly because Jeremiah kept his neat and slicked by product that made his ginger a bit darker, while Jerome's was prone to wildness and stuck up at random ends making it as fiery as his personality. You could feel the gaze of their greens start to burn you and cradled your wrist closer to your stomach out of nerves.

"Um, I'll just take a quick sip," you added. "I-I don't know if it'll help...I don't want to drink all of it. Then you can get it back to your mom so she won't be mad."

"Well, Splits, the more you drink the numb-er you get."

"More like the dumber you get," mumbled Jeremiah.

"Ignore him. He wants to be Mr. Perfect. Likes to act like he's such a big kid or an adult or somethin' when we're only eight."

You nodded. So they were your age. You'd seen them around but never had a chance to talk to the Valeska twins. Their mother, Lila, was the snake dancer and something about her scared you. You always heard yelling from the trailer during the day or moaning at night. One time you thought you saw Mr. Lloyd and Ms. Valeska leave his tent together. You tried not to mention it to anyone because the Lloyd and Grayson kids were the only ones you talked to, even though they weren't exactly your friends. They spent more time fighting with each other around their families and laughing and playing when the adults were busy than they did wanting to be around you. It didn't bother you much. You were busy with practices and didn't want to get caught up in the horse drama between the two families. Hopefully, finally, you would have two friends in the Valeska twins.

Jeremiah huffed. "You just don't like that I'm smarter than you."

"No, you're not!" Jerome tossed the bottle toward his brother, who fumbled for it, before extending his hand to you. "I've seen ya perform but don't think we met...I'm Jerome Valeska. This is Jeremiah." Realizing you couldn't shake his hand, Jerome stepped forward and gently tapped his forehead against yours twice. "They say close friends bump heads at least once. Now we're super close." He played an invisible drum. "Ba-dum-shh!"

It wasn't super funny, but you found yourself laughing anyway.

With a roll of his eyes, Jeremiah adjusted his glasses. "Hi. As he said, I'm Jeremiah Valeska."

"My baby brother doesn't always like my jokes," said Jerome.

"We're twins."

"He admits it! And who escaped first?" Jerome put a hand to his ear and leaned toward his brother. When Jeremiah glared, he bent back and laughed. "Oh, that's right. It was me! How much older am I? It's okay to have been a stubborn slowpoke from the start. Tell her you weren't always number one."

"I'm not gonna say or tell her shit just because you tell me to."

"Ooh! I made ya crumble! I love it when you curse, baby bro. See, Splits! He's a kid just like us. Stop being so unfun, Miah. You know it makes my body hurt."

There was a flicker of something half-sad, half-amused that ran across Jeremiah's face. He shoved his brother. "Shut up."

"Why don't ya make me?" Jerome moved beside his twin.

The sight of them standing toe-to-toe with their angry looks sent a chill over your arms. It felt weird but right seeing them close together. They had the same fight face, same scowl, same set jaw, same head bent down, same eyes glaring up near the top of their sockets. But they were different. It was like a wacky mirror. You wondered if Jeremiah made himself seem opposite on purpose.

Jerome tilted his head and taunted, "Make me, Miah. Why don't you make me, Miah? Make. Me. Miah!"

"You don't want me to, J." From his tone alone, you knew Jeremiah's warning wasn't without reason.

"Why not?" Jerome drawled. It was clear he already knew and the thought of Jeremiah showing him was why he was trying to tease it out of him.

You cleared your throat. To offer a distraction, you introduced yourself. Hopefully, now that Jerome knew your name, he'd stop calling you Splits. Then again, you were starting to like it. You turned to the quieter twin. "Um, I bet you ignore him a lot, don't you?"

Jeremiah's expression softened as he nodded, another roll of annoyance working through his eyes. "A little. His high energy….Um, it's nice to meet you officially. I hope we can be friends if my brother hasn't bullied you away."

"We can be. He hasn't done anything to make me not want to be friends with you two." You looked at Jerome and shrugged. "I like a good clown."

"Good? Nah, you're talking to the best, Splits! But still," Jerome bowed, "so glad you noticed."

Jeremiah's eyes went from his brother to the sky to the ground. You began to wonder how often he rolled his eyes when in the company of his twin. "I'm sorry you've had such a poor introduction to Haly's."

"Oh, this?" You lifted your wrist. "It's okay. I'm a leftie anyway. I figured it would happen eventually. When I was younger, I fell doing a flip and my lip needed stitches. Now, um, are you going to let me have a sip, or not? My hand hurts."

Jerome laughed. "I like her already."

Chapter Text

 

But if love is enough, could you let it show?
If you feel it, could you let me know?

- Miracle, CHVRCHES

 

Jerome was your first kiss.

Behind the lion tamer's tent, on a humid spring night, your mouths met. Jerome had been incredibly upset by Jeremiah's absence. You noticed and decided to sneak into the meal tent just before dinner, managing to snag a chocolate chip cookie for yourself and two snickerdoodles for him. His Uncle Zack didn't catch you, a mercy for which you were grateful. You entered the woods just behind the grand tent and found Jerome sitting on the ground. Once you sat beside him, you silently handed over the cookies. He took them without so much as a nod of thanks. Any other day Jerome would have praised you between whoops and cheers while encouraging you to tell your secrets of cookie-sneaking success. Tonight, his puffy eyes and red nose made it clear he'd been crying as he chewed stiffly. There was something unsettling about his numbness.

"I'm worried about Miah," whispered Jerome. "I know he's okay, like I can feel it, Splits. I...I woke up feeling sad. I didn't know why, so I looked for Jeremiah because sometimes his sadness makes me sad. He wasn't in our bed and I got scared. I looked for him, Splits...I couldn't find him. Lila wouldn't tell me anything. She said I did it to myself..."

You quietly listened as he continued sharing his concerns about his brother. Jerome blamed himself and you didn't know what to say. By the time he started nibbling on the second snickerdoodle, you got a little courage. You told him what you were hiding.

"I saw Miah leave." The words were bitter in your mouth yet there was a relief in letting him know. "It was the middle of the night, I went to Mr. Cicero's to get some more of that tea he has that helps with insomnia. I saw Jeremiah and your uncle leaving."

Jerome's worry flowed into a stray tear or two as you shared more details about witnessing Miah's sudden departure and the conversation the two of you had the night before.



"I can't stay here."

