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In the Most Animated Language

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This project is one that Jensen has wanted since it was announced in the pit six months ago. He nagged his lead, begged his department head, and made it repeatedly known to his cohorts and production team that he wanted this assignment. When the big wigs asked for portfolio submissions from various animators, Jensen included, he did three all-nighters in a row preparing and refining. His fatigue was fueled by the solid feeling that he knew he had to have this project—and by a few cans of Red Bull. He nailed the presentation and waited for the phone call. One by one, people he knew were assigned characters. Anxiously, he watched the list fill up and animation teams form, all without his name. On the final day that the big names were cast, he got the phone call. He got the character.

This project is a throwback to old school animation, with only one big scene of CGI. The entire animation and production departments have been excited for this one since the idea was pitched two years back; their last movie has seen a lot of commercial success but this one is their treat. It is a chance for everyone to stretch their drawing limbs and show off what animators can still do without the equipment. Jensen's character happens to be the main male lead, voiced by some Hollywood actor he has heard of only in passing. Either way, for their first meeting, Jensen has brought a new sketch book and pencil set. He might have gone a little overboard with a few preliminary sketches already, but how can anyone not be excited for this?

In one of the fancier conference room, Jensen hangs around, expecting his voice actor to arrive any second. He waits ten minutes after their meeting time, doodling like he used to in college. He's been an animator for five years now, with strong showings in all the movies and shorts his work has been in. The dream is to one day be department head, but he loves his job as it is now. The hours sucked when he started and for a long time his pay was terrible, but he usually went home happy with his decision to leave Texas and start out in California. He studied at the Pixar School and worked hard to land this job at Pixar itself. Art school anywhere is tough; a school specifically for animators hoping to work for Pixar is tougher. Somehow, Jensen managed to stand out. It wasn’t just his work that spoke for him; it was his ability to pitch a presentation that got his internship extended into an actual job. He hears from some cohorts that weren’t as lucky that Disney is no picnic; Pixar is the place to be.

However, at the moment, he is not amused at being made to wait for his voice actor. This guy is some Hollywood name, so what? Does he think that just because Jensen isn’t famous that he’s got all the time in the world? A lot of people think Jensen spends his time at work drawing whatever he wants to, like it’s a giant preschool. He has fun at work because the company emphasizes enthusiasm and passion—but he has deadlines and bosses to make happy just like anyone else. Jensen needs to study the actor before he is passed over to the sound and voice people. Stalling one department stalls everyone else and Jensen doesn’t appreciate the disregard for his time or the studio’s. Getting up, ready to leave, Jensen gathers his things. By now he’ annoyed and determined to tell someone about this rudeness.

Just as he is slinging his messenger bag over his shoulder, the door to the meeting room opens. A tall, lanky guy appears, long hair everywhere. He smiles and shows off his dimples; Jensen stands still. Intern? Assistant?

"Oh man, I'm so sorry," the guy says, walking over and shaking Jensen's hand firmly. "My photo shoot ran late and I'm starving. Can we order something? What can I get you?"

At first, Jensen wants to ask what kind of intern has a photo shoot, but he realizes that the guy, earnest and excited, is not an intern. "Jared?" He asks, raising an eyebrow. "Uh, sorry, you're..."

"A mess! I know!" Jared replies with a laugh that fills the room. He sits down, arranges his long, jean clad legs, and looks up at Jensen with the energy of a puppy. "So, pizza? Let’s get started."

"Sure, yeah," Jensen agrees and sits back down.

As he unpacks his bag, Jared calls some place and orders two large everything pizzas and drinks. "Jensen, right?" he asks and looks for confirmation, which he gets with a nod. "I hear you're from Dallas. I'm from Austin myself." After correcting Jared that he's technically from Richardson, Jensen makes the usual Texas small talk. Jared skips right over it and in twenty minutes, by the time the pizza arrives, Jensen is laughing and having a tough time keeping his pencil steady. 

He sneaks a few slices of pizza while he sketches, and watches Jared consume an entire pizza on his own without any issue. The guy's expressions are an animator's dream: vivid, clear, and enthusiastic. His features are somewhat easily translatable to paper, his hair and nose being the only things Jensen will worry about later. He asks Jared to look sad, pensive, and angry multiple times so he can get the basics down; Jared doesn’t complain about holding any expression or pose for as long as it takes, though he does have trouble not talking or laughing. Sketching quickly, Jensen does a few pages of each emotion. He gets three good full body sketches done, plus one full sketch of Jared's hands. Their time together for the day is over faster than Jensen would like. With care and some reluctance, he puts his pencils away. He's never talked so much with a voice actor, never said so much to his own cohorts in the last five years. 

Awkwardly, they stand and fidget around, until Jared's assistant peeks in and tells him he is already late for the sound people. Jensen clears his throat and avoids looking at his voice actor. "Well, have fun. I'll need to see you again in a few weeks but I got most of it now. Thanks for lunch."

They shake hands; Jared's hands are warm. Dimples are out again when he says, "Hey, so I don't...normally do this, yeah?"

"Do what? Voice act?"

"No," Jared answers with a laugh, hazel eyes bright. "Ask people out on dates."

It takes less than three seconds for Jensen's face to turn red. Jared begins to apologize, stammering that he didn't mean to make assumptions and it was worth a shot, please don't hate him. Jensen shuts him up with the flick of a business card. He holds it out to Jared.

"I don't usually say yes," Jensen replies, his voice softer than he means it to be. "If you don't call, I'm drawing you with a wart on your nose."

"You do have that kind of power," the actor says with a smirk, putting Jensen's card in his wallet. "If the date goes well, can you draw me a nice ass?"

"You don't need any help there," Jensen quips back with a smirk of his own. Briefcase in hand, he walks out of the room. He needs to go hyperventilate over the situation in the privacy of his office. Glancing back, he sees Jared wave.

It's not ten minutes later when Jensen's phone goes off and an increasingly familiar voice asks, "So when is good for you?"

Chapter Text

Their first date is a concert.

Jensen thinks it's a horrible idea. He doesn't much like crowds and how the hell are they supposed to get to know each other with music blaring around them? But Jared invited him and promised dinner beforehand, so who is he to turn down a free meal and concert from an attractive man with a steady job?

As he's getting ready, he worries about the parking, the crowds, and the music. He tries to listen to the singer while he’s at work, during the sketch and concept hours at his desk, but it's too wah-wah-dude-feelings music for his taste. He can't even understand most of the words, they're sung in a higher pitch and blended together, which he knows is supposed to be lyrical and harmonious but ends up sounding distorted and wrong to him.

He gets a phone call an hour before they're supposed to meet. At first, Jared explains that a meeting ran late, which Jensen assumes means he will cancel.

"Instead of dinner before can we do after? And I'll pick you up at your place," he says, to Jensen's astonishment.

He sputters a simple reply and hangs up after, with a feeling that he’s agreed to more than a concert and dinner.


It turns out that Jared's idea of a concert is VIP related. He shows up in a limo with champagne, gets them escorted into the venue, and as they wait for the show to start, tells Jensen that he and the singer go way back. That's the reason for the last minute concert date and lavish VIP arrangements. Jensen is still trying to wrap his mind around getting chauffeured in a limo.

The opener does well, but Jensen spends most of the set sneaking glances over at Jared, admiring the dimples and the sideburns. He's a handsome guy—Jensen’s seen a movie of his since actually meeting him—and he seems pretty laid back. Being an animator puts Jensen in somewhat close proximity to actors and celebrities every now and then. He knows what high maintenance looks like and Jared doesn't fit the profile. Jared whoops and hollers as loud as the most devoted fans—it inspires Jensen to try his best to cheer on as well. On stage, the lead singer introduces himself and his band, launching into a small story before a song. He asks the crowd that whoever is here on their first date should clap their hands. Jensen can feel himself blush in the dim venue. He claps once because he feels brave and looks over to see his date clapping like it's his job, hollering to go with it.

