Actions

Work Header

Your First Friend Is My

Work Text:

"Hell-oo roommate!"

Jesse looks up from where he's prowling through his boxes to see a redheaded boy his age enter the dorm, beaming and carrying a box that looks heavy. Redhead grins at Jesse, before nearly stumbling over the rug on the ground and bumping into the fireplace.

Jesse's already in his part of the dorm, and says, "Hello," before returning to his box of books. He's not sure which ones to put on his shelf and which to keep under his bed—there's no point in displaying his favorites when he's read them dozens of times, but putting up the books he hasn't read in plain view for everyone to see will make him feel guilty. He gnaws on his bottom lip, considering.

Redhead releases his box on the desk at the other side of the suite and sighs. "One of five," he huffs, before turning to Jesse. "Jesse, right? I'm Joe."

Right. Jesse vaguely remembers that from the roommate assignment he'd received in the mail—a guy named Joe Mazzello was to be his roommate. "Hi, Joe," Jesse says, lifting his head up. "Yes, I'm Jesse."

"Awesome," Joe says, grinning. "I'd shake your hand, but it's kind of sweaty and gross so I don't think you'd want to shake it."

"Um," Jesse says, thinking. "Not particularly, I guess. Sorry if that seems—"

"Nah, I offered, I declined for you," says Joe. "I'm going to get the rest of my boxes. You unpacking?"

"Yeah," Jesse says, gesturing to his own boxes on the side of the suite that he'd claimed as his own. "I would offer to help you, but my arms are—" he waves them around. "I'd barely helped my parents get my boxes in."

"It's fine," Joe laughs, before turning around and disappearing back into the hallway.

Jesse wonders if it's a good thing that he got stuck with such a cheerful guy as a roommate this year. Last year he'd had a single, which was very much preferable, but his parents had suggested for him to try to be more social this year, and Jesse was feeling kind of adventurous when he had been applying for dorms. He's already gone through five emotional rollercoasters of regret, took Xanax, and is now trying to rationalize that Joe seems like an okay guy, even though there's no proof that he's not dangerous. At least he doesn't seem like the type to want to torture Jesse. He'll just do it while Jesse's asleep and blissfully ignorant, which Jesse can live with.

He continues unpacking as Joe heaves his boxes back and forth, from the wheeled rack in the hallway that doesn't fit through their door, to the other side of the suite with the lamp. "This suite is supposed to hold three people, right?" Joe asks, thumping down his third box.

"Does it?" Jesse says. "I thought you were my only roommate this year." Great, more people he'll have to be around when he's just woken up or trying to get to the shower.

Joe says, "Well, I am! But I think I read that these suites in Kirkland can hold up to three people, so I was wondering."

"Why?" Jesse says, immediately suspicious. "Do you have a girlfriend or something that you need to stay over—?"

Joe, quite frankly, cackles. "No!" he says, clutching his stomach. "I was just wondering, man. I don't have a girlfriend that I need to stay over a lot. Or a boyfriend." He turns thoughtful, and his words make Jesse blush and quickly turn back to his books. "At least there's only two beds. Otherwise it would be creepy if we just had a mysterious third roommate who never showed up."

"That would be creepy," Jesse mutters, pretending like he hasn't already considered the fact. He goes back to his books, sorting between his favorites and the ones he's procrastinating on reading. Maybe he'll just put his favorites on his shelf. He can always read them again.

Joe goes out to get another box, and that's when Jesse hear another voice exclaim, "Mazzello! What's happening?" There's a lot of laughter going on outside Jesse's dorm, which Jesse tries to ignore—most of Jesse's friends are in Dunster, or Adams, where Patrick is. Jesse had picked Kirkland at random when he'd applied for housing last year, completely forgetting to check in with his friends (and boyfriend) with where they were living.

Which was why he was now rooming in Kirkland with some guy named Joe.

"Not much, man, just unpacking," comes Joe's voice. "It's—ugh—rough."

