It starts with Misha. Of course it fucking starts with Misha, because Misha's an internet-addict, the little fucker. Always dicking around with his phone between takes, and after the first few times when they'd wondered what he was doing, and they'd always received the same chirpy reply of, "Updating my Twitter," they stopped asking. The little shit texts Twitter more than he does his damn wife, and it is only a little unsettling.
So when Misha bangs on the door to Jared's trailer and nearly screams, "Guys, you have got to see this," both Jared and Jensen knows it's going to be something internet related.
He bursts into the trailer before getting told to enter, and Jared and Jensen both look up from their scripts long enough to take in Misha's frighteningly excited face.
"Dude, the fanfiction online has reached new levels of awesome," he says, sounding for all intents and purposes like a little kid at Christmas.
Jensen groans and runs a hand across his face. It's not that he doesn't like his fans, that's not it at all--he knows that without fans, there would be no show, and he does love them. Honest. It's just that he likes his fans best when he's here, and they're there, safely tucked away, separate from his own life. He'll go to conventions and pose for pictures and sign autographs, but really--he could do without feeling like he's not living the life his fans want because it doesn't include fucking Jared Padalecki on a nightly basis. And some of them can be scary adamant; the craziest ones even address Jared as his boyfriend to his face, and honestly--even if they were fucking in real life, it wouldn't be anyone's business but theirs.
Jared's different though. Jared loves the fans, even the crazy ones, as much as Jensen loves the show, so Jared's immediately intrigued.
"What's up?" he asks, and Jensen just knows he'll somehow regret staying for this conversation instead of leaving his two friends to their own devices.
"You're both chicks," Misha cackles, waving a piece of paper around. "They rewrote the whole damn show with you as chicks!"
Which seems just a tad bit silly to Jensen, but Jared breaks out one of his face-splitting grins and snatches the paper from Misha, tossing his script aside, and okay--guess they're not going over the revisions together anytime soon?
"Let me see," Jared says, even though his eyes are already scanning the paper. "Oh dude, this is awesome!" His eyes flicker across the paper a few more times, and Jensen can see that Misha has copypasted a few excerpts on the printout. "This is actually pretty good! How do they come up with this shit?"
It doesn't seem worth this much excitement to Jensen, but then again he's never been as excitable as Jared and Misha, and he's been cranky all morning, from a lack of enough coffee to keep him going and the fourth revision this week.
"Doesn't seem worse than the stories where one of us turn into a chick," he says, a bit sourly, because damnit--all he wants is to go over the revisions with Jared in peace. They're not chicks in some fictional story, they're just Jensen and Jared, here to do a job, and the sooner they get that job done--the sooner they get through the revisions--the sooner Jensen can take a nap. "In fact, there's probably more of those stories than there are stories where we're already chicks."
That's the moment he realizes he's made a mistake--when both Jared and Misha get that devilish glint in their eyes and exchange mischievous glances with each other, and--fuck. Shit. He knows what's coming next.
"I dare you!" says Misha excitedly to Jared.
"Ten bucks!" replies Jared immediately. "You're on!"
"Readysetgo!" Misha hollers, and bounds back out of the trailer just as Jared plops down on the couch and pulls out his laptop.
"Fuck, Jay," Jensen bitches and puts on his best glare, "Can we do this later? I wanna go over the revisions so I can take a fucking nap." And it's not like he can't read over it by himself, it's just that he prefers doing it with Jared, that's all.
Jared doesn't seem even slightly intimidated by the glare, just reaches over to pick Jensen's cheeks, causing Jensen to push his hands away with an annoyed grunt. "D'awww, him's so gwumpy!" Jared coos, and that's it--Jensen's gonna fucking kill Misha. "Now shush. This won't take but a minute, and afterwards I'll get you some more coffee," Jared promises, eyes already racing back and forth across his computer screen.
"Don't bother," Jensen mutters, getting to his feet. "I'll just get my own damn coffee."
Jared doesn't even look up as Jensen leaves the trailer to seek out something extremely caffeinated, because a nap sure as hell isn't happening anytime soon. When Jensen briefly glances back, Jared's fingers are typing up a storm. Jensen walks away from the trailer chuckling to himself, but Jared doesn't need to know that little fact.
