First impressions are a bitch.
A phone goes off with a shrill ring that positively screeches in Jensen's ears, and both Jensen and everyone else on the B-level of the library turn to glare at the culprit. Except as his eyes land on the guy, Jensen's glare softens and turns into more of a stare, really, because he's never seen a man this big fumble this badly.
A really tall and broad-shouldered man with brown hair is trying to find his cell phone in his pants while standing up and heading for the door at the same time, and it's a little bit like watching a newborn calf attempt to stand up--except this guy is very far from tiny, so it's really not a valid comparison at all.
Eventually, Tall Guy manages to silence the phone with a sheepish grin and a half-whispered "Sorry," to the room, and then he quickly gathers up his backpack and is gone. Behind the checkout counter, Jensen sits and can only blink at the space Tall Guy vacated.
It takes another two days for Jensen to see Tall Guy again, but this time there's no cell phone to hurt his ears, and this time he learns his name, so Jensen figures it's a step in the right direction. At least that's what he thinks at first.
"I'd like to check these out," says Tall Guy and places two gigantic books (about the development of consumerism in the 20th century America and the philosophy in pop culture material, respectively) on the counter in front of Jensen.
Jensen is not a shy guy. He has a pretty laidback attitude to most things, plenty of friends, and he knows he's got a quirky sense of humor that most people seem to enjoy. He's an excellent conversationalist and he's got a good, strong voice with just a hint of a sexy Texas drawl. So when he finds himself completely unable to come up with a single thing to say to Tall Guy, and instead just opens and closes his mouth like a goldfish, he's pretty surprised, and more than a little bit thrown.
"Um," he eventually says.
Tall Guy frowns slightly at him in obvious confusion, and Jensen feels his cheeks go warm and prays to every higher deity that he's not actually blushing like a fucking girl. He busies himself with scanning Tall Guy's books instead, and then takes the student ID card from Tall Guy's fingers.
Jared Padalecki, the computer screen tells him.
This is the part where Jensen normally hands the student their ID card back, says, "Thank you, Jared," and, "These are due back in one week."
Instead, when Jensen hands back the ID card, what comes out of his mouth is a squeak that is at least five octaves higher than any normal human sound--seriously, dogs would have perked up if they had been there--and "Thank you, Jared," becomes something like, "Teee."
That's dangerously close to "Tee hee," which is in turn really dangerously close to something a girl would say, and suddenly things are not going in the right direction at all anymore.
Tall Guy--Jared--has a facial expression that's slid somewhere from slight confusion to full on freaked out, and Jensen spins on his heel and walks into the back room before his face literally bursts into flames. When he finally dares to peek out again, Jared is gone.
Jensen checks his face in the mirror and is relieved to find that he's not actually blushing despite his overheated cheeks, but still considers moving to Cuernevaca. Possibly Belgium.
Jensen doesn't tell his friends about his moment of extreme spaz, but he does casually mention this really hot guy who came into the library. Danneel of course, looks at him in that knowing way, with a slight pursing of her lips and her eyes narrowing, but he refuses to acknowledge it, and she doesn't actually say anything about it.
Instead Jensen goes to work after his classes like normal, and tries to focus very hard on his homework, and not on the possibility that Jared might come back. Hell, he probably will come back, because he's a student here too, and students sometimes do crazy things like go to the library.
Jensen is midway through his Anthro 425 paper--which really, he should have done before, because it's due next morning and last minute rush-jobs never end up any good--when someone comes to stand at the other side of the checkout counter, and he looks up to find Jared smiling back at him.
"Hi," says Jared.
And Jensen's head may still be a little bit full of anthropology notes, and it's already been established that he turns into an inarticulate spaz around this guy, so he feels it's completely justified, and not even that surprising, when he responds with a, "Buh?"
"I need a copy of a book called 'Wal-Mart, The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism,' but I can't find it where it's supposed to be," says Jared, and thankfully he doesn't look freaked out or confused anymore. This time he just looks amused. "It's by Lichtenstein," he adds.
Jensen could comment on the books Jared's been checking out. He could make some comment about philosophy, sociology, anthropology (which, hey, he takes!), because these books are all clearly related to one of the three subjects. He could strike up a conversation while getting Jared's book, and then maybe ask Jared out, cool as a cucumber. Jensen's had boyfriends before, and he's never, not once, had problems asking people out.
"Um," he says instead, and then turns awkwardly to look up Jared's book on the computer. When it turns out someone checked the last copy of the book out just earlier that day, before Jensen started his shift, he wants to tell Jared about it--really he does, it's his job after all--but the most he manages is a stuttered, "It's--it's not, um," and that's all.
Thankfully, Jared seems to get it, and he chuckles before nodding. "Okay, no problem," he says, then as he turns to walk away, he pauses a little and looks back at Jensen.
"You're a little odd, do you know that?"
There's no bite to his words, just amusement, and it's only a little bit freaky that he'd tell this random librarian who keeps squeaking at him that he's odd.
Jensen feels his face go warm again, and is really damn grateful that he's already established that he doesn't blush, no matter how much it may feel like it.
