Tuesday is Andrew's favorite day of the week for two reasons:
1. Emma always makes banoffee pie, Andrew's favorite.
2. The bike messenger delivers their order forms.
The second one shouldn't be that exciting, really, but Andrew has a mild crush on the bike messenger and always rushes to the front when he hears the bell ring on Tuesday mornings.
Today, he's already at the counter, serving a woman with shockingly pink hair, when the bell tinkles and the bike messenger walks in, his helmet flattening his hair against his head. Andrew beams at him as he hands the woman her coffee and muffin and lifts his hand in greeting.
"Hey!" Andrew says brightly.
"Hi," the bike messenger says. "Good morning."
"You have our order forms?" Andrew asks, grinning as the bike messenger comes up to the counter.
"No," the bike messenger says. "I brought kittens?"
"Well, we always need more kittens," Andrew says, leaning forward onto his elbows. "What kind of kittens?"
"Cute ones," the bike messenger says. "Adorable."
"Are there any other kind?" Andrew leans over and plucks a cookie from the display case, wraps it in paper, and hands it over. "Do you really have kittens?"
The bike messenger takes the cookie and sighs. "Yes. One of my cats gave birth last week."
"One of?" Andrew asks, watching as he nibbles around the edge of the cookie.
"I have three. Well, now I have three cats and about a thousand kittens." The bike messenger leans against the counter and flashes Andrew a smile, complete with a dimple. "Thanks for the cookie."
"Always," Andrew says as the messenger pulls out an envelope and sets it on the counter. "Thanks for the order forms."
The messenger gives Andrew another dimpled smile and says, "Always."
He turns to leave and Andrew impulsively blurts out, "Wait!"
The messenger turns back. "Yeah?"
"You can put up fliers." Andrew fidgets with his apron and hopes Emma doesn't yell at him. "For your kittens."
"Really?" The messenger takes a half-step forward. "That would be okay?"
"Yeah," Andrew says, glancing back over his shoulder. Joe is pretending not to listen as he brews the coffee. "Just, um. Bring them in and put them up wherever."
"Thanks!" The messenger grins. "I appreciate it. See you next week!"
"Okay," Andrew says, waving, and he slumps against the counter as the messenger exits through the door again.
"One day," Joe says, coming to stand next to him, "you should at least ask his name."
"Shh," says Andrew, scowling at him. "When are you going to tell Emma you're in love with her?"
Joe turns red and says, "You're mean," and goes back to fiddle with the coffeemaker.
When Andrew comes into work on Friday, there are a variety of brightly colored sheets of paper taped to the wall, advertising kittens. Call Jesse, it says at the bottom above a row of rip-off numbers. Andrew grins and rips off a strip of paper, shoving it in his jeans pocket.
"His name is Jesse," he tells Emma, who is covered in flour and looking vaguely homicidal. "His name is Jesse and he likes cats."
"Please make Justin stop ogling my cinnamon buns," Emma says.
"Is that a euphemism?" Andrew asks, confused.
Emma rolls her eyes and points. He follows her point and sees Justin crouching in front of the display case. He is ogling the cinnamon buns with a disturbing glint in his eyes, and Andrew can see a couple of the other customers eying him with worried expressions.
"What are you doing, Justin?" Andrew asks, slipping on his apron and walking to stand behind him. "You're scaring the children."
"I don't know which bun I want," Justin sighs. "They all look so good."
"You don't get a choice," Andrew says. "If you want a bun, you'll take whichever one I give you."
"Mean," Justin complains. "Fine. One bun and a large coffee."
Andrew goes behind the counter and plucks out the smallest bun, just out of mischief, and then turns to pour Justin a cup of coffee. "Here you go."
"Thanks. What's up with the cat flyers everywhere?" Justin asks. He peeks inside the bag and gasps. "You gypped me!"
"Sorry," Andrew says. "But you were scaring Emma."
"Ugh, fine." He bites into the cinnamon bun and hums appreciatively. "Oh, Emma, she makes my mouth water."
"I'll take that bun off you," Andrew warns, shaking his finger. "Don't be gross."
"Yeah," Joe says from the cashier. "Don't be like that."
"You guys are no fun at all," sighs Justin.
"Joe's scrappy, you wouldn't want to upset him," Andrew says.