"Okay, now I want hands raised for those of y'all who haven't kissed yet," the singer says into the mic, a smirk on his face. Before Jensen can respond there is Jared, his hand raised and flailing wildly. "Now, I'm gonna give you poor folks an assist by singing this song and by the end of tonight I want all that sorted out and wrapped up, you hear? Like, I wanna come back next year and hear good stories, yeah? You got this? One, two, one two three!" The singer finally launches into a song, one that Jensen has heard on the radio and actually does like. He smiles knowingly at Jared, who grins back.

"You fucker," Jensen shouts in Jared's ear. "You did not."

"Maybe just a little," Jared admits with an uninhibited smile.

The rest of the evening goes by smoothly. Jensen might even go as far as saying that he's having a pretty good time—wimpy dude rock isn't that bad. At the brief intermission Jared breaks away to get them drinks, and Jensen is happy to see that he brings back whiskey and Coke. They knock their glasses together and take a swig; it's fine whiskey and Jensen thanks Jared.

"Not a problem. Thought you'd appreciate whiskey."

"Oh yeah? Is it the art school vibe I give off that says I like strong liquor?"

"Well that and you're Texan," Jared replies with a cheeky smile. "Never known a Southern boy to turn down hard liquor."

"And what’s the extent of your knowledge in regards to Southern boys?" Jensen asks, leaning in. People are all around them, doing just as they are--talking, drinking, searching.

This is the first time Jensen sees Jared blush. Even the tip of his nose turns a little red. "I know the ones from Dallas got the finest asses I ever did see."

Jensen laughs harder than he intends to, which causes him to snort, and it sets off a chain reaction. Within seconds, they're a mess of laughter and playful shoving. Before the show starts up again, they finish two more drinks. Jensen feels warm and tingly, but he doesn't know how much to blame the alcohol or Jared. They stand shoulder to shoulder and Jensen gets brave. He snakes his arm around Jared's waist, surprised to feel how narrow it is in comparison to his shoulders. Of course this earns Jensen a knowing smirk in return.

"No one can resist me," his date proclaims proudly.

 

Just as the singer is picking up the mic, Jensen punches Jared in the kidneys.

He slips his hand into Jared's back pocket afterwards, where the wiggling there is much more satisfying.

Chapter Text

Jensen doesn't put out on first dates. He's remained true to that since he started dating.

But those dimples and that smile and those hands... Jensen was close to breaking. He resisted only because he thought if he gave in so soon they'd both be in trouble later. Waiting meant Jared wanted more, right?

The next day, at his desk, Jensen is trying to focus. It shouldn't be so difficult; he's already scrapped a dozen sheets of sketches. He's the lead animator for Jared's character and the rest of the team is waiting for his part of the storyboard. He has to adhere to the style of the studio and the director, which is easily done because Jensen isn't new to either, but he can't take his mind off the kiss he received last night.

When Jared escorted them to meet the singer—his friend—after the show, Jensen ended up drawing their profiles on cocktail napkins and slipping it into Jared's back pocket. He usually doesn't do that for first dates, but then again, many aspects of their first date were different. He met Jared's friend, a really nice guy, and the three of them chatted for ten minutes before Jared announced it was time to go. Jensen found out a lot in those ten minutes backstage: Jared is a family man, enjoys wine, and roots for the same football teams as Jensen does. In those ten minutes, the actor guaranteed himself a second date.

What had taken the cake though, had been the goodnight kiss.

It was almost one in the morning and they were a little drunk after dinner, having split a large bottle of red wine. It wasn't exactly cold outside but pressing close to Jared helped, so Jensen reasoned. Jensen remembered looking up to hazel eyes, rosy cheeks, and that wide smile that begged to be drawn and shared with the world.

Leaning up, Jensen kissed him.

Falling in, he breathed out a moan, excited when Jared grabbed the collar of his shirt and smoothly ran his hands over Jensen's chest. The kiss itself was just the right amount of hot and sweet. They slotted together with only a slight bump of their noses. Midway through, Jensen felt Jared grin.

"I'm gonna want to kiss you again, Jen," Jared had whispered, his eyes on Jensen's lips. "And I dunno if I'll be able to stop." Like some teenager, Jensen didn't answer; he kept kissing back, over and over again, until they pressed their hips together and started grinding.

The sound of a car honking had interrupted them.

God damn car.

But it had stopped them from dry humping any longer outside Jensen's town house. Licking his lips, Jared shot him a wicked smirk. Jensen responded by forming an O with his mouth, huffing out air, trying to get his heart rate down. His hair was a mess and his lips felt a little bruised, but it was all electric.

Scrapping another sheet of paper, Jensen sighs.

He had said goodnight to the actor, expecting never to see or hear from him outside of work again. After all, it had only been one date and what if Jensen ruined their chances by not putting out? What else could possibly have convinced Jared to call him again? What if it’s going to be terribly awkward at work from now on because of this?

Jensen finds himself staring longingly at his own sketch of Jared. Yeah, he has it bad.

Tapping his pencil on the sketch pad, he wonders what even made Jared ask him out in the first place. Animators make lousy dates; they're always late, covered in pencil lead, and perfectionists at heart. He would rather die at gun point than submit a sloppy storyboard or never be allowed to draw again.

At this thought, he wills himself to quit being a lovesick teenager and get back to work. His team is counting on him and he only has half of today’s board done. He's submitting a general profile of Jared's character today, with detailed drawings of every expression and range of emotion. It's extensive and repetitive work but he is the lead animator; all the others will take their cues from him. This is the promotion he wanted.

Just as his pencil point touches the paper, his phone goes off. Against his better judgment he answers.

"Did I wait long enough to call you without being a complete creeper?"

"Just about," Jensen replies, trying to hide his near maniacal smile. "What're you calling for?"

The answer given is exactly what he wants to hear.

"Second date, Jen. When and where?"

Chapter Text

Sketching Jared is fun. Jensen enjoys it and he hopes that comes through in his designs. 

Jared visits him at the studio and sits for him from four to six in the afternoon, a week after their first date. The storyboard presentation went well, with the suits liking the feel of his "direction with the character." What that means, as Jensen knows, is that they feel this is a project worth throwing their money at. He's fine with that, as long as he gets to keep his job. 

He's met with the lead animator from Jared's costar, the heroine of the movie and the unlikely princess of the subways of New York. The entire animation department will take a week to be on set for inspiration. It's always a chaotic trip when teams travel to the set that inspires the movie, but Jensen likes New York City. There’s a lot to do and get down onto paper in a week, but Jensen has a good team. They need to work on Jared's character's outfit a little more, that was the only critique so far. They'll work on it from whatever inspiration they take from the subways and streets of New York.

At this point, the designs between Jensen and Mike match up. Their main job this week is to produce a one minute clip of their characters standing, running, and moving around. They will present this to the interns and the rest of the animation team for this movie so everyone else can get started. Mike is working off picture references; Jensen has the real deal sitting in front of him, posing without laughing too much.

"You look so serious when you draw," Jared teases as he stands in a running position. Jensen has his favorite sketchbook of the moment out and is drawing in blue pencil so he can scan easier. 

"This is serious work, Mr. Padalecki. Work of a sensitive nature, of the utmost importance."