"Seventeen!" Jared says, smacking a piece of paper down on the table after Cut! has been called.
Misha looks up from where his Castiel-outfit is being adjusted on his body, and frowns. "You're lying."
Jensen rolls his eyes as people start walking onto the set to adjust the lights, the props and God knows what else. "Good God, are you two still on about this shit?"
"Clearly we need something better," Jared says, nodding as if he's actually considering Jensen's words to be a challenge. "I mean, if I won this easily...," and he trails off, leaving Misha to look slightly insulted as he pulls out his cell phone, no doubt Twittering his displeasure to his Minions.
"I saw one once where Castiel fell," says Jennifer, one of the new sound ladies, and Jensen isn't sure if he wants to throttle her or hug her. "You know?" she continues, "Becomes human?"
"Nah, too easy," Misha says, and for a second it looks like this stupid little game he's got going with Jared is going to end then and there--but then that glint is back in his eyes. "Now, stories where Castiel falls and then gets his grace back, on the other hand...!"
Jared grins at him from across the room, and Jennifer honest to God giggles, which is disturbing enough to see in a grown woman, let alone a woman who's probably old enough to be their mother and dresses like a trucker.
"Ten bucks? Tomorrow morning?" Jared says, and Misha winks at him.
"I'll be happy to take my money back, Padalecki!"
Jensen sighs and stares at the ceiling as he waits for the new shots to be set up. He knows Jared pretty well by now--hell, he knows Misha pretty well by now, better than he'd strictly like, since Misha, much like Jared, doesn't seem to have any boundaries for personal space whatsoever--and as amusing as this new game has the potential to be, he knows it's only a matter of time before he gets pulled into their schemes. And this sort of thing is always funniest from the outside.
Sure enough, that evening as Jensen's just pulling on his own jeans after shucking Dean's, Jared walks into his trailer, puppy eyes already going full force. And shit, he's still in Sam's clothing, because Jensen's done for the day, but Jared's got a few more shots to go over, and with those puppy eyes directed at him, Jensen actually feels marginally bad about it.
"Dude," he says, and Jensen already knows what's coming. "Dude, you've got to help me win this bet!"
And normally, Jensen might have considered it, if nothing for the fact that Jared's awesome, despite all his juvenile bouts of fangirly excitement, and hell--those puppy eyes are infamous for a reason. But today, Jensen's kind of sleepy and grumpy, and really--he just wants to go home and get his six hours of sleep so he can pretend to be well-rested before he has to get up and get back into Dean's tortured, emo skin.
"I'm not scouring the internet for fanfiction with you, Jared," he says, grabbing his jacket from the couch and pulling it on. "Especially not when it's only ten bucks on the line."
Jared puts a hand to his chest and really works those puppy eyes. "There's more than ten bucks on the line," he says indignantly, "This is my pride we're talking about, Jen!"
"What pride?" Jensen snorts.
"That's harsh, man," Jared says, mock-hurt in his voice. "Tears, dude. Seriously."
"Liar," Jensen replies easily, "If there were tears, they'd be accompanied by snot and sniffles, 'cause you fucking cry like a bitch."
"You're a fucking riot."
"And you know it," Jensen replies, slipping past Jared and opening the door.
That's when Jared puts a hand on his shoulder to stop him, and Jesus fuck, the puppy eyes have never worked their magic like this. "Jen, dude, please," he says, sounding horrifyingly sincere. "You don't have to read it, just find a summary that ensures the story matches the challenge!" And then the little shit goes and adds on a bare hint of an honest to God pout for good measure.
On the one hand, there's delicious sleep waiting for him. On the other, there's his best friend, working every sympathy angle he's got, and Jensen's always been a great, big sucker when it comes to Jared. It's just that he's so fucking tired, and he really doesn't want to scour the internet for fictional versions of themselves or their characters--he really doesn't.
"Look," he finally sighs, "I really fucking need sleep, but I know you, and this won't be over after this. Even if you lose this round, I promise I'll help you out later sometime, okay? We'll kick Misha's ass at finding weird fanfiction. Just right now, I am so fucking beat and they have Dean fucking crying again tomorrow."
