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lost my fear of falling

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Jamie loves his Social Psych class. It’s probably his favorite class this semester. Except for, well.

Except the guy behind him always puts his feet on the rungs under Jamie’s chair. Which would be fine if the guy could sit still. But apparently he can’t because every class like clockwork he’s there, jiggling his legs and making Jamie’s chair vibrate like crazy.

He’d turned around once to tell the guy to knock it the fuck off but then he’d actually gotten a look at the guy.

The dude’s stupid hot.

So Jamie grits his teeth and endures. It’s fine.

It’s not fine.

Three weeks into the semester, the professor assigns a group paper. Jamie doesn’t know anyone in this class (or, you know, any of his classes, but whatever). He’s looking around frantically when someone taps his shoulder.

He turns to see Stupid Hot Guy grinning at him.

“Hey, “ he says. “Wanna be in my group?”

Jamie really doesn’t but it’s not like he’s got a whole lot of options. So he nods and, as an afterthought, introduces himself.

He leaves class with Stupid Hot Guy’s name (Tyler) and a group meeting at Tyler’s dorm the next day.

When Jamie shows up at Tyler’s, he finds he’s the first person there. Tyler invites him in, offers him the chair from his desk, and flops onto his bed.

He’s wearing a tank top and a pair of sweats slung low on his hips and he looks so good Jamie kind of wants to cry. He’s sitting crosslegged on the bed and Jamie’s trying not to stare at the ink twisting and twirling up his arms.

Tyler breaks the silence first, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees.

“So, Jamie,” he says. “What’s your major?”

“Oh, uh, linguistics. What, uh. What about you?”

“Linguistics, eh? What, you into language and shit?”

Jamie snorts. “Language and shit,” he echoes mockingly. He’s immediately mortified, but Tyler just laughs.

“That’s cool, man. I’m PR. Cuz I’m into people and shit.”

There's a knock on the door before it swings open and the rest of their group comes in. The rest of their group is a guy named Antoine who seems nice but who, frankly, scares Jamie a little, and a dude Tyler had called Eaks. Eaks launches himself onto Tyler's roommate's bed like he does it all the time.

"So," he says. "What are we thinking for this thing?"

They pitch ideas for a while. Tyler's the one who throws out that he'd read an interesting article about cognitive dissonance, which surprises Jamie. The more he listens, the more he realizes that Tyler's pretty smart.

It doesn't help things at all.

They hammer out basic research assignments and another time to meet up and Jamie walks home in the warm fall air.

When he gets there, his brother’s making lunch in the kitchen.

Jordie takes one look at him and groans.

“I know that face,” he says.

“What face?”

“That face. That's your “Oh no I like a boy” face. I fucking hate that face.”

“Shut up, I do not have a face like that.”

“Yes you do, little man. You do, and it’s stupid, and I hate it.”

“Whatever.” He knows he sounds petulant but he’s not about to admit that Jordie’s right.

At some point, Tyler cottons on to the fact that Jamie doesn't have a whole lot of friends and starts trying to forcibly include him in things. Jamie's grateful for it, except for the part where it puts him in the vicinity of Tyler's everything for extended periods of time.

He learns quickly that Tyler is a flirt. He lowers his eyelashes at and drops soft touches on damn near everyone - the waitress at the diner, the bartenders at that place down the street, his professors - and Jamie can see the exact moment they bend to Tyler’s will.

He hates to admit that it works on him too, but the truth is, he doesn’t even put up a fight when Tyler taps his fingers gently on Jamie’s knee and mentions wanting another beer. Jamie’s going to get up and get it for him every time.

Jamie knows he's lucky that Tyler doesn't abuse his power because he'd give him anything he wants.

When Tyler texts Jamie and asks him to meet up in the library in an hour, Jamie doesn't hesitate to ditch his plans with Jordie and go.

Tyler's standing outside, backpack slung over his shoulder, dicking around on his phone when Jamie gets there.

"Hey!" he says, pulling Jamie into a hug. "I signed us up for a room, come on."

They work in silence for a while, nothing but the sound of pages turning and pens scritching.

Tyler kicks his foot under the table. "You find anything usable?"

"Yeah, I think this article's actually pretty good."

Jamie gives him a rundown of the article and Tyler listens, intent.

"Man," Tyler says when he's done. "I'm glad you're in my group, you're smart as hell. It's kind of hot."

Jamie blushes and shuffles his papers around.

"Whatever. Get back to work."

"Okay, okay, jeez." Tyler puts his hands up defensively but he's laughing as he says it.

