Look at the World from a New Perspective

by Calex

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/146065.html)

Alex was avoiding Jesse.

Jesse couldn’t help but think he might be a bit paranoid, but the thing was, despite having breakfast and lunch and dinner with Alex everyday just as he’d always done for the past two years, he was somehow spending less time with Alex. And talking to him less. When he wanted to speak to Alex, Alex would be in the middle of some hugely interesting debate with someone else. When Jesse slung an arm around Alex’s shoulder, Alex would somehow pull off some kind of manoeuvre and – hey, presto – the next thing he knew, Alex was about two feet away from him. He wasn’t quite sure how Alex was doing it, just that he was. And Jesse? Jesse was feeling hurt, yeah, but also kind of pissed off because he knew exactly why Alex was doing it, and while he understood the reasoning behind it, he also knew that Alex was being a complete chicken shit jackass.

Then he felt unreasonably guilty about thinking that, because despite everything, Jesse had always been the nice guy. And part of the package of being the nice guy was that he was gifted with an overabundance of understanding, and part of him knew he was being unreasonable by expecting Alex to act like nothing was wrong. But, damn it, Alex was his best friend. Sure, he got some leeway for being an asshole considering the circumstances, but not that much. Alex wasn’t allowed to be a pain in the ass who avoided him, he just wasn’t. Also, it totally wasn’t fair. Was it his fault that Alex had a crush on him?

(Love, his mind corrected. Alex said he’s in love. Jesse was getting particularly good at squashing that voice or ignoring the fact that it even existed in the first place.)

No. It wasn’t his fault. And it also wasn’t his fault that he didn’t feel the same way, so where was Alex getting off being all hurt and wounded and not hanging out with Jesse anymore? Like he was the only wounded party here. Jesse hadn’t done anything wrong, so why the hell was Alex punishing him by pulling off this whole vanishing act of his? Who did he think he was, David Copperfield? Jesus fuck, Jesse was getting a headache just from dealing with all of it.

Despite his righteous anger and annoyance over the entire issue, though, he couldn’t help but think about it. About Alex. About that night in Alex’s room, illuminated only by the too bright orange electric lights outside, shadows hiding his face but doing nothing to hide the tremble in his voice when he whispered, “I love you, Jess. I’m in love with you.”. And how, like in the most painfully clichéd moment, the shadows had shifted just right for him to see the brief flicker of devastation in Alex’s face when he’d replied, “I’m sorry, Alex. I just don’t feel that way about you.”

Oh, Alex had brushed it off. Had laughed, and said he was embarrassed now then cracked a joke about it, and Jesse had only been too glad to let him. He should’ve known, though, that it wouldn’t be that easy. Should’ve known when he realized that Alex made sure not to sit too close after that, even while they talked of inconsequential things and made plans to go to the restaurant Alex had been raving about before. Should’ve known when he’d hesitated by Alex’s door before he left and asked if they were okay; Alex had flinched just before Jesse’s hand landed on Alex’s shoulder, and hesitated for a split second before he smiled and said ‘“Of course, why shouldn’t we be?”

Jesse should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy. And maybe part of him did know, but he’d just been hoping because, okay, he was selfish. He didn’t want Alex’s feelings (And were they real? Or were they just fuelled by the half empty bottle of red wine he’d spied on Alex’s table, a bottle that Jesse was damned sure hadn’t been opened before that night.) to ruin what was, to him, possibly the best friendship he’d had with anyone. He didn’t see why they needed to mess with the status quo; Alex was already closer to him than anyone else, than anyone had ever been. Alex was probably closer to him than any of his past girlfriends or boyfriends.

But no, Alex just had to go and disappear on him. He scowled. Fine, he’d let him. And yeah, maybe it was because the situation had turned a little awkward, but it was also because he knew that Alex needed it. That Alex needed time away to think and regroup and sort things out in his head. So he’d been prepared to give Alex his space, had even complied by going out of his way to not be as touchy as he usually was, to make sure Alex wouldn’t have to see him as much as he’d normally have to— –

(Yeah, like your reasons were really that honourable, that voice cut in, snidely. And shit, Jesse really hated that thrice-damned voice.)