It's obvious that Jared wants to jump in victory, but he's working very hard to repress his excitement. "They always have Dean fucking crying," he says instead, and claps Jensen on his shoulder. "Thanks man, see you tomorrow."
As Jensen walks away from the trailer, he wonders idly once again what higher deity he pissed off to be saddled with the whirlwind that is Jared in his life, but he still can't shake the feeling of comfortable happiness in his stomach.
It only escalates from there.
Misha wins that round. Of course he does, because knowing Misha he probably had his goddamn Twitter Minions help him snuff out stories where Castiel falls and then gets his grace back.
Before long, there's a whiteboard being shuffled around the set with the topic of the day written at the top in black marker, with a little scoreboard underneath, keeping track of Jared and Misha's respective progress in blue.
On the fourth day the topic is "John Winchester point of view," and the limited number of stories both participants come up with is enough to draw a chuckle and a smirk from Jensen.
The day after that, it's "Dean and/or Jensen cries (like a girl)," and the extreme amount of results both Misha and Jared shove at him is enough to wipe the smirk right back off his face.
The topics keep getting crazier and crazier, and the sheer amount of fanfiction out there will never stop to baffle Jensen, and he's always been especially uncomfortable around the stuff that’s written about him, about Jensen, and not Dean--though with the recent antics of his costars it becomes easier to handle, a little bit easier to see it with humor. At least as long as they don't actually act out any of it. The one day Jared had grabbed Misha and dipped him low while doing his best and most passionate Dean-impression, Jensen had gotten so weirded out he'd left with a shudder and a, "You're both sick fucks," while Misha's laughter had followed him all the way to the craft services tent.
Still, it's not all bad. It's a fun game that everyone gets behind, and they're very careful about keeping it light hearted. The day someone wrote, "Sandy being a bitch!" on the board, Jensen had quickly erased it and replaced it with, "Sam Winchester cries his way through sex," and despite several protests that, "Come on, you think someone actually wrote that?" both Jared and Misha had appeared the next day with a few lines of text on their respective papers. Jensen had been immensely amused, but he didn't miss the grateful look Jared shot him as the daily points were being tallied up.
Halfway through the second week, Misha is up by four points, and everyone on the set is in on it. They're coming up with new topics, many of the crew helping either actor find the stories for the topic of the day, and Jensen's pretty certain there are more bets going around than just the daily ten-dollar wager between Misha and Jared.
So far, he has been able to escape his promise of helping Jared out, though, but when Jared comes to his trailer after they've wrapped for the day, Jensen knows he's fucked. It's their day off tomorrow, and for the first time, Jared and Misha's challenge will span more than 24 hours since they're not due back on set until Monday. Last week, they had to go in for reshoots on Sunday, but this week they don't have a damn thing planned.
"Big challenge coming up!" Jared says. "We're doubling the stakes, since we got double the time! You're up, Jen!"
Jensen considers protesting for a second, but hell--if he's to be completely honest with himself, the game actually started being really fun the day Eric had come up and written, "Sadie & Harley cockblock the guys!" on the board in big letters. And sure, Misha's winning, but the freak has all his internet connections, and the least Jensen can do is help Jared gain some ground on him, if nothing else than for the satisfaction of possibly knocking Misha down a peg or two.
"Fine," he sighs, more out of habit than of actual annoyance. "Not here, though. I want the fucking comfort of my own damn couch if we're going to spend the entire evening searching for crazy fanfiction on the internet."
Jared's about a tick and a half from literally jumping for joy, and he looks like he's got half a mind to hug Jensen, but instead he just beams at him and cackles in a pretty manic way.
"What's today's topic?" Jensen asks, and fuck--it better be a good one. He's not spending the whole evening googling anything like "Dean Winchester crossdressing," or--even worse, "Jensen Ackles crossdressing." If the fans even got a hold of that, they'd go nuts. Hell, if they ever got news of this whole twisted game, they'd go nuts. Jensen just doesn't need the reputation of people knowing he might potentially be searching for himself as a crossdresser on the internet.
