Title: One more word and you won't survive, for kelseysprite
Rating: T for language, slashy behavior
Characters/Pairing: Eddie/Jerome, eventual Jerome/Fabian
Spoilers: None. No Egyptian mysteries, strays from canon A LOT.
Author's Note: This piece was written on request especially for kelseysprite (aka themusingsofahalfwit). I had a lot of fun writing it, and will very likely continue with it, eventually morphing it into a Jerome/Fabian (per kelseysprite's second pairing request) depending on what sort of feedback I get. I took some liberties with the layout of Jerome's dorm and the library, but I don't think it should be too distracting. If it is, I humbly apologize.
Title Credit: lyric from Eyes on Fire, by Blue Foundation
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, plot, etc. are the property of the creators of House of Anubis. Any original characters, settings and plots are the property of PuffleHuff. PuffleHuff is in no way associated with House of Anubis, and no copyright infringement is intended. This work is an amateur fan effort and no profit is being made.
If he hadn't known any better, Jerome might have sworn Eddie was making "eyes" at him across the library. There was something way more than off about the American ever since he and Patricia had had there explosive public breakup in the student lounge two weeks ago. It probably hadn't helped that Piper had come to Patricia's rescue and the twins had disappeared off to London for a long weekend so Trixie could "recover." What did that even mean? Recover from what? Why did Jerome even care?
He shook out his floppy blond hair and returned his attention to his French homework. It wasn't difficult, really, he just really didn't want to do it. He would've packed it in and headed back to Anubis House to change out of his uniform and into something warmer before supper, but Alfie had taken to writing pathetic love ballads on the ukulele in an attempt to win back Amber's affection, and Jerome did not want to be witness to any more of the musical stylings of his lovesick roommate. Why the pair continued to attempt to make that god awful excuse for a relationship work was beyond Jerome. He sighed into the page of conjugations in front of him and tried to extricate himself from thoughts of the love lives of his classmates. But as he worked, he could feel Eddie's eyes on the top of his bowed head, and it wasn't helping.
"What is it, Edison?" Jerome finally asked across the study table in the boarding school's musty library without raising his gaze from his homework.
"Oh nothing, Jerry," Eddie used the nickname Jerome loathed in reply, most likely as retribution for Jerome calling him by his full first name. Jerome ground his teeth to suppress a groan of frustration, and shot his coldest look at the cocky American student.
"Well, clearly something has caught your attention, or I wouldn't have even noticed you're here."
"That doesn't even make sense, Jerry," Eddie used the diminutive name again and this time Jerome did groan. "But since you're convinced I need something," the American grinned, "I could use some help with this French." He held up his workbook and made enticing eyebrows at his blond housemate.
Eddie was in Jerome's French class, for advanced students, but worked from a different book since he was still catching up to the rest of the year because he'd transferred to the British school mid-term. When Jerome just stared incredulously back at Eddie his grin widened and he slapped the workbook onto the table with a crack before sliding it Jerome's way.
"Who says I'm going to help you?" Jerome asked with a snide tone even as he reached for the well worn book. He pulled it toward himself and scanned the exercise on the page. "They're all irregular," he noted with one more glance and shoved the workbook back.
"All of them?" Eddie asked, the smile on his face falling as he poured over the work he'd already finished.
"So I did all of these wrong?"
"Fuu..." Eddie began but trailed off as the new librarian caught his eye from her place behind the circulation desk. Jerome just smirked before returning to his own work.
He really was nearly finished, he just needed to write a couple brief paragraphs about how he'd be spending his winter holiday. He went about the exercise quickly and methodically, looking up two words he expected would garner him some bonus points, and tried to ignore the frustrated sound of Eddie tearing at his paper with an eraser. The memory of the weird look the American boy had given him, with those damn twinkling green eyes, briefly returned to the forefront of Jerome's mind, but he didn't know what to do with the thought and pushed it away. He packed his things carefully and tugged on the sleeves of his overcoat, preparing to make his way back to his dorm room in Anubis House. At the last moment he turned at the end of the table and addressed Eddie again.
"I won't do these for you, but if you want me to check that later, I'll go over it again," he offered, stunned at his own words. He frowned at the ground as he heard himself, just barely registering the "thanks" that came in response before Jerome's feet were carrying him out the door and into the cold.
Jerome wasn't particularly looking forward to winter break, but he'd made up and outlined activities he may or may not actually engage in with his sister and family: Christmas shopping, picking out and decorating a tree, making ornaments from construction paper, and a big New Year's dinner with his grandparents. The French homework had come out to around three paragraphs, and Jerome was satisfied it met the requirements. In actuality, he was very anxious about the winter break. It would be the first time he would spend Christmas with his father since his incarceration many years previous, and Jerome didn't know what to expect from the whole situation.
