HAIIIIIIIIII! IIIIIII'MMMMMMM BAAAAAACK! FINALLY! I BROUGHT FIC.
Title: Better Together (S/A)
Rating: PG-13. Potty mouths. Mmhm.
Warnings: Schmoop. Oh god, so much schmoop.
Summary: Alex can't write without Jack around...
Disclaimer: Does nawt own. Does nawt want to be having sued. kthxbai
A/N: Soooo. I like, owe my firstborn to mockturtletale . Mmhm. And katelynelaine as well. Because they are just that awesome. This monster of a fic would not have been possible without them. Also, word to the wise, this is insanely long...
Tick …. Tick …. Tick …. Tick ….
Yeah, definitely that.
Squire’s got one set up on the piano he’s sitting at and the only noise to come from it is when Alex decides to repeatedly bang his head against it.
He feels as hollow as the empty pen he’s chewing on and he throws it angrily at the opposite wall. Alex flips off Squire as he quirks an eyebrow at him through the window and he checks his phone. “9 New Messages from JACK”. Alex starts to laugh when he sees the messages are only seconds apart and he figures Jack must be bored sitting at the gate.
Dude next to me smells like cheese. Makes me miss you.
In fact, don’t shower until after we meet up.
I’m getting up.
I’m in line.
I’m boarding now.
Oh wait, there’s a problem with the cheese dude in front of me.
Okay, now I’m boarding.
Now I’m being told to shut off my phone or else I’ll cause imminent death and the plane with crash in a fiery inferno.
I’ll see you in LA. Miss you.
Alex giggles madly to himself, then squeaks and makes a grab for the iced coffee that appears in front of him. He looks up, seeing Matt checking his phone.
“Jack should be here in a little bit.”
Alex only nods and stares as the infernal metronome continues to tick.
He tilts as Matt pushes him aside roughly and sits down next to him on the seat, sipping his coffee. He tries to pull Matt’s beanie over his eyes as the manager grabs the sheets that Alex has been working on. He sees Matt’s eyes drift down the page, and he can’t help a smirk as Matt lifts an eyebrow at seeing the obscene drawings and scratched out lyrics and words. He grins as Matt turns and stares at him for a second.
“So, I’m guessing this your next big hit? Are you going for the goth metal thing now?”
Alex shoves him hard and Matt laughs. Alex shifts until he’s cross-legged and rests his elbows on his knees. He reaches out, knocking over the metronome.
Alex looks up as he hears Squire come in the room and watches him eye the downed metronome. Alex gives him a shrug as he points to it.
“So, let’s have it. What have you got?”
Alex throws his hands dramatically in the air. “NOTHING.”
He bangs his head on the piano again and the keys give off a low resounding bang. Alex hears the shuffle of pages and he looks up, seeing it’s changed hands from Matt to Squire.
“I can see that.”
“I need Jack,” Alex mumbles, head still on the piano.
“But what does Jack have to do with the writing process?”
Alex lifts his head some. “He’s like…my muse or something.”
“But he’s your guitarist. I didn’t think he wrote with you.”
“They always write the albums together,” Matt says softly. Alex only huffs and lets his head fall back to the piano. The other two flinch at the sound.
“I need that fucker here. He’s my inspiration.”
“Seriously? Jack? BARAKAT?” Squire sounds doubtful.
Alex turns his head from the keys and glares. Squire shifts under the gaze and gestures to the sheet.
“He affects your writing?”
“He keeps it light, he makes me make sense,” Alex mutters. He unfolds himself from the seat and grabs his iced coffee before stretching.
“Well, let’s just work on what you have until he gets here, then, okay? Give me a few minutes and I’ll set up the tracks. I also have a few phone calls to make, so can you like, hang tight for a second?”
Alex nods and flops into the overstuffed couch in the corner of the room.
He hears Matt tap his fingers on the keys and then the couch shifts as Matt seats himself next to him.
Alex only stares at the floor, absently playing with his hair. He fidgets, playing with the hem of the beanie and he finally tugs it off. He runs a hand through greasy locks and thinks back to Jack’s text about not showering. He smirks to himself, but it falls quickly when he sees the forgotten sheet of music on the piano.
