All's Fair In Love And War.
Jared's just about to go home for the day when the phone on his desk rings. Grabbing his jacket with one hand, he picks the phone up with the other. 'Hey, Jared,' Jeff says down the line, 'I need you to do me a favour. It's my anniversary,' Jared rolls his eyes, sure Jeff is about to ask him to go and buy something for his husband for him, which is at once both tacky and inappropriate, 'and I'm meant to be having dinner with Jensen in half an hour, but...something's come up.'
As if on cue, a distinctly feminine giggle echoes in the background, and Jared's mind flashes back to Katie from Accounting walking into Jeff's office fifteen minutes ago. He didn't think anything of it at the time but now...
And on his anniversary too?? Jared's opinion of his new boss instantly takes a nose dive, and he's barely able to keep the disdain from his voice when he asks, 'What would you like me to do, sir?'
'Jeff, kiddo, Jeff,' Jeff reminds him with a laugh, no hint of remorse or guilt about cheating on his husband, and Jared's grip on the phone tightens. Jared might only have met Jensen once, a brief introduction at Jared's first office party two weeks ago, but no-one deserves to be treated this way. 'Can you just go to the restaurant, pick him up, and take him home for me? Maybe sweet talk him a little; tell him I'm handling something really important that just couldn't be put off.'
Jared grinds his teeth as he glares at Jeff's office door. 'What restaurant is it?'
'Georgio's, down on Third.' Jared waits for Jeff to hang up now he's given Jared all the information he needs, but instead, Jeff adds, 'I know this isn't exactly in your job description, but I really appreciate it.'
And there's just so many things Jared wants to say to that - things like: this isn't even close to being in his job description, and how Jared would really appreciate him not using him to cheat on his husband, and that Jeff's husband deserves better than this shit.
So many things that would get him fired, and he has to remind himself just how much he needs this job so he can to force himself to lie and say, 'It's no problem' instead of all the things swirling around in his head.
He hangs up before Jeff can say anything else; he's not sure his stomach could handle another word from the man right now. Pulling his jacket on, he casts one last scornful look at Jeff's office before storming out the door.
It takes him less than fifteen minutes to get to the restaurant - Jared wants to get this over as soon as possible - and less than one to locate Jensen.
He's sitting in a booth on his own, dressed in a plain but expensive looking black suit, his hair meticulously styled, tearing nervously at his napkin. He's clearly gone all out for his anniversary...hell, Jared even spots a small gift lying next to his arm, wrapped in silver paper and finished with a green bow.
He watches Jensen's eyes dart around the restaurant, anxiously searching, until they fall on Jared. His shoulders instantly slump, the hurt in his eyes quickly bleeding to resignation as he stares at Jared for a moment before dropping his gaze to the table. Even from where Jared's standing, he can see the way Jensen's hands shake as he reaches for the gift and slides it back into his jacket pocket.
Jared's across the room and standing next to the table before he even makes the conscious choice to move. 'Hey, Jensen,' he says gently. 'Look, I'm so sorry, but Jeff can't make it tonight.'
'Cause like hell is he gonna lie for the man, boss or no boss.
He's about to offer Jensen a ride home when Jensen looks up at him, and his eyes are so sad, so lonely, that at the last moment, Jared changes his mind and says, 'Mind if I join you?'
Jensen's eyes widen at that, and he shakes his head uncertainly.
'Thanks,' Jared says, sliding into the booth opposite Jensen and picking up a menu, 'I haven't eaten since lunch and I'm starving.'
'Jared, I don't...' Jensen trails off, and when Jared glances up from his menu, he sees Jensen giving him a confused look. He's also back to picking at his napkin again. Jared's heart clenches painfully in his chest, and he quickly lays the menu down and reaches across the table to still Jensen's nervous hands.
'If you wanna leave, I'll take you home, but...it's your anniversary, and I think you deserve a nice night out, okay?'
Jensen's still staring at him with wide, shocked eyes; he's not sure the guy's actually blinked since Jared sat down. Hoping to reassure him, he rubs his thumb soothingly across Jensen's knuckles, just once, before releasing his hands and sitting back. That at least seems to bring Jensen back to himself, and he says, 'You really don't have to do this, Jared. I'm not your prob...I mean, this...this isn't your responsibility.'
I'm not your problem.. That's what he was going to say. That, coupled with the look of resignation on his face when he saw Jared, and the casual acceptance of Jeff's absence, tells Jared this isn't the first time Jeff's let Jensen down like this. Not by a long shot.