Jamie goes back to reading but he's aware of Tyler's eyes on him.

"Dude, what?" he asks, throwing his pen on the table.

"Okay, so like, don't hate me. But I gotta ask, what's up with the shirt?"

Jamie looks down at himself. "What do you mean?"

"It's fucking weird, man. I'm not feeling that pattern on you at all."

He looks at Jamie, considering, and Jamie knows his neck is burning.

"I bet you'd look boss in green. And maybe navy, but definitely green."

If Jamie shoves his shirt in the bottom of his hamper when he gets home, it's nobody's business but his own.

Jordie's face lights up with glee when Jamie asks him for some help shopping.

"Baby boy," he says, "this is the best day of my life."

Jamie socks his arm, hard.

When Jamie shows up to their next research session in one of his new green shirts, Tyler nods appreciatively.

"See, I was right. Look how right I was. You look amazing."

"Thanks," Jamie mumbles, trying not to look too pleased.

"I'm serious, you look so fucking good." He puts his hands on Jamie's shoulders, turns him left, then right. "So good."

His voice is low and Jamie can feel his flush all the way to the tips of his ears.

"Thanks, man. Okay, we got shit to do."

Tyler gives his shoulders a squeeze.

"Right. To work."

He lets go, but Jamie swears he can feel the warmth of his hands the rest of the day.

A week before their paper is due, Tyler hauls them all out to see their shitty football team play. They've got all of one win under their belts and they're not on pace for a whole lot more, but the games are fun if you go in preparing to lose, and Tyler's harping on about school spirit or something.
"I can't believe you drag us to this shit," Eaks bitches as they climb into the bleachers.

"You know I have a deep appreciation for Americans and their football," Tyler answers.

"You mean you have a deep appreciation for the quarterback's ass," Eaks says, needling, and Tyler's grin is a wicked thing.

"Icing on the cake, baby," he says, and Jamie trips over his own feet.

He very much doesn’t think about it.

They find some seats and Tyler sits next to Jamie, their thighs pressed together. He's so warm and so fucking close and Jamie's half a play behind the whole game.

He thinks they win. Probably. Maybe.

After, Tyler has Jamie drive them all to Denny's. They pile into a booth and Tyler slings his arm behind Jamie's head, fingers dangerously close to grazing his neck.

Tyler’s smiling and talking and Jamie leans into him just a little and it’s nice.

He lets himself zone out, just loses himself in the rise and fall of Tyler's body as he talks. Tyler curls his fingers around his shoulder and pulls him in tighter, tucking their heads together.

"I don't know, boys, I think Jamie's about to fall asleep on us here."

Jamie can feel Tyler smile against his cheek and he grins too.

"Aw," Antoine teases. "Look how cute."

"The fucking cutest," Tyler says, "And don't you forget it."

Eaks mimes gagging. "More like the fucking grossest."

Tyler throws a fry at his face. He knows Eaks won't throw one back because he's sweet on the waitress, but Jamie can feel how hard he kicks Tyler under the table.

Jamie gets home full of greasy diner food and contentment.

A few days before it's due, the group meets up at Tyler's again to organize the paper and pool their research.

Jamie ends up in charge of the actual paper writing because “language and shit, man.” It’s fine, though, because the other guys really pulled their own weight, making it easy for Jamie to get it all written out. He has Jordie proof it the night before, and he turns it in feeling pretty confident.

Tyler kicks his seat when he sits down and Jamie shoots him a grin.

“A’s for days, bro,” Tyler says, holding out his fist for Jamie to bump.

Tyler decides they should go to the Lambda Alpha Epsilon party that Friday, says there's no better way to celebrate finishing their project than by getting fucked up on someone else's dime.

Jamie sits in his room for two hours beforehand, starting at his closet and trying to decide if he wants to show up.

Ultimately, he goes because Tyler told him to.

When he gets there, it takes him a while to find Tyler. He's with some blonde girl Jamie guesses is hot. She's leaning into Tyler, talking animatedly, red cup waving in the air. Tyler's got his fingers just beneath the waistband of her jeans, gently brushing back and forth, but he doesn't look particularly interested in whatever it is she's saying. He's glancing around the crowd, smiling when he spots Jamie. He untangles himself from her with a quick word and makes his way across the room.

"Jamie, my man," he says, pulling Jamie into a hug.

"You didn't have to leave her to say hi to me," Jamie says but Tyler shakes his head.

"Nah, it's cool. Wasn't really feeling it, you know?"

Jamie does know, but he just shrugs.

"Anyways," Tyler continues. "We. Are going to get you something to drink."

