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All I Want to Do Is Try

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George knows he and Jon have drifted apart since they started dating Alanna and Raoul. It wasn't exactly on purpose; it used to be that there were plenty of nights Jon was in the Dove and Alanna wasn't, but since Alanna practically lives above the Dove now, that doesn't happen very often. Too, Jon spends more nights hanging out with Raoul in one of their apartments, instead of coming out. And, if George is honest, he has a little more trouble with Jon than he used to. He's not jealous of his relationship with Alanna, and he loves Jon as much as he ever did. He's just aware in some dark, inner place, that Jon hurt Alanna, and no matter how long ago it was or how well she's healed, he can't stop knowing it.

But Jon's still one of his best friends, and he misses him, so when Jon says, "You know, we haven't hung out in a while," George agrees that they haven't, and it's a crying shame.

He's still not sure how this translated into a karaoke double date.

"You can't just let Jon decide what to do!" Alanna tells him. They have shots and someone on stage is mangling "Dancing Queen." "Jon loves karaoke. He will always pick karaoke."

"YOUNG AND SWEET!" Jon bellows. "ONLY SEVENTEEN!"

"Is this really a fulfilling relationship for you?" Alanna asks Raoul, and Raoul is tipsy enough to give her a love-struck smile.

"It's the best."

"Better you than me," says Alanna.

"I thought he wanted to spend time with me man-to-man," says George. "I thought he'd take me fishin' or somethin'. To a baseball game, maybe."

"Why talk about feelings when you can sing about feelings?" Jon asks, clapping him on the shoulder. "And I can't do karaoke without Alanna. It's not the same without her wincing and pretending she doesn't--oh hell yeah! AND YOU'RE TO BLAME! YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME!"

"Sometimes I get my own table," Alanna says.

"I'm going to sign us up," says Jon. "Raoul, what are you singing?"

"Whatever Alanna sings."

Jon sighs. "You're no fun. George? Come on, George. You're a fun guy!"

"My couch isn't very comfortable," George says, holding up his hands. "If Alanna makes me sleep on it, I'm goin' to regret it."

Jon sighs. "You are all the worst friends," he says, and goes up to pick a song.

"He thinks you're mad at him," Raoul tells George.

George plays with the label on his beer. "That's overstatin' it." He glances at Alanna. "Just don't have so much time anymore. Neither does he."

"I know," says Raoul. "I'm just telling you because he won't."

George sighs. "That's why I thought it'd just be us. Drinkin' and cryin' about our feelin's. Seemed right up Jon's alley."

"That's what he's doing. Just--with karaoke."

"So he's goin' to sing about his feelin's?" George asks. "'Cause that's not really my style."

"Really?" Alanna asks. "I would have thought you loved karaoke. You seem like the type."

"I do, huh?"

She grins. "You do love being the center of attention."

"Maybe I just don't know the perfect song to capture my complicated emotional state," says George. "It's not like--"

The last song winds down and Jon's on stage, belting out, "BREAKING MY BACK JUST TO KNOW YOUR NAME."

George doesn't recognize the song immediately, but Alanna goes white. "Oh my god."

"I think Jon found the perfect song to capture his complicated emotional state," Raoul says dryly.

"SEVENTEEN TRACKS AND I'VE HAD IT WITH THIS GAME."

Jon has more enthusiasm than skill, and he sort of shouts everything he sings like if he's loud enough, no one will notice he can't carry a tune. Maybe that's why it takes George so long to figure out what he's singing.

"I'm going to murder him," says Alanna, but Raoul just gives George an expectant look, and George shakes his head and runs up on stage to join Jon in front of the microphone.

"She's going to kill us both," George says, low enough no one else will hear. Then he just goes for it. "CAUSE HEAVEN AIN'T CLOSE IN A PLACE LIKE THIS."

Jon grins at him, slightly manic, and throws his arm around George's shoulders. He can see Alanna and Raoul, who do seem to be doing their best to pretend they don't know them. "C'mon!" George yells. "You all know the words! WELL SOMEBODY TOLD ME, YOU HAD A BOYFRIEND, WHO LOOKED LIKE A GIRLFRIEND, THAT I HAD IN FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR."