"I'll help you get the last one," says the other voice, and Jesse notes absently that it's British. There are some international students in Harvard, but rarely of the British variety, so he wonders what this guy is doing here. Well, it is Harvard so he supposes it's not that much of a surprise. Jesse remembers all the hoops he had to jump just to get here, and is glad he already survived one year of college, and will hopefully make it through the next one.

Footsteps enter the room and Jesse peeks from behind the book he's rifling through to see Joe come in, along with a boy with perky brown hair and wearing a short-sleeved flannel. Neither of them seem to pay Jesse any mind, although when presumably-British boy, sets the box down next to Joe and sighs, his gaze sweeps the room and he looks startled when he spots Jesse.

"Hi," Jesse says lamely, and then immediately hates himself. Ugh, he probably looks like a creep just standing here, doing nothing but reading through his books. He quickly puts the book down in the small piles he's made so it looks like he's doing something.

The kid grins at him. His smile is even brighter than Joe's. "Hey," he says, British accent and all. "You're Joe's roommate?"

"The one and only," Jesse says wryly.

Joe wipes his forehead and gestures. "Yeah," he says to British boy. "That's Jesse. He's pretty cool."

"You barely know me," Jesse says.

Joe shrugs. "I have good intuition."

"Well," British boy says, laughing a bit at the both of them. "It's really nice to meet you, Jesse. I'm Andrew."

"Nice to meet you too, Andrew," Jesse says. Andrew reaches over with his hand, and self-consciously Jesse wipes his palm on his shirt before shaking Andrew's hand. "You're not Joe's secret boyfriend that he wants to stay over in our dorm all the time, are you?"

He immediately regrets it as soon as the words come out of his mouth. "Oh god, I just said that, didn't I?" he says, as Joe chokes out laughter. "I'm sorry, I didn't—"

"It's fine," Andrew says, even though the heat rising to Jesse's face is pointedly telling him it's not fine. "No, I'm not Joe's boyfriend. I haven't even got a boyfriend."

"Or a girlfriend," Joe adds. "We're all single men, here!"

Jesse decides not to argue the point—Andrew and Joe seem happy enough, nudging each other, Andrew opening one of Joe's boxes and throwing a pair of underwear at him. Jesse watches them, and briefly wonders if he'll be seeing Andrew around more.

*

 

Rooming with Joe is… weird. Well, it's fine, because they wake up and go to classes and say goodnight, like roommates usually should. Or at least so Jesse thinks; it's the first time he's had a roommate and he hasn't really had the chance to ask Joe about his experience with roommates. There's always the possibility that Jesse's a bad roommate and Joe's just too nice to tell him, but that's a rabbit hole Jesse doesn't even want to bring his head under.

Mostly what they do is make light conversation, or at least Joe tries to and Jesse responds with short answers and then feels terrible afterward. It's not Jesse's fault that he's not the most extroverted guy around, okay? Well, maybe it is a little bit, and Jesse would like to work on it if he knew how, but all hs really has is Xanax and thirty books on Russian literature on his bookshelf, so his ineptitude should warrant forgiveness.

At least it's easier when Andrew's around. Andrew begins swinging by after the first week of classes, bright-eyed. The first time he does he asks, "Is Joe in?" when Jesse's opened the door, and when Jesse shakes his head, Andrew goes, "Oh well. Can I come in?"

"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to let strange guys into our apartment," Jesse says. "Joe might not approve."

Andrew laughs. "Oh, Joe would definitely approve," he says. "The question is, would you approve?"

Jesse puts on a worried look, which makes Andrew laugh further. "I don't know how to feel knowing that you know that Joe would want strange guys around," he says, but lets Andrew in anyway.

Andrew heaves himself onto the red couch into the common room and grins up at Jesse. "And I'll have you know that I'm not strange," he says. When Jesse raises his eyebrows, Andrew adds, "Well, not that strange. Not strange enough to warrant the label of strange."