He grabs his notebook off the floor and retrieves the tossed pen. His chest tightens the minute it hits paper, and he checks his phone for the nine thousandth time today for any sign of Jack being back in the general vicinity. He tries again, pausing to think this time before putting it to paper and he gets the same feeling. He knows if he puts the words he’s thinking in writing, they’d have to start dressing in black and wearing copious amounts of eyeliner. Jack never misses an opportunity to call Alex out on sounding like a 15 year old girl, but he always follows that up by taking his words and making them better, making them say what he means without even having to double check with Alex because he just knows. Jack is like an Alex-to-World translator.
He sighs, throwing his head back onto the arm of the couch.
“I can’t say what I mean without sounding like I tried as hard as I do.”
Alex is starting to get annoyed at the amount of eyebrow lifts Matt’s giving him today.
“And that means what?”
“I can’t write until Jack gets here. It doesn’t seem…I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.”
Alex sees Matt quirk his lips and he feels him poke him in the leg.
“Makes you feel dirty, huh?”
That gets a giggle from Alex and he feels Matt rub his knee.
“He’ll be here before you know it. Just concentrate on what you’re doing for right now, okay? We can’t lose any time with this.”
Alex nods, and he shoves his feet under the cushions where Matt’s sitting. He just needs to think. The more material he has idea-wise, the more Jack will have to make sense of. He shuts his eyes and feels the couch cushions get lighter as Matt gets up. A hand passes through his hair, ruffling gently. Alex watches him from the couch, then finishes his coffee. He aims, throwing it into the trash can and then settles back against the arm of the couch, letting his mind wander freely.
Jack’s always been there for every writing process he’s ever bee through, even back in high school. Stupid papers for History class or English class always came with Jack’s amused smile, sick sense of humor, and snacks. Alex can’t remember a time when he didn’t use Jack as a tall lanky wall of inappropriate and sometimes violent reactions to bounce ideas off. Jack had been there through every break up, every tragedy, every change in his life that caused him to write. And he always found picking his ranted lyrics back up to find them slanted differently, turned around from dark and boding to light and just a little hopeful – mostly the same words, just a lot less of them and the puzzle of his adjectives rotated to fit.
Jack was one of the brightest things in his life. The kid just exuded light and impossibly wide grins and Alex would always have that snapshot in his head of Jack leaning back in the kitchen chair, the sun shining on his face and bouncing off the blond chunks Jack had just dyed into his hair. He can still hear Jack’s giggle and see the way his nose crinkles up when he laughs genuinely. Alex can almost feel the warmth of the sun on his back and the headband around his hair. He can feel his feet brushing against his dog as he writes another line about some past heartbreak, and Jack wrestling the pen from him with a huge shit eating grin as he changes to line to something probably a lot more dirtier.
And Nothing Personal had been mostly Jack’s doing when it came to light, funny twists of phrase and ideas for songs. “Stella” would never have been written if Jack hadn’t brought up that one time he caught a shit-faced Alex singing to his case of Stella Artois.
Hell, half the album was written in the kitchen of NRG Studios with the two of them nursing cups of coffee and reminiscing at 5am, the same scene it had been years before, only they now had facial hair and a record deal.
Alex shakes his head, half-hoping if he shakes the memories right he’ll be able to recapture it now.
He shuts his eyes, only to be yanked off the couch hard by Matt’s calloused fingers.
“C’mon, loser. We’ve got work to do.”
Alex storms into the apartment, nearly knocking over Matt in his wake. “Nothing yet?”
He gestures to Matt’s phone as he looks up and he sees him fumble for the little device.
“Fuck,” Alex mumbles, running a hand through his hair. He checks his phone, seeing a new text and he opens it. It’s from Jack.
Alex looks up, checking the time, and then he starts to run around the apartment, opening the door to Matt’s room. Finding it empty, he opens the door to his room.
He finds Jack curled up on his bed, glasses on and shoes off. Alex stops in the doorway and takes a second to just smile, then excitedly throws himself on the bed beside him.
Alex laughs, narrowly avoiding Jack’s flailing hands as he jerks awake and nearly smacks
Alex in the face.
“POLO!” Alex yells and he giggles as Jack pulls a face and rubs his eyes. Alex fishes his hand out from beneath his glasses and pulls them off. Alex tackles him backward, pushing his face into his neck. He feels the vibrations in his throat as Jack laughs and he tightens his grip on him.