When they get back to the table, Jon plants a messy kiss on Alanna's cheek. "Somebody did tell me that," he remarks. "One of the frat brothers told me the bartender's boyfriend looked like that chick we went to high school with."

"Bet you could find somethin' to sing," George remarks. "To get back at us."

"Bet I could kill you in your sleep," Alanna grumbles, but she's got this little smile, like maybe she thought he was mad at Jon too.

He gives her a smile back and bumps his shoulder against Jon's. "Darlin', I know you could."

*

The thing is, George actually has been wanting to talk to Jon, man to man. In a non-karaoke setting. Luckily, the ice has been broken and Alanna has a girls' night with Thayet and Buri planned, so George calls up Jon and tells him to come to the Dancing Dove for free beer. He doesn't know why someone who's richer than sin is so drawn by free shit, but rich people are, in his experience, kind of weird. And Jon is really weird. No normal person likes snapchat so much.

Regardless, Jon is there promptly at seven, looking expectant. George gets him set up with a beer and some nachos, tends to the few other patrons, and then sidles back up to him. "I'm workin' on something, I could use your advice."

"Yeah?" says Jon.

George runs his hand through his hair. "Alanna's lookin' at apartments for August. She had a place lined up, but now it's out of her price range."

"Yeah, she mentioned."

"Seems kinda silly to me. She's at my place all the time. Even she says she practically lives with me. And you know how stubborn she is about that stuff."

"So you want her to move in?"

"Yeah. But I don't want to freak her out or anythin'. It's movin' a little fast. Wouldn't even be thinkin' of it, except she hasn't been back to her dorm in a week. And I like havin' her around, honestly. If she gets her own place and takes the cat there I'll just be there all the time. I'd miss her. And the stupid cat."

Jon laughs. "You are whipped, George Cooper."

"I'm in love, asshole," George says, hitting him with his dishtowel. "Seriously, do you think she'd freak out?"

Jon leans back, thinking it over. "No. She did all her freaking out when she thought you didn't want to date her. Now that you're actually together, she seems fine. And she's serious about you. I don't know if she'll say yes, but the suggestion isn't going to send her running for the hills."

George grins. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." Jon taps his beer; he's barely had any. "So, are we cool?"

"We're cool."

"It wasn't just my imagination, right? We weren't cool for a while."

George considers and then just says, "You broke her heart."

"I know." He's looking at George, steady, and George realizes this is probably the most sober he's ever seen him. "I do regret that."

"You ever wish you and her...?"

Jon shrugs. "Not in so many words. I'm happy. She's happy. You and Raoul are happy. I wouldn't change it for anything. But I wonder what it'd be like if I didn't fuck it up." He gives George a rueful smile. "I didn't even find out how she felt for like a year. It didn't occur to me she might like me. By the time I figured it out it was too late to fix it."

George nods. "I get a little protective about her. I know it's stupid, she takes care of herself."

"I get protective of Raoul, and he's the size of an ox. I get it, okay? That's why I wasn't pushing."

"We're cool," George tells him again. "Really. I wasn't mad at you, not really. Just didn't know what to say."

"Dear past Jon, you were a douchebag. That's what I always say to myself."

George smirks. "We really want to limit that to just past Jon?" he teases.

Jon grins. "Nah, you're right. Are we done with feelings talk? Because I'm very behind on binge-drinking."

"I'm goin' to be so depressed when you end up president."

"I know, right?" says Jon, draining the remainder of his beer in a single heroic gulp. "That is some grim shit."

*

"Jon sent me a snapchat of eight empty glasses of beer with the caption im gonna make out with your bf's ear y/y," Alanna remarks when George gets home. "I'm assuming that means you had fun?"

George usually doesn't drink on the job, but it was slow and Jon was there, so he had a few himself. He feels light and easy and happy; his life is amazing.

Maybe he had more than a few.

He crosses over to the sink, where she's watching dishes, and takes her head in his hands, pulling her in for a kiss. "You should move in with me," he says. "Don't get your own apartment. Just stay here. It's close to campus, your stuff's already here, I'd miss the cat. The people at the bar would miss the cat. He's like our mascot now."

"Are you drunk?" Alanna asks, laughing. "Did Jon get you drunk?"