—- but it had already been nearly two months, and all that seemed to be happening was Alex improving his evading techniques. And sure, he’d been prepared to let Alex take his time to get used to things again, to settle down back into his rightful place as Jesse’s best friend, but if things kept on going the way they were, that was never going to happen. Shit, he never knew Alex could keep a grudge against him for so long. Other people, sure, but him? Hell no. Alex had always never been unable to deny him anything, to be angry with him for long periods of time. It was Alex who was the more affectionate of them both, so how the hell was it that he was managing just fine with not seeing Jesse when the prolonged distance from Alex was making Jesse feel like he was going crazy?

To add insult to injury? Somehow this was all his fault. Tash and Sam had been noticeably cooler to him and Ben and Seth were getting annoyed with him. Simon, who was probably nicer than even Jesse, was constantly giving him the stink eye, and the girls were telling him that he was an asshole. But they loved him anyway. God, people confused him sometimes. Drew, Nick and Chris were the same as always, but those three had always been more oblivious than not, so Jesse knew that they’d probably not even noticed that anything was different. But since when did all of this become his fault? Why was he the bad guy in this situation?

It pissed Jesse off. He knew that the majority of them would obviously be more loyal to Alex since they’d known him longer. Jesse’d only transferred in two years ago, but still. They were as much his friends as they were Alex’s, so why the hell were they taking Alex’s side on this? And it wasn’t as though they even knew the full story anyway, so they had no right to be all righteously indignant on Alex’s behalf—, especially when Alex himself seemed more content to just hide.

But fuck, he missed Alex. He missed Alex’s smile and his laugh and how Alex could laugh at his jokes and how they could talk about anything at all, but that they could just be quiet together, too. He didn’t realise how much time he spent with Alex, talking to Alex, until Alex wasn’t there anymore. It was like he had to constantly correct himself in his head, remind himself that Alex wasn’t around, so he couldn’t talk to him about this, or tell him that joke, or show him that thing. It was kind of driving him insane. And he also realised that, strange as it sounded, Alex grounded him. Alex made sure he never did anything too stupid, anything he would regret. Because when Alex was gone, he did just that.

They were in the dining hall, and for the first time in what felt like forever, Alex had joined them. And was sitting next to him. And yeah, there was a tension that wasn’t there two months ago, but Alex was there. And Alex was smiling tentatively at him and teasing him like usual and part of Jesse felt so much relief at that that it was staggering. It was like whatever it was that had knocked his world askew had righted itself again.

Then, of course, the shit hit the fan. He should’ve known something would go wrong.

Alex was talking to Mel and Seth, completely cracking up at something they were telling him, when it happened. Drew, Chris and Nick were filling Ben, Scott, Simon, Sam and Tash in about what had happened that weekend. Ben, Scott and Tash had gone back to their respective homes, while Sam and Simon had hung out with Alex so they didn’t know what had happened. Neither did Alex, but Alex was busy at that moment, so it was relatively safe. But shit, he should’ve known that would come back and bite him in the ass.

“So let me get this straight,” Ben said, and his mouth was twitching. “Despite your protestations about how you’d never touch ‘that slag’ with a ten foot pole, you let her shove her tongue down your throat?”

“Yeah, aren’t you afraid she’d give you an STI?” Scott taunted and Jesse rolled his eyes as they all cracked up, continuing to rib him. They were also being too loud. Simon, though, wasn’t laughing. He was frowning, shooting a worried glance Alex’s way, and hell, had Alex’s feelings been obvious to everyone but him? Because it was obvious that Simon knew, at least enough to be worried about Alex’s reaction should he overhear. Jesse felt his hand curl into a fist as he scowled. Why the hell should Simon be so worried about Alex, anyway? It wasn’t like it was any of his damned business. He didn’t like the way Simon had been all over Alex recently, being so concerned and worried and hanging all over him. It pissed him off, especially since Simon hadn’t bothered to do that before.

Except that wasn’t quite true. Jesse knew Simon’d looked, he just couldn’t do anything about it before, because before Jesse had always been by Alex’s side. There hadn’t been room for anyone else. Now, though? Now Alex was Jesse-free. His nails dug crescent dents in his palm.

He didn’t have time to stew, though, or freak out about stewing, because the sound of their raucous laughter had attracted Alex’s attention. He swung from his own conversation with a smile still curving his lips and his eyes still bright with mirth to ask, “What? What did I miss?” And shit. Jesse felt his stomach twist as he shook his head hurriedly, trying for a reassuring smile he was sure fell flat.

“Nothing, don’t worry about it.”

