The day that would change Misha's life forever was a bitterly cold Friday in January.
A Friday so ordinary that Misha didn't have any qualms about reading his latest acquisition, a Russian science-fiction book, at work.
The warm, yellow light from the street lamps outside was dimmed by snowflakes falling thick and heavy, leaving the world coated in a white blanket. Misha was glad that he would take the subway back home in the morning, after his shift was over, and didn't have to drive. The shop was usually lit by a few way too bright neon tubes, which Misha had partially shut off because they annoyed him. With a yawn, he settled into his chair at the front desk for a quiet night. He would get himself a cup of strong, black coffee from the coffee shop across the street once he'd finished the first chapter.
Really, it was a Friday just like any other had been for the past four years.
All through his time at college, Misha had moonlighted at this little 24/7 internet café a few blocks away from campus. The fact that it was still running after the invention of 3G internet was a miracle. Misha's conspiracy theory was that Mitch, the owner, had the circle if shops around it pay protection money in exchange for wifi access. Or something.
Misha's own paycheck sure as hell wouldn't put Mitch out of business any time soon, and Misha had gotten used to spending his nights in the corner of the room with the six always shut-down computers. Environmentally conscious and energy saving.
Because literally no one ever set foot into the 'Surfing Bird', and its lame name was not the reason for that.
So when Misha turned the next page idly and the bell above the door rang, he almost fell out of his seat in his attempt to shut the book and jump to his feet. Which would've looked far from gracious and professional to the one and only customer Misha had had in years.
In the door stood an equally irritated and frowning man with a laptop bag under his arm and fogged glasses on his nose. His thick winter coat and black beanie were covered in snow.
"Welcome," Misha greeted him curiously. “Can I help you?”
"Hey, uh," the man - and now that he was coming closer, Misha realized that he couldn't be much older than himself, maybe even younger – started. "You do have LAN access here, right? Would it be okay to use my own laptop?"
"Sure, go ahead." Not like either Misha or Mitch cared, but Misha was still curious what the man intended to do with it.
With that, he shed both the coat and the beanie, revealing light brown hair and a plain gray sweater. He then shoved away the keyboard at the next available desk and pulled out his laptop. Or, scratch that, it couldn’t really be called a laptop. It was a machine as thick as a brick and certainly four times the weight.
Misha raised an eyebrow.
"What?" the man asked, still half-irritated and half-amused. It certainly lent an impressive look to his green eyes, Misha noticed as the glasses started to clear.
He quickly looked down at his book and chuckled. "You're uh... sure that's a laptop from this century?"
"Actually," the guy began as he flopped down onto the chair with a cocky smirk and set up his mouse and power cord. "It's got an Intel i7 quad-core processor, third generation, with an output of 2,1 gigahertz each, which I overclocked to 3,4 GHz, 8 gigabyte of memory and a Nvidia graphics card that's probably worth more than all your computers in here together."
Misha just stared at him and blinked a few times for emphasis. "Can you say that in English instead of Klingon, too?"
That at least got a deep, rich laugh out of the guy. "Wouldn't have thought you to be a nerd."
"Nah, I'm not. I know Star Trek, that's it."
"Then what's this?" he pointed at the book in Misha's hands.
"A novel about the survivors of an atom bomb, who inhabited the metro stations and tunnels of Moscow because the surface is too toxic. It's in Russian."
"So you're not reading it because they made a game out of it?"
“No, I got it at a garage sale. They made a game out of it?”
A smirk played around the guy's full lips, and it looked enticingly adorable. Then a hand was extended towards Misha. "Let's do this again properly. Hi, I'm Jensen."
Misha shook the offered hand firmly. "Misha."
“You work the night shift here?” Jensen gestured around, then abruptly focused back on his laptop, clicking away at the mouse.
“Obviously,” Misha shot back, then remembered that he should actually be nice to his first customer in years. “I mean, yeah. It became kind of a habit during college.”
“You looked pretty spooked when I walked through that door, though,” Jensen noted teasingly, his eyes only shifting for a short second from his monitor to Misha and back. He was obviously waiting for something to load on his screen.
Misha huffed. “That's because we never have customers. At least not when I'm working. I mean, who even goes to an internet café these days, when everyone has wifi on their cell?”
“Me, obviously,” Jensen shrugged and grinned.
Damn, Misha was starting to like that grin. It looked good combined with the light brown hair that was a mess from being stuck under the beanie, the deep green eyes that hid behind horn-rimmed glasses, and that plush mouth.
“Right, of course,” Misha stuttered. “I mean, no offense, but on a Friday night, too?”
“What do you mean? Like don’t I have frat parties to go to and stuff to study?” Jensen raised an eyebrow. “I have a test in a week, but I know I'll ace it. And I'd rather sit at home with a good game than go partying.”
“Not that I mind the company, but I’m guessing you haven’t decided to live here now?” Misha asked.
For a short moment, Jensen frowned in confusion, but then his smirk turned to a grin as the penny dropped. "No, I haven't. But my roommate is hogging the wifi, so I had to find an alternative so I could play some Battlefield 4. Honestly, I was surprised that this place is still up and running. Does your boss maintain a part-time career as a crime lord to keep it in business?"
Misha grinned widely. From what he could tell, he and Jensen would get along just fine. “I suspect as much.”
Jensen chuckled again, warm and genuine. “And hey, if I can make a suggestion... why don't you finish that novel and I'll show you the game some time? It's pretty amazing.”
“Um, I'm not really into PC games.”
“Not interested at all or just never played any?”
Misha shrugged. “Never played any, never wondered.”
“You're missing out, Misha. If you want, we could fix that,” Jensen winked.
And well, Misha was pretty much sold by the way his name rolled off of Jensen's tongue. “If you say so.”
Suddenly, Jensen's eyes dropped from Misha's to his laptop and he pumped his fist in the air. “Yes! It's running, thank god.”
And with that, he pulled out a set of massive headphones and spent the next two hours crouched over his laptop screen, broken only by an annoyed sneer every once in a while.
Misha was left to watch him and wondered why a game that obviously left him so annoyed could be any fun at all.
He didn't get through much of Dmitry Glukhovsky's 'Metro 2033' that night.
“I'm gonna kill him. I'm seriously gonna kill him,” Jensen mumbled when he entered the internet café again two days later. “Hey, Misha,” he added before placing his laptop bag on the desk he had occupied last time.
“Good evening. Do you need someone to hide a body for you?” Misha inquired innocently.
“Maybe. Does this building have a basement?” Jensen threw his coat over the chair next to his.
“It does, but it's VIP access only. Sorry, but you're gonna have to use our bonus card for that. Ten hours at the shop equals one body to bury in the basement,” Misha sipped from his coffee.
“No problem, I've got more than ten times that in Battlefield 4 already,” Jensen threw back without a flinch.
“Then just make sure you play some more of that here and the basement is yours. I'll be happy to help you out. Customer service and all that.”
The comment got Jensen staring at him in disbelief before the look crumbled with laughter. “You are unbelievable, man.”
“I know,” Misha grinned, unable to stay serious in the face of that laugh. “Seriously, though. Who are you going to metaphorically kill?”
“My roommate. Every evening when his girlfriend isn't there, which is every other day, he clogs our internet connection by downloading porn or something. And he's always doing that when I'm smack in the middle of a good run and suddenly my ping is shot to hell and I duck behind cover just for the lag to catch up and I die behind the cover and do you know how frustrating that is?” Jensen ranted, all the while setting up his laptop as if on autopilot.
Misha watched with a raised eyebrow, thinking to himself that Jensen’s ranting was kind of funny.
He didn't say that aloud though. “I stopped understanding what you were trying to tell me after the word 'porn'.”
Jensen frowned. “You work in an internet café, I'm sure you know how online games work, right? Or at least first-person shooters?”