"A little. But I'm serious. I want you to move in. I know it's too fast, you can say no. I just had to ask."

She leans up and kisses him. "I'm not saying no," she says.

"Yeah?" asks George, grinning.

"I'll think about it." She tucks her hair back behind her ear. "I'd been thinking about it." She tugs his hand. "Come on, bedtime. You're drunk. It's cute."

"Tipsy," George insists, but he lets her pull him to bed.

*

Two days later, Jon calls him up and says, "I have a package for you."

George rubs his face, yawning. "Yeah? Come on over, big boy, the missus is out."

Jon snorts. "No, you stole my phone and ordered something off Amazon the other night. Paid for expedited shipping and everything. You're lucky I have Prime. Bastard."

"Since conception," says George, yawning again. "I really bought somethin'?"

"You really did. I'll bring it over. I'm scarred for life."

George didn't think he was drunk enough to forget doing something, and now that he thinks about it, he does remember--right.

Well, he'd been meaning to do that anyway.

"You're paying me back," Jon says, thrusting the box into George's hands. "Not that any amount of money can erase the knowledge that you bought it."

"I don't believe for a second you're actually upset about knowin' that," George says. "How much was it?"

"Twenty bucks. And five more for shipping, handling, and emotional distress."

"You're gougin' me," George says, fishing out his wallet and handing over some bills. "I'm just a poor bartender. You're the son of a state senator."

"This will go straight towards therapy," Jon promises. "Well, liquid therapy. Did you ask her about moving in?"

"She's thinkin' about it," says George. He's got what he's sure is a ridiculous smile on his face. "I think she's goin' to."

Jon shakes his head. "Well, cool, I guess. When are you proposing?"

"Not until she graduates," George says, straight-faced. "Education first."

*

Alanna gets back from work a little after six and flops down next to him on the couch. "I think we should order takeout. I'm buying."

"Sure," says George. He tosses the package on her lap. "I got you a present."

"What's the occasion?"

"I was drunk and stole Jon's phone. I'm sure there was some kinda thought process, but who knows now."

Alanna snickers. "Nice of you to think of me."

"Maybe," says George, watching her open up the box with more than a little apprehension. "I don't really know why I picked that one," he continues, as she takes the strap-on out of the box. Then he sees the vibrator and says, "Oh, right. Came with a free vibrator. Seemed like a good deal."

Alanna's staring at it, turning it over in her hands. "You got drunk and bought me a strap-on?"

"I was thinkin' about gettin' you one before," he says. "Thought you might be into it. But you might not be, too. Your call." He shrugs. "You like bein' Alan sometimes."

"I do," Alanna agrees. "I hadn't thought about--this," she says, awkwardly, looking down at it.

George cocks his head, trying to get a read on her, and then starts laughing. "You're really turned on right now, aren't you."

"Shut up," she says, blushing.

He tugs her into his lap. "Not a bad thing," he observes, kissing her neck.

"What were you planning on doing with it?" she asks, tilting her head to give him better access.

"Anythin' you want," he says. "But if you're askin' what I've thought about--" he laughs. "I thought you were a guy for, what, five months? I thought about everythin'."

She looks at him, considering, and leans in to plant a quick kiss on his lips. "Let me go get changed."

*

Alan's cargo shorts are baggy enough that the strap-on isn't immediately obvious, but he moves differently with it on. Not more confident, exactly, but with an awareness.

He sits back down in George's lap, straddling him, and kisses him, long and dirty.

"You want me to call you Alan?" he asks, just to clarify. This is new for them, but he's already hard in anticipation.

"Yeah," says Alan, letting out a ragged breath. "Is that weird?"

"Who cares? It's just you and me." He nips under Alan's jaw. "Not weird."

Alan slides his hands up under George's shirt, pulling it off and tossing it away. He looks unsure for a minute, so George surges up and kisses him, undoing the button on his shorts with one hand. He slides his hand in and wraps his fingers around Alan's dick, grinning when Alan gasps.

"I can't feel anything," Alan mutters. "So why is that hot?"

"Stop thinkin' so much, darlin'," George says. "Just go with it."