But nah, now that he thinks about it they already had "Sam Winchester crossdressing" a few days back (to Jared's embarrassment, however much he tried to hide it), and Jensen doesn't think they want to recycle a topic, even with a minor variation, for a two-day special.
His theory is confirmed almost immediately, because Jared looks about ready to burst with excitement. "Alternate Universes!" he practically whoops, arms pumping in the air.
Jensen just arches an eyebrow, because shit--this could take all evening and all of tomorrow. "Alternate Universes? Kinda broad subject, ain't it?"
"Kristin came up with it," Jared says, still snickering, "and she set some ground rules. Basically, if it could have happened on the show, it doesn't count. So no stories where Sam and Dean are still brothers, but not hunters. If Sam and Dean were pirates, it would be okay. If you and I were pirates, it would be okay. But no stories where Sam and Dean are corporate office rats like in our season four episode. No stories where--," and Jensen waves a hand dismissively.
"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Now come on, I wanna get out of here before my feet fucking grow into this lot," he says, shoving Jared towards the trailer door.
An hour and a half later, they're both propped up in the living room, Jared in the big chair and Jensen on the couch, with their laptops in front of them.
The first story they find has Jensen as a rock star and Jared as a teacher.
"I am not drunk enough for this," Jensen announces, sets his laptop on the table and heads for the beer in the fridge.
"Haha, dude, I found one where you're a hooker!" Jared exclaims from the living room, and Jensen wordlessly grabs the vodka out of the freezer as well.
By the time the clock ticks over to three in the morning, they've gone through more than a sixpack of beer, almost the entire bottle of vodka, Jared's halfway through his second sheet of paper, and Jensen is trying very hard to make the computer screen stop spinning at his face, but it's just not happening.
"I got 'nother one," Jared says, Texas twang out in full force, and Jensen snorts.
"Dude, I can hear your accent. You're drunk," he says, acutely aware of how obvious his own inner Texan has become.
"Fuck you," Jared says with a heartfelt grin as he jots down another few lines on his paper. Things may be spinning, but Jensen can still recognize that Jared's handwriting has gotten gradually sloppier and bigger the further down the paper he's gotten.
"What's it this time?" Jensen asks, mentally kicking himself for wanting to know. It's a bit like a train wreck, this fanfiction stuff. He's disturbed by it, yet he can't seem to stop looking.
"Another hooker-you story," Jared says, sniggering, and Harley's head briefly comes up off the floor from his spot next to the couch.
And hell, this right here just isn't fair. "Dude," Jensen says with a miserable, vodka-flavored hiccup. "Why'm I always the hooker?"
"Because of your kissable lips and your girlish good looks, darlin'," Jared deadpans, before belching loudly and odorously enough that Harley actually huffs out loud and scrambles out into the kitchen where Sadie's been snoozing for a while.
Jensen wrinkles his nose in disgust and tries to no avail to adjust the laptop screen. It's still spinning at him. "Yeah," he drawls, staring pointedly at Jared, who also seems to be spinning now. "You're a real fuckin' Prince Charming over there. I clearly can't hide my attraction from the clever fans. You keep that up, and real life's goin' ta be imitatin' art in a real bad way."
And he tries for sarcastic, he honestly does, but between the spinning and the alcohol, it comes out far more sincere sounding than Jensen meant for it to. Jared just blinks owlishly at him, and for a second Jensen thinks shit, it's going to get awkward, but then Jared breaks down in a fit of giggles--which Jensen has seen often enough so that it's not nearly as disturbing as when Jennifer from sound does it--and they both turn back to their respective laptops.
"How come there's so goddamn many us Alternate Universe stories?" Jensen asks in something dangerously close to a whine. "What's wrong with Sam 'n Dean? Why us?"
"Are you sayin' you'd prefer incest?" Jared asks with another drunken giggle.
"Yeah," Jensen replies immediately without thinking, then promptly changes his mind. "Naw. Wait, what? I dunno, man... It's just," he stutters. Puts the laptop on the table and tries to straighten his brain out enough so that he can explain it to Jared properly. "Don't get me wrong, I love our fans 'n all, you know that, Jay, you know that... but sometimes man, I dunno... I don't prefer either of those, I don't prefer hooker-me or hooker-Dean..."