“Fucking finally. Now I can write something good.”
Alex can hear the wind being knocked out of him as Jack re-wraps his arm around his chest and squeezes. He smirks as Jack laughs again and he looks up.
“How was Lebanon?”
“Hot as balls.”
Alex smiles, tangling a leg around one of his longer lanky ones, and he feels Jack roll into him and wrap an arm around his back.
“It was hot, and there was too much Arabic flying around, and too many cousins, and too many pictures, and too many questions, and I really really missed-”
Alex scoffs and smacks him in the chest. He feigns hurt, and puts on his best pout before he sees Jack roll his eyes. “Of course I missed you, dick.”
Alex pulls him back down as he tries to get back up. He climbs to pin him quickly and
Jack gives in. Alex sits back on his haunches.
“How’re the songs going?” Jack asks, cleaning off his glasses with the hem of his shirt.
Alex reaches out, tugging on his shirt sleeve. “Squire’s torturing me.”
He sees Jack smile, and he throws a pillow at him. He lays back onto his own as Jack laughs, leaning back into the pillows. He feels the bed shift as Jack turns to look at him, and Alex can nearly feel the jet lag coming from him.
“He’s making me play piano.”
“Yeah, you and the piano don’t get along very well.”
Alex jumps up, running out the room to the kitchen area. He grabs his bag and drags it into the bedroom. He pulls out a paper airplane and throws it to Jack. He fights a laugh as the guitarist sits up and slowly unfolds it. He loses the fight and laughs as Jack‘s eyes widen at the sheet. “Wow.”
Alex smiles, then flops back onto the bed beside him.
“Next big hit, as Matt says.”
“I think this is gonna be huge,” Jack says. Alex rolls his eyes and watches as Jack gets off the bed. He sits up as Jack goes to his luggage and digs around in his backpack for a second before pulling a small black zip case out. Alex catches it as he throws it to him.
“What’s this?” he asks.
“I brought your memory cards. I had to stop at your house for something and I saw you had left them and I know you were going crazy without them so I-”
Alex cuts him off to throw his arms around his neck and pushes him back to the bed. He plants a sloppy kiss on his cheek and unzips it, seeing all his memory cards stored next to Jack’s.
He feels Jack poke him in the chest. “Yeah, but I erased them all so my games would be so much further than yours.”
Alex gives him his best glare as Jack smiles widely. Alex falls quiet for a few moments, and then wriggles on the bed, getting comfortable.
“Well, I can see you followed my orders about not showering.”
Alex chokes on a giggle, then looks up as a knock sounds on at the door. He sees Matt standing there with a grin on his face.
“So, since you two are reunited and everything, wanna go get some food?”
“Sure thing, Mickey,” Alex quips, and gets off the bed.
“What did I tell you about calling me that?!”
The next few days fly by in a haze of writing, recording demos, and bar hopping. Alex finds himself inseparable from Jack and the demos turn out better than they can imagine. They find that Angels and Kings is their new favorite bar of all time, ever. They meet up with Pete, Gabe, and whoever else just happens to be in the area. It’s not that Alex doesn’t find the whole, “stumbling home pissed drunk night after night” thing enjoyable, because he actually really does; (at the time at least) but the pattern is starting to wear thin. It’s this night he finds himself sprawled on the couch. He’s got Jack on the couch beside him, and Matt passed out on the couch across from him.
Jack’s getting fidgety.
Alex can hear it more than anything else: the constant shifting and sliding and the scrape of his clothing and shoes against the cushions.
“Knock it off, bro.”’
Alex flings a pillow at him and sticks out his tongue at the glare Jack sends him. He hears Jack shift again and turns, smirking as he sees Jack finally end up sprawled across the cushions. He shakes his head and turns back to the TV. He flips through a few channels before settling on Nickelodeon.
He hears Jack groan and sees him sit back up. He watches as his fingers drift to the hem of his blue plaid shirt, absently playing with a loose thread as he stares vacantly at the TV. Alex bites his lip, seeing Jack rub at his eyes under his glasses. He can see he still looks tired and he’s about to open his mouth and speak when Matt lets out a loud snore across from them. Alex’s eyes dart back to Jack, and he sees his eyes are now shut. Alex shrugs, sliding back down further on the couch.
