One day, he was living comfortably with his brother and one of his best mates, the next they were packing boxes and cleaning the flat from top to bottom.
Conor and Josh were excited, talking repeatedly about their new places, but for Jack? Well the day that their lease was due to run out loomed over his head. Because he still didn’t have anywhere to live.
And that day was rapidly approaching.
Which lead to him moaning about it one night while over at Joe’s.
The two had originally planned to film a video, but then they started watching Planet Earth and making dinner, and that lead to a few drinks, and now they were sprawled across the floor of Joe’s living room, heads side by side, staring at the ceiling.
“I’m going to be homeless! Why couldn’t we just live together a little longer? Am I that bad of a roommate?” Jack rambled on, his hands moving in the space above him.
“You won’t be homeless,” Joe chuckled, his own hands resting on his stomach, smiling as he watched the younger man’s flail above him. “And you aren’t a shit roommate.”
“I never said shit. I said bad.”
“Same thing.” Joe shrugged. “Conor and Josh just want to try something new. Can you blame them? It wasn’t that different with Caspar and I.”
For some reason, the mention of Caspar causes Jack’s stomach to tighten uncomfortably. But he shook it off, and turned his head to look at Joe’s profile.
“I can blame them if they’re leaving me homeless.”
“Like I said, you aren’t going to be homeless.” The smaller man turned his head to face Jack as well, his eyes intensely blue as he stared over at Jack.
“Where am I going to live then?”
“Huh?” Jack blinked, surprised and slightly confused. Something about Joe’s eyes always made him distracted.
“You can move in with me.” Joe said casually, turning his gaze back up to the ceiling. “I have the space. So just stay here until you find your own place.”
“Are you sure?”
“I wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t.”
Jack felt as if he could kiss Joe at that moment, but he pushed that thought aside quickly, choosing instead to grin broadly at the smaller man.
Those type of thoughts seemed to pop up frequently for Jack, the ones he had about Joe. But he never let them stay for too long, because he didn’t want it to become a thing. There was no denying that Joe was attractive, Jack had fully accepted that at this point, but that was all he was. It was a normal thing to either think your good mate was a decent looking bloke or not. Jack had always been that way with all his mates, girl or guy. So when Joe had waltzed into his life, Jack had simply placed Joe into the good looking category and then moved on.
But as he got closer to the other man, Jack realized that there was other attractive qualities to Joe than just his looks. Such as his easy character, his sincerity, and the way he never failed to make Jack laugh. But the younger man never sat long on those thoughts of Joe, because they were just good mates.
Until they became roommates too. And Jack was suddenly around Joe a whole lot more, and that meant those thoughts were popping up frequently.
Within the first week, the two had become quite comfortable around each other. They already were prior to Jack moving in, but this time, it was a different comfort with one another. More intimate almost.
They learned how to move around each other without having to say a single word. Their nightly routine had become sitting together on the couch, computers on their lap as they edited. Joe was even teaching Jack how to cook, laughing softly as the younger man got flustered over preparing something properly.
It was easy. Simple. Casual.
Then it wasn’t.
Because Jack realized that his eyes had begun to linger on Joe, and that when they were sitting on the couch, he always had to be touching the smaller man in some way. From their arms or legs pressed together, to his feet tucked under Joe’s leg. And when Joe walked around without a shirt on, especially just after he showered, the towel hanging low on those slim hips, Jack could feel himself get warm and flustered in an entirely different way from when they were cooking.
Jack realized that slowly but surely, he was falling for his roommate. Who happened to be his good mate. And who happened to be straight.
So Jack tried to distance himself slightly. His search for a new flat picked up from where it had left off nearly three days after moving in with Joe, and he tried desperately to find something that worked. Anything.
But each place he looked at just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like home. It didn’t have Joe in it. So Jack kept searching, and he kept his distance from Joe.
No longer did he join the smaller man on the couch at night for editing, instead claiming he was tired and would retire to his bedroom. Then he would toss and turn, unable to sleep because he hadn’t gotten those few relaxed moments with Joe.
No longer did he cook side by side with Joe, their hands brushing together as they reached for ingredients. Instead, he would eat out or go over to Conor’s new place.
And no longer did Jack let his gaze linger on Joe. If he caught himself staring, he would tear his eyes away quickly, focusing back on whatever he was doing.
He had to stop.
“Did I do something wrong?” Joe stood in the doorway of Jack’s temporary bedroom, hands braced on the frame on either side of him. There was a small frown on his face, and his eyes shined with hurt. Jack looked up from his computer, where he had once again been searching for flat’s, to look at the other man.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.” Joe shrugged, but remained where he was. “I just feel like, this sounds stupid, but like you’ve been avoiding me.”
“So you have been?” Joe raised an eyebrow, but his body shifted, tensing as he gripped the frame.
“No. Yes. No.” Jack winced at his words, watching as Joe only grew more guarded, his lips pressed into a hard line.
