The sex was surprisingly good.
I had a feeling that Jeff had more experience in this area than I did. It wasn’t anything he’d come out and said –– I’d always thought the idea of comparing sexual histories seemed a little tawdry, reasonable only in the context of doing a check for disease, and when Jeff said he was clean, I believed him. We used a condom, anyway. But I knew how meagre my own experience had been, and I knew the questions Jeff wasn’t asking, basic physical questions common to female anatomy, and occasionally I had to brush aside questions of my own about his past that weren’t as much about the sex he’d had or never had so much as they were about what the narrative had taken away: a girl, maybe, who’d known a younger Jeff as someone who wasn’t yet a Shoemaker’s Elf.
Growing up, in our shared, twisted version of adolescence, Gerry had always been the one with a burning curiosity for these things. I’d always wondered, back then, if it had something to do with a need to prove to himself that he could find acceptance on that intimate level. Now I had to wonder if he’d recognized the absence of something I had never thought of as lacking. I enjoyed sex more than I had expected to –– maybe my halfhearted experiments with Goth enthusiasts had been doomed from the start –– but Jeff took to physical intimacy with the kind of intensity I associated with water in the desert, like it was something he’d been missing.
Of course, it was also possible that Jeff was just a more energetic personality than I was in general, and that all the variations on the act he seemed to have at his fingertips were actually things he’d read in books and been waiting for a chance to try. That sounded like him.
The sex was surprisingly good, but it wasn’t what I enjoyed most about being In A Relationship. It was actually nice to have someone to wake up to besides the suicidal bluebirds. I’d never felt lonely, living alone; never considered getting a roommate or wishing that Gerry had decided to move in with me instead of striking out on his own. (Honestly, by the time Gerry moved away, I’d been exhausted by following the same pattern in all our conversation. We’d both needed a break.) Initially I had worried that I might miss the privacy of having a place that was entirely mine; I’d even wondered, briefly, if actually living with Jeff might feel like bringing work home. But it didn’t. Maybe part of that was the admittedly sad fact that I’d never really built myself a life outside of the Bureau, so there was nothing to disrupt; maybe part of it was Jeff being extra careful, in those first few weeks, not to crowd me. He was disturbingly good at being unobtrusive when he wanted to be; I suspected it was related to whatever trick allowed him to continually startle us by stepping out from behind things in the bullpen, but I had never figured out whether it was part of his narrative or just something Jeff did. If I hadn’t known better, I would have suspected him of wearing a perception filter a là Doctor Who –– I hadn’t known the reference until Jeff sat me down and made me watch the show, but the night we watched Jack Harkness and Martha and the Doctor hide from the Master on the streets of London, I asked Jeff if he’d been secretly wearing a perception filter for years, and he’d laughed and said if I liked the Tenth Doctor maybe his next project should be improving Converse.
The next week, he did wear Converse to work, and I had to stifle a grin every time I looked at his feet: a small, private joke.
That was the part I enjoyed most about being part of A Couple. Not the sex, not even the easy domesticity of having someone to share the household chores or the fact that all my cabinets seemed to magically organize themselves once Jeff moved in. It was having someone to laugh with, and someone who made me want to laugh.
It was all tediously wholesome and healthy, and I never dared to trust it because I knew it couldn’t last.
We were never meant for happily ever after.