A mouse scurries across a beam overhead, Jensen follows its progress with a mild curiosity while he lies on his bed, thinking. It freezes and stares directly down at him, like the little guy knows he's been watching him. He holds back a smile when its tiny cheeks nibble on some morsel it's found. Sensing that he isn't a threat, the mouse continues to eat before it darts off, leaving him alone again.
He should be getting ready for class, maybe even head down to the cafeteria to grab a quick bite to eat, but instead he wants to just lie here and lose himself in his thoughts. Food and class are among the last things on his mind, that's what lunch is for anyway. Besides, anything Danneel brings him will be far more appetizing than anything than the school can serve.
He shakes himself from the tangent, returning to his previous train of thought.
Everything about this place is overbearing and stifling, and it only gets worse with each passing year. There's no warmth, no character within these walls, they are completely soulless. Jensen imagines that if they could talk, their words would be as dull and lifeless as the countless lesson plans he has to suffer through on a daily basis.
Not that he knows anything different; Jensen's lived here at Lakewood Academy almost his entire life, since he was eight. And the only reason he's here in the first place is because his dad runs the school-- something which makes Jensen proud that he isn't some stuck-up, wealthy, and pretentious douchebag riding on their daddy's coattails.
Richardson seems like nothing but a distant memory, a fond dream full of happiness, family, and friends. A time when kids didn’t insist that your personal worth was tied directly to a trust fund or your parent's occupation. It amazes him still, that in a place where everyone dresses the same and that, in theory, no one is better than the rest, elitism still reigns supreme. Leave it to the fucking rich. Entitled assholes.
A memory slips in and he can't help but smile. It wasn't always so bad, at first being here was an adventure for him; exploring every nook and cranny, making friends with all the staff, and playing hide-and-go seek in the topiary maze and gardens. The entire campus was his own personal playground.
His thoughts shift yet again and he feels the frown begin to set in, wiping the smile from his face.
He remembers when he got to know the students for what they really were. How his former friends not only started teasing him for his father being the headmaster, but also ridiculed him relentlessly for not deserving to be there in the first place. They treated him with disdain and even less respect than the townies there on scholarship. The students went out of their way to make the Ackles family's lives a living hell while the teachers and the rest of the administration turned a blind eye, slowly extinguishing the light Jensen once had back in Richardson.
Jensen understands exactly why his dad took this job, knows that he couldn't afford to let something so prestigious pass him by both professionally or financially. But that doesn't make it any easier to live here. There isn't a night gone by when he doesn't dream about leaving, running away and never coming back to this god forsaken place and all the frustration that festers inside him.
Then again, he's pretty sure Danni would kick his ass for leaving her to fend for herself. As much as he wants to leave, he knows he could never do that. It's only a little longer before they graduate anyway, and then they will find their own place in the world-- one far away from this hellhole.
And with that, he groans as he sits up and fumbles for his shirt and slacks. He slips his pants over his hips, hastily buttons his shirt then tucks in the excess fabric before cinching his belt. Scuff marks grace the back of his shoes and they're about ready to break from him lazily toeing them off and shoving them on without bothering to untie.
He flashes a devil's grin into the ad hoc mirror on his dresser, admiring himself as he ruffles a hand through his hair to make the disheveled blue spikes in front even more pronounced. He wonders if today will be the day someone calls him on his appearance as he runs the pencil along the bottom of his eyelid. It's like a game to him, seeing how far he can push his teachers until one of them breaks-- just like the backs of his shoes.
He grabs his jacket and bag from a nearby chair, flings them over his shoulder as he leaves the room, pausing one last time to see the mouse return, another snack stuffed deep in its cheeks.
— § —
Jensen takes his time getting to first period, American Government. He couldn't care less about the three branches of U.S. law making policy. It's not like he's never going to need or understand it or that anything will change if he does, so why make the effort of being punctual or pretending to care.
Most kids here may have political or legal aspirations, but Jensen is definitively not one of them. Private schools have a penchant for grooming their students for those types of careers-- not so much when it comes to the more mundane or artistically liberal fields Jensen plans to pursue.
He lingers a bit and appreciates the empty hallways; everyone else is already in class, so there's no one to shove, avoid, or throw him any shit. It's refreshing for once, he thinks as he shoves his fists further into his pockets.
Finally he's at the door. His hand hovers over the knob as he tries to make out anything through the frosted glass. The room's quiet and the dull blobs of color aren't moving all that much. The one he assumes is Mr. Lehne looks like he's sitting at his desk. He breathes in and sighs heavily when he opens the door.
Lehne doesn't even seem to notice as Jensen opens the door ten minutes into class, only mentioning it when he saunters past his cluttered desk. "Nice of you to join us, Mr. Ackles," he drones.
"Just practicing my right to assemble," says Jensen, shooting Danneel a half-cocked smile as he drops his bag and sits at his desk. The metal feet screech on the tiles as he adjusts himself in the seat, making no effort for any of his supplies.
Lehne stands and approaches him, slaps down a quiz, before walking back to his desk without so much as a word. Jensen flips over the stapled papers and curses under his breath-- Shit!--when he sees it's all essay questions.
Reaching down, he unzips his bag and hunts for a pencil. A soft curse slips and he groans, sits up and lets himself slide deeper into his seat, defeated. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the pink of an eraser nub jutting towards his face, he follows the length of the pencil and up the arm to an unfamiliar face. Deep set dimples help to frame the new guy's face; Jensen stares for a second, transfixed by a mole just beneath his eye, hazel brown with flecks of green.
He nods his head, motioning for Jensen to take the pencil, which Jensen does, still unable to look away. When the new guy's smile broadens, Jensen has to fight off a blush while daring a glance at his paper to catch his name-- Jared Padalecki.
"Keeping your eyes on your own paper would be a good start, Jensen. Seeing as you now have fifteen minutes less than the rest of the class to finish, I would suggest using your time wisely," Lehne says in his typical monotone.
Jensen is just finishing up his last answer when Mr. Lehne tells them to put their pencils down. He scribbles a quick ending and is halfway out the door before anyone else when he hurries back to return New Guy's-- Jared's-- now slightly chewed on pencil.
"Uh, thanks. For the pencil, I mean," he says.
Jared looks at the mangled yellow wood, his eyebrow rising slightly and grins. "Don't mention it, go ahead and keep it, man. I've got more."
There's something different about him that Jensen can't seem to figure out, just knows the guy doesn't seem to fit in here. Too happy, too nice maybe.
Jensen shrugs it off, gives Jared a nod before tucking the pencil behind his ear, and turns to leave. Once he's out the door, he pauses at the drinking fountain to wait for Danneel.
Danneel is nothing like the rest of them either, she's always been there for him, well for the last few months anyway. Danni transferred in last semester and her family isn't exactly held in high esteem either, so it was only natural that they were drawn to each other. A cherished friend among a select few, she is the one glimmer of sanity in this shit hole.
Whether it's just her listening to him rant about their fellow students or sneaking in contraband items-- god knows how she manages to pull it off-- Danneel is the one person he can rely on. Even if she does bust his balls from time to time.
"You do realize that showing up for class, late or even at all, does not count as the right of assembly, right?" she says as she bends down to take a drink, her free hand holding back her hair to avoid getting it wet.
"Yeah? I was there, and I assembled," he says and grabs her books. She does nothing, just stares at him, eyebrow cocked and lips scrunched. "What?"
"See, this is exactly why you are failing this class," she replies.
"Please, I'm a mother fucking Avenger. Bite me."
"Uh huh, you're a grade-A fucking Captain America. Who do you think you are, Chris Evans?"
"Mmm. He's hot," Jensen says nonchalantly, flashing her a smirk.
She rolls her eyes. "And this is also why I am never bringing you comic books. Ever again."
Jensen opens his mouth to argue but is slammed into a wall; the air blows out of him as their books scatter along the hallway floor. Jensen crumples to the ground and tries to regain his breath, vaguely hears Danneel as she starts to yell. His head is spinning, fighting off the sudden shift of equilibrium and pain.
Tentatively, Jensen puts down his hand on the cool linoleum, tries to brace himself and get up off the floor when he sees him-- Justin Hartley. Of course it's fucking Justin, it always is. Of all these entitled assholes, he has to be the worst and he's never had a problem what-so-ever with reminding Jensen of his inferior social standing.
Kids all around are scattering, avoiding Danneel and he like they are nothing but a virus, all except for Justin. His former roommate is flanked by his usual pair of cronies, Tom and Mike, all three of them blowing off Danni's futile slaps and curses. Justin throws him a glare as they turn and continue on down the hall.
What surprises him most is the short smile Tom throws back at him, soft and apologetic. Jensen's stomach reels, he remembers when Tom and he used to be friends-- back before Justin showed up.
Suddenly, Jared is there, and he's holding out his hand to help get Jensen back to his feet and picking up the furthest of the discarded books.
"Uh, thanks," Jensen says, weakly and with a fair amount of skepticism. He's not used to people helping him or kindness in general, for that matter, especially from a stranger.
Jared smiles, those dimples digging into his cheeks as he dusts off Jensen's shoulder and passes him Danneel's book. "Don't mention it," he says and, honest to god, winks at him.
He's walking off when Danneel comes back over. Reddened and fueled by anger, she is still muttering curses about Hartley when Jensen breaks his stare. "Oh my god, he is just so... Oooh! I don't know why you let him keep treating you like that. I really don'."
"Eh, I'm used to it I guess." He shrugs and looks past her. "So, what's his deal?" Jensen asks, gesturing with a flick of his chin towards Jared's back.
"Who, Jared? Word is he's another transfer, public school if I remember right. I don't really know anything else. Seems alright, though."
"Oh," Jensen says, then goes silent as he watches Jared disappear into the crowd.
"You okay, Jen?" she asks, stroking her hand along his back.