“You play first-person shooters?”
“Well, yeah, I remember telling you about Battlefield 4 last time I was here.”
“I don't know anything about that game, much less if it's a first-person shooter or not,” Misha shrugged.
Jensen's eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. “I see we have a lot of catching up to do. At least tell me you've played something before? Tetris on the Gameboy or Angry Birds or anything?”
At that, Misha fished his cell out of his jeans pocket and flipped it open. Actually flipped it open.
“Really? I thought they stopped selling those things about five years ago.”
“They did,” Misha answered, amused.
“Huh,” Jensen noted, genuinely surprised.
“It still works, so why should I get a new one?”
“I guess I figured you’d be an iPhone guy.”
“Apple? Oh, please,” Misha snorted. “It’s not like the secret to buying people's respect is an illuminated apple on a box that's supposed to take calls and send messages. And I’m certainly not going to pay double the price for a phone that's able to do less than a model from another company.”
Jensen made a sturgeon face and nodded. “I'm starting to like you, be careful.”
“Does that mean you're going to spare me on the day of your murder spree?”
“Maybe. You'll have to use my bonus card system, though. Ten hours of amusing me equals one shoot-out without a scratch for you.”
“And if we equal the ten hours, then you'll get a free buried body in the basement for sparing me during your next shooting.”
They both broke down laughing at that and didn't stop for a minute.
“Our humor is pretty tasteless, you know that?” Jensen coughed eventually.
“You like it.”
“I'm not the only one,” Jensen said, his voice somehow rough around the edges as he looked up at Misha and shot him a hooded glance. “So you've never heard of Battlefield 4?”
“Nope,” Misha shook his head. “Should I have?”
“About the first-person shooter that uses the glorious Frostbite 3 engine to let skyscrapers in Shanghai break down in breathtakingly realistic physics? Yeah, you should've.”
“It's just pixels. To be honest, I never quite understood some people's fascination with video games, but hey, sociology major here. Feel free to enlighten me.”
“So, let me get this straight. You've never played any video game, ever?”
“But you're willing to let me show you a thing or two?”
“Yes, please. If you don't mind.”
Jensen gave him a lopsided smirk and nodded. “Alright then. You know how some people play an instrument or watch TV for hours to chill out after work? Well me? I like shooting stuff.”
That day, Misha made the mistake of rounding his desk, looking over Jensen's shoulder and learning about a world of warfare, tanks and game crashes.
Two days later, Jensen dropped a gray box in front of him in lieu of saying hello.
“Nice to see you, too, Jensen,” Misha raised an eyebrow, but shot Jensen a quick smile.
“I thought I'd bring you a little something,” Jensen smiled back, surprisingly not starting to undress as usual.
Misha quickly shoved the thought aside in favor of the task at hand. “What is it?”
“Don't you recognize it? Come on, you can’t live that far under a rock.”
Misha picked up the box and at turning it around, realized it was a classic Gameboy. “A Gameboy. Really?”
“You said you've never even played Tetris and I couldn't let that slide. I also brought the first Super Mario Bros. and Zelda. Which we of course won't be able to play through in one night, but we can always try,” Jensen winked. “I hear there's a coffee shop somewhere around here?”
“Try the Starbucks across the street,” Misha suggested.
“Alright. What do you want?” Jensen asked as he dropped his laptop bag and headed for the door again.
Misha was busy looking for the on-switch on the Gameboy, so he didn't catch up with Jensen instantly. “Huh?”
“Coffee. What do you want? My treat,” Jensen waved his wallet in explanation.
“Tall drip, no room, one package of brown sugar,” Misha rattled off his usual order. “And thank you.”
With a blinding smile and a twinkle in his moss green eyes, Jensen vanished through the door.
By the time he entered the internet café again, juggling two cups of coffee in his hands, Misha had managed to start the game. It was just placing blocks to build lines that would vanish and he still hadn't figured out what part of this game was so special. Except for the music which he was sure wouldn't stop running through his head anytime soon.
“Thank you,” he said again when Jensen handed him his cup. “But please explain to me why stacking building blocks is so exciting?”
Jensen took a sip from his own cup and grimaced at having burned his tongue. “Have you died yet?”
Misha chuckled. “When do I die?”
“When you reach the top and are unable to make more lines.”
In that moment, Misha realized he hadn't looked at the game since their conversation started, and a jingle made him look at the Gameboy again.
At which Jensen started to laugh. “That sounds familiar.”
“Wait, I wanna try again,” Misha quickly grabbed the system and started the game anew. “I can do better than this.”
Jensen smiled some kind of secretive smile and sat down in front of Misha to set up his laptop.
Three lost games and a surprised look at the high score board later, Misha groaned. “How did you do that? I'll never get anywhere near those numbers with your initials beside them.”
“Practice, young Padawan,” Jensen deadpanned without looking away from his own game. “So I guess the game struck your fancy?”
“It's kind of yanking my rope, yes,” Misha agreed.
After two hours and Misha's confession that all he saw were blocks now, Jensen introduced him to the other games he’d brought.
Misha whistled the melody of 'The Legend of Zelda' for the rest of the night and even asked Jensen if he could borrow the game for his night shift the next day.
“Hey, I never asked you what you do for a living. I’m guessing it's not this?” Jensen asked sometime during their Pokémon session a few days later.
“Just finished college with a major in sociology, which you already know. I'm kind of looking for a job right now, the one here doesn't pay too much, but it doesn't exactly hurt to have the money either,” Misha shrugged as he finished off his battle by capturing a wild Oddish, level 15, with a Pokéball. “I'm helping out at a Starbucks near the apartment where I live, too. I guess I'm getting by. What about you?”
“I'm still in college, information technology major. I'll see if I can get a job as a code monkey somewhere.”
“Programmer. Writing computer programs or, ideally, games.”
Misha smiled encouragingly. “Sounds good. You seem like you’ve given this more thought than I did when I chose sociology.”
Misha shrugged. “I don't exactly have a clue of what to do with it. I mean, sociology is like... trying to nail jello to a wall. It's the kind of degree that you could most likely use in politics, but I'm not sure if I want to go down that road.”
Jensen snorted. “Well, why not? Oh wait, now I'm picturing you in a suit, giving your acceptance speech for president. Huh.”
Jensen's eyes wandered up and down his body quickly, which wasn't that difficult, since Misha had his feet up on top of his desk. “I think you'd look pretty good in a suit. Ever interned anywhere?”
“Applied to the White House, but got rejected, actually.”
“Why don't you try the Governor's office or something?”
That made Misha pause the game. “I'll think about it. Seriously, though. Explain to me why I’m not making any damage to this Pokèmon here? It pops up all the time and it's tedious.”
Jensen rounded the table and looked over Misha's shoulder, leaning in close.
Misha noticed a quick whiff of aftershave and mint gum, something that he’d been associating with Jensen since he first met him, he realized, but then Jensen straightened back up to his full height and snorted smugly, “Because you should pick a plant Pokémon for a fight against a water Pokémon, not a fire one. It's like rock-paper-scissors. Some types do more damage to certain types than others. I could show you a chart if you want.”
Jensen pulled up a tab on his laptop screen and turned it around so Misha could take a look.
“Why do they make a kids' game so complicated, anyway?” he groaned as he tried to take in all the different types and their effects on each other.
“Oh, you haven't seen half of it, believe me. In the latest versions, there's a ton of new Pokémon types.”
“What have I gotten myself into?” Misha groaned again.
Jensen smirked at him, wide and unabashed. “You have no idea.”
“It's your free night tomorrow, right?” Jensen asked as he packed up his stuff to leave. As per usual it was 4 a.m., half an hour before Misha's shift ended.
“Do you have plans?” Jensen added, lifting his glasses to rub his tired eyes.