Uncomfortable thoughts of this nature plagued Jerome as he trudged through the freshly fallen snow toward Anubis House, the dormitory he lived in on the campus of a prestigious boarding school in the British countryside. Well, if you could call it the countryside when it was an easy ten minute drive into a fairly sizable town that still called itself a "village" despite a healthy export and warehouse district. It was far enough away, though, that Jerome felt incredibly small as he walked through the cold, early dark evening with the crunch of his own footfalls in the snow the only sound to accompany him across campus.
Once inside, Jerome prayed he'd find the room he shared with Alfie Lewis blissfully empty, so he could change into warmer clothing and unwind from the long day of high school drama in peace and quiet. He wasn't too optimistic about this prospect though, so when he found the room empty of both Alfie and the infamous ukelele, Jerome was quite surprised. And thankful.
He shrugged out of his coat, his cardigan, and uniform. Peeled away his snow-damp socks. Stretched and shivered lazily in front of the mirror while he observed his own scrawny, pale body in the full length mirror that graced the back of every dorm room door. Maybe he should be eating more. Maybe if he could put on some weight Jerome wouldn't be so bloody cold all the damn time. He sighed and bundled into some thick corduroys and a heavy cable-knit sweater before flopping back onto his bed.
Jerome hadn't realized he had drifted off to sleep until he was startled awake by a sharp rapping at the door. He groggily went to answer it, a grumpy look plastered to his face as he expected to meet Alfie without his key again. He vaguely registered that he'd neglected to put dry socks back on his feet as he trudged across the cold floor.
But it wasn't Alfie. It was Edison "Mini-Sweets" Miller with another impossible look on his face and a French textbook in his hand.
"You look like hell, Jerry," Eddie smirked as he pressed the book into Jerome's chest and made to shove his way through the door. But even though Jerome dazedly accepted the book from the American, he wasn't about to let Eddie intrude on his space. He blocked Eddie's entry awkwardly, and a strange look of disappointment seemed to glaze over the boy's face as he realized he wasn't getting in.
"What time is it?" Jerome's voice caught with the exhaustion that came from just barely reaching a place of restful sleep before being rudely woken. The green-eyed boy made a show of pulling up his sleeve to examine the face of the watch on the thick leather band he wore around his wrist, but before his cocky smirk could flick back up to Jerome's face, Trudy's voice echoed down the hall.
"Supper time!" The house matron's voice rang cheerfully, calling her charges to the dining room table.
"Will you look at that for me?" Eddie now asked, gesturing toward the book in Jerome's hand with his chin, a vague look of apprehension now coloring his expression.
Jerome stared blankly and incredulously at his housemate before reluctantly agreeing. "After dinner," he insisted, and tossed the book to his bed, slipped on a pair of loafers, and shoved Eddie through the door.
Through most of dinner, Jerome kept catching Eddie surreptitiously staring at the side of his face, and it was beginning to be more than annoying. It made Jerome feel uncomfortable, and he began to wonder if Eddie wasn't doing more poorly in the advanced French class than he'd been letting on. Perhaps he was under pressure from Mr. Sweet, the headmaster of the school who also happened to be Eddie's father, and had to maintain high enough grades to keep from being shipped off to military school. Or something. He vaguely imagined Eddie in a serious of embarrassing situations involving obstacle courses and mud, based on what little he'd seen of American military schools in movies and television programs.
Jerome smirked to himself the next time he caught Eddie glancing his way, and decided he would in fact help the American boy, but he wouldn't make it easy on him. Maybe he'd offer to tutor Eddie, but charge him exorbitantly for the service, and get Eddie to do Jerome's homework for him, too, in the process. The details were unimportant, but he was certain he could turn the situation to his advantage. Jerome's mouth bent up into a mischievous smile, and the next time he looked over the table to the American's space, he had to suppress a laugh at the self-confident optimism displayed on the boy's face.
I'm going to ruin you, Eddie Miller, Jerome thought to himself. You just don't know it yet.
Jerome left the door to his and Alfie's dorm room ajar, and settled back onto his bed with Eddie's French book to go over the lessons the American had been working on in the library earlier that evening. He didn't bother to look up when he heard the soft knock of Eddie's knuckles against the door frame or the sound of the door shutting behind him, just gestured vaguely to the desk chair at the end of the bed while continuing to scan the page before him.
"This is better, but you're still trying to use the regular forms on irregular verbs in some places," Jerome addressed his audience of one. "I'll tell you which are still wrong, but you have to sort out what to do with them."
Jerome glanced up and was surprised to find Eddie not sitting in the chair he'd indicated, but standing over him at the side of the bed.