"Please stop saying that word," Jesse says, and Andrew cracks a grin and turns on the TV remote like he lives here. He immediately flips to a channel that he likes, too, which makes Jesse think that Joe's probably invited him over while Jesse's at class, which Jesse supposes they should talk about. Jesse doesn't mind Andrew, really, but he's still not comfortable at the idea of people he barely knows entering his living space when he's not around.

And it's the first time Jesse and Andrew are alone together, when Jesse is studying and Andrew is watching TV in a dorm that isn't his. Jesse thinks it's kind of weird, since they're not saying anything to each other and it's - well, Andrew doesn't live here.

But he calls over to Jesse once, "Do you watch Shark Week?" and Jesse looks up from his books, furrowing his eyebrows and shaking his head.

"No? Do I seem like the type of person who does?" he asks. He's heard Patrick talk about it before, but it's never piqued his interest.

Andrew shakes his head quickly, smiling again. "No - it's just on right now, so I thought you might be interested in watching it."

"Thank you for the invitation," Jesse mutters, because he's gotten distracted by something in his homework and he's pretty sure he'd gotten question 15 wrong, and rushes to erase it out.

Jesse doesn't know how long it takes to break the ice with roommates or roommates' friends - he had friends in high school, of course, and earlier, but that was usually through shared interests and he didn't hang out with anyone outside of school. And you don't really see your friends on a daily basis, and being roommates with someone is so much different, because sometimes Jesse hears Joe fart in his sleep, or Jesse's brushing his teeth when he hears a knock on the bathroom door and he has to rush to spit out and say, "I'm in here!" because he likes his privacy when he's brushing his teeth that he'd locked the door.

When Jesse comes out, wondering how comfortable he's supposed to feel about Joe seeing him in his pajamas, Joe looks up from his phone and says, "Morning Jesse."

"Morning." Jesse prowls through his dresser, looking for a clean t-shirt. He doesn't like changing in front of other people, but he's afraid of Joe giving him weird looks. Luckily, there's a piece of wall between both his room and the common room that Jesse can hide behind it so Joe can't see him at that angle.

Joe's voice floats over as Jesse wrangles his shirt on. "So, Andrew thinks you don't like him very much."

"What? Jesse blurts, shoving his shirt down and peering out from behind the angle. "Why did he - "

"Because you declined his invitation to watch Shark Week." Joe's snickering at his phone.

Jesse frowns, feels terrible, and also wonders how someone could possibly make that assumption about him. "I was busy with homework," he says, remembering. "There's nothing - I don't care about - well, not that I don't care about, but why would I dislike - "

"It's alright, I've got it covered," Joe says. When Jesse continues frowning in confusion, Joe looks up and says, "You're too awkward to hate anyone."

"I'm not awkward," Jesse says immediately. Joe doesn't even bother looking up at his phone from this, and Jesse revises. "I mean - I guess I amawkward - and I don't hate Andrew - "

Joe gets up and claps Jesse on the shoulder. "It's fine," he says, grinning. "I told Andrew that it was all a big mistake and he was just being paranoid."

"I feel that," Jesse mutters, as they patter around the dorm, getting ready for class.

But it's still kind of weird, that now Andrew kind of looks at Jesse hesitantly when he comes around, and that Jesse feels like he now needs to say more to Andrew so Andrew doesn't think that he secretly hates him. And with Joe - well, Joe doesn't seem to care about anything, all cheerful and carefree, but that just makes Jesse even more anxious about talking too little or, once, too much, when Joe had just kind of blinked at him in confusion after Jesse had ranted about one of his distressingly incompetent TAs over breakfast.

Jesse often gets breakfast with Joe since they live together, but more than often eats alone, or treks to Adams for breakfast. Once Emma messages Jesse, when am I going to see you again!!! :((( but Jesse knows she lives over in the Quad and will probably want to introduce him to all her roommates who she probably gets along splendidly with. Emma's like that, and Jesse doesn't even pretend he's not envious of her.