“No,” Alex said, slowly, the brightness of his eyes already starting to dim with confusion and suspicion. “Really, what’s so funny?”

“Just Jesse,” Chris snorted, before anyone could stop him. Tash was looking at Alex with sympathy and Simon was glaring at him. “He finally pulled Julie on Friday. Oh la la,” he sang out, batting his eyelashes. “Is it looooooove?”

“Shut up,” Jesse snapped, uncharacteristically. Chris’s eyes widened with surprise, but Jesse couldn’t even apologise for his curtness, because his eyes were all for Alex. If he hadn’t been watching him, he wouldn’t have noticed how Alex had gone completely still for a split second, how his face had actually paled a little, his mouth pressing into a firm line as though to stop from trembling and the sheer, devastating hurt in his eyes. It only lasted that split second, though, because the next thing he knew, Alex was laughing, and bumping his shoulder like nothing was wrong, like his eyes weren’t a tad too bright and his smile a touch too forced.

“So much for not being interested in slags, eh?” he said, teasingly. If anyone heard the barely there tremble in his voice, no one said anything. Ben had immediately jumped in, laughingly offering,

“That’s what I said!”

“Great minds think alike,” Alex said, promptly, and that was that. Even as they moved from the topic, Jesse watched him. And when everyone’s (or almost everyone’s, —Jesse could feel Simon’s stare a heavy and constant weight on them) attention was gone, he nudged his shoulder gently against Alex’s until Alex looked at him.

“Are you okay?” he asked, softly. And, okay, that was a stupid question and he should have never asked it, but he was genuinely worried about Alex. He never wanted to hurt him. He didn’t like that he’d caused that hurt in Alex’s eyes, before. He felt his stomach twist again, this time with something like guilt, and Jesse worried his bottom lip as he waited for Alex’s response. Alex tilted his head, looking at Jesse like he was trying to figure him out. Finally, he sighed and smiled, but it was still forced, nothing like the bright, genuine warmth of the smiles he used to show Jesse.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” he asked, and Jesse really had nothing to say to that. Then he jolted when Alex stood, picking up his tray. Before Alex could take even a step away, his hand shot out to grab Alex’s arm. Alex had to shift quickly to avoid dumping the contents of his tray on the floor, cursing softly under his breath, before he glared at Jesse. “What the hell was that for?”

“Where are you going?” Jesse blurted out before he could think. And why the hell had he done that? Shit. His hand was doing things his brain did not order it to, now. Alex looked at Jesse like he was something he couldn’t quite figure out, but it was tinged with annoyance, now.

“Back to my room,” Alex retorted, curtly. “I’ve got an essay due in for tomorrow that I’ve not finished. Can I go now, dad?” he asked, sarcastically. Jesse quickly let his arm go when he realised they were being watched, flushing darkly as he muttered an apology. Alex raised his eyebrow at him, then shook his head and started walking off. A clatter from the other end of the table caught Jesse’s attention and he turned his head just in time to see Simon jump up and grab his tray.

“I need to go, too. Alex! Wait up!” He sped towards Alex, who was waiting patiently for him. Jesse watched as Simon said something that made a small smile curve Alex’s lips, and then the two of them laughed as they started off. His mouth thinned. Great, Simon was proceeding with his ass kissing. Just fantastic. He was sure Alex would be happy. He sniffed and turned back to his plate of food, when he then noticed all of his friends staring at him.

“What?” he asked, defensively. Tash sighed, then shook her head at him.

“Aren’t you going after him?” Tash asked, pointedly. Jesse scoffed as he shovelled a forkful of whatever they passed off as ravioli into his mouth.

“Why the hell should I?” he asked, resentfully, stabbing irritatedly at another piece of ravioli. “Alex seems pretty happy to be with him.”

“You do realise Simon’s got a massive crush on Alex, right?” Drew said, bluntly, and Jesse’s eyes flew to him, shocked. Drew snorted at his wide-eyed expression. “What, did you think I didn’t notice? I’m not as daft as you, mate.”

“Hey!” Jesse said, angrily. “It’s not my fault that I didn’t realise that Alex liked me, okay? And how is it my fault if I don’t feel the same way?”

“Oh my god, you’re more of an idiot than I thought,” Seth said in disbelief. “Are you really this thick or are you just being a stubborn arse?”

“Fuck you,” Jesse snapped, and Seth snorted, taking a sip of his cappuccino.

