(TSN RPS) i'll just be here, you know, hanging out on team asexual!jesse
it doesn't hurt because it doesn't know how
He's always had a problem with the wanting part out of life; girls are nice, and so are boys, but mostly they alarm him and weird him out and he has a hard time not having little panic attacks on a daily basis at things like flirting and hugging and people slipping him numbers on scraps of paper. But then Andrew comes along, and he's really nice.
"Hiya," he says, all blinding teeth and poufty hair. "I'm Andrew, Andrew Garfield. It's lovely to meet you."
From then on Andrew laughs in all the places Jesse means for him to laugh, smiles through Jesse's silences when Jesse doesn't know what to say. And he doesn't just not mind it that Jesse is a freak of a human being who doesn't know how to start or end or carry conversations, or that he sometimes holds eye contact too long, or sometimes doesn't hold it at all. He likes it.
Jesse doesn't really know what to do with that, at first. Maybe it's partly been because he's never really had someone like him before. Sure he's had friends, and they'd got along and they'd had good times. But from school to university to real life, he'd made friends and then lost them. Because they went away, because they moved on, because they forgot one another in the excitement of other things.
Andrew looks at him like he wants to stay around forever. Andrew touches him: hugs when he sees him, grazes on the back and the elbow and the wrist when they walk, whole body presses along his side, just because. And that makes Jesse smile in uncontrollable ways that hurt his face and his chest, like Andrew is some sort of kite pulling wildly at the corners of his mouth and the fullness of his breath.
He can put no name to it when he thinks of it, only that he is glad when Andrew’s around, gladder when Andrew’s with him, gladdest of all when Andrew touches him like he’s part of him, no formality or pretence to it, just fingers pressing here and there, like a hand holding itself. Andrew makes him funny because Jesse wants Andrew to laugh; Andrew makes him generous and witty and unafraid, because Jesse wants to give things to him, show things to him, be things to him.
And for a while he can. For four glorious weeks in Boston, they live out of each other's pockets. They breathe each other's air and wake to each other's breakfasting noises in the morning, fall asleep to each other's conversation at night. They go places together and steal from each other's laundry. There is nothing to do in Boston but work and live and be.
It is only after that that Jesse knows what it was, and what had passed. He can put a name to it now that it is gone and there are other people and other things to see and do and be.
Not that it would have mattered, he suspects, if he’d known what love was when he'd had it so close. It probably would have made it worse.
Jesse has had a simultaneous hunt for and war against self-awareness all his life. It's why he so likes playing other people; it's why he's so good at playing other people who are exactly like himself. There's a hard shard of truth inside himself that he can never hide completely away, but sometimes when things around him shine bright enough (like Andrew and Andrew's smile and Andrew's constant, quiet little touches) they can put that truth into shadow.
If he'd known it was love he would have destroyed it, the same reason you never put the good china at the children's table, because Jesse knows himself to be unequipped to handle things so delicate and fine and rare as love.
So he lets Andrew go back to his girlfriend and he hides himself away, because what claim does Jesse have? Andrew is his friend, his very good friend. He's not going to fight for him, not if victory means dragging him down away from the sun and into his cave of interminable neuroses and inexorable anxiety.
But Andrew always finds him, and when he does, Jesse can't fight the smile that threatens to crack his lips or the jokes that line up at his tongue and wait for Andrew's laugh. So he loses himself again, this time in full knowledge of what this is. He can let himself be greedy, just this once. Andrew doesn't seem to mind. He seems not to mind at all when Jesse crosses a room just to press their sides together or when he beckons him down to put his lips to his ear; all Jesse has to do is make the suggestion of asking, and Andrew will put an arm around his shoulder or waist, fit them together in perfect ways Jesse can't even imagine.
Andrew must love him too, the cruel optimist in Jesse's mind supplies. Maybe not so much as Jesse loves him, because Jesse is pathetic like that and of course the first time he loves he'd love too much. But he's always saying so, to the press, to their fellow cast members, to anyone who will listen. He's never turned away. He's never chosen someone over Jesse, so long as Jesse was a choice. That has to count for something.
But it's a terrible thing to believe, even a little bit, even after Jesse's churned it and pummelled it and buried it into the reality of his existence. Hope rattles in his heart like a jagged little thing that jumps up and bites every time Andrew reaches for his hand and every time he gives it to him and Andrew doesn't let go. Maybe Andrew does love him, maybe he does. Maybe Jesse is charming enough and interesting enough and normal enough for someone after all. Someone this good and brilliant and happy. Maybe this will work.
But the year ends and the awards end and the eye of the world moves away again and Jesse's never felt cold when it happens, like some people do, just mostly relieved to be out of such a bright light for a while. He's always done better in partial light, like a fickle houseplant refusing to bloom in too much sun. Jesse gets other projects and Andrew gets other projects, because this is what they are. Rovers. Actors. And Jesse loves Andrew no less when Andrew promises to stay in touch, loves him no less when he does, when his letters and texts and emails positively sparkle with charm, when his letters and texts and emails get further apart, less detailed, more perfunctory.
Jesse loves Andrew no less when Andrew interviews about his newest film, talks about his fantastic co-star, talks about the natural love he had to have for him to "make it convincing, because we're supposed to be brothers, you know."
He loves him no less even when he can stomach no more. "Happy Christmas!" is the last letter Jesse can take, because it's clearly not meant for him, just a faint idea of him, someone who Andrew had once cherished and admired and known.
So Jesse works hard, puts himself out for roles that aren't like himself at all. He doesn't think he'll be good at it, but he does it anyway, because sometimes he can't stand himself at all, and the only way his mind will shut up is if he swaps it for someone else's. A year passes fast and it's awards season again and this time he's done good, really good; he's going to win something for sure, not like the scares last time. He sees Andrew across the carpet the same time Andrew sees him.
