The anticipation that ate at Jensen was the worst churning in his gut that he had ever felt in his life. Even when he was younger and in a college fraternity and drank until he was sure his liver would shrivel up like a prune and all those mornings he had spent clinging to the porcelain toilet, paled in comparison to what he was experiencing then.
The nerves beneath his flesh jumped and twisted, sending a cold heat running through his body. His hands shook and sweat gleamed on his palms and no matter how much he would wipe them on his slacks, fresh sweat would instantaneously appear once more.
His lungs felt as though they would burst from the rapid inhale and exhale of air and his mouth quivered as if he was standing outside in a snow storm. Biting his lip to try and keep it still did nothing but cause pain.
Standing in front of the full-length mirror attached to his wall, Jensen stared at his reflection in the glass and he could see how pale he appeared—how the glint in his pine eyes could only be described as anxiety chased through with fear.
He shouldn’t go. Perhaps he should just cancel—tell the boy over the web cam that he ate some bad Chinese food and is now uncontrollably vomiting. Tell him that he twisted his ankle when he went for his morning jog and must let it heal. Tell him that his car’s battery died because he’s an old imbecile and left his dome lights on in his vehicle all night.
Jensen wanted to tell the boy any lie he could conjure up to keep himself from attending dinner with him—but then there were other things he wanted more than the air he breathes to tell the boy.
He wanted to tell him that his collarbones—two gentle slopes of bone and pale flesh—are so lovely that he finds himself wishing to run his fingers—and unabashedly, his lips—across the delicate arches. He needed to tell him that he had never seen skin as fair and as porcelain as an antique china doll and how much he craved to run his hands against the boy’s soft skin.
Jensen desired to tell the boy all of these things and more, but he did not know how to form the words—how he was going to be able to conjure up enough courage and breath to tell him this.
But he knew one thing that rang true within him:
If he never got the chance to tell the boy, Jensen would never feel satisfied.
In the end, he did not cancel and the anxiety writhing through him on his drive over to Eddie V’s cruelly reminded him of what consequences he may have to face. Upon entering the crowded building, Jensen was gratefully distracted by the sleek design of the diner—from the bright lights that twinkled like stars on the ceiling, to the floors that shined from the clear coat of polish stained on top of it, causing the floors to appear like one large thin sheet of glass and perhaps if he took one false step, he may fall right through.
The hostess standing behind the marble podium glanced up from her work to smile kindly at Jensen, her whiskey brown gaze taking him in and the woman tucked a piece of her wheat-blonde hair back behind her ear—her kindness shortly turning to a coy demeanor.
“Welcome to Eddie V’s. Do you have a reservation, sir?” The woman—Charlotte, he would come to learn her name moments later—had a faint lilt of a Southern accent to her tone when she spoke, something Jensen had grown quite used to while spending such a short amount of time in Texas.
“Yes, ma’am. The reservation is under Tristian,” replied Jensen, paying forward the same amount of kindness the hostess was showing him, rewarding her with a faint smile.
The woman glanced down at the booklet set upon the podium, her eyes skimming the pages before she swiftly marked off a spot on the book with her pen and lifted her head to say, “Your guest has already arrived. Would you like me to escort you to the table?”
His heart fluttered wildly like a canary caught in the bone cage of his chest and he could feel the violent twisting in his gut and the weight of boulders on his lungs. Jensen nervously adjusted the cufflinks attached to his jacket, giving him just the briefest of moments to calm his nerves before he gave Charlotte a wider smile.
“No, ma’am. A table number will do.”
After the hostess had graciously given him the digits, Jensen made his way father into the dining floor of the restaurant. The loud chattering barely reached his ears as his pine gaze caught sight of a familiar chestnut haired boy sitting in the far back corner in a lone booth, tucked away from most of the commotion.
The boy chewed on the straw meant for his glass of water on the table in the same way he chewed on pens and pencils in Jensen’s classroom as he stared out the tinted window with a placid look in his kaleidoscope eyes. He wore a long-sleeved button down shirt made of pink chiffon, the soft color complimenting his fair complexion.
To know that he had been right about his assumptions that the boy over the webcam and Jared were the same person was enough for Jensen. He could have left right then satisfied enough to know that he was right, but now that he was undoubtedly correct, Jensen needed to explore his discovery in depth.
Taking a moment to smooth down the front of his suit jacket allowed Jensen time to brace himself before he walked toward the table the boy was sitting at. Without a word, Jensen slid into the seat across from Jared and he watched as the boy turned his attention onto him—his doe eyes even wider and clearer than before.
“Mr. Ackles--?” The boy began in puzzlement, his words hanging softly in the air between them.
“Should I address you by Jared or Tristian?” Jensen inquired calmly, his gaze picking the boy’s body language apart.
A million different emotions passed through the boy’s eyes soon after: confusion, fear, worry, disbelief… only to settle on the one emotion that Jensen knew to be a possible outcome, but one that he had naively hoped would not surface—complete and utter rage.
“Goodbye, Mr. Ackles,” Jared responded at last with a sharp, finality to his tone as he quickly stood from the booth.
“Jared, wait--” Jensen began desperately, his hand lashing out to grab hold of one of the boy’s small wrists, which he would soon learn was a foolish move on his part.