“No thanks, mate. I don’t have Alex’s patience to deal with your idiocy.”

“Why the fuck is everyone on his side?”

“Maybe because you’re a complete fucking retard,” Drew snapped back. “Everyone can see he’s completely gone over you, and you over him. You’re just being a complete twat about it. Are you really going to just sit there in complete denial while Simon sweeps him off his feet while he’s hurt and vulnerable, or are you going to man up and actually fucking do something about it?”

“I’m not – ” Jesse began to deny, but stopped when he felt Mel’s hand on his arm. He looked at her, almost desperate to get away from the accusations and saw sympathy in her eyes.

“Yes, Jesse,” she said, gently. “You really are. We all knew it, but we couldn’t really do anything about it if you were going to ignore what was obviously under your nose, and especially if Alex wasn’t going to say anything. But Alex has said something, obviously, and if you don’t realise how you feel about him, you really are going to lose him. You know Alex doesn’t think when he’s emotional, and he’s much more reckless than usual too. If you just let this go now, he’s not going to come back to you. Not the way you want him to.”

Jesse felt trapped, and it was hard to breathe now. They were all still looking at him, but his panic must have been obvious for everyone to see because the anger was draining out and they were all starting to soften and look sympathetic. But they had to be wrong; he didn’t like Alex like that. He would’ve noticed; it wasn’t as though he’d never been in a relationship with another guy before, wasn’t as though he was blind to those things. He didn’t feel like that about Alex, Alex was just –

“He’s my best friend,” Jesse said, and he was startled to hear how small his voice was, how terrified. Mel smiled and patted his hand before letting it go.

“He’s still your best friend, Jess,” Tasha said, and she slipped into the seat next to him, her arm going around him for a hug. “That doesn’t have to change.”

“But how do I know – ”

“How do you feel when you think about Simon being with Alex? I mean, being with Alex, as his boyfriend.”

Sudden, hot rage filled Jesse. His jaw tightened and he gripped his fork so hard his knuckles whitened. “Like I want to smash his face against a wall,” Jesse said with a quiet snarl. Then he stopped short, aghast. His friends were looking at him with amusement, now, and Tash clapped him bracingly on the back.

“Well, go get him, tiger.”

It took him a while, but one thing about Jesse was that once he made up his mind, he did went through with his decision. And while it had taken him time to realise the folly of his own mistake, he was now prepared to do everything it took to fix things with Alex. He couldn’t do anything about the fact that he’d hurt Alex, but he’d make it up to him. He was confident of that. Now all he could hope was that Alex would forgive him.

He took the stairs to Alex’s floor two at a time, excited and nervous. So much could go wrong, if they did this. So much. But at the same time, as it had been drummed into him at dinner, so much could be right as well. He’d been stunned to realise that Drew had known. Chris and Nick, though, really had been clueless. Then they’d been apologetic. And then, once they’d thought about it, they too had called him an idiot, but they did it good-naturedly. After all, it was obvious that Jesse was going to fix things, so there was nothing for them to be angry at him for.

He stopped outside of Alex’s room, taking a deep breath. He pressed a hand to his chest and felt the hard, fast beat of his heart and grinned. He was nervous, how could he not be? This was Alex, his best friend. Part of him had always loved Alex, so this was really… just an extension of that. And he was confident that he’d have Alex, because how could he not? They were perfect for each other and Alex had said he was in love with him. He just had to apologise and maybe grovel for a bit and spend as long as he’d need to make it up to Alex, but Alex was his, just as much as he was Alex’s. Then he realised that the door wasn’t fully closed. Frowning, he pushed the door open, because it wasn’t like Alex to forget to close his door. Alex was fiercely protective of his private space.

“Hey, Al, your door wasn’t – ” Jesse didn’t have time to finish his sentence, eyes finally registering what he was seeing. His words ground to a halt as he watched Alex jump, then shove Simon away from him. But he was too late, because Jesse had already seen it, seen Alex on the desk with Simon standing between his legs, heads angled and mouths pressed together. Simon’s hands were in Alex’s hair as Alex’s arms were wrapped around Simon’s waist, gripping fistfuls of his shirt. Alex was bright red as he stared at Jesse in horror, hand pressed unconsciously to his mouth. Simon was righting his glasses as his tongue darted out to lick at his lips, as though to chase the lingering traces of Alex’s taste off of them, and it was that sight that got him moving.