"Jesse!" Andrew shouts after a gentlemanly request to be excused to his date. He bounds down the aisle at him and Jesse can't fight the grin that tears his lips from his teeth but he can fight an old ache that twists at his chest. Andrew shovels him into his arms and nearly swings him off his feet. Jesse can hear the cameras go wild, clicking like a thousand excited parakeets, but he doesn't care, just laughs to match Andrew's laugh, hands at his shoulders neither pulling nor pushing away.
"Congratulations!" Andrew says, holding out his arm and letting Jesse tuck himself beneath it. It's a familiar action, one that might have set Jesse's little spike of wishful thinking up through his brain just a while ago, but now Jesse makes it so that it's only empty, mostly comfortable. "I know you haven't officially won anything yet, but I saw you in that picture and Jesse," Andrew's are limpid and dark and wide as the night sky, "I cried, Jess. You were so beautiful."
"Now Andrew, is this really the time to be confessing your epic man-love for me? In front of your date?" Jesse quips, easy as breathing and Andrew laughs, head thrown back and ridiculous poufty hair brushing the peak of his collar, just as ridiculous and poufty as Jesse remembers. He doesn't need to fight the urge to touch it. It isn't there.
He does win, and it's not really a shock, but it is slightly historic so despite the fact that Jesse knows maybe fifty people in the room, the entire auditorium gets to their feet and claps for him, thunderous in the acoustics on-stage.
"Wow, um, thank you," he says as he's handed his trophy. It's golden and solid and it warms in his hands when he holds it long enough. "I'd just like to thank my, you know, parents, my agent, my co-stars, um, the producers, the, uh, production people. The editing guys for making me look good; thanks guys, you do eighty per cent of the work for me." There's laughter there, the polite kind that comes after any joke, no matter how bad, when someone says it in this spotlight.
"And I'd like to thank my friends –" and unbidden, his eyes find Andrew's, tiny in the distance but so happy and so proud - prouder than his mother's; wet, like he's been crying. And the feeling comes back, the ache of things he'll never understand and the warmth, a light so bright within him that he nearly goes blind from happiness.
His voice breaks. "My friends, I –" and he looks down. He hasn't anything to say other than: "Thank you."
He exits stage right to more applause, canned music and the sounds of a projection screen being lowered for the next bit. "Good job, good job, congratulations," he receives from people's whose names and faces he recognises but whose intentions he doesn't. It's a problem with being in the movie business, not that there'll ever be any great outpouring of angst for the plastic trickery of tinsel town.
Jesse allows himself to be ushered to an after party even though it's not really his sort of thing. The music is too loud and too heavy and there are way more people there, touching each other, touching him, all hands and happy 'congratulations!' on display. Jesse sees Andrew, threading his way through the crowd in his general direction, and quickly dodges away. "Shots," he calls to the bartender. "Or vodka or whatever will get me drunk, fast."
He manages to drink for half an hour and thank god he's a lightweight because that's when Andrew finds him. "There you are," Andrew exclaims, pulling Jesse into a hug because that's just the way he greets him. "I've been looking for you. I didn't think you liked these things, but someone said you were here."
"I'm not here to stay," Jesse tells him, inches from his ear but Andrew still pulls away and yells, "What?"
Jesse tugs at Andrew's sleeve instructively. "Let’s go outside," he shouts and Andrew probably doesn't hear him but he goes with him, nonetheless.
Jesse isn't too steady on his feet on a day-to-day basis, so when he's blitzed, his stumbling gets a bit comically exaggerated.
"Whoa, careful there." Andrew steadies him easily, props him up against the wall where his head finds cool brick and a steady surface. It's not a quiet evening, by any means. This is Hollywood; if New York is the insomniac of cities, LA is the insomniac on speed.
"Andry- Andrew," Jesse pronounces. Andrew turns to look at him. "I have to tell you something."
"Yeah? What's up?" His expression is very solemn in the half-dark.
"You would be here for me when I'm drunk," he almost says instead. But because he's kind of stupid and kind of drunk and because that somehow makes him kind of brave, Jesse tells him: "I love you, you know that?"
Andrew's arm fits around his shoulder and they're just like how they used to be, and Andrew's smile is brilliant, like it's never seen the dark before, like it's never been buried in the back of Jesse's mind.
"I love you too, Jess," and of course he means it; he wouldn't say it if he didn't mean it, but it doesn't mean the same thing at all because Andrew’s always had other options and other things to love, but Jesse's only ever had this. He can't love everything like Andrew can. He can hardly handle love for just one thing at all.
This is all he has, and it is all he gets. So he smiles for Andrew, because Andrew deserves to see him smile. Then quietly, privately, he cuts the kite strings wrapped like a fist around his heart, and when Andrew walks away this time Jesse doesn't feel his heart tug after him.
It's the string so fine it's nearly invisible that always shreds your hands when pulled too tight.
Andrew promises to keep in touch again, but Jesse doesn't mind. It will be what it will be, however long it wants to be. He's done enough of pinning his feelings on other people. He's had enough of that terrifying guilt. He's finished with feeling a freak about being alone.
His next project comes fast and easy. Everyone wants him now; everyone likes him.
(Andrew's next letter comes with a card, hard-backed and stencilled, asking for an RSVP and a preference for chicken, beef, fish, or vegetarian. Jesse circles chicken and writes back, You two are very lovely, lucky people, and he means it.)
"Hi," he says, holding out his hand. His co-star blinks at him, a bit owlish beneath a sandy fringe and nervous eyelashes. "I'm Jesse Eisenberg. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Now in Russian! translated by vedmo4ka2000