There are very few things in the whole wide frickin’ world that suck more than summer school. Vacuums, for example. Or those weird little catfish things that live on the bottom of aquariums. Or Caroline Stanley, if that rumor about what happened at Mike’s end of the year party is true. But yeah, that’s pretty much it; vacuums, sucker-fish, Caroline Stanley, summer school.
It’s even worse because it’s not like Jared’s remedial or something like the handful of other kids he’s stuck in the starkly empty, echoing physics room with. No, Jared’s here because his parents want him to stay on the ‘with honors’ graduation track and there’s no room to fit physics and AP algebra II into his schedule next year. He’s the only soon-to-be sophomore – not a frosh anymore – in the class which pretty well relegates him to sitting alone and scratching out the answers to page after page of busy-work problems while all of the losers who flunked out of the class this year and have to retake it screw around passing notes and gossiping. Jared’s never felt quite so alone before.
He’s sitting in his usual desk – as usual as three days into the course gets – by the tiny excuse for a window that’s the only thing saving the painted cinderblock room from looking like a scale model of prison housing. There’s not much of a view - six feet of bare concrete, dipped in the middle to funnel rain that hasn’t been seen around these parts in weeks, leading up to another fascinating red brick wall – and sitting in the sun probably isn’t helping with the temperature – whoever decided to save money by turning the school’s air conditioner to half-power deserves to be shot – but at least it makes him feel slightly less trapped in a grey world of unending dullness.
A world view which brightens dramatically for a moment when this… this guy walks by Jared’s tiny keyhole to the outside world. He’s wearing low slung cargo shorts that draw Jared’s attention right to the curve of his muscular legs and a tight, faded tee that clings just a little, probably with sweat from the fast-rising heat.
Not that Jared spends a lot of time taking in his wardrobe because mostly he gets stuck on the momentary glimpse he gets of the guy’s face. He’s almost positive that he must be having some kind of math-induced hallucination because people, especially people with dicks, are not supposed to be that pretty. Like, if it wasn’t for the short, spiky hair and the body, Jared would have almost thought almost thought the guy was a really good-looking girl instead; all eyelashes and puffy lips.
All of that happens in the course of maybe three seconds and then the guy has passed out of sight, plunging Jared’s existence into an even deeper funk. Jared fights back the urge to rush to the window and see where he’s going. Don’t be stupid, he tells himself,it’s just some guy cutting through the school for a shortcut. No reason to get bent out of shape. You probably saw wrong anyway, no way he could have been that hot.
He’s been aware for a while now that he spends a lot more time noticing guys than girls and for the most part, he’s ok with that. His parents weren’t exactly thrilled when he’d told them about that particular revelation, but they were reasonably open-minded and it’s not like Jared’s ever had the opportunity to do anything about it anyway. Being gay or bi or whatever it is that he actually is, doesn’t leave a lot of dating doors open in small town Texas. Doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy the view.
The door handle clacks loudly over the low buzz of conversation, dragging Jared’s attention away from staring sightlessly at the sets of numbers on his textbook page and across the room just in time for the door to swing open and admit his numerically-prompted mirage. Holy crap.
Ok, so Jared was wrong, the guy actually could be as hot as he’d thought. Hotter, actually.
He’s got plenty of opportunity to ogle the new comer as he crosses the room to hand over a sheet of paper to Mrs. Welch. The legs that had first caught Jared’s eye are, from this close up, slightly bowed, a soft outward curve that should ruin the effect but somehow just makes his strong calves sexier. His shirt is definitely clinging because of sweat, darker patches at the small of his back and the center of his chest, but it’s also just a little bit tight for him, black faded to grey from wear. The paint is flecking off of the letters of The Clash scrawled across the front – like it might actually be vintage instead of a knock-off Urban Outfitters reprint – and the fabric is just worn enough that Jared can make out the faint outline of his nipples underneath.
Then of course there’s his face which… yeah. Like, I’ll have an order of that, please. Like, Jesus. He was a little off earlier when he thought the guy could be mistaken for a girl. He’s got those full kind of features that beg to be called things like ‘supple’ and ‘ripe’, no doubt at all about him being good looking, but there’s something masculine about his face that makes it even better; he’s pretty, but he’s a pretty boy.
