He isn't sure he wants to admit it, but Duke Orsino misses Sebastian Hastings.
And he wonders sometimes if Sebastian knows.
Duke'll be lying in bed, tossing the ball straight up so that it just brushes the ceiling, and Sebastian is there on his bed, tinkering with his guitar, lying in the same position. Duke imagines that Sebastian is thinking about Olivia, maybe writing a song about her (though, the tone of their arguments has changed, lately. Shifted from playful to angry, with a hint of sad.) And they're lying there, each lost in his respective thoughts, and Duke wonders if Sebastian knows. Knows that sometimes, on the verge of sleep, he'll jerk awake because jesus man it's fucked up to wonder if his current roommate kisses as well as his last one. Knows that sometimes, as Sebastian's alarm clock blares, Duke stares at his back, wondering what his Sebastian's back looks like (and reminding himself, dude, it looks like Viola's).
Duke and Viola both agreed long ago that Cesario's is their official spot. "After all," Viola had said, "we had our first date here," and then she had waved for more water, so Duke never got the chance to ask (or maybe didn't want to) which date she meant.
They've got an extra large pepperoni with ham and extra extra cheese, which they will easily devour (that's something he loves about Viola. She's not like some girls, she's not afraid to get sauce on her face and keep laughing.) He's watching her now, taking a huge bite and quickly reaching for her drink to wash it down.
She takes a moment to clear her throat. "Care to fill a girl in on the deets there, Duke?"
"I mean." Dammit, he should have thought this through. "It's just… a little weird. Rooming with your brother." Duke closes his eyes and unbidden comes the familiar image of a shape beneath the sheets, human and breathing.
"Oh, god, I know," Viola says loudly, and the vision dissipates. "He's totally disgusting. You should request a new roommate — Toby maybe —, or report him to Principal Gold, or—" she grabs his arm. "He's respecting your space, right? He's not like…" Viola grimaces, "He doesn't bring Olivia over?"
He's not fucking her, you mean, Duke thinks, feeling some relief that the answer is no, either way, though that hasn't stopped him from imagining (the muscles tightening in his lower back, his biceps. Her mouth dropping open, hair splayed on the pillow). "No, not that. Just. He's different." He clears his throat: there's the point. "From you."
Viola laughs. "Well, duh. I hope he's a little better at not, I don't know, leaving tampons lying around." She dives into another slice, and Duke isn't sure that she understands what he said, what he's trying to say. "And he's not nearly as good at pillow top heart-to-hearts."
"No. No he isn't." Duke reaches for a piece of the pizza, knowing that if he doesn't claim some now, Viola will finish it off herself. She burps loudly, then looks around, sheepish but grinning.
No, he isn't.
She backs them up against the bed, his knees buckling instantly making it difficult for Viola to work his boxers off. She gives up around the knees, shoving them the rest of the way with a smile. "I don't want you to freak out, okay?" She kneels in front of him, and she can't actually expect him to respond with words because the way she's looking up is making him think a thousand things, and if he opens his mouth they'll all spill out.
"Why would I freak out?" he manages anyway, hands tightening in fists on the comforter.
Viola holds up a single finger. "Look, stop me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like," she ducks just out of his field of vision and arches back, her hair tied back. She has someth— the wig —in her hand, and regards it for a moment before turning back to Duke. "You miss Sebastian."
"I live with Sebastian," Duke whispers, his voice sounding strangely strangled.
She fits the wig over her hair and stares at him, suddenly transformed. "You don't live with your Sebastian."
"My—" And he doesn't finish because her — his — mouth is on Duke, and he's thinking a thousand things and if he opened his mouth they would all spill out.
It doesn't take Olivia long to realize she misses Sebastian Hastings.
Which is a problem, because technically? She's dating him.
She spends the better part of an hour at the Junior League luncheon staring at his face, trying to figure where the differences lie — Sebastian's face a bit squarer, the nose a little different. Olivia makes a face, trying to concentrate.
"Are you going to eat, or just stare at me?" he asks finally, and she can feel her face heating up in the way that lingers, unflattering, on her forehead. She ignores it, staring all that much harder, though she knows she's reddening around the edges.
"Do you know if your sister's coming?" Olivia asks brightly, finally dipping her fork into the salad. Sebastian's all right, she thinks, but she misses that delicate, refined handsome. The kind of handsome she dreams about, her fingers fluttering onto smooth skin, lingering on those lips.
Sebastian rolls his eyes. "Honestly? I know a lot less — and care a lot less — about my sister's whereabouts than you seem to. Just text her, or whatever you girls do."
"Just text her?" Olivia sets her fork down delicately, showing her disagreement in her eyes. "Honestly."
Viola's door is open, and Olivia is just about to lose her nerve when Sebastian's — Viola's — voice crows out from within "Stand there any longer and I might think you were some kind of weirdo."