He’s seen Tyler a few beers in before, but not like this. The more Tyler drinks, the handsier he gets, hands running across Jamie's back and down his arms. It's hotter than hell in the house but Jamie can't keep himself from shivering when Tyler hooks his chin over Jamie's shoulder, arm looping around his waist.

"Jamie," he slurs. "Jamie, you are nowhere near drunk enough."

"Somebody has to make sure you keep your clothes on."

Tyler huffs a laugh into Jamie's ear. "You could always help me take them off."

Jamie goes rigid. “I’m, uh, I’m gonna go get us some water.” He pushes Tyler’s hand away and flees.

Once he catches his breath, Jamie decides he’s going to pretend that never happened. Tyler’s fucking trashed, there’s no way he meant anything by what he said. If he had any shame, he’d probably be embarrassed about it in the sober light of day. So he tells himself he’ll do Tyler a favor and forget about it.

He heads back over, waters in hand, to find Tyler slumped against the wall. He’s curled in on himself a little, and so fucking quiet no matter what Jamie says to him.

“You know,” Tyler says, finally. “I don’t get you. I don’t fucking get you at all.”

“What?” Jamie has no idea what’s going on.

“Why do you - you know what, no. Nothing. Nevermind.” He crosses his arms. "I'm not doing this here."

"Doing what? Tyler, what the fuck?"

Tyler glares at him. "Fine, you want to do this so bad? Let's go outside, come on."

He stalks toward the door, a confused Jamie in his wake.

When they get outside, Tyler doesn't look at him right away, just flexes his fingers against the porch rail.

"Look," he says. "You know I like you. I just don't understand why sometimes you flirt back and sometimes you freak the fuck out. Like, if you want me to back off, I will, no problem. But you have to let me fucking know.

Jamie's staring, has been staring since Tyler started talking, his mouth hanging wide.

"Are you fucking with me right now?" Jamie whispers.

"No? Like I said, I'll back off if you want me to."

"That's. No. I don't. I don't want that, holy shit."

Tyler's shoulders relax. "You don't?"

"God, no." Jamie takes a shaky breath. "Kind of the opposite, really."

"Oh, thank fuck," Tyler says, closing the distance between them.

Belatedly, Jamie realizes that making out on the front porch of a frat house is probably not the best idea.

"Ty," he says, "Ty, we shouldn't do this here."

Tyler slides his hands into Jamie's back pockets. "Then take me home."

Jamie's definitely on board with that.

When they get back to Jamie's place, Jordie's on the couch watching TV. He takes one look at them and sighs dramatically.

"I'm gonna go crash at Jason's tonight, I think."

Jamie shoots him a grateful look. "Thanks, man."

Jordie nods and grabs his keys, stopping at the door to point at Tyler and mouth "I'm watching you."

As the door clicks shut, Tyler says, "Dude, your roommate is fucking terrifying."

Jamie feels his neck go hot. "My brother is fucking overprotective. I might have, uh, told him how much I like you."

"That's even scarier, but okay." Tyler shakes his head and wraps his arms around Jamie's neck. "Anyways. Hey, you."

Jamie leans down till their foreheads touch. "Hi."

"I think you should show me your bedroom."

Jamie steers them down the hall to his room. He's never been so thankful that it's clean, but Tyler doesn't seem to notice at all.

Instead, he's working on pushing Jamie's shirt up over his head.

With his hands in Jamie’s hair, he says, “God, I just, look at you, Jamie.”

And Jamie’s never felt like anything special, but when Tyler touches him, he thinks maybe he could be.

It’s overwhelming.

He ducks his head a little but Tyler pulls him back up.

"Hey, no, look at me. Don't get shy." He plants a kiss on Jamie's jaw, the side of his neck, the curve of his shoulder. "The things I want to do to you, Jesus. C'mere, lie down."

As always, Jamie does what Tyler tells him to do.

Tyler tugs his shorts down, follows with his underwear, and this is usually when Jamie starts to feel nervous but Tyler is looking at him like the best thing he's ever seen.

Which, frankly, is ridiculous to Jamie because Tyler is the greatest thing that's ever happened to anyone.

And he does this thing with his mouth that makes Jamie's toes curl.

Jamie feels himself falling apart and he lets go.

They lie there after, in comfortable quiet, and Tyler absently twines his fingers through Jamie's hair.

"You should take me out to dinner tomorrow," he muses.

"I should, should I?" Jamie turns to face him. "I could do that."

Tyler smiles at him, soft and bright. "Make an honest woman of me, Jamie."

Jamie brushes his thumb over Tyler's cheekbone.