halfdutch (halfdutch) wrote,
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As If You Have a Choice (Jack/James) NC-17

Title: As If You Have a Choice
Pairing: Jack/James
Summary: They've got two more days, but they'll be gone before he knows it.
Rating: NC-17
Word count: 4900
Notes: For foxxcub who's been infinitely patient waiting all these months for me to write the next installment, and in helping me get this to where it is now. And, of course for creating the jackjames_verse in the first place. For the fanfic100 prompt "Parents." Set after foxxcub's Stuff That Works.



The house looks bigger in the daylight. It's always been dark when he's been here before. All those times before, he was just focused on the window on the second floor. He'd drive past, pretending it was on his way, that cutting through these quiet palm-tree-lined avenues to Sunset was because of the traffic. He'd slow down for that meaningless glimpse of a darkened window, not knowing if Jack was even home.

Or he'd sit in his car waiting and watching, cupping his cigarette so no one would see the glow, hoping the private security patrols wouldn't catch him, while he made up his mind to try to get inside.

Jack's had it so much easier. He just had to knock on James's window. James had to climb a fucking tree for Jack.

But not tonight. He pulls into the driveway, conscious that his battered truck doesn't belong, not unless he's here to mow the lawn or test the pH in the pool.

He pulls around back, next to the BMW. Jack's dad must have taken one of the other cars, left this one for Jack. For the thousandth time, he tells himself this is a bad idea, that he should be anywhere but here. But Jack insisted, swore up and down that his parents would be gone until Monday, and finally, James relented. He actually packed a bag, well, just a duffel bag, and he slings it over his shoulder. No different than being in a hotel for an away game. Or heading to that cabin. Except that it is. It's Jack's house.

Jack's waiting for him, swinging open the French doors with a wide grin and rushing to meet him. "Hey," is all he says as he pulls James close, but not before James sees the flicker of relief in his eyes. Jack holds him a little too long, a little too tight. He's warm and solid and his T-shirt is damp, like maybe he just took a shower and threw it on.

James wonders if any of the neighbors can see them. He steps out of Jack's embrace with a tight smile. "You wanna maybe take this inside?"

Jack's still grinning, and the look he gives James is so happy it hurts. "C'mon," he says, taking James's bag.

Instead of going upstairs to his bedroom, Jack leads him to a room off of the front foyer. "Let me fix you a drink," he says, as he drops the bag by the door.

The room is dark, masculine. Jack's dad's study. James takes in the massive desk, the expensive leather sofa, and the wall-to-wall bookcases with books so neatly arranged, he doubts anyone ever took one out and put it back. Jack is in the corner, tossing ice into two glasses -- damn, there's a whole minibar there -- and expertly pouring out a double whiskey in each.

He carries the glasses over carefully, licking his thumb as they slosh over slightly. "Here." He hands James a glass and holds up his own, and, in all seriousness, clinks them together before taking his first swallow.

James nods and tips back his glass. "Damn, that's good," he sputters.

"Always," Jack says with a grin and he knows he's remembering that first time. The party in the basement, both of them trying to outdrink the other, impress the other. Except then they were just passing a bottle back and forth. Now Jack's channeling his dad or something, breaking out the glasses like James is company. At least one thing is still the same.

"Always could drink more'n you." James is warm already, from that one taste of alcohol, or from the well-worn memory of that tiny, cramped bathroom.

"Yeah?" Jack steps closer, pressing his body into James. He closes his eyes, a shiver going through him, as James runs the tips of his fingers over Jack's arm, tracing the stars inked there.

Jack's hand is in his hair, tugging him closer, eyes still closed tight as he draws him into a kiss. He sighs and leans in, his mouth opening to Jack, falling into him like he'd fall into an unmade bed after nights with no sleep.

Just as he's trying to figure out where to put down the glass of whiskey he doesn't really want, the phone rings.