Misha shook his head. “Not really, no. If playing through 'Zelda: Minish Cap' doesn't count.”
Jensen scratched the back of his neck, a move that Misha knew after four weeks of knowing him was a clear sign that Jensen was nervous. “It does count, but I wondered, uh. We've had fun here and all, but I'd like to... take our friendship to the next stage.”
That got Misha to raise an eyebrow. “So that's what they're calling it nowadays?” he joked.
Jensen's eyes flickered over him, an indefinable expression – something between amusement and confusion and something else – shining in them.
Realizing that he just sent the conversation to an awkward place, Misha cleared his throat. “What I meant to say was, what do you mean by that?”
Jensen still seemed to be perplexed, but he caught himself quickly. “I meant to ask you if you wanted to come over to my place tomorrow. So I can show you a bit more than just those old handheld games.”
Misha had to hold back his smirk. “Yeah, I'd like to,” he said.
“Great,” Jensen replied, his face almost splitting in two with his toothy grin. “You up for pizza?”
“Always,” Misha grinned right back, and felt a strange flip in his stomach, along with something he quickly shoved aside. He didn't have time for this, and Jensen was a friend.
A friend that almost stumbled over the threshold at his attempt to leave the shop walking backwards and looking endearingly flustered while doing so.
“I'll see you tomorrow!” he coughed.
“Bye, Jensen,” Misha waved amused.
Only a few seconds later, Misha realized that he didn't even know where Jensen lived and hurried to the door, hoping that he could still catch him on the street.
Instead, the moment he stepped out the entrance he bumped right into a solid chest, padded with a thick coat. Out of reflex, he grabbed for the arm and waist of the person he ran into to steady both of them and keep them from toppling over.
“Misha,” he heard a heavy exhale, way too near to his ear, and found Jensen staring at him from approximately two inches away.
“Jensen,” Misha chuckled, completely taken by surprise from the run-in, and from how comforting having Jensen's hand on the small of his back was. “I just remembered that I don't even have your address.”
“Yeah, me too,” Jensen laughed. “I mean, I came back to write it down for you. Should we go inside?”
“We should,” Misha nodded and reluctantly let go of Jensen, his heart still racing a mile a minute, even though he wasn't sure if that was still because of bumping into him.
Whatever, he'd see Jensen on his night off. What more was there to ask for?
“And this is the Batcave?”
“Jup,” Jensen answered. “Also, meet Robin.”
When Misha looked up, Robin turned out to be a guy even taller than Jensen was. Misha wasn't exactly short himself, but this guy--
“Hi,” the giant said and held out his hand, “I'm Jared. Nice to meet you.”
“Hey, I'm Misha,” he answered and shook Jared's hand.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Jared obviously tried to cover a grin, but failed miserably.
“And I of you,” Misha smiled back.
“Yeah, I can imagine what,” Jared raised an eyebrow at Jensen, who just shrugged innocently.
“I have no idea what you mean, sasquatch.”
Jared rolled his eyes, then focused back on Misha. “Anyway, I'll be out of your hair in a few. Gen will be here any minute.”
“His girlfriend,” Jensen added in a mocking tone and Jared punched him.
“Ah,” Misha nodded. “The smell of young love in the air.”
“Not just the smell,” Jensen added with a punctuated glare at Jared.
“Alright, I promise we’ll keep it down tonight.”
“You better, or we're gonna play Halo so loud you won't hear your own bed slamming against the wall without wondering if isn't alien gunfire,” Jensen stated matter-of-factly.
“Halo, the song by Beyoncé?” Misha asked confused. “What's that got to do with gunfire?”
Over Jared's roaring laughter and gasps, Jensen snorted, “No, I meant 'Halo', the Xbox game. With aliens. And alien guns.”
“Oh,” Misha said, but the warm grin on Jensen's lips that was amused without any undertone of mockery made it all okay. “So, what do we do, then?”
In the next moment, the doorbell rang. “Well, dunno about you,” Jared threw in, still chuckling, “but I'm gonna get myself laid. How 'bout you take a page from my book?”
“Fuck off,” Jensen glared at him with a fond smile. “Have fun.”
After the door slammed shut behind Jared, Misha took a deep breath. “Is he always such a hurricane?”
“Kind of. Sorry about him,” Jensen answered meekly. “Why don't we make ourselves comfortable in my room? I already ordered pizza. And I love that pizza service, but the pepperoni they use is disgusting. Hope you like veggies?”
“Sure, who doesn't?” Misha replied with a shrug.
“Jared, for once, he's an all meat-lover's fan.”
“Wouldn't have pegged him for one. You said he had a girlfriend?”
Jensen snorted again. “Ha-ha, very funny. C'mon.”
With a clap on his shoulder, Jensen led him out of the kitchen and into one of the two bedrooms in the apartment. In it were an old, battered and very comfortable looking checkered couch, an unmade queen-sized bed, and a moderately big flatscreen TV. Aside from the cupboard and the cluttered desk, that was all that fit into Jensen's room, and even though it wasn't big, Misha felt immediately at home. It looked lived-in, it looked like a place with a soul and a lot of stories to tell.
“I think I'm gonna like it here,” he commented as he turned around, just to find Jensen watching him carefully. “Looks homey.”
“That's great, because we've got all night to play with these,” Jensen nodded towards the TV, which stood on a small sideboard that housed a ton of consoles.
Misha's eyes snapped open wide. “Jeez, what's all this?”
“Let's see,” Jensen began, obviously proud of his collection as he pointed from one to the other. “PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, a Super Nintendo, a Nintendo 64, a Nintendo Wii, an Xbox 360, and a DVD player.”
“That 'wow' mean you haven't seen or tried any of these yet?”
“Well,” Misha tilted his head. “My nephew has a Wii, but he's got these bowling and activity games on it that I never figured out. I mean, bowling is way more fun when you do it yourself rather than letting a stick figure do it for you on-screen.”
Jensen clicked his tongue. “Man, there's so much more than stupid bowling games for the Wii. So much I gotta show you,” he mumbled, then let his head drop down onto his chest, biting his bottom lip.
Which was kind of distracting, but Misha tried not to dwell on it. “What is it?”
“Just wondering where to start,” Jensen said, but sounded like he was talking to himself. He stepped towards one of the shelves on his wall, scanning the titles on the game cases that were stacked there. “How about an easy one? I'm sure you know Mario Kart?”
“Ever played?” Jensen asked with a look over his shoulder.
Misha shook his head.
“We're so gonna pop your Mario Kart cherry tonight,” Jensen winked at him as he began to press all kinds of buttons. The power switch of the TV, the one of the console, the eject-button on the console, the ones on the two controllers laying around.
Jensen shoved a set of controllers into Misha's hands and he turned them over, trying to remember which way he was supposed to hold them. His nephew once told him, but since the ten minutes that followed were the most tedious, boring minutes Misha had ever spent in front of a TV, he had quickly forgotten.
“Wiimote goes into the right hand, the Nunchuck-controller into the left,” Jensen explained in an amused voice. “And don't judge me for swearing like a fisherman.”
“Why would you swear?” Misha mumbled confused. “Isn't a game supposed to be fun?”
“Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick!” Misha burst out, slapping his thigh in frustration.
Jensen sank onto the floor with laughter, almost losing his glasses because he bumped against the sofa.
“No, seriously! Jensen, don't you dare laugh at me, that is the hundredth time I’ve driven off that stupid acid-trip imagination of a road!”
“Well, it's called Rainbow Road for a reason,” Jensen coughed from below him. “And I never would've expected you to swear like that. Warn a guy, would you?”
“The hundredth time!” Misha repeated, part of his rage already dissolving because of Jensen's amusement. “Restart that again, fucking damnit! I gotta win at least one race against you, it can't be that hard.”