It's still kind of weird getting breakfast with Joe, though, since conversation is sometimes stilted or weirdly quiet and Jesse doesn't know what to say, even though Joe seems to be okay. Dinner's no better, which they'd gotten since one of Jesse's classes had let out early and they'd run into each other in the Kirkland dining hall and Joe had basically insinuated that they should sit together and Jesse had said yes because it would've been really fucking awkward if he said no and then they walked back to their dorm together, anyway.

They're on their way back, in a weird possibly uncomfortable silence as they pass the garbage bins. Jesse's thinking about how much time he'll let himself devote to homework tonight when an unsolicited sound breaks through the night air.

Jesse turns to Joe, who's looking at Jesse with some surprise. "Did you hear that?" Joe asks.

Jesse nods. They both stop in the middle of the walkway, listening.

A faint mewl comes from underneath a garbage bin.

"Is that - " Joe says, and Jesse walks over, because he's heard that sound numerous times before. He ducks his head down and shines the light of his flip phone into the dark crevice.

The head of a tiny kitten stares back at him, blinking and then scurrying away from the light. "It's a cat," Jesse says, looking up at Joe whose eyes are wide. "Or a kitten, if you prefer semantics."

"Oh, man, I love cats," Joe says, as Jesse tries to find the kitten again, shining his light underneath the bin again. "I've got one at home - "

"I do too," Jesse says, looking up at Joe again. He hadn't really struck Jesse as a cat person; Jesse had thought all cat people were antisocial and awkward like him. Misery loves its company and all that.

"Really? Finally we have something in common." Joe beams at him. "I've been trying to find something for weeks, you don't even know - "

"And you didn't think to ask me if I had any pets?" Jesse asks, finding the kitten again in the dim light. Before it can scurry away, Jesse thrusts his arm in and finds the back of the kitten's body, prying it out with a single hand.

Joe throws his hand up. "I didn't know that was the magic question!" He coos at the kitten when Jesse pulls it out successfully, wriggling in Jesse's hand. "Oh my god, she's so cute."

"Is it a she?" Jesse asks, trying to check under the waning moonlight.

"Who cares? She's a she now." Joe takes the kitten from Jesse's dirty hand - properly, so Jesse's consoled with the fact that Joe hadn't been lying about being a cat owner - and holds her up, inspecting her. "She's so dirty though."

"I don't know if we can give her a bath," Jesse says, wringing his dirty arm and suddenly afraid of getting something infectious from under the trash bin. "She looks like a baby, and we're not allowed to have pets in the dorms - "

"You think that'll stop us?" Joe says, and Jesse thinks, no, because he kind of wants to take care of her too. "We're taking you home, baby, don't you worry about it."

The kitten bats at Joe's nose. Joe goes, "Look, she likes me!" and Jesse tells himself that adopting a kitten in college is not the same as compulsively wanting to adopt every cat he sees in his local animal shelter.

They make their way back to Kirkland. The kitten is tiny, maybe no more than one month old - old enough to not be squealing, as Jesse's seen in a lot of newborns, but still wriggling in Joe's grasp as Joe tries to hold her properly. "You might want to put her in your hoodie pocket," he says to Jesse, handing her off to him. "So we can sneak her in."

"And to keep her warm," Jesse says.

Joe finger guns at him. "That too."

No one gives them a second look as they walk into Kirkland house, and over to H, where Jesse and Joe's dorm is. Jesse's careful to keep his hand over his hoodie pocket, both so no one can see the kitten and so that she doesn't end up tumbling out.

Joe opens the door and Jesse's ready to set her down and let her run loose, at least in the common room - but then someone turns from the common room couch, and Andrew's saying, "Finally, you're back."

"Andrew!" Joe says, a guilty edge to his tone, as Jesse turns to him.

"Did you leave the door unlocked?" he asks.

Joe shifts. "Maybe," he says, because Jesse had already mentioned that he prefers it if they leave the door locked under most circumstances, even when they're in. "I won't do it again, I promise. Hey Andrew, guess what?"