"I can defend myself, you know," Emma calls from the kitchen.
"Yes, but you're not here," Joe shouts back.
Emma sticks her head out and scowls at Justin. "I can and will ban you if you continue to be a nuisance, Justin."
"I am a great customer, don't be ridiculous," Justin says. He pulls out a few crumpled bills and shoves it across the desk. "You love me."
"We love your money," Andrew says, counting out change for him. "Your money is always welcome."
"Yeah, yeah." Justin sips at his coffee and looks around. "Seriously, what's up with the kitten flyers?"
"Someone has kittens," Andrew says, trying and failing not to blush.
"Ooh," Justin says, waggling his eyebrows. "Someone you like, huh?"
"Shut up, no," Andrew lies. "Go away, Justin."
"You're adorable," Justin says, reaching out towards Andrew. Andrew ducks his head and sidles away to avoid him. "You should call him."
"Go away," Andrew repeats, and he fingers the strip of paper with Jesse's number in his pocket. He knows he isn't going to call it, but it's kind of nice to know it's there.
He's on the closing shift that night, and he closes up with Emma, who looks exhausted as always. She sits down across from him at one of the tables and hands him a plate of pie before digging into her own piece.
"So," she says through a mouthful of pie. "Let's talk about Jesse."
"Let's not," Andrew says, poking at his piece. "I don't even know him."
"You let him put pictures of his cats all over the bakery," Emma says. "Which I don't mind, believe me, but you didn't ask first? That's not like you." She points her fork at him. "So you must really like him."
"He's cute," Andrew allows. "He seems nice. But I don't know him at all."
"You should talk to him a little next time he's in here," Emma says. "So that I don't end up with cat flyers around all the time." She leans back in her seat, licking around the tines of her fork. "How did your audition go? Am I losing you to the glory of the spotlight?"
"Not yet," Andrew says morosely. "And you won't lose me, I'll work here as long as you need me to."
Emma shakes her head. "Honey, I know this isn't what you imagined would happen when you moved here. You hate this job –"
"I don't hate it," Andrew protests, because he doesn't, he loves working for Emma.
"Well, you don't love it," Emma amends. "Not like I do, you know? I always liked feeding people and I love what I do. You, though, you just love acting. I know, I've seen you do it. You can't pretend that this is what you want from your life."
Andrew sighs and leans forward on his elbow. "It isn't as easy as you make it sound."
"I know," Emma says sympathetically. She pats his arm. "My point is, don't hold yourself back. If you have the chance to do what you love, do it. Just have a little patience. There'll always be a place for you here if you need it."
"Thanks," Andrew says, and he takes another bite of pie. "We should hang out more."
Emma laughs and says, "If you want." She smiles at him and says, "Eat more pie."
The next time Jesse came in, Andrew greets him by name and hands him a cup of tea. "I didn't know what you liked," Andrew says apologetically. "So I just made you my favorite kind."
"Thank you," Jesse says, taking it. "How did you know my name?" He blows on the tea and gingerly takes a sip.
"You left it all around the bakery," Andrew reminds him, pointing at one of the fliers. "It was hard not to notice."
"Oh. Right." Jesse looks down at his cup. "This is good tea."
"I know," Andrew says happily. "I'm Andrew, by the way."
"I know," Jesse says, smiling. "You wear a nametag."
"Right." Andrew shuffles his feet a little. "Would you like a madeleine?"
"Sure." Jesse sips his tea daintily as Andrew digs into the display case. "Three of the kittens have been adopted, so thanks for letting me put up the flyers."
"Of course!" Andrew smiles and slides a madeleine across the counter to Jesse. "Kittens deserve a home."
"Yes, they do," Jesse agrees. He pulls out the order forms from his bag and passes it over. "Thanks for the tea. And the madeleine."
"Of course," Andrew says. "It was nice to meet you properly, Jesse."
"Same," Jesse says. He flashes Andrew a small smile, then eels out the door, madeleine in hand. Andrew leans against the counter and sighs dreamily.
"You're ridiculous," Joe says from the register.
"Shush," Andrew says, flapping his hand. "I'm having a moment."
Andrew's good mood lasts him all the way until his audition the next day, which goes so poorly that he goes home and curls up on his bed without even saying hello to his roommate, who is conducting some sort of bizarre experiment with jellybeans and Sprite. He watches some TV on his computer without really taking it in and then drags himself to the bakery for lack of anything better to do.