"Hmm? Yeah, I'm fine. Wounded pride, y'know." he says, trying to brushing it off. "So, about my comic books..." It's a lame attempt at changing the subject, and he knows she can see right through it, but he's grateful when she doesn't press the issue.
— § —
Getting called out of class and being sent to his father's office isn't exactly a rare occasion for Jensen. Sometimes it's for a valid school-related meeting, other times he's pretty sure his dad is just making up reasons to actually see him. Today is not the latter.
Jensen doesn't wait for his dad's secretary to acknowledge him before he bursts through the door. He tosses his bag to the floor, and can hear the young woman's protests as she scurries up from her chair.
"What the hell did I do now?" he huffs a bored defensive sigh and flops down in the oversized leather chair across from the cherry wood desk. His father looks up from a piece of paper to pass his eyes over Jensen for a second and then to look back behind him before nodding. It's then that Jensen realizes they aren't alone. Mr. Lehne shuts the door and then rounds the desk to stand behind Mr. Ackles, glowering and ready to pounce.
"Jensen, I am quite aware of your disinterest in the American political and governmental systems-" Alan starts as Jensen rolls his eyes and slinks back into the chair and sighs. "But I highly disapprove of you not taking this or any other class, for that matter, seriously."
"How exactly am I not taking…"
"Question four: 'In your opinion, who is the most respected and/ or successful President in American history?' Your answer," Lehne chimes in and snatches up the paper, "is a detailed account of President Clinton and your views on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Including a very creative and descriptive account of cigars and what happened to the dress." Lehne slams the quiz down on the desk and adjusts his glasses, eyes practically glowing with rage, his lips curled up in a snarl.
Jensen has to hold in a laugh, taking an obscene amount of pleasure from having seen his teacher completely lose all sense decorum and professionalism in front of his father.
"Frank, I think it's best that I handle things from here," Alan says cordially as he stands and ushers Lehne to the door with a hand to his shoulder. Lehne stops to fire one last smug glare at Jensen before disappearing behind the frosted glass of the door.
When his dad returns, his face is stern. Jensen's not really sure how to read him past that so he just sits there quietly, waiting for his dad to speak for what seems like an eternity.
"Jensen, I truly do understand your feelings about this place, I do. But it offers you a chance at an education unparalleled to most out there. You only have another year and then college; I suggest you focus a bit more on improving your grades so that a decent university will accept you."
"Who says I want to go to a university or college at all?" Jensen snaps, crossing his arms in defiance.
There is a sudden flush to his dad's face, and when Jensen sees the veins bulge on his temple, he knows he's said the wrong thing.
"You will go to college, young man," his father says, more of a declaration than anything else, frustration furrowing his brow. And Jensen imagines for a second that his dad is going to turn into the Red Hulk as mad as he is. "You will start acting like a respectable student and follow the dress code. You've used my position to get away with too much for far too long. And take off that damned eyeliner; you are a boy for god's sake."
A few tense moments pass where Jensen just stares at him, unsure of what the hell just happened. He always eggs his father on but never once has he actually blown up with such unabashed rage.
Slowly, he seethes at his dad's words. "Are we done here?" Jensen asks finally, glaring back at his father. He bends forward to grab his bag and doesn't wait for a response as he stands and leaves the room.
"Jensen, son. Wait, I didn't mean-" his father's voice trails off behind him, Jensen doesn't bother to see if he's being followed.
It's days like this that he's glad that he moved out of their on-campus home. Still, dorm living wasn't the greatest either and didn't last long at all, kind of a foreseeable conclusion when Justin Hartley had turned out to be your roommate. Jensen had just chalked it up to another clue that the universe hated him, plain and simple.
Luckily he had already found a place to call his own and surprisingly his dad had relented in letting him live there. His own personal Fortress of Solitude, as Danneel refers to it, secreted away in the forgotten bell tower in the east wing of the school. Rarely used, Jensen had run across it when he was ten, and returned to it on a frequent basis to get away from everything. So it seemed fitting that he made it his home, with only Danneel, his father and a few staff employees knowing anything about it.
He tosses his bag on the bed and grabs a small plastic container off the makeshift desk in the corner. Tucking it into his pocket, he shucks off his blazer and climbs through the window and over to the ladder leading to the roof.
The pigeons are already gathering at his feet when he removes the box from his pocket and sprinkles out the crumbs. He's never been one to be afraid of heights and unless the wind is too great, this is his daily after class ritual.
A deep sense of regret over how things went with his dad fills him; he sits and brings his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around them. The cooing of birds eases his tension as the wind blows through his hair and he looks out over the campus grounds. His thoughts drift as he contemplates on what lies outside of this prison he calls home. He relaxes in the dimming light, at peace with just himself and his birds, his friends.
— § —
"Hey. Hold up," Danneel says as she catches up to Jensen in the hall. "I never saw you after class, what happened?"
"Huh? Oh, that. Just another come to Jesus meeting with my dad. Apparently Lehne didn't appreciate the creativity in my essay answers." Jensen shrugs and pulls the strap of his bag up further on to his shoulder. "Nothing major."
"Oh. Well that's good, I guess. I was worried." Danneel falls in line with him, walking side by side through the hallway.
"Eh, it's not like I can be expelled or whatever. It was pretty priceless watching Lehne unravel, though."
"I bet it was," she says, grabbing onto his free arm and pulling him closer as they walk. "So what's up with you being out this early? That talk with your dad didn't make you turn over a new leaf and make you want to be on time for once, did it?"
"Art class," Jensen replies as he stops in front of the classroom and thumbs towards the door. "I'll see ya at lunch, Danni."
"Oh. You can count on it," she says and gives him a quick peck on the cheek before taking off down the side corridor.
The art room is unlike any other in the entire school. Brushes and supplies are scattered haphazardly around the counters bordering the room, pristine oak cabinets stand in stark contrast with the motley collection of murals covering the walls.
Jensen makes his way to the far corner table and throws his bag onto the paint splattered surface then gathers his materials from the nearby cupboard. He is already sketching when Ms. Ferris steps from her office.
"Jensen? You're awfully early this morning, class doesn't even start for another fifteen minutes," she says with a smile and crosses the room.
"I know, just had this image in my head and need to get it out. Like, right now, ya know,” he says without looking up.
"A true sign of an artist, living on impulse and raw emotion. Never change that or let time dictate your talent, Jensen. You have a gift and you need to nurture it however you see fit."
"Thanks, Sam," Jensen says, returning her smile with a genuine grin of gratitude.
Ms. Ferris is nothing like any of the other teachers at Lakewood. Unconventional as far as teachers go, she's always insisted that her students call her by her first name, none of that Mrs. or Ms. crap. Sam has decided that the best way to teach is by getting to know each of her students personally and catering to their individual needs, which suits Jensen just fine. He's never felt so inspired and free as he does when he is sitting here-- or that maybe his passion for drawing is anything but useless.
She is watching quietly over his shoulder when the other students start to trickle in. With a squeeze to his shoulder, she points and makes a suggestion, then heads back to her desk to greet everyone. Tilting his head, he sees what she means and switches to a softer pencil, darkens the outline of the stained glass window as she begins the class.
He stops and turns the paper, and then again, trying to get a different perspective on the ropes he's working on.
A few minutes in, Sam's explanation of crosshatching is interrupted. Looking up, he sees Jared standing just inside the doorway staring blankly at Sam.
"Can I help you?"
"Oh, umm. Yeah, sorry. I'm Jared, Jared Padalecki. Sorry, I'm new and kinda got lost," he says and then as an afterthought adds, "ma'am."
"Okay, let's get one thing straight, you call me ma'am again and I will make you clean brushes for a month," she says with a wink. "Please, call me Sam. Go ahead and take a seat in the back. Jen, will you be a dear and get Jared here set up with supplies?"
Jensen watches as Jared winds himself through the tables and nearly takes out Katie Cassidy with his backpack when he turns. He apologizes to her which seems to work since she winks back at him and smiles.
"Hey. Jensen, right?" Jared says as he approaches the table.
Jensen's eyes meet Jared's and he almost forgets what it is he is supposed to be doing, his eyes dropping to those dimples digging even deeper into the corners of his mouth than he remembers. Sam's clearing her throat, snapping Jensen out of a daydream and restarting his thinking process. "Hey, yeah. Lemme go get your stuff."
Setting his pencil down over his sketch, he slides out as Jared is hanging his bag over the back of his chair and takes the seat next to Jensen's.
When Jensen turns back to the table, Jared has pulled over the sketch. He wants to be mad, he's always been pretty guarded about his artwork, but there is something about the smile on Jared's face that refuses to let him get angry. Instead, Jensen quietly sets the supplies down.
"Uh, sorry. I didn't mean to pry," Jared apologizes and slides back the sketchbook.
"S'alright, just a doodle really."
"It's really good, man. You are, like, really, really talented."
"Uh, thanks," Jensen says, trying to hold back a blush as he picks up the pencil and continues where he left off.
"I like how the gargoyle is hanging himself, like he is just sick of being stuck in the same place. Or like he's done with being religiously oppressed, and stuff" Jared says, his voice hushed and trying not to draw attention to them.
Jensen's brow furrows, side-eyeing him and then looking back at his sketch to figure out what exactly Jared is talking about. "Right... Uh, it's a scene from Batman, actually. The Michael Keaton one, not Christian Bale's."
"Oh," Jared says, looking embarrassed himself now, which is kind of a relief to Jensen. "Okay I can totally see it now, so Joker is gonna be falling to his death. And that's where the helicopter will be? Makes so much more sense now. That's totally awesome. I can't draw for the life of me; I can barely do a stick figure."
"Then why'd you sign up for an art class?"
"I like art, don't get me wrong. I just suck at it, which is why I signed up for the beginner's class. Why are you here? You're obviously better than anyone else in here."
The flush to his skin is apparent and hot; he's never really known how to take a compliment and the thought of his freckles growing darker makes him want to die.