"What?" Andrew says, as Jesse makes his way to the bathroom to take care of the kitten.

Joe exclaims, "We found a kitten! Jesse has her - she's the cutest thing ever, except for Stella, my cat back at home."

"That's adorable." Andrew's gotten up from the couch, and going over to Jesse in the bathroom where the door's open, looking over Jesse's shoulder where Jesse has dumped the kitten in the sink, trying to figure out what to do with her. "Oh my god, she's adorable."

Jesse glances over at Andrew and says, "She is, isn't she?" Andrew smiles at him, and Jesse smiles back.

Then he realizes how fucking weird that is and shakes his head, turning back to the kitten. "She's filthy, but I don't want to upset her with a bath - "

"It's okay," Joe says, coming in. The bathroom's small enough so he practically squeezes in, rolling up his sleeves and looking determined. "I am a pro kitten washer. I can wash the shit off of her."

"Please don't do that," Andrew laughs, while Jesse just gives Joe a look for a poor choice of words. "I thought cats don't like water," he says to Joe.

"They don't," Jesse says darkly. He doesn't feel bad as he exits the bathroom, leaving Joe alone with the kitten and the sink - if Joe claims to be good at it, Jesse will let him. Joe signed up for it.

Andrew chuckles, shooting Jesse a curious look as they walk around to sit on the common room couch. The TV's on, though it looks more like Andrew had hijacked Joe's game console, whatever it is, and was playing it before they'd come in. "So are you a cat person?" Andrew asks Jesse, picking up the controller again. "I know Joe is."

"Don't I look like one?" Jesse says dryly.

Andrew gives him a once-over, and then shrugs. "I don't know how to answer that question," he says. "Would it be more offensive if I said yes or no?"

"No," Jesse answers, watching Andrew on the TV screen and trying to follow whatever the hell he's doing. It looks like some sort of racing game, but Jesse doesn't really play video games so he could be wrong about this stuff. "I have three cats at home, and it's not like I hope that I look like I do, but - I do."

"Wow," Andrew says. "Three?"

Jesse nods. "I adopt," he says. "Or, my mom lets me adopt. But they're low commitment as long as you don't piss them off."

"Sounds like a description on a dating website."

Jesse laughs, surprised. Andrew shoots him a grin, and Jesse tries to reel the laughter back, coughing a little as he does. "I suppose that - yeah," he says to Andrew, who's still watching him. "That does sound like something on a dating website."

Joe comes out from the bathroom then, and Andrew asks, "How goes the cat washing?"

"Amazing. She doesn't care at all," Joe says brightly. "And hey, I was wondering, we should get cat stuff for her tonight. The T runs until eleven."

"It's nine o'clock right now," Jesse says, checking the time on his wristwatch. "You really think we'll find a place that sells cat stuff, make it there on the T, and come back in two hours?"

"There's the Walmart up in Saugus," Andrew suggests. "I had to go there to get some of my storage bins for last year. We can always take a cab."

"We're college kids," Joe says. "What makes you think we can afford a cab up to Saugus? I say we take the T, the Target in Boston - "

" - doesn't sell cat stuff," Jesse says. "I've been there before, they don't." He shifts. It's not something that he likes sharing with people he barely knows - and okay, so they're a little bit more than strangers, but - "And I have the money, if you really want to go."

"You do?" Joe asks, as Andrew turns to Jesse in surprise.

Jesse shrugs and nods. "I'm - yeah," he says, deciding not to explain. "But we can go up, especially since we'll need a litter box and food."

"And we can't get that shit from the c-store," Joe says, and Jesse nods. "Okay, sweet. I'm in."

"I am, too," Andrew says, pausing his game and getting up from the couch.

Jesse asks, "Are you sure? Because you're not - I mean, not that you're not invited, but it might take a long time, and I don't want you to - "

"What else am I going to do on a Friday evening?" Andrew says cheerfully. "Do homework? It'll be fun coming up to Walmart with you. Socializing."