"Oh, honey," Emma says when she sees him. "Here." She holds out a cupcake. "I've been experimenting with banoffee cupcakes."
Andrew nibbles at it morosely. "My audition went horribly, Emma. I feel like such a moron."
"I'm sure it wasn't that bad," she says, leaning against the counter. Andrew notices with some amusement that her hair is secured with what looks like a spatula. "Maybe you're just being paranoid."
"You're not helping." He eats some more cupcake and looks around for Joe. "Why are you working the register?"
Emma purses her lips and pokes at the register. "Joe had a date," she says without meeting his eyes.
"Oh." Andrew finishes the cupcake and says, "This is really good."
"I know you like the banoffee pie," she says, looking up. "So I thought I'd just try it."
"It reminds me of home. My dad used to make it for me when I had a bad day." Andrew wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "Thanks."
"It's no problem." Emma looks around. "You want to work? I'll pay you overtime."
"Sure," Andrew says, eager to take his mind off the audition. "I'll grab my apron."
He works the counter while Emma retreats back to the kitchen and manages to mostly forget about his audition, focusing instead on keeping the display neat and serving the customers that came in. He's tidying the cupcakes when he hears a familiar voice from the door.
"— I already come here all the time," Jesse says, sounding annoyed.
"Shut up, this place is amazing," a guy says. Andrew hurriedly straightens and sees Jesse standing with a dark-haired guy with a closely-cropped beard. "Hello, good sir, I would like to buy some of your delicious pecan squares."
"Andrew!" Jesse says, eyes widening.
"Hi," Andrew says. He belatedly lifts his hand and waves a little. "Um, sorry, what was it you wanted?"
"Wait, you know each other?" The dark-haired guy looks from Andrew to Jesse. "Oh, is this the –"
"Shut up, Justin," Jesse hisses, blushing furiously. "He wanted some pecan squares."
"How many do you want?" Andrew asks, picking up a piece of wax paper. "And to stay or to go?"
"To go," Jesse says, just as Justin says, "To stay." They look at each other for a moment, and then Jesse sighs and says, "To stay."
"We have a regular named Justin," Andrew says, lifting a plate and putting a pecan square on it. "But you already seem way better than him."
"Thanks!" Justin says, grinning. "Can I have three of those?"
Andrew pulls out two more and stacks them on top of the first. "Jesse?"
"Whatever you think I'll like," Jesse says, still slightly pink.
Andrew contemplates the display case for a moment, then pulls out a cupcake with bright pink frosting. "How about this?"
"Oh my god," Jesse says, recoiling slightly. "That is – really bright."
Andrew grins. "It's pink lemonade flavored. I swear it isn't as sickly sweet as it looks."
"All right," Jesse says. "What should I drink with it?"
"Tea!" Andrew turns to pour a cup of hot water. "What would you like, Justin?"
Andrew pours a cup of coffee and turns slides it across the counter. He opens up a tea bag, puts it in Jesse's cup, and says, "That'll be ten seventy-three."
The two of them scrounge up cash and put it on the counter. Andrew takes it and asks, "Can I sit with you? It's pretty dead here."
"Sure," Justin says, grinning. "Jesse talks about you –"
"Shut up," Jesse says with a groan. He snatches his tea and cupcake and stalks to a table by the window.
"He's so sensitive sometimes," Justin says, rolling his eyes. He picks up his plate of pecan squares and his coffee, then follows Jesse to the table. Andrew comes out from behind the counter and joins them, sitting a careful six inches to Jesse's right.
"I'm not sensitive," Jesse says to Justin. "I just don't appreciate you –"
"I know, I know," Justin says, patting Jesse's arm. "So, Andrew, right? What do you do aside from work here?"
"I'm an actor. Or, well, trying to be," Andrew says. "I don't suppose either of you know of any productions looking for a skinny English boy, do you?"
"I don't," Justin says. "But Jesse, don't you deliver stuff to a bunch of theatres?"
"Yeah. I – I can ask around," Jesse says, stirring his tea and not looking at Andrew. "I think there might be one or two things around."
"Thanks," Andrew says. He nudges Jesse's foot under the table and smiles when Jesse looks up. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," Jesse says, blinking at Andrew.