“I miss this show,” he mutters, and he brings an arm up over his head, tangling his fingers in his hair. He hears Jack shift again and watches as he pushes his glasses up his nose, eyes still shut. He clears his throat quietly, and Alex shifts until he’s got him in plain sight.
He watches as the light from the TV shifts across Jack’s features, the blue reflected off the dim amber lights on the end tables. He sees Jack’s glasses covering the dark shadows under his eyes and he begins to wonder if the whole writing process is taking just as much a toll on him as well.
Alex jerks away and stares at the TV as Jack’s eyes open again. He can hear Jack shifting again and Alex turns off the TV. He turns to stare up at the ceiling and a sudden claustrophobia sets in.
The gray walls are beginning to feel like they’re closing in and he can feel the press of the streets below the apartment. He can nearly hear the buzz of the neon sign advertising the all night Chinese place across from their building, and the light is glaringly bright, even through the drawn curtains. Alex hears someone yelling below and he gets up, going to the window. He looks out for a second, and when he turns back, Jack looks to be falling asleep on the couch. Alex sighs, leaning against the window sill.
He hears a jangle of keys and suddenly Matt is bolting upright with a loud snort. Alex tries to hide a smile as he sees Matt looking around the room blearily.
“’Sup, dude? Wake yourself up?”
He meets eyes with the manager as he stares at him, then nods. Alex holds out his hand for Matt and he grabs it. Alex giggles and pulls him off the couch, shoving his phone into his back pocket and smacking his ass he stumbles toward the bedrooms. He giggles as Matt waves at him and mutters something resembling a “good night” and Alex turns back to the couch.
He smiles when he sees Jack seems to be asleep. He goes into his room, grabbing his sneakers, the rental car keys, and his wallet. He pats himself, finding his phone, and he pulls on a hoodie. He heads back out into the living room and he leans forward, tapping on the frame of Jack’s glasses and he steps back as Jack’s eyes flutter open.
Alex grins at him and tugs at his wrists.
He smiles as Jack gives him a confused look and he tugs harder.
“Where are we going?”
“Out. Now, grab your shoes and shit.”
Alex winces before the whine is even out of Jack’s mouth.
“No more bars…”
Alex holds his hand out for him and wiggles his fingers. He smirks as Jack regards him suspiciously.
“Wasn’t planning on it. Now, let’s get out of here.”
He smiles as Jack grabs his hand and lets Alex yank him upwards. He heads into Matt’s room after scribbling a quick note on a post-it and smacks it on Matt’s forehead. He dodges a swat from him and backs out of the room slowly when Matt doesn’t wake. When he comes back in, Jack’s standing ready, pulling his jacket on.
“Then where are we going?”
“Don’t always need a destination, Jack.”
A short boxing match in the elevator later, Alex is pulling out of the parking garage with Jack in the passenger seat.
“Nothing’s even open beside bars,” Jack says yawning and Alex shrugs.
He sticks a CD into the player and feels familiarity wash over him as the strains of blink-182 filter through the car. He glances out at the scores of people on the street, even on this weeknight, and the lights of LA are blinding as they drive down the strip. He glances over at Jack, seeing his window down and his hand out the window, skimming over the cool night air.
Alex hums along to the track.
“So, what’s this all about?” Jack asks.
Alex pauses in his imitation of Tom Delonge when they come to a stop light.
“I don’t know, dude. Just thought a quiet night out would be good for us.”
Alex hears Jack clear his throat and he turns, watching him. He can feel the thrumming of the car beneath his sneakers and it’s working his way up his body, relaxing everywhere he’s been tense. He guesses Jack can feel it too, seeing him shut his eyes and lay his head back against the seat.
The light turns and he sighs, moving forward again.
“I just thought we needed a night out, just us,” he says, turning down the radio. He can see Jack turn to him out of the corner of his eye.
“We had one last week with Benj and Joel.”
“Not just the two of us.”
Alex hears him shift in the seat and he turns, seeing him nodding.
“Hey, you took me car shopping a few months ago.”
Alex chuckles and nods. “Yeah, true, but one: I am never taking you car shopping again, and two: we ended up playing Halo with Dorl.”
Alex looks at him, and Jack turns away.
“So, just you and me, huh?”
Alex nods and he can almost feel Jack’s smile.
