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signed, sealed, delivered

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Kristen’s been working at her swanky, high-rise, art gallery job in the city for close to a year now. About six months ago the bike delivery guy on their route got transferred. His replacement is younger, less sweaty and has the most unruly, adorable curls Kristen has ever seen.

He’s also twitchy, shy, and awkward as all fuck.

Naturally, she's nursing a terrible fucking crush.

_______________________

The first few times it was fun to make him nervous. Kristen often enjoyed unnerving men she just met and taking in how they handle it. She'd put on a face, like signing for a package was the worst thing that could happen to her, and enjoyed the way his eyes narrowed in surprise. Then he’d say, “Uh, sign right here, please?” and Kristen would flash him a sharp smile after doing just that, enjoying it even more when he flushed to his ears. Other guys might’ve already tried to hit on her by that point, but this dude just scratched at the back of his neck and did his best to look really fucking uncomfortable.

Sadly, shit like that did it for her.

Kristen still doesn't know his name, even though he knows her full one, complete with accurate spelling and all.

“First name?” He asked, blush still on his cheeks, after she signed that first time.

“Kristen, with an E.”

He smiled, a little jerkily, and said, “Nice to meet, you Kristen with an E.”

Kristen's laughter had been genuine, which took her by surprise. She was prone to sarcasm nowadays. His eyes had widened a little and then he was gone.

_______________________

They get random envelopes and packages to sign for fairly frequently, so Kristen sees delivery dude at least two to three times per week on average.

Pathetically, even her boss has picked up on her not-so-subtle crush.

“Why don't you ask that nice young boy out?” Juliette says over sushi in her office, shortly after Bike Dude has left, this time with a flourish bow and a self-depreciating wink.

Kristen snorts and raises an eyebrow. “I'm surprised you, of all people, is suggesting that.”

Juliette is rather old-fashioned, despite what she wants her clientele to believe. Kristen doubts she has ever asked a man out in her entire life, or paid for one of her meals on a date. She rolls her eyes at Kristen, still managing to look unfairly dignified.

“You are not me, my dear. I think I've learned this by now, no?”

Kristen’s lips twitch as she lifts a salmon avocado roll between her chopsticks, plopping it in her mouth. “I dunno, I'd probably scare him off that he'd never fucking come back.”

Juliette laughs. “Perhaps you don't give the boy enough credit, oui?”

“Perhaps,” Kristen replies, thinking about that wink. He never would’ve done that six months ago.

Juliette sits up a little straighter, taking a sip of Pellegrino. “Good, now that's settled; enough of this talk of boys. Tell me about prospective buyer for the Warhol.”

Kristen does.

_______________________

Work is good and all but it's literally just herself, Juliette and a bookkeeper that comes in once a week. The loft space is an extension of Juliette's own apartment. Sometimes it's just Kristen there alone, Juliette choosing to work out of her living room, or have a quickie with her boyfriend of the week; Kristen totally wants to be her when she grows up. Reality checks are nice, though, and so Kristen's happy to have friends who aren't super rich, middle-aged Parisians.

When she and her friends go out, they hang out in Brooklyn for the most part. Kristen's got an apartment Park Slope with CJ and Suzie and, split between the three of them, it's pretty affordable. Plus Kristen's got the biggest bedroom and her window leads out to the fire escape for nice, convenient smoke breaks or just staring at the skyline, a perfect view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Tonight Dakota takes her to The Way Station, Kristen grumbling the whole time. "Why are we here, man?" Kristen asks, eying the steampunk decor suspiciously.

“No reason!” Dakota says cheerfully. Too cheerfully. Even for Dakota.

Now Kristen is eying Dakota suspiciously, because what the hell, man.

“I don't believe you,” she announces before making a beeline for the bar. At least drinks are on the horizon and this place has local stuff on tap.

Once seated, Kristen looks around the joint, having only been here once when she was drunk off her ass and ducking in from the rain with Rob. She shakes her head at the bathroom, remembering Rob telling her it was Doctor Who related while she teased him for his weird British shows. She takes a drink and notices Dakota tapping away furiously on her phone.

“Hey man, rude.”

Dakota looks up, cheeks flushing. "Sorry, just." She blows out a frustrated breath."I thought he'd come. He’d love this place."

Kristen squints at her. “You got someone new?”

When Dakota's blush deepens she knows she's in trouble.

“Oh, no. No, man. Nope.”

Dakota gives her the puppy dog eyes. Those are the fucking worst. “Come on, Kristen!”

“No! The last time you set me up I had to find a new coffee shop to go to. I had to succumb to Starbucks, you asshole.”

“This is different. He's totally normal. He's awesome. Emma and Andrew know him, too.”

Kristen scoffs. “Yeah? Why's he never been out with us then?”