"You're full of shit," the actor cackles, breaking his pose. "You always wanted to do this?"

Jensen doesn't look up from sketching to reply. It's a quality that has annoyed many an ex. "More or less. My parents took me on a tour of the studio when I was ten and I was hooked." Jensen doesn't have a fancy office, but his cubicle is a little bigger than most people's since he is lead animator of a project in progress. It's still not big enough to fit both him and Jared, who towers over everything. More than once, Jensen looks up and sees Jared watching him, studying appreciatively. 

"I can't draw more than stick people," Jared admits and sits down. He's wearing casual clothes since he's off today. "And even them I struggle with. How'd you get so fast?"

This is a question Jensen is frequently asked by people not in the business who see him draw. Usually, he blows off the question with a simple, “Practice makes perfect.” With Jared, as he's finishing the last of the frames he needs, he says his actual piece. He works on perfecting Jared's nose to one movement of his pencil as he explains the difficulty of art school, interning, and being a grunt animator. For a long time Jensen's credits on films weren't big enough for an on screen mention. But he got faster and he started to take on anything he could get, even if it was background work. He can draw anything because he has to but his specialty is people. 

"Your fucking nose," he growls at the sketch pad and Jared. "Everything else I got down, even your hippie hair."

Jared laughs, loud and clear, showing the dimples Jensen is fond of drawing. "Dude, don't chop it off! I make money with this hair and my nose, thank you very much!"

Jensen draws a stick figure of Jared and draws an X over where his nose would be, sticking out his tongue as he holds it up for Jared to see. 

"Jen! Aww c'mon, my giant nose is part of my charm! Makes me distinguished and handsome."

"Makes you goofy and irritating."

"And adorable as hell," Jared says with a cheeky smile. He sits on the edge of Jensen's desk, careful not to mess up anything Jensen has on there. "Maybe you need to get to know my nose."

It's Jensen's turn to laugh. "Get to... Are you drunk?"

"Nope," Jared replies, his eyes bright. "But I wanna be by the end of tonight, after I take you out for dinner and a bottle of red." The promise of another date makes Jensen feel energized, even though his right hand is achy and he's been sitting all day. They're going to a low key steakhouse, one of Jensen's favorites, and back to Jared's place for a movie and fooling around. He feels like a teenager.

Jared leans forward and kisses him. He makes a soft noise in response, but he sighs when Jared takes his right hand in between his own and starts massaging. 

That's when Jensen knows he has to careful with this one.

Chapter Text

Jensen figures out the right motion to draw Jared's nose in a way that can and will be replicated thousands of times over. 

The problem is, he figures it out during dinner, on a napkin. 

His somewhat obsessive need to draw when the moment catches him has ended relationships. Looking back on it, Jensen supposes that he shouldn't have been drawing right after sex with his most recent ex, but there was a line in his back that needed to be put down on paper. His ex hadn't been very sympathetic and hadn't even stayed still long enough for Jensen to finish drawing.

As an animator, Jensen carries around a small sketch pad and pen. His pockets usually contain cinnamon gum and scrap pieces of paper with half formed drawings or ideas for scenes. The state of his pockets is worse lately because he draws Jared constantly. The worst thing is, is that he can't say it's all for work either.

"Sorry," Jensen laughs nervously and looks up from his napkin. They're waiting for their food. He puts down his pen and taps it, his anxiety building. 

He doesn't expect a dimpled smile and a long pour of wine into his glass by an expert hand. "You're fine, Jen. I think you got my nose right."

"Well," Jensen says, taking a risk. "Not really. I still have to add the boils and warts. I was being polite since we're about to eat."

Jared scrunches his nose and his eyes cross as he tries to look at it. Jensen almost spits wine. He would have spit it out, if he didn't know the bottle is a seventy dollar selection. Eventually, however, Jared ends up laughing too, which gets them throwing pieces of napkins at each other like teenagers until the food arrives. Also like teenagers, their table goes silent as they dig in, each of them moaning at the quality of their steaks. When they're halfway through their meal, Jared tells a story about how when he first got to Hollywood. He would mash up ground beef in the shape of steaks and pretend he was a big shot movie star eating fifty dollar cuts of meat.

"Guess you made it," Jensen says happily. "Mr. Big Shot Movie Star." This makes Jared blush, which is cute and charming. Jensen can't believe he's just used the word cute.

"I'm not... You know... I don't eat like this all the time."

"No? There isn't a porterhouse for you every night?"

"Just when I'm trying to impress handsome blondes."

"Mmm," Jensen murmurs, leaning back in his chair, spreading out. "Like Taylor Swift?" He starts doodling again because Jared's hair is falling in a way that deserves recognition. Jared watches Jensen draw like one of the kids who come in on tours; the way Jensen must have looked when he was ten. 

"No, douchebag," Jared quips and leans forward, across the table. "Like you."

Jensen can't help but smirk. He likes the fight Jared puts up. It makes things interesting. "I'm not blond, Jared, sorry to tell you. My beard grows in red."

Grinning, Jared stays still in his seat so Jensen can finish, well, except to kick Jensen's leg. "Don't draw warts on me, Jen," Jared pouts. "You look plenty blond to me."

"I was super blond as kid," he explains as he shades his drawing. "Got darker the older I got. Besides, you have highlights. Don't think I didn't notice."

Their plates are taken away and Jared lowers his voice. What he says and how he says it makes Jensen put down his pen.

"I'm gonna keep you so busy and wound up, Jen, you won't have time to notice my hair."

Chapter Text

In an industry where he meets celebrities on a somewhat regular basis, Jensen is accustomed to paparazzi and most of the things that come with being famous. Animators don't garner enough attention to be considered famous, but Jensen has been around long enough that he gets the occasional email from a young person seeking advice about the business and where they should go to school and what it's like working for Pixar.

Although it's tough work and the company still has its own suits and business people it reports to, Jensen knows he's very fortunate; especially since he's not a computer animator. It's a point of extremely good fortune that Pixar keeps a small group of traditional animators on staff to collaborate with the computer people, as Jensen calls them. His skills go as far as being able to draw on the fancy tablet provided to him, but he doesn't know or care to know how to render things into 3D or use Maya. He does help out here and there, in addition to his job, but he's very glad for this movie. It's a testament to old school animation and this time it's the 3D animators who are calling for help and opinions. Pixar hired an entire team of contracted old-school animators to work on the picture, and Jensen likes the ones who have been assigned to his character. He'll be sad to see some of them go when it's all done. Some are better at working in teams than others; animators are solitary creatures by nature. But Jensen finds it easier to get people to work together than it is to draw long hair five hundred times in a row just to make three seconds of film. Although he's attentive to every detail—particularly concerning Jared's hair—he pushes his animators through fairly and politely. 

He never forgets to say please or thank you, even if he's technically their boss. Jensen has never had completely shitty supervisors at Pixar—people like that don’t last long here—but he has had exceptional ones and he knows from experience that a thank you goes a long way. Their hard work gets their team well ahead of production schedule. Jensen tinkers around on a short. It's only ten seconds long and takes almost two hundred frames, but it's worth it. With a few swipes of his tablet pen, it's done, but he leaves it for the end of the day.

At noon, he wanders from his desk to the cereal bar. He gets a bowl of Lucky Charms and a cup of coffee. There's a tour going on right now, with kids waving at him and his coworkers as they sit in a plush seating area. Jensen nods and waves back, then loses himself in his break time. 

Jared wears spicy cologne and giant wristwatches. His wide, generous mouth makes for deep, breath taking kisses. Jensen sighs. They had a good time the night before, and spent most of their after dinner time making out and grinding against each other on a couch somewhere in Jared's apartment. Jensen didn't see much of the inside but he bets it's a nice place. 