Jack sighs and draws back, face clouding with annoyance. "Hang on," he says, and walks out of the room. There's a phone on the desk, but it's not ringing. Must be a separate line, James figures. A pile of glossy pamphlets catches his eye. The top one says Princeton. He thumbs through them and beneath are brochures for Harvard, Stanford, UCLA. His stomach clenches, like when he had to watch Jack kiss someone else.

"Yeah. OK, I won't. Don't worry." He can hear Jack's voice loud enough from the kitchen or the hall. He sounds irritated, anxious to end the conversation. "OK, Dad. Right. No." A long silence in which he can picture Jack's pinched face and then finally, a terse. "OK, bye."

James straightens the pamphlets so that only the top one is visible, like before. He thinks he should step away from the desk, pretend he hasn't seen them. Jack comes back into the study and even before he turns to look at him, James knows his good mood from before is blown. Jack slams his empty glass down on the desk next to James and puts his arms around James's waist, letting out a deep breath. "Sorry about that," Jacks sighs into his ear. "God, he never lets up."

James just nods, and settles back against Jack. He takes another swallow of whiskey, but Jack takes his glass out of his hands and puts it down. "C'mere." His voice has that raw edge to it that gets James hard, knowing what's coming next.

A warm hand slips under the waistband of his jeans and he rocks into Jack's palm, shutting out everything but the exquisite friction as Jack takes hold of him. His head falls back onto Jack's shoulder, like he knows Jack's mouth is there, open and waiting for him. He pulls Jack closer, bent elbow behind Jack's neck, body stretched out, completely at Jack's mercy. Jack is tugging down his jeans and he ends the kiss with a nip at his lower lip. "On the couch," he practically growls, and James nods, amused at Jack giving orders and unbelievably aroused at the same time.

He stumbles back against the couch, jeans tangled around his ankles. Jack presses him down, his bare ass against the leather, spreading his thighs with a possessive hand. Jack's tongue slides over his dick, an aching, teasing, wet touch, and James thinks he might lose it already. "God," he pants, fisting Jack's T-shirt hard enough to rip it. Jack grins and stops fucking around; he's driving James to the brink with hands and mouth that know every sensitive spot and he feels like he's going to dissolve right there. There's sweat trickling down his back and legs and suddenly all James can think about is that he's ruining Dr. Shephard's couch.

"Hey, hold up," he says, trying to push Jack away. He only has enough breath left to gasp, "Fuck. The couch," and then he stops caring as Jack takes him deeper. He explodes into Jack's mouth, his body sinking and soaring simultaneously, like a plane angling in a rapid descent. He could almost swear his ears pop.

"Yeah, fuck the couch," Jack's head is resting on his thigh, grinning madly and James brushes him off, trying to survey the damage as he pulls his jeans up.

"Hey, it's OK," Jack says with ridiculous optimism in the face of the visibly damp leather, which, to James's eye, tells the whole story all too well.

Jack just keeps telling him not to worry as James swipes at it with the bottom of his T-shirt. Why did Jack insist on doing this here instead of in his bedroom? Suspicion flickers through his mind as Jack walks back to the minibar to mix more drinks.

This wasn't about Jack needing him so bad he couldn't wait. It was about Jack fucking over his dad. It wasn't the first time it occurred to him he was more or less the equivalent of those stars and flames on Jack's arm -- just a way to get back at Daddy. Except Jack will always have that tattoo.

"You pick a school yet?"

"What?" Jack's head swings around and he freezes. His eye goes to the desk, then back to James and he shakes his head and frowns. "No." His lips are set in that hard line that makes him look so much like his dad and James almost regrets mentioning it.

"But you're going, right?" He pushes when he should pull back.

Jack shrugs and James knows he won't get anything else out of him. Jack shoves the glass at him. He downs half of it, not tasting the liquor this time. He wants to hear that Jack's going to go with UCLA, going to stay here, but then it really doesn't make a difference, so he doesn't say anything.