“He's a serious introvert. Which is why he isn’t here now.” Dakota glares down at her phone as if it's personally offended her.

Kristen’s knee bounces under the table as she takes another long gulp of her lager.

“I've told him about you though. I was hoping Andrew and Emma would be able to talk him into it tonight, but they're like, at his house playing Trivial Pursuit or something.”

“Sounds like quite the catch, Coda.”

“See! That's why you guys will get along. Hes totally sarcastic like you. And smart, he's like, super smart. And he writes plays!”

Kristen lifts one eyebrow slowly. “So?”

“So you write poetry!”

Kristen sighs. “Lots of people write, man.”

“Look, his name is Jesse Eisenberg, okay? He lives on the Upper East Side, he works for like, I dunno, the Post Office or something. What if I like, asked him to text you or whatever. You keep talking about how you never meet anyone new anymore, because of your job.”

Kristen downs the rest of her beer. She wasn't going to get out of this. And Dakota’s not wrong, per se. She supposes it couldn’t hurt. People interested her, seeing what made them tick. If nothing else, maybe she'll get a good poem or story out of it. She's already been thinking about doing a short film or something, Andrew having said he’ll show her some of the technical shit.

Kristen slaps her hand on the table. “Fine. Do it.”

_______________________

people hacking on the subway and not covering their mouths? worst ever?

Kristen laughs when she gets the text message.

i think b.o. beats it

The reply comes right away. Nope, would rather smell offensive odors than intake someone’s germs

Kristen shakes her head. bit of a germaphobe, huh?

She’s been texting with Jesse all weekend. It was awkward and stilted to start, but evened out into a steady back and forth. He’s really fucking funny, sarcastic, and more than a little neurotic but Kristen’s digging all of it.

They’re in the middle of a game of Would You Rather when Bike Dude comes in.

“Hi,” he says, cheeks red from the cold.

“Hey,” Kristen smiles, accepting the package and signing. “Good weekend?”

“Not bad,” he replies, dragging a hand through his hair. Kristen can’t tell if his cheeks have gotten redder or not. “You?”

“Pretty good,” she replies, wonders if his scarf is as soft as it looks, how his cold skin would feel beneath her fingertips.

would you rather be too hot or too cold Kristen texts as he’s leaving.

The reply comes a few seconds later. hot but that could be because i’m pretty damn cold right now and it’s clouding my sensibilities

Kristen snorts, then daydreams about Bike Dude’s wild hair and blotchy cheeks for the rest of the afternoon.

_______________________

They haven’t exchanged pictures yet, even though Kristen’s offered.

i’d like to keep talking to you as long as possible so let’s not

Kristen rolls her eyes. This is his third time making some dumb excuse.

please man, you’re acting like you’ve got some rocky dennis shit going on

That movie was great and I don’t watch many movies

The next reply follows directly after.

and no, but Emma said you’re a ten and I am certainly not a ten. I’m not even on the same clock as ten.

Kristen quits pushing after that. Except a few weeks go by, they’re still texting, and she’d like to -- you know -- actually meet. Especially since she thinks they’ve graduated to really awkward flirting.

(my mom can’t understand why always have my phone glued to my hand now when I see them for dinner. I told her I’m very attracted to its technology

Kristen wants to bang her head against a hard surface and then bang him.)

Bike Dude seems even more awkward lately. Flushing everytime he sees her. The winking has stopped and Kristen stupidly misses it, even with her weird text situation with Jesse.

“So, are you going to meet or what?” Emma asks when they’re out bowling with Andrew and Dakota.

“I dunno, man, he’s so fucking shy.”

“That’s the truth,” Andrew says around his beer.

“Come on, let me show her a pic!” Emma says.

Andrew shakes his head vehemently. “Not a chance. That is a betrayal of trust. Not to mention bro-code stuff you Americans talk about.”

“We Americans,” Dakota snorts as she gets up to take her turn.

Emma sighs and glares at Andrew. “Okay, fine, but what if we happen to invite Jesse to dinner next weekend and Kristen happens to stop by.”

“That’s mutiny,” Andrew says, sounding hilariously aghast.

“He’ll thank us for it in the long run!”

Kristen watches the back and forth between them like a tennis match until Andrew caves.

“You sure it’ll be okay?” Kristen asks. “I feel like a dick.”

Andrew worries his bottom lip. “Jesse needs a good kick in the arse. It’ll be fine.”

_______________________

Kristen definitely doesn’t arrive early and therefore Jesse is definitely late.

“It’s pissing down,” Andrew says, looking out the windows of his third floor apartment.

“He hasn’t texted?” asks Emma, setting down a platter with cheese and olives.

“Not yet.”