Yep. They're well into the drunken babbling stage, and really--this has never been a good look on Jensen. He's not the chatty one out of the two of them for a reason. He lets Jared spearhead the convention Q&As for a reason. Seems he can never quite manage to say things the way he wants to say them, drunk or sober. But especially drunk.
"Jen," Jared says, putting the laptop on the table, surprisingly without dropping it, because Jared is more limbs than coordination, and honestly it's a miracle nothing's broken yet. "Jen," he says again, "Jenny--look at it this way. Fanfiction ain't really 'bout us," he says.
"I fuckin' hate it when you call me Jenny," Jensen says.
Jared just goes on as if Jensen never spoke at all. "Fanfiction is fiction--fiction--like these guys look like us, but it ain't real. Which isn't all that different from the show, if you think about it. It's just that they happen to be sharin' our names as well, but it isn't really us," Jared says, and then he picks up speed as he's talking, clearly on a good train of thought--or as good as it is going to get in his inebriated state. "Imagine if you played a part named Jensen, I mean--granted, Jensen's not exactly like--like John fuckin' Smith or anything--but it could happen. You could play a part that was your own fuckin' name. And then the part would look like you and have your own name--but it still wouldn't be the same as the real you, y'know?"
And that does kind of make sense to Jensen, even if Jared missed the point completely, but he doesn't say that to Jared. Instead he says, "You have a real fuckin' potty mouth," before he falls down onto the couch and rolls over, and he's asleep almost immediately.
The next morning, Jensen wakes up with a crick in his neck and the smell of coffee in his nostrils. A bleary glance at his watch shows that it's nearly one in the afternoon, and he groans, rubs his eyes and pushes his face into the back of the couch. It smells of dog hair and beer, and fuck his contacts to hell and back.
"Morning, sunshine," Jared says from somewhere above him, and Jensen twists his head just enough to see the other man's tired, but smiling face staring back down at him.
"Please tell me we're done," is the first thing Jensen says, turning his head back into the couch.
"Nope," Jared said cheerily. "We got a good ways last night, but you can bet that little shit Misha's got a lot better connections than we do."
"But there's two of us," Jensen protests meekly, arm reaching out blindly for the coffee he knows is somewhere in the vicinity.
"Yeah," Jared says, grabbing Jensen's grappling hand with a big palm, and thankyouJesusfuck, Jensen's fingers are being closed around a warm cup. "But Misha's got connections. I'm not taking any damn chances."
"I'm hungover, bitch," Jensen grumbles, turning ever so slightly, still undecided about whether he should go back to sleep or get up and rescue his eyes from his contacts.
"You're a pussy," Jared says, but there's no real bite to his words.
Jared still hasn't let go of Jensen's hand, his long fingers wrapping over Jensen's own around the mug, and Jensen can feel them clutch gently at his knuckles.
Jensen takes a deep breath and feels Jared's gaze on his neck.
"Fine," he says eventually, pulling his hand out of Jared's and sitting up so he can sip his coffee and pull his laptop back onto his knees.
His hand feels oddly cold, even closed around the warm cup.
"Lulz, this one has a photo manipulation with it," Jared says, and Jensen stares disgustedly.
"Did you just fucking say 'lulz' out loud?"
"Look!" Jared says, twisting his laptop around so Jensen can see, and Jensen can't do anything but facepalm solidly as he spies what's unmistakably his head pasted on some police officer's porno body, pressed up against Jared's head pasted on some random naked guy.
"Dude," he says, but can't say anything past that. Jared's laughter continues long after he's turned the laptop away from Jensen again.
"Another story where I'm a father," and Jared practically beams as he's saying it.
"Whatever," Jensen grumbles. "I could be a father."
"Everyone with semi-competent swimmers can be a father," Jared responds and flips his hair back. "I'm just cut out for the job. I'm a fucking role model."
Jensen just snorts in reply.
"I wonder how many Misha's got?" Jared wonders out loud, staring at the small stack of papers on the coffee table, filled with his chicken scratch notes, and Jensen wonders if it's still too early to start drinking again.
"I don't know," Jensen says, glancing around for the vodka bottle.