"I'm probably not the best company if you want to socialize," Jesse says.

Andrew laughs like Jesse had told a particular funny joke.

 

So they call a cab after looking one up on Joe's computer, and pile in when it arrives right outside of Kirkland. It's a twenty- minute ride, during which Andrew talks about how he'd always wanted a pet, but his brother was allergic so of course his parents wouldn't let him.

"You could've gotten a fish," Jesse tells him.

Andrew pouts. "Yeah, but fish are no fun," he says. "I would've liked a dog or a cat, you know."

"Cats aren't a lot of fun either," Jesse points out. "And dogs aren't, too, but for a different reason and probably because I'm biased."

"You are definitely biased," Andrew tells him, chuckling.

When they arrive at the Walmart, Joe bursts through the sliding doors and announces to the store at large, "The cat daddies are in!" Jesse, from pushing the cart, makes a face as Andrew buckles over in laughter.

"Cat daddies?" Jesse says.

Andrew says, heaving his breath and standing back up, "I sure hope you're not including me in that. I don't know how I feel about fatherhood yet."

"You're exempt, Andrew," Joe says, before slinging an arm around Jesse's shoulder. "And yes, Jesse, it's you and me. We are the cat dads."

"Like, dads who are cats or cats who are dads?" Andrew's still laughing.

Jesse frowns at Joe again. "I'm not sure how I feel about fatherhood yet either."

"Too late," Joe says cheerfully.

They make their way to the pet aisle, Joe talking about how they should get a car with the license plate CATDADS, or at least matching hoodies, both of which Jesse declines. Knowing Joe, he'll probably try to go for the hoodies idea anyway.

"I'll be Daddy One," Joe's saying, as they pass the kitchen aisle, "and Jesse will be Daddy Two."

Jesse groans and puts a hand to his forehead. "Joe, please - "

"Yes, Joe, please continue," Andrew says, grinning from ear-to-ear. "I love the idea of you two domesticated, all with your cat child - "

"Our cat daughter," Joe says eagerly. "Look, catnip! Which one should we get?"

Andrew suggests one, and Joe suggests another, and then neither of them can agree so Joe goes, "All of them!" And not only does he put the two that he and Andrew had been debating over, but the rest of the fucking catnip options, while Jesse cries, "Guys, just pick one."

"We want the best for our daughter," Joe says to him. "Which means every option possible."

Andrew, damn him, is still laughing to himself, and says to Jesse, "Yeah, Jess."

"We don't need every catnip in the aisle," Jesse says. He begins to put some back. "Just pick like - okay, how about two."

"How about three?" Andrew says, probably to purposefully make Jesse despair.

Jesse sighs and shoves his glasses up. "Okay, fine, whatever, three," he says.

"Three it is!" Joe says, and plucks one that Jesse had put away and puts it into their shopping cart.

Then they make it to the food, where at least Joe and Jesse can agree that their kitten does need a variety of dry and wet foods, since there's no telling what she'd like at this point. However, Joe wants them to get five of each, which -

"Five's too much," Jesse says. "We'll come back. How about two?"

"How about four?" Andrew says, cracking a grin.

Jesse purposefully steps on his foot, and refuses to feel bad when Andrew whines. "Two," he says firmly to Joe, who relents and puts two of the dry tuna and two of the chicken into the cart.

"You drive hard bargains, Eisenberg," Joe says. "Is this because you're paying? Because if you need, I can - "

"It's - no, that has nothing to do with it," Jesse says, stomach twisting. "I just think we should budget and actually think about this."

"Andrew and I have never heard of thinking," Joe says to him, to which Andrew nods valiantly.

"We've never heard of a budget before, either," Andrew adds.

Jesse rolls his eyes and tries not to be charmed by them, even though Joe is looking him unblinkingly innocent and Andrew's hiding a smile behind a hand. "You guys are hopeless," Jesse says, moving the cart along.