“Right. Sorry if I’ve done something to wrong you. Just let me know and I’ll fix it.” The words were practically snapped in Jack’s direction, and the younger man hated it. He never wanted Joe to feel this way towards him.
“You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“But you’ve been avoiding me.”
“I can’t tell you.”
That was the breaking point for Joe, and he pushed himself away from the door frame, giving Jack a simple nod.
“Alright. I’ll just leave you be. Goodnight.” Without waiting for a reply, he spun on his heel and left, the sound of his bare feet against the floor echoing as he made his way up to his bedroom.
“Well done, Jack.” The younger man grumbled to himself, letting his head fall back against the wall. “You really fucked up now.”
That night, Jack tossed and turned once again, trying to fall asleep but failing. The guilt with how he handled Joe earlier churning in his gut.
Figuring he’d get no sleep, Jack pushed himself out of bed, grabbing a hoodie and slipping it on as he walked out of the room.
The hallway was dark, but Joe’s stairs illuminated the way. The place was quiet, eerie sounding, and when Jack walked into the living room, he jumped at the sight of a body curled up on the couch.
“Jesus!” He yelled out, hand on his chest as Joe stared wide eyed at him, “You scared the shit out of me!”
“My bad.” Joe mumbled, his chin resting on his knees, arms around his legs.
“What are you doing up?”
“Couldn’t sleep. You?”
“Same.” Jack nodded, glancing around the room briefly. Finally, he moved to sit on the couch beside Joe, only a couple of inches between them. The silence hung heavy in the air, laying on top of them like a blanket.
“I’m sorry, for what ever I did.” Joe’s voice was small in the darkness, and Jack’s eyes darted over to the body next to his, curled in on itself. It was his fault that Joe was like this.
“You didn’t do anything.”
Joe’s feet met the ground with a sudden slap as he spun his torso to stare at Jack, hurt shining in his eyes, “Then why are you avoiding me?!”
“Because…well, because…” Jack tried to get the words out, but he couldn’t say them. The fear had a tight grip around his throat. He didn’t want to lose Joe, he realized then. And if he admitted to his feelings, that was what would happen.
“Because what?! I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what the hell I did wrong. But I can’t figure it out! Everything was fine before, and then suddenly, it just wasn’t!” Joe’s eyes were bright blue in the darkness, the light from the stairs reflecting in them, made brighter by the unshed tears. His hair was tousled, probably from him running his hand through it too many times. And the shirt he wore was loose, hanging off of his body.
To Jack, he looked perfect.
Which was why instead of trying to say anything, Jack simply leaned forward, brushing his lips against Joe’s. And when he pulled back, he stared into Joe’s wide eyes.
“Because that.” He spoke softly, holding his breath as he waited for a reaction. Yelling, screaming, kicking him out. Anything. Something.
What he wasn’t expecting was for Joe to throw himself at Jack, arms wrapping around his neck as their lips crashed together, Jack falling backwards on the couch with the force of another body. His own arms moved around Joe, gasping into the kiss as Joe bit lightly on his bottom lip.
The feeling of Joe’s tongue fighting against his own, and the feeling of Joe’s body straddling his, caused Jack to moan into the kiss, his own hands traveling along the slim body against his.
When they pulled apart, Joe resting his forehead against Jack’s as his chest heaved, warm breath dancing across Jack’s lips, the smaller man began to laugh.
“You pulled away because you liked me?”
“I didn’t know you liked me too.” Jack blushed, his fingers splayed across Joe’s back.
“How many times do I have to walk past you practically naked? Or cuddle up against you on the couch? Or find a reason to bloody touch you before you realize I like you too?”
“To be fair, it took me a while to realize I liked you in the first place.”
“Well, now that you know,” Joe dropped a sweet and simple kiss on the younger man’s lips, “Can you stop avoiding me? And stop looking at other places to live?”
“Y-you still want me to live with you?” Jack blinked in surprise up at Joe, who groaned and buried his face into Jack’s shoulder.
“Yes! I invited you live here in the first place, didn’t I?”
“Because I was going to be homeless!”
Joe lifted his head to look Jack in the eyes again, one hand moving to his cheek. “I was never going to let you be homeless. Do you understand that?”
“I do now.”
“Good.” Joe smiled softly down at the younger man, his thumb brushing across his bottom lip. “Can we go to bed now?”
“I’m still not tired.” Jack admitted.
“I never said anything about going to sleep.” Joe’s smile turned into a smirk, and his eyes darkened slightly as he shifted his hips against Jack’s.
“Oh. Then yes, bed. Now.” Jack stumbled over his words as his grip tightened on Joe’s hips.
Laughing, Joe ducked down to place one more quick kiss on Jack’s lips before he rolled off of the younger man, winking over his shoulder as he made his way to the stairs. Jack wasted no time in following him.
That’s kind of a strange idea, basing our happiness on the fact that others have less. It’s almost like saying, ‘You know what would make this turkey club better? Eating it in front of this hungry-looking homeless guy.