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master post | prologue | i | ii | iii | iv | v | epilogue



iv. prince charming found that sleeping beauty was a different person awake


"The thing is, it's - you know, it sounds glamorous, yeah, and I mean it's definitely worth it, but the reality is never as pretty as people make it out to be."


Cook spends ten minutes listening to the scritch-scratch of fabric before he opens his eyes. He stares up at his ceiling for another moment, counting his breaths in the silence, and pushes himself up on his elbows at twelve. The clock on his bedside table blinks 3:02, a warning in bright neon red. Across the room, David's rifling through his closet.

"Kind of early to be up," Cook says, casually.

David freezes. "I couldn't sleep," he says, eventually. He doesn't turn around.

Even in the faint light from the closet, Cook can see the finger-shaped bruises along the back of David's shoulder, rich plum fading out into mauve at the edges, like a preschooler trying to color inside the lines. Cook scrubs a hand over his face. "Come back to bed."

"I, um," David says. "I have an early class tomorrow. Like, seven thirty early."

"Arch," Cook says, wearily.

David stiffens, again, and tugs one of Cook's shirts off the rack and pulls it on instead. He takes a deep breath, then turns around, eyes dark and unreadable when he says, quietly, "I should, um - I'll just go."

Cook isn't listening anymore. His shirt is too long for David, the cuffs swallowing David's hands, his fingers, and the fabric looks painfully soft. Cook's mouth goes dry, aches with a sudden need, and his skin is humming as he throws the covers back and gets out of bed. He moves forward, feet silent as a predator's, till he's close enough to put his hands on the inside of the open closet doors, on either side of David's hips.

David is very, very still. "Cook," he says. His skin peeks out from under Cook's shirt, a brief flash of honey-gold, and Cook smoothes his fingers over it, feels the too-quick thrum of David's pulse.

"I heard you," he says to it. David's watching him when he looks up, throat working noiselessly, and Cook leans over and crushes their mouths together, pushes David back against the closet door and pins him there with the warmth of his own body.

"Is this what you want?" Cook asks, lips twisting, as he jerks David's jeans off with practiced ease, shifts even closer, curves his hips so David whimpers and has to bury his face in Cook's shoulder to hide the sound. "Should I ask you to stay?"

"Do you," David breathes, stubbornly, despite the way he's already straining against him, "Do you want me to?" Cook flicks his wrist, once, twice, and David arches up, shuddering, trying to find an angle--

Cook swallows, hard, clenches his jaw against the treachery lying under his tongue.

"Cook," David moans, again, breathless now, eyes fluttering shut as he tips his head back, fingers curling in Cook's hair, his arm, his back, his hip, his thigh.

And Cook can't--

"Stay," he says, fiercely, against David's neck. The word slips out like betrayal.

David's skin blazes at the contact, burns Cook's lips. Cook bites his shoulder, hard enough to bruise, to leave his brand again, and doesn't have to repeat himself.



Cook wakes up again, two hours later.

David's still asleep, curled around him, one arm thrown carelessly over Cook's side, like he has a right to be there.

Cook sweeps a thumb over the mark on David's throat, hard enough that David stirs, dislodges, murmuring sleepily. Then Cook rolls over, away, onto his side, and watches the sunrise smolder, a weak, orange glow this side of his drawn curtains, and thinks half-covered fires burn all the brighter.

He counts David's breaths in the silence till he falls back asleep.



David's already washing his dishes when Cook ambles out into the kitchen later that morning. "Oh," he says, clearly surprised.

"Morning," Cook says, and takes the coffee mug David holds out to him.

David's changed back into his own shirt, and Cook averts his eyes, away from the bruise at the base of his neck. "I'm, um," David says, fidgeting uncomfortably, eyeing the door. "I should probably--"

"Yeah," Cook nods.

David worries at his lower lip. Cook drops his gaze again, takes another long sip of coffee. "I left you oatmeal and milk," David ventures, eventually. "But I covered all the stuff in this lecture, like, last year, so I could just, if you wanted I could, um."

Cook clears his throat, then, and David looks up at him, almost hopefully. The silence hangs heavy between them. "You're gonna be late," he says, finally. "You should probably--"

"Oh," David says, and rubs the back of his hand over his mouth. "I - yes. Okay."

The door swings shut, quietly, behind him.

Cook sits there for a while longer, staring blankly at the empty corridor. His palms are cupped around his mug, stealing its heat in a suddenly chilly room. "Fucking idiot," he mutters, under his breath, "Fuck."

He gets up, throws the milk and oatmeal out, and goes back to bed.



Contrary to popular belief, Cook's good at what he does. Languages - and English, especially - have always fascinated him, and, at 31, he can easily relate to his class, all of them bright-eyed and eager and ready to take on the world.

He remembers what it was like being lectured to, has learned how best to pique his students' interest; he can play with semantics, can make etymology seem relevant to the here and now, can turn syntax and morphology into more than mathematic equations.

