Summary: Elliot only slept with people he was in love with. He fell in love a lot, though. There wasn't anything wrong with that, was there?
WARNINGS, SQUICKS AND/OR KINKS: unfaithfulness, a bit of slut-shaming, intoxication, mentions of vomiting
Thank you for reading!
"I don't care what people say, M. Night Shyamalan is fucking amazing," Carlos said, and after that there was no way to go but down. So down Elliot went.
He considered himself to be rather old-fashioned, only having sex with people he was in love with. Sure, his friends made fun of him – telling him not to be such a goddamned girl about it, it was only sex for heaven's sake, just have some fun for once in your life without the fucking sentimentality - but Elliot secretly thought there was something to be said for that sense of connection that came with sex-in-love. His standards could have led to a lot of frustration and lonely masturbation sessions, but luckily Elliot fell in love fairly easily.
Okay, really easily.
He didn't have a type or a thing; it could be anything. Some of the sillier reasons he'd fallen in love over included beautiful penmanship, a crooked smile, a green scarf, the pronunciation of the word 'fantastic', the way that one barista bit her lip while making his coffee, and now a rebellious (and quite frankly horrendous) taste in movies. His love was quick and all-consuming and overrode silly things like age differences, gender, race or a still ongoing attachment to the last person he fell in love with.
So it wasn't until Lucas' angry "What the fuck" sounded through his living room that Elliot remembered that there were actually reasons why he shouldn't be having his neighbour's cock in his mouth.
Right. Lucas. His boyfriend. His boyfriend who'd never agreed to any kind of non-exclusivity. His boyfriend who had a key.
"Lucas!" Elliot exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. Crap, what was he going to say?
"Lucas," he tried again.
"Oh good," Lucas replied, although it was clear he didn't really think any of this was 'good'. "You remember me. And here I was, all worried that you'd forgotten all about me. I'm so fucking relieved that you were still aware of my existence while you were sucking off someone else. Jesus."
"Lucas, I'm so sorry you had to see that, but," and here Elliot was at a loss. He wanted to explain how Carlos was special, and how that didn't mean that Lucas was any less special. It was hard, however, to form the words when he could still feel the spot where Carlos' dick had pressed against the roof of his mouth. And Lucas interrupted him before he could try anyway.
"What? Seriously, what? No, you know what? Fuck you. And fuck that- Christ, man, would you zip up already? Nobody wants to see your sorry excuse for a cock. Seriously, Elliot? That's what you're cheating on me for? I've seen hamsters that were better hung. You could at least try to trade up, you know!"
Lucas was angry and mean and Elliot had never been so in love with him. And then Lucas was out the door and, presumably, Elliot's life with a final "I hope you get syphilis, you fucker".
"I..." Elliot stared at the door, "I don't think I handled that very well."
"Um," Elliot looked around to see Carlos tucking in his dick – which was, truth be told, not very impressive, but who cares about that when you're in love?
"I should probably get going," Carlos continued, "but this was fun."
And while Elliot didn't think it had been as fun as it could have been and he didn't think Carlos thought so either, he said, "Yeah, let's do it again sometime. Only, y'know, without my boyfriend walking in."
"Uh, sure. Sure. I'll call you, okay?"
And then Elliot was alone.
"And now it's all gone to hell," Elliot groaned into his beer. Gary looked decidedly unsympathetic.
"And you're surprised about that?" he asked. "You get so caught up in your lust -"
"Feelings," Elliot interrupted rather vehemently. Gary rolled his eyes.
"- right, your feelings for your next-door neighbour of six whole days, that you completely forget about the fact that you have a boyfriend. And when, after said boyfriend catches you in flagrante delicto, neither of them wants to have anything to do with you, you think you're allowed to whine about it?"
"I'm not whining," Elliot said, perhaps a little petulantly, but most definitely not whining.
"Sweetheart, you're whining," Gary informed him and maybe he had a point.
"Maybe a little. But it's all just so messed up. Lucas won't even talk to me anymore, but he called Esperanza and told her some complete bullshit and god bless her, she's an amazing secretary, but she cannot keep her mouth shut to save her life. So now my entire office thinks I'm a giant slutbag with herpes and a love child on the way."
"You are a giant slutbag," Gary said.
"I'm not! I only sleep -"
"- with people you're in love with. Yeah, yeah. That would be more impressive if you didn't fall in love more often than I change my underwear."
"That's only because you don't wear underwear. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is the enormous mess that is my life."
"Which is due to the fact that you are a giant slutbag," Gary continued to fail rather spectacularly at being helpful.