"I'm the teacher's aide." He manages to get the words out, thankful his voice doesn't crack while doing it. Jared doesn't seem to notice, he's moved onto fingering through his supplies and looking absolutely confused.
"Oh, okay," he says. "So, I get what the brushes and different pencils are, but what the heck is up with the little block of clay?"
At first Jensen thinks he's joking, but when he looks over at the glazed and bewildered look across Jared's face it's kind of priceless. The corner of his lip lifts into a smile-- Jared's kind of endearing-- and he grabs the small gray tool to demonstrate. "It's not clay, it's a kneaded eraser. It can be molded into whatever shape you need it to be and it cleans itself."
"Whoa! That is so cool," Jared says and snatches the eraser back from Jensen and stretching it out like silly putty.
"You're very easily amused, aren't you?" he asks, his eyebrow lifting as he watches Jared make it into what Jensen thinks is a dinosaur—maybe a giraffe, it's hard to tell.
Jared continues to play with the eraser through Sam's discussion of still life and finally gets bored with it just as Sam calls Jensen up to arrange a display of fruit.
— § —
"What's wrong with school cafeterias that they always seem to manage to make pizza questionable? It's like pepperoni flavored rubber," Jensen says. He pokes at the grease beaded cheese and crust then removes a limp piece of meat, dangles it, and then draws back in a grimace. Finally he drops it to the side, a dull plop as the pepperoni connects with the tray and he's pushing it aside in disgust.
"It's a time honored recipe, right up there with their sloppy joes." Danneel shrugs and reaches into her bag, hands him a pear and a bag of Skittles.
"You are too good to me," he says and crunches happily into the fruit, pocketing the candy for later.
"This seat taken?"
Jensen chokes when he looks up to see Jared setting his tray down across the table, and hurriedly wipes off the small chuck of food that hits his arm.
Danneel eyes him suspiciously and then turns to smile at Jared and motions for him to take a seat. "Go ahead. Hi, Danneel Harris, but you can call me Danni," she says, hand extended towards him.
"Thanks. I'm Jared. You can call me, uh, Jared?" Jared's situates himself directly across the table from where Jensen's sitting, and stares down at his tray, looking ravenous. Jensen wonders if he must be starving or just not familiar with the quality of the cuisine he's drooling over.
Jensen stares on, thinking the whole thing just seems surreal, like maybe Jared is a Skrull sent here to infiltrate Earth's defenses by pretending to be an overly polite or obtuse teenager-- just like that blond chick from The Faculty. There has to be something wrong with Jared, there just has to be. Why else would he be voluntarily sitting with he and Danni.
"So what, you're like stalking me now? Shouldn't you be like schmoozing up to the cool kids or something?" Jensen says, finger quoting with pear still in hand. He plays off his surprise by taking another bite of fruit, letting the juice trickle down his chin before he catches it with his sleeve.
"Jensen! Quit being such an ass." Danneel turns and punches him in the arm, then beams at Jared and feigns innocence.
"Probably, but I think I'll take my chances." Jared sits, unfazed by Jensen's comment.
"Your social suicide, man," Jensen says, rubbing his arm where he's pretty sure he's gonna bruise. Say what you will, Danni knows how to fucking hit.
Danneel rolls her eyes, a sigh falling from her lips. "Don't mind him. He's just not used to, y'know, human interaction or manners. Like at all, pretty sure he was dropped as a child-- repeatedly."
"Ha ha. I'm right here," Jensen grumbles and shoots her a glare. What he would give for heat vision now and then, he thinks as he looks back to Jared. Okay, maybe x-ray too, he amends when he sees Jared slip out of his jacket, his shirt stretching taut across his chest and shoulders.
"Really? He seems okay to me. I mean, we're like practically friends already." Jared smiles and then folds his slice of pizza in half and devours it in one bite. The appreciative noises he's making are both sinful and distracting and Jensen has to force himself to concentrate harder on his measly pear.
"So you and Jensen are like, what, friends now? Huh. When did this happen? Jen, are you holding out on me?" she asks warily and nudges Jensen in the side.
"We're not. Friends, I mean. Jared's in Sam's Beginning (Beginner?) Art Class, so..." Jensen says through his another bite.
Jared clutches his chest, which makes both Jensen and Danneel laugh. Hers turns to a snort-- totally karma coming back at her for punching him-- and she tries to hide, burying her face into her hands. Jared's smiling again, bigger this time and Jensen knows he can't help but return it; the guy's mood is infectious as hell.
When he sees Jared's eyeing the discarded lunch tray, he gives in too willingly and nudges it closer towards him. "Go ahead, but just warning ya, that stuff is lethal."
"Dude, you are so cool," Jared says while stuffing the entire slice of Jensen's pizza into his mouth. "Don' know whatch' yur talking 'bout, this pizza's delicious."
Jensen squirms in his seat, his pants getting incredibly tight at the sight of Jared's mouth, cheeks full while he again moans wickedly at the food. Slipping his hand from the table, Jensen palms at his crotch and tries to adjust himself without drawing attention. Fucking hormones.
Danneel snorts again. "You haven't seen his action fig-" Jensen's eyes go wide and he quickly pinches the skin above her elbow. "Ow!" She swats his hand away and rubs at her arm, her eyes begin to water and he's instantly flooded with guilt.
He's mid-apology when there's a collective groan by the student body when the bell rings.
"Guess that's our cue to go. See you in class tomorrow, Jared," Danneel says, pushing back her chair and reaches down for her bag before standing.
"Absolutely. Hey, thanks again for the pizza, Jensen."
Jensen smirks. "Yeah, you so won't be thanking me later. Trust me."
Jared washes down the slice with a quick couple glugs of bottled water, his lips smack and he lets loose with an overemphasized, "Ah."
Jensen's body refuses to move, utterly captivated by the way Jared's lip curls up into a smile directed towards him. The world pauses, nothing existing outside Jared's smile, and he lets his mind wander.
Jensen doesn't even realize he's staring until Danneel clears her throat from behind him and yanks at his elbow, guiding him away. He glances back again, if Jared's noticed, he doesn't show it. Instead he just waves and stacks their combined trays, grabs his jacket and walks off in the opposite direction.
— § —
Jensen's finding it harder to concentrate in class and even when he's not in class, he can't help but think of those deep set dimples and floppy hair.
And it only gets worse when Jared becomes a permanent fixture at their lunch table, not that Jensen minds all that much-- well except for when Danni gives the candy she's procured for him to Jared. That little development is not sitting well with him in the least bit.
He's also concluded that Jared's stomach is a bottomless pit that survives on anything full of sugar or that's dripping with copious amounts of grease. The latter is fine by Jensen, it's like Jared's his own personal garbage disposal, makes him feel less guilty than just throwing the food away without touching it.
On today's menu, it's meatloaf-- or what the cafeteria passes off as meat. If you ask Jensen, he's fairly certain it's canned dog food and onions, molded into a brick. He looks over to the wall, whether or not if the bricks might actually be more appetizing.
And yet Jared's sitting there, eating his portion and then greedily digging into Jensen's as usual.
"Seriously, how can you eat that?" he asks, cocking his head in complete bewilderment to which Jared just shrugs and plasters on an overeager grin, cheeks bulging from the food.
"Anyway, you were saying, Dan?" Jensen says, turning to look at her but still occasionally side-eyeing Jared to make sure he doesn't fall over dead from food poisoning.
She sighs in exasperated annoyance and says, "Oh, I exist again. Good to know."
Judging by her body language, it's clear that he's done something wrong but, God help him, he doesn't know what that is. He rests his head on her shoulder, says "Aw, c'mon Danni, don't be like that, you know I didn't mean it."
Between the look she gives and the shove to his head, he can tell she knows he's clueless. Whatever, if she is mad at him for something, she could at least tell him rather than making him play twenty questions 'til he knows what he did to fuck up in the first place.
He stretches across the table and yanks a napkin out from under Jared's arm, fumbles in his pocket for a pen and quickly goes to work. Blocking what he's doing with his free hand, he finishes up the sketch and scribbles his name, then passes it to Danneel.
She takes one look at it-- a cartoon version of Jensen hugging a very unamused Grumpy Bear-- and beams. Half a beat later, Jensen's being squeezed within an inch of his life.
"I wanna see," Jared says while craning his neck to get a better view.
"You are the best," she says, finishing her hug by planting a kiss to Jensen's cheek. He's wiping the lipstick off with a sleeve when she pulls out a bag of Nibs and places it in front of him. Jared's fondness for candy or not, she knows they're his personal favorite.
Ripping open the bag, he's already tossing a few bites into his mouth when he catches Jared's wounded look. It's somewhere between "What do you mean Christmas is cancelled?" and "My hamster just died." Either one would have gotten to Jensen eventually, but put together and he's rendered helpless.
"Hold out your hand," he says begrudgingly and dumps half the bag's contents into Jared's huge paw. There's a glint in his eyes, like Jensen just gave him the best present ever. He's about to make some snarky comment about not proposing marriage or something, when there is a sharp smack to the back of his head.
"'S'up, queer? Shouldn't you be giving out blowjobs in the bathroom or something?" Justin says, hovering over his shoulder and digs his foot into Jensen's thigh as he leans over on his knee.
Jensen's back goes tense instantly, muscles tightening and his whole body reacts to Justin's presence. His mouth goes dry as he struggles to swallow, his eyes clench, and he hopes that by simply ignoring him, Justin will just go away. No such luck, but he's grown used to it. Trying to stand up to Justin just gets him either in his dad's office or a bloody lip-- it's just easier to play ambivalent.
"What the hell is your problem, man?" He hears Jared's voice, defensive and tinged with anger.
"Keep out of it, Padalecki. This is between me and your faggot boyfriend here."
Jensen grabs hold of Danneel's arm, trying to prevent her from getting involved this time. He cracks open an eye, focuses on Jared's furrowed brow and the sudden flush to his skin. He's never seen Jared angry before, and even though he's secretly touched that Jared is standing up to him, he's not sure he likes the unadulterated rage coursing through him.