He communicates well with his pupils, too: he's young enough to be a friend, but knowledgeable enough to command respect; charismatic enough to retain attention, but modest enough that nobody finds him threatening; warm enough to encourage questions, but professional enough to maintain a distance.

Professionalism, however, is not what Cook is thinking about, when he sees David in his usual seat, in the middle of the auditorium, or when he lets his gaze linger a second longer than necessary. He doesn't think about it, either, when he sees Ramiele Malubay lean over Michael Castro to tuck a note into David's shirt pocket, right next to his heart, or when Michael grins and ruffles David's hair. And it's the last thing on his mind when he sees David duck his head a little, laughing, obscuring what little proof there is that Cook is anything more to him than professor.

There's a sour taste in Cook's mouth when he looks away, and he doesn't wait for David after class, just goes straight to his office to gather his documents, and stops for a caffeine refill in the teachers' lounge on the way to the parking lot.

Johns is there, fiddling with his cell phone, and he grins when he spots Cook. "Dave Cook," he says, and waves an arm dramatically. "Where've you disappeared to, mate? Last I remember, you owe me a beer."

"That was eight months ago," Cook points out, but he's coaxed into a smile despite himself. "Penny-pincher."

"Man's due what a man's due," Johns says, sagely, and nudges Cook's arm. "I karaoked the hell out of Bon Jovi, and now you'll damn well buy me that drink. How's this Thursday? We're all going out for a round to celebrate Brooke's anniversary."

"You'll take any excuse to drink," Cook snorts, but he catches himself hesitating. David comes over on Thursdays, and usually they have take-out or pasta and watch whatever drivel HBO puts on at 9pm. "I'll think about it," he settles for, eventually, and drives himself straight home after Johns waves him off, before locking himself in his room to grade essays that are long overdue.



Cook's been working on a paper that has to do with the syntax of Germanic languages, how, despite all evidence thus far pointing to a universally recognizable system, further, more in-depth research suggests a possibility that the transference of one's understanding of one language as a basis upon which to study another language might entirely erode the ability for full comprehension of either.

It's going to be a controversial paper, but Cook's starting to think that the theory holds true even within the same fucking language.

He picks up, thoughtlessly, when his cell phone rings, and pushes away from his computer with a scowl. "David Cook."

It's David. "Hi," he says.

Cook tenses. "Hi."

"It's Thursday?" David says, sounding strangely small on the other end of the line. "So I - I mean, I rented Totally Awesome and Rock Star, and I'm, um, now I'm at the mall picking up groceries."

"Omigod," Cook hears, muffled in the background, before he can respond. "You're picking up groceries? You're totally, like, the cutest ever! Is that your mom?"

David laughs, and Cook misses what he says next. Cook clears his throat. "You alone?" he asks.

"Oh," David says. "Um, no. Ramiele wanted to get a pair of new shoes and she needed a ride over, so I offered to - oh my gosh, Michael, stop! I am totally not buying this hat! I look really stupid!"

Cook grits his teeth against the headache that's starting to build behind his temples. "David," he says.

"Oh my gosh, sorry!" David says, apologetically, but Cook can hear the smile in his voice. "Um, I thought I'd - should I get you milk? You never have milk, and I -- oh my gosh, seriously!"

"No," Cook snaps.

"What?"

"No," Cook repeats, and pinches the bridge of his nose when there's a sudden burst of laughter from David's side. "No, don't buy the fucking milk. I'm lactose intolerant."

He hangs up.

David doesn't call back.

"Fuck," Cook snarls. He slams his cell onto the table and jams his knuckles against his eyes, hard enough that bursts of white and purple explode beneath the pressure. He breathes, deep, then picks up the phone and dials Johns' extension. "Hey man," he says, evenly, ignoring the brittle grittiness in his eyes. "Feel like collecting that drink tonight?"



Cook stumbles back into his apartment some time past two in the morning. His headache has faded to a faint throbbing at the back of his head, the giddy thrill of alcohol in its place. He's singing under his breath, feet unsteady as he makes his way into the living room.

He stops short when he sees David curled up on the couch, fast asleep. The TV set is blinking blue, his DVD player sleeping as well, and Cook sees both DVD covers spread open on the coffee table.

Cook swallows, hard, and feels his headache pulse back into life.

He leaves David on the couch, and falls asleep in the toilet, the marble floor cool against his cheek.

In the morning, David's gone. Cook spends an hour throwing up, and another wishing he was dead. There is no note in the kitchen, when he finally makes it that far, just a couple of Aspirin and a glass of water.

When Cook looks inside the fridge, there's a six-pack he doesn't remember buying, and a glaring lack of milk.

He slams the door shut, so hard that it rattles, and flushes the pills down the sink.



David comes over again, sometime that evening. His shoulders are stiff, his mouth thin, and Cook barely gets a second's warning before David is bearing down on him, hands folded hard over Cook's shoulders, pushing him back into the couch.

