Fandom: Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games Series - All Media Types
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Post-Canon
Jake doesn’t remember a lot about the hospital in Two, but right now he wishes he remembered a little less.
Or that there was any chance whatsoever that he was delusional right now.
But no, he apparently used up his entire lifetime’s worth of luck not getting killed in the cave-in, because the doctor who comes into the room is definitely the same doctor he tried to flirt with in Two, and he’s definitely at least as hot as Jake remembered, and there is definitely no way to look cool to someone who’s here to examine the scarred mess of what’s left of his leg.
It’s been more than a year since Jake left Two with a prosthetic that’s way better than anything he’d seen before, and with it on, Jake’s just another guy with a slight limp. Not like that’s uncommon in steelworkers, even if there hadn’t been a war. He can still work, does still work, doesn’t take anything stronger than aspirin and isn’t about to complain about the way the foot he doesn’t even have itches like a muttfucker sometimes. He’s fine, normally.
But sitting on a cold metal table in his boxers with about 1.3 legs on full view to the world is not exactly making him feel confident.
The doctor’s looking at a folder as he’s coming in, closes it as he closes the door, and looks over at Jake without any kind of recognition. Well, that’s something at least.
“Jacob?” he asks, extending his hand to shake. “I’m Dr. Alec, good to meet you.”
“Jake,” it comes out automatically, force of habit. And then just because apparently he wants his legs to match, he swallows his foot even further. “We met before. In, uh, the hospital in Two.”
Alec’s eyebrows pull together in concentration, and he opens the file again. Twin vertical lines run up between his eyes, and Jake is not, no really, not going to think about smoothing them out with his thumb. For fuck’s sake.
Alec flips through a few pages and looks back up with a little self-deprecating smile. “Sorry,” he says. “I saw so many people I can’t really keep them straight.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” Jake says, trying not to sound too relieved. “Wasn’t exactly at my best anyway.”
“I’m a doctor,” Alec says, shrugging. “I don’t usually see people at their best.” Now he glances down at Jake’s leg, over at the prosthetic leaned against the table. “Any problems I should know about?” he asks, looking back up at Jake.
“Nah, it’s fine,” Jake says.
Alec’s look gets sharper. “May I?” he asks, moving closer. Jake shrugs, tries not to wonder what Alec is thinking as his hands move to Jake’s left leg. His thumb finds the calluses where something always manages to rub wrong, and he frowns. “Looks like you need a fit adjustment,” he says, and Jake winces.
“How much is that gonna run me?” Jake asks, skeptical. “‘Cause it’s really fine, I get around no problem these days.”
Alec shakes his head. “It won’t cost you anything,” he says, his voice sharp. “This comes out of reparations funds.”
“Jake,” Alec says, and fixes Jake with a better Concerned Look than Jake’s mom has managed since he was sixteen.
It doesn’t help that Alec’s warm brown eyes are tired, his hair mussed like he’s run his hands through it once too often, long like he hasn’t had time to get it cut, and damn it all, Jake has a serious problem. “It’s really not that bad, I’m sure there’s people who need it more.”
Alec shakes his head. “Wait here, I’m gonna make a mold of your leg so we can get a new socket made.”
When Jake tries to protest Alec just looks at him, one eyebrow raised, then turns and walks out the door.
All in all, it might have been better to just fucking die in the war, rather than keeling over now from sheer embarrassment.
The worst thing about it is, this means more appointments. More chances to make an absolute fool of himself. And in case that wasn’t bad enough, when he goes back a week later to test out the new socket, the nurse checking him in winks at him. Winks, and grins, and once she’s done taking his blood pressure she says, “He’s single, you know.”
Jake bites down on his tongue to keep from sounding like a dog whose tail just got stepped on. “What?” he manages. “It’s not—“
She gives him a mischievous smile. “Uh huh,” she says. “‘Course it’s not. I’m just saying, it’d do him good to get out a little more often.”
Yep, definitely should’ve died in Two.
Alec—Doctor Alec, he’s Jake’s doctor not his buddy—comes in a little later carrying a molded socket that to Jake’s eye is exactly the same as the old one. “How’re you doing?” Alec asks, setting the thing down and looking Jake up and down.
“Just fine,” Jake says quickly.
Too quickly, apparently, because Alec’s look gets sharper. He glances down at Jake’s good leg. “You had some injuries to your other leg,” he says, “have those been causing problems?”