Alan seems to take the advice to heart, because he pushes George down flat onto the couch and kicks his own shorts off, going in for another long, hot kiss. George tugs him closer, pushing up against him. Alan takes pity on him and snaps the fly open on George's jeans, and between the two of them they get him out of jeans and boxers. Alan leans back, looking George over and licking his lips. "Jesus, you really are into this," he comments.

"What, you think I'd lie to you?" George teases.

"Not going to answer that." He bites his lip. "I forgot to grab lube. Bedroom?"

He loses his shirt on their way in, but leaves the binder on. It makes George proud, how comfortable he is with this. That he's willing to trust George with it.

"So, where do you want me?" George asks, leaning against the door, and the raw heat in Alan's eyes is also pretty gratifying. He's not sure how he got this lucky.

"Everywhere," says Alan. "But might as well start with the bed."

George flops down on his back and Alan's on top of him again, kissing him and straddling his hips. George has a good foot of height on Alan, and a lot weight, so Alan can't really hold him down, but it's not like George is planning to fight him on this one. He's perfectly content to let Alan take the lead.

"I've never done this before," Alan murmurs, nuzzling George's neck.

"I have," George says. He's not on the receiving end very often; the guys he attracts tend to be into bottoming. But he'd be willing to do almost anything Alan wanted. "It's not hard, darlin'."

"It's very hard," Alan teases, and George snorts.

"Mature." He gets the lube out of the nightstand and offers it to Alan. "Or do you want me to do it myself?"

Alan licks his lips, sliding off George and crouching at the end of the bed, where he's got a better view. "I didn't know that was an option."

George snorts. "You like watching, huh?"

Alan ducks his head, flushing. "Your stupid hands," he mutters, and George grins.

He's got two fingers in, working himself open, when Alan breaks and surges forward, kissing him hard and sliding his own hand down to help. It's messy and uncoordinated and completely inefficient, and George has absolutely no complaints.

"There's, uh," he says, between kisses. "Should be something you can turn on, vibrator in the, um."

"It's okay," Alan says. "You can get me after." He licks his lips. "Does that mean you're ready?"

"Yeah," says George, breathless. "Just go slow. Been a while for me."

"I wanna hear about that someday," Alan says. He grabs the lube and slicks himself up, taking a deep breath.

"My complete sexual history?"

"Doesn't have to be complete. But you know mine."

"Anytime," says George, and groans as he pushes in.

Alan is so slow it's actually worse than just going for it, so George wraps his legs around Alan's waist and just pushes back onto him in one quick thrust, making Alan gasp. "Jesus," he says, laughing.

"Slow was a mistake," George explains, when he regains his breath. "Just go for it."

Alan's movements are a little jerky at first, inexperienced and uneven, but he gets into the rhythm quickly, and George goes from enjoying it because it's Alan to enjoying it because it's fucking awesome.

Alan wraps slim fingers around George's dick, more confident with that. "This is good, right?" he murmurs.

"You're doin' great," George says, leaning up for another kiss. It doesn't take much longer for him to come, and by the time he's recovered, Alan's pulled out and taken off the strap-on and the binder. He smiles and leans in for a kiss. "Good?"

"Good." She wraps herself around him, and George puts his arm around her shoulders. "Next time we do that, you should do me instead."

"Yeah?" He kisses her hair. "We can do that."

"We should also order dinner."

"And you haven't gotten off."

She laughs softly. "I'm not complaining. Sometimes it's not really about getting off." She nuzzles closer. "I was going to buy you dinner and tell you I wanted to move in with you. But I got distracted."

George's heart starts pounding overtime, and he grins. "You can still do that."

"Hmm," Alanna agrees, closing her eyes. "You going to act surprised?"

He laughs and pulls her closer. "Anythin' you want."

*

He buys Jon a six-pack and a copy of Dude, Where's My Car from the $5 movie bin at the gas station.

"For your trauma," he says.

Jon gives him a wary look. "You're in a good mood."

"She's movin' in."

"Oh god, she was that into it?"

George snorts. "She decided she was movin' in before." He can't help smirking. "But yes."

Jon groans. "I hate you."

"I know."

"I'm going to tell you all about me and Raoul's epic sex life."

"Sure," says George. "I'm all ears."

Jon pauses and corrects to, "I'm going to drink myself into a stupor."

George laughs and picks up a bottle to clink against Jon's glass. "Cheers."