"What," Cook says, but the rest of it is swallowed by David's mouth, slanted over his own, hot and open and demanding, and Cook feels his stomach flip despite himself.

"What?" he repeats, when they break apart to breathe, but David isn't having any of it, isn't waiting, one hand already down the front of Cook's boxers, Jesus fucking Christ, and Cook moans and says, "What?" again, without meaning it.

"Where were you?" David asks, against Cook's neck, before he dips his tongue into the hollow of Cook's throat. "This afternoon, where were you?"

Cook can barely think, can hardly even breathe, Jesus, and he lifts his hips unthinkingly because he needs, oh, god, he wants-- Like a broken record, he says, "What?" again, and then David twists his wrist, and Cook's back comes right off the couch, his voice catching in his throat on some wild, mangled whimper.

"Where were you?" David repeats, low and hot and dirty, and there is fire in Cook's veins, scorching white heat, and when David snaps his wrist again Cook's toes fucking curl, oh god--

"I - here," Cook pants, finally, digging his nails into the upholstery as David's fingers slow. "Here, right fucking here, fuck, Archie."

Something shifts in David's face, then, something Cook misses, and then David drops his head, drags his mouth over the curve of Cook's shoulder, says a quiet, "oh," like penance, like relief, and then his fingers are moving up, and--



Later, after, David presses his face into Cook's neck. Inhales.

Cook watches him through heavy-lidded eyes, one hand carded in his hair, stroking idly.

"I think," David says, eventually. There's a pause, a lull that Cook isn't stupid enough to think will last, and he stiffens and pulls his hand back. There's always a catch. David raises his gaze to meet Cook's. "I think you should maybe, um, think about switching assistants."

And Cook understands right away, of course he does - Michelle isn't particularly discrete about her proclivities outside of work - and he forces himself up, leans away from the heat of David's skin.

David watches him, and doesn't try to move closer.

"You were at my office?" Cook asks. He tries to keep his voice level.

"I didn't - I wanted to bring you lunch," David says, just as quietly. He's looking at the floor now, but Cook can see the blush creeping up his neck clear as day. "And the door to your office was open, and she was - so I, I thought maybe--"

It's not an unreasonable thing to assume. Michelle is Cook's type; petite, hazel eyes, darker hair, ready smile, slender wrists. Cook draws a breath. He sees David touch his own wrist, out of the corner of his eye.

"Okay," is all Cook says. No reassurance, no promises. And then, "I'm going to take a shower."

He turns the hot water on, all the way, and draws the shower curtain. Then he bends over the toilet and throws up again.



He doesn't fire Michelle.



They're having dinner in silence one day the next week when David brings it up again. "I, um, I saw Michelle today," he says, quietly. Cook puts his fork down. David stops pushing his food around his plate. "She said she was still--"

"Are you keeping tabs on me now?" Cook interrupts.

"What?" David says. "Cook - no, I--"

"She's been my assistant for two years," Cook says. He feels like he's suffocating in his own skin. "Two years, David, I'm not fucking throwing that away because you thought I was cheating on you with her."

David flinches, paling beneath the sudden flush of color on his cheeks. "I'm not--"

"I know you've heard about Noriega," Cook adds, with a cool he doesn't feel. "The things he does to get his grades."

"What?" David repeats, eyes wide and glossy in the light. "Don't--"

Cook's lips twist. "You wouldn't fucking believe what I've heard from my colleagues, Arch - but I don't tell you to stay away from your friends, not even the ones who would probably like to take you to a club and blow you in the--"

"Oh my gosh!" David chokes out, finally, ears burning, humiliated and upset, "Shut up. I'm not - I wouldn't -- just shut up."

"Fine by me," Cook sneers, and grabs his jacket off the back of the couch before heading out of the apartment. He slams the door behind him, hard, the sound rippling in the silence, and he's halfway down the stairs before he realizes he doesn't have his wallet.

Cook swears, under his breath, jams his fingers against his eyes till he stops feeling like he's going to put his fist through the wall. Then he takes the stairs two at a time, and slips soundlessly past the front door. His wallet is on the coffee table in the living room, and it's only after he picks it up that he realizes how quiet it is.

When he looks up, David's still in the kitchen, back to him, standing at the sink. The running water is the only sound in the room. David isn't moving, is barely even breathing, which is when Cook sees the splintered fragments of glass at David's feet.

The air is so, so still. Cook starts forward, unthinkingly--

David sinks into a crouch, then, starts picking up the pieces. Cook is halfway across the room when David stops moving again, just bows his head. Cook halts, jerkily. The light in the kitchen is weak, but it's not enough to hide the way David's hands are shaking, the way he's hunched into himself. I can't do this anymore, his body says, in the slump of its shoulders, the hard edge to the lines of its back.

Cook's fingers tighten around his wallet. He thinks about the Castros, about Danny and Alexandrea and Ramiele, about the things David's body says when he's with them.

He takes a step back, feet noiseless on the carpet.

He leaves his apartment the same way he came in; silent and unnoticed.