Jared shoves back, his chair tipping over and clattering to the floor when he stands and rounds the table. Students from all sides are now staring at them; a distinct hush grows across the cafeteria when Jared approaches Justin.
Jensen hurries to his side. "Jared, let it go. He's just an asshole. It's not worth it," he pleads, a low whisper that only those close can hear. He tries to grab his arm, but Jared shrugs out of his grip.
"You heard Jenny. Sit your ass down, maybe if you're a good boy, he'll let you actually be the guy tonight." Justin's standing at full height now and challenging Jared with an overconfident smirk, his cheek twitching as he winks.
Justin's tall, maybe an inch over Jensen, but Jared still looms over him. Everything in Jared's demeanor is intimidating when he's like this, his eyes dark and smoldering and there's a twitch in the crook of his neck when his knuckles whiten into a fist.
Jensen doesn't understand how Justin isn't cowering and backing away. Instead, Justin is continuing to egg him on, pushing Jared further and further-- looking for a fight, like he's certain Jared is all talk without the balls to back it up.
That's where he's dead wrong. Faster than any of them can process, Jared's fist connects with Hartley's face. The blow sends him crashing down into a nearby table, the girls sitting there scream and scatter as the table slides back and Justin lands at their feet.
"Holy fuck, Jared!" Jensen is on his feet in an instant and Danneel is already gathering their things behind him. Panic is already setting in, someone somewhere is screaming for a teacher to hurry over to break it up.
Jared's rubbing his rapidly bruising fist, still glowering down at Justin; Justin's trying to right himself, leaning on his elbow as he spits out a spray of blood and smears a streak from his swelling lip.
"You're a goddamn dead man, Padalecki. Do you have any idea who the hell my father is?" Justin sputters, his feet slipping on the tiled floor as he attempts to stand.
"Ask us if we care, asshole," Jensen says, shooting him one final glare as he turns to Jared. "Fuck, fuck, fuck. Why did you do that?"
Jared doesn't say anything, just stands there rubbing his knuckles and looks up at Jensen through the thick strands of hair that have fallen over his downcast face. The tight line of his lips makes Jared look grieved in a way that sends pangs of empathy through Jensen-- like somehow he is getting a direct glimpse into Jared's soul.
"Shit, Jen. Here comes your dad, you two better get out of here. Like now!" Danneel says, pointing in the direction of Jensen's father as he enters the dining hall.
Jensen loops his arm through Jared's, mindful of his wounded hand as he tugs him towards the opposite exit. "C'mon, follow me."
Neither of them say a word as they weave through the student body and run down the empty hallways. Jared's hand is sweaty in Jensen's, clammy and cold as he pulls him. Jared seems like he's on autopilot, letting Jensen guide him to wherever he wants without question.
Jensen keeps looking back, as if he expects to see his father chasing after them. It's only when he's halfway to his room that he realizes that they are actually alone. There's a sigh of relief as Jensen collapses against the cool brick wall outside the tower's stairwell. He closes his eyes and tries to will his heart to slow its pace, letting in deep measured breaths to fill his lungs.
Jensen barely makes out the sound, Jared's voice is soft and little more than a whimper. He's rubbing his hand again when Jensen opens his eyes, lets them roll slowly up Jared's body and down his arms to focus on his hands.
He's never really noticed how large they are before-- hands aren't always the first things he notices in a person, especially in Jared. His gaze drifts to Jared's knuckles, he fixates on the broken skin and drying blood, on the way Jared's now caressing his own hand.
Another whimper from Jared snaps Jensen out of his daydream. He looks at Jared's face; his whole demeanor is different-- back to how he was before Justin came over. Jensen leans forward and reaches out for his hand and Jared pulls it away sharply, like a child with a sliver.
"Jared, lemme see. You might need stitches or something," Jensen says calmly.
Jared looks down at his hand, his lips twisting to the side like he knows he's being childish about it. "It hurts."
"I'd imagine not as bad as Justin's face does right about now." Jensen smiles as Jared blushes and gives him his hand. Carefully he runs his fingers lightly over the skin. "C'mon I've got a bathroom upstairs; we can get this washed up at least. Sorry I don't have much in the way of first-aid stuff."
"Where exactly are we?" Jared asks, finally allowing himself to look around and up the stairs that Jensen is pulling him towards. His eyes are wide as he takes in every inch of the deserted corridor.
"Uh. This is where I live. It isn't much, but it's mine. Come on already, I'll show ya around," Jensen says, pausing on the first stair and flicks his head for Jared to follow.
Eying him, Jared squints suspiciously and falls in line. "Okay, I'm confused. Your dad is like, the head of the school and you got banished to a tower or something?"
A snort escapes Jensen as he grips his free hand over the rot iron railing. "I did not get banished, Jared. My dad and I just don't exactly get along, so I chose to move out. He let me pick the place, and even had the maintenance guys set me up with my own bathroom up here."
"Wow, so you have like your own apartment. That's kinda awesome man," Jared says. "I got stuck with a roommate. Kind cool but also kinda a dick wad, names Chad. You know him?"
"Maybe, not sure." Jensen's surprised that Jared's still letting him hold his hand, any other guy would probably have freaked by now. But with Jared, it seems almost natural, like he couldn't care less.
When they get to the top of the stairs, Jensen lets go of the injured hand to open the door. It's old and heavy and takes him ramming his whole body's weight to get it to budge, finally the hinges groan as it slowly swings open to the makeshift bedroom.
Pulling him directly over to the corner of the room, Jensen turns the faucet and grabs a rag from under the cabinet and soaks it.
"This is all yours? Wow, this is really great man. Beats the hell out of my dorm, that's for sure," Jared says and then whistles as he takes it all in.
"Eh, it's not all that great, but it works for me." Jensen wrings out the excess water and reaches out for his hand.
Jared hisses as he dabs the damp cloth across his knuckles and Jensen has to hold his hand firm to stop him from pulling away. Jensen looks up as Jared is blowing a stray clump of hair out of his face and trying to hold back a grimace.
"Y'know, for being so quick to throw a punch, you sure don't handle pain very well," Jensen says, turning to rinse off the blood before going back for a second round.
"I don't even know what the hell I was thinking, man. He was just... just..."
"An asshole?" Jensen supplies.
"Yeah. I mean, what he said to you, no one should have to put up with that. And he acts like he owns the place or like he's better than us," Jared says, flush of red on his cheeks at the recollection.
"He does think he's better than us. Hell most everyone here thinks that, Justin is just a special breed of asshole." Jensen tosses the rag into the sink and turns back to blow lightly over the hand to dry Jared's wound. "Let's see if I can find something to wrap that up."
Jensen walks past Jared and heads for his dresser, pulls out one of his undershirts from a drawer and a pair of scissors. He cuts off a strip and walks to where Jared has taken a seat on his bed.
"What's that?" Jared says as he points to the buttress overhead.
The sight of Jared on his bed is a bit jarring; he's never let anyone up here before, not even Danneel. And yet here he is, Jared sitting there and looking amazing. Fuck!
"Oh, um. That's where the bells used to hang, I think. They were already gone when I found the place. Now, gimme your hand."
"It's okay, man. I'm good," Jared says. He's still enamored with every aspect of the room and clutching his fist.
Jensen lets out a grumble and grabs the injured hand himself and Jared yelps as he winds the white cloth around his hand and ties it against his palm. "Now was that hard, you big baby?"
"Yes," Jared pouts, a playful smile broadening across his face. "But, seriously, thanks for patching me up, doc."
"Anything for my own personal Incredible Hulk," Jensen laughs and sits on the bed, keeping a safe amount of space between the two of them.
"Your what?" Jared twists and asks in confusion.
"Bruce Banner-- the Hulk? Big green guy in purple pants and in serious need of anger management?" Jensen asks and waits for some sort of connection in Jared's head but it's completely lost on him judging by the blank stare he's giving. Sighing, he tries to back pedal his way out of looking like a complete geek and says, "Forget it. We'd better get you back down there, too many people saw what happened. And knowing my dad, you'll get off easier going straight to him rather than being pulled into his office, trust me."
"Oh fuck, I didn't even think about that." Jared falls back onto Jensen's bed. "Can't I just hide out here, until like summer break?"
His head is so close to Jensen's thigh, he wants to leap from his skin. He tries to compose himself as he stands-- not too quickly to draw suspicion. "C'mon, hero. I'm sure I can talk to him for ya. Not sure how much help that will be though," Jensen says and gestures towards the door with a flick of his head.
"Fine, but if it goes south," Jared begins as he jumps up from the bed, "Jared smash!"
The catch phrase startles Jensen for a second. He looks over to see Jared grunting in full muscle man pose, his face pulled in a grimace. It has to be, without a doubt, the stupidest and funniest thing he's seen in a while. "What'd you say?" he laughs.
"What? You don't think I know who the Incredible Hulk is, Jen? Please, I'm not a complete moron, y'know." Jared winks and bounds past him and down the stairway.
— § —
Jensen's been awake for hours, well, technically he never fell asleep at all. He is still on the high of having Jared in his room.
All night he's been reliving every aspect of the previous day, nonstop on repeat.
The way his heart had been beating as he held Jared's hand as they ran through the corridors. The pouting and childlike innocence Jared had expressed when Jensen cleaned and dressed his wound. The way the bed had sank and creaked under his weight as he looked all around, soaking it all in as if trying to understand Jensen thoroughly over his belongings.
And of course, the way Jared's hair, dark and soft like silk, had fanned out over his blanket when he laid down inches away from Jensen.
Jensen folds his arms beneath his head and looks over to the alarm clock again. He curses softly but has no ambition to leave. Missing a class or two won't hurt him anymore than it already has. Not to mention, being lost in his current thoughts--- totally worth another visit with his dad.
