amfiguree: (cookleta!<3)
[personal profile] amfiguree
[American Idol] [David Archuleta/Michael Castro; David Archuleta/David Cook] [PG-13]

I wrote this one forever ago, but never got around to posting it because there was always something missing for me. It's set in the asshole!Cook 'verse, so it might make more sense if you read that first, and is pretty much an alternate ending to the original ending I pictured in my head. Because [ profile] rajkumari905 enabled and encouraged it, js. And also MCastroleta is something I have needed in my life forever. The hugest thanks go out to Pri and [ profile] greensounds both, for being such spectacular betas and pressing me to post this despite my misgivings over it. ♥

i miss you like you were mine

You don't even realize you've seen it coming till he shows up on your doorstep that night.

"I'm - I just," he says. "I didn't know where else to go."

You invite him in, sit him down at the dining table with a mug of hot chocolate. He doesn't even touch it, just puts his hands in his lap and shakes his head when you ask if he wants to talk. His mouth is drawn in a tight, sour line that makes you want to hit something (someone).

You grip the phone instead, imagine you're cutting circulation. You're not going to pretend you don't know what this is about. "Do you want to call?"

He looks at the ground for a long, long moment.

You aren't sure who's more surprised when he says, "No."

Something catches in your throat, something dangerously close to hope, and you snap your mouth shut, swallow it down along with the offer to take the couch, and set about putting out extra pillows for him.

"Thanks," he says, later, as you head to bed. "I'm – you know I--"

You've been down this road before. It would be stupid to fall for it again.

"Shut up and get some sleep, man," you say, and avert your eyes from the curve of his smile, small but real.

You may be a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them.

He doesn't talk about it, but he doesn't have to.

He stays in more nights than not, stops going for class and throws himself into work. Ramiele tries cajoling, Jason tries asking, Jackie tries flat-out demanding; nothing works. He just smiles and shakes his head and says, "Oh, um, there's a lot of work and--"

You end up staying in with him, most nights, ordering take-out Thai or whipping up pasta. You sit on the floor by the couch, working on homework or your guitar as he does whatever it is he thinks he has to to get by.

Sometimes you lie back, eyes closed, and listen to him breathe till the ache in your chest jerks you awake again.

Sometimes you catch him watching you, curiously, almost uncertain. He'll open his mouth, then seem to think better of it, wait for you to croak, quietly, "Hey."

"Hey," he'll say back, with one of those smiles, a faint echo of what it used to be.

It doesn't stop your pulse from twisting, too hard, under your skin.

"Whatever, Mike," Jackie says, with a quiet little laugh, midway through one of your monthly movie nights. You're sitting out on your tiny balcony, sharing leftover popcorn and fruit juice, just watching the stars. He's passed out on your couch, sprawled on top of your favorite afghan. His cheek is mashed against a pillow, and he looks like he's home, mouth soft and sweet and open.

You wonder what (who) he's dreaming about.

Jackie's looking at you, head cocked, when you finally manage to tear your gaze away.

"What?" you snap.

"You're totally stupid for him," she says, shaking her head as she throws an unfluffed kernel at you. "It's sweet."

You dump the rest of the popcorn in her lap, laughing when she shrieks in protest.

You hate how well she knows you.

"I don't know what I'm doing," he says, a couple of days later. You don't have to ask to know that this isn't part of your discussion on how hieroglyphics are a pain in the ass (your words, not his).

You think about ignoring the question, about turning it into something else. "Have you talked?" you ask, finally, like this is the conversation you've been in the middle of all along.

Figuring him out has never been your problem.

He looks at his hands for a second. "No," he admits. "And I just, I'm awful company right now, I know that, and you shouldn't have to – I mean, I can leave, if you – if you're not--"

"Where are you gonna go?" you interrupt. You want to ignore the curl of guilt in your stomach when he flinches, and there's a softer note in your voice when you add, "I like having a live-in maid pick up after me. Why do you wanna mess with that?"

He laughs a little, then, leans into your touch when you clap him on the back, looks up at you with so much warmth that, when you pull back, you flex your hand as if that'll help take away the burn.