"I don't suppose you want to be a bicycle messenger your whole life," Andrew says. "What's your secret ambition, then?"
"I don't have one," Jesse very clearly lies, going pink.
"Come on," Andrew says encouragingly. "I told you mine."
Justin noisily sips at his coffee. "Go on, Jesse," he says. "Tell him."
"I don't know why I'm friends with you," Jesse mutters. He looks sideways at Andrew and says, "I write."
"Oh, yeah?" Andrew asks eagerly. "Books?"
"Yeah, and plays." Jesse shrugs. "It isn't any good."
"One of his plays is being produced right now," says Justin, ignoring Jesse's glare. "Aren't they casting right now?"
"Yeah," Jesse says. "I, uh, if you're interested, I can give you the number of the producer."
"Sure," Andrew says. "I'll try out for anything."
"Hold on a minute," Jesse says, fumbling in his jacket pocket. He pulls out a small notebook and a pen. He scribbles a number down, then rips the paper out and slips it over to Andrew. "Good luck."
"In the theatre, we say break a leg," Andrew says primly.
"Then break a leg," Jesse says. "Although that sounds kind of terrible."
"It does, doesn't it?" Andrew smiles down at the number and says, "Thank you. Do you want me to call you if I get the part?"
"Um, do you have my number?" Jesse asks, frowning. "I mean, I'm sure I'll hear from Sandra, but – you don't have to call me, is all."
"I mean, we're friends, right?" Andrew asks, nudging Jesse's elbow.
"You didn't even know my name until last week," Jesse says wryly, but he bends over the piece of paper and adds his number beneath it. "In case you need it."
"Thanks!" Andrew rubs the paper between his fingers and decides not to mention that he already has Jesse's number stashed away somewhere. "I'll use it wisely."
"This is adorable," Justin says, polishing off his last pecan square and licking his fingers, "but we should probably be going, right?"
Jesse glances at the watch at his wrist and hisses under his breath. "Yeah, okay." He flashes a tiny smile at Andrew. "Break a leg."
Andrew sits back in his chair and watches as Justin and Jesse leave, smiling to himself. He looks down at the slip of paper, then puts it in his pocket for later.
Andrew keeps the number in his pocket for a week, too afraid to call it. He transfers it between pockets, tapping it against his leg absently whenever he's bored or nervous. Finally, on Monday night, he pulls the paper out and unfolds it on his lap before grabbing his phone.
The producer picks up on the second ring and says, "Hello, Sandra Bright."
"Hi," Andrew says in a rush. "I was, um, given your number by Jesse?"
"Jesse Eisenberg?" Sandra asks. "Sure. What is it that he told you to call me about?"
"I'm an actor and he said you're still casting?" Andrew says. "Oh god, this is totally inappropriate, isn't it?"
"Not at all," Sandra says, sounding amused. "If Jesse gave you my number, he must like you, and he's hard to impress."
"Oh, I don't know if he likes me," Andrew says nervously.
"Well, you should come in for an audition anyway," Sandra says. "I can have Jesse give you part of the script tomorrow."
"It's – okay," Andrew says. "Okay. Yeah, that's – yeah."
"When are you available to come in for an audition?" Sandra asks. "Is Wednesday good?"
"Yeah," Andrew says, voice shaking a little. "Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I'm – I'm free, I can come in."
"Okay." Sandra rattles off an address, which Andrew hurriedly scrambles to write down. "1 p.m. is good?"
"That's perfect," Andrew says. "That's great. I'll see you then."
"Looking forward to it," Sandra says cheerfully, and she hangs up. Andrew sets the phone down and falls back against his bed. In the neighboring room, Matt shouts something that sounds like, "Eureka!" and Andrew grins to himself.
He goes into work on Tuesday feeling good, if slightly nervous, and whistles while he starts up the coffee. Emma leans against the door to the kitchen and arches her eyebrows at him. "You're happy."
"I feel good," Andrew says cheerfully. "Today is a good day."
"I'm glad," Emma says. She pats his arm and slips back into the kitchen as Joe comes in, tying his apron around his neck.
"Hey," Joe says, nodding. "What's up?"
"Did you really have a date last week?" Andrew asks, dusting off the counter. "Because Emma didn't seem happy about it."