Define problems, Jake thinks. “Nah,” he says, “Just gets sore if I’m on my feet all day.”
“What’s keeping you on your feet?” Alec asks.
“I work at one of the hovercraft plants,” Jake says. And there’s nothing wrong with that except half of Six works at one of those plants and half of them only manage to hold down a job because screwing together the same two components over and over is easy enough they can do it drunk or high or hungover. And Jake’s not gonna turn into his dad, looking down on anybody with less money or education or prestige, but it grates. “I used to work at the smelters,” he says. “Foreman.” It sounds grasping and half desperate and what does he care what the stupid doctor thinks of him, but… “I had to stick around here when I moved back, hospital in Warren doesn’t know how to handle…” he waves a hand down at the lower half of his body, shrugs. Too many doctors, too much time in and out for falls and adjustments even the doctors here in the city had trouble making, too much time on his mom’s couch before he managed to get a job, all while Sara hared all over Panem just like always.
His jaw tightens and he looks away. “Anyway,” he says, “I’m on my feet most of my shift, ‘till I put enough time in to apply for supervisor.”
He sees the doctor nod out of the corner of his eye. “That must be tiring,” he says mildly.
Jake shrugs. “I got used to it.”
He glances up at Alec, steeling himself to see pity in the doctor’s face, but Alec’s smiling, faint and crooked, looking at Jake like—well. Like he’s more than just a broken machine to fix. He looks away when Jake looks up, picks up the new socket and starts unscrewing the old one. “This should help,” he says, his eyes on what he’s doing.
When Jake pulls the thing on again he can’t help the sharp, surprised inhale. He feels so much more stable, his leg doesn’t slip in the socket, his hips don’t twist when he walks, don’t knock his back out of kilter or shoot pain down his good leg.
Alec looks pleased. “Better?” he asks.
“How’d you do that?” Jake asks. “Doctors here said that was as good as they could do.”
Alec looks uncomfortable, glances away before answering. “I worked with quarriers before the war,” he says. “Had some experience with amputations even then.”
Jake shakes his head. “Damn,” he says, pacing the length of the room, even the embarrassment mostly forgotten.
“Come over here, let me double check the fit,” Alec says, still with that small pleased smile, and Jake does. He’s really not prepared for Alec to drop to his knees and run a finger along the top of the socket—around Jake’s thigh. Jake practically holds his breath until Alec stands up and nods. “Looks good,” he says. “Come back in another week and we’ll see how it’s settling in.”
Jake nods, clears his throat. “Sure,” he says. “Sounds good.”
He walks back to his apartment, enjoying the unexpected ease of it, even climbs the stairs without stopping to lean against the wall halfway up. The embarrassment is worth it for this.
Well, maybe, because when he opens the door, Sara is sprawled on the secondhand couch and Jake’s roommate is nowhere to be seen.
She’s also drinking one of his beers, and grinning at him. “Hi,” she says, cheerful.
He glares at her while he walks to the fridge, but there’s a fresh 6-pack in there so he really can’t be mad. He pops the top off of one and goes back to sit. Sara cocks her head to one side and looks at him.
“You’re in a good mood,” she says. “Where’ve you been?”
Jake shrugs. “Doctor,” he says. “Got my leg re-fitted, feels better.”
Sara nods, studying him. “Okay,” she says. “But that’s not your ‘hey my life sucks marginally less’ face, that’s your goofy happy face.”
She’s impossible. Jake tries to glare, but dammit, it is his happy face, and he can’t even manage brotherly annoyance properly.
She studies him for a minute. “So, were they hot?”
Sara bursts out laughing. “The doctor, or nurse, or whoever you’ve got a crush on, what do they look like? You finally gonna make mom quit whining and bring home a pretty girl?”
“How do you know I have a crush on anyone?” Jake protests, but Sara just gives him a flat look. He sighs, pulls a hand down his face, drinks some of his beer. “Fine,” he says, “It’s a doctor, and he’s a guy so no, Mom’s dreams of grandchildren aren’t in any danger of coming true.”
Sara grins, settles in. “Spill,” she orders. “Name? What’s he look like?”
Jake considers keeping the whole story to himself, but the look on her face is probably gonna be worth giving Sara the ammunition. “His name’s Alec, he’s from Two, and I actually met him in the hospital there, and since at that point I was high on painkillers and not entirely sure I wasn’t dead, I flirted with him.”