But it's life as normal outside of the bubble you create for the both of you, and one day over lunch Lana asks you out for a concert. You open your mouth to say no without thinking, but Jackie elbows you in the ribs, hard, and what comes out is, "Uh."

He glances over, then, looking almost surprised, and for a second you think maybe--

"Sure," you hear yourself say, before you finish the thought. "That sounds like fun."

His brow furrows a little, but he goes back to picking at his food, and you ignore the sharp twinge in your gut as Lana beams at you, and Jackie singsongs, "Be less stupid," into your ear.

You never make it to the concert.

You're on the way to pick Lana up that evening when you realize you've forgotten your wallet, and you make the U-turn back for it.

The apartment feels empty when you get there. But you see him right away, a shadow in the dark, his face pressed into your couch as his shoulders heave.

Quiet fury settles in your stomach, hot and heavy, and your feet feel like lead as you walk up to him, as you sink to your knees and put your hand on his arm.

He turns toward you, then, eyes bruised with tears and exhaustion both.

"Hey," you say, quietly, and the words taste like ash in your mouth. "Hey, come on, man."

"He hasn't called," he says. His voice hitches when he breathes. "I thought--"

He puts his head down again, fist jammed against his mouth to muffle the sound he makes, and it's like something inside you flips.

"David," you say, voice low. "Dave, it's gonna be okay."

When he looks up again, you're only inches apart. His skin is warm under your touch. "He doesn't deserve you," you add, and you've never meant anything more in your life.

There must be something – he must see something in your face, must see how much you mean it, because his eyes flicker for a second, and then he's surging upwards, crushing your mouths together.

You feel his fingers curl into the fabric of your shirt, feel the heat of his mouth opening under yours, feel your pulse jump helplessly hard in response, and it's like - for a moment, it's like--

And then he wrenches himself away, eyes wide with horror, and your throat closes up.

"I'm sorry," he says, jerkily. "I don't – I didn't mean--"

Your stomach clenches, so suddenly you think you're going to be sick, and you shake your head as you force yourself to your feet, force yourself to stay where you are, to keep your fists loose. "It's okay," you make yourself say. "I get it, man. I'm pretty hard to resist."

His laugh is little more than a sob, and you feel something inside you unravel.

So you do the only thing that makes sense: you hunt the professor down.

It's like you're operating on autopilot as you demand the professor fixes what he broke, everything around you paling in a haze of rage and something else you won't put a name to.

Except the professor does it for you when he says, "How long have you been in love with him?"

It catches you off-guard, like a sucker-punch, like someone shoving you off the deep-end when you've barely learned to swim. He just looks at you, eyebrow quirked, lips twisted, and you open your mouth, struggling for words and air both, eyes and lungs and chest burning with the effort it's taking to stay afloat.

"Screw you," you manage, eventually. "You know, for a doctor, you're really fucking stupid."

And then you're stumbling for the door, and then you're outside, and then you're clenching your jaw as you collapse onto a bench, scrubbing a hard, angry hand over your face.

Stupid, Jackie's voice echoes in your head. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

You're pretty sure you just lost the right to argue.

You don't talk about it again, after. You go home, and you put on a movie, and you make pasta for two, and you let him sleep on your couch. You're not a walking open wound; you're not going to bleed out. He needs you, and you're okay with being there.

You're okay.

Hell, you're so okay you spend most of your time not-preparing for it, spend even longer convincing yourself nothing's ever going to happen.

Then he comes home with tickets to a cage fight.

A cage fight.

You would've laughed if it was anyone else.

What you do instead is grab him in a headlock, press his face into your side until you stop smiling and the heat creeping up your neck dissipates.

It doesn't even matter that, when you do go for the match, all he does is alternate between staring at the floor and the side of your head, wincing each time there's a clang of metal and the rest of the crowd gets to their feet, cheering. It's barely ten minutes in when you throw your ipod into his lap, and you roll your eyes when he says, "Oh, um," and smiles sheepishly up at you before plugging the earphones in.