Joe makes a face. "I did have a date, but it was terrible." He sighs and slumps against the counter. "Was she really mad?"
"I don't know if she was mad," Andrew hedges in a quiet voice, "but she definitely wasn't pleased."
"But I can't just ask her out," Joe protests. "That would be weird."
"Yes you can," Andrew says firmly. "Look at me, I got Jesse's number!"
"It's been all around the bakery for two weeks," Joe points out. "That's not really an accomplishment."
"But I got him to give me his number," Andrew says. "There's a difference."
Joe rolls his eyes and shifts away from Andrew as the first of the early morning customers start coming in. "Sure, whatever."
Jesse arrives at his usual time, looking harried. "Sandra said she called you," he says brusquely. "I brought you the script." He ducks his head. "Don't judge me for it. I know it's terrible."
"I'm sure it's great." Andrew holds out his hands. "Gimme."
"Say please," Jesse says, digging his backpack.
"Please, Jesse," Andrew says. He smiles winningly. "You can have your choice of free pastries."
"Here you go," Jesse says. He hands Andrew a thick manila envelope and sets the order forms down on the counter. "If reading it makes you change your mind –"
"I don't think you understand how badly I want a part," Andrew says wryly. He picks out a particularly tasty-looking cinnamon bun and wraps it up for Jesse. "Here."
"Thank you," says Jesse quietly. "I'm – it isn't that I don't want you to be in my play, I just – it's weird, letting people see my work."
Andrew reaches out and touches the back of Jesse's wrist lightly. "I get it. It's fine. I just, I want to have a part."
"Okay," Jesse says, staring at Andrew's hand. "Right. I'll, uh, talk to you later?"
"Yeah," Andrew says. "Thanks for everything."
Jesse smiles slightly and says, "No problem."
Andrew spends most of his downtime at work reading the script and getting a feel for the part that Jesse had indicated at the top of the script. It's a good part, a nervous, anxious young man who is inspired to commit acts of kindness after nearly dying. He makes Joe run lines with him when the bakery goes dead around two, and even Emma comes out to help out.
"You're good," Joe says when they finish. "Like, really good."
Andrew ducks his head, embarrassed. "Thank you."
"Go home," Emma says abruptly. "Joe and I can handle it for the rest of tonight. You should practice and get a good night's rest, okay?"
"I can work," Andrew protests.
"No," Emma says firmly. "Go home, Andrew, we can take care of it. You need the rest of the day off."
"Thanks," Andrew says with a sigh. "You can call me if you need me."
"We won't." Emma leans down and kisses the top of his head lightly. "Break a leg tomorrow, okay?"
Andrew throws up twice the next morning, and he rinses his mouth out with shaking hands. He's never been more nervous for an audition; he feels an odd sense of responsibility to Jesse, even though he's sure Jesse won't even be there. He brushes his teeth to clear the last taste of vomit from his mouth, then grabs his hat and jacket to catch the subway downtown.
Sandra Bright greets him with a strong grip and a bright, white smile. Her dark hair is in long braids and she has the same aura of intimidating surety that he has found in all producers.
"Andrew, thanks for coming," she says, walking with him towards the stage, past a small group of other people. "You've read the script?"
"Yes," Andrew says. "Jesse highlighted Lewis's lines for me, I hope that's what I was meant to come in for."
"I think that'll be a good fit," Sandra says. "Why don't you give me the monologue from Act Two?"
Andrew finds the spot she means and asks, "Should I go up on the stage?"
"Yeah, sure." Sandra sits down and looks at him expectantly. Andrew takes a deep breath, mounts the stage, and hits the mark in the middle.
He delivers the monologue in his best American accent (Emma had laughed but assured him that it was good, just weird to hear coming from his mouth) and only glances at the script twice.
"I won't be back again," he finishes, pacing the stage. "That's not why I came. I don't want to be recognized. Forget I came, please." He steps back carefully, hunching his shoulders and burying himself in Lewis's insecurities. "I wish you every happiness."
He closes his eyes when he's finished, then opens them when he hears the sound of clapping. He squints into the light, lifting a hand to shade his eyes, and asks, "Was that all right?"
"That was great," comes Sandra's voice. "Come down here, let me talk to you."