Cook drags Johns to a nearby pub, downs so many shots he's dizzy with it, the last few months fading into a musty swirl of color and regret. He doesn't think about what's going to happen. Johns says, "Fucking lightweight," and laughs, matches him beer for beer and then some, and Cook's more than a little wasted when he staggers back into his apartment later that morning.

David isn't gone. He's curled up on the edge of the bed, fingers clenched tightly around the covers like he's looking for warmth that he can't find. He looks blessedly young and open and there, face half-lit by moonlight, and Cook's mouth aches at the sight.

Cook crawls onto the mattress, one knee on either side of David, pushes clumsily at David's shirt till it slides up enough for him to press a trail of slow, hot kisses to David's stomach.

David murmurs groggily, rolls over so he's spread eagle beneath Cook, blinking up at him with soft, sleep-clouded eyes. He doesn't protest when Cook paws at his shirt again, just raises his arms so Cook can pull it off. Inclines his head so Cook can kiss him.

"Hi," Cook murmurs, against David's mouth.

"Hi," David whispers back.

There's a tight, heavy knot in Cook's stomach as he leans forward, starts working on David's jeans.

David catches his wrist, then, lifts it to his mouth and presses a gentle kiss there. "Slow," he says, breath hot on Cook's skin. "Just - slow, okay?"

Cook's breath catches as he nods. "Slow," he agrees, voice a low rumble, mind spinning from a heady mixture of alcohol and here and David. He sees the way David's stomach tenses, shudders at the way David rolls his hips.

"Slow," he repeats, and closes his eyes and falls into it.



Later, when David wraps his thighs around him, wraps his arms around Cook's neck, kisses his mouth, tenderly, whispers, "Cook, oh, oh, please," it feels like goodbye.



They don't speak again, after. There are no calls, no messages waiting in his voicemail, no texts, no e-mails. No tweets. Nothing except what little they see of each other in class.

(They run into each other approximately once, in all that time, just outside the lecture hall. "Good morning, professor," David says, quietly, and Cook's jaw tenses as he nods and replies, curtly, "Good morning."

He's never felt the immenseness of the school grounds so keenly.)

David never raises his hand during the lecture, and Cook doesn't hope for a glimpse of him when he (infrequently) sweeps his eyes over the auditorium.

Cook pretends he doesn't notice when David stops showing up for class.



It's a couple of weeks after that when Cook jerks awake in the middle of the night, breathing hard, grasping at air.

He opens his mouth, the memory of his dream - nightmare - still burning the back of his eyelids--

And then he remembers.

Cook sits up in bed, scrubs a rough hand over his face. He finds his way to the kitchen in the dark, nearly knocking his stack of crossword puzzle books over in the process, and pours himself a glass of water.

He finds David looking out the window above the kitchen sink, one hand wrapped around a half-empty mug. Cook watches his silhouette for a moment, the unearthly halo of moonlight cloaking him like a second skin. "Kind of early to be up," he murmurs, eventually, coming to stand behind him.

David doesn't move, just leans back, fitting their bodies together. "Couldn't sleep."

"Come back to bed," Cook hums, and David closes his eyes, folds his hand over Cook's. Lets Cook brush a soft kiss over his temple.

"Okay," he says, and Cook leans in to taste his smile--


Cook snaps the curtains shut, then, and drops his glass in the sink. He puts his hands under the running faucet, the water so cold it stings, and presses his face into his palms like it'll take away the burn. Some fucking nightmare, he thinks.

It feels like he's never going to wake up.



The number of students who fail the next assignment that Cook hands out is unprecedented.



"You're kind of an asshole."

"Excuse me?" Cook raises an eyebrow as he looks up from his paperwork. He recognizes Castro immediately.

Michael shuts the door behind him, arms folded over his chest. His hair catches the light, yellow on pink, and his eyes are blazing behind his glasses. "You're an asshole," he repeats. "And you can flunk me, or kick me out of your class - hell, you could probably have me suspended, but you'd still be an asshole."

"Okay," Cook says, as he pushes back from his desk. "If you're here to convince me to give you a better grade--"

"Fuck the grades," Michael snaps. His shoulders are tense. "I'm talking about David."

Cook freezes, tries to quell the sudden ache in his chest. "This is an entirely inappropriate conversation to be having in my office," he settles for, after a moment. "So I suggest--"

"Do you have any idea what you're doing to him?" Michael demands. His arms are spread. "He's wrecked, man! It's like watching something out of a lesbian chick flick, and I won't fucking do it anymore."

Cook stares, for a moment. "I wrecked him? He's the only--" Cook starts, then takes a breath, stops himself before he goes too far. His fists are clenched beneath the table. "If he wants to talk, he knows how to get me."

"Because the talking thing's really been working out for you two," Michael agrees, mouth thin.

Cook opens his mouth, unsure of what he might say; denial, anger, indignation, a combination of all three. But an idea strikes, then, and what comes out is, "Did he put you up to this?"

