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Jared checks his phone for the fifth time in five minutes. He has forty five minutes before he has to leave for his date with Nick but each minute feels like an hour. He's left his dorm room door open a foot, so he hears the keys of his next door neighbor jangling and springs up like a panther to catch him before he disappears behind his door.

"Jensen! Hey! Thank god you're here, I need your help."

Jensen looks up in that unhurried way of his, meeting Jared's gaze with his clear green eyes and smiles. "What's up, Jay?"

"I'm freaking out. Can I talk to you?"

"Sure, come on in."

Jared follows Jensen into his single. They've been neighbors for three months, since the beginning of the school year. Jared was a nervous freshman scared that he wouldn't make any friends in college. Jensen was a jaded sophomore who had a sucky pick in the housing lottery and ended up with a single in a mostly freshman dorm. For some reason, the self-possessed sophomore took pity on Jared and had shown him the ropes, like which dining hall had the least disgusting dinner options and the best study spots in the library. Somehow, they've become friends. Which is why Jared feels comfortable sitting on Jensen's bed and asking him for help.

"Okay, so you know Nick?" He waits for Jensen to nod. Jensen has heard Jared talk about the cute sophomore in his acting class since practically first week of school. "We're finally, finally, finally going on a date tonight."

"Nice," Jensen says. "What's the problem."

"Okay, so this is embarrassing, but I heard some of the theater majors talking about him and how he was apparently a total slut last year and hooked up with lots of guys."

Jensen raises his eyebrows and purses his lips. Jared ignores how that accentuates Jensen's already unreal cheekbones and pushes on. "And so it's like, he's so much more experienced than I am. What if we kiss and it's terrible because I don't know what to do and I'm humiliated and he never wants to see me again?"

"Then you find out he's a jerk," Jensen says, as if it's obvious.

"Come on, Jensen. This is serious."

"Come on, Jay, you've kissed people before." Jensen frowns. "Haven't you?"

"I kissed a girl before. Remember? Hillary? That's how I finally realized I was gay?"

"Oh right."

"Isn't kissing boys different?" Jensen's bi and Jared knows he's been with both guys and girls. He needs Jensen's expertise here.

"Well, sort of. The mechanics are the same."

"Don't talk to me about mechanics. Please. Could you just, like, kiss me and then give me some pointers?"

"What?" Jensen freezes.

"Kiss me. It's not a big deal. You just kiss me and let me kiss you back and then you can tell me what I'm doing wrong and then if Nick kisses me later, I won't be freaking out."

"You want me to kiss you. Like, right now?"

"Yes!" Jensen is making this way harder than it needs to be. "Please?"

***

"Please?" Jared says again.

Jensen looks down at Jared's puppy dog eyes and sighs. Fuck. He's known Jared for three months and he's been able to resist those puppy dog eyes exactly never in all that time.

"Um." Jensen knows that what Jay is asking for is not really a big deal. They're friends. They're both queer, which bonded them early in the semester. He remembers what it was like to be a clueless freshman, when everything seems like a much bigger deal than it actually is. And he's actually kind of surprised that Jared has never kissed a guy before, considering his lips look like they were made for kissing.

But two friends kissing for research purposes is fine when feelings aren't involved. And for Jared, they aren't. That's the problem. Jensen's thought about kissing Jared before—and not for research. Jared is this irresistible combination of sweet and hot and they became friends so fast that Jensen feels like he'd be taking advantage of that friendship, or worse, kill it entirely, if he tells Jared that he actually wants more. So he's suffered in silence for weeks as Jared's gone on an on about this Nick character, trying to stamp out his own jealousy and be happy for Jay when it turned out Nick was interested in him too.

Good for Jared. Jensen can be happy for him. He can keep his feelings to himself.

But now Jared's asking for something Jensen's not sure he can give.

"One kiss?" he asks weakly.

"Whatever, just help." Jared's so amped up, it's kinda cute. Jensen just wishes he was keyed up over him, not fucking Nick from acting class.

"Okay, fine." Jensen can do this. It's just a kiss. It won't mean anything. Unfortunately.

He sinks down on the bed next to Jared. "How do you want to—?"

"I don't know," Jared wails. "That's the problem."

"Okay, just, relax. Let me lead." He puts a hand on Jared's waist. He can feel his firm, smooth back through his henley. His mouth goes dry. That's not good. He licks his lips and that helps a little. Jared seems to be watching his tongue dart in and out. "You can touch me, too," he says, and if his voice is lower than usual, it's just because this is a strange situation.

