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stripped my senses

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1.

The first day Kristen films with Jesse they’re freezing to death in a pool and Kristen’s positive her nipples are hard. It wasn’t the first day they were meeting, but it is still awfully close to a first impression and not exactly the one she likes to give off.

The second day, they’re half naked together.

“Boy, really throwing us to the wolves here,” Jesse mutters, his arms around her.

Kristen laughs quietly. He’s funny, smart, and a little weird. Basically right up her alley in terms of People She’d Totally Chill With.

So it’s a little uncomfortable when they have to start making out like they’re starving for one another. It’s always a little uncomfortable, kissing on camera. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either dating that person in real life or a big old fucking liar.

“You alright?” Jesse asks when the take is done and they’re standing there, pressed up against each other, a thin bit of sheer fabric covering Kristen’s breasts, which are technically pressed right up against his chest.

“M’good, man, you?”

“Never really used to this part, but, yeah, I’m okay.”

She smiles up at him and they hold position until they’re told to continue on with the scene.

She’s supposed to be freezing from the rain, but it’s warm on set. At least her nipples aren’t hard this time.

______________________________________

2.

The thing she loves about Jesse is that he’s a consummate professional, much like herself. It’s fun to have Kristen and Bill on set; they’re constantly making things hilarious and sometimes that’s needed, but Kristen doesn’t like goofing off on her own accord and neither does Jesse.

“I prefer things in a linear fashion,” he says when she’s on top of him on the couch and they’re waiting for the lighting to get readjusted.

“Me too,” Kristen says.

She can do her job, she can turn it on and off, but it’s difficult to get the feel sometimes, get the flow. Yesterday, Jesse’s character broke up with her and today they’re making out on his couch. The switch needs to get flipped, the game reset.

“It’s why I prefer plays, really,” Jesse says, and absently brushes away a strand of Kristen’s hair.

Kristen’s chest goes tight at the movement, and she’s reminded of Michael.

“When’s the last time you did one?”

“It’s been a while,” he says, chewing on his lip and staring off into the distance, somewhere over Kristen’s shoulder. “But I’m writing one right now, maybe I’ll get it on Broadway or something.”

“That’d be really cool,” Kristen says, just as Greg says they’re ready.

At the call of action, Kristen’s lips are on Jesse’s. The sounds feel manufactured and his lips don’t really taste like anything at all. Kristen thinks about the way his hand felt on her face and closes her eyes a little tighter.

_____________________________

3.

Jesse’s someone Kristen likes a lot, someone she’d call a friend, but he’s also not someone she talks to a lot, much less sees. Jesse is East Coast born and bred and while Kristen does love New York, she always prefers to stay in L.A.

They share some mutual friends and hear about one another through the grapevine. Sometimes he’ll send her a link he finds interesting, or she’ll tell him about some book thing he’d like in the city. When his play goes on Broadway, she sends him her congratulations.

They see each other in Toronto, on the street outside of a restaurant, both having left the film festival in support of their significant others.

Well, Kristen’s not sure just how significant Rob is anymore, but they’re attempting to try again.

Jesse must notice something is off because he keeps shooting her looks throughout the dinner. It’s embarrassing, how much shit he probably knows about her second-hand, the same with Mia. Kristen finds it hard to even look at them during the dinner, especially with the way they hold hands.

After, when they’re back outside, he kisses her cheek and Kristen realizes that’s the first time they’ve done that outside of a film set. She wonders if he only did because Rob kissed Mia’s cheek first.

“We should work together again,” he says quietly in her ear.

“Yeah,” Kristen replies. “I’d like that, man.”

They step back and Jesse has his hand firmly placed in Mia’s again.

Kristen and Rob don’t touch.

________________________________

4.

It takes them awhile, but they do work together again. This time, they’re in an established relationship. On screen, that is. Off screen, they’ve spoken a bit more than they have in the past. Jesse’s done more plays and Kristen’s attempted to reinvent herself (or that’s what people say. To her she’s just doing what she’s been doing since she was 9).

They’ve got a love scene that’s shot in kind of a trippy way, because Jesse’s supposed to be above her, it’s his point of view, and Kristen’s supposed to be laughing and looking at him and sometimes shying away, embarrassed. But it’s the camera above her, so she’s got to pretend all that shit.

At one point they’re in the middle of some pretty heavy stunts (well, Jesse mostly. No, Kristen isn’t bitter over that. Okay, she is) and she says, “Hell yeah, Jessup,” after a take.

Jesse blinks at her. “Jessup?” he asks, lifting one eyebrow.

Kristen shrugs. “It felt right.”

He shakes his head. “I sound like I should be a cowboy.”

“Well, maybe you are,” she deadpans, and then pulls on his wig. “A stoner cowboy, I’d see that film.”

“Of course you would,” Jesse replies, grinning down at her and tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. The action throws her back to the two of them filming Adventureland and it’s weird -- how long it’s been since then, how different yet the same things are.
Except the action still makes something inside her clench -- like her heart is trying not to trip over itself.