You caught Jeremiah's eyes and the look made your stomach clench. He didn't have to say what he meant, but deep down you knew what he was talking about and truth behind it all. Jeremiah was smart, like really smart. He was ahead in his schooling, created mazes for fun, and, in recent years, you rarely saw him without a book. Jeremiah was born for more than the circus. Jerome was too but, unlike his brother, you couldn't pinpoint just what that more was. You knew Jeremiah was meant for school, a company, something greater and academic. Everyone knew.

"I have a plan to get out of here. I just don't want you to hate me for it."

"Like I could hate you," you scoffed. "As long as you're safe and happy, then I think I'll be okay with you going. Doesn't mean I won't cry. What's the plan, anyway?"

"I'm going to leave soon."

After a pause, you frowned. "Look, I know Lila is...a monster, and I know you and J live in hell but, please... Please, don't kill yourself, Miah."

"Oh, please. As terrible as life can be here at times, I don't consider that a viable option for what I want at the moment."

"You're not going to kill someone, are you?"

"No. I'll leave that for Jerome," said Jeremiah. You started to question that last statement when he cut you off. "There's a school I've had my eyes on and it will give me exactly the education I need to grant me the success I deserve. The problem is that Jerome will need to be left behind. I can't tell you exactly what my plan is, J will surely prod you for answers and I don't want to put you in a place where you have to lie to him. He won't be able to take you doing something like that after I'm gone."

There was a gap forming between Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska. Truth be told, it was more like a canyon, really, forged by differences and misunderstandings and stubbornness and resentment. They never made you pick a side, so you were always stuck doing the splits between the twins. It'd been this way for a while now. You walked the ropes with the grace of a bird and somehow you became their canary in the coal mine for schemes, their little messenger pigeon when they were separated for chores, their dove of peace whenever they fought.

Jerome didn't mean it.

Jeremiah wanted you to come with him, J.

Jerome found these for you, Miah.

Jeremiah took these from the chuck wagon for you.

They'd make up for you, or rather, thanks to you. Now that Jeremiah was apparently going somewhere without Jerome, you knew that gap would grow even wider, so wide that you weren't sure you could even help this time.

"You're going to do something terrible to Jerome like kill him."

"Why is death the first thing you think of when you think of me?"

"Because I know you, Miah. Jerome kills small animals when he thinks no one's looking. The way you look at people sometimes when no one's looking, it's like...empty. You just look...I don't know."

Jeremiah stared at you for several moments, scanning you as he thought about what you said. "You think I'm like Jerome."

"I know you're not Jerome, you're both different. But, Miah, I think you're like Jerome in that you could kill like him. Not animals but adults. Maybe us kids. That day Russell Lloyd put a shovelful of dirt in my pants after I kicked his shin because he gave me a wet Willy. You had that dark look like you were gonna beat him over the head or something."

"Because I wanted to. I considered a pillowcase of soap or rocks, but Jerome reacted more quickly."

You laughed a little at the memory of Jerome slamming his fist into Russell's nose while you screamed about the ants biting your skin. Russell yelled curses. Jerome took the toy shovel, scooped up a bit of an ant mound, and poured it down Russell's pants. Russell ran to the river. "Yeah. He did."

"Jerome will be okay when I leave." Jeremiah looked out at the lights of the circus. "He has to be."

You gave him a nudge. "You'll feel it if he's not. That weird twin superpower you two have. I swear when there's something wrong with him, there's something wrong with you."

You thought about the day Jeremiah was helping you with maths and suddenly yelped in pain. He clutched his head, breathing heavily, his body doubled over. It stopped as quickly as it came on and made you worry that something serious happened. Later, the two of you ate with Jerome after his chores and noticed the start of a black eye blooming between his cheek and eyebrow. Jeremiah clenched his fist when his twin explained that he caught another random man in the trailer on top of their mom.

"It's not always like that. I mean, sometimes it's pain, but it has to be really painful. Usually, it's emotions like the feeling of dread when something bad happens. I don't think J feels it as strongly as I do. He complains that he can feel when I'm thinking too much. It's exhausting." Jeremiah sighed. "I guess you're right. I'll feel it but I won't be able to do anything about it because I'll be gone."

"I'll watch out for him when you're gone."

"I'm not asking you to."

"It's a given. You're my friends...and he's my friend as much as you're his brother. I-I can write to you, too, if you want."

Jeremiah looked over at you. "I'd like that."


 

Saying it out loud, letting Jerome know that you'd spoken to Jeremiah and saw him go, made everything real. You left out the part where you waved back when Jeremiah waved to you as he left. The moonlight allowing you to make out the words I'm sorry he hastily mouthed before he went out of view with their uncle. You'd left out that part because you didn't have time to tell him. His lips were on yours before you could say more. It was quick and awkward, more like a peck than anything, but still surprisingly gentle coming from the one you knew as the wild twin. He left behind bits of cinnamon sugar on your lips.

"That's a thanks, Splits," he'd said. "I'm not mad...I'm glad ya told me."

You fiddled with your jacket zipper and shrugged. What else were you suppose to do, keep it from him? It didn't feel right. You told him and Jeremiah almost everything. He'd eventually find out you knew and he'd stop talking to you. The idea of losing another friend on top of having one disappear into the night made your stomach hurt. Jerome slipped his hand into yours. You leaned against his shoulder and the two of you sat staring at the lamp lights around the circus camp.

You were both ten.

Chapter Text

 

Before I go, make it last all night while I slip into the great divide.

- Kamikaze, Walk The Moon



You rounded third base with Jerome when you were sixteen.

Jerome continued to hang around you after Miah's exit. As you got older, you kept in contact with Jeremiah through letters. While you did this mostly for you, part of you felt it was something you had to do for Jerome. He repeatedly told you that he 'didn't give a shit' what happened to Jeremiah, but you knew Jerome eventually would want to know about his twin and, by communicating with Jeremiah, you would have what he needed if he ever came around and cared to ask.

Not surprisingly, Jerome grew very bitter in Jeremiah's absence. More times than not you saw him with a scowl, his smile reserved for pranks and the occasional joke or laughter used to mask his true emotions in serious situations. Jerome also seemed to have more bruises. Rumors about Jerome's behavior quickly spread around Haly's and soon you were told by your parents and other adults to stay away from him. You did no such thing. Jerome was your best friend and you'd be damned if you abandoned him so soon after his brother when it was obvious he needed you most.

