JJ is used to Cook's constant presence. It might seem weird to people, that the other boy is always touching JJ or holding onto him, but JJ wouldn't have it any other way.
They're dancing in the underground club and Cook is pretty much strangling JJ, his hands around the boy's neck, screaming into his ear. The others spare glances at them and smile awkwardly or chuckle to themselves, but JJ doesn't even notice. His smile is so big he fears it may rip his face and Cook's hands are warm, travelling through his hair.
Cook's wild and unhinged, and he sometimes frightens JJ; like the night at the brothel, when he was so worried and upset; but JJ has never lost his trust in Cook, not yet, and Cook's hands are careful not to harm him.
After Thomas leaves, the gang falls apart. Effy takes Pandora home and JJ and Freddie try to pretend they didn't see Cook with the dark-haired girl, together, in the middle of the flat.
Both have their own different reasons for ignoring that development. Freddie thinks they have the same view and both want Effy for themselves, and they tell each other that they don't address it because they don't want to hear Cook bragging. Once he starts, there's no stopping him.
JJ has other reasons. JJ's reasons make his palms sweat, his heart beat a bit erratically, and his brain gets very confused. So he tries not to think about it too much.
The party at Pandora's was a nightmare. It had all started fine, with Cook urging him on to help him cause more mischief, which he was used to by now, but everything had quickly gone downhill when Katie's boyfriend had shown up with his friends. Cook had disappeared, leaving him alone in the middle of the commotion, and JJ had found himself calling Freddie.
Half of the night was a blur, people and noise everywhere.
Cook found them half an hour after Freddie had gotten there and calmed JJ down. They were well away from the house already.
"Hey, Gay-J, everything alright?" Cook threw his hand around JJ's shoulders. JJ squirmed under his touch, which just made the boy tighten his grip.
"Please stop calling me that."
Cook let out his usual bark of a laugh. "Oh, come on, it's endearing."
Freddie furrowed his brow in confusion. "How is that endearing?"
As Cook was about to answer, he cut him off. "You know what, I really don't care, either leave him alone or look after him, I'm going home. You alright, J?"
After JJ muttered a fine, thanks, Freddie turned to leave.
"Come on, Fredster, don't be like this," Cook cooed, reaching out a hand to stop him, but Freddie had made up his mind.
"Well, we don't need him to have a good time, do we?" was Cook's most common response any time the boys were abandoned by Freddie.
It seemed to be happening more often than usual and JJ wasn't used to looking out for Cook, that was Freddie's specialty.
JJ entertained and advised, Freddie took control or at least tried to.
Their relationships had formed over the years and the balance wasn't meant to be disturbed, not ever, but things had started to fall apart and JJ didn't like it one bit.
JJ wasn't used to Cook leaving him alone by himself during a party. When it had happened before, at least Freddie had always been there, they'd roll their eyes together and wait for Cook to emerge from the bathroom or bedroom or closet. Whenever Freddie hadn't shown, Cook had stuck close to JJ or warned him before disappearing.
JJ didn't like being left alone among complete strangers.
So when Cook asked him to come along to a club, JJ had had enough.
"I - I think I should be going home as well."
"Woah, woah, what do you mean?"
"Home. You know very well what that means, it's the place where you spend most of your time, depending on your age group of course, and most likely, your parents share it with you and -"
"I thought home was where the heart was?" Cook joked with a glint in his eye.
"Generally, that is the case, but-".
Normally, Cook was all for listening to JJ ramble on and on about something, because he found it calmed him, in a weird way. Tonight, however, was different.
He just wanted to make sure JJ didn't leave him.
"I was being rhetorical, actually."
"No, you weren't," JJ began to argue, but decided to give it up and just leave. Just say no. Just leave.
It was difficult to move his feet, but he had to do this. Freddie had been right.
Just say no.
Turning around was the easy part. Moving forward took more concentration.
He made it halfway across the street when Cook caught up with him.
"JJ, wait! Hey! I promise I'll stop calling you Gay-J, ok?"
"This isn't about that, Cook, thought it'd most definitely be appreciated."
"Well, what is it about then?"
A car honked and they both jumped over the curb.
"It.. it doesn't matter, ok, it doesn't."
Cook grabbed hold of his sweater, pulled him closer. JJ didn't mind, but the fact that his vision had hazed and his breath had quickened was alarming him.
Cook studied his face.
"What is it about?"
JJ leaned over and kissed him.
It's nothing like he had imagined - not that he had thought about this before, no, not at all, just say no - but it's definitely not as bad as he feared it might be. Cook doesn't push him away. Cook doesn't scream at him or hit him or run.
Cook moves closer, hands frantically tugging at JJ's hair, rough and gentle at the same time. JJ has never kissed anyone like this and he thinks he never will. They'll never be here; which is not true, physically, because they'll probably walk by this place many times again; but they won't be the same.
Under the roughness, Cook's mouth is sweet and needy, which actually describes his entire character pretty well, if you think about it.
JJ doesn't want to think about. JJ wants to feel, only feel.
That's what Cook can give him.
JJ feels everything.
They didn't go to another party that night. Instead they found a park bench from where they could see the entire city. JJ said it was gorgeous. Cook said that was an incredibly gay thing to say and JJ laughed, 'cause that's what Cook was like. Crude and wild. Hopeful and with no understanding of irony.
Cook ended up falling asleep with his head on JJ's stomach, after muttering an I'm sorry.. for leaving and all. They were sprawled across the bench, the night ending soon.
Cook slept sounder than JJ had ever seen him before.
It was nice to know that Cook trusted him, too.