Jesse couldn’t remember how it happened, exactly, only that one moment he was at Alex’s doorway, and the next he had gripped Simon’s collar and hauled his arm back to deliver a punch. Alex cried out as Simon stumbled from the force of his blow, scrambling off the desk before he froze, eyes darting to Jesse, then Simon, torn between who to go to. Simon’s groan as he pushed himself up seemed to decide for him, and he crouched by his side. Just the sight of Alex’s hands gentle on Simon’s face had Jesse wanting to punch the smug bastard all over again.

“Jesus Christ, Jesse!” Alex shouted, even as he pressed the mark on Simon’s face gingerly. It was already swelling, and Jesse felt a sense of savage satisfaction from that. “What the hell are you doing? Fuck, realise your own goddamn strength, you idiot, you could’ve really hurt him!”

“Good!” Jesse snarled, then he strode over and grabbed Alex’s arm, wrenching him away from Simon. “That was what I was going for.”

“What the hell has gotten into you?” Alex shouted, twisting out of his grasp to whirl around, hands on hips, to glare at Jesse. “What the hell were you thinking, barging into my room and punching Simon? Have you gone insane?”

“What I was thinking was that he needed to keep his goddamned mouth off of what’s mine!” Jesse exploded. Alex’s eyes widened as his mouth went slack with shock. Shit. Jesse sighed, all the fight going out of him as he ran a hand over his face. Then he flicked a glance at Simon’s still, cautious form, narrowing his eyes menacingly. “Scram. This conversation is between me and him.”

Simon pushed himself up, brushed himself off, and moved slowly and with great dignity. As he passed by Jesse, he stopped. To his benefit, he didn’t flinch despite the fact that Jesse towered over him, and was obviously stronger. He kept his back straight and his expression serious.

“Don’t think I’m backing off because I’m afraid of you,” Simon said, quietly. “I’m only leaving because it’s goddamned obvious that Alex loves you, not me, and that you’ve finally got your head out of your arse. But if you ever hurt him,—” here his eyes narrowed threateningly. “—I will take him away from you before you even realise what’s going on.” Then he walked out and closed the door quietly behind him.

They stood in the ensuing silence, both uncomfortable. Alex was staring at him, but his posture was different, now. His arms were crossed, shoulders slightly hunched, and the defensiveness in the gesture had Jesse’s heart aching. Wariness and confusion radiated from him, and Jesse finally sighed, walking over to Alex close enough that he could feel Alex’s heat through his clothes, so close that their tips of their shoes bumped and his chest was brushing against Alex’s with each breath. He reached up to cup Alex’s face, thumbs brushing against his cheekbones and leaned forward to press their foreheads together.

“I had a speech planned,” Jesse admitted quietly. Alex made a soft noise, but Jesse pressed his lips against Alex’s lightly and that effectively shut him up, eyes going wide at the move. “Shh. Just let me talk first, okay? I know I deserve to have you yelling at me first but I just… I need to tell you something first. I need you to hear something first.”

Alex hesitated for a moment, but he finally nodded, and Jesse let out a soft breath of relief. But once he had the floor, he was completely blank. He didn’t know how to start, and he was floundering. He almost jumped when he felt Alex’s hands circle his wrists, and he was afraid that Alex was going to pull his hands away, but all he did was hold on, his touch reassuring. Jesse smiled at that and closed his eyes. How had he not noticed this? How just Alex’s touch calmed him, how Alex knew him so goddamned well. No one had ever read him as well as Alex did.

“Like I said,” Jesse finally said. “I had this great speech planned out. I was going to apologise. Maybe fall to my knees or something because I know you can never resist me when I’m a dork. Yeah, I wasn’t above playing dirty, either.” He felt Alex chuckle, and he smiled, couldn’t help himself from giving Alex’s forehead a kiss. “I was going to do things right, now that I’ve had a… lot of things rubbed in my face. Like how much of an idiot I was being, and how being stubborn wasn’t going to help anyone. That I needed you,” he admitted, finally. “And that… that being together wouldn’t mean we’d stop being best friends, or that it would ruin what we already have.”

“Jess,” Alex began, and Jesse found that kissing him quiet was really starting to be satisfying.