The twins' Uncle Zach was a sadist. You'd seen the bruises and scars he'd left on Jeremiah and Jerome when you were younger. With Jeremiah gone, there was no one else to take part of the blame or endure some of Lila and Zach's brutal beatings. Now, it was all on Jerome to take the 'punishments' dealt out by his mother and uncle. Before, you noticed Jeremiah would keep calm and quiet in the face of his abusers, trying his hardest to fly under the radar to avoid upsetting Lila. Jerome tried to do the same, but his short fuse led to angry outbursts which led to more abuse and attempts to get Jerome to 'know his place'. Occasionally, Jeremiah's good-boy act would be the cause of beatings. You'd see him with slap marks, notice a bleeding eyebrow here or a split lip there. It was always for the same ridiculous reasons.

Lila said my books were in her way. Her boyfriend thought I was a nerd.

I was sitting quietly working on homework and she got annoyed.

Lila couldn't find Jerome.

Uncle Zach got mad at me because he wanted me to taste test an onion soup and said I couldn't eat onions, so he shoved them up my nose and poured bacon grease on my tongue. (Inexplicably, Jerome had a numb tongue the same day despite never encountering the cook).

The stories made you angry and deeply upset you, and then Jerome would share similar stories with very different yet equally ridiculous reasons for his abuse. 

Ma thought I should respect her boyfriend and serve them drinks when I was trying to wash dishes.

I wouldn't tell her where I hid the bottle so she hit me with the empty one.

I stole a cookie and Zach held my hand in a boiling pot of chicken stock.

She wanted to beat Miah for some dumb shit and I wouldn't let her.

All of it made you livid. Neither Jeremiah nor Jerome deserved their poor treatment. A few times when you were younger, Jeremiah and Jerome told you about the way Lila would beat them together, usually when she was entertaining. You remembered there always being a mark on the boys after a random man entered the trailer. The worst was the snake man who would visit the circus in the spring in one of the major cities. The next day, Jeremiah and Jerome would have bruises on their wrists and black eyes, one on the left, the other on the right. One year, Jeremiah's ribs were left heavily bruised and Jerome's lip was split open so wide you were sure he needed stitches.

Now, with Jeremiah long gone, Jerome was beaten twice as hard and often kicked out of the trailer at night. The night you rounded third base was one of those times. 

The late fall air was slightly colder than you'd anticipated, and the wind gusts, along with insomnia, kept you awake. After throwing on some boots, you went for a walk outside. You discovered Jerome in the woods curled up in a blanket on a bed of leaves and moss. Even in his sleep, he held a frown. He shuddered every few moments, but his eyes remained closed. In fact, upon closer examination, the skin surrounding his right eye seemed swollen with a sickening mixture of blues and purples that had spread toward his cheekbone. Another tremor enveloped him.

"Stop," he groaned. "Please...don't hurt him. Help...Please? Miah?!"

You gently woke him and dodged his fist. "Hey, Jerome," you whispered. "J, breathe."

His wide eyes wildly searched around for an attacker and settled on you. "Splits?" He took a deep breath. "It's just you. Scared the hell out of me. What're you doing out here? It's cold."

"I could ask you the same thing."

"Lila's entertaining and she told me that if I come back tonight, she'll make sure he gives me a night I'll never forget."

You knew enough about Lila to know that he meant whatever John she was with at the moment and that that particular threat could mean a lot of things—many of which you didn't want to think about.

Jerome pulled his blanket tighter around him. "Leave me alone, Splits. Finish peeing in the woods or whatever you were doin', and go back to bed. It's late."

"No," you pressed. "J, it's cold out here. C'mon. You can sleep in my trailer. I don't think my parents will care and even if they do, I don't care because you'll get sick if you stay out here. I don't want you to get sick."

"You're nagging me."

"And you're being stubborn. Please, just sleep with me, Jerome. It'll be warmer."

"Y'know, I get that we're both sixteen, and it comes with the territory, but, uh, you didn't strike me as someone super eager to have sex," said the ginger. "We haven't even kissed in years. Besides, did you bring protection?"

You narrowed your eyes and folded your arms. "Now isn't the time for jokes, J. Please come inside. It's cold and you'll freeze to death out here."

"Would that be so bad? No one would miss me. Now, leave me alone, will ya!" Jerome pulled his hood over his head and folded his arms. Once he seemed comfortable, he shut his eyes tightly in an attempt to go back to sleep.

You gave a growl and got down on the makeshift bed beside him.

"What're you doing, Splits?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

"Losing your mind."

"Ha-ha," you said flatly. You curled up beside him. "Since you won't come inside with me. I'm sleeping with you."

"How very Cinemax at Night of you."

"Jerome."

"Splits."

"Look, I'm going to sleep outside with you—"

"Fine."

"—because you're a stubborn S.O.B—"

"You can call Lila a bitch. It's okay. I won't tell."

"—who won't come inside my trailer—"

"Is that a euphemism? 'Cause I have to warn you, the only places I'll cum into are my hand, dirty socks, and a condom," said Jerome, shifting his hands behind his head as he looked up at the sky thoughtfully. "Oh! Or maybe onto your back or stomach, or maybe your face if you're feeling really kinky."

You rolled over, leaned on your elbow, and tossed a fistful of leaves at him in disgust. "Ugh! You're so frustrating."

Jerome laughed and tossed the leaves back. "But that's what you like about me, Splits."

"J, since you won't sleep inside my trailer where it's warm, I'm sleeping out here. Now shush, I'm going to bed, okay?"

"Alrighty."

You laid back down. "Goodnight."

"Fine. Goodnight."

"Fine," you muttered. "You're such a stubborn ass." Another gust of wind sent goosebumps down your arms and you snuggled in closer to Jerome. A tremor of chills ran through you.

"You're gonna get sick, Splits," warned Jerome. "Or worse, you'll die. Then you won't be able to perform. Then Haly will be upset and your parents will be upset and then you'll be in big, big trouble."

"I'll be dead. As will you. Since when do you even care what happens to me?"

"Go inside an' get warm."

"What about you?"

"I'm a big boy."

"Well, I'm a big girl. A woman, actually."

He stared at you for a moment as if deciding if he should argue with you. An eye roll later, Jerome lifted up the blanket, "At least get under here so you won't freeze."

You did as he asked, curling into his chest. He wrapped his arms around you and settled his chin on your head. His heart beat quickly in your ear for a while before it calmed to an even rhythm. "Thanks, J," you whispered.