"Okay." Jared puts a hand on Jensen's shoulder, hesitantly at first, and Jensen leans into the touch. Jensen's not a small guy, but Jared's bigger, and his hand seems to cover Jensen's entire shoulder, making him feel…not small. Protected, though. It's strangely comfortable.

Jensen focuses on Jared's lips. "Okay, touching is good. Now the kiss," he whispers. He closes his eyes, leans forward. He starts with a soft brush, lips to lips. Jared seems frozen underneath him. He opens his eyes and whispers. "You can move, if you want." He tries again, brushings their lips together and this time Jared's lips move against his, so he changes the angle until they slot against each other firmly.

Jared feels warm and tastes faintly of minty toothpaste. Jensen's tongue slips out, just touching the seam of Jared's lips lightly before pulling back. When he goes back for another taste, this time Jared parts his mouth and Jensen slips inside, soft, slow.

It's not a real kiss, he reminds himself. This kiss is purely for instructional purposes. He wants to show Jared that kissing doesn't have to be sloppy and invasive. If Jared was his, he'd worship him with his mouth, he'd kiss every inch of his skin, he'd show him how good just kissing can be. But Jared's not his. He'll be kissing someone else before the night is through. They'll be the one who Jared practices on, who gets to taste Jared's unique flavor, to feel his hands on their body.

But as Jared opens up under the pressure of Jensen's kiss, all of that falls away, until it's just the two of them in that moment. He's kissing his gorgeous, adorable friend. The room fills with the sounds of the wet slide of their lips and tongues and the mingling of their hot breath.

Jensen's been kissed lots of time and kissed lots of people, but this is Jared. This is different. He suspected it would be, and it so, so is. His lips tingle, his heart races, his hands on Jared's waist itch to slip underneath the fabric of his shirt and trace the lines of Jared's sinewy muscles. His vision is unfocused when he opens his eyes to take in Jared, whose eyes are wide, lips are red from the kissing. He looks beautiful, and…surprised?

Jensen doesn't know what to say. He knows what he wants to say—forget Nick, stay with me, kiss me all night long. I want to be with you. But before he can say anything, Jared leaps to his feet.

"Wow. That was great! I mean, I think that really helped. I totally feel better about this now. Thanks, Jensen!"

Jared bolts from the room and Jensen's left alone on his bed, lips kiss-swollen, dick hard in his jeans, heart bruised and wanting something he's never going to have.

***

Friday night passes at a crawl. Jensen wants to go to bed and wake up tomorrow and not feel the way he feels about Jared, but he doesn't hold out much hope for that particular miracle. Instead, he goes to a movie with some friends from his economics class and then hits one of the frats on the way home. He doesn't drink more than half a beer before he realizes he might as well go home and mope for all the fun he's having. It's too easy to imagine Jared and Nick on their date, Jared kissing him with his soft, amazing lips. He just hopes Nick deserves to have Jared, that he knows how lucky he is.

He goes back to the dorm, determined to get some sleep, trying to forget about Jared, but on his way to his room he notices Jared's door open a crack. He never leaves it open unless he wants company. He wouldn't leave it open if he and Nick were inside, making out, for instance. Jensen knocks carefully anyway, before he can think about if he really wants to see Jared or not right now. But curiosity wins out. He has to know how the date went. He has to know how jealous he should be.

"Come in," Jared calls at Jensen's knock and he pushes the door inward. Jared's at his desk, drawing. Music plays softly from the speakers on his desk.

"Hey," Jensen says. Jared looks up, then looks startled when he sees who's come into his room.

"Oh! Hey."

For a split second, Jensen's worried that the kissing thing is going to make things awkward, but then remembers it was just pretend. He remembers how Jared begged him to help. He remembers the slide of their mouths together and he clears his throat to cancel image from his brain.

"So, how'd it go?"

"What?" Jared looks mystified and Jensen chuckles.

"The date, Jay. How did your date go?"

"It was okay," Jared fiddles with the pencil in his hands. "We went for pizza."

"Solid start."

"And then—you don't want to hear about this," Jared says.

"What? Sure I do."

Jared sighs. "We went down to the river to take a walk."

"Ah. The river." Jensen's taken a date or two down to the romantic riverwalk a time or two himself.

"Yeah. And we—we kissed."

Jensen tightens his hands into fists. He forces his voice to come out level when he says, "And did it help? The practice, I mean?"

"It was—" Jared drops his eyes. "It was—confusing."

That's unexpected. "Confusing how?"

"He started like you did, with his hand on my waist, except he sort of pushed up my shirt, too." Jensen wants to stride over and do it again, to erase Nick's touch from Jared's skin.