Andrew hurries down the stairs, clutching the script to his chest. He skids to a halt in front of Sandra and shifts nervously until she gestures for him to sit. He folds his hands on his lap and looks at her, trying not to show how nervous he is.
Sandra smiles. "Relax," she says. "You did great. Would you mind coming in later this week to read with some of the other actors, just so we can see how you might fit?"
"All right," Andrew says. "Really?"
"Really," Sandra says. "I can see why Jesse sent you to me."
"Oh my god," Andrew breathes, and he curls in on himself. "Oh my god, thank you, thank you so much."
Sandra pats his shoulder gingerly. "You're good, Andrew. Don't worry so much."
Andrew takes a deep breath. "Thank you. Thank so much, I can come in whenever you want."
The first place he goes is the bakery, where Rooney is on shift, her short hair pulled into pigtails. He sweeps her into his arms and kisses her noisily on the cheek, ignoring her protesting squawk, and asks, "Can I see Emma?"
"Andrew, what are you doing?" asks Rooney, dusting herself off fussily. "I thought you stopped working on Wednesdays."
"I did," Andrew says. "I need to talk to Emma."
"Andrew," Emma says, poking her head out of the kitchen. "What's up?"
"I have a callback!" he says. "And I think I have the part!"
"Oh my god!" Emma says, and she comes out of the kitchen to hug him tightly. "Come on, Roon, give Andrew a hug," she adds, and Rooney wraps her skinny arms around both of them, laughing.
"Thank you for helping me," Andrew says to Emma later when they're eating some celebratory cake. "I mean, it's just one part, it doesn't mean anything, but it's nice to have a job."
"Mm. Did I ever tell you how I ended up with this place?" Emma asks, gesturing around the bakery. "I dropped out of college after one semester and started working at a bakery in midtown. I worked there for a year before they moved me up from just doing breads. I learned everything I could from them and then tried opening one of my own. It took two failed attempts before one took." She shrugs. "It all helps, Andrew."
"You're trying to teach me a lesson," Andrew says accusingly, pointing at her with his fork. "You realize I'm older than you, right?"
"And yet, my life is more together than yours." Emma pats his hand. "I'm just saying, Andrew. You're usually pretty optimistic, why aren't you hopeful about this?"
"It feels like I'll jinx it," Andrew admits. "I like this play."
"You like the playwright," Emma says with a teasing smile.
"That too," Andrew says. "I mean, he wrote this himself! What if I mess it up?"
Emma rolls her eyes and says, "Andrew, you really should read that play again."
He frowns at her, but doesn't get a chance to ask what she means. Joe comes in for his shift, humming, and says, "Emma, I want to go on a date with you."
Emma and Andrew exchange looks. "Um," Emma says.
Andrew kicks her under the table and says, "It all helps, right?"
"You're mean," she says. She turns and smiles up at Joe. "Sure."
Joe blurts out, "Really? I just thought – I figured I'd try, but I'd never –" He shakes his head. "Excellent."
Emma smiles at him, and Andrew quietly gets out of his seat to leave them alone. He takes the cake with him.
He goes in to read with the rest of the cast on Friday and, by the end of it, has calmed down enough to agree to go to lunch with Sandra. "I think you're a perfect fit," she tells him as they walk to a nearby cafe. "You seem to understand the character and you're doing well with the other actors. And Jesse likes you –"
"He doesn't," Andrew protests. "We don't even really know each other."
"If you say so." Sandra opens the door for him. "So let's talk hours."
It isn't until Andrew gets home that he realizes he officially has a part in a play and he has to lie down on the couch. Matt, who is wearing a pair of tinted round glasses and an ascot, leans over him and says, "Andrew? Are you quite all right? You look...strange."
Andrew turns his head to take in Matt's checked shirt and bright blue jacket. "I'm fine, Matt," he says. "What on earth are you wearing, though?"
"Forgot to do my laundry," Matt says. "Did your thing today go well?"
"I have a part," Andrew says. "I have the lead, sort of."
"Sort of?" Matt pokes him in the shoulder. "What does that mean?"
"Okay, I'm the lead," Andrew says. "I'm just trying not to jinx it."
"That's brilliant, Andrew," Matt says, grabbing his hand and shaking it about awkwardly. "I'm happy for you."
"Thanks," Andrew says. "I kind of feel like I'm going to throw up."