Yep. Worth it. Sara’s wide-eyed and grinning, and Jake goes on. “He, thankfully, was oblivious then and doesn’t remember now, so I’m only the regular amount of embarrassed at having a hot guy feeling around my bare leg-and-a-half.”
“Oh, so he is hot,” Sara says, smacking him halfheartedly for, he assumes, the rest of it. “So why don’t you ask him out?”
“He’s my doctor,” Jake says. “There’s probably rules about it or something.”
Sara shrugs. “Yeah but you’ve got your new leg, he’s not gonna be your doctor forever, right?”
“I hate you,” Jake says, unconvincingly.
“You’re just scared,” Sara says, offhand. Then she goes serious. “Wait, you are scared, aren’t you?”
Jake liked it better when she was making fun of him. Sara sincere is rare enough to be vaguely terrifying. “He’s way out of my league,” Jake says.
“Bullshit,” Sara snorts. “You don’t think anyone’s out of your league.”
“Yeah, but that was before,” Jake says.
She smacks him again, harder this time. “You’re still the same asshole you always were,” Sara says.
“Don’t give me that shit,” Jake snaps. “I’ve got a crap job and a missing leg and no money.”
She glares at him. “And anyone who gives a fuck is a jackass, and I’ll punch them for you.”
“Right, because having my little sister beat people up for me is definitely going to restore my self-confidence,” Jake snorts.
She smacks him again, and okay didn’t she say she would beat up other people? “You should ask him out,” she says, brushing right past all of that. “I bet he’d say yes.” She pauses, a slow smile spreading across her face, and oh shit. “Hey, yeah. I’ll bet you twenty bucks he says yes.” She looks at him. “Now you can’t lose. Either you get a date with a hot guy, or you get 20 bucks. Win-win.”
“I hate you,” Jake says again, and it’s only a little more convincing than the first time. “I’m not asking him out in between talking about adjusting my stupid leg.”
“So meet him after work,” Sara says.
“I don’t know when he gets off!”
“So ask someone, I bet they’ll tell you.”
Jake closes his mouth, thinks about that damn nurse. She’d tell him.
“Ha!” Sara says, “See? You totally want to.”
Jake lets his head fall back against the couch, studies the water stain on the ceiling. “Don’t you have somewhere to be,” he gripes, looking over.
Sara goes shifty-eyed for a minute. “I got back on inter-district,” she says, takes a drink. “That’s what I was gonna tell you, I’m leaving tomorrow.”
“So you’re done playing knight in shining armor?” It’s not really fair, but she’s been needling him since he got in, so Jake figures he’s got a right.
Sara shrugs, her face falling, and Jake feels like an asshole. “Yeah, well, the girls are settling in with some family in Two, apparently, so I don’t need to hang around here anymore.”
“That girl better be grateful,” Jake says, trying to keep the resentment out of his voice. But it’s true. Sara’s been running herself ragged trying to track down a couple kids in the whole mess of a district, while nobody else bothered to try.
“She is,” Sara says, quick. “She’d do it if she could, she’s just…”
“Hey,” Jake says, “C’mere.”
Sara scoots over and ducks under his arm. He feels her sigh. “You saw the fucking hearings,” Sara says in a low voice. “She’s—I don’t know, she’s hurting.”
Jake doesn’t know what to say. He tried not to watch the hearings, mostly, he was still in the hospital for a lot of it, but he knows what she’s talking about. He wishes he didn’t. Wishes he didn’t have to connect all of…that… to the scrawny little girl running around with his kid sister that’s still his first impression when he thinks of Rokia.
“Well hey,” he says finally, “You helped her out a lot, okay? You’ve done what you could.”
Sara takes a deep breath and pushes away. “Yeah,” she says. She looks around. “You got a TV in this place? Put something on, we’ll get some food later.”
Jake gets the same nurse the next time he goes in. Between that and the fact that Sara will destroy him if he doesn’t do anything, he figures he may as well give it a shot. “So,” he asks, when she’s finishing up, “D’you know when the doc gets off?”
She grins, then shakes her head. “I know when he’s supposed to get off, but that won’t tell you much.”
Jake sighs, while the woman looks—scheming. “You know…” she starts, then pauses, cocking her head to one side. “Stop by the front desk on your way out, we’ll figure something out.”
Alec comes in a few minutes later and smiles when he sees Jake. He’s just trying to be friendly, probably, and Jake definitely should not let it make him feel warm and pleased.