"And then he kissed me, but there was a lot more—tongue." Jared makes a face like he's swallowed half a lemon.

"Sorry, man. Some guys come on stronger than others." Jensen doesn't know if he's glad that Nick was a terrible kisser or bummed at Jared's disappointed face.

"It wasn't terrible, but the whole time I kept thinking—" Jared breaks off and looks down at his sketchpad.

"What?"

"I—never mind." Jared fiddles with the edge the paper. Jensen glances over, tries to see what he's drawn. Looks like a portrait. Jared's an incredible artist, but Jensen's never seen him draw a person before. But before he can see more, Jared covers the image with one of his large, long-fingered hands.

Jensen sits on Jared's bed, pushing aside a stack of plays he's reading for his acting class. "Tell me."

"I was thinking about how you kissed me. I was wishing—" Jared's not looking at him, but Jensen's heart speeds up at the words.

"Wishing what, Jay?" He can't help the gravel in his voice as he asks the question, not daring to hope what the answer might be.

Instead of answering, Jared looks at him through his bangs. Jensen wants to push them out of the way so he can see Jay's expression. Jared says nothing, just squints at Jensen as if he's seeing him for the first time. Then his eyes widen a little, and he turns back to his sketchpad. He starts shading something in furiously. "I knew it, I knew I was missing something…"

"What are you talking about?" Jensen laughs and peeks over Jay's shoulder. The laughter dies in his throat. The face coming to life under Jared's sure hand is his own. To his chagrin, Jared's adding some freckles to the bridge of his nose.

"You drew me?"

"Yeah, sorry. I mean, I hope it's okay."

Jensen just stares at the drawing. Jared's captured him realistically, looking at something far away, lips slightly open, eyes serious. "You're amazing," he can't help but say.

Jared blushes a little, ducks his head.

"I can't believe you can do that. How did you even—?"

"Well, it's not my first attempt," Jared says.

Jensen starting to think that maybe he's missed a few dots. Jared draws him. He was thinking about Jensen while he was kissing Nick. Maybe—

"Why did you draw me tonight?" Jensen asks.

"Uh, well. I was thinking about you, I guess."

"You think about me a lot?"

"Um."

"I think about you all the time," Jensen confesses, before he loses his nerve.

"You do?"

"I've been thinking about you all night. Hating that you were out with stupid Nick from acting class instead of me."

"Really?" Jared's smile blooms on his face wide.

Jensen nods.

"I never thought—I mean, why would you—you're so, um, hot. I never thought you'd think about me like that."

Jensen can't help the grin that spreads on his face. "Jay, I've pretty much been thinking about you like that since we met."

***

"Holy shit." The oath slips out before Jared can call it back. But to hear Jensen, his older, cooler, hotter friend tell him that he's into him is pretty mind-blowing.

Before, when he'd been out with Nick, he really couldn't stop dwelling on the fact that he was out with this guy he'd been lusting after for weeks, and all he could think about was the way Jensen had touched him, the heat of his lips and the way the lids had fallen over his beautiful eyes, heavy and seductive, as if he was enjoying their fake kiss as much as Jared was. It had got him thinking—if he had that much chemistry with his friend, didn't they owe it to each other to find out where they could end up if they kissed for real?

Speaking of which—Jared slips out of the chair and next to Jensen on the bed. He mirrors Jensen's actions from earlier that day, sliding his hand around his waist, between Jensen's pea coat and his thin sweater. He meets Jensen's gaze tentatively, but Jensen's just looking back at him like he wants to eat Jared alive. It's a little scary and a lot hot and it gives Jared enough courage to lean forward and initiate their first real kiss.

Jensen lets Jared set the pace, and they start slow, trading long, soft, kisses. Then Jensen growls a little, and Jared's mouth opens and then the soft music still coming from the speakers is drowned out by the noises of kissing, and moaning, and maybe a little muffled swearing when their hands aren't content to stay on top of clothes, but slip underneath and rake up and down hard torsos.

Jared pulls away, panting, loving the flush on Jensen's gorgeous face. "You're a pretty good kisser, Ackles."

"And you're a quick study, Padalecki."

"Yeah, I don't know. I think I need to study harder." Jared bites his lip and looks at Jensen through his bangs. Jensen swipes them to the side, seizes his mouth in a hard, fast kiss before he lets go, climbs on top of Jared and hums.

"Yeah, let's definitely study harder. Much harder."

They pull an all-nighter, and Jared knows it's only going to be the first of many.