"You hungry?" Jack forces a smile and James nods, even though he really isn't. Jack beckons him out of the room, and he follows, fingers rubbing over the grooves in the glass. He's already managed to fuck up the whole weekend.

---
James offers to help, but Jack says he can manage, so he sits at the marble counter and watches as Jack bustles around the kitchen, breaking spaghetti into a large copper pot and not letting James see what's in the plastic container he's warming up in a smaller, matching pot.

James sips the red wine, fingers cupping the bowl of the impossibly huge wine glass. The label looked expensive, with some intricate coat of arms on it. He looks up and Jack is still intent over his pots, like the dinner is an exam he has to ace.

The radio in the kitchen is set to a jazz station and James wonders if Jack really likes this kind of music or if he's still just trying to impress him.

"Almost ready," Jack dabs a finger into the smaller pot and licks his finger and smiles. He's set two terra cotta-colored plates rimmed with gold on the counter -- there's a formal dining room off to the side, but James is glad they're eating in the kitchen -- and dishes out a steaming portion of pasta on each plate.

He ladles out the sauce and grins as James peers at, trying to figure out what it is. "It's a clam sauce," he says as he takes his seat and arranges the cloth napkin on his lap. "It's from this really cool pasta shop. It's good. Try it."

James takes a bite and it's salty and tangy and the clams are pleasantly chewy. "It is good," he nods and Jack looks pleased.

"Good," he says and lifts his glass to toast James. He doesn't have to say how happy he is to have James here, that he's anxious for the evening to go just right. James lets a tight smile break through. All this fuss, like it's a first date or something, is making him nervous.

The next song comes on he knows this. He hums along, breaking in softly to join Billie Holliday. "Oh, your daddy is rich and your ma is good lookin'. So hush little baby, don't you cry."

Jack is staring at him in surprise, fork frozen in the air. "Hey. James. You've got a great voice."

He shrugs. "My mama always listened to that shit." The second the words are out of his mouth, he regrets them.

Already Jack's looking at him with pity in those sad brown eyes. "I'm sorry. It's a preset. My mom always has that on when she cooks."

His stomach twists and he puts down his fork. He doesn't know why he had to go and mention his mother.

"You OK?" Jack's all polite sympathy. He reaches out and puts his hand over James's hand.

"Don't think the dinner's agreeing with me." James pulls his hand away and mumbles something about needing some air. He waves Jack off and finds a bathroom on his own. He splashes water on his face but it's still too stuffy in here. Nausea hits him hard and fast and he kneels over the toilet, retching up all the whiskey and wine and clams. He slides to the floor, the porcelain cool against his cheek, and he hates himself for being this weak. If he was stronger, if he was smarter, he wouldn't have come at all.

It's all ending, he knows, and even if it weren't, he'd have to end it. Jack's as good as gone already. One last weekend, a few stolen days. It was Jack who wanted to hide away in the cabin in the middle of nowhere, to pretend that the real world didn't exist. James has always prided himself on being clear-eyed and cynical, but he's just as big an idiot as Jack. Bigger. He should know better than to listen to Jack, to let himself be talked into delaying the inevitable.

Jack's still someone who hopes for the best, who believes in fucking fairy tales. If it had happened to Jack instead ... James tries to picture that same scene playing out here. He's met Christian and there's more cold menace in that man than he ever saw in his own father. He wonders if Jack's mom really loves him enough to die saving him. And then he thinks that Jack wouldn't hide under the bed, like he did. He'd get up. He'd go out there. Jack wouldn't have let it happen. Because that's who Jack is.

A soft tapping at the door brings him back to reality. "James?" Jack says softly. "You OK in there?"

"Yeah," he says, then again a little louder. He checks his hair in the mirror and he hates that his eyes are so red. He opens the door and Jack steps in, his hands going to his forehead reassuringly.

"Fuck. You're not allergic to shellfish are you?" Jack asks, prepared to shoulder the blame for everything.

"No, no, just ... maybe comin' down with somethin," James lies. He drops his head and lets Jack take him in his arms. He hates needing this, needing Jack's arms around him.