He didn't mean to spend the night. He really, really didn't. 

No one at work comments on his wrinkled clothes or stubbly face because that's not out of place for them. If he came in with a pressed suit and his hair slicked back, then there would be serious questions about his sanity. And besides, it's not like anything momentous or earthshaking happened on the couch. In fact, they spent some of it towards the end having a very awkward conversation about who would sleep where overnight. Jensen was completely fine with a couch in the living room and expected no more. After all, he was an art school graduate; he could sleep on newspaper and find it comfortable.

After some debate, Jensen slept in a guest room for the night, which was kind and gentlemanly of Jared. 

But that wasn’t even the most awkward part of the evening. The momentous moment came when Jared was trying to find a spare toothbrush for Jensen and instead, knocked over a box of condoms. Turns out, Jensen reminisces and sighs into his cereal, that they're both used to bottoming.

It's not a complete deal breaker because neither of them is that ridiculous but it does pose a challenge. It's complicated to picture having sex in a different way, but Jensen rolls the idea around his in mind. He feels guilty for having these thoughts at work, but he spreads out in the bright red lounge he has claimed for himself and tries to relax. The hustle and bustle of the building is familiar to him now. After ten minutes of failed relaxation time, he gets up, places his bowl and mug in the wash corral, and heads to the gym.

Four hours later, after his run, two meetings, and a quick slice of pizza, Jensen receives a text. 

"My place tonight? You can draw my nose!" it reads, and Jensen can almost hear Jared's voice.

He replies that he's had enough of drawing Jared's nose but he will come over anyway. He offers to pick up Thai food around the corner and asks for Jared's address again. It's a temporary apartment that Jared has rented while he works on shoots, voice acting for the Pixar movie, and a few other things in the Bay Area. He is conveniently close for now. The thought of what will happen later, after this movie, is one that Jensen puts off thinking about.

An hour later, Jensen places the order for dinner online before heading out and meets with a few interns.

Before he abandons his desk, he emails the short to Jared. It's drawn in a very simplistic, childlike style that Jensen is fond of because it looks like anyone could have drawn it. He doesn't feel pressured to make something extravagant, like he has to prove a point about himself or his skills, and it's still fun to draw. There is a sense of comfort in knowing that whatever Jensen will draw, Jared will enjoy it; the same could not be said for a few people in Jensen’s past.

The short is comprised of ten seconds of an animated Jensen walking up to and pinching animated Jared's nose. With simple lines and no color, it moves smoothly.

Above and below their animated selves are the words: Date me?

He's serious about this. He's serious about a man who doesn't mind him drawing at the table, greets him with a smile every time, and says goodnight to him while they stand in the doorway like they're eight year olds.

Jensen's not a stranger to celebrity. But he is a stranger to this—the squeeze in his chest, the hope that an incoming call or text is from Jared, and the constant memories of hushed sighs and drawn out kisses.

Ten seconds and two hundred frames... 


They'll figure something out.

Chapter Text

He has to Google it.

It's part of his nature; when he hasn’t known how to do something, Google has always been there for him. This seems like a Google worthy topic to him. The first few searches come up with porn or advice for straight people. Jensen swipes though the list, and eventually reworks his keywords.

Finally, a site dedicated to gay sex advice yields a list of tips. It all seems simple enough. This isn’t quantum physics. How to bring up the topic?

Wondering about the mechanics of topping during gay sex, he picks up dinner and heads over to Jared’s apartment. He finds himself waiting in the upscale lobby. Morning was a blur of getting ready for work and showing up on time for his meeting with the interns, so he didn't have much time to notice the complex. There's a doorman and BMWs outside, parked cozy and neat. Jensen is fortunate enough to live in a nice neighborhood, and to rent a town home with no roommate, but damn. He holds onto dinner while the doorman informs him that Mr. P has yet to arrive home and would he mind waiting in the lobby? Jensen just nods, feeling a little slow.

The paintings that decorate the lobby are all from local artists. He sees and admires one he knows, which is of a hilltop landscape. It's a seemingly serene hillside, done in soft, blurry pastels. At the edge though, which is Jensen's favorite detail, the paint gets choppier in texture, filled with lumps and cross hatches and careful chaos. A storm and a flash of lightning are no bigger than his thumb in a 18x24 piece but it makes all the difference. Animation is his game, which gives him experience with pencils, markers, and a few other mediums—but paint is completely beyond him.

"I like that one too."

Jensen flinches, gripping onto the bag of food. He turns and sees Jared, looking smug and ridiculously attractive with an equally ridiculous looking scarf. "How does someone your size manage to sneak up on people?" Jensen growls and shoves the bag at Jared, who takes it and peeks inside.

"Oooh I've wanted to try this place. Hey, I got mad skills. Mad sneaking up skills, son! Totally rad mucho awesome..."

"Can I pay you to stop talking?!"

"Nope!" Jared says brightly and leads them into an elevator, which is every bit as fancy as the lobby. "Besides," he continues once they're inside, knocking their shoulders together, "yoooou liiiiiiike meeeeee."

Jensen snorts and shoves Jared away. "No. You must be fucking mistaken."

Smirking and dimples flashing, Jared fishes out an egg roll. "Yooooou wannaaaa daaaaaate meeeeee."

He's about to smack the egg roll out of Jared's mouth. "I was delirious when I drew that. And drunk when I sent it."

They arrive at Jared's floor and Jensen remembers more of it. The apartment itself is tastefully done, very masculine, very sleek. But there are still signs of life around; Jared tosses his keys and wallet on the counter, and disappears with the food into the kitchen while still being annoying. Overall, it looks like a regular apartment, Jensen thinks as he sits down on the make out couch, even with the small display of awards on the fireplace mantle.

"You want a drink or drink drink?" Jared hollers from the kitchen. "I got beer, hard lemonade, wine, and three kinds of whiskey."

"Anything that won't kill my liver?"

"Okay, okay. Tea? Every Texan drinks sweet tea Jen. That's a fact."

"Tea is fine," he replies and spreads out on the couch. "How was your day?"

The question is simple but Jared takes it to another level as he serves dinner, pouring himself a glass of red wine. He launches into a story about the makeup artist on the photo set finally getting revenge on his costar by giving her a poodle hair style. The previous offense seemed to be worthy of a hairstyle that wouldn’t go away in a few washes. "Her hair was bigger than a football," Jared snickers as he digs into his plate. "Just as hard too. I think she used three cans of hairspray."

Jensen laughs, commenting that unless Jared has pictures, it didn’t happen. With an elbow to Jensen’s middle, they settle in. Jared asks him about his day and Jensen sighs that his was not nearly as interesting. He rants about his meetings and a portfolio review coming up, but Jared is interested nonetheless. It doesn't take them long to work through four containers of food and two appetizers. Jensen caves in and ends up stealing Jared's glass of wine, which they end up refilling and sharing as Jared turns on the television.

Sitting there with Jared's arm around his shoulder, Jensen wonders if this is okay. Shouldn't they be out? At a club maybe? Seeing and being seen? This is not a whole lot different from what Jansen does by himself after work and it worries him. Is he boring?

"Wanna make an apple pie?"

"Huh?"

The television turns off after only a few minutes of being on. Jared leans forward in his seat on the couch. "I bought stuff to make apple pie. You know how?" Jensen shakes his head. Jared pats his knee and gets up. "Ain't hard, I'll show you." He helps Jensen up and they wander to the expansive kitchen. "I'll even cut dough into letters and give you my reply to your kick ass drawing," he adds with a smile that promises something devious later.