“Just a little bit more,” Jesse promised. “I just… I wanted it to be perfect because of what I’ve made you go through these past two months, but then I came in here and I saw him and you were kissing and I just… if I didn’t know already, that would’ve made me realise. That I had to confront my feelings for you. Because god, Alex, seeing his hands on you made me want to – ” he broke off with a shuddering breath and Alex made a soft sound of comfort. “I wanted to rip him apart,” Jesse admitted. “I was so angry, because you’re mine, Alex, goddamned mine and he didn’t have the right to touch you like that. Jesus Christ, I’ve never… I’m not like this. I don’t get possessive like this. I never have, but with you – you’re different, Al. When it comes to you, my head’s all messed up. I can’t think straight and I’m dumber than usual. I know it’s an excuse but it’s true. You mess me up. You drive me completely crazy.

“And you know, that kind of scares the everlasting shit out of me. But it kind of makes it impossible for me to pretend that we’re just friends, because friends don’t get that jealous when someone kisses their best friend.”

“Can I talk now?” Alex asked after a moment of silence that was becoming steadily more awkward. Jesse let out a breath of relief and nodded. “You hurt me, Jess,” Alex said, quietly. Jesse flinched and would have pulled back, but Alex’s hands tightened on his wrists, nails digging in. “You hurt me so goddamned much. And then you avoided me, and yeah, I know I started it but it was just… I didn’t know how to stop anymore. Not when it looked like you didn’t want to be around me anymore.”

“That wasn’t – ” Jesse began, startled, but it was Alex’s turn to kiss him silent now, pushing up to his toes to reach. Jesse shut up.

“I know,” Alex breathed against his lips. “When I thought about it, I knew. You’re too goddamned considerate for your own good, at least in part. But you know, Jess, sometimes that hurts more. I didn’t want you to think about me that much, not when you turned me down. I didn’t want to have you protect me all the damned time. It made it impossible to let you go.”

“I’m glad,” Jesse broke in, fiercely. “I’m sorry if it’s selfish, but if it stopped you from giving up on me – ”

“I don’t think I could ever stop loving you,” Alex said, and Jesse fell silent. “Jess, I’ve been in love with you for two years. I never meant to say anything but it got kind of impossible to just keep quiet when you do shit like barge into Simon’s room and fall on top of me to sleep, or hand feed me pizza. Or the million other things that you do to me. But I don’t want you to do this just because you feel like it’s the only way you can keep me.”

“I’m not,” Jesse assured him. He pulled his hands away from Alex, and wrapped them around his waist, pulling him as close as he could. He buried his face in Alex’s neck, breathing in Alex’s scent shakily. “I wouldn’t do that. As it’s been said way too many times tonight, I can be kind of dumb sometimes. It takes me longer to figure things out that are obvious to some people. It just took me a while to realise that I don’t just care about you in a friend way, that I’m just as stupid in love with you as you are with me.”

“Are you sure about that?” Alex asked, quietly. “Because I swear to god, Jess, if you’re fucking with me – ”

Yeah, there really was nothing quite as satisfying as kissing Alex quiet.

Things progressed fairly quickly from there. One kiss became two became three became ten, and then Alex was leading them to the double bed that came with Alex’s large corner room. They stumbled as they walked, shedding clothes and laughing into each other’s mouths. The door was locked, music turned on just loud enough to cover sounds, but not loud enough to draw the attention of the housemaster. Jesse twisted, and then pushed Alex down on the bed after they’d both stripped off their shirts, ties and trousers; shoes, and socks toed off clumsily. Crawling on top of Alex, Jesse settled comfortably between his legs as they resumed kissing. Alex’s arms were wrapped around his neck and as much as he loved that, that Alex felt the need to pull Jesse as close to him as possible, it made moving a little hard. So he pulled Alex’s arms away, kissing away his soft cries of distress as he urged Alex wordlessly to grip the headboard.

“Keep your hands there,” Jesse murmured and Alex looked at him askance. Jesse just chuckled, running his knuckles over Alex’s cheekbone. “I want to touch you, Al, and I can’t do that if you’re going to cling to me like an octopus.”

Alex flushed, sticking his tongue out at Jesse at that, and Jesse grinned as he leaned down and caught Alex’s tongue gently between his teeth. Then he let go with a last languorous lick to Alex’s swollen bottom lip.

“Jess,” Alex moaned. “Come on.”

“Keep it there,” Jesse repeated, firmly, running his fingertips down Alex’s chest, brushing past his nipples and making him gasp. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Fuck, you tease,” Alex gasped, and Jesse laughed, kissing him hard and fast for a moment before he pulled away again.