"I'm sorry. Do you want to go home?" Jack sighs, tensing up, bracing himself for disappointment.

"No, ‘s OK," James reply is muffled against his chest. "I can stay."

Jack smoothes the hair back from his face, tipping his head back so he can meet his gaze. "Alright. You want to go to bed?"

"Yeah," James nods and lets Jack lead him upstairs.

---

He lays alone in the bed, burrowing into the pillow that smells like Jack, and listening to the faint sounds of the radio from the kitchen as Jack cleans up. He brushed his teeth and then undressed in Jack's bathroom -- how did he never notice Jack had his own bathroom before? -- and slid between the sheets. He kept his shorts on because it doesn't feel quite right to just get into Jack's bed naked.

He's just drifting off when he feels the mattress shift as Jack sits on the edge of the bed. "You awake?" he asks in a hushed voice and James rolls over to face him.

"Yeah." They're both still whispering, even though there's no one else in the house.

Jack is silhouetted against the light from the hallway. "Take this, you'll feel better." He hands him a fizzing glass of water. "Alka-Seltzer," he explains, as James dutifully sips it.

"Thanks," James says, handing the empty glass back. "Hey, Jack. I'm real sorry about your dinner."

"Don't worry about it." Jack pulls his shirt over his head and tosses it across the room, aiming for the chair against the wall. "Better now?" He's standing up and taking off his jeans and boxers in one motion, leaving them on the floor. He crawls into bed, pressing the length of his body against James. Jack's arms go around him, his forehead falling against the back of his neck. "Let's get some sleep."

"Mmm." James tucks his arm over Jack's and pulls him closer. Everything seems right, now that they're here in bed together.
---

He wakes in the middle of the night, not sure where he is at first, until he registers the warm body beside him. His head is clear now and his stomach's stopped rioting. He lays still for a minute, just listening to Jack breathe. Sometime in the middle of the night, they switched positions and now his arms are encircling Jack, warm skin flush against his. His hand rests lightly on Jack's belly, rising and falling with each breath Jack takes. It hits him hard, this trust Jack has in him, how he'd let James do anything to him. He thinks maybe Jack would do anything for him. Right now, this second, he would do anything for Jack. For the chance to just lay here like this, forever.

He's glad it's not morning yet. They've got two more days, but they'll be gone before he knows it. And if yesterday was strained with all the things they can't talk about, he thinks today might be just as bad. It's only at night that they can have this peace. That James can pretend this will last.

Jack stirs and he brushes his hand lightly over Jack's cock. It stiffens at his touch, and now he's hard too. "You awake?"

"Mmmm, yeah," Jack sighs, moving into his hand.

"Good," James grins into the darkness. "Because I owe you."

He moves his hand up to Jack's mouth, teasing the fingers inside. His other hand goes to his own dick as Jack sucks at his fingers, his tongue running over each in turn.

"Fuck, you've got me hard. C'mere." He's going to give Jack the best fucking handjob he's ever had, but instead Jack rolls over, facing him.

"I'm here."

Jack inches his shorts down and James is already breathless as their hands meet, his cock pressed length to length with Jack's. It's all over too fast as they grind against each other, hands and hips pumping until there's nothing but soft moans and heated flesh and their mingled scent and tangled, damp sheets.

Jack is curled up against James, his head tucked under and into James's shoulder and he falls asleep like that almost instantly.

It's been how many times since, and Jack still hasn't said it again. James keeps thinking next time, when Jack's less drunk, or more drunk. When they're finally face to face again, or in the light, or in the dark, or when they have more time. Next time, Jack won't be able to hold back and the words will come tumbling out on their own, like before. But there's been only the one time. James tells himself it's a relief, that if Jack knows what he's saying, he'll have to say it back.

But then he thinks that Jack is saying it every time they're together. The way he looks at him, for Christ's sake with his eyes practically shining sometimes. The way he keeps taking things of his, like he thinks James won't come around anymore if there isn't a lighter or a sweatshirt or some stupid thing he needs to get back.