His Anthro paper doesn't get done, and his professor is livid. Damn. There goes his A for the class.
When Jared comes to return his ridiculously heavy books, Jensen actually manages a "How are you?" in a completely acceptable and manly pitch.
Jared pretty much beams back at him, and says, "I'm great, how are you?"
And shit, Jensen actually manages a, "Good," too. Okay, it's a little squeaky, but not bad.
Jensen's never had much of a gaydar, but if he did, it would be going off like a fire alarm in his head at Jared's grin.
Early in finals week, Jared comes in looking stressed and sleep-deprived, like most of the other students, and he needs help finding a metric shitload of books.
"Help," he says, in a sexy, raspy voice, and Jensen's thrown again, because damn. "I need all these books, and I really suck at finding stuff."
"Um," Jensen says, dimly thinking that Um should just be his new motto, and this is definitely a step backwards, but he takes Jared's list anyway and starts walking in amongst the shelves. There are a lot of books on Jared's list, and it takes Jensen a while to dig them all up, but he does find them all eventually.
"You're a freakin' lifesaver!" Jared exclaims a little too loudly, and promptly gets hushed by a redheaded girl by a window table, sporting the same dark circles under her eyes as Jared.
Jared looks chastised for a moment, then one corner of his mouth tilts up as he looks at Jensen over the checkout counter. "Seriously, thanks..."
He trails off, obviously expecting Jensen to fill in with his name.
Jensen, Jensen wants to say.
Instead, what comes out is, "No problem," and he resolutely stares at his hands as he scans each book, while giving himself a solid mental beatdown.
Jensen's finals are not like everyone else's finals. For one thing, he has four of them in one day. For another, those four at all on the last day of finals week. A lot of students are done and have packed up and left already, including Misha, Mike and Kristin. Danneel is still around though, and she hangs around the library to help Jensen out.
She's technically not working there, but honestly, scanning a book and swiping a student ID through the card reader? Not the most challenging work in history. The students aren't coming often enough for Danneel to really be working per se, so she can sit and chill out and read her magazine, and her presence lets Jensen study as uninterrupted as possible. When students walk to the checkout counter and there are two people there, one with his nose in a text book and taking furious notes, and one hot babe with a blinding grin standing by the computer, it's pretty obvious who to go to for their checkout, anyway.
This is why it comes as a complete surprise when someone comes to stand in front of Jensen.
He looks up, and it's Jared again, smiling down at him, and he briefly glances over to see Danneel watching them with an unreadable expression on her face.
"Hi," Jensen says, and notes that the dark circles under Jared's eyes are gone. He wonders how he himself looks.
"I thought you might need this," Jared says, and puts a Styrofoam cup on the counter next to Jensen's books. "Black coffee. No sugar or milk whatsoever."
Jensen blinks down at the cup, then up at Jared, who just keeps smiling.
"Good luck on your finals, Jensen."
Then he turns and leaves, and Jensen stares at the coffee and thinks I love you, marry me, and he's not entirely sure whether it's the coffee or Jared he's referring to.
It's not until the coffee is scalding his tongue and Danneel finally starts interrogating him about his stunned speechless act, that he realizes Jared knew his name.
Jensen gets an A in every one of his classes, except Anthro 425, which he gets a B in. He kind of blames Jared for that, but only a little.
Christmas break is good. Jensen hangs out with his friends and family, and it's all good. Familiar. He wonders what they'd think if they knew that a couple of times a week he turns into a babbling, stammering spaz over some random guy who happens to visit the school library. He wonders what they'd think if they knew he was even capable of turning into a babbling, stammering spaz.
"Have you ever like, completely lost your head around a pretty girl?" he asks Chris one day, and Chris snorts into his bottle of beer.
"Fuck yeah," Chris says, easy as that. Then he eyes Jensen and Jensen can practically see it when Chris's brain figures it out.
"Well, I'll be damned. Jennyboy finally went and fell in love, did he?"
"I didn't fall in love," Jensen says defensively. "I barely even know the guy. I dunno man, there's just something about him that makes me all..."
"Hot and bothered?" Chris suggests helpfully, and Jensen smacks him upside the head.
Jensen stares at his fingers and peels at the label of his own beer bottle.
"Squeaky," he eventually says, and Chris raises an eyebrow at him. "He makes me squeaky," Jensen admits.
Chris's laugh rings in his head for the rest of the break, and well into the new semester.
It's nearly a month into the spring semester before Jensen sees Jared again.
"So I've been thinking," Jared says as he stops in front of Jensen at the checkout counter, as if they were in the middle of a conversation--well, as much of a conversation as they ever have--and hadn't just been without contact for a couple of months.
"Feel free to tell me if I'm completely off my mark here, or maybe just go 'Um' and walk away, but will you go out with me on Friday?"
Jensen stares, blinks, and damn the effect this man has on him.
He almost says Um, but catches himself at the last second.
"Yeah," he eventually chokes out, and it's not even really a squeak. "I'd like that."
Jared's grin is blinding.