As it turned out, it was that hard.
But also really, really worth it, because when Jensen managed to get hit by two blue shells and a cannonball in the final round of the N64's Mario Raceway and Misha happened to slip by him and win, Jensen yelled, “Swiss fucking cheese!” at the screen and Misha laughed so hard that he doubled over and his cheek ended up mashed against Jensen's shoulder. After some pouting for good measure, Jensen leaned his head against Misha's and laughed with him, and somehow it felt simply right.
So they spent the next four rounds almost cuddled up against each other on the couch, shoulders touching and hands bumping occasionally.
Then Jensen popped 'The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess' into the Wii and Misha almost had an orgasm from the visuals.
“Since you liked the old Zelda games for the Gameboy so much, I thought you might enjoy this,” Jensen grinned knowingly.
“Oh wow, how did they make this out of...” he gestured at the Gameboy on Jensen's desk.
“Well, it's been a while and they know what they're doing.”
“Honestly, I'm feeling like a kid on Christmas right now,” Misha grinned stupidly at Link riding Epona over the valley of Hyrule. “This is awesome! I mean, I never imagined it would look like this.”
“That's what happens when you think the Wii can only do dumb sports games with lame stick figures,” Jensen grinned. “You'll be surprised to see how well the later Zelda games are at storytelling. Anyone who thinks that games can't tell a story like a book or a movie can are just plain wrong. And there's still so much more, believe me. Not just Zelda and sports games. You’ve been missing out and it’s a pity.”
For the first time since the game started up, Misha looked over at Jensen. A wide smile greeted him, and a fond look in Jensen's green eyes. “So what you're saying is, you can show me the world,” Misha stated, egging Jensen on.
“I can literally show you the middle ages from the eyes of an Assassin who was best friends with Leonardo DaVinci to the future, where humans are partially bionic robots. It's called Assassin's Creed and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.”
“Go right ahead,” Misha dared him and nudged Jensen's knee with his own.
For a few countless minutes, Jensen stared at him.
The silence finally caused Misha to notice how close they actually sat and how totally comfortable it was.
Jensen cleared his throat, obviously having noticed as well, judging by the blush rising up on his cheeks, but he didn't pull away. Instead, he leaned back against the couch and grabbed his golden Wiimote with the Zelda emblem on it and handed it to Misha.
“Come on, let's take turns playing this. You're gonna love it.”
When Jared and his girlfriend came home a few hours later, they turned up the volume until nothing but the glorious, legendary melodies of Koji Kondo filled Jensen's bedroom.
And when Misha slipped out at half past five in the morning, exhausted and tired and with the memory of Jensen hugging him tight still fresh in his mind, he realized that he hadn't felt this good in months.
They fell into kind of a routine after that. Jensen would stop by at the 'Surfing Bird' every other day, always bringing coffee and games.
Misha had managed to talk his nephew into lending him his Wii, and Jensen had managed to talk Misha into trying the remake of 'Golden Eye 007' of Nintendo 64 fame, claiming that getting used to the controls of a third person or first person shooter would be easier with a Wiimote.
Misha enjoyed it nonetheless, even though the graphics were too klutzy and weird for him. He had always liked James Bond, though.
On Saturdays he would go over to Jensen's place and they would waste the night away playing whatever Jensen had suggested on that day. After eight weeks spent like this, Jensen started to make up theme nights.
That's why they ended up sitting down for a Banjo-Kazooie- and Banjo-Tooie-marathon night – with a sidenote of “Don't ask. There's no such thing as a third part of the trilogy.”
There was the Gears-of-War-Marcus-Fenix memorial night.
And there was the forget-Nintendo-we're-gonna-go-Square-Enix night, even though Misha didn't understand half the stuff Jensen was doing on the old PlayStation 1 and in Final Fantasy VI. It certainly looked awesome, though, and Misha had the time of his life.
Each night, Misha had dragged himself home no later than four a.m. despite Jensen's constant offers to simply spend the night.
This continued until a warm Saturday evening in mid May during a taking-turns-slaying-dragons game of Skyrim, where Misha fell asleep on Jensen's shoulder and woke up with the familiar smell of Jensen in his nose. Which was kind of self-explanatory when he noticed that he was laying in Jensen's bed, and Jensen was slumbering on the couch, his cheek mashed against the armrest and one of his legs dangling over the edge.
It was still dark out, and one look at Jensen's beloved Minecraft Creeper alarm clock told him it was 3 a.m. Misha felt tired despite having slept for at least a solid six hours.
“Jensen,” he croaked out. “Hey!”
Jensen woke with a grunt and a rustle of the thin blanket that was covering him. “Mish?”
Misha's heart warmed at the nickname. “Yeah, it's me. Why am I in your bed?”
“Question is,” Jensen mumbled sleepily. “Why wouldn't you be in my bed?”
“No, seriously. I could've taken the couch.”
“Wanted you to have the bed. Now shut up, I'm trying to sleep here. 'm not so good at arguing at ass o'clock in the morning.”
Misha dismissed him with a huff and went to the bathroom.
When he came back, Jensen was on his back, one arm curled under his neck, the other covering his belly where his t-shirt had ridden up to reveal a stripe of skin. Misha had noticed over the past months that Jensen didn't particularly work out much. He had the slim and slightly trained muscles of someone who went for a run now and then and played some college baseball, and it fitted his body type perfectly.
Misha thought he looked adorable like this.
And since Jensen also looked very much asleep, Misha tiptoed over to the couch, leaned over Jensen, and after deciding that watching his friend sleep was a bit creepy, ran his hand through Jensen's already tousled hair affectionately. “Thanks and good night,” he whispered, then quickly returned to the bed and slipped under the covers.
When they got woken up again by Jared singing 'Groove is in the heart' loudly under the shower, it was 10 a.m.
“Morning,” Misha said with enthusiasm as he swung his feet over the edge of the bed, feeling rested and ready to face the world.
Jensen just groaned.
“Sleep well?” Misha added.
Jensen groaned again and Misha decided to leave him alone for another five minutes.
After pulling on his clothes from yesterday, Misha made his way into the kitchen, where he found Jared with dripping wet hair and wearing only boxers and a t-shirt while setting up the coffee maker. He stared at Misha for a solid second before getting back to work.
“So, uh. You spent the night?”
“More or less,” Misha chuckled. “I kinda fell asleep on Jensen.”
Jared burst into laughter. “Aw, the poor guy. But thanks for a perfect story to tease him with later.”
Although he was confused as to what Jared meant, Misha shrugged it off. “I see you're making coffee?” he asked innocently.
“Sure. I'll make a bit more so you get some of it too, before Jensen empties the pot. He's not really himself until he's got two cups of coffee into him,” Jared explained with a grin.
“That would explain why he only growled at me until I left the room.”
Jared pushed the switch of the machine and watched it gurgle to life before he turned to Misha again. “Yeah, he's not exactly a morning person. You'll get used to it.”
“How long have you two been living together, by the way?” Misha leaned against the counter beside Jared. It was surprising to him that he had hung out at Jensen's place for months now and never gotten a real chance to talk to him. Jared always tended to leave Misha and Jensen alone, give them some space and free reign over the apartment, probably because he didn't mind the time spent alone with his girlfriend either. However, he never gave off the impression that he didn't like Misha either, which was reassuring.
Jared quickly threw him off that train of thought with his answer. “Three and a half years. First we were roommates in the dorms, and then managed to score this apartment in our sophomore year. Jensen's parents helped a bit with that.”
“So that's how he can afford all this stuff? His parents?”
Jared shrugged. “It's a combination of his parents putting him through college, having a full ride to BU and having a job that gets him some extra money that he never spends because he doesn't go out.”