Jack twitches in his sleep like a dog and James presses his mouth against the back of Jack's ear. "Can you hear me?" he says as softly as he can and still be speaking out loud. There's no answer. Jack's breath is still deep and even.

"Jack. You know I love you, right? I fuckin' love you." His throat is tight as he says the words and it comes out sounding more like an accusation.

Jack sighs and shifts against him and James' heart spikes. He stops breathing. But then Jack lets out a small, complaining noise and wiggles closer. Still asleep. James lets himself breathe again, although his heart is thudding hard enough to wake the dead.

It's an hour or more before he can fall asleep again.

---

The sound of a car door slamming wakes him. "Shit!" He's up and looking for his jeans in a panic, sneaking a peek out the open window. The sun's just starting to come up, but there's no one out on the street, except for someone walking their dog.

"Whatizzit?" Jack mumbles from the bed.

"Didn't you hear that?"

"What?"

"Car. Like maybe your folks comin' home early?" James says sharply, alarmed at Jack's lack of urgency.

"Ffft. No. Come back to bed."

James takes one more look out the window and then allows himself to be coaxed back to bed.

"Fuckin' worrywort," Jack yawns and pulls the covers over him. "I was in the middle of a dream, too."

"Oh yeah?" James hooks his leg around Jack's, his hand naturally going to the curve of Jack's ass. "Was it about me?" His head is facing Jack on the pillow and he watches him stubbornly clinging to the vestiges of sleep.

"Yeah," Jack sighs. "You were saying ..."

James sucks in a breath and at the sound of it, Jack's eyes finally flutter open, and he's caught in his gaze.

"What?" he demands, defensive, and Jack's eyes narrow. But then the corners crinkle up and he realizes it's because Jack is smiling.

"Nothing," Jack yawns, running the back of his hand across James's chest. "Can't remember now."

James's heart races ahead of itself, but here, with Jack nestled against him, sleepy and warm and his, it's suddenly OK if Jack heard him. "I could spend the whole day in bed with you," he says, voice raspy with need, as his hand moves to Jack's already hard cock.

Jack arches into him, his breath coming faster now. "Fuck, yeah," he says between clenched teeth as James licks a path down his neck.

"Wanna be inside you," he whispers in Jack's ear. He pulls back to see Jack, wide awake now, looking at him with that mix of need and trust that always makes him catch his breath.

"Yeah," he says, voice low, taking James's head in his hands and holding him there for a long kiss broken by sighs as their hips move together.

Jack sits up and fumbles in the nightstand drawer for the baby oil. He kisses James as he rubs some on his dick, their hands sliding together. It feels so fucking good James almost doesn't want to stop but now Jack is lying back, flushed and ready.

Jack's hands are on his ass, urging him inside and he can't wait. Jack arches up to meet him and he's overcome with the sensation, the pressure, the heat of Jack. He pulls Jack's leg up around his back, needing to be deeper, needing to drive into the very heart of him.

"James, God." Jack reaches up to bite at his earlobe and James is already shaking. He puts his hand over Jack's, moving together over his cock and Jack's eyelids flutter against his cheek, short, incoherent noises breaking against his ear.

Jack's body is trembling under him and he forces himself to slow down when all he wants is to fuck Jack, just fuck him hard and fast and rough, fuck him like there's no tomorrow.

"Jesus, are you close?" he pants. "Jack.... fuck, I don't want to stop."

"Don't fucking stop now," Jack half chokes. He throws his head back and thrusts his hips up, body clenching hard around James.

"No, no," he breathes. "I don't ever want to stop. With you."

"Don't," Jack gasps out, and James doesn't know if he means Don't stop, or Don't say that. And then his heart stops at the next thing Jack says.

"God, I love you James." Just like that, the words are spoken and Jack's eyes are open and staring straight into his like James is his whole world.