"You know what? I held your hand for the three weeks you were crying over turning thirty. It's my turn now. So shut up and make sympathetic noises, will you? As I was saying, Lucas won't talk to me and I'm pretty sure Carlos-"
"The neighbour? And I wasn't crying. Heroically despairing, maybe, but defini-"
"Yes, the neighbour. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he's avoiding me. He said he'd call and he hasn't and now he just scurries into his car or house whenever he sees me. It's just so awkward. Plus, I would appreciate it if he remembered that our walls are paper-thin before he brings someone home. It's just common decency. And to top it all off, yesterday some asshole egged my house. I've been scrubbing that crap off my windows for the better part of the day and now you're being a lousy friend as well. My life is a mess and it has nothing to do with me being a giant slutbag."
Elliot's beer had gone flat, but he drank it anyway. He needed it.
"Not that you are one," Gary supplied.
"Right, not that I am one. Look, if you're going to be bitch, can you at least be a bitch while you're getting me another beer?"
As Gary went to get drinks, Elliot wondered if he didn't need new friends as well as a new beer. Maybe he should call Jamie. Jamie was always very understanding and not as judgemental as some other people. Elliot took out his phone.
"Here you go. But it's your last one. You've been swearing. Two more and you'll be screaming the place down," Gary said, placing a new beer in front of Elliot.
"I haven't been swearing," Elliot said, scrolling through his contacts.
"You said 'asshole' and you called me a bitch. That's swearing. Who're you calling?"
With his thumb on the 'dial' button, Elliot said, "Jamie".
"Don't." Elliot looked up.
"Don't," Gary repeated. "It'd be cruel. You promised you wouldn't talk about your love life with him."
Even though he put down his phone, Elliot was sure he'd get a lot more satisfaction out of a conversation with Jamie.
"Look, sweetheart, here's the deal. You don't need sympathy, you need the truth. And I'm the perfect person to give you that."
"Why do you always call me 'sweetheart' right before you're going to be a dick to me?" Elliot pouted. (And maybe he really did need to lay off the alcohol if he started pouting.)
"It softens the blow. And it reminds you that it's all coming from a place of love," Gary said.
"Sweetheart," Elliot said, leaning in, "it doesn't".
"Then just pretend it does, okay? Now look," Gary continued, "you've been a massive penis to both Lucas and what's-his-face."
"Thanks," Elliot muttered balefully.
"You're welcome. You can't just forget about the boyfriend who thinks you're monogamous whenever someone strikes your fancy. You just can't. That's being a dick, so don't do it. That said, I get that you're sad over losing Lucas, but it might actually be for the best. Sure, he's cute and all, what with the tall-and-gangly-and-freckled thing, but the guy is such a drama queen. It's all anger, all the time with him and you're just not capable of handling that because you're a bit emotionally stunted. Well, you are," Gary added at Elliot's sharp look. "But here's what you need to do. You're going to finish your beer and go home where you're going to sleep it off. Then you're going to be cordial to your neighbour but nothing else, you're going to take a good, hard look at your life and you're going to get the fuck over Lucas. You can write him one letter apologising for hurting him, but only if you can make it honest and heartfelt. And you will not, under any circumstances, call Jamie tonight. You get that?"
"I want to call Jamie," Elliot insisted, but Gary was merciless.
"Well, you can't. With that torch he's carrying for you, you can't go waving your slutbaggery in his face. That's also being a dick, sweetheart."
"I am not a fucking slutbag!" Elliot yelled, slamming the table as he got up. He couldn't remember the last time he was this angry. It was like Gary refused to listen to him. Gary looked decidedly unimpressed, but he didn't try to stop Elliot when he marched out.
As soon as he was out the door, Elliot called Jamie.
"Jamie, James, I need to talk to you," he said when Jamie picked up. "Gary is saying all this stupid shit to me and I need someone who understands me. You always understand me, don't you, Jamie?"
Instead of answering, Jamie asked, "Are you drunk?" He didn't sound happy, but he didn't sound very angry either, so Elliot decided that this call hadn't been such a bad idea.
"Nooo," he denied, "why?"
"You said 'shit' and you're calling me at -" some rustling, "well, after midnight, anyway. Plus, you sound drunk."
"I'm not drunk," Elliot promised, "I just had a couple of beers and I wanted to talk to you. Gary says I shouldn't, but Gary doesn't know anything. Says I'm a slutbag. Which isn't fair, because I've been in love with all of them. You know that. Everybody knows that. It's not slutty if it's love, right?"
Elliot interpreted the silence on the other end of the line as an encouragement to continue, so he did.