Joe joins him by his side. "That's exactly what we're going for."

He continues to dive at every fucking thing in the aisle, including cat beds (which Jesse can't bring himself to say no to), leashes, collars, scratchers, carriers, toys, and clothing. Jesse's already getting tired, trying not to fall asleep on the shopping cart as he pushes it along. He does nix the little Harvard hoodie that is apparently for cats, but doesn't blink twice when Joe heaves a whole bag of cat litter and picks one of the biggest litter boxes and shoves it into the cart.

Andrew walks along with Jesse, looking amused at Joe's antics. He sees Jesse yawn and defog his glasses, and asks, "Tired?"

"I'm a very boring person," Jesse tells him. "I go to sleep at ten o'clock."

"It must be your bedtime already," Andrew chuckles.

Jesse nods, and watches as Joe tries to debate between two collars. Jesse doesn't like putting collars on his cats, though so he says, "No to the collars," to which Joe frowns at him, but puts them back.

Andrew says, "I hope you don't terribly mind me asking, but - are you rich?"

Jesse feels his face heat up. This was the conversation he was trying to avoid - he always feels guilty and self-conscious when it's put in such terms. "If I had to," he starts to Andrew, then realizes how faux that sounds, and tries again. "Honestly - I mean, essentially - I mean - "

"I'm assuming you're trying to say yes," Andrew says, amused. "It's okay, I was just wondering, since you're willing to spend your money on all of this." He gestures to the cart.

Jesse mumbles, "It's not my money, it's my parents'."

"Right," Andrew says, and Jesse turns his face away, feeling even worse. He feels a hand at his shoulder, and turns back around to see Andrew watching him with concern. "Hey, it's okay, Jess. I asked you a question and you answered it. I don't think any less of you because you happen to be wealthy."

"I know," Jesse says, his stomach dropping even further. Andrew's hand feels hot against him, but probably because Jesse feels enflamed with guilt. "You don't have any obligation to feel any way about me, though, whether I'm - especially since I do have money."

"Well, it means nothing to me," Andrew says. "Actually, that's a lie, I suppose that means I expect a grand present for my birthday." He grins at Jesse. "But I'm joking of course."

Jesse smiles at him, trying to feel at ease. He believes Andrew, and he wants to. "I know," he says, as Joe places a pink sparkly cat carrier into the shopping cart.

Joe says, "Men, we are spoiling our daughter! And by men, I mean you, Jesse," he says to Jesse. "And by 'spoiling', I mean 'giving her everything that she deserves, because she's our daughter.'"

"I really hope you make those cat dad hoodies," Andrew says, as they reach the end of the aisle.

"Oh, I plan on it," Joe says. "Now let's check out the food section, I've really been craving Snickers lately."

Andrew joins him as they look for the food aisle. "Oh, I've really been feeling Twizzlers," he says, and Joe berates him for his taste in candy because licorice is disgusting. Jesse privately agrees, though he doesn't say anything.

And there's not much to expect from a Walmart outing that ends up with them arriving back on Harvard campus at one in the morning, except for a copious amount of cat supplies, several bags of Snickers and jelly beans for Jesse, and a bouncy ball that Joe had insisted was a valuable investment (and that he'd paid with his own money, he'd assured Jesse, even though Jesse didn't care.) They get the cat supplies in the bathroom and feed their kitten some of the tuna, which she gobbles up eagerly, apparently not minding dry food. "Next time," Joe says, rubbing his eyes, "we get ten cans."

And Jesse doesn't know a whole lot about making proper friends with roommates, but when they wake up the next morning to the kitten meowing and scrabbling at the door in the bathroom, they exchange tired looks and Jesse says without thinking, "I'll get her." And after that there are more Walmart runs and talking suddenly becomes easier over breakfast. Because, Jesse supposes, you don't just rescue a kitten and spend three hours in a Walmart and not become friends after that.