The ingredients to make apple pie are already spread out and a recipe from a little deck of recipe cards sits out. Somehow Jensen found a man who, on a Friday night, is content to drink wine and bake a pie.

The entire Bay Area is out there.

But they're here.

And Jared is peeling apples.

Chapter Text

The only way Jensen can describe this is by referring to drawing. Most of the major things in his life he has compared to drawing.

This is new.

At the start, he would use a light pencil, like the way he touches Jared now—soft, cautious, explorative. He would be sketching outlines along broad shoulders and a narrow waist, and the dimples that frame a crooked smile. His hands touch and are touched; they're taken by hands very different from his own and massaged for a moment, in a way that relaxes Jensen everywhere else. He breathes a little easier and reaches out a little more. Mapping out the foundation and the arches of what will become central focal points, his hands are quick, but he slows down to appreciate and savor what his movements. He memorizes lines that intrigue him; saves lines he wants to save for later, every place he wants to fill in.

When he's pressed into Jared's bed—on dark gray sheets and sweet smelling down—he switches to a heavier lead. His movements are less tentative; he is drawing now, not sketching. His lines are confident and quick because he enjoys this. Not just the act of it as they roll around, discovering and feeling, but the person he is with. He likes the bump of their noses, the press of their fingers when their hands are laced, and the laugh he receives when he tells Jared in a whisper, "I Googled this."

It's something new but familiar. He knows what he likes and as he puts away the eraser, he finds out some of what Jared likes. Other instruments are added to the effort—a condom and lube and the slow twist of his fingers extended inside. There's so much more to get to know. There is more that he wants to ask about, more that he wants to bring up at dinner or in texts throughout the day. More that he wants to draw.

There's a set of inking pens from art school—an expensive set he only uses on special personal projects that stay in his room—and with confidence, he pulls those out. He changes to a brush pen and sweeps across tanned and muscled paper, across miles of tender skin. He would use a smaller tipped pen for the moles he discovers and bites. He'd crosshatch the darker dips of hair that trail from Jared's stomach downwards. These inked lines seem frail when he starts but he thickens them, enhancing the direction of light, angling it to lead the viewer's eye to what Jensen can't get enough of: that smile.

They talk in small whispers, their voices low even though it's just them. Jared tells him—as they're face to face—what feels good and what might feel better. The end is near and he’s erasing pencil. His hands pound on the paper, pushing away the eraser shavings and uncovering the final product. A few dabs of a brush here and there, accentuating, highlighting, and bringing together artist and muse. Of course, being who he is, there are a million things Jensen might change about himself or do better next time. He focuses on smaller details as imperfections he created. He's an animator. This is how his head works and he has long since accepted it. But he leans back before the final touches, before the one, two, three last memorable strokes and dashes of his pen. Their fingers lace together.

It's not perfect. But it is worth framing.

He lets go and they press against each other.

It's flowery; not his typical style at all. He knows his head sounds like a romance novel. But there are wistful eyes and strong arms that catch him when he falls forward, sated and happy. This would deserve a simple, yet elegant frame. Maybe to hang near his bed. That's how he describes it in his head, and then to Jared after, as their time together turns to being either late at night or early in the morning.

Jared kisses his hands.

"I'm so glad," Jared breathes into Jensen's palm, "that I met you."

In turn, Jensen shuts off the light and makes sure they're covered. The details of clean up can wait. They settle in differently than before. He can’t describe how it differs but it does, and in an important way. There will be pie for breakfast.

"I'm so glad you met me too."

Chapter Text

The next morning is not awkward at all. Okay, well, it's a tiny bit awkward when Jensen is given a good morning kiss and they both have morning breath. But that turns from awkward to somewhat fun as they end up wrestling and rolling around in Jared's giant bed. For an hour, they lay around, lazy and uncaring, touching for the sake of touching. There is no rush and no pressure; only unhurried closeness and warmth.

With all of San Francisco at their disposal, it is eventually decided that they need to get up and shower. As they're getting ready to leave the apartment, Jared announces that Jensen is his honorary tour guide.

"Tour? Like to where tourists go?" Jensen asks, slipping on his boots. 

"Yeah, what?" Jared stands opposite of him, ready to go despite taking forever in the shower and then after to dry his hair. "You too good to wander where the tourists go? Don't wanna show me the Painted Ladies?"

"Your first landmark is the Painted Ladies?" 

"Don't judge me," Jared huffs with a smile. "This is my fuckin' house. Safe space!"

Bickering back and forth about where to start and why Jared seems so fixated on Victorian architecture, they make their way down to the lobby and out of the building. Jensen isn't as familiar with this neighborhood, but he did have breakfast once on an ill-fated first date with a guy from marketing who left to work for Dreamworks. He's a little hesitant to take Jared there--superstitious, okay, he doesn't want to jinx this--but it's the only place he knows within walking distance and it has something he knows Jared will enjoy.

"A model train!" 

Jared keeps twisting around in his booth seat every time the train passes by. Sometimes it chugs along with English muffins on the caboose, and other times it's carrying butter. Once, when their food arrives, it stops at their table with Jared's order of homemade strawberry jelly. Jensen likens the look on Jared's face to the look most people get when they see great works of art. It's not the Mona Lisa that awes Jared; it's a bright red model train that delivers condiments to every table.

During breakfast and over a few distracted moments when the train passes around, they learn more about each other. Their conversation is steady and pleasant, with comfortable silences filling in the spaces when they're not talking. 

Sadly, they must leave, but not before Jared asks their server to take a picture of them with the train. Jared slings his arm around Jensen’s shoulder and pulls them close, as if they’ve known each other forever. Just as people start to notice Jared, they slip out. Jared is difficult to miss in any room, but his outfit today is simple—just jeans and a light blue v-neck shirt. He looks like the typical guy next door, until you really start to look at him. There's no way anyone gets to be that good looking. Jensen takes in long glances at him, noticing details, taking Jared's movements, motions, and mannerisms apart and piecing them back together. This is useful for work—his drawings will flow better, appear more natural and true to the subject—but Jensen finds himself enjoying the view for enjoyment’s sake. What’s even better, is that he will catch Jared doing the same. Gladly, he does not mind.

As they wander the block near the breakfast place, Jensen Googles touristy things to do across the Bay. 

Jared leans in. Their shoulders bump. "Do you Google everything?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because."

"Because why?"

"...hold on."

"What?"

"I'm Googling how to deal with annoying, giant five year olds."

An hour later, by way of a cab that Jared pays for, they arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge. Jensen has only been here once before and he didn't see the big deal then. Jared, however, makes viewing it a lot more fun. Making sweeping gestures with his hands, they walk as close as they can, and Jared outlines the history of it. It's his first time seeing it in person, but he knows all about it. He has an enthusiasm that’s nothing short of infectious.

"Wanna cross it?" Jared asks, his eyes lighting up. 

Jensen peers over at the walkway on the bridge. His own reply surprises him. "Sure."

They bump shoulders again when they're on the bridge, but this time, Jared holds out his hand. Confused, Jensen looks at the offered hand. As an incentive, Jared wiggles his fingers. "I got my cootie shot, I promise," the actor teases, pink tongue peeking from his smile. "Unless you don't do this kind of thing? Maybe?"

"Do you ever stop talking?" Jensen takes Jared's hand. 

"Nope!” In this instant, Jared’s world is perfect. It says so in his smile, in his walk, and the lilt of his voice. “So, guess how many cars pass through on an average day..."

Jensen doesn’t let go for a long time after.