— § —
Lakewood's library is all but deserted on Friday afternoons, most of the students are either headed into town or doing whatever it is they do on Fridays after class. Jensen doesn't really mind, he couldn't care less about shopping at the local strip mall or trying to scam some stupid schmuck into buying him beer.
Besides, after skipping his classes yesterday, he's promised his dad he would make the attempt to pass government. Which unfortunately means doing the twenty page essay on presidential impeachment procedures for Lehne-- in direct retaliation for the Clinton/ Lewinsky answers Jensen had elaborated on. "What an asshole," he'd muttered when he got the assignment.
The smells of dust and leather permeate as he turns down an aisle, sighing heavily as he drags a finger along the spines of books until he gets to the correct section. He grabs two books that probably haven't been opened in decades and heads back the way he came.
"Well, well," the voice comes from out of nowhere, completely startling Jensen. "Would you look at that, Jensen Ackles in an honest-to-god library? And are those books? But they don't even have muscled men in tights or word bubbles? Are you feeling okay, sweetie?" Danneel asks, her arms folded as she leans up against the end of the aisle he was just down.
"Bite me," Jensen snaps back and tosses the books on the table. The librarian looks up from her desk with a scathing scowl over the top of her glasses. Jensen rolls his eyes and takes a seat. "So what are you doing here, I thought you were supposed to be going with Katie this weekend or something?"
Danneel pushes off the bookcase with her foot and slides in across the table from him, she plucks a stray hair off her shoulder and leans back into the chair. "I am, she is just running off to say goodbye to Tom before we leave. So I have a few hours to kill."
"Hours? God, how can she stand to talk to that guy for hours?"
"They're not exactly talking, Jen," she says and leans across the table to snatch a pencil.
"Oh. Wait, seriously? With Tom?" Jensen asks like he's never even considered the idea.
"He's not all that bad, actually. Plus, he's got a really nice ass." The eraser drums dully against the oak table top, echoing louder than expected through the dome overhead.
"Eww," is all Jensen can say as he steals the pencil back before the librarian can complain.
"Please, like I haven't seen you sneak a peek before. You would totally screw him if he was remotely interested."
Jensen attemps to tune her out, and gets distracted by the squeak of wheels from a cart of books. And of course, it's Jared pushing it. He grabs a stack and begins to put them back into the shelves, not noticing them.
There's a sudden hitch in his breath and Jensen can't help but stare as Jared stretches to put another book away, his shirt rising to flash a patch of skin underneath. It only lasts a second but that's all it really takes for Jensen to realize what exactly just happened. And in front of Danni, no less. Perfect.
She looks to the far side of the library and then back at him, smug grin already spreading across her face. "Hmm, I never knew Jared helped out in the library. Jensen, did you know Jared helped out in the library? That is pretty interesting, don't ya think?" Danneel says just as Jared is wheeling the cart out of sight.
Focusing his eyes back towards her, he says, "He may have mentioned it. I think it's part of his punishment or something. He has to help out here every day after class. It's that or he's outta here." Jensen refuses to look up at her, he knows that she can tell exactly what he's thinking if he does that. He groans and opens the book and skims the table of contents, hoping she'll let it drop-- but knows she won't. She never does.
"Ah. Well that's good, your dad letting him stay and all, I'd hate to see him leave. I'm actually starting to really like the guy. I mean, he's funny as hell, and he's pretty dang smart. I'm talking like brainiac smart; did you know he has a 4.0 GPA?"
"Heh. No I didn't know that, Dan. Why would I? C'mon I'm trying to read here." He's trying his best to concentrate on the chapter he's flipped to, but he finds himself stuck on rereading the same word,"impetere," over and over like somehow it will suddenly makes sense to him. "Goddamn Latin," he mutters.
The silence between the lasts only a few beats before she chimes in again. "I bet Jared knows Latin." She's twisting her finger through a streak of purple hair and leaning forward while waiting for Jensen's reply.
"Oh for Christ sake..." Jensen rolls his eyes, sinking back into his chair, book shoved aside as he crosses his arms. He rarely gets frustrated with Danni-- it's this whole Jared thing. Since Jared showed up he has now idea what to think or feel, how to react to anything.
"This is a library, children, please be respectful and keep your conversations to yourselves," the librarian-- Jensen realizes he doesn't even know her name-- says, snapping a book shut and standing. Her face is stringent, but the absurdity of needing to be respectful in an empty library is utterly laughable.
"Oh, let it go, Gladys. Really, we're the only ones here, who's gonna care?" Danneel blurts out, effectively driving her off in a disgruntled huff.
The display softens his frustration so he leans forward and chuckles. Jensen cocks an eyebrow, question already forming before he says it. "Gladys? Damn her parents must have hated her, what is she, thirty?"
"It's not really her name, I just made that up. But that's not the point," she says.
And here it comes; exactly the conversation he knew would be coming since that first day when Justin shoved him into the lockers and Jared helped him up. The exact one he never wanted to have, even with her.
Talking about guys doesn't exactly come easy for him. Sure, it's one thing to fawn over Orlando Bloom or Josh Duhamel in front of her, but with a guy they both actually know? Besides, Jensen's not even sure he knows how he feels half the time, so the prospect of talking about Jared is way beyond awkward.
And it's not like he even knows how he feels anyway, so trying to articulate them is near impossible. He likes Jared, their friendship has just kind of slipped right into place with neither of them trying, and he can't deny there is some physical attraction to him, obviously. He'd spent the better part of yesterday thinking about him. Still.
His anger flares again. He lowers his voice and says, "Look, I know where this is going. You're gonna try to ambush me into saying how hot I think Jared is, and how I like him and shit. I'll save you the time, I'm pretty sure he isn't even gay. Or if he'd even be interested if he was, so what's the point? I mean, we're just friends, so why can't we just leave things at that and you can let me get back to this fucking paper?"
The tension is almost palpable between them. Danneel sits there staring at him in silence, a mixture of hurt and shock flashing in her eyes. Finally the smugness returns as she places both hands to on the edge of the table and says, "Fine, I have to go anyway. But just so we're clear—" She scoots back and rises from her chair, her eyes glimmering with delight. "You think Jared's hot, said it yourself." She blows him a kiss then turns and hurries up the stairs and out the door.
Jensen growls under his breath, glaring after her and reopening the book for a second before slamming it shut and heads up to the desk to check his books out. He sees Jared out of the corner of his eye and Jared notices him as well. His face seems to light up from the unexpected surprise and he gives Jensen a small wave. Jensen returns it with a halfhearted smile before leaving.
— § —
The room is all but silent, the only sound coming from the soft scratching of pencils on paper as the art students sketch. Surprisingly, especially given the subject matter, the giggles and lewd comments are at a minimum. Though, a few choice ones have slipped out, making Jensen smile to himself as he grades Sam's Art History exams.
After a while, Jensen looks up from his papers and tries to avoid looking directly at the nearly naked man and woman sitting in the middle of the room. It's a futile effort and he can't help but to give in; he eyes the man's ankle and then slowly lets them travel up to tight line of muscles of his thigh.
Already feeling that all-too-familiar twitch in his groin, he crosses his legs and prays Sam won't ask him for anything soon. He lets his eyes linger at the man's navel, watching the slow breaths push the muscles in and out in an intoxicating rhythm.
Which is exactly the second Jared clears his throat and wipes his graphite stained thump over Jensen's nose. He jerks his head back, combined shock of contact and being caught staring snapping him back to reality.
"Dude," he fusses and tries to brush off the black smear with his sleeve. "What was that for?"
"I wanted your opinion and you weren't answering," Jared says nonchalantly, no longer looking at him. His brow furrows as he glares down at his own artwork, obviously unimpressed with himself.
Jared then shoves his sketch in front of Jensen, not making any mention of Jensen's ogling of the model-- thank god-- if he even noticed to begin with. As smart as he is, observation doesn't seem to be one of Jared's stronger points.
"Does the shading look okay? It seems kinda dark to me," Jared asks. Jensen can tell he's not used to being good at something, it's written across his face and in the way his voice falters slightly.
So, Jensen looks down at the sketch and has to bite his lip to prevent his gut reaction from blurting out. Trying to choose his words carefully, he grits his teeth and places his fingers delicately along the edges of the sketchbook.
"Um, okay. Jared? Ya know how you have all those different pencils, that's for a reason. Here-" Jensen says as nicely as he can muster.
He leans across the table, brushing lightly against Jared in the process--which is so not helping him in his current state. He picks up a few different pencils and flips to an empty page of Jared's book. "Okay, see how each pencil is marked with a number and letter? B is for the softer ones and H for the harder ones and the higher the number the more extreme the shade."
Jensen scribbles a few lines on the paper with each pencil, a progression of shades down the page.
"So, I probably shouldn't have started with the darkest one, huh? God, I suck at this art stuff," Jared sighs and drops his head onto the desk, his hair fanning out over the wood as he looks up at Jensen with a pout.
"C'mon now, you don't suck. You're new to this, it's called learning for a reason, man. Here, lemme show ya."
Jensen hurries to sketch the outline of the man's leg, then pauses to nudge Jared to get him to sit up and pay attention. Jared straightens up, groaning as he tries to focus.
"Alright, look at the top of his leg, you want to either leave that alone or just do really light lines. Now at the bottom of his leg it gets darker," Jensen says and points with the end of his pencil. "Use a slightly darker shade and instead of grinding the pencil down, do the same type of lines I did up there but then cross 'em."
"So, kinda like X's?"
"Exactly! The more lines you add the darker it will seem. And if you change the direction of the lines you can change the shape of the shading. It's easy," Jensen says, pushing the sketch book back to him.
"You make it look so easy." Jared looks up at the model and then back to the sketch, like he's trying to understand the correlation, scrunches his lips in confusion. "You should teach, man. You'd be great at it."
Jensen sighs. "Maybe someday, gotta make it through this place first."