"You know, if you died out here, they'd blame me. They blame me for everything."

Shifting out of his hold, you looked up at him. "I don't believe that you believe you're all bad. But you do, don't you?"

"Sometimes." The moonlight hit his face causing his complexion to look more pale than usual. "I think you see something in me that's not all there, Splits."

You weren't sure why, maybe it was the moon, maybe it was his body being so close to yours, maybe it was the frustration, but you kissed him. Or maybe he kissed you. You weren't sure, but both of you lean in for each other at the same time and started something that you both knew you shouldn't. Jerome shifted his hands to your shoulders as you moaned against his mouth. His palms cupped your cheeks, pulling your face closer to his while you parted your lips for him. He sucked your bottom lip. You groaned.

He said your name with a sigh. Hearing it on his tongue sent another chill through you. Jerome gazed down at you as his thumbs brushed your cheeks. "We should stop."

After a nod of agreement, you admitted, "Yeah. We should."

"But...I don't want to."

"Me either."

Jerome grinned and gave you another kiss. His hands moved further down your body. You curled your leg over his hip. He gave a throaty moan as the heat between you rose and spread. Your head tilts when his mouth finds a place on your neck to tease. It's when his fingers traced the outside of your thigh that you whimpered his name. Heavy-lidded green eyes searched your features. "We gotta stop, Splits."

You nod but neither of you makes an effort to stop. On the next kiss, your mouths opened, tongues testing the boundaries of friendship and something more. Your hips rocked against him and he ground his upward in return. You feel how hard his cock is beneath his jeans. There's a heat between your legs aching for him to touch you. Jerome's palm settled on the waistband of your pajama pants.

"You gotta tell me to stop, sugar," he whispered.

You covered his hand with yours. You wanted to urge him on but know that he has a point. Neither of you should be out here. Jerome shouldn't have been sleeping in the woods, you shouldn't have gone out to see about him, and the two of you definitely shouldn't be doing whatever it is you're doing now. You wished you could say it felt wrong, but it didn't. It felt good. When you were around Jeremiah and Jerome, you felt feelings. Things had color and emotion and meaning in that wretched circus when they were around. Once Jeremiah left, things changed. The colors were there, as were the emotions and meanings, but half of them were gone. Both you and Jerome overcompensated while attempting to bring back the technicolor that radiated when there was three of you.

Tonight, for the first time since Jeremiah left, something felt like it had before. You wondered if Jerome sensed it too. You wet your lips. "Jerome."

"You gotta tell me to stop," he repeated. "Splits, tell me to stop."

"I-I can't, J," you admitted. "I don't want you to. I want you to…"

"I know. I don't want to stop either. I want you. I have wanted you, Splits." He ground himself against your center. "Fuck."

"Please."

"I know." Jerome shut his eyes. He muttered the phrase a few more times as he leaned his forehead against yours, the air between you a soft white from where your breaths met in the chilled air. He growled and finally looked at you. "Splits, we can't. At least not here-not yet."

"Then what can we do?"

"This." Jerome's hand finally dived beneath your waistband. He held your thigh against this hip, ensuring you stayed wide open for him. One finger at a time, he stroked you over your panties. A laugh leaves him. "Splits, you're all wet. And you were worried about me catching a cold."

"J…"

"You're warm, but maybe I should make you nice and hot, hmm?"

You nod. "But only if I can return the favor."

"Oh?" He irked an eyebrow. You unzipped his jeans and listened to his groan. Glancing down, you carefully pulled him out of his boxer shorts and sighed when Jerome's hips jerked at the contact. "Oh, sweets…"

Jerome's dick is the first you'd seen outside of the ones you saw in Alphonse Grayson's dirty magazines when you were a preteen. You remembered all of the circus kids giggling over the naked men and women, and scattering when their dad entered the tent and tried to catch his sons. Jerome’s dick made you bite your bottom lip. You were somewhat unsure of what to do so you carefully wrapped your hand around it. It’s at that moment that Jerome dipped a finger inside you. His thumb rotated around your clit. He pressed it gently, then a bit more rough, before plunging another finger into your depths. In turn, you circled the tip of his cock, feeling his pre-cum under the pad of your thumb. Jerome pushed his hips forward, urging you on. He nipped at your earlobe and it's then that you desperately want him to fuck you.

You kissed his jaw. "J, stop for a minute."

Jerome immediately removed his fingers. "What's wrong?"

"I wanna do something and I can't do it when your hand is in the way."

"What'd you wanna do?"

You held his gaze as you inched down his body. You longed to remove his hoodie and shirt. Perhaps next time, you told yourself. Wetting your lips, you kissed the tip of his cock.

"Oh, Splits," Jerome cooed. "Are you gonna—SHIT!"

He slapped a hand over his mouth while you slid his length deeper into your mouth. You ran your tongue around him and felt him twitch between your lips. Jerome suddenly jolted his hips back and pulled out of you. You moved back up his body with the best innocent look on your face. "What's wrong, J? Did it feel good?"

Jerome gave another laugh and lifted your chin. "Get the fuck over here before I cum in your mouth."

Everything happened so quickly. He slammed a kiss against your lips. You ground yourself against his hand wildly as Jerome pumped two fingers inside you. You slid a hand up and down his length. Your breaths collide. His eyes rolled. You bucked your hips. It was an awkward dance that you both got the hang of after a few moments. His hand slid up your shirt. You squeak when he pinches your nipples. When Jerome looks in your eyes again, you see flecks of mischief that send a surge of pleasure straight through your stomach. You found yourself riding his hand that much faster.

"Wanna get off together, Splits?"

"Please." You held onto him as if letting go meant that you'd wake up from the most satisfying wet dream you ever had.

"Anything for my sugar." His fingers moved deeper and hit that spot. You moaned loudly and Jerome shushed you with a laugh. "We're gonna get caught, Splits. Then what will they think?"

"What are we even doing, J?"

It's not a question that necessarily needs answering. You knew what you both were doing and you knew how good it felt. It's ridiculous and perfect. You speed up your strokes to match his pace inside you. Up and down. In and out.

"Losing our minds," he sucked in a breath. "I guess that's what happens...emotions…shoved inside...fuck. I shouldn't have waited this long to kiss you again...to show…you...that...I..."