The badly disguised hope in his voice makes him cringe.

Michael's scowl twists. "Yeah," he snorts. "Yeah, he did. Because that sounds exactly like something David would do, with his vindictive nature and all. Give it a rest, professor! He didn't have to say anything; he wears his heart on his goddamn sleeve!"

Cook's jaw twitches, misdirected anger flaring again, the same way it's been doing for months now. "This doesn't concern you."

"Yeah," Michael says, harshly. "Try that again when he's not camped out on my couch."

It's like a light goes off in Cook's head. Ah, he thinks. His smile is humorless as he steeples his fingers under his chin, asks, "How long have you been in love with him?"

Michael's face floods with color, and his gaze falters for a brief, brief second. "Screw you," he bites out, eventually, and yanks the door to Cook's office open. He pauses before he leaves the room, though, says over his shoulder, quietly, "You know, for a doctor, you're really fucking stupid," and then he's gone.

"Yeah," Cook says, mirthlessly, to no one. "I got that memo."



"Christ," Johns says, when Cook asks him out for drinks the third night that week alone. "If I'd known you were such a killjoy--"

Cook chucks a couple of peanuts at his head, then, and Johns rolls his eyes and waves the bartender over. "Better keep 'em coming, mate," Cook hears him say. "I'm gonna need it more than he is."



It turns out that Cook isn't as subtle as he thinks he is, because Michelle starts lingering in his office two weeks later. Bends over to pick up her pen a fraction of a second too long, leans over his desk for his signature a little closer than necessary.

She has an amazing rack, an even better ass, and fuck if Cook doesn't wish he was interested. He smiles at her, wanly, says, "Thanks, Michelle," and gives her the rest of the day off.

He spends the next couple of hours spinning aimlessly in his chair (thinks about the time he'd dragged David into his office and pushed him back against the bookshelves) and then throws out the rest of his papers.



Cook comes home to leftover takeout and an empty apartment, week-old laundry and a bed that feels too big. He takes to sleeping on the couch, watching the fan rotate above his head. Every so often, a streak of blue peeks out at him from behind the blades, the remnants of a paint job gone awry ("I know we can't go out," David had said, "I mean, someone could see us or whatever, and then you'd be fired, but, um, so maybe we can bring the sky indoors?").

They'd never finished, too caught up with life and laughter and each other.

When Cook closes his eyes, he tries to breathe in the scent of fresh spring grass.

It always feels like winter.



"Fuck, mate," Johns says, when Cook rings him up again. It's the third time that night alone. "I'm not drunk enough to be listening to all this. Get a grip. And some sleep. It's three o'clock in the bloody morning.

"And think about a shower," Johns adds, when Cook mutters incomprehensibly in response. "If you come in tomorrow in the same shirt, Carly's going to have an aneurysm." He pauses for a moment. "On second thought--"



Cook is too drunk to shower without slipping in the tub, and sleep is a long time coming, so he does the next best thing.

Unfortunately, doing the laundry turns out to be a bad idea, and not only because it's four in the morning.

The floor in the laundry room is dry, but there's a phantom dampness under Cook's feet, the aftermath of David yanking the door to the washing machine open mid-wash during one of their arguments.

They'd been fighting for months. That, and fucking, caught in a vicious routine of spin, cycle, rinse, repeat.

Cook doesn't even remember what the argument was about, something trivial, like the weather, or takeout, and he'd gaped when David jerked the machine open, water spilling out and spreading over the tiled floor like a curtain being drawn.

Cook had lunged for it, nearly tripping over the fabric pooling at his feet before he managed to get the door shut again.

He'd looked up, then, and David had been watching for it, had thrown a pair of wet boxers in his face before storming off.

The boxers are still right where Cook left them. He stares at them, for a long moment, and then starts to laugh.

"Fuck," he says, as he claps a hand over his eyes. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."



His head is pounding when he wakes up the next day, sometime after noon. He gropes for his phone, blindly, poises to make the call, gives up. He hooks the phone back in its cradle for all of five seconds before picking it up again.

He isn't proud of how often he repeats the sequence of actions.



One of the reasons Cook's so enamored with studying the English language is the fact that he's never been any good at vocalizing things. He's mastered poetry, prose, everything in between, and still the art of voicing something as ordinary as it feels like you're slipping through my fingers completely eludes him.

Speaking to David's voicemail is only marginally easier than actually speaking to him would've been.

"So I - I'm pretty useless without you," he says, haltingly, after twenty seconds of listening to the sound of his own breathing. "And I know Michelle isn't the problem, but I -- so if you wanted to stop sleeping on Castro's couch, we could." Cook pauses, clears his throat. "We could maybe--"

There's a quiet click on the other end of the line, and then, "Cook?"

Cook lets out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, grips his cell a little tighter. "Hey," he says, swallows hard. "I - it's really good to hear your voice."




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I love the fact that you wrote the entire fight scene, and the fallout of it. I love that you don't skim pass the aftermath, and I love how they are simply helpless without each other.