“How’s the new socket working out?” Alec asks, coming over.
“Good,” Jake says. “It’s, uh, it’s good.”
Smooth, Jake, that’s great.
Alec nods absently, asks Jake to stand, watches him walk across the room, checks everything, and tells Jake it looks good.
Then he hesitates. “I… guess I don't need to see you again unless it starts bothering you.” He sounds hesitant, where usually he's quiet but confident.
Jake refuses to take that to mean anything. It doesn't. He’s delusional.
“Well thanks, doc,” he says, stretching a hand out.
Alec shakes his hand and smiles a little. “My pleasure,” he says, then looks away and hurries out.
Jake waits a minute before he leaves, and he almost walks out the door without worrying about the busybody nurse, but she stops him.
“Come by tomorrow evening,” she says, grinning way too much. “Around eight. We're getting some compression socks, you could use one, and we’ll…arrange something.”
Jake looks at her. “Seriously.”
She just keeps grinning at him. “See you tomorrow,” she says, and walks back toward the exam rooms.
There's still beer in his fridge, thanks to Sara. He pops the top off of one and flops on the couch. This is ridiculous, all of it. He's acting like an idiot.
When Jake gets off the next day, he stops at the bar with some guys for work. They're decent guys, but usually at the end of the day all Jake wants to do is go home, ice whatever parts of his body are hurting most, and lie down. Today though, if he's at the house by himself for three hours he's going to lose his fucking mind. So he has a couple beers with the guys from work, and goes home when there's only enough time to shower and change—once—before heading for the hospital.
Jake fought for weeks in District Two, running straight at giant fucking artillery, and he wasn't as scared then as he is now—at least, not after the first couple times. A different kind of scared, at least. Sure, he could've died, and almost did, but at least he wasn't going to embarrass himself. This is excruciating.
It doesn't help when the nurse at the desk—a different one from yesterday even—grins and waves him over.
“You must be Jake,” she says.
Jake glares, but she's impervious. “Wait here, I'll go get your things.”
Jake stands at the desk, even though both of his legs are reminding him why he tries to ice them after work. He's too nervous to sit.
He's still standing there when Alec comes out. He comes up to the desk looking preoccupied, and only after he sees that the nurse is gone does he look over and see Jake.
“She just went to get something,” Jake says. “Compression socks, I think?”
Alec nods, looking blank, like his train of thought just got completely derailed. “Sure,” he says finally.
They stand there quietly for a minute, and Jake wonders just how the woman is spying on them so she knows to stay in hiding. There's no way just picking up some supplies should take this long. Finally Jake runs a hand through his hair and looks back over at Alec.
“So, d’you ever get a night off?” He asks.
Alec smiles ruefully. “No, not really.”
“That's too bad…” Jake says, takes a deep breath, and fuck. “I was… thinking we could go out for drinks or something.”
“Yeah…” Alec starts, preoccupied, while Jake wonders if maybe he could just fall through the floor now. Then Alec stops, looks at Jake. “Wait. You… are you asking me out?”
He looks about as panicked as Jake feels, so Jake doesn't tease. “Uh. Yeah, actually.” He can't quite look at Alec while he says it. The guy's way out of his league, he's a doctor for fucks sake, not to mention hot as shit, and Jake is a one legged factory worker. He's an idiot.
“That… I'd… uh, sure?” Alec says.
Jake can tell he's grinning like an idiot, but he really can't help it. “Great,” he says, “when should I stop by?”
Alec gets a funny look on his face. “I…now?” He asks. “I was going to tell Delores that I was staying to catch up on paperwork but honestly she'd probably punt me out the door if she were here, so…”
“What would I do?” the nurse asks, breezing in with a paper bag in one hand and a clipboard in the other.
“Nothing,” Alec says quickly. “I'm just leaving.”
She looks between the two of them, so obviously pleased with herself that Jake has to swallow a laugh. “Great,” she says. “You're not scheduled until 8 tomorrow, I don't want to see you early.”
Alec looks a little sheepish, but he nods. The nurse hands Jake the bag with a conspiratorial smirk. “Here's your compression socks,” she says. “Hope they'll help.”
“Thanks,” Jake says, struggling to keep his voice even.
He glances over at Alec and they walk out together.
Alec glances over once they’re out on the sidewalk. “I don’t really know what’s around,” he says, apologetically.