You didn’t hear what he said. Your breath was too loud and his voice cut off. You lean your head against his shoulder as you lose it. Trying to keep your moans to a quiet level grew hard when Jerome's fingers were so skilled. You bit the fabric of his clothes, shaking as he continued. Suddenly, Jerome pushed your hand away and rolled onto his side, spilling himself onto the leaves and ground. He pulled you close and wrapped you both in the blanket. A few more kisses, some sloppy, some precise, all like gentle affirmations that what you've both just done was perfect. The two of you somehow managed to right yourselves and settle back into how you were before. Jerome seemed pleased to have given you your first orgasm as he licked the last of you from his fingers. You were just happy you managed to get him off too. You pressed yourself against Jerome's chest and listened to his heartbeat again, yours slowly syncing with his. It was official, Mr. Cicero's chamomile blend had nothing on Jerome Valeska's ability to make you exhausted after a simple finger fucking. 

He ran his hands through your hair as you dozed off. "G'night, Splits."

"Night, Jerome."


The sunrise caused both of you to stir. When you woke, you were still surrounded by Jerome's arms but your position had changed. Now his chest was pressed against your back, his breath tickling the skin behind your ear. As you became more awake, you noticed something hard between you. After rolling over, one glance down at Jerome's pants confirmed it. Your cheeks burned when you remembered what you'd done the night before. 

"J," you whispered. "J, wake up."

He rubbed his eyes. "What? What's wrong?" Realization struck him within a few moments. He gave you a crooked smile. "Well, that's a new one. Morning wood in the woods."

You laughed.

Chapter Text

 

Lover come hold me. Could you forget?

- Cringe, Matt Maeson

 

Jeremiah was your first date.

Not long after that night with Jerome, your parents decided that silks, tumbling, and fire eating with Haly's wasn't the best fit anymore and you moved away. According to them, a year or two in public school before college would be necessary if you wanted to get in. Jerome kissed you goodbye, winked at you, and told you never to forget him—as if you ever really could.

As luck would have it, your parents planted roots in the suburbs. They made friends with the kind couple next door, The Wilde's. One dinner party invite later, you discovered that Jeremiah, or Xander, was the ward of your neighbors. He went to St. Ignatius while you attended the public school a mile away. He was happy to see you and probed you with questions about his twin away from prying ears. Was Jerome okay? What happened when he left? Did he threaten anyone? Do you still speak?

When the information ran out, the conversation moved to other things like your current interests, dreams, goals, favorite foods. You learned that, even though Jeremiah hadn't been adopted by the couple, they'd allowed him to take their name. He learned that you and Jerome had an odd sort of relationship. 

The two of you still had quite a lot in common and hung out regularly, you taking care to call him nicknames in public to avoid slipping and calling him Jeremiah because there was no way you'd call him Xander unless absolutely necessary. By the time you were both seventeen, Jeremiah timidly asked you out. One date became two, which became three. On your twelfth date, you stop dating because you both decided to call it a relationship. You referred to him as Boyfriend in public and around others as if that were his name, but when you were alone Jeremiah and Miah flowed from your lips like old times.



When you were eighteen, Jerome appeared in a coffee shop of all places. He seemed ordinary and okay in a way that was unsettling. You knew him enough to see through the facade, to see that gem in his eyes of something that wasn't quite square. At times, Jeremiah had the same look, except it was less chaotic—definitely more smooth and cold where Jerome's was a fiery wilderness of splinters. You saw him ordering and knew it was him. At first, you second-guessed your gut. It couldn't be Jerome. Was Haly's even in town? Then he turned to collect his order and you knew.

You knew.

It was Jerome. You knew your friend anywhere and he was here. As you turned your attention back to your assignment, your heart started pounding.

Jeremiah would honestly flip at this news. He was still very much afraid of his twin brother. Jerome was the whole reason why Jeremiah never met his clients in person, used Ecco as his proxy, and started to work under the name Xander Wilde. Hell, Jerome was the reason why Jeremiah wanted to literally live underground. Your boyfriend was terrified of his twin. You did your best to quell his fear but it was difficult because it was justified. After all, you'd heard Jerome mention his resentment of Jeremiah and his allusions to killing him one day.

You weren't sure how you'd break the news of Jerome's reappearance to Jeremiah, but you'd have to do it gently because he would undoubtedly panic. You struggled to conceal your own anxieties. You hadn't seen Jerome in a few years and you felt a pull in your chest at the sight of him. That boy—that man, rather, was your best friend for a long time. He was all you had at that god-forsaken circus. It was Jerome and Jeremiah and you. Then it was just Jerome and you. And then just you and Jeremiah. Now fate was being funny sending him back to you and placing both in your life again.

Suddenly, a hand set a cup of coffee in front of you. "Excuse me, I'm looking for an old friend of mine."

You knew its owner was Jerome before you even looked up at his face. The freckles on his hand matched Jeremiah's with the exception of one major detail. The skin on Jerome's right hand was a galaxy of shiny scar tissue and fully-healed patches from burns his uncle caused. He gave you a crooked smile and a wink. "Hey, Splits. Long time, no see."

"Jerome!" You genuinely smiled at him. "Holy shit, what are you doing here?"

"What, no hug?"

You couldn't stop yourself from leaping up and giving one to him. You missed Jerome. You'd missed him for years. No matter how much you loved Jeremiah and respected his fear of Jerome, you couldn't shake that soft spot for his other half. It was like having a limb reattached. At this point in your life, you'd spent roughly the same number of years alone with each twin. You knew, in their own ways, Jerome and Jeremiah missed each other. There was no way they didn't feel a void.

"Um, Splits," said Jerome, "I appreciate the sentiment, but if you don't let go of me, I think I might suffocate." When you let go of him, he ran his thumbs under your eyes. "Aww. Missed me, missed me, now you've gotta kiss me."

"Maybe later."

"I'll hold you to it. Speaking of later, what are you doing tonight?"

You eyed your assignment. "Well..."

"Blow it off. Come by Haly's. The show will be amazing! Lions, dancers, blah-blah-blah. I don't have to convince you, you know how the show is. We did add a new contortionist." Jerome fiddled with his cup. "We can catch up before we...I...leave again. I've missed you the last few years we made it back to Gotham. I overheard one of the Lloyds say you moved here. I looked for you, Splits."

You frowned at the thought of him searching for you. "You did?"

"Yeah. You and Jeremiah were, are, both hard to find. You haven't run into him, have you?"