I love this one the best (so far at least, because who knows what amazing story you are going to tell in the next part? ♥) because I really bought into this. The professor and the student - Cook, who learns languages because he doesn't always know how to express himself; Archie, who is looking for a place in Cook's life.

This is so realistic, and the worldbuilding is done so well. I love it.
asuifskdjgidf okay, i was SO, SO PLEASED that this was the first comment i got on this story, you have no idea. this was, strangely, one of the easiest aus to write, in that it came together pretty fast, but at the same time it was one of the hardest, because, idk, emotional wringer, so i was probably the most apprehensive about this one. so, just, this comment meant the world, and i'm really glad it worked for you!
This one was intriguing. It cetainly had me on the edge of my seat. Will they won't they make up. Well written as usual
thank you so much!
Oh, fuck me. This is my favorite AU scenario, by far. *DIES*

This is really, really, really gorgeous. I'm a sucker for angst and boy, Nat, you killed it. (I mean that in a good way.)

And I adore the tension in this. It's brilliant.
NIIIIIIIIIIIIIT. asfoddjghdfih, like i said above, i was freaking terrified about putting this one out, AND THEN YOU LIKED IT, AND I WAS LIKE, WELL OKAY, I GUESS I MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT. ILU.
OMG. OMFG! NAT!!!! This is so great! The anxiety of it, the conflict! It made me feel all ANGSTY for them and it was wonderful because there's some hope and COOK loves HIM and it's just. . . They're going to be ok. Yes?
aosidjkgr I AM SO GLAD YOU FELT IT. i didn't know how well i would get the emotion across, so - just -- YES. and they are totally going to be okay! i mean, what kind of world would we be living in if they weren't!?
(Deleted comment)
i probably should not be glad it hurt, but--

i'm just glad this part got any kind of emotional reaction. cook the asshole was strangely easy but painful to write. i'm just so glad he seems to have come off the way i intended! thank you so much!
OH MY GOSH THIS WHOLE THING BROKE MY HEART but the end fixed it, and you EXPERTLY drew all these emotions out of me and alskdjfsldkf LOVE this.

Across the room, David's rifling through his closet.
O_O

Cook can see the finger-shaped bruises along the back of David's shoulder, rich plum fading out into mauve at the edges
:O *completely confused*

"Stay," he says, fiercely, against David's neck. The word slips out like betrayal.
Love that. Although I am still confused lol

Cook bites his shoulder, hard enough to bruise, to leave his brand again, and doesn't have to repeat himself.
*feels better about the bruises*

OMG IT’S TEACHER/STUDENT. PROFESSOR/STUDENT. WHATEVER. MY FAVORITE.

Jealous!Cook!!!!!!

He stops short when he sees David curled up on the couch, fast asleep. The TV set is blinking blue, his DVD player sleeping as well, and Cook sees both DVD covers spread open on the coffee table.
Awwwwwww, bb.

There is no note in the kitchen, when he finally makes it that far, just a couple of Aspirin and a glass of water.
When Cook looks inside the fridge, there's a six-pack he doesn't remember buying, and a glaring lack of milk.

alksdjflaksd awwwww.

JEALOUS!ARCHIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't do this anymore, his body says, in the slump of its shoulders, the hard edge to the lines of its back.
Cook's fingers tighten around his wallet. He thinks about the Castros, about Danny and Alexandrea and Ramiele, about the things David's body says when he's with them.
He takes a step back, feet noiseless on the carpet.
He leaves his apartment the same way he came in; silent and unnoticed.

THIS PART KILLED ME NAT, AND BROKE ME INTO A MILLION PIECES. lksdjfalskfj.

it feels like goodbye
D: D: D:

(They run into each other approximately once, in all that time, just outside the lecture hall. "Good morning, professor," David says, quietly, and Cook's jaw tenses as he nods and replies, curtly, "Good morning."
He's never felt the immenseness of the school grounds so keenly.)

lakdjfldksj CRYING.

Cook pretends he doesn't notice when David stops showing up for class.
This line killed me.

Michael!!

(thinks about the time he'd dragged David into his office and pushed him back against the bookshelves)
alskdfj hot.

("I know we can't go out," David had said, "I mean, someone could see us or whatever, and then you'd be fired, but, um, so maybe we can bring the sky indoors?").
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. :')

He'd looked up, then, and David had been watching for it, had thrown a pair of wet boxers in his face before storming off.
Okay, fighting=D: but HAHAHAHAHA DAVID. ALSDKFJSLDKF.