A loud and sharp slap of skin against skin echoed in the once busy room. Silence fell as Jensen tried to register what had happened, only to be reminded by the stinging on his cheek and the wide-eyed gaze and heaving chest from the boy standing in front of him—Jared’s wrist still trapped in his grip.
The shock that had registered on Jared’s face—he too surprised by his own suddenly violent action—quickly returned to the rage from before and the corner of his lip curled up as he twisted his wrist free from Jensen’s grasp and without another word, stormed out of the restaurant with Jensen following close behind him, calling out the boy’s name.
“Jared! Jared, wait,” Jensen called out to him once they had began to cross the parking lot. “Let me explain--”
The boy sudden whirled around on his heels to face him and the notion caused Jensen’s words to catch in his throat for a moment.
“Explain?” Jared began flatly, accompanied by a cold, humorless laugh. “Explain what? Explain that all these months it was you behind the other end of the chat? Explain that is was you who paid me to give you a show? Well I sure gave you more than just one show, didn’t I? What more do you want to explain?”
Jared stopped to scoff at the stone cold detached expression on Jensen’s face, his mouth closed into a tight line followed by thick silence.
“Yeah. That’s what I thought,” Jared sneered, daring himself to take a step toward the professor. “Tell me, Mr. Ackles, did you enjoy the shows? Oh I bet you did. I bet you jerked off all alone in your apartment while you watched me--”
At that moment, Jensen had quite frankly heard enough out of the younger boy’s mouth as he suddenly grabbed the younger man by the front of his shirt and pushed him against the nearest car, slamming his delicate spine into the vehicle's metal frame. He did not slam him hard enough to have caused any harm, but it was forceful enough that it reminded Jared that he was not in charge and the boy knew it too as he stared up at Jensen with those wide, doe-eyes of his—wetness glimmering on his long lashes and his plush, bottom lip trembled ever so slightly as he gazed up at the older man hovering above him, trying to shrink away.
“Do not disrespect me, Jared,” Jensen began, his voice sharp with an underlying of seething as he spoke, his hands white-knuckled while he gripped the boy’s shirt tighter. “Do not think you are better than I am. I may watch, but you’re the one putting on a show for other men to see. You’re the one accepting money from anonymous donors and in return, you spread your legs—and that’s not the only thing you spread if my memory serves me right,”—at this, a soft, frightened whimper came from Jared and staring down at the petrified and guilty face of the boy, Jensen released his shirt and took a small step back, giving him a little distance before continuing on, his voice softer but still holding firm—“Jared. I accept you for who you are and you know just as well as I that not many would be as open-minded as I am about your lifestyle. Please do not push me away. I may be the only friend you have.”
The moment of silence that followed after, Jensen had believed he may have reached a secret part of Jared that he had been searching for—a piece of the endless puzzle that happened to be the boy before him. Jared was silent, his eyes downcast and it appeared that he might be mulling over what Jensen had said to him, but once again, his naivety blinded him. Jared lifted his gaze and he frowned.
“What man pays his supposed ‘friend’ a substantial amount of money that his ‘friend’ cannot refuse in order to get off?” asked Jared, his tone flat and guarded. “Goodbye, Mr. Ackles.”
With that, the boy turned away from Jensen and stormed across the parking lot and around the corner of the street until he was out of sight, leaving Jensen to stand beside a stranger’s car, an ache in his chest cavity and a cold pit in his stomach.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Days had passed since the disastrous dinner date at Eddie V’s with the boy over the webcam and with each passing day—with each day that Jensen had logged onto Jared’s website only to see that the boy had not been on—Jensen could not help but feel an icy emptiness building inside of him.
There was a part of him that had known that the initial meeting would have gone awry, but there was another small inkling part of him that had sincerely hoped it would not have ended the way that it had. Jensen wondered if he was not Jared’s professor, if their first initial interaction would have gone over much smoothly than it had.
There was another part of him that wanted to feel guilty for what he had done. Without intending to, Jensen had managed to screw up the boy’s trust in him and any potential further interactions between the two of them.
He desperately hoped the boy would come around, that maybe Jared would realize that although they have not known exactly who each other were before their in person meeting, they had grown to know each other quite well over the webcam and it was even safe to say that they had built some form of a relationship.
A week had passed since the incident and Jared had been absent both the days in which the class was supposed to meet. Jensen had figured the boy would not be so keen to see him again, especially not in a classroom setting knowing what he knew about his own professor—knowing he had been explicitly engaged with an older man who had a significant precedent over his academic career and minorly, his college social life.
Jensen knew he would need to give Jared some time to come around. He wanted nothing more than to believe that once Jared had taken some time to calm down and think about it, that he would be right back where he belonged—sitting in his seat in front of Jensen’s desk gnawing on a pen cap or a pencil eraser as he listened to his professor drone on about their recent reading and engage them all in a classroom lecture and discussion.
Jensen had known it was nothing short of wishful thinking when Tuesday rolled around and upon entering his empty classroom, he found a note placed neatly upon his desk—right dead in the center.
The note caused the ache that Jensen had been feeling to intensify to the point where it was painful and he gripped at his chest as he felt the emptiness expanding within him.
Jared had officially resigned from his class.