"No. I thought he was here too, but nothing. There's no Valeska's in the city. I lost touch."

It wasn't a total lie. You'd stopped writing to Jeremiah just before you moved next door to him, so in a way you hadn't kept in touch. And it wasn't like you were lying about not seeing him. To the world, you were with Xander Wilde, not Jeremiah Valeska.

You swallowed a sip of coffee to hide the flipping in your stomach. You didn't like lying to Jerome, but it was something you could easily do without visibly flinching thanks to Jeremiah. Given your consistent honesty, the circus never believed that you were the type to lie even when you were doing so right in front of their faces. Jeremiah took notice and helped you hone your skills when you were still kids. Jerome often showed his hand, but Jeremiah...Jeremiah was frighteningly manipulative when he wanted to be. You'd witnessed him cry or laugh about something only to turn stone-faced a moment later. You let him help you at the time because you needed it as a defense mechanism around Haly, Zach Valeska, and other circus members. 

"I searched, J," you pressed. "I miss him, too, you know."

Jerome nodded at your words. He seemed disappointed as he eyed the patch of skin just behind your ear. You wondered if he could tell that his twin had left that mark there the night before. Jerome asked who was responsible for the hickey. You told him a certain guy in your life.

With a wink, he congratulated you on finding someone. "Hope he gives it to you good and isn't selfish."

"He's nice enough."

"How's the sex?" He searched your face for answers. When you rolled your eyes, he mimicked your reaction with a grin. "Don't tell me you're still a virgin."

You fiddled with a hangnail and shrugged. "So what if I am?"

"Then your boyfriend needs to take those kisses further south, the goody-two-shoes. You deserve someone who'll do everything to you and for you." The implication of what he'd done to you that night when you were teens hung between you. Jerome watched you blush and kissed your cheek. "Look, Splits, I gotta run. Please come by the show later. Say 'hi' to everyone and come back to your roots for the night."

You wanted to say no, but that look in his eyes told you it was safer to agree.



Jerome was your thirteenth date. 

You tried not to think of it as a date, but it was hard not to given the way he asked you out. You met Jerome that night behind the lion tamer's tent where this thing between you began. He was waiting for you with a cupcake. There was a new cook who didn't mind showering Jerome with as many sweets as he wanted.

"Here," he said, handing you the heavily frosted treat. "Because you gave me cookies last time we sat here, I figured this was in order." 

The two of you sat on a log and began talking. You asked him how he was, what things were like since you'd left, and if he'd ever wanted to get out. You gave him half of the cupcake while he told you about his struggles. Like that morning when you were ten, this night ended in a kiss "For old times sake".

Your lips slipped together as easily as yours and Jeremiah's, but there was a noticeable difference. Ever the analyst, Jeremiah kissed with calculation, each move of his lips and stroke of his tongue designed specifically for you and the moment. There were morning kisses. 'I love you' smooches. 'I'm busy—not now' pecks. Connections for when either of you felt sad. Happy, wanting, spontaneous kisses. All were unpredictable and satisfying. Jeremiah knew how to handle you as though you were both his girlfriend and an equation. Jerome, on the other hand, approached you as if your happiness was a punch line to one of his jokes.

Jerome's kiss wasn't as deliberate but it was very much strategic and there was a desperation behind it that made your eyes well. He started gentle, leaning into your body. He moved his hand to your cheek and got a bit carried away, his mouth parting just enough for his tongue to tap your lip. You didn't let him in so when you drew a breath he ground his lips to yours. He wasn't okay and you felt it. Something was wrong—no, something was broken. You opened your mouth and let him in, finally kissing him back. He stopped. His mouth hovered over yours.

"You kiss like you've done this before," he said.

You gave a shrug and mentioned the kiss when you were ten. "We've done this before."

"Not like this." He shook his head. "Not even that night in the woods is the same as this."

"Oh, shit, I forgot about that..." It’s another lie, one you’re sure he knows. It’s not like he failed at making that moment memorable.

He irked his eyebrow but accepted it. "You forgot? I'll never forget that. Your hand did a hell of a lot better job than mine ever has. No wonder you French kiss like you know what you're doing with my mouth."

"J..."

Upon separating, you could see the Jerome who slept on your floor, the Jerome who wasn't fed, the one with bruises much like the ones you just noticed around his neck. You pulled him into a hug.

Touch-starved, he groaned and held you tight. "Mmm, stop."

"Stop what?"

He moved his hands to your shoulders. "Look, I know this hug. You're worried about me. Stop."

"But your neck."

"I've got a plan that's gonna get me out of here."


Jeremiah wasn't angry so much as concerned. The kiss didn't bother him either, but what did was the fact that the circus had made its way back to Gotham. The fact that his brother asked about him scared him, so much so that he paid his contractors double to speed up the production of his bunker. But what really scared you both was the news headline about Jerome and their mother. It sent chills down your spine and fear through Jeremiah.

So that was Jerome's plan to get out.

You shared that Jerome told you he had a plan and you watched as Jeremiah's face drained. He didn't blame you. After all, Jerome never told you specifics. However, you still felt incredibly guilty.

You should have known Jerome's plan would involve killing Lila.

Chapter Text

 

 

My baby's got a fucked up head,
Doesn't matter ’cause he's so damn good in bed

- Baby, Bishop Briggs


Jeremiah was your first fuck.

College for you rolled around quickly and your relationship with him ended abruptly. You made it to his nineteenth birthday and it started with a minor argument about goals. He was a smart cookie who had designed a building for Thomas Wayne by eighteen. Likewise, when you were thinking about prom, Jeremiah had already graduated early and did college courses online to stay close to you, his adoptive family, and the Wayne Project. Part of you wondered if he stayed close to ensure his brother wouldn't try to find you and harm you. He managed to become classified as a senior by the time you were an incoming freshman at a university just an hour outside of Gotham.

Now it was your turn for college and things were changing. Over a month or so, it became a major disagreement about university and long-distance relationships that threatened what you and Jeremiah had together. Then the excellent communication the two of you had become subpar at best. Although both of you wanted a future together, you were too stubborn to put in the work to figure it out. It ended with Jeremiah yelling that you might as well break up just days before your nineteenth birthday.

You spent the occasion alone in the apartment you shared with your friends. You urged them to go out, have fun, drink one for you, you'd be fine. After all, you had a pint of Chunky Monkey to keep you company. It hadn't been your favorite ice cream, but it reminded you of Jeremiah and Jerome because it was theirs.