That blush is coming up again, but Olivia steps into the room. "Do you… want to get lunch or something? We could study."
Viola looks up from the pile of books on her desk. "Food, yes. Study, no thanks. I've already got my study awn." She finishes, slipping into what Olivia thinks of as her "Sebastian voice," and then amends because no, that's not fair. Just because she thought she was talking to Sebastian, falling for Sebastian, doesn't mean she wasn't really talking to, falling for Viola. "Oh, crap. Do you mind if Duke joins us?" Viola holds up her phone, where Olivia assumes is a text from her boyfriend-ne-roommate.
Olivia smiles as brightly as she can. "Sure. I mean, I don't mind at all."
When he's not trying to get in her pants, Duke is actually kind of charming.
Olivia's not sure why, but this feels like dangerous knowledge.
It doesn't take much to call the both of them to mind: the hot feeling of Duke kissing her neck, Sebastian's — Viola's — hand on her knee, and Olivia's body shifting under the sheets, her own hand moving under the waistband of her underwear and cupping her sex. The tip of her finger just barely wet, then submerged as Olivia arches up, desperate.
(She'll meet Sebastian in the hallway in about twenty minutes, a misspelled text summoning him to her, summoning him but not the one she wants, and she wonders if he knows.)
Viola misses being Sebastian.
Illyria doesn't take just anyone mid-year, but they make an exception for the new star soccer player, though Viola has to sign a special addendum that states she won't strip in public or use the men's restroom. She gets to keep the same class schedule — makes sense, because she can't just start over. But she feels a weird sadness when she signs her own name.
Sure, she gets to play as Viola, kick ass as Viola, but there's something she misses about Sebastian, about being him that she can't put a finger on. (She thinks, occasionally, about cutting her hair. But no, that would be too confusing.)
"I'm gonna be honest here and tell you that I don't have a clue what these compounds are supposed to do." Viola taps the flask Olivia's poured a yellowish liquid into and smiles.
Olivia looks surprised. "I— I'm sorry. You sounded like Sebastian just then."
"Is that a bad thing?" Viola tucks her hair back, feeling suddenly self-conscious about it, about the eye shadow she's wearing, about the brief cleavage that shows if she leans just right. She wishes she had the wig, wonders if she's still Sebastian without it.
"It's just that sometimes I forget that you are him. Or he was you. Something like that." Olivia narrows her eyes and focuses on adjusting the Bunsen burner. Her notes beside them are meticulous, thin lines of text across the page. She mirrors Viola without trying, securing her blond hair behind her ear, watching the flame.
"He's still me," Viola says, realizing the truth as the words fill her mouth. And it's either the wrong thing to say or the very, very right.
They're both bone tired a few hours after practice, Viola tucked in Duke's embrace while Sebastian is out for band practice. "Do you still have a crush on Olivia Lennox?" Viola asks, wiggling in just the right way.
"What? No!" Duke starts, and then Viola stills and he continues, amending. "I mean, I could never have a future with her. We don't have anything to talk about." His fingers walk along her hip, squeeze. "I don't even think she likes cheese."
"Mm," Viola nods, smiling a little. She catches Duke's hand in hers. "What about me?"
"What about you?" She notices the tiniest shift. He's bracing himself.
"When did you first have a crush on me?" She says crush because it's easier, easier than love or want or need, especially in the context. "Was it at the kissing booth? Or before?"
Viola is still, too, waiting. She knows the answer, she just needs to hear it spoken.
Olivia is watching from the stands, a dedicated fan to the untrained eye. Viola is sweaty, but she scales the stairs and plops herself down next to her. She thinks about saying something, wonders what Sebastian would say — her brother Sebastian — if he knew what she was about to do, what she's been thinking about doing. Forgets about wondering, because she does it — she's kissing Olivia and in the space of a blink Olivia is kissing her back, her palm against Viola's face, her thumb resting at the corner of her mouth.
They pull apart, flushed. Not ashamed.
Then, the sound of a throat clearing, and Viola turns to see Duke shifting his weight. "You know, I kinda thought…" he starts, but trails off when Viola smiles, soft.
"Olivia," Viola says, gesturing to her boyfriend, "you know Duke. And Duke, I'm sure you're acquainted with Ms. Lennox." She takes a breath, feeling distinctly the weight of her ponytail, the press of her breasts against the practice uniform. "And I'm Viola, or Sebastian." Viola swallows, amends. "And." She nods, taking a moment to examine each face (Olivia's sliding into an easy smile, Duke uncertain but the light in his eyes burning with want). "I hope that's okay."
It's more than okay.
Viola is breaking more than one rule — naked, now, in the men's showers. She doesn't understand it, but Olivia is looking at her, soft, smiling. Duke is at her back, all of him hard against her.
"Sebastian," one of them says, and the other smiles.