Cook lets out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, grips his cell a little tighter. "Hey," he says, swallows hard. "I - it's really good to hear your voice."
Saying my name it sounds so sweeeeeeet. Coming from the lips of an angel, hearing those words it makes me weak. And IIIIIIIII never wanna say goodbye. /Hinder
But that end <3333333333333
PRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII~ LMFAO, OKAY FIRST I WANTED TO SAY SORRY I MADE YOU CRY, AND SECOND--

I FORGET SECOND BECAUSE YOU SING HINDER TO ME. BAHAHA. WHICH IS WHAT I WAS LISTENING TO AS I EDITED THAT BIT. AS ALWAYS, YOUR FB = SO MUCH WIN. <33333333
Oh God, my heart. That was absolutely heartbreaking, but so PERFECT. I'm not sure I can express adequately how much I'm in love with this particular part, but just. I love my angst, especially when it's as well-written as this, and I am so gonna be reading this over and over all the time. NAT, WHY SO AMAZING.
RAEEEEEEEEEE, OH MY GOSH. AOSDHGIDFgr. any kind of fb is adequate, trust me, and i am so glad you liked it, i was kind of worried people wouldn't, idk, it's not quite the cook i'm used to writing, so-- BUT WHATEVER, YOU LIKED IT, MY JOB IS DONE. <3
Usually I'm not a big fan of angst, but this is just so beautifully written and executed that I was sucked in. Love the dichotomy of Cook being a language professor and not communication well; love Archie and his protective friends. Love the Michael cameos.

This fic is amazing; you keep topping yourself and that is not easy! Kudos!
you keep topping yourself and that is not easy

oh my gosh, thank you! that's so nice of you to say!

and being a lesser fan of angst myself, i completely get where you're coming from, so thank you for reading it all the way through, and i'm glad you liked it, despite the genre! <3
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME WOMAN? YOUR STORIES ARE PUTTING ME THROUGH THE EMOTIONAL WRINGER (BY WHICH I MEAN, HI, YOU ARE SO FUCKING AWESOME, NEVER STOP WRITING, EVER).

OKAY, I ADMIT I NORMALLY LOVE MY HAPPY FICS, BUT ONCE IN A WHILE I LOVE READING SOME GOOD ANGST. AND BY GOOD I MEAN SOMETHING THAT REALLY JUST MAKES ME FEEL - EVEN IF IT ISN'T HAPPY/GIDDY FEELINGS.

THIS IS -- OH MAN, IDK, OKAY, I'VE HARDLY READ ANY COOKLETA FICS LIKE THIS, SO WATCHING THIS UNFURL REALLY, REALLY GOT TO ME. THE WAY YOU WRITE - YOU HAVE SUCH A GOOD WAY WITH WORDS (WHICH I DO NOT, AAAAAHHH, SO BEAR WITH ME!!). IT'S SO BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN EVEN THOUGH IT HURTS, MAYBE THAT'S WHY IT HURTS. IDK, IDK, I'M NOT MAKING ANY SENSE. IT JUST FEELS SO INTIMATE AND ALMOST LIKE I SHOULDN'T BE WATCHING.

SEEING THEM TAKE THEIR JEALOUSLY AND ANGER OUT ON EACH OTHER WAS JUST SO SAD AND PAINFUL AT TIMES, ESPECIALLY AS YOU COME TO SEE THEY ARE SO LOST AND HOPELESS WITHOUT EACH OTHER. THANK GOODNESS MCAS WAS THERE TO GIVE COOK A KICK IN THE BACKSIDE WHEN HE REALLY NEEDED IT ♥

*HUGS YOU* JUST BECAUSE.

*HUGS YOU BAAAAAACK*

OH MY GOSH IDEK, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT YOU DON'T HAVE A WAY WITH WORDS? JFC, WOMAN, YOU ARE MAKING ME CLAP MY HAND OVER MY MOUTH EVERY OTHER SENTENCE BECAUSE YOU ARE JUST SO FUCKING SWEET AND LOVELY, IDEK. I AM JUST EXCITED THAT YOU LIKED IT, OKAY? LIKE I HAVE BEEN SAYING IN EVERY FREAKING COMMENT. <333333333333333333
I think this, THIS, is my favourite chapter, babe. You do asshole!Cook (self-destructive, self-doubting, Don't Stand So Close To Me English prof Cook) so believably, and the angst is SO BEAUTIFUL. I never fail to get turned on by Cook's brain (you know I found your Librarian!Cook the hottest thing), and angry professor!Cook is smouldering hot:

"Stay," he says, fiercely, against David's neck. The word slips out like betrayal.

David's skin blazes at the contact, burns Cook's lips. Cook bites his shoulder, hard enough to bruise, to leave his brand again, and doesn't have to repeat himself.


FANNING SELF, GOSH. Um, ever considered writing BDSM?

So, Cook doesn't really see Archie as a separate being, until Archie is gone, not showing up for class, and then he sees him by sneaking around in his apartment, and then has to call him; and then, this?

Cook lets out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, grips his cell a little tighter. "Hey," he says, swallows hard. "I - it's really good to hear your voice."