She ignores it now like she did then.

Their big kiss comes toward the end of the shoot and it’s strange that Kristen feels nervous for it. But she does. It’s weird -- waking up one day and going to work and kissing one of your friends. It just is. Maybe she’s nervous for other reasons too, that she can’t or won’t analyze right now, but whatever.

“Thank god that awful hair is gone,” Kristen mutters in between takes. In actuality she wishes it was there so she could pull on it, anything to distract her from the fact that his tongue was just in her mouth.

Jesse pouts. “Aww, you didn’t like it?”

His breath smells good. He’s considerate like that, Kristen remembers from Adventureland.

“Shame, I was thinking of growing it out,” Jesse deadpans.

Kristen rolls her eyes, tries and falls to hold in a giggle. “Shut the fuck up, Jessup.”

He has to, because they’re ready to go again. She puts her arms around his neck, pulls him in for the kiss. His hands come up around her waist and she leans into it, parting her lips and finding his tongue with her own. Jesse kisses -- sweetly. It’s always so fucking sweet. And gentle, like he thinks he’s going to break her or something. She wonders if that’s how he kisses all his co-stars or it’s just their thing because he’s known her since she was 17 and he feels he owes that to her or something.

It makes her want to know what it’s like for real.

And it’s that thought -- a thought that sends a big flashing warning sign off behind her eyes -- that makes her extra glad filming is ending soon.

_______________________________

5.

Kristen said yes when they were offered their next project together. Jesse was already signed and it’s not like things were weird to the point that she’d say no. It’s not like she spent the time in which they’d finished American Ultra pining over one of her good friends.

So she wanted to kiss him in a non work related setting, big deal. She also wanted to kiss Rooney Mara and Jenny Lewis and David Bowie. That didn’t mean shit. Kristen wasn’t about to jeopardize a friendship.

Except, well, she had no idea that this film was basically going to be the two of them making out non-stop. They didn’t have the script, is the thing, when they signed on. Woody doesn’t work that way. All they knew was the concept.

She also didn’t realize when she signed on that their press tour for American Ultra would end literally three days before they started filming.

Kristen wasn’t used to such a concentrated dose of Jesse outside of filming. It was weird -- going from being themselves and goofing around in interviews and at a premiere together to have to immediately go into character.

And suddenly be in love with each other. Especially because, well, Kristen had forgotten just how much she loved being around Jesse.

They had a blast on the press tour, Kristen made comfortable by Jesse’s presence. The two of them hated doing interviews, were both awkward and nervous and jittery. So Kristen was glad to have Jesse by her side with this, although she was sure the interviewers wanted to kill them by the end of it, due to their combine sarcasm and deadpan humor that most people just didn’t get.

When they arrive on set, filming the California scenes first before moving to New York, Jesse says, “Well you’re a sight for sore eyes, Miss Stewart.”

“Yeah, it’s been forever, Jessup.”

They’re laughing within minutes, Jesse relaying anecdotes of his morning to her. There are few people who make her laugh as much as Jesse does.

It isn’t lost on her that Jesse’s now single. That she’s single.

But it doesn’t matter. They’re friends, they work well together, they’ve got “chemistry” or so people tell them. Kristen doesn’t know if they really sell the on-screen lovers thing well or what, but she knows they’re compatible as friends and that’s a large part of why their chemistry works on screen.

Jesse’s never shown any interest in her in that regard anyway.

So now he’s smiling at her, laughing, and ten minutes from now they’ll be in each other's arms. It’s all in a day’s work, really.

__________________________________

Kristen’s lost track of how many times they’ve kissed by this point. It’s the last day on set. Over the past two months she’s kissed him on a balcony, on a beach, on the streets of New York, in a car, in a horse and carriage, and now on a bridge in Central Park.

Kristen never feels anything when this happens, that hasn’t changed over the years.

Except it changes on that bridge.

It changes when they’re kissing, deep and long and wet and Jesse bites down on her tongue accidentally. He starts laughing against her lips, and Kristen ducks her head and breathes in, her face pressed against his neck.

Cut is called and he says, “Sorry, god, sorry,” and reaches up to stroke her hair and she can’t be the only one who remembers every time he’s done that.

She pulls back and they stare at each other, eyes still crinkly with laughter.

Except things sober quickly and Kristen has the thought she never has. The thought that’s so ridiculous to have, being who she is.

This is such a movie moment.

She wants to laugh at herself, because talk about surrealism.

Instead, all she can do is stare at him, and think if we kissed right now, they’d get the exact shot they need.

They look at each other, Jesse’s eyes completely unreadable, until they’re set to go again.

Kristen has no idea what just happened here.

She just knows it was something.

__________________________________

+1

Kristen has to get on a plane for Paris in a few days. She plans to go back to L.A., at least see her dog and her parents and then fly out with Suzie from there. Her flight leaves tomorrow afternoon.

Jesse has nothing planned except a few book things and some Q&A’s, all on the east coast.

He asks her out to dinner after the wrap.