"Maybe he posted something on Twitter?" Jared punches in a few keystrokes.
Misha didn't post anything on his Twitter except "Stop spying, suckers!"
It's nearing eight when Jensen's had enough. They've been scouring the internet all damn day, getting by on pizza and juice, and all Jensen wants is to get drunk and forget that he's spent a full fucking day digging up stories where he's an astronaut, a cowboy, a shy college student, a frisky hooker with a heart of gold, an artist...
"That's it," he says, standing up and setting the laptop forcefully on the table in front of him. He nearly tips the mostly empty pizza box in the process, and both Harley and Sadie raise their heads, undoubtedly hoping a stray crust will come their way.
"I am so done, Jay," Jensen says, stretching and pushing up his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose, because honestly, he loves the guy, but there's only so many times he can google himself as insane professions who will all somehow end up fucking the fictional version of Jared. "No more. I can't take any more fake Jensen. How many we got?"
"Uh..." Jared takes a moment to leaf through the little stack of papers next to him, but quickly gives up on counting. "I dunno," he admits. "A lot." Then Jared purses his lips and frowns. "Maybe I should have arranged this by category, and summarized the number of stories that way? Like, hooker-Jensen - eleven! Then I would have been much easier to do the final count."
"Yeah," Jensen says again around a sigh, "I am so done."
Jared sniggers, but he stands up as well, and they walk into the kitchen together. They learned early on after Jensen moved in that keeping the fridge extremely well-stocked with beer was a necessity for survival, and it comes especially in handy after impromptu benders like the night before. Grabbing two beers, Jared hands one to Jensen, and they take a moment to briefly toast each other, before Jared sniggers again.
"Man, who'd have thought so many fans would prefer us to be anything but ourselves."
"Eh," Jensen says, leaning on the kitchen counter. "I'm not even sure why they think I'd make a good astronaut."
"The astronaut one was kinda funny," Jared agrees. "Though I think my favorite was the CIA one." He holds up one hand in a Bond-gun gesture. "I've always thought I'd make a good super-secret spy!"
Jensen nearly snorts beer out his nose. "You're such a gigantic klutz, you can't even fucking fall right for the show. You'd shoot yourself in the foot before you did any actual spy shit."
"Well, fuck you too," Jared laughs, taking another swig of his beer. "So how about you? Which one was your favorite?"
Jensen raises a brow at that. "Favorite? Dude, for every story where I'm some wacky profession, there are two which feature me as a hooker. There's no favorites in that."
"But you gotta have one," Jared prods, poking one finger in Jensen's ribs, and Jensen twists away instinctively.
"Not really," Jensen mumbles into the bottle.
"How about the one where I was older than you, and you were running an animal shelter? That one was pretty funny. Or maybe the one set in World War II? Or--ooooh! I know! The one where we were porn stars?" And Jared wiggles his eyebrows suggestively at the last one, and gives his best leer, which on Jared's face only comes out funny looking.
"Nah," Jensen says, and shit--why the hell not? And he looks Jared straight in the eyes, and says, "I think I like us just--being us."
Jared stops his wiggling and leering at that, and for a few seconds there's complete silence in the kitchen, and--oh, hey, things are about to get awkward again--but then, just like always, Jared interrupts it before it can settle, with another face-splitting grin.
"Yeah," he says, leaning on the kitchen counter and bumping Jensen's shoulder, "Yeah. I like that too."
Jensen looks down to where Jared's hand is coming up and up, until it slowly closes over Jensen's hand holding his beer bottle, and his long fingers close over Jensen's knuckles like they did that morning. Jensen holds his breath as Jared's comfortable warmth spreads from his digits and through his hand.
When he lifts his eyes to Jared's face, the silence isn't awkward at all, and Jared's still giving him that brilliant smile of his.
Jensen returns the smile and moves a little closer.
On Monday, Misha's got almost a hundred stories to Jared's eighty-nine.
Jensen happily pays him the twenty bucks before they break for lunch, and then throws the whole whiteboard in the garbage with a smile, effectively ending the competition altogether as Misha gleefully Twitters about his victory.
It's okay. Jensen feels like he ended up being the real winner, anyway.