Kristen’s chilling by the kitchen island, sipping her wine and munching on cheese when the doorbell finally rings twenty minutes later.

“I look stupid,” she whispers to Emma as Andrew goes to answer it. She didn’t dress up at all, just wore her plaid button down and black leggings.

“You look great,” she replies.

Kristen’s heart is in her throat as she hears distant conversation near the front door.

“Well, he looks like a drowned rat but he made it!” Andrew announces.

Kristen downs the rest of her wine as Jesse comes into view. And then freezes completely.

Because that’s not Jesse.

That’s Bike Dude.

She’s two seconds away from asking if Andrew’s just overly friendly with their delivery guy, when Jesse catches sight of her, eyes widening immediately. His hair is covered by his hoodie and his grey sweatshirt is soaked. “Uh,” he says.

“Sorry to spring this on you, mate, but Kristen stopped by unannounced. Kristen, this is Jesse.”

Kristen’s mind is whirling. Jesse -- knew her full name. Which means Jesse’s known who she was all along, probably.

“We’ve met,” she replies flatly.

Jesse’s face goes pinched while Emma and Andrew look between each other.

“You have?” Emma asks.

“He didn’t tell you?”

Andrew scratches the back of his neck, “Uh, no?”

“No, I didn’t--” Jesse starts but Kristen doesn’t really need to hear it.

“I’m gonna split, you guys.” She’s out the door in a flash, ignoring the protests, only pausing once to scoff at Jesse’s bike in the corner.

It’s still raining hard and she pulls up her hood as she exits the building.

“Kristen, wait!”

She finds herself pausing and turning around, because the thought of Jesse following her didn’t even occur. She pegged him as way more passive.

As he rushes toward her, Kristen’s brain catches up and she starts moving again.

“I don’t care,” she says as he jogs beside her, cutting off whatever he was about to say.

“They never told me your full name! I swear I was as surprised as you.”

Kristen scoffs. “You expect me to believe that? Come on, man, you were weirder than normal these past few weeks.”

When he doesn’t respond she looks back to find him standing in the middle of the sidewalk, face a little stricken.

Kristen bites her lip. “Ah, fuck, I didn’t mean that. I just--”

Jesse shakes his head, the rain catching on his eyelashes. “No, I know. You’re right though. I was weirder because, uh. Well, I felt strange seeing you and talking to someone else when I-- liked you.”

Kristen’s mouth drops open.

Jesse laughs shortly. “And, heh, to find out it was you all along? Well, could’ve saved myself some time in therapy talking about other things, honestly.”

Kristen swallows and takes a step closer. “So, uh, which me did you like?”

Jesse’s tongue darts out to lick his lips. Kristen’s eyes follow the motion. “Uh, both. I liked -- both. A lot.”

Kristen looks up at him and smiles. “Yeah, well, same here.”

Jesse’s smile in response is slow and breathtaking. He nods jerkily. “Good. That’s-- that’s good. Uh, you wanna get out of the rain? Get some coffee?”

“Thought you’d never ask, man.”

_______________________

three weeks later

Jesse’s first delivery after they sleep together for the first time is awkward, to say the least. He flushes while Kristen signs slowly, eyes roving his face, lip pulled between her teeth.

“Good weekend?” Kristen asks innocently.

Jesse flushes, which is exactly what she was going for. “Uh, not too bad. Nearly missed my first delivery, though.”

Kristen stifles a giggle, even as a spark of arousal sweeps through her. They’d done it again this morning, Jesse’s body pressing her into the mattress as he fucked in hard with short, quick thrusts. They’d kissed the whole time, desperate, in between muffled utterances of ‘fuck’ and ‘yes’ and ‘harder’ while Jesse groaned out her name around shallow puffs of air.

“You should get a better alarm clock,” Kristen replies, arching an eyebrow.

“I have one but my girlfriend seems to be a fan of the snooze.”

Kristen glances toward Juliette’s office, absolutely positive she’s trying to listen in. She doesn’t care. “Girlfriend, huh? Well, she sounds like a bad influence.”

She takes pleasure in the way Jesse’s eyes darken, positive he’s thinking of their long goodbye scene at the door.

”You’re a bad influence,” he sighed, lips moving slowly along her jawline, bestowing soft, gentle kisses up to her mouth.

“You like it,” Kristen replied, slid her hands down his back and over his ass until his hips twitched forward and he gasped in pleasure, kissed her deep and long and wet.

“The worst,” Jesse agrees, tossing her a wink.

Kristen laughs. “Emma and Andrew’s tonight?”

“Eh, I thought maybe we’d all go out somewhere.”

Kristen blinks. That’s not exactly Jesse’s thing, preferring to stay in. His shy smile and slightly anxious expression makes her heart skip a beat.

“It’s a date.”

[end]