She says yes, even as her heart flutters in her chest.

She’s basically spent the past 2 + months consumed by him.

It hasn’t helped this fucking crush or whatever the hell it was.

They go to a small bistro near the park.

“Feels good to get out of that suit,” Jesse says as they sit down. He’s wearing jeans and a polo.

“I’ll bet,” Kristen says. She loved all her clothes from the movie. She wished she could keep them, honestly.

“So that was fun,” he says.

“Yeah,” Kriste says, a little unfocused, unable to think of anything else but that moment earlier.

“And you’re getting right back to it,” he nods. He’s fidgeting. His leg, his hands. That’s nothing new, but it seems more pronounced right now.

“I am,” Kristen agrees, and things fall silent again.

She frowns. This feels -- stilted. Awkward. It’s never like that with them.

“I read your book, you know,” she says just as Jesse’s starts to speak.

His mouth works, before settling into a wry grin. “Yeah? And?”

“It’s good. I mean, your stuff is always good.”

“I end up hating most of my stuff after I write it, but thank you.”

Kristen rolls her eyes. “Whatever, man.”

Their waitress comes, they order. Things still feel -- weird, but not as much.

They talk about random shit, until Jesse says, “Gonna be weird, you know?”

“What?” she asks, sipping her wine.

He scratches the back of his neck. “Not seeing you again. I think I got spoiled.”

Kristen smirks at him, her pulse racing. “Yeah, Eisenberg? Getting addicted?”

She isn’t expecting a blush to rise on his cheeks, for him to dart his eyes away and down and back up.

“A little,” he whispers, voice devoid of dryness or sarcasm or any type of humor. Just pure sincerity.

It jolts her. He sounds like he does when he’s reading another character’s words. It’s -- foreign.

“We’re not on set anymore,” Kristen says, voice a little harsh.

He flinches and she feels bad. Then he’s nodding. “I know. I -- whatever, forget it.”

“No, what?”

She can’t just say ‘cut’ and ‘from the top of the scene’. She has to follow this through.

“I --” he drags his hand through his hair, face creased in frustration. “Okay, um. I’ve come to realize, being around you this much, that I miss you a lot when you’re not around. And I don’t want you to be. Not around, that is. So what I’m saying is -- I’d like to see you as much as possible. And not under the guise of working.”

His words are fast and urgent, the way they always are, except this time there’s a hint of desperation there.

She looks at him, mouth open, stomach flipping.

“Are you -- what are you saying though, man?”

Jesse groans, bringing his hand up to his face before dragging it downward. “I’m saying I want -- to kiss you when it’s just us.”

Kristen’s stomach doesn’t just flip this time, it does cartwheels.

She smiles, grinning big.

Jesse narrows his eyes. “Alright, you’re smiling, but uh -- say something.”

“I say -- let’s finish eating fast so we can get somewhere that can happen. No audience this time.”

“No audience this time,” Jesse repeats, nodding, a slow smile of his own forming.

They’re out of the restaurant within 15 minutes.

______________________________

At Jesse’s apartment, it almost feels like deja vu: Adventureland, their characters slowly coming together for a reunion kiss that might as well have been the first time, what with how tentative they were.

Except there’s no manufactured rain and there’s no calling action or cut or quiet on the set.

It’s just the two of them, standing in his apartment near the window, New York looking back at them, and no one else looking on.

“This is dumb,” Jesse says, as he takes one step closer, two.

“What?” Kristen whispers, stepping closer herself, until their toes meet.

“We’ve kissed like a hundred times.”

“Yeah,” Kristen says. “But not really.”

“Not really,” Jesse agrees, raising one hand and brushing over her cheekbone with his thumb, staring at her for a beat. “Can I kiss you?”

Kristen giggles, loops her arms around his neck. “I dunno, Writer, can you?”

“Oh my god,” Jesse mutters. “May I kiss you?”

“C’mere,” Kristen groans, pulling him down.

She learns, right off the bat, that Jesse doesn’t kiss the same way he does on set. It’s wet and deep. A little clumsy and a whole lot passionate.

Kristen pulls him in even closer, moans into his mouth, and tangles their tongues together.

He pulls back a little, nibbling at her bottom lip before sucking it between his own.

When they finally break apart they’re both breathing hard, her hands clenched on his shoulders, his hands on her face.

“So there’s that done for real,” he says.

“Yeah,” Kristen agrees, panting, pressing her forehead to his. “And now you’re gonna take me to your room because I’m leaving tomorrow for months.”

“Twist my arm,” he whispers, kissing her again hard before taking her hand and walking to the bedroom.

“I like Paris, you know,” he says as they’re undressing.

“Mmm,” Kristen says, pulling her t-shirt up and off. “That’d be something new.”

“What?” Jesse asks, undoing his pants.

Kristen grins at him. “Us on a movie set together but not both working.”

Jesse grins back. “I say we give it a shot.”

“Yeah,” Kristen says, pulling him in by his open pants and biting at his shoulder. “Let’s do that.”

[end]