“I miss just kinda being able to hang out without a million screaming people, or thirty people on the bus, ya know?”
“Try and tell me you don’t enjoy seeing me dance shirtless on surfaces you eat off”.
Alex giggles. “Oh, baby.”
He hears him start to hum along to the CD as the buildings begin to blur. He speeds up a little and the signs start to become unreadable.
He looks around, and then turns to Jack.
“Hey, you hungry or anything?”
The shrug Jack gives is enough and Alex starts to look around some more.
“Wish there was some kind of Crown Fried Chicken around here,” Alex says, and Jack points out a few places that remotely resemble the East coast franchise. They pull into a small parking lot. A neon sign blinks in the window announcing it’s all night hours and they get out of the car.
Alex grabs Jack’s hand as they walk up to the door.
Alex glances up at the glaringly red menu announcing specials. He takes a second, then walks up to the counter. He smiles at the bored looking employee and she snaps her gum. He places his order, then nods back to Jack. When he doesn’t get a response, he taps him in the chest.
“Nah, I got my own.”
Alex gives him an affectionate look and nods toward the counter. “I’m paying. Order up, bitch.”
He rolls his eyes at the look Jack gives him, but the younger man places his order. Alex slides his card through and signs a slip and they wait, both bouncing slightly to the music playing.
“What did you get?” Jack asks, and Alex watches as he scuffs the toe of his sneaker on the dirty linoleum.
He shrugs. “What I usually get at home. Two drumsticks and a side of mash potatoes.”
He smiles and looks at him and Jack nods.
Two identical orders show up on the counter and Alex and he both laugh. They take the trays to their seats, sitting down in hard plastic chairs and Jack gets up to grab napkins and straws. Alex fiddles with his pieces of chicken for a second, then mixes his potatoes up. Alex watches as Jack slides back into his seat and then he glances around, seeing the place empty. They both look up as they hear the employees laughing and one of them has a look of recognition on her face. She smiles and Alex looks at him. He smirks and stands up.
He can feel Jack’s eyes on him as he approaches the counter and he calls out a “Hi!” before leaning over it. He exchanges a short conversation with an employee different from the bored looking one that rang him up. She asks him shyly to sign her pay stub and he grabs the marker. He laughs and wishes her a goodnight as she beams and thanks him greatly. He heads back to his seat, seeing Jack sitting back in the chair, giving him a tired smile.
“She knew us,” Alex says.
“She knew you right off the bat,” Jack says.
Alex shakes his head.
“She wasn’t sure until she saw you with me. Dude, are you forgetting? You’re just as famous.”
Alex laughs and grabs his spoon. He catches the shy smile Jack gives him and sees him eyeing his pieces of chicken before picking one up. Alex hands him a napkin as grease drips from his fingers and Jack laughs a little.
“Hell yeah, just like home.”
“Don’t say that until you’ve let it sit for a while,” Alex says, laughing. He looks up, seeing Jack still smiling at him and rolling the piece of chicken between his fingers.
Jack only shakes his head and takes a bite.
“Seriously, man, what?”
“You bought me dinner.”
“And my next step is to get you drunk so we can go fuck like rabbits.”
Alex laughs as Jack chokes and then swallows, laughing. “Oh, really now?”
Alex nods. “Yeah, dude. You didn’t see that coming? I thought you knew all my moves by now.”
He grins as Jack rolls his eyes at him and continues eating.
“Thanks for this. I mean that.”
Alex sits back, and he swallows before smiling at him. He really looks at him for once, noticing Jack’s stubble and dark lashes more prominent against his pale skin under the cheap fluorescent lighting and he nods.
Alex carefully says his next words. “If anything, I should be thanking you.”
Alex gestures widely. “Everything. The band, this…whole thing. You started this years ago with nagging and, yeah, you’re still doing it, but I mean, seriously, Jack. You’re .. you’re still here, you know?”
He feels something warm go through him when Jack bobs his head in a nod. “Thank you. And…you’re welcome, I guess.”
Alex takes a huge bite out of his chicken and grabs a napkin as grease drips down his chin.
“Oh, now there’s a breakout waiting to happen,” he mutters, wiping his face off. Jack laughs, handing him an extra. Alex swipes, feeling something still there. He makes a face.
He hears Jack laugh and the napkin is being pulled from his grasp.