"Okay," Eddie agreed, reaching for the book. "Show me." His eyes still twinkled in that way that irritated Jerome so much, but his general look of cocky assurance and sarcasm had been replaced by a concentration and determination Jerome hadn't noticed in the boy before. Jerome unconsciously swallowed as he leaned up and stood to point to the problems with the assignment Eddie now held in his hands.
"Here, here, and here," Jerome pointed to the first three inaccuracies, and watched as Eddie bent over the desk and swiftly made the right corrections. This, too, surprised Jerome, as it seemed almost as though Eddie had already anticipated his errors and prepared the corrections before Jerome had even pointed them out.
A strange tension was growing between the two of them as Jerome stood beside and watched Eddie work. Why were they standing? Jerome was doubting whether to go through with his plan to run Eddie through the ringer because he mostly just wanted to get the American out of his room and out of his head as quickly as possible. When Eddie straightened himself, lifting the book from the cluttered surface of the desk with him, Jerome found himself uncomfortably close to his classmate, and would have stepped back except that he was now loosely pinned between Eddie and the end of his bed.
"They're right now," Eddie stated more than asked, and Jerome could feel his warm breath across his face. Jerome inadvertently swallowed again, gulping in a shaky breath of air. He accepted the offered workbook from Eddie and glanced down at it in the close space between their bodies. He silently nodded in confirmation of what they both already knew.
"What else?" Eddie asked, his hands reaching back for the book and brushing over Jerome's fingers.
"I-I think you can... handle it from here... Eddie," Jerome stammered with uncharacteristic anxiety, unable to meet the American's dark green eyes. He could feel himself trembling, and Eddie's fingers seemed to buzz with a strange heat where they still rested against the skin of his hands.
"I can," Eddie agreed, his voice dropping off an octave, barely above a whisper. The French book fell from both boys' hands and crashed nearly unnoticed at their feet. With the sound, Jerome hazarded a look back into Eddie's face, and he recognized immediately what he had failed – or perhaps just refused – to recognize before: lust. Desire. Jerome wasn't the one setting Eddie up. He had been the one set up, and so easily.
There was another half-moment's hesitation wherein Eddie's eyes flickered shut and he inhaled sharply. And then Eddie's unbearably sarcastic, pouty mouth was crushed against Jerome's, and the room went topsy-turvy.
The air went out of Jerome's whole body in a sudden surprised rush, and his eyes went wide. It was a joke, a joke, a joke, Jerome repeated to himself a million times a second while bells and alarms went off in his head, but Eddie didn't back away. Didn't move except to run his hands along Jerome's arms and to continue pressing his lips to the startled Brit's own. But after the initial shock gave way, Jerome's mind went pleasantly blank, and his mouth surrendered to Eddie's.
He was having trouble breathing, he realized vaguely, and his head and heart pounded as though he were riding a runaway roller coaster, but Eddie was so warm where he was pressed up against Jerome. Jerome distractedly noticed that he wasn't really standing anymore, but had fallen back over the end of his bed with Eddie's weight over his. At the back of his mind he wondered if he shouldn't push the boy off of him and get up. Run, maybe. But his fingers were already fisted in the fabric of Eddie's shirt, and he really was quite content to be right here. Right like this. Eventually, though, they would both have to breathe, and Jerome's hands reluctantly found the plains of Eddie's chest and pushed him away.
"What?" Eddie asked, concern thickening his voice as his eyes flickered open and looked down at Jerome beneath him. "I thought you...? You didn't stop me," Eddie said, a look of fear now marring the even features of his face, and it made Jerome frown. Why would he have wanted Eddie to stop?
"I can't breathe," Jerome gasped, little more than a whisper. He tried to smile reassuringly up at the now frightened boy who was struggling to lift himself from the bed, but it clearly wasn't having the effect Jerome hoped. Eddie was across the room and hesitating at the door before Jerome could right himself and reach him. He reached out for the American's arm, trailing shaken fingers along the texture of his shirt. Eddie turned to look at him, and while his green eyes danced when they fell on Jerome's swollen lips, they were full of anguish when they met Jerome's blue ones.
"I just... didn't know," Jerome whispered. He hesitated, his fingers wrapped loosely around Eddie's wrist. What was happening? What had just happened? What was he supposed to do?
"Neither did I..." Eddie finally replied, the weakest hint of a smile returning to his face.
A/N: As I mentioned, I intend to continue w/this Eddie/Jerome plotline a bit and eventually morph it into a Jerome/Fabian story. If you feel strongly one way or the other - or another entirely - about this, please feel free to let me know via review or private message. Further, if you have a request/suggestion for other story lines you'd like to share, I would love to hear them! Thank you for reading! Sincerely, the PuffleHuff