KILLER. BEST LAST LINE EVER, OMG.
aoijfsdgnfisj oh my gosh, i am totally blushing over here right now. i, um, i am actually really uncomfortable writing nc-17 scenes (HAHA, I KNOW, SHOCKER) so, idek, BUT I AM FLATTERED THAT YOU THINK I WOULD BE ABLE TO PULL IT OFF.

i am just, ffffffff, I AM JUST THRILLED YOU LIKED IT SO MUCH, OKAY. <33333333333333333333333333333
UM, HELLO. HELLO MOST FAVORITE STORY. All that keymashing I did on this one and I still don't know what to SAY. It's just - it's so gritty and you're not quite sure where everyone's coming from at first. There's that first bit, that's SO SCORCHING HOT ADKFJGHLKJHJK I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THAT YOU CAN'T WRITE SEX SCENES, and then there's this line that follows: David's still asleep, curled around him, one arm thrown carelessly over Cook's side, like he has a right to be there. which just SMACKS into you. I gawk at that last line every time I read it. It's so telling of David's frame of mind and it's just, ugh, amazingly done.

I think you did so incredibly well on the characterizations here, because nothing about either of them is simple. Archie stays probably longer than he should, and David acts out because he's afraid of losing, and I LOVE that they're so freaking three-dimensional. Their situation is so far from simple, which I think rings so true to life and I'm amazed by it. That scene in the kitchen where Archie stays to pick up the broken glass - god, I was RIVETED. I can't do this anymore, his body says, in the slump of its shoulders, the hard edge to the lines of its back. - I love that line so, so much.

And I love that it's not EASY for David to get Archie back, that he has to resolve some things with himself as well as with others before it can happen. AND I FREAKING LOVE THE CHANGED ENDING, OH MY GOD, NAT. That is PERFECT. So hopeful because Archie PICKS UP, but not overly so, and you're left to draw your own conclusions and asdlkfgjlkjdfghjf, I adore that BEYOND BELIEF.

(Plus, also, teacher/student kink? APPARENTLY QUITE PRESENT WITH ME. THANK YOU FOR OPENING MY EYES, NAT.)

ASdfghkhljf Nat, some of your BEST work in my opinion. YOU ARE AMAZINGCAKES.

Edited at 2009-06-30 07:42 am (UTC)
HI I DON'T KNOW WHY I NEVER SAID THIS BUT I AM SAYING IT NOW:

I LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK. YOUR FEEDBACK IS THE BEST FEEDBACK IN THE WORLD. ♥_____♥
aww. i really didnt like them fighting, tbh. haha. but still, once again, natters, i cant stand the way you always manage to end off so well. makes me want MOREEEEEEE.
ZOMG.

I LOVE THIS.

THE FIGHTING AND THE AFTERMATH AND THE CALLING AND DAVID JUST LIKE I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

WHOLE THING WAS BEAUTIFUL. BEAUTIFUL. LIKE.

I LOVE FIGHTING!FIC. LOVE IT SO MUCH.

PERFECT.

AND THE WHOLE THING HURT, OKAY? LIKE FUCKING HURT. GOODFUCKINGGOD. WHAT.

Douche!Cook is MY favorite of all time. FAVORITE, I TELL YOU.

On to the next one!
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oh my gosh, i don't even -- that's such a lovely comment, thank you so much. i wouldn't want to make you give up water, but there does happen to be a couple more ficlets from this universe right over here. i hope you enjoy! :)
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blushing! so much blushing over here! thank you so much, again! it's always so good to hear when your story resonates with other people, and--yes. thank you.
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augh, your comments just make me want to beam and flail forever. thank you so much! every time i hear that this story has resonated with people it just makes me feel all warm and glowy inside (which is possibly kind of sadistic, BUT STILL.) :)
ONE DAY I WILL GET OVER THIS FIC

TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY

no, seriously, you don't want to know how often i come back and re-read this. (spoiler alert! i come back and read it a lot.) auuuuuugh, how are you so amazing? i don't understand. this is legitimately my favourite cook/archie fic that i've ever read. i just-- i love this more than anything, haha.

I FEEL LIKE I HAVE SAID THIS A LOT TO YOU IN VARIOUS POSTS, BUT APPARENTLY I NEEDED TO SAY IT AGAIN.

DON'T MIND ME, I'LL JUST BE IN THE CORNER, RE-READING THIS AGAIN.
*FLAILS*

ONE DAY I WILL FIND THE WORDS THAT APPROPRIATELY EXPRESS MY LOVE FOR THIS FANDOM AND THE FACT THAT I GET SUCH LOVELY COMMENTS ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS.

BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.

just, honestly, all i have is thank you. it's so incredibly flattering to hear how much this story has resonated with people, and that pushing through to finish it was absolutely the right decision. i just--idek. THANK YOU. ♥
T_______________________________________T so much hurt, you are amazing.
I CAN'T DEAL WITH THIS ONE BECAUSE I WILL LITERALLY CRY
I DID IT ANYWAY AND IT HURT JUST AS MUCH BUT THE NOTE OF HOPE AT THE END AAAAAAAAA
this is still my favourite, in spite of it all

/angstmonster
YOUR FACE IS MY FAVOURITE