“Oh,” Misha said, realization dawning on him. “He never goes out? Why?”
“Well, he's got his games. I don't know if you noticed, but he tends to get very defensive and stand-offish about his spare time activity number one.”
“Uh... Not really, no.”
Jared's eyebrows shot upwards in surprise. “Really? Then I guess that's just you. Which I mean in a totally positive sense, believe me. Since you two met, he's been a different person, more open and less cranky. You do him good, and I've been meaning to tell you that for a while now.”
Misha returned Jared's warm smile and felt something akin to pride and smugness curl in his chest. “Thanks, I guess.”
“I tried to do my best during the past years. I'm game for a round of Madden every once in a while, but, you know, not an evening of just playing 'let's shoot people'. It's great that he found someone who shares his interests.”
“Well, I'm quite fascinated, you know. It's like there's a whole world out there that I’ve never seen before. I love to be sucked into a game and just lose myself in it. It's like reading a good book, but instead of reading about what the main protagonist does, you can decide for yourself what to do,” Misha gestured wildly to make his point. “And I already was kind of a hermit before, so.”
“Now you and Jensen can be hermits together,” Jared grinned.
That was when a voice from the door interrupted them. “Do I smell coffee?” Jensen mumbled, his voice still rough from sleep. The hem of his t-shirt was flipped up and his boxer briefs were slightly askew and Misha had the sudden urge to cuddle him.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” he greeted Jensen instead, laughing when Jensen ran his hand through his mussed-up hair and yawned. “And yes, you look like you need it.”
“My neck hurts,” Jensen groused and adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
“From sleeping on the couch, I guess? Told you you didn't need to let me sleep in the bed,” Misha shot him a skeptical look.
“Wait, he let you-- Oh,” Jared interrupted smirking. “That is so sweet, Jen.”
“Fuck off, Jay,” Jensen shot back without venom. “Just trying to be a gentleman here.”
“Yeah, I bet,” Jared snorted.
Misha looked from Jensen to Jared and had the sudden feeling that he missed something.
“I'll leave you two lovebirds alone,” Jared chuckled, then poured himself a cup of coffee and left the kitchen.
“It's way too early to deal with him,” Jensen sighed, taking the biggest mug they had from the shelf and filling it to the brim. After the first sip, he moaned almost obscenely.
Misha sat down at the kitchen table to avoid the impending awkwardness.
Without asking, Jensen put a normal-sized cup with black coffee in front of him. “Already put in a spoon of brown sugar,” he smiled, then flopped down opposite of Misha, their feet bumping against each other under the table.
Pretending not to have noticed, Misha took a good look at Jensen. “Next time you can have the bed. Who was I even kidding, it's been hell to walk home at 5 a.m. every Sunday morning. I'd rather have my walk of shame after breakfast.”
Jensen grinned over the rim of his mug and Misha wondered if other 'not morning persons' even did that. The mid-morning sun was shining bright and warm through the kitchen window, dipping Jensen into a kind of unearthly glow, and for a second, Misha just sat there and allowed himself to stare as Jensen's Adam's apple bopped with each sip of coffee.
“So, how's 'Spirit Tracks' coming along?” Jensen asked in lieu of greeting Misha when he stepped into the 'Surfing Bird' a few nights later.
Misha quickly hit the Pause button on Jensen's old Nintendo DS hard so it would react at all, then craned his neck to look up at him. “I'm currently just traveling all over the map because I love the melody during the train ride so much.”
With a barking laugh, Jensen flopped down at his usual desk. “I did the same the first time I played it.”
“Good game, though, I'm just stuck in the sand temple with the damn sand wand. Did I just say that? That sounded better in my head. What kind of item name even is that?”
“Lemme see,” Jensen chuckled, then walked over to stand behind Misha's chair, his hands at the seat back, brushing warm and reassuring against Misha's shoulders.
When Jensen leaned down, Misha was already halfway across the map towards the desert temple and realized they stood way too close. Jensen was right there, his cheek next to Misha's, and Misha would hardly have to turn his head to kiss or snuggle up to him and where the hell did these thoughts even come from?
From only a few inches away, Misha was almost able to count the freckles on Jensen's nose. He could see a sore spot on Jensen's lips and how chapped they were and felt the sudden urge to kiss them away, until Jensen's lips were spit-slick and parted on a groan. Stubble was covering Jensen's cheeks and jaw, and Misha almost died imagining his lips running down the sharp edge of Jensen's jaw line, nibbling at his pulse point and Jensen's ear lobe until he was moaning.
Maybe it was time to stop pretending, Misha stated to himself.
These feelings had been there for a while now. Possibly not from the moment Jensen walked in that door, but definitely from the moment they sat on the floor of Jensen's room, laughing themselves stupid over Rayman Raving Rabbits 2 and the burping game. Which, since you had to repeatedly jerk the Wiimote up and down as fast as you could, was pretty sexually suggestive and left Misha staring at Jensen, because that brought up pictures that weren't so PG-rated.
Aside from the whole physical attraction thing, he had gotten to know Jensen fairly well over the past months. He was quirky and talkative as soon as he knew you better, and had that same kind of weird humor that Misha had. That they had both curled up on the couch laughing with tears in their eyes when Conker in 'Conker's Bad Fur Day' hit the stone lion with a frying pan was the best example for that.
Jensen also liked to spend his evenings in his room rather than going out, which Misha was all too okay with.
And here they were, in a damn internet café, Jensen bent over the back of Misha's chair with his tempting lips way too close to Misha's, and some kind of gravity pulling Misha closer and closer to Jensen.
“There's a rabbit, quick, catch it,” Jensen said right then, turning to look at Misha and catching him staring. “Hi,” he added teasingly with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
“Hi,” Misha answered, stunned by Jensen's green eyes watching him with those crinkles at the corner.
“The rabbit's long gone, you know,” Jensen followed up without looking back at the game.
“I honestly don't care,” Misha found himself saying with emphasis, swaying towards Jensen.
A hot puff of air hit Misha's cheek, and only then did he realize that his eyes had fallen shut and Jensen had pulled back. Misha pressed his eyes shut harder and shook his head almost imperceptibly - shook off the disappointed feeling of failed expectations and slight embarrassment.
“Let me know when you've reached the temple and we'll do the walkthrough together,” Jensen said, rounding the table once more. “I'll set up my laptop in the meantime.”
“Alright,” Misha huffed on the exhale.
His hormones were still on overdrive, his heart was racing a mile a minute and he knew he was overreacting, but he couldn't help it. However, it wasn't Jensen's fault that Misha had fully expected him to kiss him right then.
Then he looked up from the colorful locomotive that Link steered through the plain and found Jensen watching him with an endearing and fond, but also thoughtful smile. And he knew that it was okay.
It would all be okay, because he put that smile there on Jensen's face, and Jensen may be just as unsure about all of this as Misha was, but there were signs.
Misha just hoped that he didn't read them wrong.
“Hey, handsome,” Misha greeted Jensen when he stepped through the door two days later. “Missed you yesterday.”
It seemed like an eternity since Jensen hadn't come in each and every night. And since the days had become longer and warmer, Jensen tended to wear his college baseball jacket over a simple university t-shirt and blue jeans more often. Not that Misha minded, because he never knew he had that much of a soft-spot for jocks until lately.
Today, it was that combination again, but Misha thought the white t-shirt was a bit tight around Jensen's shoulders. Again, not that he minded. It looked ridiculously hot on Jensen, as did the pair of worn jeans.
“Well, I had stuff to do at the university that actually required for me to be there at normal working hours,” Jensen explained as he strolled across the room to Misha's desk, the swing of his hips leisurely and relaxed. “I brought an apology gift, though.”
With that, he not only unloaded the carton holding two Starbucks cups from his arms, but also a baby blue package with a white ribbon, roughly as big as a shoe box but half as tall.