"Just don't get it on the sofa." Matt scoots away. "You should probably tell your mother at some point, you know."
"Oh, that's a good idea," Andrew says, and he sat up to go call his mom.
He tells Emma about the part when he goes in for his shift on Tuesday. She gives him a hug and says, "Remember, take off all the time you want."
Andrew smiles at her, then goes to brew the coffee. He hears the bell jingle, and he turns to see Jesse coming in, hair damp from the light rain. Andrew waves energetically and says, "Hey! Guess what?"
"What?" asks Jesse, rummaging in his bag.
"I got the part in your play," he says cheerfully. "Thank you so much for that, it's a great play."
"Oh," Jesse says, looking up suddenly. "You've. You've read it, then?"
"Of course I've read it," Andrew says. "I'm playing Lewis."
"Really?" Jesse asks. "Lewis?"
Andrew frowns. "That was the part written at the top of the script you gave me."
"That's because it was my script," Jesse says. "I mean – it's. It's fine, I'm sure you're great."
"Jesse, if you don't want me to do it, I can tell Sandra –" Andrew starts, though he's not entirely sure he's telling the truth.
"No," Jesse says. "No, it's fine. I'll – you liked the script? There wasn't anything you thought was weird?"
"I thought it was really good," Andrew says, shrugging. "Why? Are you worried about it? You don't need to be."
"Thanks for that," Jesse mutters. "Here are the order forms. I guess I'll – see you around?"
"Yes," Andrew says, frowning at him. "Jesse –"
"I'll see you later," Jesse says, and he hurries out of the bakery before Andrew has a chance to ask him what's wrong.
Andrew is able to mostly forget about Jesse's strange behavior until he's at rehearsal and one of the other actors is reading the part of Dee, the girl Lewis is in love with. Kristen, who normally speaks in a fairly bland Californian accent, has switched to a soft English accent that bears a striking resemblance to Andrew's own. He stares at her, then back at the script, where it does indeed say that Dee is English.
"Andrew, does that sound all right?" Kristen asks. "You're frowning, am I doing it wrong? Jesse said it was a Surrey accent."
"Yeah," Andrew says after a moment. "That sounds fine." He bends over the script and starts flipping through it, putting little pencil marks next to things he remembers saying to Jesse, details that Andrew recognizes from their brief conversations. It feels insanely narcissistic to even think that Jesse might have based Dee on Andrew, but when he sets the script down, the evidence is kind of overwhelming.
"Jesus," he mutters, wondering if that's why Emma had laughed at him and why Sandra had kept insisting that Jesse liked him.
When he gets home, he digs the old slip of paper with Jesse's number on it out from his laundry and spends fifteen minutes freaking out before finally sucking it up and dialing the number. He's not sure what he wants to say to Jesse; he thinks that it must be a positive sign that Jesse based a character on him, but he's honestly not entirely confident that he's not reading into things.
Jesse picks up on the second ring with a cautious, "Hello?"
"Hi, um, this is Andrew," Andrew says, losing his nerve. "How are you?"
"I'm fine," Jesse says slowly. "I, um. Why are you calling me?"
"Oh, I just noticed in the script that –" Andrew pauses, then blurts out, "Did you base Dee on me?"
He immediately regrets it; he hadn't meant to ask it so bluntly. There's silence on the other end and Andrew says, "I'm sorry, I didn't – I just, it seems like –"
"Oh god," Jesse says. "I really don't want to – I can't talk about this, this is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me."
"Oh no, Jesse –" Andrew starts, but the line goes dead before he's able to finish his sentence. Andrew sighs and flops down on his bed, feeling stupid. He shouldn't have pushed, he knew that – but he had to know. If Jesse liked him –
"Andrew," Matt says, poking his head into the room. "I couldn't help but overhear – you seem to be having relationship troubles."
Andrew narrows his eyes at Matt and says, "You're wearing a Stetson."
Matt nods, making the hat shift a little. "I am. Come, talk to me about your woes."
Andrew tilts his head to the side and considers Matt for a moment. For all his oddities, Matt is one of his best friends and he has the benefit of being a completely neutral party. He pats the bed next to him and says, "Ready when you are."
Matt plops down next to him and kicks out his cowboy-booted feet. "Proceed," he says magnanimously.