A half-finished pint and an hour later, you thought about your now-ex Jeremiah and how he would've helped you eat the remainder, all the while commenting about your lack of appreciation for such a treat. He always joked that your palate wasn't sophisticated enough to truly value the way the banana pairs with the chocolate and walnut.

You thought briefly about the older twin and wondered how he'd managed to keep himself locked in Arkham for this long. Jerome would eat the whole pint but, if he was in the sharing mood, would eat the banana ice cream, make a joke that it was because he's bananas, and leave the chocolate for you. Jeremiah would eat the walnuts because they're good for the brain, but Jerome would laugh and say it was because he was actually nuts while making jokes that he was the nuttier of the two. You got up to throw out the remainder of the pint when there was a knock on the door.

Through the peephole, you saw Jeremiah. You opened the door and started to tell him to fuck off when you noticed it. It was something you hadn't seen since you were nine: Jeremiah utterly broken.

His hands shook when he held up a bouquet of flowers. It was a hodgepodge of red roses and blue orchids. "Happy birthday," he choked. His eyes were rimmed with red, his nose pink and flaring slightly as he sniffed. He blubbered an apology and begged for you to take him back. "Please? I'm sorry. I was wrong." His socially awkward nature bested him as he pushed up his glasses and shuffled his weight from foot to foot. He hadn't meant those terrible things after all. "I-I was upset and stressed. I apologize. I-I didn't know what to do about the arguments and the drifting and I loved you. I love you. Still. It hasn't stopped."

You stepped aside and let him into your home and heart.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah continued apologizing. He was so sorry. The two of you would work things out. "Please—just hear me—please, please—get back with me. I'm sorry. Do you forgive me?"

"Yes," you nodded. You loved him too much to watch him go a third time.

Jeremiah gave you a kiss, soft at first, then more desperate, not rough so much as hungry. You matched his pace, plunging the kiss further into the depths of something greater. His hands wandered from your cheeks to your hips. You let him lift you up. He knew the way to your room and he knew his way around it. He knew your body just as well. You both had shown discretion in the past, struggling through teenage emotions that had led to a few heated moments in backseats and behind bedroom doors that were supposed to remain open so parents could hear. You'd never made it past a bit of touching, second base was hard enough to reach, especially when you both were insecure and privacy was hard to come by. But now you two were unsupervised, reunited, and incredibly sure about what you wanted.

The moment Jeremiah shut the door, his clothes and yours began to scatter around the room, slip onto the floor, and toss behind chairs. His pants settled by your nightstand beside your pajama shorts. Jeremiah sat on your bed and motioned for you to follow. You settled beside him until one kiss led to your knees straddling his hips. Your arms found his shoulders as he steadied you on his lap. More urgent kisses followed. Ones with lips bitten and bruised against teeth, tongues testing and exploring, and mouths open and closed with no set rhythm other than desperation. His boxer briefs seemed too tight for him and your panties too wet for you. You couldn't help but grind yourself down on him once. Another moan left your throat. God, how was he so calm when he was this hard for you? Jeremiah stopped the kiss and said your name. You knew that tone.

"What's wrong?" You searched his eyes. "Am I hurting you?"

He swallowed hard, "In a manner of speaking." He lowered his eyes to his boxers then back up to you. "I, um, I..." he cleared his throat, his cheeks turning red. "I really, really want to...fuck you." He sighed deeply as if admitting it was a huge relief. "I really want to fuck you."

The fabric between you was too much. He pulled your panties down and you stood to kick them onto the floor. He stared at your body, giving an inward moan when you helped him remove his boxers.

It's not until you return to his lap that he sighs. "So much better."

Jeremiah's fingertips found your bra clasp causing your mouths to meet again. You knew him well enough to know that he'd come prepared. During your freshman year, you'd both started carrying protection in case your sessions got a little out of hand. Jeremiah interrupted your latest kiss to grab his pants from the floor. After retrieving a condom from the side pocket, he returned his attention to your mouth. He started with a slow kiss this time. You parted your lips. The heat of his tongue against yours made you groan.

"Are you sure?" asked Jeremiah.

You nodded. "Yes. Miah, please?"

He seemed amused by your reaction. For a moment you saw a flicker of Jerome in his expression. You bit your lip in anticipation. You knew damn well what was coming next. Jeremiah lifted your chin. "Please, what? Oh, you want me to put this on?"

"Please?"

"And once it's on, what would you like me to do?"

"Miah..." You grind yourself against him again as impatience got the better you. "You know what I want."

He kissed your ear and taunted, "A fucking?" You nod. "Do you want me to make love to you? Do you want it so hard you scream my name? So good that every time you see this bed you think of us, this moment, and how your first fucked you senseless?" When you gasp an affirmation, he opens the wrapper. "You want me to put this on now..." He knows he's driving you to the brink of madness and you're not sure he cares. Jeremiah placed the condom over the tip of his cock. His eyes locked on yours as he quickly rolled it on. "What do you want to do now? Oh, that's right! I remember."

You're caught by surprise when his finger enters you. "Miah!" You shuddered against him. Index, middle, and ring, digit by digit, he tested you with all three.

"Oh, look at you," Jeremiah admired through searching eyes, his smile wide. "My sweet little love...so desperate, you’re riding me."

You felt like one of his blueprints—your body a maze in need of solving. No, not solving. He’d already figured it out. He stroked your G-spot and removed his fingers. You realized you're practically panting.

He braced your back and gave you a soft kiss. "You've been patient..." another kiss, "through my taunts. I promise, there was a point my devilishness."

"If your point was to get me wet, you won."

"Among other things," said Jeremiah. "Forgive me?"

"Only if you fuck me."

"Naturally."

You pulled him with you as you leaned back on the bed. This was it. Jeremiah began to ravish you, his kisses deep and eager, his movements purposeful yet gentle. You welcomed it all. Every move of his hands and thrust of his hips made you moan. Jeremiah wasn't particularly loud in his lovemaking, but he made sure you knew what you did to him. He kept eye contact with you as he sped up. You raised your hips, struggling at first to match his pace. Jeremiah rolled onto his back. Once you were on top, you easily matched his rhythm. Riding him brought you that much closer to your release, the friction against your clit becoming almost more than you could handle. Jeremiah changed positions again.