Jake hadn’t thought this far, really, he’d expected to get brushed off, or if he was lucky maybe they’d go out in a few days. “Right now” hadn’t been part of the plan. And there’s not much around the hospital anymore. He folds the bag and slips it into his pocket while he thinks.
“There’s a place over in my neighborhood,” he offers. “It’s not too far.”
Alec nods. “Sure,” he says, “I’m not picky.”
They’re quiet, while they walk. And then they get to the spot, and Jake questions whether this was such a good idea after all. Alec’s from Two, and a doctor, and this is a little corner bar where folks like Jake come after work for a drink and maybe something fried to eat.
But it’s too late to think of something else, so Jake pushes the door open and heads in. It’s not a bad place, really, just a little dim, the wood bar and tables are scarred and worn but they’re clean. Nobody’s dressed nice but nobody’s breaking bottles or getting in fights, and in the corner booth Jake picks they’re shielded from the rest of the room.
Jake sits facing the wall, just in case someone comes in who would recognize him, lets Alec look around the room before saying anything.
“Nothing fancy, but it’s alright,” Jake says, shrugging.
“It’s fine,” Alec says, looking at Jake. He runs a hand through his hair and sits back with a long sigh. “Definitely better than another night at the hospital cafeteria.”
A waitress comes over, not someone Jake recognizes, and he orders a beer, then raises an eyebrow toward Alec. “What he’s having,” Alec says, smiling politely. “Thanks.”
Once she’s left, Alec glances back at Jake. “Do they have food?” he asks. “Sorry, I just realized I haven’t eaten since—well, a while.”
“Oh sure,” Jake says. “Burgers and stuff mostly, but it’s not bad. Come to think of it, I should eat something myself.”
Alec nods, and when the waitress brings their beers Jake orders them burgers and fries.
And now there’s nothing more to keep them busy, so Jake takes a swig of his beer and tries not to fidget.
“How long’ve you been in Six?” he asks.
It seems like an innocuous question but Alec glances sideways for a second before he answers. “A few months,” he says. “I wanted to get out of Two for a bit.”
Jake’s eyebrows go up at that—he can’t help it. “You wanted to come here?”
Alec smiles. “It’s not so bad,” he says, taking a drink.
“I mean,” Jake starts. “I like it well enough, but Two’s…nice. Solid.”
Alec snorts. “It is solid.”
“I didn’t exactly see the best of it, mind you,” Jake says, “But hell, I’d’ve moved there if I had the chance.”
“I do miss the mountains,” Alec allows. “The fresh air.”
“You mean you don’t like breathing smog all the time?”
“Oh, well, mostly I breathe disinfectant,” Alec says, and now he’s starting to smile. “As I’m sure the nurses have told you.”
Jake holds up his hands. “Hey, man, they’re damn persuasive,” he says. “But that just…sped up the timetable. Or something.”
Alec’s actually smiling now, until he takes a drink to hide it.
“Actually,” Jake says, “My sister’s at least as much to blame.”
“Yeah?” Alec raises an eyebrow.
“Yeah, she’d kick my ass if she came back and I still hadn’t asked you.”
“She’s on the trains,” Jake says. “Comes back every couple weeks.”
Their food comes then, and then Alec asks about the trains, and Jake tells him about the lines and relays what Sara’s said about the reconstruction and the new coal mines since the old ones in Twelve are still burning.
And by the time they’ve finished their food, and another beer, really Jake should call it a night and go home, but… he’s enjoying himself, and yes okay Sara his life is sad because yes it’s been a while.
“So,” he says, spinning the empty bottle between his hands. “My place isn’t far, if you wanted to come watch a movie or something?”
Alec studies him, and maybe Jake’s had too much to drink or maybe Alec has or maybe one or both of them is just crazy, but Alec’s eyes go dark when he says, “Or something?”
Jake swallows, shrugs one shoulder. “I mean…”
Alec smiles. “Sure,” he says, sliding out and standing up. “Sounds good.”
Alec tries to pass Jake some cash on their way to the register, but Jake shakes his head. “I got it, I invited you.”
Alec looks at him, then puts his wallet away. “Alright,” he says. “I’ll get the next one.”
Jake knows he freezes for a second at the casual assumption that there will be a next time. “Sure,” he says, and it comes out a little high pitched despite his best efforts. He can’t quite look at Alec.