“I don't remember telling you I was pregnant,” Misha joked.
“I figured it's gonna be a boy, so,” Jensen deadpanned. “Why don't you open it?”
Misha raised a skeptical eyebrow and tore into the gift wrap to find six cupcakes, one of which bore a small sign made of marzipan.
“'Sorry, honey'? Really?” Misha snorted amused.
Jensen leaned against Misha's desk and chuckled. “They didn't have one without some kind of term of endearment on it. I figured you'd be okay with 'honey' instead of 'sweetie' or 'princess'.”
Misha mock-pouted at him in return. “Am I not your princess?”
“Aw, of course you are. Didn't want your head to get too big is all,” Jensen smirked down at him. “Also, the baby blue wrap is just because they only had pastel colors and I thought blue would be the manliest option.”
Looking down at the six cupcakes all covered in different colored frosting and looking like a rainbow exploded over them, Misha just had to burst out laughing. “Let me reassure you, this is the manliest apology gift I have ever been given.”
“By all means,” Misha smiled.
“Good,” Jensen nodded, then clapped his hands and shot Misha an anticipatory look, “then let's try them. I really wanna taste the blue and green sprinkled one, it's supposed to taste like strawberry.”
“Who chooses blue and green sprinkles for a strawberry cupcake?” Misha wondered out loud as he picked up the one Jensen was talking about, eyeing it suspiciously.
“The Talon. You know, the coffee-and-cupcakes place downtown - the old movie theater?”
“Ah, right,” Misha nodded as it dawned on him. He wondered why Jensen would drive through half of Boston to get him a bunch of cupcakes, but then quickly discarded the thought in favor of simply feeling flattered. “Yeah, that place is a hell of pastel colors. Good coffee, thou- oh.”
Misha was interrupted mid-sentence by Jensen leaning down in front of him and taking a big bite out of the cupcake in his hand, moaning as he chewed.
“Mh, that is indeed strawberry,” Jensen noted with his mouth half-full, then licked the smear of red strawberry jelly slowly from his upper lip.
Misha was rendered speechless and so, so turned on.
“You gotta try this. Really, I'm not toxic, just take a bite,” Jensen talked with his mouth still full of cupcake and a boyish grin on his lips.
Misha cursed him to all high heavens, but he still took the bite, not without poking his tongue out and licking off a stray piece of frosting first. He only broke eye contact with Jensen for a quick second.
Watching Jensen's jaw literally drop at the curl of his tongue against the cupcake was worth it. The bite that followed was slow and purposefully soft, and Misha felt for a moment like a teenage girl trying to play coy.
Jensen obviously fell for it, nonetheless, and Misha couldn't hold back a silly smile while chewing the exquisite piece of bakery.
“It is strawberry,” he replied and watched as Jensen's jaw locked. “Thanks for this. What are the other ones?”
“Oh, uh. The yellow and orange ones are blueberry, and the red and violet ones are lemon or... um, I think it could've been grapefruit or something, too, I don't remember exactly... and you already know what the green and blue ones taste like,” Jensen managed to cough, obviously caught off guard.
Misha loved every second of seeing him so flustered. “A whole rainbow collection, look at that.”
If this was a sign again, Misha thought, then it was a pretty easy one to figure out. He couldn't help but feel smug.
Because really, there was no need to apologize for not coming to visit Misha yesterday at work. This was all a lame excuse to bring Misha a gift, plus a subtle showcase of gay pride.
Not that they had ever talked about their exes or their sexual orientation.
It wasn't necessary, somehow.
And Misha couldn't just come out and ask Jensen if a) he was gay and b) he wanted to be his boyfriend. Now where would be the fun in that when he could have Jensen adorably flustered and searching for words to tell him in a roundabout way?
“Jared, can I ask you something?” Misha asked over his cup of coffee on Sunday morning, when he was sure that Jensen was still out like a light.
“Sure thing,” Jared shrugged. “Shoot.”
“How's Jensen's... stance towards girlfriends?”
He noticed several emotions flickering over Jared's features - confusion, curiosity and insecurity among them.
“I don't know how much he told you, but I don't know much, either. Just that since I met him, he hasn't had a girlfriend,” Jared explained, but looked a hell of a lot like he wasn't telling Misha everything he knew.
Misha decided to gloss over it. “So he's not exactly the relationship type or...?” didn't you want to say that he hasn't had a girlfriend because he's gay?
“Honestly, I'm not feeling too comfortable talking about this. Why don't you ask him yourself?” Jared replied briskly.
“I don't know, guess I'm a bit afraid of the answer, to be honest. And I don't want to be nosy. Which I guess I kind of am, now that I'm asking you about this,” Misha sighed heavily. “Sorry.”
“You know, if there's really some kind of misunderstanding between you two, you should clear that up with him.”
“Alright, alright, let's just... forget this conversation ever happened?” Misha begged with the best set of puppy dog eyes that he could manage.
“That's... probably a good idea,” Jared gave in, still confused.
Misha slurped his coffee and thanked whatever powers were at work that Jensen didn't show up until a few minutes later, adorably mussed from sleep but smiling tiredly at Misha as soon as he noticed him sitting at the kitchen table. “Morning.”
“Since when do you even smile before your first dose of caffeine?” Jared smirked.
“Since Misha's here?” Jensen offered jokingly, then brushed his hand against the back of Misha's neck on his way past him and towards the coffee machine.
One look at Jared told Misha he didn't think Jensen was completely joking, either.
“Aw,” Jared teased, then got to his feet. “I'll be at Gen's place for the day, so you have the apartment to yourselves.”
“Um, thank you,” Misha said, surprised. Usually, Gen would visit Jared here, not the other way around, but Misha was thankful for small favors.
Jensen ignored them until he was provided with coffee and flopped down in front of Misha, pushing his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose with practiced motion. “So, what are we gonna do with an apartment to ourselves all day?”
“Since I gotta get to work at 1 p.m. for the afternoon shift, I don't think we have much time to do anything,” Misha answered with a look at the kitchen clock, which said 10:30 a.m.
Jensen's face fell and he started to nibble on his bottom lip. “Well, you have a change of clothes with you, don't you?”
“So if we manage to shower within half an hour, then we've still got two hours.”
“Which means I'll have to get to work from here.”
“Which is shorter than from your apartment anyway,” Jensen pointed out.
Misha couldn't help but smirk. “You don't want me to go.”
“No, I really don't,” Jensen smiled at him fondly. “Sorry. I know it's a bit childish, trying to hog you.”
With a deep intake of breath, Misha tried to calm down the butterflies in his stomach. “Childish? You?” he laughed nervously, trying to shake off the strange feeling. “One look at your room doesn't give that away at all.”
“Common mistake, actually,” Jensen winked. “Video games are big boy games.”
“Wouldn't have thought that, big boy,” Misha blinked at Jensen, his voice suddenly rough.
Jensen's eyes snapped open, the expression in his eyes shifting from amused to something darker. Something Misha felt deep in his chest but didn't want to name just yet; something that made him shiver in anticipation, made his skin tingle with electricity and made his toes curl.
Their eyes locked over the short distance, only the table separating them, and as Misha held the appraising look of Jensen's too green eyes, he knew that something was starting up here. Had started a while ago, actually, and wormed its way into their lives, and into Misha's heart. It wasn't uncomfortable between them – it never was – but the air was crackling with things unsaid and their feelings spilling out, making a mess.
Misha eventually broke the moment by coughing and clearing his throat. “So. What are we going to do in those two hours?”
“Oh, I can certainly think of a thing or two that we could take care of within two hours,” Jensen's voice was rough, too, and full of innuendo.
“Like finishing up that Scott Pilgrim playthrough that we had going?”