“You got some…hold on, let me get it.” He stands up some, and Alex lets his arms flail for a second before he lets them fall to his sides as Jack wipes the offending material from his face. Alex watches him for a second as he sits back down, then takes a swig of his drink.
“You look lovely tonight, by the way.”
He giggles and dodges as Jack pulls takes his straw and fashions a spit shooter out of it.
“Gross, dude! I don’t know where your mouth has been!”
He rolls his eyes as Jack shrugs and finishes off his chicken. They mirror each other as they quickly scrape their potatoes onto their spoons and lean back in the chair. Alex sighs, patting his stomach, then nods back to the counter.
“Mind signing before we leave?”
He smiles at Jack, and he sighs dramatically, then grins and nods. Alex saunters back to the counter and Jack laughingly waves as he runs toward it. The girl jogs back over and he smiles. She’s short, and a little on the heavy side, but she has nice eyes and Alex hears Jack start up a conversation. She tells him All Time Low is her favorite band ever and he graciously takes the paper Alex has signed and scrawls his loopy initials next to his. She thanks them both and they give her a hug. She gets a picture with them before they head out and wish everyone a good night.
Alex is still laughing by the time he gets back in the car. He turns the radio up and the ride home is passed with two of them singing horribly off key as loud as they can. Alex stops singing when he can’t hear Jack’s scratchy voice beneath his anymore and he looks over, seeing Jack staring ahead at the road, eyes downcast.
“What’s up?” he asks.
“I wish we were home doing this,” Jack says softly.
Alex quiets for a second, nodding.
“Same here, bro.” He reaches over, wrapping his fingers around Jack’s wrist. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just thinking,” Jack says softly.
“You miss Baltimore.”
“It’s home, Alex.”
Alex shrugs. “Yeah, but at the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, you guys are my home away from home.”
Alex tilts his head on the headrest to smile at him. “As a heart attack.”
He can feel Jack’s thin fingers lace themselves through his and he turns back to the road.
“Want a drink?”
“But you’re my date,” Alex whines. Jack laughs, genuinely and Alex rubs his arm, beaming.
“THAT’S WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR!”
When Jack turns to him, Alex sees he’s still laughing.
“You haven’t fucking smiled once since we got here. Not like that, at least,” Alex says.
“It’s ‘cause I’m having a good date with you.”
Alex tightens his fingers around his and he turns into the garage. He parks the car and they sit for a second. Alex rubs his thumb along Jack’s knuckles and he feels Jack shiver.
“So, I think this is the part where we make out or something,” Alex says grinning.
Jack’s eyes widen, but then he just bats his eyelashes and makes kissy faces at Alex until they’re both almost doubled over laughing.
“I think we should go read some fan fiction,” Jack says though a laugh.
Alex makes a quick decision and covers Jack’s lips with his own. Jack’s laughter dies in Alex’s mouth. He pulls away, resting his forehead against Jack’s and smiles. He wraps his arms around his neck awkwardly from his position and buries his head in Jack’s neck. Alex feels him swallow.
“What was that for?”
Alex shrugs and pulls away, letting his hands smooth Jack’s shirt across his shoulders.
“Nothing. C’mon, let’s finish this date properly.”
Alex gets out of the car, locking it after Jack shuts his door. He throws a light punch and pretty soon, they’re racing back up the stairs. Alex reaches out, smacking Jack lightly, and he stills as Jack pauses, eyes going comically wide. He squeaks as Jack takes chase, and hightails it up the stairs. He fumbles for his key when he gets to the hallway. He can hear Jack’s quick run behind him and he slams into the door.
“Fuck, dude, stop being so fast!”
He’s nearly knocked over as Jack grabs him around the waist and Alex turns around and grabs Jack’s hands, swinging them.
“Sooo, I had a really good time tonight,” Jack whispers, scuffing his shoe and looking down shyly.
Alex giggles. “Yeah, it was really swell.”
He chuckles as Jack shakes his head and he opens the door. He looks up in time to feel Jack peck him on the cheek and he flushes, smacking Jack on the ass lightly as he shoves past him. Alex shrugs out of his jacket, watching Jack go into his bedroom. He heads toward his own bedroom, toeing out of his shoes and he slips his phone on the charger. He goes to the bathroom, only to find it locked.
“Matt? You in there?”