His long blondish eyelashes catch the sun like gold over deep green eyes and a dusting of freckles that seem like the should flutter away with every sweeping blink. And those lips! Jared could replace the TV in his room with a picture of those lips and just stare at them like a perv for hours. Which is sort of exactly what he’s doing now, minus the hours and hey, stopping, that might not be such a bad idea.
Mrs. Welch finishes scanning over the note and nods disinterestedly. She’s already back to rustling with the paper she’s been thumbing through since they walked in this morning as she says, “Jared, would you mind getting Jason here a textbook, please?”
Even phrased as a question, it’s a command, and he guesses he should just count himself as lucky that the cabinets with the books are at the back of the room so the new guy won’t have a chance to notice the semi he just popped. When he turns around again, though, textbook held strategically in front of him, the newbie has settled down in the desk directly next to Jared’s, legs sprawled lazily, one arm crooked back to rest on the desktop of the empty seat behind him. Jared really only stumbles a little bit seeing that and most of it can be blamed on his flip flops anyway.
He works really hard at not staring when he sits back down and hands the book across the small aisle to the new guy but then the guy’s fingers brush against his when he grabs it and Jared’s got to peek, just for a second. A soft smile meets his upward glance, green eyes crinkled slightly at the edges with it and Jared feels like he just got tasered with happy.
“It’s Jensen, by the way,” new guys says because evidently the universe decided he wasn’t masturbation-worthy enough already without throwing in a porn-star voice. “Not Jason.” A small jerk of his head indicates the newspaper wall hiding Mrs. Welch from view.
It takes Jared’s brain a minute to compute that into any response besides grinning stupidly but then he manages to huff a small laugh and reply in what he hopes is a relaxed, non-creepy tone, “Um, Jared. Nice to meet you.”
He’s never really sure how to do this with people his own age because going for a handshake seems awkward, but at the same time, he’d very much like to hold Jensen’s hand, at least for a second or two. Instead he opts for throwing in a mildly fumbling, “If you need any help, let me know.”
Jensen smiles at him again, even brighter this time, “Great. Thanks man.” He sounds like he really means it and the toaster strudel Jared had for breakfast decides to come to life in his stomach and start break dancing.
“It’s no trouble,” he assures immediately, knocking his notebook and pen off of his desk in the process with a clatter that gets the attention of absolutely everyone. Great, why don’t you try a little harder, spazz?
Jensen’s there helping him pick up his scattered papers, though, fingers meeting Jared’s every now and then when they reach for the same item. There’s a flash of pink as Jensen’s tongue sweeps out to wet his lips and he laughs this soft, sexy little thing. Rather than make some utterly justified comment about Jared being the klutz of the century, he just says, “Cool.”
That’s basically how the morning passes, them working out problems, Jensen occasionally leaning in to Jared’s space to ask a question and make Jared totally lose his composure. Or at least for the first hour or so until Jensen gets hung up on calculating velocity and just drags his desk over to butt up against Jared’s. Mrs. Welch glances up at them for a second but doesn’t say anything about it so he hasn’t got any excuse to ask Jensen to move away again, and doesn’t really want to, even though the proximity of Jensen’s body isn’t relieving his temperature situation at all and the tickle of his breath on Jared’s neck makes it hard to remember what 2+2 is. He’s so not even complaining.
At 12:30 they’re released for the day and for the first time Jared’s actually a little disappointed. That is until Jensen follows him out of the building into the simmering afternoon and casually throws an arm around Jared’s shoulder, asking, “You want a lift?”
“It’s not very far,” is the first thing that stumbles out of Jared’s mouth. Instantly he’s cursing it because being alone with Jensen has been steadily climbing the list of the things Jared wants most out of life – sure, he’s got a snowball’s chance in hell of anything actually happening, but enjoying the view is still allowed, okay? – except Jensen doesn’t seem fazed by it.
“Even less far if you’re being driven,” he points out, already steering Jared in the direction of the nearly deserted parking lot. “Besides, I need somebody to show me the sights. Have a heart, Jay.”