The sheets were cool against your back as you let him take the lead. Your breaths came in sighs and moans. The bed squeaked beneath you, adding to the symphony of sounds between you and Jeremiah. You moved your calf to his shoulder, your thigh pulled back against your body. Jeremiah moaned at the new angle. He drove himself even deeper into you and dipped his fingers between your hips to rub your clit.

"I can't...I don't think I can...," said Jeremiah. "Look what you've done...to me."

"Miah..." you sighed. "Mi..."

You wished you could tell him how good he felt, but you lost your ability to think of words. You struggled to say anything that wasn't his name. He laced his fingers with yours, his thrusts aimed at getting you off. That heat began to rise up your stomach. Your muscles tensed around him. Jeremiah groaned against your skin as he left kisses and bites along your neck. He steered himself into your center with more purpose. Over and over. Short and quick until the heat became too much for either of you. His name is one syllable on your tongue and Jeremiah whispered yours in fragmented gasps.

He rested his forehead against yours. Relieved. Satisfied. It took a few moments before either of you could pull yourselves together enough to move. He pulled out and rolled off you while you stared at the ceiling, listening as he grabbed tissues from the nightstand. He wrapped the condom and tossed it into the bin. Jeremiah returned to you. A small laugh bubbled out of you and he pressed a kiss to your lips before joining you. His hair, usually never out of place, slightly mussed.

He adjusted his glasses and said, "I'm pleased that I could translate my love into that...and physically show you how much I love you. I hope I didn't hurt you. I-I have so much lack of control when it comes to you...for a moment, I thought I broke you."

You made a face. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, Mi! Mi! Mi!" Jeremiah teased, imitating your keens from moments before. "Oh, my, my, my little broken record."

"Miah!" You settled your head against his chest. "I can't help how I sound when I come...especially when you're that skilled with your hips."

"Just my hips? I suppose I'll have to do better with these."

You felt his fingers trail further between your legs and gave a low moan, your hips bucking when his thumb grazed your clit. You were still buzzing from foreplay and his handiwork during the main event. Jeremiah repeated the action. "Hands!" You cried. "Your hands have been...mm! Oh, fuck...me..."

"I think you're still way too sensitive for another round, my little music box," said Jeremiah, a teasing grin gracing his lips. "Perhaps later when you can fully enjoy the pleasure of me winding you up. Or, instead, I could...oh, never mind. You wouldn't enjoy it."

"Enjoy what?" You asked, raising yourself on your elbow. "What were you thinking of doing to me, Miah?"

The red-head touched your cheek and pulled you in for a kiss, claiming you again with just the right level of roughness to get a moan out of you. Jeremiah carefully rolled you on your back. He broke away, shifting his mouth to your chin, followed by a quick suck on your neck, gentle bite on the skin between your breasts, and a line of pecks down your stomach. He shoved away the sheet loosely surrounding you two and ran his fingers down your hips.

"Miah..."

"One little lap wouldn't hurt, right? I haven't had the chance to properly taste you tonight. Besides, I want to know how my little record sounds when I play her again."

Through your bedroom door, you heard your roommates enter the apartment. They called your name. Jeremiah caught your eyes and placed a finger to his lips, waiting for your nod of understanding before he continued gazing between your legs. You knew that face, that look—he was calculating. Likely identifying all the ways he could leave you begging, moaning, screaming. The anticipation only seemed to make you ache more than you already were. One friend called for you again, another said you were likely sleeping. Jeremiah rolled his eyes and dug into the feast before him, his tongue sliding up your swollen lips.

You cried out in surprise, nearly yelling Jeremiah! before you could stop yourself. Your friends knew him as Xander or just Boyfriend. If they walked in on the two of you in their possibly drunken states, you'd rather not have to spend the next day telling them they heard incorrectly. Then again you could say you were fucking Xander's twin, Jeremiah. Not a total lie no matter how you tried to spin it.

Your thoughts were brief, split-second ideas that were brushed away as quickly as they appeared because Jeremiah chose this moment to surround your clit with his mouth.

"Mi!" You cried and recovered. "Xander!" The name still felt weird in your mouth.

"They're back together!" A friend said behind the door. "Or, she's masturbating."

The knob rattled causing Jeremiah to grip your thighs and shove his tongue into your entrance. His thumb stroked your bud in circles. You tried lifting your hips but he had you pinned in place. "Don't stop!"

"Yeah, no, definitely back together."

Your other roommate half-laughed, half-slurred, "She's so loud in bed. Oh my god! Is she a virgin?"

"Don't be rude!"

"I'm just sayin'. She's moaning like she's never had any before. Defo, virgin."

Jeremiah looked up at you and mouthed, Not anymore.

You covered your lips with your palm to stop yourself from laughing. Your roommates moved away from your door allowing you to focus your attention on the man between your legs. Jeremiah quickly reduced you to a series of moans and whines. At this point, you’d more than proven your roommates right about your volume. He kept your hips pressed to either the bed or his lips as you practically rubbed yourself against his tongue and rode fingers. You came hard with a vocal jumble of whimpers and screams.

Exhaustion quickly washed over both of you. Jeremiah moved back up your body and kissed you, allowing you to taste your arousal. He slowed you both down. You shared a few shallow kisses followed by a long, deep one with a meaning and design Jeremiah made sure you recognized. I love you.

You brought your hands to his jaw, returning the gesture in the way he’d grown accustomed. I love you, too

Jeremiah brought the sheet and comforter up to your waists. More relaxed than you had been in weeks, you felt your eyes start to close. Jeremiah gave a sleepy chuckle and pulled you into his side, your name mixing with his fatigue as it slipped off his tongue.

"Someone's pleased with his work," you muttered.

"You did an equal share. You should feel satisfied as well." He gave you a lazy kiss that nearly missed your lips. "Happy birthday. Did everything you wish come true?"

"And more."

Jeremiah slept over that night—not that either of you wanted anything else. In the morning, he asked for you to move in with him. He wanted the two of you to finally start life on the skirts of Gotham. He finished the place where you could both be alone together. He showed you the final schematics over breakfast, informing you that the construction he'd started years ago was nearing completion. He explained that in addition to being paid by companies in the city, he was now providing his services across the world. You thought the offer was tempting and determined that you could finish your degree online or commute. Jeremiah offered his apartment for the final few months until you'd both call his maze home.

You agreed.