“I’m only a tease if I don’t follow through – and trust me, Al, I plan on following through. Now shut up and stay still.”

Alex grumbled, but finally settled in, complying. As a reward, Jesse kissed him again, slow and thorough, hand sliding down to rest on his neck as he let his tongue dive into Alex’s mouth to search out his taste, tangling with Alex’s. When Alex moaned into his mouth, Jesse smiled and let his hand travel down again, and his lips followed. He tasted, teased and marked Alex’s skin, leaving trails of red that screamed out mine mine mine to anyone who’d care to look. He caught one of Alex’s nipples in his mouth, tongue flicking, feeling Alex arch into the touch, letting out a broken moan. Jesse’s free hand teased at Alex’s other nipple, thumbing it into equal hardness before his mouth switched, and he continued this until Alex was letting out sobbing little cries. Then his mouth trailed lower, lower, nipping a line down his smooth chest, toned stomach.

Jesse’s tongue swirled into Alex’s navel and he jerked, cursing up a streak as Jesse just laughed and pinned his hips down. He wanted to take his time, wanted to learn new things about Alex, imprint them in his mind. Alex was almost sobbing by the time he reached his cock, straining against clingy green cotton that did nothing to hide the damp spot by the head. Jesse traced reverent fingertips over the ridge of his cock, seeing the proof of how much Alex wanted him right in front of him, and up close, as if Alex’s neediness and cries were not enough. Alex tried to thrash, begging and pleading and cursing on the same breath, and Jesse leaned in, eyes sliding shut as he took in a deep breath of Alex’s scent. It was musky and headier, here, and he groaned, feeling his own cock achingly hard in his boxer briefs.

“Shit,” he cursed, hand going down to palm himself. It wouldn’t last, couldn’t when both of them were so pent up with need, so close to the edge. But it didn’t matter, they had time now. Lots of time. Forcing his hand to still, he finally lifted them back to stroke soothingly over Alex’s thighs, until Alex stopped trembling and opened his eyes to look at Jesse. Alex made a distressed, questioning noise and Jesse leaned down to place his lips over the damp, cotton covered head of his cock in a reassuring kiss.

“Fuck, Jess,” Alex said, and Jesse shivered because no one else had ever looked at him like that, said his name like that. Like a curse and a prayer all rolled into one. So full of want and need and… okay, yeah, love too. Like there was so much of it in Alex his heart ached with it.

“I’m here, Alex,” Jesse murmured. “But I can’t take too much more. What do you want from me, sweetheart? Do you want me to jerk you off? Suck your cock? Or do you want me to fuck you?” Alex shuddered at that, groaning as his whole body jerked. Jesse grinned, feral, as he cupped over Alex’s cock and squeezed gently. “Oh yeah, you want that? Want me to fuck you, baby? Want to feel my cock take your sweet ass?”

“I want you to shut up,” Alex muttered, face red with embarrassment as well as exertion and lust. His hands jerked as though to cover his face but at the final moment they stilled, fingers wrapping more securely around the railings of the headboard. Jesse’s mouth curved in a grin at that, and he slowly tugged Alex’s underwear down and off.

“Good boy,” Jesse murmured, hands nudging Alex’s legs further apart, then up. “Think you deserve a reward for that.” And with no ceremony, his head dropped and he took Alex’s cock as far down as he could without choking. Alex let out a loud shout, head jerking back as he arched, a litany of Jesse, Jesse, Jesse, fuck, oh fuck, your mouth, God, fuck, Jess, your mouth falling past his lips. Jesse shut his eyes, humming as he savoured the taste and feel of Alex in his mouth, making Alex cry out.

He pulled back with a pop, hand taking over where his mouth had been to stop Alex’s protest before it could be voiced. His grip was sure around Alex’s dick, keeping him on the edge but not letting him come, not yet. He didn’t want Alex to come until he was buried as deep as he could go inside Alex’s body, their first time.

“I need the lube, baby. Do you have some?” he asked and was gratified at the way it took a few moments for the words to sink in, before Alex opened dazed eyes. He licked his lips and Jesse couldn’t resist leaning over to kiss him, swallowing his needy moans. Only for a while, though, because his dick was aching something awful and he needed to be in Alex yesterday. “Lube,” he prompted, and Alex groaned in frustration before he jerked his head to the bedside table.

“Inside. Condoms, too.”