Oh, Jared definitely has a heart, as evidenced by the way it’s trying to climb up his boa constrictor of a throat at the moment. That smile of Jensen’s is going to be the end of him.
Like there’s any choice to the matter, considering Jensen’s already pushed the button to unlock a beaten up, blue Accord, Jared nods. Clearly it’s the best mistake he’s ever made because it makes Jensen’s arm tighten around him and then he’s smushed up against Jensen’s body with the white-bright sun beating down on them and the scent of citrusy cologne and fresh sweat bold-font tattooed into his memory. His guts go for a lay-up and he just barely manages to swallow them back down in time when Jensen pulls away.
If it’s hot outside, then it’s sweltering in Jensen’s car, the dash burning hot when Jared accidentally rests his hand on it for a second. It smells like hot plastic and dust and mint gum melted in the sun and there’s a hard scar of a cigarette burn on the tan fabric upholstery beside his thigh. A CD case, bursting at the seams, takes up the footwell on Jared’s side and when Jensen turns the key a song Jared’s never heard blasts through the speakers loud enough that he jolts. It’s kind of a great car.
A pair of heavy, dark sunglasses find a home on the bridge of Jensen’s nose, blocking Jared’s view but not actually making it any worse at the same time. He cranks the A/C even though all it’s doing is pounding them both with scorching air, the silver ring on his right hand glinting in the light before it settles behind the headrest of Jared’s seat.
“So, where to, Stretch?” he beams and Jared wants some sunglasses too to prevent permanent retinal scarring. And maybe to disguise the way he can’t quite drag his eyes away from Jensen.
“Um, well,” he chews at his lip, “Have you seen the post office?”
Jensen laughs again – that sound is like crack - and nods, fingers tapping out a rhythm on the headrest that Jared and just make out through the back of his skull.
“Well then you’ve seen all the sights,” he informs Jensen solemnly, though he loses it on a smile of his own when Jensen groans and bangs his forehead against the steering wheel. “But there’s a Sonic on Richmond Road if you’re hungry.”
They end up parked under the relative shade of the drive-in’s red aluminum awning, wolfing down tater tots and burgers – or in Jensen’s case, a completely unfair chili-cheese coney that leaves him smacking his lips and licking up stray smears of sauce from the corners of his mouth – trading back and forth between one grape slushie and one cherry limeade, each attempting to convince the other that their own is truly the superior iced beverage.
Jensen tells him all about his old school in Dallas – their requirements were different, so Jensen has to take physics now if he wants to get his full credit as a junior next year – and his family – they both have an older brother and a younger sister who’s names begin with J and M respectively; it’s downright freaky – and crazy stories about the friends he left behind. Jared, in turn, ends up sharing way more about himself than even most of the people who’ve grown up with him know and maybe strangest of all, isn’t worried about it a bit. For some reason, he and Jensen just click; he can hardly believe he woke up this morning not knowing him.
By the time they’re idling in front of Jared’s house it’s close to five. His mom still has teacher in-service this week, dad’s at work, Megan already off at camp, so there’s no real rush but it still sort of feels like the end of the day. He’s going to see Jensen again tomorrow which leaves no good explanation for why there’s something aching in his chest at the thought of getting out of the car.
Just as he’s worked up to finally reaching for the door handle, Jensen’s palm lands on his shoulder, the warmth of it bleeding through his thin shirt. It halts him completely, attention instantly focused back on Jensen – because it’s been like four seconds and he needs his fix – to find something hesitant and foreign in his friend’s expression.
“So hey, listen,” Jensen starts awkwardly, his eyes skating along Jared’s hairline like the secrets of the universe are hidden in the sweat-damp mess, “I’m gonna ask you something and if you don’t want to answer, or the answer is no or whatever, that’s cool, no big.”
The notable absence of anything vaguely resembling a question following that finally spurs Jared into nodding his agreement.
Jensen heaves in a breath that makes his chest strain against his too tight shirt – it is vintage, it turns out, and was too cool for Jensen to walk away from in the thrift store even though it was a size too small – and finally asks, all in a rush, “Are you gay?”