He nods as he hears an unintelligible sound and he rolls his eyes. He slips into his pajama pants, then pats his legs for a second. He digs around in his bag for his toothbrush.
He sees his notebook sitting abandoned on the floor by the bed and he picks it up, flipping through it. He traces Jack’s handwriting next to his and he glances toward Jack’s room. He thinks back to the first night they had been in a hotel by themselves. They had refused to split up and Alex could remember hearing Jack toss and turn. He had gotten up, sliding his arms around him, realizing it was the first time Jack had ever really be away from home, and they had laid, whispering lyrics back and forth until they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
He smiles at the memory, shutting the notebook. Even to this day, Jack doesn’t do well sleeping by himself. Alex generally finds himself getting up in the middle of the night and making his way to Jack’s room, only to crawl into his bed and sleep better than he would by himself.
He’s shaken from his thoughts as a loud thump followed by a string of obscenities issues from Jack’s side of the apartment. He smirks, grabbing the notebook and he runs a hand through his hair.
He quietly makes his way to Jack’s room and suppresses a laugh as he sees Jack having some trouble wriggling out of his jeans. He laughs, seeing his white knuckled grip on the dresses and Jack whirls, nearly falling. Alex lunges, catching him as he wobbles and he feels Jack grab onto him.
“Yeah.These jeans, bro...they’re out to get me.”
Alex hauls him up and Jack steps out of the denim before discarding his shirt and socks. Alex flops onto his bed, watching him futz around.
“What’s up?” Jack asks.
Alex shrugs, twirling his toothbrush. He smiles as Jack’s laughter rings in the room.
“Not even Rian can do that,” he says, pointing at him.
Alex nods, twirling it again. “That’s because I AM awesome, and he is not…and Matt‘s in my bathroom.”
He gets up as Jack points to the bathroom and he lightly shoves him aside as Jack starts to brush his teeth. Seconds later, they’re in yet another shoving match and a competition to see who gets to spit in the sink first. Alex throws his hands up in victory as Jack gets to laughing and he spits, rinsing his mouth out. Alex pats him on the shoulder and he watches as Jack gets into bed. He leans back against the dresser, and he smirks as Jack tries to get comfortable and fails.
He smirks as Jack’s head pops up over the covers, glasses still on. Alex grabs his notebook and cuddles up next to him.
“Remember our first night in a hotel room by ourselves?”
He pulls his notebook out and sets it on top of the sheets. He feels Jack’s warmth curl up next to him and he tips his head until Jack’s head is resting on his shoulder and Alex’s cheek is on his forehead.
“These the rest?” Jack asks, and Alex nods. He flips through them and they sit for a while, reading through them. Alex takes in all of Jack suggestions, and then he starts to feel him drifting. He throws the notebook aside and turns, wrapping his arms around Jack. The plastic frames of Jack’s glasses are cutting into his cheek and he leans back, then takes them off his face. He smiles at him as Jack offers him a tired grin.
“These were getting in the way.”
“Getting in the way of what?” Jack asks around a yawn.
Alex giggles, then leans forward, resting his forehead against his.
“Getting in the way of me kissing you again.”
He doesn’t give Jack a second to breathe before he’s pressing his lips to his. He holds him tighter as he struggles. He feels Jack’s fingers curl in his shirt once he gives up twisting and he smiles against his lips.
“You’re finally here,” he whispers.
“Yeah,” Jack says softly. “Hey, Alex?”
“Thanks for tonight.”
“You’re welcome…Thanks for being my best friend.”
He bumps his nose against Jack’s.
“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Alex starts singing and he feels Jack huff and roll over, his shoulders shaking in silent laughter. Alex re-wraps himself around him.
“Go the fuck to sleep, bro,” Jack murmurs, and Alex can hear the amusement in his voice.
He pulls Jack back to him and buries his face in the back of his neck, breathing in the scent of Axe and Jack’s shampoo. He presses another light kiss to the back of Jack’s neck and Jack wiggles back further into his embrace. Alex feels his chest heave in a sigh and he shuts his eyes.
“I love you too, Alex.”
Alex ruffles his hair and he waits, feeling Jack fall completely still against him.
He noses his hair, shutting his eyes, and finally, after days of not feeling right, not feeling whole, falls asleep. Better now that Jack’s here. Better together.