Chapter Text

Every so often, when he’s out and about, Jared will get recognized. It's not a hassle, most fans are pretty calm and Jared is very patient and appreciative of their support. When Jensen is with, Jared is a little more hesitant but Jensen always offers to take the requested photo for the fan. He will even provide them with a scrap of paper from the tiny sketchbook he carries in his back pocket, so they can have an autograph. Presently, by the tenth person on the Bridge that stops them, Jensen remarks that Jared should start charging. 

Apologetically, Jared murmurs, "I'll buy you another sketchbook.” After the eleventh autograph, he adds, "And another pen. I promise. Or do you want your own autograph and picture set?" Jared leans in and presses a small but exciting kiss to Jensen's neck. "There are many benefits to dating me you know." The kiss is a promise of something later. Jensen stops walking and steps aside, out of other people’s way. He looks towards Jared and then at the view around them. He wants to draw something but he doesn't know what. It would be work related since this looks like a neat scene to add in—except it’d be the Brooklyn Bridge—but he can reference it later. Dimples make him refocus.

"No, I don't know," Jensen replies, trying to hide his smile. "Can't think of any."

Jared laughs and starts swinging their hands. They've reached as far as they want on the Bridge, far enough to satisfy their tour. Making their way back, Jared keeps them close. Jensen wonders what their body language says to other people. Do they automatically assume that Jared’s height means he tops? Do they see his careful attention to Jensen’s needs as more masculine? Once again, dimples and a squeeze of their hands draw Jensen back. "Well!” Jared sighs, smiling goofily. “Let me enlighten you, sir! First, I'm gorgeous. Second, I'm incredibly talented. Third, I..."

By the time they flag down another cab, there are twenty two reasons why dating Jared is beneficial. Jensen shuts him up with a kiss in the backseat. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about them; ninety percent of what they think won’t be right. He relaxes and places his left hand above Jared’s right knee.

Their next stop is incredibly busy because of the weekend. Pier 39 is a classic San Francisco tourist trap. It’s a pier built specifically for tourists to browse through shops and drink overpriced, locally brewed beer. Of course, at the sight of it, Jared picks out three shops he wants to go in. He flips on his sunglasses and careens towards them, while Jensen uses him as a body shield to navigate the sea of tourists and fanny packs. "At least there's no way I'll ever lose you in a crowd," Jensen quips as they stop in their first desired location. "You're too tall to lose."

"Yet another benefit of dating me," Jared responds cheerfully.

"Why did you feel the need to tell me the thousands of reasons why I should date you? Beyond being epically annoying. Was it some kind of test?" They're in a candy shop, which Jensen has been in once before. Switching, he leads Jared, searching for something in particular. Barrels of candy are set out all around the store, with colorful displays and bins of assorted things that can be purchased by the pound.

Following closely, but getting distracted along the way by the variety of candy, Jared bumps into Jensen when they stop. Jensen turns around, curious when he doesn’t receive an immediate sarcastic remark. Their eyes meet. Oh. A mental note is made about the way Jared’s eyes look when he’s serious.

"I said it…” Jared breathes, placing his right hand on the center of Jensen’s chest. He prefers to always be touching Jensen. “…so maybe you'll be convinced to date me a long time after just this weekend."

A deep blush spreads from Jensen's ears to his nose. The push of the crowd around them forces them to keep moving. Eventually, Jensen finds what he's looking for: a pack of bubblegum cigarettes. Jared buys two packs, one for each of them, and what looks like a five pound bag of gummi alphabet letters. No one in the candy store recognizes Jared, which Jensen is selfishly thankful for. Once they manage to wrangle their way back outside, Jared doles out the packs and pretends to light up his cigarette by taking a long drag of it. He passes it to Jensen and lights another for himself.

"I smoke a pack day," Jared announces, tucking the pack into his back pocket. "Can you live with that?"

Jensen pretends to blow smoke in Jared's face, poking Jared’s cheek with the tip of it. He can be obnoxious too, he proves, not stopping until Jared swats him away, laughing and biting at him. Their next stop is Alcatraz, since it’s near, and after that it's the famous Painted Ladies. Somewhere in there they'll eat lunch.

Swiping Jared's cigarette and eating it for himself, Jensen smirks and nods.

"Yeah, think I can live with that. For a lot longer than this weekend."

Chapter Text

Monday morning at eight, Jensen is not rolling out of his bed.

He's prying himself out of Jared's.

"Staaaaay," Jared whines, his arms wrapped around Jensen's waist. "Please? I'll make you more pie."

The mention of pie is tempting, but it's not enough to risk delay on the storyboards. He revised his initial plans and ended up staying over at Jared's the entire weekend. Not that it wasn't fun—he learned new, exciting things about topping—but Monday means work. And work means peeling Jared off of him so he can make his way to the bathroom and get ready. This is easier said than done. Jared is a formidable foe and a terrible influence.

                                                                                       

An hour late to work, Jensen skids into work. Temptation was strong and Jensen has found out that he is weak to the promise of pie. Of course, pie really meant being blown in the shower, manhandled by insistent and skilled hands. The shower in Jared’s temporary apartment is spacious—a good thing when they’re sharing it and a bad thing when Jared is in a mood. Being late means having to skip breakfast. Luckily, the cereal bar is open and Jensen snags a bowl of Frosted Flakes before settling in at his desk. Jared drove him and he'll be back at six, with dinner. There’s promise of pie later, but Jensen isn’t sure if that means the actual dessert or a codename for sex. Either way, he is willing to adapt.

As he prepares his desk for the morning, Jensen begins to worry that he might be spending too much time with Jared. Little by little, the thoughts march in like god awful pink elephants. They’ve spent all weekend together, and Jared already wants him back for dinner tonight. Jensen’s excitement over the evening crumbles into paranoid worry. More time together means Jared will find out all of Jensen’s numerous flaws faster—which means he'll get on with his movie star life and forget about Jensen, the guy whose name only shows up on the screen after the movie ends, in tiny print that shows up when everyone has already left. People are familiar with Jensen’s work like they are with Jared’s, but the difference between them is obvious.

What the hell? Since when is he so ridiculously insecure? They had a great time over the weekend. And Jared is not free of his own flaws either, regardless of where his name is on screen or what zip code his house is in. He leaves clothes everywhere like a six foot five snake, and he doesn't brush his teeth first thing in the morning, and after his morning (ugh, morning) jog he is sweaty and cuddly. To top it off, Jared is a morning person; the thought of waking up at eight a.m. for anything—both versions of pie included—cause Jensen to shudder in horror.

His phone rings and works to snap him out of his anxiety. It's an intern asking about the frame speed for their presentation two days from now, and someone else has a question about location. Breakfast becomes on-the-go and he eats in the intern offices, which is no less nicely furnished than any other place in Pixar. Soon enough, Jensen is stuffing his face with soggy cereal and internally cursing Jared's long hair, which is causing more than a few interns grief. Taking it from the top, he does a mini walk through, showing the group his preferred method of drawing longer hair in just five strokes. It's something he learned in art school because he practiced until he thought he might strangle the next person he saw with hair longer than their ears.

After that, he moves onto the scenery and background considerations that they all need to keep in mind. Jared's character will be roaming the subways and New York streets like waves; the scenery department wants it like a modern jungle, reminiscent of the work done on Tarzan by Disney. To get the kind of motion needed to meld scenery and character together they'll have to perfect Jared's motions, which means they'll need a better understanding of his body. It's a problem that can be solved in two steps: bringing Jared in and doing a live session, and having a separate workshop on anatomy in movement. Jensen makes a quick note of these things. Afterwards, he texts Jared that his handsome physique will be required at Pixar.