The sounds Jared used to know how to turn into words pile up in his throat instead with no direction behind them, threatening to choke him to death.
Jensen cheeks have suddenly turned bright pink as he scratches behind his ear furiously and ducks his head to keep an eye on that dastardly center console. “You know what, forget it,” he’s saying before Jared’s had a chance to pointlessly open and close his mouth more than three or four times, “It was a stupid idea. I thought you were checking me out when I first came in but… but I’m a crazy person, so let’s just pretend I didn’t say anything, ok? Ok.”
For what feels like forever the low sound of Jensen’s music turned almost all the way to mute and the whir of the air conditioner are the only things to be heard. Jared’s pretty sure neither of them are even breathing.
Like he just now remembered it, Jensen jerks his hand away from Jared’s shoulder, balling it up into a fist on his own thigh and for whatever reason, that gives Jared’s voice the shove into oncoming traffic it needs.
“Yes, I… I’m into guys. I’m gay,” comes out quiet, but thankfully steady, easier than he would have guessed. It’s nuts, but he feels lighter from it, like the words themselves made up half his body weight. “I’ve never said that to anybody I’m not related to before.”
When he can finally make himself meet Jensen’s eyes again, he adds, “Is that a problem?”
And maybe Jared wasn’t the only one who’s ability to function decided to take a coffee break for a minute there because Jensen blinks hard like he has to clear away something in front of his eyes and then he’s smiling again, soft, like that very first one back in the classroom.
“No,” he breathes, hand skimming back through his hair before he barks a laugh, “No, definitely not a problem.
His head ducks again, but this time his eyes are all for Jared, shaded by his lashes but still warm enough that Jared feels it like liquid heat trickling into his stomach.
“Oh,” he mutters intelligently, and then once his misfiring synapses manage to make tap A fit into slot B, “Oh!”
Jensen does that laugh again, just a little bit high and giddy-sounding. “Yeah. Oh.” If he keeps licking his lips like that something really bad is about to happen. Like Jared kidnapping his tongue to keep his own company. “Guess there might be some perks to moving after all.”
The smile on Jared’s face is starting to make his cheeks ache but there’s absolutely nothing he can do to stop it. He also cannot think of one, single coherent thing to say as a follow up, so he ends up spitting out, “I- I should probably…” His thumb hitches in the direction of his empty house even though anywhere but here is exactly where he doesn’t want to be.
“Yeah! Yeah, totally.” Jensen nods his agreement. It’s a little bit reassuring that at least Jared’s not the only one grinning like a goof-ball.
“Ok,” the second Jared pushes his door open, a wave of sticky heat washes over him, “So I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yeah,” Jensen says back, bright and breathless, fingers tapping wildly against the steering wheel.
“In class, I mean.”
“Ok,” his weight shifts from one foot to the other, gaze still refusing to move away from Jensen’s face “Bye.”
Jared comes this close to losing a finger when his hand darts back, stopping the car door he just shoved closed half a second ago. He has no idea where this sudden surge of courage is coming from and has no actual interest in figuring it out because right this second, it just might be working in his favor.
He’s kneeing his way into the passenger seat once more as he says, “I’m gonna kiss you now,” and Jensen still looks like he’s not getting enough air when he comes back with, “You totally should.”
“Awesome,” is the last thing Jared gets out before his mouth is otherwise engaged.
Jensen’s lips are soft and pliant, tongue sweet-tart with a lingering hint of his slushie and it’s hands down, the single greatest thing that has ever happened to Jared, bar none. He’s kissing, really truly kissing, someone he really truly likes for the first time ever and it. Is. Epic.
“Ok, I’m really gonna go now,” he manages after a minute, but it’s hard to tell how much of it got across since he didn’t actually bother to stop kissing Jensen in the interim. Jensen hums something like “Uh huh,” against his lips and tangles his fingers in Jared’s hair to hold him in place. His tongue tickles at the roof of Jared’s mouth and all of the cool air has long since poured out of the still open door and distantly, in the back of Jared’s head, all he can think is how much he loves summer school.