Jared looks like he's about to ask Jensen something when the bell rings.
Jensen grumbles, then hurries to grab the stack of tests. He checks to make sure he's safe to stand before heading up to Sam's desk; he hands her the stack and is halfway down the hallway when Jared catches up to him.
Falling in line alongside him, Jared grips the straps of his bag tightly and says, "Hey, I was wondering-- and you can totally say no-- but back to that teaching thing. Um, would you maybe mind helping me with this art thing? If you can't tell, I'm kinda struggling."
The question takes Jensen off guard and he nearly trips over his own feet for a second. That same sad-eyed look he had at the lunch table is starting to edge across Jared's face, but this time it's different. Almost like he's ashamed to ask for help and Jensen already knows what his answer's going to be before he can say anything. "Why?"
"I just," Jared starts and then pauses, concentration wrinkling his forehead. "I just want help with it. Your help."
"I get that, but why? It's not like your ability matters that much. I mean, art is completely subjective and Sam knows that and she grades that way. You show the effort and you’ll get an A easy."
"Still. Help me out, please? You want me to grovel, I will totally grovel. Plus, maybe we can get a chance to hang. Just you 'n me."
"Hang?" Jensen looks at him, raising his eyebrow suspiciously.
"C'mon, whaddaya say?" Jared reaches out and grabs him by the elbow, stopping both of them and turning Jensen to look at him. Students brush by them on both sides as they stand in the middle of the hallway.
It only takes Jensen a second or two to resign himself. "Fine," he sighs, his shoulders slumping slightly as he wonders what he just got himself into. The five minute warning bell rings causing the bustle in the hallway to pick up even more.
"Seriously? Oh my god, this is gonna be awesome! Thank you, man." Jared beams and crushes Jensen in one very over-exuberant bear hug and lifting him onto his tip toes.
Jensen's breath comes out in between gasps as he tries to bring his hands up in between to push Jared away. He can feel his own sense of excitement's growing again and he sure as hell doesn't want Jared to find out about that just right now. Luckily, it's Jared that pulls away first.
"Sweet! Friday, my dorm, say seven?" he asks, his smile digging deep into his cheeks, showcasing his dimples.
"Uh, sure? Sound's great." Straightening his jacket, Jensen refuses to look up at him.
Jared spins and charges down the hall, shouting, "It's a date!" as he rounds the corner to his next class
Jensen is left standing in the middle of the hallway, almost empty now. He blinks blankly at the space Jared had just occupied, mouth agape as he tries to decipher those last words. "Wait-- date? What the hell just happened?" he asks to himself, scratching the back of his head and making his cowlicks even worse.
— § —
An hour's worth of whining to Danneel had convinced Jensen to stop over-thinking things with Jared. It also had served as one huge platform for Danneel's none too subtle gloating, which Jensen figures he had coming anyway, given the way he had treated her in the library.
Still, he can't help but tense up when Jared sits down at the lunch table. And it doesn't help that Danneel keeps trying to steer the conversation to all things Jensen, like she's now trying to gauge Jared's interest. Jared, for his part, is all too eager to jump in on how talented he thinks Jensen is and how excited he is about the tutoring.
The whole thing is making him feel extremely uncomfortable, so Jensen excuses himself and weaves through the tables and towards the bathroom. He opens and lets the door close behind him, crosses the room to the sink. Grabbing the counter he leans in and looks at his reflection.
"Pull it together, Jensen. He's just a guy and you don't even know if he's gay."
He's wiping a stray smudge of black from his lower eyelid when he sees the door swing open in the mirror. Fuck! He straightens up, every muscle in his body is tense and on guard as Justin comes in and steps behind him.
"Well lookee here. Trying to fix your lipstick, Ackles?"
Jensen doesn't answer, figures that maybe there's an off chance that if he ignores him, Justin will get bored and just leave. So, instead he just reaches over for some paper towel to wipe his hands dry and makes for the door, all without making eye contact. He's greeted by Justin pushing him back towards the sink and the counter digging into his lower back.
"Where you think you're going faggot? Fun's just starting," Justin says as he pulls off his jacket and throws it over the metal partition.
"Look, I know you're all excited to finally get me alone and all-- but I really hate to break this to you, you're just not my type." Jensen pushes himself up off the sink and smirks up at Justin which just works to piss him off even more.
Jensen's bracing for the hit just as the door swings open again, this time it's Jared. The startled look on his face quickly melts to that of the silent rage Jensen had seen in the cafeteria weeks ago.
"Everything alright here, Jen?" he says, Jensen can already see the twitch of vein in his neck and the tightening of his fists.
"'S'fine, Jare. Justin here was just needing the sink." Jensen's sure the lie sounds unconvincing, but he needs to try and diffuse this before Jared ends up doing something that will get him thrown out for sure.
There's a chortle from Justin and he steps to the side to block off Jensen from leaving. "What's the matter, Jenny? Trying to make sure your boyfriend here doesn't lay a hand on me this time?"
"He's not my boyfriend." The words are barely audible through Jensen's clenched teeth.
"Aww, princess. Someday you will find you a prince to... Oof!"
Justin's face is slammed against the wall, his cheeks puckering from the pressure.
"I don't know what your deal is, Hartley, but it ends now! You are never gonna say another word to him. I don't even care if you are forced to ask him something in class, I hear you talking to him and your ass is mine. Got it?" Jared's voice is low and full of venom as he says the words slowly against Justin's ear and digging his finger into his back with each word to accentuate his point.
Jensen watches on, fixed in his spot and unsure what to do as Justin squirms and tries to get away.
"I said," Jared says, shoving him further into the wall. "Got it?"
Outside, the bell rings and the commotion of students grows louder when Justin's body goes lax.
"Got it," he finally spits out, more begrudgingly than anything. His eyes fix on Jensen, almost as if to tell him this is anything but over.
Jared lets him go then reaches over and rips the jacket off the chrome wall and tosses it at Justin. Grabbing it, Justin hurries out of the bathroom, leaving Jensen alone with Jared.
"I'm sorry," Jared says after a few seconds that seem infinitely longer.
"Sorry for what? I'm glad you came in when you did, any day I don't have to visit the nurse and my dad is a good day. Not that I couldn't have handled him myself." Jensen tries to laugh it off to lessen the uneasiness but it's clear Jared already feels ashamed of his actions. "Hey, you okay? Seriously, Jared, thank you. I appreciate the help."
Jensen hesitates but finally reaches out his hand to grab Jared's sleeve. Jared finally looks up, there'a a glint of a tear forming in the corner of each eye. He pulls his arm away and wipes at his face, a soft sniffle is almost drowned out by his jacket sleeve. His demeanor shifts again, closer to his normal bravado as he forces a smile.
"It's just, I don't how you put up with it all. The bullying, the gay jokes. God he's such a clueless asshole," Jared says.
"Clueless?" Jensen asks, not sure he's following Jared's line of thinking.
"Yeah, I mean, just 'cause you're into art and you wear eyeliner, doesn't make you gay. Y'know?" Jared turns away and pushes open the door, holding it open for Jensen. "C'mon, we're gonna be late for class."
The knot in Jensen's stomach makes him want to run to the closest stall and hurl. Jesus, he doesn't know?
It's never dawned on him that Jared wouldn't know, everyone here knows. And now he's gonna have to tell him himself. As if coming out the first time wasn't hard enough, coming out to the guy he likes is twenty times worse-- especially given that he isn't sure about Jared's feelings or sexuality to begin with.
Jared's urging him to hurry up again, so Jensen slumps his shoulders and walks past him. Nervous as hell, Jensen fights the compulsion to run and forces himself to just say it. "Jared? He-- Justin, I mean. He wasn't exactly wrong." Jensen's walking slowly, eyes nearly closed with Jared at his side and purposefully not trying to gauge his reaction.
"About?" Jared asks as he tugs his bag higher on his shoulder.
"I'm... gay, Jared. Sorry, I thought you knew."
"Oh," Jared says, his stride slowing to a snail's pace."I, uh. I didn't know."
Jensen's failing to read him and he lets his head drop. "I just assumed, y'know. It's not exactly a secret here." Jensen lifts his head, finally finding the courage to look him in the eye.
The corner of Jared's lip lifts in a warm smile as he reaches out and grabs Jensen's arm and squeezes. "It's cool, man. I'm cool, It's just a... surprise."
Jensen's not sure how to judge the response, and while it seems honest and sincere enough-- there's something just odd about it. But he doesn't let himself dwell on it and it all but disappears when Jared wraps his arm around his shoulders and tries to convince him that sluffing the rest of the day sounds like the best plan ever.
— § —
It's during Lehne's class on Friday, that Jensen first notices something different about Jared. That welcoming smile he usually flashes him as he walks by is nowhere to be seen. Jared barely says a word to him the entire hour and hurries to say bye before leaving without him when the bell rings.
Jensen tries to push it off as him maybe not getting enough sleep or missing breakfast or something, but the nagging in the back of his mind refuses to let go. It's times like this he wishes he had more classes with Danni because having to wait until lunch to talk to her feels like it's going to kill him.
The hours tick away slower and slower, and he knows he's probably just being melodramatic but god he needs to talk to her. So, when the clock finally strikes 11:30, he's up and out of his chair before Ms. Devine can excuse them.
It's not often that Jensen makes it to their table before Danneel does, so he can tell that he's thrown her off a bit by doing so. She smiles at him skeptically then reaches into her bag to get his daily junk food fix, tosses it to him and sits down. "So. What's up, buttercup? And don't try to do that whole, 'nothing is bothering me crap.'"
He lets the bag of Funyons drop to the table, not even remotely interested in food at this point, frustration, confusion, and worry fighting for superiority in his head. "Jared didn't know," he blurts out, spinning the yellow bag on the table.
"Know what exactly?"
"About me-- the gay thing," he says low so that no one around them can hear.