As soon as the interns are calmed, Jensen moves onto a meeting with the rest of his team. These are solid animators with years of experience, so their meeting is a little more cut and dry. By three, after lunch, they're on good progress with the boards and pre-production. Mike's team is about at the same point, which has Jensen feeling confident about this promotion. If he can do as well as a senior animator and previous team-lead, then he must not be doing a shit job of things.

At the moment, everyone is working on transitioning from pre-production to production. In the next few weeks, more artists and interns will be added to the project. The core team is so far doing exceptionally well, and Jensen knows he's lucky. Mike scared him with horror stories of pre-pro teams he was part of early in his career, all of which made him sound like a glorified babysitter to a team of diva animators. Although some of the interns Jensen is in charge of are more skittish than others, so far none of them have proven less than Pixar material. Following protocol, Jensen has booked meetings with Mike, the director, and producers to make sure everyone is on task and style. If everyone can hold it together, they might actually stay on schedule. Pre-pro determines how actual production will run. This movie will take about a year to finish, fast for a Pixar film, and he'll be able to balance this project with some side work for the studio's next release, slated to go into production a year and a half from now. All of this rolls around in his mind while he's answering emails, sending out sketches, and fielding questions from interns. Before he knows it, it's nearly five. At five thirty, he receives a text.

"Window or aisle?"

He sends out two emails before he answers, his hands slow at texting from drawing for the last hour. "Window, always. Or I get fussy."

Instantly, because Jared is a speed reader and typer, a reply pings through. "You? Fussy? Can't imagine."

Jensen snorts. He submits his completed projects to his boss and asks the few questions the interns had about their location trip. Before he sends the email, he briefly wonders whether he should disclose his relationship with Jared. Does it even matter, though? What's he going to do? Draw Jared better now that they're dating? Accent his ass?

It's only Monday. He has plenty of time to worry about that later. Besides, the two of them are technically only in pre-pro. Right now, he needs to worry about the time he's spending with Jared, who is coming over to his place tonight.

Does he have clean sheets? Shit. Never mind about the sheets—does he even have anything in the fridge? Jared is bringing dinner but how sad will it be for him to open up the fridge and find a questionable container of old takeout and a bottle of mustard?

And does he have condoms? Double shit.

At six, Jensen is lugging his portfolio and briefcase out the door. He has some sketches he'd like to finish tonight to prep for a few meetings tomorrow. Is that alright though? Can he work while they're hanging out? What if Jared is turned off by workaholics and perfectionists? If he is, what’s he dating an animator for?

"Jen!"

Jensen stops cold. He has walked clear past Jared's waiting car. Of course, he has noticed little else around him. Jared has pulled the car forward a little to keep up with Jensen.

"Little preoccupied?" Jared asks with a laugh. "You looked so serious. Everything okay? You didn't maim an intern, did you?"

"Even if I did," he replies, tossing his things into Jared's rental car, "I wouldn't tell you."

There's another smile. Will Jensen ever stop noticing it? He climbs into the front seat and tries to keep his hands to himself. It strikes him that for all he does know about Jared, he doesn't know everything. What kind of relationship is he looking for? Are they U-Hauling it now only to regret it later? "Hey, uh, you don't think..." he starts to say, but is interrupted by Jared's cell phone ringing. Jared apologizes and answers it, the car in park. He's done in two minutes, but all the while Jensen fidgets. Once they pull out onto the street, Jared announces that he has a shoot booked tomorrow across the Bay. "Maybe you can join me for breakfast?" Jared asks, driving towards Jensen's neighborhood. He's a good driver but he gets way closer to cars than Jensen ever would. Despite this, Jensen gets distracted by Jared's hands on the steering wheel, thinking about what those hands are capable of.

Focus. "Uh, yeah I think so." He doesn't have a meeting until eleven and he can file their breakfast as work. Research time for his character; he is the lead animator. This will also give him a chance to ask if he can make room in his schedule to come in for the interns. Voice acting will only take two months at most. But what after that? How will their paths meet?

Jared seems unaffected by any of these looming concerns. He's in a good mood, Jensen can tell.

"Great!" Jared says, with a broad smile. "Do you mind if I crash at your place then? Hey, my brother said there are some pretty sweet golf courses not too far from here, you think..."

"Are we going too fast?" Jensen blurts out, completely interrupting Jared, who has already driven up to Jensen's town home without any directions. His sense of location impressed Jensen the day before when they momentarily got lost in San Jose.

There's a short moment of silence before Jared says something.

He's honest as he tells Jensen, "I thought that too. And I also thought maybe I should pull back for a while. You know, too much of a good thing?" Nervous, Jared runs a hand through his hair. Jensen will have to remember that tic. "But then I thought a little more about it and I was like what's so bad about spending time with you? Isn't it a good thing that I wanna see you? But...heh...guess it's only a good thing if you wanna see me that much too."

"I do," Jensen says before there can be another long moment of silence. "This is just..."

"Sudden!"

"Yeah," he laughs in response. "And I'm no good in front of a camera."

Jared leans in and presses a kiss to Jensen's cheek. "And I'm no good behind one. Guess we're a matching set." He takes Jensen's briefcase and climbs out of the car. When Jensen gets out with his portfolio, he asks Jared, "Window or aisle?"

Reminded of this, Jared just gives him a mischievous smile; the question remains a mystery.

Inside his place, Jensen apologizes for the mess. His town home is spacious for one person, and he keeps it neat, but there are a few things out of place here and there. His sister likes to call his place "the no kid house" because unlike either of his siblings he can have glass and china displayed. Ignoring the antiques, which Jensen staunchly defends as family heirlooms, Jared whistles at a picture of Jensen last year on a beach in Caramel with some friends.

"If we go golfing, will you take your shirt off too?"

"Absolutely not."

"But all the cool kids are doing it!"

"Why did you ask me about a window or aisle? Hey, where's dinner? And get your feet off my coffee table." After flipping through mail and changing into sweats, Jensen settles in, not having been at his place except for two minutes Saturday evening to pick up a change of clothes.

There's laundry and chores to do but the couch Jared is sprawled out on is way too tempting. He grabs a few beers out of his mostly empty fridge and gets his briefcase and portfolio, plus a set of pens. Items in hand, he settles next to Jared, comfortable and at ease. He gauges Jared's reaction carefully, but finds no resentment or annoyance. As he's drawing, Jared watches a game, murmuring a few things about his day and tomorrow's shoot. He likes modeling because it's easy but also hates it for the same reason. Either way, he's grateful for the work. His next movie isn't until fall, a good four months away and he'll be in Los Angeles for that.

"I'm glad," Jensen mumbles, pausing and tapping his pen on the paper. Well, at least Jared will be in the same state. The distance isn’t terrible, but is it worth it?

Jared's hand is relaxed on his shoulder. The entire rest of the large leather couch is available but they press against each other. He looks directly at Jared. "You ever gonna answer my question?"

Jared dodges the demand and takes out his phone, announcing that he's ordering pizza. He lets out an oof when Jensen jabs his elbow into Jared's ribs. It's strange that not terribly long ago Jensen was about to leave that conference room. He thought Jared was going to be typical Hollywood material: stuck up and too self-absorbed to care about anyone but himself.

All day yesterday, on their continued tour of San Francisco, Jared kept not only paying for things, but he asked Jensen every few hours if he was doing alright. Was he enjoying their outing? Was he hungry? Did he want something to drink? Was his coffee made right? Does he like drawing on paper as much as he likes drawing on napkins?