“That was totally the first thing I was thinking of,” Jensen answered with a lopsided grin, the words dripping with sarcasm.
Misha felt flattered and somehow strung too tight. He also couldn't get to his feet until both their cups of coffee were empty, or else Jensen would've noticed just how much effect his words had had on Misha's treacherous body.
“Hey, there you are!”
“Sorry,” Misha said, juggling the two paper cups filled with coffee as he approached the 'Surfing Bird'. “I didn't think you'd be early.”
Jensen was waiting at the door with his hands buried in his pockets. “You brought coffee, so you're forgiven,” he grinned.
“Well, it's Thursday, so it's my turn to buy coffee.”
Unfortunately, Misha had completely forgotten to take one of the carton carriers with him, resulting in having to hold both cups and a paper bag with two blueberry muffins jammed between his elbow and his chest.
“Need a hand?” Jensen offered.
“Yeah, you could, uh... unlock the door? Keys are in my left pocket.”
“Jeans pocket?” Jensen asked and stepped closer.
Misha nodded. “Yeah.”
It took some fumbling on Jensen's part, because the keys had apparently slipped into the deepest part of Misha's pocket, and Misha felt fingertips ghosting over his thigh, touching, seeking, only a thin layer of cotton separating their skin. It was awkward but in a way also enjoyable, and Misha was almost sad that Jensen found the keys so quickly.
“Got 'em!” Jensen announced triumphantly.
“Alright, take the one with the square base.”
Jensen filed through the various keys on Misha's key ring until he held out one with a questioning look.
“Yeah, that one. Just stick it in,” Misha confirmed without thinking twice, in a hurry to get the steaming hot cups out of his hands.
“Oh really, sticking it in? And there I thought I could blow it down,” Jensen smirked over his shoulder.
Misha knew that he was blushing at Jensen's dirty undertone, but that didn't mean that Jensen would get away with it. “If you're better at blowing than sticking it in, I'm okay with that.”
Jensen just burst out laughing while unlocking the door and letting them in.
“You know, you could've just given me one of the cups.”
“That would've been way too easy,” Misha answered, dropping his goods on his desk, then turning towards Jensen to take the keys from his hand, his fingers closing around Jensen's. “Thank you.”
Avoiding his look, Jensen chuckled. He seemed a bit flustered while he walked over to his usual desk, and Misha may have felt a bit smug about it.
However, insecurity was shining in his eyes when he found Misha's eyes again. “You know, you don't need an excuse to... ah, forget it,” he broke off the mumbled sentence and shook his head.
“What?” Misha chased, slowly closing the gap of a few steps between them until he was standing right in front of Jensen.
“Nothing,” Jensen dismissed it again.
“Don't 'nothing' me, sweetheart. If you start sentences like these, you better learn to finish them,” Misha teased Jensen, poking him in the ribs with his right index finger.
“Stop that,” Jensen groused and grabbed Misha's hand out of reflex.
For a moment, time seemed to stand still. In the most clichéd way possible.
Misha was staring at Jensen's hand, thick fingers with blunt fingernails wrapped around his own, more delicate ones, holding on with just the right pressure. Jensen was frozen as his fingers squeezed Misha's hand idly, his thumb rubbing an almost imperceptive circle onto the back of it.
It really was probably just a moment, just the blink of an eye, but it seemed like a long minute to Misha.
So when he looked up and found Jensen's eyes firmly fixed on him, he had to take a deep breath.
“I meant to say,” Jensen began on the exhale, “that you don't need an excuse for touching me, or getting me to touch you. Trust me, I'm completely okay with it.”
Not with the where and how I want to touch you, Misha thought, but swallowed down the words that already lay on the tip of his tongue. Instead, he forced a smile onto his face.
“I'll try to remember that next time I've got my hands full,” he replied with a wiggle of his eyebrow.
Jensen's expression vanished into a grimace of reserved amusement battling with the strong will to stay serious. Misha knew he had just devalued their moment by making a dirty joke about it but he had to do something to lift the solemn mood.
In the end, Jensen cracked and grinned. “I hate you, you know that?” he burst out without venom.
“Oh, trust me, I'm completely okay with it,” Misha repeated Jensen's words to him, then turned his palm that was still in Jensen's hand around and pulled it free – but not without running the tip of his index finger over the inside of Jensen's palm, which had him shivering from the sensation.
When Misha headed back to his desk, he thought he heard Jensen moan silently to himself.
A full-blown, obscenely deep growl would've turned him on just as much as that little moan did, and it stopped Misha in his tracks.
He smiled to himself, then threw a smirk over his shoulder, taking note of Jensen's parted lips and his slightly irritated stare, which quickly shifted into a bright grin. God, he was beautiful. The way he dipped his head diffidently, bit his lower lip, it made Misha's mind wander off to different places. Places that featured certain vertical, plush surfaces. Come to think of it, the desks here would probably do just fine, too, he thought.
“You're gonna be the end of me, I swear,” Misha found himself saying on a whim, shaking his head.
“What now?” Jensen followed up, surprised.
Misha felt heat rise up on his cheeks. Great, now he was blushing, just what he needed. “Nothing.”
Jensen walked towards him, waving his index finger. “Ah, ah. Nope. If I don't get to 'nothing' you, you don't get to 'nothing' me. Alright? Spit it out, Collins. You don't get to start these sentences without finishing them, either.”
A heavy palm curled around Misha's shoulder, keeping him grounded. Looking into Jensen's eyes from this distance made something reckless and irrational flare up within him; Misha could feel it, like it was rattling and throwing itself against the confines of his chest, begging and crying to be let out into the world. Misha wondered when he had stopped playing coy and started making his life harder than it needed to be.
“There are some sentences that haven't got a second part yet,” Misha sighed, despite all the urges sending his feelings on a rollercoaster ride.
They’d been climbing the lift hill for months now, and the first drop eventually had to come.
They had spent entire nights doing impossible shit on RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, so Misha had learned that lesson all too well.
“What makes you say that?” Jensen asked, obviously confused.
“I don't know,” Misha confessed. “There's quite a lot of things I don't know what to think of these days.”
“About...” Jensen began, then dropped his chin onto his chest to take a deep breath. When he looked back up, he jerked his head pretty unmistakably between the two of them.
“Yeah,” Misha nodded.
Jensen's eyes turned soft, and his mouth quivered into a shaky smile. “You know, in a way a... friendship is like starting a game without knowing what you're in for. You never know if you're able to handle the controls – maybe you need to invert the Y-axis first, adjust your view and your control over the game so you can manage to play it at all.”
“You're always telling me that the people who invert the controls have a standing deal with the devil,” Misha threw in.
“Well, haven't you?” Jensen smirked.
“Not for a while,” Misha quipped.
Jensen chuckled and let his hand drop from Misha's shoulder to his elbow. “Seriously, though. My point is, maybe you won't be able to handle that game at all, and it collects dust on your shelf. I guess you have to buy and experience those kind of games, too, because when you come across a really good one, you'll notice how good it is. A game that you start and immediately have a feeling for the controls and the camera without having to reset anything. Everything just falls into place and fits. And the story will be fantastic and take you on a ride that you didn't expect, sucks you into a world you never knew existed, and the game ends up blowing your mind. But you can only find and experience those games if you play them.”
“Nice pep talk,” Misha mumbled, avoiding Jensen's piercing green eyes that were swirling with emotions and unsaid confessions, and it was making him dizzy. “I know what you're doing, for the record.”
“I know what you're doing, too, Mish. You're deflecting. And okay, I get it. I've been a lone wolf for most of my life, too. Just. Think about it?”
“Yeah, no worries. I will.”
The next day, Misha found an envelope in his mailbox. It contained a letter that he had been waiting for for weeks now, and when it said exactly what he had hoped it would, he almost shouted out his happiness into the world.