They climb the stairs to Jake’s apartment, slowly. Jake’s frustrated and a little out of breath by the time they get to the top, but Alec just follows until Jake’s got the door unlocked and open. Jake tosses his keys in the basket by the door and goes to the couch.
Usually then next thing he’d do would be take his leg off, along with his shoes, but once he’s got the right shoe off he hesitates. Alec’s sitting back, watching, and when Jake glances over Alec looks right back.
“It’s not gonna bother me,” he says, like he knows what Jake’s thinking. “It’d take a lot more than that.”
That’s…probably true, given his job, Jake thinks, so he pushes up his pant leg and takes the thing off, and the sock under it, and he sighs.
He digs out the remote and hands it to Alec. “I don’t know what you like,” he says.
Alec smiles, one eyebrow going up. But he takes the remote, finds some old Capitol-made adventure movie, the kind where the plot’s so stupid there’s no point taking it off the air for being regressive.
Then Alec sits back, slips an arm around Jake’s shoulders, and pulls him close. Oh. Well. Okay.
They stay that way for a bit, shoulders together, Jake turned so he’s half leaning against Alec, his better leg stretched the length of the couch. Jake can’t pretend to follow what’s happening on the screen, not when he’s busy noticing that for a skinny-looking doctor who doesn’t get out enough, Alec is strong. And he smells like soap, and hospital disinfectant, and his fingers are tracing patterns on Jake’s shoulder, soft and soothing and oh so distracting.
And then Alec shifts a little, and Jake turns, and Alec kisses him, one arm around Jake’s back, one hand reaching to his jaw, the back of his head, and holy shit, Jake was so not prepared for this.
Alec can tell, of course he can. When they pull away, Alec’s smiling a little, knowing and mischievous and pleased with himself, and he pushes Jake back until he’s lying on the couch, watching Alec climb up to kiss him again.
It’s so good Jake actually just about falls over when he tries to stand up and the leg that isn’t there gives out on him. He catches himself on Alec’s shoulder and sits back down, momentarily flummoxed.
Alec chuckles a little, low and warm, and Jake has to laugh too. Then Alec stands up, reaches out a hand and helps Jake up. He glances around. “Do you have a chair or something?”
Jake shakes his head, and Alec laughs. “Guess you’re as bad as Twos for stubbornness,” he says. “Come on.”
Jake steadies himself against Alec’s shoulder and points the way to the bedroom. It should be embarrassing, and it’s definitely ridiculous; they’re both naked, a little sticky, and Jake’s hopping along on one leg. He laughs, when he gets to the bed and flops down onto it. Alec smiles down at him and Jake is just way too pleased for embarrassment.
“Wait here,” he says, disappears and returns a little later with Jake’s leg and their clothes.
It’s even better in an actual bed, where Jake isn’t worried Alec’s going to topple off onto the floor, where they can shift and grapple a little and flip each other over, until they’re both worn out and happy and Jake’s grinning so wide he’s afraid he’ll hurt himself.
He doesn’t even remember falling asleep.
Alec wakes up first, but as soon as he gets up, Jake opens his eyes and yawns, watching Alec amble toward the bathroom. Jake takes the time to get his leg on, pull on a pair of boxers, before following.
Alec waylays him for a minute on his way in, but that’s okay.
Jake takes his time, splashes water on his face, and by the time he comes out, he can hear Alec in the kitchen.
Alec’s got the coffeemaker going, and is scowling at the fridge like it offended him. Jake can’t exactly sneak around, so he’s not surprised when Alec looks up as he’s getting to the doorway.
“Hey,” Jake says.
“Good morning,” Alec replies. “You realize there’s nothing in your fridge but eggs, mustard, and beer?”
Jake rubs the back of his neck. “I, uh… don’t cook much,” he says. He moves past to one of the cupboards. “There’s bread, too.”
Alec gives him a long-suffering look. “Well, that’ll do for breakfast,” he says. And then, just when Jake’s about to worry he’s actually mad or something, he smiles.
“You’re worse than my sister,” Jake grouses, putting bread in the toaster.
Alec comes over, tilts Jake’s chin up and kisses him long enough Jake forgets what he’s doing and jumps when the toast pops up. Then Alec raises an eyebrow and goes back to pull out the eggs.
It’s not an efficient way to make breakfast, but it sure is nice. Jake watches Alec breathe in the steam from his coffee cup, eyes closed, face relaxed, and oh no, he is in serious trouble.