It was naturally like that between them and Jensen didn't mind at all.

When Jensen’s pen ran out of ink, Jared stopped their activities and circled the block until they found a stationary shop. He bought Jensen the pen he's using now.

In turn, Jared never minded when Jensen would start drawing at the table or stop walking so he could either sketch or take a picture for reference later. After each drawing, even just a doodle, Jared would kiss Jensen and murmur, "Jen is so talented, Jared digs his talent."

Thinking about that now causes Jensen to scoot in closer to Jared on the couch. Plastered together, Jared traces circles on Jensen's shoulders. There's a question about whether or not Jared is judging his sweat pants and his not-72" television, but Jared presses a raspberry to his cheek.

Eventually, over deep dish pizza, Jensen wrangles the answer to the window question out of Jared.

This may not work.

It could end.

Everything good has to end, right?

 

"I'm going to New York with you," Jared says, trying to hold back a smile. "That's okay, right? I can cancel..."

Worry can bite his inking pen.

Jensen tosses his sketchbook onto the floor and pulls Jared in.

So they don't know where they're going. So they haven't got an answer for two months from now. So Jensen worries too much and Jared doesn't worry enough.

Whatever time he's got he'll spend it showing Jared how he feels, in ways like this, and on napkins and printer paper and business cards and scrap pieces of paper and whatever else he can and will find.

It will all be in the most animated language.

Chapter Text

Two Months Later:

Jensen and Mike are sent to Los Angeles to have lunch with a suit and his wife. A preliminary Google of the restaurant proved that it's a posh place that probably requires a certain zip code to attain a reservation. As they prepped their storyboards and portfolios, Mike and Jensen slept at the office, filthy and bearded. Occasionally, interns would bring them offerings of pizza and take out, but for the most part it was understood to leave them be. Two days ago Jensen hadn't showered for three days straight; now he's anxiously gripping onto his portfolio as he stands in the waiting area of the restaurant.

His Google of the place is correct. A small peak past the host station reveals a few celebrities and producers. Jensen isn't ambitious this way. Put him in a room full of animators though and let the Texan charm shine. 

Mike clears his throat. "I'm gonna throw up."

"You're not gonna throw up," Jensen firmly assures his coworker. "If you do I swear to god I'll tell everyone at work that you barfed all over the table."

"What if I throw up all over the table?!"

Many of the restaurant's patrons are concerned with seeing and being seen. The two animators are occupied with remembering their own names and revisiting the urge to leave and never look back. They're seated when a host comes up and informs them the rest of their party is running late but will arrive shortly. They are encouraged to order a drink while they wait at a table that affords a view of the whole restaurant. 

No one ever has to tell an animator to think twice before ordering a drink. Despite their nausea, they both get whiskey, clinking their glasses before tossing back. A few minutes later, Jensen's hands are shaking; he pulls out his pocket sized sketchbook and starts doodling. Mike is on lookout but he gets distracted and peeks over.

"I like him when he's angry."

Jensen pauses. "Huh?"

"I mean..." Mike takes a quick swig of whiskey. "His default is happy, yeah? But you... you draw him really well all upset like that. You even get the dimples right."

Before Jensen can respond—shit, is he blushing as bright as he thinks he is?—the suit arrives. The suit's actual name is Dan and he's not that scary, but he's sharply dressed. His wife Denise looks like she just stepped off of Rodeo Drive. The couple banters back and forth about the movie and life in general, with Jensen and Mike trying to be as friendly and positive as possible.

After porterhouse steaks and scotch too old to mention, it’s time for the animators to turn on their charm. Mike is a Midwestern man; combined together their accents and smiles pull together their speech. The storyboards are beautiful and the five minute clip shown on Jensen's iPad goes over well. They delve a little into marketing but that's for the actual marketing team. A production schedule for the next two months is presented, with a few of their team members highlighted for superior work or significant contributions. Jensen brings out what got him the job at Pixar in the first place: his acting. With his portfolio he walks them through the setting of the film, the character, the emotions, the story and heart behind it all. 

He pitches them what's at the center of the film and Pixar itself: the triumph of imagination and the human spirit.


They walk out of the restaurant with their heads held high. No puke on any table.

"You're gold," Mike comments with a proud smile. "They ate you up."

Jensen shrugs but can't help his smile. "Yeah, they really did." Mike offers to buy him a celebratory drink but Jensen politely declines. It's just after three and he's right on time. The two animators part ways with a hug and a cheerful goodbye. It's only Friday, and they have the weekend off, with back to back meetings on Monday. It's the grueling last push of work and the entire studio is buzzing with energy. Six more animators and two interns have joined Jensen's team since New York. One small scuffle with a few burned out interns has been the worst of Jensen's problems. He solved it by a sleepover in the office where they studied Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo, Jensen's favorite Pixar movies. This is the best problem an animation team can have. Of course there were a few minor crises along the way—a couple of fights with lighting and tech and Jensen's computer crashed—but he likes to think that he handled it all with finesse. And a few bottles of wine.

He's walks down the block from the restaurant, lost in his head. A company car brought drove him and Mike here; his bag is in the hotel Pixar sprung for but Jensen only booked for one night.

The only thing familiar on the street is a Starbucks. He ducks into it and is about to line up for a tall iced Americano. His phone goes off and he stays nears the doors.

"So? Hooray-champagne or comfort-beer?"

Jensen smiles wide and leaves, decided not to get in line after all. "Hooray-champagne."

"Woo hoo! Aw, Jen, I knew you'd kill it. How was everything else?"

"Good. Hey, when we go out to eat are we that awful? Like, do I look into your eyes and make kissy faces?"

"Oh shit," Jared laughs, loud and easy. "Well... I hear we're worse, dude, sorry. My brother couldn't stop gagging."

"Well, maybe if Jeff chewed his food instead of inhaling it..."

"Forget about my brother. Where are you?" New York was fun. They ate large slices of cheese pizza and took cabs to tourist packed places. Jared even surprised him with tickets to a Yankees game. Texas two weeks after was even better. Zipping between Richardson and San Antonio, everybody got to meet everybody.

Jensen looks around and names the intersection he's at. Jared gives him directions and Jensen starts walking. He'll go over and they will eventually make their way back to Jensen's hotel room and make proper use of it until checkout.

For now, he's got to get out of his suit and let Jared pour him some champagne. 

They're celebrating more than Jensen's meeting going well.

Jared is moving to San Francisco. 

It took five days, but they scoured and found a Painted Lady that suited Jared's taste for history and architecture. It's painted a light blue on the outside and this week, when Jensen gets off work, they'll be painting the rooms and bathrooms. 

The house is an hour from Jensen's town home. They'll try this out until Jensen's lease is up in six months and go from there. So far Jared has relaxed his schedule and pulled back on a few projects. Jensen hasn't been able to stop working as much because of the movie but that's okay. On the nights they are together they sit in Jensen's living room and eat dinner. Before bed, Jared always takes Jensen's hands and massages the stress of the day out and away.

"Get over here and help me pack," Jared sings. "I’ll pay with my body."

Jensen crosses the street. One more block. As he's saying goodbye he hears a notification on his phone. He hangs up and checks his email. At first it looks like a blank email from Jared. The subject line is a smiley face but there's nothing in the body. Jensen scrolls down and sees an attachment.

Jared's apartment building is in sight. The attachment opens. 

It's a crudely but adorably drawn portrait of them holding hands. Stick figure Jared has messy long hair and stick figure Jensen is holding a pencil. 

Below the figures are a few words: Love you, Jen.


Jensen starts running. In the elevator he draws his response. 

I love you too.