"It just always goes to shit, you know? And I don't know what I'm doing wrong here. When you're in love, are you supposed to fall in love with other people? That's not normal is it? Am I doing it wrong? Fuck, I don't even know anymore. Maybe I need to do things completely differently. Should I find someone good and then just let the love grow? Choose someone because they're good and dependable and all that shit, and not because I'm in love with them? That would make for a good, solid relationship, wouldn't it, Jamie? A bit boring, maybe, but good."
An epiphany came over Elliot then and he stood still because you didn't have very important conversations while walking among drunken party-goers. That was something only emotionally stunted people would do.
"Hey, James," he asked, "do you wanna be my boyfriend?"
More silence, but this time Elliot felt it important to wait for Jamie's answer.
"Go fuck yourself, Elliot," it finally came, very quietly.
"Jamie? James?" It took a look at his screen for Elliot to realise Jamie had hung up on him.
"I called Jamie," Elliot slurred.
"What?" Gary sounded only barely awake. "Elliot? Where the fuck are you? I can hardly hear you over the noise."
"I don't know," Elliot replied, "some bar. Wait, let me see what I can do. Hey!" He turned toward the crowd. "Hey, could you keep it down? I'm trying to have a conversation here!" If anything, the volume just rose as people started yelling abuse at Elliot. He turned back to his phone.
"It's not working," he said miserably. "No-one listens to me tonight. These guys aren't listening, you didn't listen. Jamie listened for a while and then he hung up on me. And everyone is calling me names."
"Elliot? Really, I can't understand a word you're saying," Gary was yelling into his ear, "Text me where you are, I'm picking you up."
Elliot hung up. Instead of texting Gary, he ordered yet another beer.
Blue was supposed to be soothing, Elliot once read. If that was true, he would hate to find out how he would have felt if he hadn't been lying under a blue bedspread. His head hurt, his stomach was in turmoil and the combination of the absolutely foul taste in his mouth and the sour odour that hung in the room didn't help his nausea one bit.
And he didn't even own a blue bedspread.
A quick survey of the room taught him that he was in Jamie's guest room, and that there was a bucket next to the bed that he'd apparently made good use of.
Trying not to gag, Elliot took the bucket to rinse it out in the bathroom. No matter what horrible things people had said about him yesterday, he did have good manners.
After he'd rinsed out the bucket, gurgled with mouthwash and opened a window to air out the room, Elliot went in search of his host. He found Jamie in the kitchen, stirring eggs.
"Hey," he said, wincing at the roughness of his own voice. He cleared his throat.
"Hi," Jamie answered without turning around and sounding curter than Elliot had ever heard him sound before.
"I don't really remember how I got here," he admitted. Jamie just snorted in response. "Did I... Did I do or say something embarrassing?" Elliot asked tentatively. He wasn't sure he wanted to know, but knowing his friends, he would never live it down. So it was better to be prepared.
Jamie whirled around and pointed the whisk at him.
"You," he accused, emphasising the word by gesturing with the dripping whisk, "you came here last night, at a quarter past fucking three, pressing the doorbell even after I'd opened the door. You waltzed in," another angry gesture, "three fucking sheets to the wind, kept trying to kiss me and babbled on and on about how I would be the perfect boyfriend because you aren't in fucking love with me, and then you threw up on my couch. So no, you didn't do anything embarrassing; you were just your usual dickish self, only amplified. It was wonderful. I had a great night, thank you so fucking much."
Jamie angry was a sight to behold. Before now, the most negative expressions Elliot had ever seen him sport were indulgent smiles and exasperated eyerolls and he found himself reluctantly impressed.
"You think I'm a dick?" he asked, slightly hurt that apparently all of his friends seemed to think so and never said anything until now. Jamie threw up his hands.
"Yes, you're a dick! You are the dickiest dick ever. I don't know if you have some kind of issues or if you're just an asshole, but Elliot, you are an incredible fucking dick! You don't give a shit about anything unless it affects you, you can't see how your actions hurt other people and you seem physically incapable of apologising. You fuck around like it's going out of fashion, you drop people the second you lose your interest, you think it's perfectly acceptable to tell the guy who's in love with you in excruciating detail how you don't think you'll ever be in love with him but hey, let's fuck anyway. How can you not know you're a dick?"
Well, put like that...
"Holy shit," Elliot sank into a kitchen chair and stared at Jamie helplessly as realisation dawned on him. "I'm an asshole."
"Thank you, I'm aware of that." Jamie bit out and he turned back to his bowl.
"For what it's worth," Elliot told the tense lines of Jamie's back, "You might not think I'm sorry, but I am. I just... I didn't think."
"You never do," Jamie didn't sound angry anymore, just resigned. Elliot actually preferred angry Jamie. At least he hadn't sounded so beaten down.
