There was silence behind the closed door. Half an hour before the lights out, most students were already in their rooms, but I knew that Elliot wasn't. I just saw him going down the stairs to the second floor to make his evening rounds.
Which meant that Jesse was likely—finally—alone.
"Come in, Gordon Brown." He sounded tired, but I was pleased, if surprised, to hear him say my name.
"Hi," I said, opening the door. "How did you know it was me?"
"Because you're the only one who fucking knocks around here. Others just barge in."
He was lying on his stomach in his bed, dressed in jeans and a grey sweatshirt, writing something in a notebook. He propped his chin on his hand and looked at me, tapping his pencil on his cheek.
"What do you want?"
I closed the door behind me and just stood there, unsure what to say. I wanted so many things. I wanted to know if he was all right after what had happened between him and Owen on Monday. I wanted to know why he'd been ignoring me. I wanted—ached—to hold him again and to see him smile again, instead of giving me this impatient, annoyed look. None of those things I could get or even allow myself to ask him about.
"Just checking on you," I said.
He rolled his eyes and returned his attention to his notepad. "Go away. I'm busy."
I didn't move.
"You said that you liked me. That you'd be coming back for more."
"Huh?" He looked up again, frowning. "I said that I might, not that I will. And, for the record, I've never said I liked you."
He sighed. "It was one-time hookup, okay? Don't read too much into it. If you just --"
"I love you," I blurted, surprising myself.
He stared at me, then blinked a couple of times and put his pencil down.
"You what?" he said, sitting up slowly.
I looked around the room, feeling as if I have jumped from a cliff and was now falling, not knowing if I'd hit rocks or softer ground or will just keep on falling forever.
"You have a new poster." I nodded at a picture of a desert on the wall.
"Don’t change the subject." He eyed me like I was some rarity, but at least I had his attention now. "I heard what you said."
"Then why do you want me to repeat it?"
He shrugged. "I'm surprised, for one thing. People don't usually fall in love after a one-night-stand."
"It's not because of that. It's… everything about you."
He rolled his eyes again, but a pleased smile touched his lips. Encouraged, I stepped closer.
"So, what're you studying?"
He shook his head with disbelief. "Are you trying to make small talk now?"
"I'm not good at it, I know."
"You're not good in many things."
I looked at the cover of one of his now closed notepad. "I'm good in math."
"Are you?" He glanced down at it, then up at me, with a new found interest. "Wanna help me out? There's a couple of problems I've been breaking my head over."
"Of course," I said, a warm feeling spreading inside of my chest. He needed my help. I could do something for him.
I sat down on the bed as he moved a little, making space, and pushed the notepad to me. I picked it up and looked at the problems he indicated with a pencil. It was a piece of cake. I actually found it cute that he was having trouble solving this. He wasn't dumb. Maybe he just needed some tutoring. Which could open a few interesting opportunities to me.
"Trigonometry," I muttered, studying the book. "I love trigonometry."