"How could he not know? And why are we whispering, Jen? It's not like it's a deeply held secret." she teases and leans in close before snapping off a bite of carrot stick.
"I don't know, but he just-- didn't. And now he does and I think he's avoiding me or isn't okay with it, or-- gah! Why does this even matter?" Jensen lays his head on the cool tabletop and shoves the bag away. "God, I just want to punch something, or scream, or-- I just don't know what to do or. Why am I being like this?"
"Because you like him, maybe?" She weaves her fingers through the spikes of his hair, trying her best to soothe him.
"I hate you," he sighs halfheartedly and pushes her hand away.
She kicks him under the table, more playfully than to inflict pain, making him smile. "I highly doubt that Jared is avoiding you, and if he is, I don't think it's because he's uncomfortable about you being gay, Jen. Give him the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure it's nothing."
"I guess." Jensen sits up, and swipes a carrot from her plate. "We're supposed to be hanging out tonight, maybe it isn't such a good idea."
Acting offended, she swats at his hand before getting serious again. "By hanging out you mean...?"
"Nothing, he asked me to help him with his art. I'm supposed to meet him in his dorm at seven. Tell me what I should do, Dan. Do I go or do I bail?"
"Hmm," she says, her eyes looking sideways in concentration.
Jensen sees Jared out of the corner of his eye and before Danneel can answer him, he makes the decision on his own. Pushing his chair away from the table, he grabs his bag and tosses the strap over his chest. "You know what, you see him, you tell him I'm sorry but I don't think I can. I gotta go," he says dismissively and turns away and storms off, ignoring her when he hears her call his name.
— § —
The wind is stronger than normal in the afternoon, making Jensen more cautious as he climbs out the window and onto the roof. The pigeons aren't around-- they never are when the wind's this strong-- so Jensen's alone with nothing but his thoughts and the sound of the air blowing over the shingles.
He looks out over the campus; sees the waves sweeping across the lake to lap harshly against the shore line, the trees bowing and threatening to snap at any second. Overall it fits his mood exactly, restless and unfocused. He picks at a loose sliver of rubber from his shoe’s sole and tosses it to the wind, then leans back against the rough brick wall.
Surprisingly, his dad hasn't sent for him, he usually does when Jensen's skipped classes-- especially after their last talk. Jensen couldn't bring himself to go through another few torturous hours of inane teachers babbling their equations and philosophical nonsense, not today anyway.
This thing with Jared is eating at him nonstop, always at the forefront of his mind but he can't figure out whether to be pissed, worried, or sad. And that only frustrates him more.
The one thing that he does know, even if it's taken him a while to admit to himself, is that he likes Jared. Likes him more than anyone he's ever known. It's more than just one of his celebrity obsessions or a fleeting crush, it's love. And that realization scares him more than anything.
He's tried to close himself off to everyone, even Danni sometimes, but with Jared he finds it harder each day. With just a smile, Jensen can feel the cracks in that armor he's built. Without even trying Jared's managed to become Jensen's very own kryptonite, and the idea of him hating Jensen for something he is and has no control over, is downright crippling.
Jensen's been forced to live most of his life alone and now that he has Danneel and Jared, he's not sure how to even deal with friendship, let alone love or a relationship. Sometimes, he thinks being alone would just be easier.
Jensen's pounding his head dully against the wall; his hair keeps getting caught in the rough rock of the bricks. He hears his name. At first he thinks it's just the wind playing with him, then he feels something slide around his elbow. He jumps, tries hard not to scream and scoots away; he looks back to see Jared hitting his head against the ledge of the window as he pulls his hand away.
"Jared? Jesus, you scared the hell out of me!"
"You did a pretty good job of that yourself. Ow!" Jared whines and rubs the back of his head where it hit the ledge. "What are you doing out here, man? This wind's gonna blow you right off."
Jensen huffs and retakes his spot next to the window. "I'll be fine. What are you doing here, didn't Danni give you my message?" His arms cross, not at all because of how the temperature is dropping with the sun slipping past the horizon. The wind bites at his flesh, goose bumps forming all along his body.
Jared stumbles as he tries to pull himself out the narrow hole, has to grab at Jensen's elbow not to not lean too far forward as he slips out onto the shingles. Once he's out he hurries to cling as close to the wall as possible, which starts to chip away at Jensen. Goddamn kryptonite.
"She did," his words come out uncharacteristically unsure and stuttered as Jared inches further backwards. "She said you couldn't or wouldn't help me, but said I should come talk to you if I wanted to know why."
"Smooth, Danneel," he says, doesn't intend for it to be heard, and with the wind Jared probably doesn't anyway.
"Jen? Could we maybe take this conversation back inside? Y'know, where it's warm and I don't have to worry about plummeting to my death."
"Afraid of heights, huh?" Jensen eyes him, notices how the shadows fall over his face and help outline his jaw in the darkening night. He shuffles down and stands then extends his hand to Jared. "C'mon, hero."
The wind nearly topples Jared when he stands and Jensen has to hurry and grab the wall to steady them; he puts a reassuring hand on the small of Jared's back as he guides him back through the window.
Once Jared is back on the solid ground of the bedroom floor, a wave of tension visibly dissolves from him as he falls to his hands and knees. Jensen shakes his head, hops down from the sill and heads over to his bed, kicks off his shoes and curls up in the corner as he waits for Jared to talk.
It takes Jared a few minutes, mostly filled with nervous laughs and deep breathes, before he can say anything. He looks up, his face reddened by the cutting chill outside. "Okay so where were we?"
"Danneel betraying me by sending you up here to talk?" Jensen says, his words tinged with sarcasm.
"Oh, right," Jared jumps to his feet. "So what's this all about? One minute, you're like cool with it and then you're not? What gives?"
"It's nothing, I just can't, okay? Can't we just leave it at that?" He leans forward and brings his knees to his chest to wrap his arms around them. He does his best to not look directly at Jared-- it's easier that way.
"Yeah, no. We can't. Look, is it something I did or said? Help me out here, Jensen." Jared walks over and sits on the corner of the bed, starts scanning the bookshelves, whistles at the amount of comics spilling off each shelf.
"No, it's just--" The slight taste of blood drips over his tongue and he realizes he's been biting at the corner of his lip. "It's complicated."
"It always is," Jared says, and gives Jensen the "I'm not buying that" look. "Does this have anything to do with that thing with Justin yesterday? I admit, I was totally out of line, and you don't need my help and all, but the punk had it coming." He twists to face Jensen head on and shifts his legs to cross in front of him and ends up sitting on tips of Jensen's toes.
The touch is electric and Jensen tries to pull away but he's backed up as far as he can go. "No, I mean, yes. Guh, I don't know Jared. I just don't know, okay?"
"You don't know why you can't help me draw something better than a sick figure on crack? Right. See, I don't get that at all." Jared reaches forward and places his hand on Jensen's ankle. "This whole thing with you is a façade , isn't it? The eyeliner, the hair, the bad attitude, your seclusion, all these walls you have built up around. C'mon, Jen. Just let me in and talk to me already."
Jared's hand is warm and firm on his leg and Jensen can't help but to focus on where they're connected. There's nothing but silence between them, broken only by the soft squeak from overhead. Jensen looks up to see the tiny tail slip out of view as the mouse darts off to places unknown.
He wants to answer, wants to tell Jared everything he's thinking. Even if that means scaring Jared off for good, but he just can't bring himself to do it. He looks at Jared, sees the deep lines of worry embedded in his forehead and the soft and concerned gleam in his eyes.
"Okay--" Jared begins, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Like what?" Jensen's verbal block dissolves momentarily, lets the beginnings of a smirk to form.
The mood between them shifts, a little less strained when Jared lets out a silent snicker. "You won't know unless you agree to answer. So, can I?" The wink he gives is playful and challenging, an effortless slide into casual conversation.
"I think you just did?" Jensen laughs.
"Smart ass." Jared scowls at him but it's clear he isn't giving up so easy.
"Fine, whadda ya wanna know?"
Jared's expression changes instantly, like someone just wiped it clean with an eraser. He's serious again, and the whole mood in the room changes with him.
Growing anxious, Jensen is about ready to ask him again when Jared looks up. That same sadness from the other day is back, but this time it's different-- more pure somehow. More sincere.
"Do you," Jared says, his words trailing off as he looks back down to his feet. He bites his lip; his fingers digging tight into the fabric of the bed like he's trying to muster enough courage to ask. Apparently it works, because a beat later he raises his head, a newfound determination burns deep behind his eyes. "Do you like me?"
The room seems to grow smaller, almost suffocating as Jensen's head hits the wall again. His throat clenches and he can already feel the beads of cold sweat beading all over his body. Out of all the questions he was trying to guess at, that wasn't even in his top twenty. And yet now it's the most obvious, and he's kicking himself that he didn't prepare for this.
"'I," he sputters out, not sure how to phrase it, so he goes for the platonic response. "Of course I like you, you and Danni are my best friends, Jared."
That is most definitely not the thing Jared wants to hear. "Bullshit, and you know that's not what I asked, Jensen. Now give me an honest answer. Do you like me?"
He can't think, can't get words to form. His eyes wander over the ceiling in a silent prayer as to what to do, what to say. And that's when it happens.
There's a dip of the bed, his knees separate to allow the unexpected weight that's pushing against him. Jared's hand wraps around the back of his head, their eyes lock-- Jensen unsure of what's going on, his mind lost somewhere.
Jared moves gradually closer, his breath hitting Jensen's chin in warm bursts of air, the scent of cinnamon tickling his nose; the tip of his nose grazes his cheek. Their lips touch, light at first-- hesitant-- before Jared crushes into him, his lips pressed tightly against his own.
Jensen's eyes grow wide, trying to understand how they got here. Jared places his hand on Jensen's chest as if he were trying to will it back into its proper rhythm, then relaxes. His lips part, and press in further, and again. Without realizing it, Jensen mirrors his every move, then tilts to allow Jared even closer, their mouths slotting together in perfect unison.