"I do love you, you know. And I think you're gorgeous. It's just. I don't feel that spark, you know? When you see someone, and you want to make them laugh, and find out what they taste like."
"Yeah, I get it," Jamie said bitterly, "You're not attracted to me. Now can we please just forg-"
Elliot frowned and interrupted Jamie, "But I am attracted to you. I just said I think you are gorgeous. I'm just not in love with you."
Jamie fell silent, but then he pulled out a chair and sat in front of Elliot.
"Elliot," he began carefully, "what you just described, that's not being in love, it's attraction. Being in love is so much more. It's wanting to find out what someone's favourite music is, and their secret favourite music. It's wanting to know what they dream about. It's helplessly wanting to make things better for them whenever they're sad or ill. It's having little things throughout the day reminding you of them and wanting to tell them about it. That is what you feel, isn't it?"
Elliot just gaped at him.
"Oh, but this is just priceless," Gary's amused, sleep-roughened voice drifted into the kitchen, "All this morally superior bullshit about how you only sleep with people you're in love with and now we find out that what you really meant was 'I'll fuck anyone who I think is hot'. It's absolutely amazing, really. Is there any coffee?"
"What are you doing here?" Elliot asked, glad for the distraction from his apparently messed-up psyche.
"You never texted me where you were last night, so I kept calling. After an hour or so, Jamie answered your phone. I came over and slept on the floor because the couch was still wet. We were going to have an intervention, but it seems I'm late to the party." Gary yawned and scratched his ass. "No coffee? I'm having a shower, then."
When they were alone again, Jamie got up and put a frying pan on the stove. Elliot silently watched him work and thought about everything he'd learned in the past few minutes.
"Those things you said, is that how you feel about me?" he finally asked.
"Yes," Jamie sighed.
"But why?" Elliot could not for the life of him figure it out. "After all you said about how I'm a dick, how can you still feel like that?"
"I don't know," Jamie shrugged, "it's hardly rational, is it? But you're not all bad. You're smart, and occasionally funny, and you can be really attentive if you want. You're adorable whenever Britney Spears comes on the radio and you're trying to hide how you're mouthing the words and wanting to dance. You appreciate good food and you're not afraid to try something new, so you're a wonderful dinner guest. I like how you talk about books." He half-turned and smiled. "You're easy on the eyes. It all makes your bad sides easier to bear. It's not about thinking someone's perfect, you know? It's about being willing to take the bad with the good."
"You'd be an amazing boyfriend," Elliot observed. He would. Romantic and sweet, but not so much that it clouded his common sense.
"Not yours, though," Jamie answered decisively. Elliot strangely found himself wanting to argue. Jamie was an amazing person and Elliot loved him and Jamie was in love with Elliot. Elliot was pretty sure they'd be good together. His love would transform into something better and they'd be so incredibly good together.
"Why not mine?" he asked, getting up and crowding Jamie against the stove and nuzzling his neck. Jamie answered him without turning around.
"Because I'd need you to stay faithful. Emotionally, at least. I'm fine with sex with other people, but I wouldn't be able to handle you being in love with others or even just thinking that you were. And you're not in love with me, remember?"
"I could stay faithful," Elliot argued, "physically and emotionally. If that was what you needed."
There was a hint of bitterness in Jamie's voice when he answered, "No, you wouldn't. And I'm not willing to find out."
"Jamie," was all Elliot could get out before Jamie turned around and shoved him away forcefully.
"No, I said! You'd break my heart, you're not in love with me and I'm not going to be your fucking experiment!"
Perversely, that provided Elliot with the spark he'd missed.
Jamie, with his balled fists and his clenched jaw and his angry, angry eyes.
Jamie, standing in his warm, sunny kitchen, burning the eggs.
Jamie, with his dirty blond hair and his green eyes and a scar on his left cheek.
Jamie, who'd taken care of Elliot and talked to him and yelled at him.
Jamie, standing up for himself and not afraid to tell Elliot off.
Jamie, who was maybe not perfect, but amazing nonetheless.
"You wouldn't be," Elliot breathed.
"You wouldn't be an experiment," he promised.
"We'll figure it out," he swore, and meant it.
A/N: And they lived happily ever after. Maybe. I've got my theories, but I'll keep them to myself. Fun fact: Elliot had a less than favourable mention in my earlier story Of Sweaters And Heartache and now OpenOffice kept trying to autocomplete 'Elliot' to 'Elliot-the-cheater'. It's his full name. Also, does anyone have any tips on how to write a character that's a bit emotionally disconnected without sounding like you're just ignoring everything that's beneath the surface? Because it's hard.