Pushing down another wave of anger, he forces a smile onto his face as he says, 'You're acting like a free steak is a hardship, Jensen. I mean, Jeff's paying, right? Maybe I'll even splash out and have a lobster too. Nothing like a little surf and turf, am I right?'
That startles a laugh out of Jensen, and Jared's smile instantly turns more genuine at the sound. Jensen might not be his responsibility, but he'll be damned if he's gonna leave him alone tonight.
'That's just...are you sure?? You've gotta have better things to be doing with your night than babysitting me, Jared?' Jensen replies, sounding utterly baffled, as though he truly believes spending the evening with him would be a waste of someone's time, and if that's not the most heartbreaking thing in the world, Jared doesn't know what is.
'Hmmm...let me think. Two Michelin Star steak, good wine, great company,' his eyes flick up to Jensen's face just long enough for him to catch the slight blush his words bring to the man's cheeks, 'versus a night of 'Friends' reruns and work reports. Not exactly a hard choice, Jen.'
The nickname slips out before he can stop it, but when Jensen just reaches out to take hold of his own menu instead of correcting him, he doesn't take it back. He kind of likes how it feels on his tongue, and secretly hopes Jeff doesn't call Jensen that as well. He gets the feeling that Jeff doesn't really do pet names.
'How about I get the lobster and you get the steak and...and we can share?' Jensen's smile is tentative as he raises his eyes to Jared's, like he's just waiting to get shot down, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Jared's heart aches for him.
'Sounds perfect,' he says, returning Jensen's smile with a bright one of his own, and knocking his knee companionably against Jensen's under the table. And just like that, they're off and running.
To Jared's surprise, he actually ends up having an amazing time. What had started out as kind of a pity date has turned into one of the best nights he's had in a long time. Jensen is interesting and sweet and funny, even if way too many of his jokes have a self deprecating bite to them that cuts Jared to his core.
And he's gorgeous. Jared would have to be blind to not notice that. The first time he smiles, really smiles, at Jared, it kind of takes his breath away.
He loses track of time, so engrossed in his conversation with Jensen, so busy trying to get him to smile that smile again, and he's slightly startled when their waiter comes up to tell them that they're about to close up. Jared finally tears his eyes away from Jensen and looks around, shocked to see they're the last people in the restaurant. He hadn't even noticed everyone else leaving.
'Will I be charging your bill to the card on the reservation, sir?' the waiter asks, clearing away their empty glasses, and the three bottles of wine they've made it through tonight.
'Yeah, that would be great.' Jared flashes Jensen a quick, evil grin. 'And give yourself a $100 tip on top of that, okay?'
Jensen ducks his head down, huffing out a laugh, and Jared can't resist giving himself a mental pat on the back. Once the waiter's left them alone again, looking very glad that he got their table tonight, Jared slides out of the booth and reaches a hand towards Jensen. Which Jensen takes, after only a moment's hesitation, looking shyly up at Jared through his long lashes.
And Jared suddenly feels winded all over again. So much so that he ends up pulling on Jensen's hand just a shade too hard, causing Jensen to stumble into him, palms coming to rest flat on Jared's chest, face inches from Jared's. Mouth so close, Jared can feel his breath against his lips.
Close enough that if Jared were to lean forward just a little, they'd be kissing. And, fuck, Jared wants that. He wants it so badly he can taste it.
Before he can give in to his desires though, Jensen stutters out an apology and steps back. He looks adorably flustered and heartbreakingly beautiful as he smoothes down imaginary creases in his suit, and it takes every shred of willpower Jared has not to drag him into his arms again.
He's married, Jared tells himself firmly, trying desperately to ignore the small voice in his head that instantly replies So??
So he's in love with someone else.
That's what clinches it. Jensen doesn't want this. He's just lonely, was probably flattered by Jared's attention; he doesn't want Jared. And if Jared weren't so drunk right now, he'd have way a better control on his emotions. Yeah, that's...that's all this is. He's just really, really drunk, and it's messing with his head.
Shaking himself slightly to clear his thoughts, he takes a deep breath and pulls out his cell to call a cab.
Jensen's perched himself on the edge of the table now, long, slightly bowed - Christ - legs crossed at the ankles, head thrown back, displaying the soft curve of his neck perfectly.
Jared forces himself to look away and focus on his phone. He's sure when he wakes up sober tomorrow, all...all of these feelings will be gone. He swallows tightly as his heart pounds in his chest and his fingers ache with the need to reach out and touch the beautiful man beside him.
Yeah, he's absolutely positive this'll all just...blow over.