Jesse smiled triumphantly and moved quickly to do that, opening the drawer. His eyebrow lifted when he saw the half empty bottle of lube and the half empty box of condoms.

“We’re going to have a talk soon about who you used these with,” Jesse said, conversationally as he grabbed a condom and the bottle of lube before returning to Alex’s side. “Later. Right now, I need to be inside you.”

“Jesus fuck, Jesse,” Alex whimpered. The headboard was creaking now under Alex’s grip, and Jesse traced his knuckles gently with a fingertip.

“I’m going to need you to keep your hands there until I get in you, okay?”

“Are you trying to kill me?” Alex asked, incredulously, and Jesse laughed, shaking his head.

“Perish the thought, sweetheart.”

“Your good ol’ Southern boy charm is coming out,” Alex said, gasping when one of Jesse’s lube slicked fingers traced over his hole. Then he grinned. “I kind of like it. Call me ‘darlin’, Jess.”

“I’ll do anything you want me to, darlin’,” Jesse said, letting his drawl come out full force. He loved the way Alex’s body just opened right up for his finger at that, loved the way Alex groaned and gripped him tight. “You like my accent?”

“Damn straight,” Alex gasped out. “Sexiest fucking accent in the world.”

“I’m kind of partial to yours, sweetheart,” Jesse admitted, then smirked when he crooked his finger and Alex’s body went taut, crying out loudly. “Especially when you’re calling out my name like this.”

“Don’t worry, plenty more where that came from,” Alex assured him. “Just do that again.”

“Later,” Jesse promised, pulling out and pressing in with two. He was silent, now, focused on stretching Alex out, feeling him tight on his fingers, clenching around them as though he couldn’t get enough, wanted to keep Jesse inside him. The thought of what that clinging heat would feel like around his cock had him quickening his pace, and two fingers became three after he added a bit more lube. When he spoke, his voice was strained with need. “You ready for me, now?”

“Always,” Alex said, and Jesse let out a sigh of relief. He pulled his fingers away carefully, tearing open the condom packed and sliding it on. He didn’t dare to let his hand linger, just handled himself long enough to slick himself with leftover slick from his hand, then guided himself to Alex’s entrance.

“Hands on me, now, Alex. Want to feel you holding on to me while I slide inside.”

“Fucking finally,” Alex breathed, prying his fingers loose and wrapping his arms around Jesse’s neck. Then Jesse pushed in, and it was a long, slow slide inside burning, tight heat that had them both groaning and panting. He rested his forehead against Alex’s when he was all the way inside, body tense as he fought back the release he felt snapping far too close to his heels. Alex’s hands were restless, moving over his back, smoothing across his shoulders, digging nails into his skin as he finally urged Jesse on with actions and words, hips jerking slightly. “Move, Jess, fucking now.”

“Your wish, my command,” Jesse grunted, and moved. It was an endless cycle of in and out, of Alex’s harsh breath against his ears, his lips. He became lost in the way Alex’s eyes slowly turned blind with pleasure, face flushed and strands of damp, dark hair sticking to his forehead and his cheeks. All he could feel was Alex, around him, against him, urging him on with breathless cries of more, Jesse, harder, please, need you.

They came like that, just Jesse inside Alex, Alex’s neglected cock rubbing against their stomachs. Hearing Alex crying out his name, whispering I love you, I love you, fuck I love you so fucking much in his ear and feeling him clench tight around Jesse’s cock pulled him over. He was pretty much gone, just lost in the sting of sweat against the marks Alex’s nails left on his back and the violent rush of his own orgasm. When his vision cleared, he had fallen down completely on top of Alex, breaths uneven and ragged as Alex ran shaking fingers through his hair.

“I love you,” Alex said again, quietly, and Jesse forced himself up on jelly elbows and cupped his face in his hands, kissing him slow and deep and easy, now that they were spent.

“I love you, too,” Jesse said, finally. Alex smiled crookedly, brushing his fingers over Jesse’s lips before he coughed, looking thoroughly embarrassed.

“Now that that’s, uh, settled, can we please forego further mushy emotional declarations of bullshit? Because seriously, this is getting awkward for me.” Jesse just started laughing because oh yeah, he really did love Alex. “No, really, I’d rather talk about your sudden transformation into some kind of stud. You’ve been holding out on me, man.”

“Alex,” Jesse said, fondly. “Shut up.” Then he kissed him. You know, to make doubly sure.

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