Instead, he made a call to Mitch that had been overdue for almost a year now.
Then he texted Jensen, saying that he wouldn't have to stop by the 'Surfing Bird' tomorrow, seeing as Misha wouldn't be there.
Wat? Whys that? Jensen texted back.
Because I just quit. Working hours kinda interfered with my hours as an intern at the state government, Misha answered, a big smile unwavering on his lips.
Great 2 hear we dont have to limit our gamin nights to saturdays any more. Come by tomorrow we gotta celebrate!!
Misha grinned some more to himself, a plan forming in his head about what to do with his and Jensen's situation, and with the not-so-ambiguous possibility of feelings between them.
Misha was nervous.
Probably more nervous than he had been before his valedictorian speech in high school, which meant a thing or two.
He took a deep breath and pressed the doorbell to Jensen's and Jared's apartment. Solid, loud footfalls told him that he had guessed right – Jared would be the one opening the door for him if he was early.
“Hey, Misha,” Jared greeted him with a wide, happy grin. “Come on in.”
“Hey,” Misha nodded, and added quietly, “Where's Jensen?”
“Since you're early, Loverboy is still busy grooming for you,” Jared winked.
Perfect, Misha thought and leaned in to whisper, “Um, listen. Can I ask you for a favor?”
“Do you think you could up the ante with the boyfriend jokes today?”
Jared was, unsurprisingly, confused at the request. “Why? I mean, I tease you pretty much every waking minute about it anyway.”
“Just, trust me on this, alright?” Misha begged and shot Jared a conspiratorial look.
“Alright,” Jared nodded, then shouted over his shoulder with his eyebrows still raised, “Hey Jen, your boyfriend's here.”
“He's not my boyfriend!” came the answering yell from the bathroom.
It had been like this for months now. Jared rarely referred to one of them to the other with their first name – mostly, it was different variations of sweetheart, loverboy, boyfriend, or something of the like. Misha didn't mind, because Jensen was adorable when he blushed and denied their relationship status.
They settled in the kitchen with a can of soda each, chatting idly until Jensen showed up in the doorway, freshly showered and shaved. Misha swallowed heavily at seeing him in a dark blue button-down with his sleeves rolled up and black jeans that hugged his body in all the right places.
“Hey,” Jensen smiled, then headed over to the table to ruffle Misha's hair.
“Stop it,” Misha grumbled, swatting his hand away and glaring after Jensen, who headed to the fridge with a wide grin.
“You guys are so friggin' married,” Jared snickered.
“Fuck you too, Padalecki,” Jensen threw back amused.
“Ah, no. It's cute, actually.”
Jensen simply shot him an unimpressed, nonplussed glare over the top of the door of the fridge. Then he coughed. “So, I believe we gotta celebrate a little something.”
Three beers were put down on the table in front of Misha.
Misha smirked up at Jensen. “I have no idea what you're talking about.”
“A certain someone landing an internship with the state government ring any bells?”
“Still a bit fuzzy,” Misha pursed his lips and shook his head playfully.
Jensen smiled and leaned down a bit, as if he hadn't invaded Misha's bubble of personal space enough already. “And you haven't even had a drink yet,” he teased.
“Must be the company,” Jared chimed in with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows.
Jensen rolled his eyes at him, which Misha knew meant that Jared had finally struck some kind of nerve, because Jensen was getting pissed. Wordlessly, he took the beers to open them and push a bottle into each of their hands.
“I'd like to propose a toast,” Jensen announced, lifting his own beer.
“To the happy couple,” Jared coughed under his breath, and Jensen ignored him completely.
His nostrils flared with repressed irritation, though, which Misha duly noted.
“To Misha, for taking an important step towards his future,” Jensen concluded.
Jared acted surprised. “Did I miss your proposal?”
Which was the final straw that made Jensen break. “Would you knock it off?” he burst out, slamming his bottle onto the tabletop. “You've been making these jokes for months, they're not even funny anymore, and for Christ's sake, Misha is not my boyfriend.”
“Yeah, right,” Jared snorted.
“Yeah, right!” Jensen shouted right back.
“Are you even gay?” Misha asked curiously, and the twisted feeling in his gut just seemed to get worse the more he tried to calm down and tell himself that this had been the plan all along.
“As gay as a fucking pride parade, okay?” Jensen stated with emphasis, eventually turning towards Misha. When their eyes met over the short distance, Jensen seemed to realize somewhat what just had happened and screwed his eyes shut. “Look, I'm sorry, this is not like I thought I'd--”
“Don't worry,” Misha smiled and got to his feet to stand in front of Jensen. “It was kind of my intention, to be honest. You would never have told me if we went on like we did. And I had to be sure.”
“Sure because... what now?” Jensen asked confused.
“Well,” Misha started, then reached for Jensen's hand to curl his fingers around it. “We could be. Boyfriends, I mean. If you're interested.” These things shouldn't be so hard to say.
“You mean, you're--”
“Gay as a pride parade, too. Well, bisexual, to be exact.”
“And you want me to be your boyfriend?”
“That's what I said, wasn't it?”
“Uh. Really? In case you haven't noticed, I'm kind of the awkward nerd no one wants to hang out with.”
“In case you haven't noticed, I've hung out with you a lot lately and I've had a great time. I mean, you introduced me to Hyrule and the Normandy and Rapture and Skyrim. You showed me all of these new worlds and games, and honestly? They're breathtaking and intriguing, yet what captured and fascinated me the most was you. You and your passion and your dedication to these games. And over the course of those last months, I fell in love with you. So, yeah. I really want you to be my boyfriend.”
The unhappy pout on Jensen's lips had slowly spread into a tiny smile, and by the end of Misha's little speech, to a bright grin. “God, you're cheesy,” he huffed.
But then, the most amazing thing happened.
Jensen wrapped his hand around Misha's neck and pulled him in for a hard, passionate kiss. It was maybe a bit too wet, and their noses bumped together awkwardly and Misha's upper lip got stuck to Jensen's bottom one for a split second, but they slotted together like their lips were designed to fit one another's. Jensen didn't need to tell Misha how long he had wanted to do this, because that kiss pretty much spoke for itself, and the feeling... the spark that it ignited in Misha's whole body, the tender warmth and overwhelming happiness, was worth the wait.
He was dizzy from the company, for real this time.
Misha could've done this all evening, but then a cough reminded them that they weren't alone in the kitchen.
They broke apart reluctantly, and Misha noticed that he had left a smear on Jensen's glasses. He had to suppress a grin.
“So, uh, let me get this straight,” Jared asked confused, “you actually weren't dating before this?”
“No?” Jensen answered, equally confused.
“Because I could've sworn... nevermind. - Wait, really?”
“Yeah,” Misha laughed.
“You both just noticed that you're crushing on each other right now?”
“Yeah?” they both replied simultaneously, then started to giggle. God, being in love does make you act like a teenage girl, Misha thought amused.
Jared started laughing right then and didn't stop for a whole minute, until he wheezed, “You guys are unbelievable. Enjoy your night, I'll be at Gen's.”
And with that, he left.
“So he thought we were a couple all along,” Misha stated, still working through the events of the past minutes.
“Maybe if I had asked him sooner, we wouldn't have spent months tiptoeing around each other,” Jensen mused.
“Aw, c'mon. It was fun, though.”
“It was. Although I can think of something even more fun,” Jensen winked. “And no, it's not our Scott Pilgrim marathon this time.”
Misha tried to stay serious, but at the salacious gaze from Jensen, he cracked. “You, sir, have a very dirty mind and I couldn't wish for more in this whole wide world,” Misha smiled.
“Then let's go make use of an apartment we have all to ourselves for the night,” Jensen chuckled and pulled Misha firmly against his chest to kiss him again.