His mouth falls open but the words don't come because he can't breathe.

Jack's eyes are still open even as he comes with a shuddering cry, his hand reaching for James's face.

Something moves out of the corner of James's eye, but just then the room spins into black and white, his vision blurring like he's going a million miles an hour. The orgasm is so intense, he rides it for what seems like minutes before collapsing, spent, onto Jack's chest.

He listens to Jack's heart race, and then, second by second, slow down. They lay like that, tangled up, just catching their breath, as Jack's hand plays idly through James's hair.

He's gradually aware of music and the song slowly sinks into his fogged brain. Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall... He sits up, confused, looking around Jack's room for a radio. "Where's that coming from?" he asks.

"The kitchen." Jack's face has gone white. He looks like he's going to be sick. He pushes James off of him and goes to the doorway. He pauses, intent on listening. "Sometimes they put it on a timer when they leave," he says, and his voice has gone dead, like it's a recording. "But that's not the same station."

He might have as well punched James in the gut. He wants to reassure him that no one heard them, but the door was open the whole time. And they weren't exactly quiet.

Jack sinks to the floor, head in hands. "fuckfuckfuckfuck." James walks over to him, but the second he puts his hand on Jack's shoulders, Jack shoves it away.

"You have to go," Jack snaps. He's staring at James like he's some stranger.

"What? No. No fuckin' way." James tries to pull him to the window. "C'mon, we can sneak out. Wait for him to cool off."

Jack's not fighting him, but he's not cooperating either. It's like he's in shock. James closes the door -- fuck, why did they keep it open? -- and grabs his jeans. He tugs them on as fast as he can and he throws Jack's clothes at him.

"C'mon, get dressed. You can't stay here." James keeps his voice low, but there is no way Jack can't hear him, can't realize he's speaking the truth.

Jack nods and pulls his jeans and shirt on and he lets James lead him to the window. And then he stops.

"I can't," he says in that same robotic tone.

"Jesus, Jack, he's going to fucking kill you." James's eyes are burning and he doesn't know what else to do. He's going to have to get Jack out of here by force if necessary. He pulls him by the arm and Jack finally reacts, shoving him away hard.

"No!" Jack practically shouts. "You have to GET. THE. FUCK. OUT. OF. HERE. NOW." His face is red and there's a vein throbbing dangerously in his throat like he's some fucking psycho.

"Jack," James is almost crying. "You can't ... you can't fuckin' stay. I'm not going to let you. You're going to have to fuckin' kill me first."

"Just GO," Jack's face is a mask of fury and James doesn't see the blow to his chin coming. He's offbalance with the shock of the punch more than the impact and then he's pitching backward, having to grab at the windowsill to keep from falling out the window.

"Fuck, Jack," he says, shaken. "You really wanna kill me?"

Jack's face crumples in anguish and he shakes his head. "No, God, no. I'm sorry. But I can't. It'll be that much worse if I leave now. You understand, don't you? Please James. Please, just go."

James is damned if he's going to let Jack face this alone, but he looks at Jack and he knows he's lost.

Jack won't go and he can't stay."OK," he hears himself say and he knows he's going to regret this forever. He swings his legs over the windowsill, and grabs hold of the tree branch easily enough. He looks back at Jack but the window is empty.

He has no choice but to climb down and go around back to his truck. There's another car there that wasn't there before, a red Porsche. He's not blocked in, thank God, and he throws the truck in reverse and drives off, his vision a blur.

He hates himself for leaving. He sits at a red light, telling himself to go back, just do a U-turn but the light changes and a truck comes out of nowhere and he has to keep going. He can barely see and he thinks he should pull over but his own safety is the last thing on his mind.

God well and truly hates him. It's because he said those words to Jack, because he couldn't just let go. It's all his fucking fault.

He fumbles for a cigarette and he only now realizes he left his duffel bag behind. He swears and hits the wheel and the tears finally come.

Everything of his is back there.
Tags: jack/james, lost_fic
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