You've never grinned through a cage fight before this.

"Seriously, man," you say, after the match, as you walk home together, your hands tucked deep in your pockets, hoodie pulled snug over your head. "You don't even like this sort of thing."

"I know," he says, and it amazes you, that he can still sound this sheepish after an hour of watching half-naked men go at it behind steel bars. "But you were--I mean, I figured you like it so much, maybe--"

You have to try really, really hard not to duck your head. "Turned out just as bad as you thought it would, didn't it?"

"Oh my gosh, yes," he blurts, eyes wide and genuinely concerned. "I don't - they were fighting in a cage."

You laugh at that, couldn't stop it if you tried, and nudge him in the side as he sighs and lets you, but he spends the rest of the walk home with his head tipped towards you, eyes crinkled, mouth curled in a half-smile you feel all the way to your toes.

And when you say, "Thanks for tonight," later, once you're back at your apartment, he turns to you, expression curiously soft, shrugs a little as he touches your arm and says, very quietly, "I wanted to."

It makes you think you hear things in his voice, things you know you shouldn't think about, and it makes your chest feel clenched and loose all at the same time.

It's not like that, you remind yourself. Wishful thinking never gets you anywhere.

But there are other moments, too, fleeting seconds when you laugh at the same jokes; when he catches your eye across a room and aims a smile in your direction; when he sits too close on movie night, pressed against you hip to thigh, and you think, sometimes, what if--

But then one night you come home with Thai, and he's sitting with your phone clutched in one hand, staring at it like it has the answers to all of life's mysteries, and you feel your breath catch. "What's up?" you say, evenly, and the whole time your head is ringing with, don't tell me. I don't want to know.

"Cook," he says. Falters. "He called."

Your mouth is dry. "Yeah?" you say, and then you have to pause to take a breath, till you're sure your heart hasn't actually physically stopped. "What did he say?"

"He wants, um, he wants to talk."

"Yeah," you say again.

"Michael--" he says.

And you can't. You can't. Congratulations isn't in your vocabulary right now. "I, uh," you say. "I'm gonna take a shower."

You stand under the spray till the water goes cold, face tilted up, taking long, gasping breaths till you stop feeling like you're about to drown.

He's gone when you get out of the bathroom.

Jackie doesn't pick up when you call, but then it's four am where she is, and you think you're grateful for it. "So you were right," you tell her voicemail, "I am the world's biggest punchline."

You have to hang up before your voice gives out.

You start packing for him after dinner, because the pile of clothes sitting in the corner of the room is making you antsy.

He comes back when you're half done.

"Hi," he says, and you turn at the sound of his voice, early enough to catch the exhaustion on his face melt into concern. "Oh my gosh, what - are you okay?"

"What?" you say, and you surprise yourself when your voice comes out shaky.

"You're not--" he says, and then he's crossing the room, and his palm is hot against your jaw, and – oh, god.

You duck away as you swipe the sleeve of your shirt over your eyes, rough and hard and angry. "Dust allergies," you say. "I'm fine."

"Oh," he says, and there's a note of steely determination in his voice as he drops into a crouch beside you. "Well - good."

And then he's kissing you, so warm and desperate that it leaves you breathless, steals your words so all you can say when he finally pulls back is, "David?"

"Cook told me," he says, and he sounds breathless, too, his eyes bright and his cheeks dusted with color. It makes your stomach flip. "He told me everything. You went to talk to him, you – and he said you were - why didn't you ever tell me--"

"You're in love with him," you say, dumbly, but you're leaning into him anyway, letting him rest your foreheads together, because you really are that stupid for him. "I thought--"

"I just spent five months on your couch," he says. "I went to a cage fight. What did you think I – how could you--"

And then he's kissing you again, one hand in your hair and the other bunched in your shirt, and a thrill licks a trail of fire down your spine.

"Oh my gosh, seriously," he breathes, against your mouth, which is the closest he ever gets to calling anyone stupid.

But stupid isn't all that bad, you think, as you reel him in again, because you're fine with the way you never saw this coming.
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