And maybe he really is delusional, but when Alec opens his eyes and looks over, Jake thinks Alec might be thinking the same thing. Something like it anyway.
And then Jake’s alarm goes off, loud and sudden, and he swears, gets up, goes to turn it off and glare at it.
While he’s in the bedroom he grabs some clothes from the pile he really would have picked up off the floor if he had been planning to have someone over, pulls them on and goes back out.
“I gotta get to work,” he says, reluctantly. Alec nods, then looks around.
“What time is it?” he asks.
“Eight,” Jake says.
Alec’s eyes go wide. “Shit,” he says, getting up. “I’m late.”
And it’s like a spell’s broken. Jake collects the dishes and drops them in the sink, makes sure the coffeemaker’s off, and lets Alec out. Alec pauses in the doorway, kisses Jake once, hard, and says “Can I stop by after work?” He glances down the hall. “To… we should probably… talk.”
Oh, that’s not terrifying at all. But… “Sure,” Jake says. “That’d be…good?”
Alec nods, and hurries off.
Jake collects his things, checks himself over to make sure he’s not forgetting anything important, like his pants, and heads for work.
Today at least, it’s a good thing that Jake’s job could be done while drunk, hungover, or high, because his mind is on other things—and that’s putting it mildly. He stops for groceries and then goes straight home, even though he’s pretty sure Alec works late and won’t come by for a while. And since he has probably way too much time on his hands, he might as well try to cook something.
Luckily it’s difficult to fuck up beans and rice too badly, and when you add tomatoes and greens and chili powder it’s actually not bad. Certainly good enough for Jake, and hopefully Alec isn’t too picky. Jake’s just opened a beer and is wondering at what point he should stop hovering around waiting when there’s a knock on the door.
If it’s just someone wanting to sell him shit, they’re going to really wish they’d picked a different door.
But it’s not, it’s Alec, looking shifty-eyed and a little out of breath like he rushed over here. “Hi,” he says, once Jake’s got the door open.
“Hi, uh, come in.” Jake moves out of the way and Alec comes in, but only enough to not be standing awkwardly in the doorway. He’s still standing awkwardly, but he’s at least in the living room. “Are you hungry?” Jake asks, walking past toward the kitchen and trying to be calm. “I was about to eat, there’s plenty.”
Alec comes over, slowly. “I don’t—I mean, sure? I wasn’t expecting you to make anything.”
Jake shrugs. “It’s just beans and rice.” He pulls down two bowls, fills them up and slides them onto the table. “Beer?”
Alec nods, so Jake pulls one out, hands it to Alec, then sits down. That gets Alec to sit, thankfully.
“Look,” Jake says, “about last night…”
Alec sighs. “I’m sorry,” he says.
Jake freezes. “Sure, yeah,” he tries. “It’s fine, you don’t have to…I’m not exactly…you know.” He shrugs. “You don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.” He’s talking too much. He should shut up.
Alec wets his lips, glances down at his bowl. “No, it’s not—“ He looks up at Jake, takes a deep breath. “I want to stick around. A lot. But—“ He sighs, glances away, while Jake tries to shift gears from panic-babble to…something else? Maybe? “I didn’t mean to push, I know it was just…”
“You didn’t push?” Jake can’t figure out where this is going. “I mean, I wasn’t expecting…anything…but it was good? Um. Really good.”
Alec looks back over and smiles a little. “I just move too fast,” he says. “I’m…really not good at casual, and I don’t want to mislead you.”
It sounds rehearsed. Jake wonders about that. “I don’t mind,” he blurts out.
Alec raises an eyebrow.
“I mean— I’m not— I don’t want just casual.” Jake swallows, because how fucking arrogant does that sound, especially coming from a guy like him to a guy like Alec. “I mean, if you want…more than that? I guess… I do too?”
Alec stares straight at Jake, and fuck but he should not be allowed to use those big warm sad eyes for nefarious purposes like this. It’s just unfair.
Alec doesn’t say anything, just stands up, comes around the table, pulls Jake up to stand. They’re almost the same height—Alec’s a little taller but not so much Jake has to crane his neck or anything. And his eyes are still big and warm but they’re a little less sad when he says “Are you sure?” in a low purr.
“Yes,” Jake whispers, afraid to break eye contact for fear of shattering whatever’s happening right now.
And then Alec pulls Jake’s head forward and kisses him, and moment shattered.
By the time they remember about dinner, everything has to be re-heated. Jake doesn’t care at all.