Oh god, we're kissing! The realization snaps something deep inside Jensen, his body relaxes completely. His eyes close and he grinds up into Jared, lets his tongue slip out to touch the soft skin of Jared's upper lip.
Jared chuckles and then he's kissing Jensen again, harder and rougher-- like he wants to devour him completely. And then he pulls away, lingers a foot away from Jensen. Jensen lets his eyes open, he scans Jared's face, his smile, and it all suddenly becomes clear.
"Yes," he says, sure this time.
It's Jared's turn to be confused this time, Jensen sees it in his face-- that clueless blank stare that makes Jared completely innocent and endearing.
"I like you, Jared."
"Yeah, I was kinda hoping... otherwise this would have been kind of awkward, huh?" he laughs, puts a hand on each of Jensen's now open thighs.
"Maybe just a little bit," he laughs along with him. "So, about these drawing lessons?"
"Oh, right. Those... Yeah, I lied. I just used that as an excuse to get to your comics." Jared tumbles backward and grabs and the first plastic sleeved cover and pulls. Sitting back up, he grins. "Man, I used to have this one."
That is probably even more surprising than the kiss they just shared, Jensen looks down to see what he has exactly. "Dude, you really don't need to impress me by faking comic book love. Trust me."
"Bitch, please." Jared carefully slides the copy of X-force from its sleeve. "This is the one where Sauron kills Cannonball but--"
"--Sam's not really dead," Jensen finishes for him.
"Sure he is, he just doesn't stay dead. He's an X-ternal, or so they make you believe. They kinda dropped the hole plot, though. Guess some whiny-ass Hollywood guy said they ripped off Highlander, or some shit." Jared flips through the book, his fingers barely touching the pages as he cradles it in his other hand.
"Wow," Jensen says, clearly impressed. "You ain't half bad, Padalecki. Not bad at all."
"Yeah, I'm kinda awesome." Jared shrugs, still looking through the book. "Don't tell anyone though, I'd like to keep my mystique." He then bends over to kiss Jensen again, careful not crease the book as the bed sinks.
Jensen grins into the kiss, appreciative of Jared even more now.
"He is, y'know," Jensen says, his words lost somewhere in between their mouths and tongues.
"Is what?" Jared mumbles back, his hand lightly stroking at Jensen's rib through his shirt.
"An X-ter--" He doesn't manage to finish his sentence. Jared's leaning them back down to the bed, and crawling on top of him and Jensen's only too eager to let him.
Yeah, this is something he could definitely get into.
— § —
Jensen cracks his eyes open to see the dust motes floating lazily in the streak of sunlight shining through the window. He doesn't move, just lies there watching, staring. Behind him the bed shifts and a hand worms its way under his to wrap around his stomach and pull him closer.
Jared nuzzles his head against the collar of Jensen's shirt collar. Jensen can tell he's still asleep by the way he's breathing, light and airy breaths over the skin of his neck. And even through their clothes, Jensen can feel the heat radiating from him. He can't be bothered by it, in fact he scoots back further into it.
He looks down to Jared's hand and smiles; he's never felt so at peace and safe in his life as he does in this very moment. Trying not to disturb him, Jensen lightly wraps his hand over Jared's wrist and closes his eyes, lets himself drift back to sleep.
— § —
"So like, what? You're together now?" Danneel looks from Jared back to Jensen, mixture of shock and delight in her eyes. "Oh my God, guys, that is so-- Oh my God!"
She can barely contain herself as she hops out of the chair and hugs and kisses each of them. Subtlety is not one of her virtues; they are already drawing attention from all around the cafeteria.
"Tell me everything. No skimming past all the juicy bits either, a girl knows when she's being scammed." She takes her place back at the table, leans her head on her knuckles as she eagerly anticipates every word.
"S'up queers?" Justin's voice grates on Jensen like nails to chalkboard. He flips a chair around backwards and takes a seat, Mike stands to his left, arms crossing as if to intimidate.
"Aren't you one lackey short? What's the matter, still sore after Tom told you to go screw yourself?" Danneel glares at him.
Jensen can sense Jared's body go taut, ready to pummel him at any moment. He reaches under the table, squeezes Jared's hand to calm him. Jared's eyes look down and then back to him, a hint of a smile behind them.
"You gonna let the little lady fight your battles for you? God, you've both got dicks, you'd think one of you would have the balls to go along with 'em. Freaking fags."
Jared snaps his head back to Justin and forces through clenched teeth, "I warned you--"
He's about to stand but Jensen is too fast. Rounding the table, Jensen punches him square in the jaw. Justin falls from the chair and Jensen hurries to climb on top of him so he can't move, wraps his fingers deep in his collar and cocks his fist back to punch again.
Justin's eyes are wide with shock, and the surprise of Jensen finally having enough has him scared shitless by the way he's shaking. The skin of his lip is broken and already starting to bleed. He narrows his eyes, finally, as he comes out of it. "Go ahead, Ackles. Hit me again, see what happens. Watch your dad throw your own ass out of this school like the worthless piece of..."
"You know what, Justin. I really don't give a fuck. I have had enough of your shit. Yeah, I'm not some spoiled brat and maybe I am gay. What fucking business is it of yours?"
"That is enough!" Alan's voice comes out of nowhere. "Jensen, let him go."
Jensen glances up, sees his dad step into view. He lets go of Justin's shirt instantly and with Jared's help, climbs off of him.
Justin hurries to stand, smug smile growing over his face as he brushes out the wrinkles. "Sir, I would like to formally request that Mr. Ackles here be brought to the disciplinary board for assaulting a fellow student."
"Mr. Hartley. Justin, is it? I am only going to tell you this one time, keep your mouth shut."
"But sir, I--" Justin is even more surprised than a few minutes ago, apparently both Ackles turning on him in one day is incomprehensible for him.
"Mr. Beaver, please escort Mr. Hartley to my office and have my secretary call his parents for me," Allan says, leaning slightly to face the teacher.
"My father is not going--"
"Son, your father is not in any position to do much of anything these days. You are nothing but a bully, Mr. Hartley. I have more than a dozen students willing to come forward to justify your expulsion and I plan on doing so. You may think you are better than anyone else here, but I assure you are not. We here at Lakewood will not tolerate such behavior, regardless of social status and former alumni. I will see you in my office."
Mr. Beaver grabs Justin by the shoulder and leads him off, a stream of curses screaming through the halls as they disappear.
Alan turns to look at Jensen. "As for you, young man. I wish you would have come to me about this rather than having to hear it from your classmates. Violence is never the answer and I do not condone your actions here today. But I am your father, Jensen, I know it's hard living here and that we don't always see eye to eye with each other, but I do love you and I am proud of you. Always remember that."
"Sorry," Jensen says. "And I know, I should've."
Alan smiles at him, his hard demeanor softening for a second. "So, there will be no more cutting class and neither of you are to get into any trouble what-so-ever for the remainder of the term, do you hear me?" He points his finger between the two of them.
"Yes sir," Jensen says as Jared stands wooden and petrified by his side.
Alan's eyes fall to where they are holding hands and then back to Jensen,. "Good for you, son. Good for you."
— § —
"Will you c'mon already, they aren't gonna wait forever," Jensen says, his impatience growing.
"I've been thinking, maybe this is something that can just be yours. We don't have to share everything, y'know."
"Oh, just get your ass out here. You aren't gonna fall, I promise."
There's a groan behind him and Jared spills out onto the roof causing the pigeons to scatter. "Graceful, I give it a four," Jensen says, smirking after he finishes shaking his head. "Here." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the small container of food and puts it into Jared's hand and then sits.
"What do I do?" Jared's scooting closer to the wall, still far from being comfortable enough to sit out as far as Jensen is.
"Take some out and sprinkle, they'll do the rest, genius."
"Why do I like you again exactly?" Jared says as he fights to pry off the lid.
"You find me dark, mysterious, and completely and utterly charming," Jensen says and scoots back up to Jared, butts their shoulders. "That and I have a really great ass."
"Oh, right. You forgot humble." Jared grins up at him and finally managing to get the lid off. Seeds and crumbs fall all over his lap and legs and the pigeons waste no time pecking, one flying down from the eave and perching on Jared's knee cap. It cocks its head and coos softly as it looks him over, making sure he isn't a threat.
"He's with me, Hugo," Jensen says to the bird. "Behave."
"Hugo? You named them?"
"Some of 'em, yeah. Besides Danni and my dad, these guys are practically family." Jensen dips his fingers into the box and lets the seeds roll down into palm. He holds his hand steady as one of the pigeons climbs on and begins to eat.
"How the hell do you tell them apart?"
"Umm. Hugo here has a spot of white just under his eye. The rest I kinda guess, to be honest." Jensen says and points to small dot.
Hugo pecks at the feed along Jared's leg, making him laugh. Soon another bird joins in, and then another.
"Hah, that tickles." The sound of Jared's laughter is the best thing in the world to Jensen, maybe only second to the dimples in his smile, neither of which Jensen can get enough of.
When the seeds are gone, the pigeons fly back to the edge of the roof, almost like they're giving the boys privacy. Jensen reaches over and grabs his box, snaps the lid on tightly before sliding it into his pocket.
"So, how would you feel about you and me sneaking into town on Saturday, maybe catch a movie, get some dinner. I hear Thor is awesome. You ask me, this place is kinda stifling. It'd be nice to get out there in the real world for a while, y'know, just the two of us."
"Seriously? Like a real life honest-to-god date?" asks Jensen. Jared just nods in reply, transfixed on a bird as it lifts a wing to groom its feathers.
"I think I would love that," Jensen says as he shimmies up to him, butts against his shoulder and weaves his fingers through Jared's.
Without a warning the birds take off all at once, flying away as both boys watch as they disappear into the sky. Jensen grips Jared's hand even tighter and thinks that maybe, just maybe, this place isn't so bad after all.