So Andrew pours out the whole story to him and Matt listens attentively right through to the end. "Well," he says when Andrew finishes. "It sounds to me like you need to talk to him in person."
"But I don't know how I'd –" Andrew stops. "Wait. He always comes on Tuesdays."
"Precisely," Matt says. "You should go on Tuesday and talk to him. And possibly apologize for being impolite."
"Ugh, I know," sighs Andrew. "I'm the worst, aren't I? I should have just asked him if he wanted to go out, right?"
"Probably, but at least now you know he's interested," Matt says cheerfully, swinging his legs off the bed. "Buck up, soldier. You've got a playwright to charm."
"I do, don't I?" Andrew asks enthusiastically, and he gets up to go pick out his battle clothes.
He isn't able to sleep much Monday night, stomach twisting into tight knots as he stared at his ceiling, thinking of all the possible ways his conversation with Jesse could go wrong. He ends up oversleeping and has to hop into his jeans and shirt before taking the first train that comes to his station. He skids into the bakery a little after nine and runs to the counter where Rooney is working, her short hair pulled into pigtails.
"Andrew!" she says, startled. "I didn't know you were working today."
"I'm not," Andrew says breathlessly. "Hi. Has Jesse – the bike messenger – come by yet?"
"No," Rooney says slowly. "Andrew, are you okay?"
"Yes. Well, not really, but I will be soon," Andrew says. He sank back against the counter. "Can I have water or something?"
"Sure." Rooney reaches over to get a cup of water from the dispenser behind her and then passes it to Andrew. He chugs it gratefully and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
"Where's Joe?" he asks, looking around. "Did their date go badly? Did he have to quit or something?"
Rooney gives a tiny smile. "Not exactly." She leans across the counter, mouth quirking into a smirk. "Their date went so well that he's still in bed upstairs. Emma dragged herself down, but she looks pretty –"
"I can hear you!" Emma calls from the kitchen, and Rooney ducks her head as she giggles. Andrew smiles, then hears the tinkling sound of a bell from behind him.
He whirls around just as Jesse walks through the door, his helmeted head bowed as he rifles through his bag. "Hey, I have the –" He looks up and catches sight of Andrew. "Oh."
"Hi," Andrew says. "I, um. I didn't mean to –"
"Oh god," Jess says, face twisting. "Are you going to – you shouldn't apologize, I'm the one who's creepy and awful –"
"You're not creepy!" Andrew says emphatically. "You're not, I promise. I was flattered."
"Really?" Jesse asks shyly. "I – I hoped you wouldn't notice." He shakes his head. "Kind of a dumb plan, right?"
"I probably wouldn't have if Kristen wasn't doing an accent that sounds like mine," Andrew says. He smiles and steps forward. "Does this mean, um. That you like me?"
"Will you believe me if I say no?" Jesse asks hopefully.
"No," Andrew says cheerfully. "Jesse, I would like very much to take you on a date. If that's all right with you."
"If you're sure," Jesse says, coming closer. "I, um. Yes. I would like that."
Andrew reaches out and finally takes one of Jesse's hands. He's grinning so hard that his cheeks hurt and he can't even care that they're attracting stares from the people sitting around the bakery. "Good," he says, squeezing Jesse's fingers gently. "I'll call you."
"You have my number," Jesse says, looking up through his lashes.
"I do," Andrew agrees, tilting forward a little.
"So," Rooney says, drawing out the word. "Are you going to give me those order forms?"
Jesse goes pink and says, "Right, yeah," and hurriedly goes back to digging through his bag. He produces the familiar manila envelope and goes to give it to Rooney. He looks back at Andrew. "I have to leave," he says regretfully. "But –" He darts forward and presses a quick, chaste kiss to the corner of Andrew's mouth. "I'm looking forward to that call."
Andrew dazedly touches the side of his mouth and smiles like a dope. "Yeah, me too," he says, and he grins as Jesse turns to leave, waving when Jesse glances back over his shoulder.
He turns back to smile at Rooney and says, "One of those pink lemonade cupcakes to go, please. I have a date to plan."
Rooney chuckles and picks out a cupcake for him. "Good luck."
"Thanks!" Andrew says. He took it, handed over his money, and smiles. Tuesdays are his favorite day of the week.