The panic hits Jensen as he's standing in front of his closet, looking for his favorite Zeppelin shirt.
How is he supposed to go on a date with Jared, if he can't even hold a conversation with the man?
Jared and Jensen meet up at Bob's, three blocks off campus. It's a nice bar, dimly lit with a big-screen TV in the corner that's currently playing--some form of sport. Jensen's not really sure, because all he can focus on is Jared and how good he looks in his dirty blue jacket and green shirt.
Jensen orders a club sub, and Jared orders wings and beer, and Jensen can respect a guy who's not afraid to eat sloppy and messy foods on a first date.
"So where are you from?" Jared asks, and Jensen knows this. This is how you start a conversation, this is how you find out stuff about your date--Jensen's been on dates before, and he's been through this before, yet somehow with Jared, it all seems... different.
"Here," he manages, and it's probably the worst answer in the history of answers. Here? It's not inviting to conversation at all.
Thankfully, Jared takes it and runs with it, with a comfortable ease that makes Jensen want to bang his head repeatedly on the table in pure frustration over how easy this seems to Jared, and how difficult it suddenly is for Jensen.
"That's cool," Jared says around a minor mouthful of wings. "I'm from San Antonio myself. Came here because it was comfortably close to home, but still far enough away that I could kinda just, get away, you know? But I like it here. It's nice, and the school's great."
"How'd you know my name?" Jensen blurts out, and it's not what he meant to say at all, but at least it's something.
Jared smiles almost shyly, and shrugs a little.
"I asked around."
The thought that Jared, despite Jensen's stammering and babbling and general asshattery, was intrigued enough to ask around, is a comforting one. And right then it hits Jensen. Despite the stammering and babbling and general asshattery, Jared asked around about him. Despite all that, Jared asked him out.
Jared really likes him.
That seems to be all the confidence Jensen needs--well, that, and maybe the beer which is starting to warm comfortably in his stomach--and he smiles widely at Jared.
"So, sociology, anthropology, or philosophy?" he asks, and Jared almost does a double-take at that. Probably because it's the most Jensen's ever said to him.
"Your books," Jensen clarifies.
Jared stares and blinks for a few moments, and Jensen has time to think, God, do I look that ridiculous when I do it? before the moment is broken and Jared's grin is back in full force, showcasing his dimples.
The conversation flows easily enough after that, and Jared seems, if anything, positively surprised by this new and chatty Jensen. Sure, there are your odd moments when Jensen still wonders if he's turning into a teenaged girl, like when Jared licks the hot wing sauce from his fingers, or when Jared says, "You know, your eyes are really fucking green," but on the whole it's not bad. They make it through both one and two hours with minimal squeaking, and it's a vast improvement from his stuttering and stammering. Jensen is up to his fourth beer and between the very faint buzz of the alcohol and Jared's easygoing attitude, he figures he might actually finally act like himself again, when Jared goes and throws everything out of whack again.
Jensen's in the middle of telling Jared about Chris and Steve and their band, which they swear up and down will hit it big at some point, just wait and see, when he notices that Jared is giving him a look that Jensen can't really describe as anything but--hungry.
"What?" Jensen asks, because he can't help himself.
"You wanna get out of here?" Jared asks boldly.
The breathy, "God, yes," that escapes Jensen's throat is, if possible, even more embarrassing than the squeaking, but Jared doesn't seem to mind at all.
Instead Jared stands up so fast that he nearly knocks their little table over, and there's a hilarious moment where he flails and scrambles to prevent their beer bottles from flying in every which direction. Jensen laughs and is reminded of the first moment he saw Jared, flailing around in the library with his cell phone, and Jared shrugs and grins as he steadies the wobbling table.
"Sorry," he says, "I can be a bit of a spaz."
Jensen can really, really relate.
Jared has a roommate, and if it wasn't for the fact that Jared's kisses in the hallway had left Jensen a little bit more than flustered, he would have laughed at the poor guy's face when Jared bursts open the door, exclaims, "Chad, get out!" and nearly physically throws his roommate out of the room.
Chad's indignant, "Hey!" gets muffled as Jared slams the door shut, and then Jensen's being pushed backwards onto what he can only hope is Jared's bed.
He doesn't have time to worry about potentially having sex on Chad's bed for long, however, because Jared descends on him like a massive shadow, and then seemingly attempts to melt Jensen's entire brain into goo with hungry, sloppy kisses. He does a pretty good job of it, and by the time Jared moves away for long enough to pull Jensen's jacket off and his shirt over his head, all Jensen gets out is, "Stgh."
Jensen may not have any words left, but he still manages to take in all of Jared as they get naked. Hard muscles and skin that just stretches on, and Jared's making these goddamn sexy, breathy groans into his ear, and Jensen's really certain it's the most turned on he's ever been in his life.
It's over embarrassingly fast after Jared closes a giant paw around his cock, Jensen literally sees stars behind his closed eyelids as he's coming his brains out. He dimly registers Jared rubbing his crotch furiously against Jensen, and by the time his mind works enough to start taking in something beyond the intense pleasure of his orgasm, he realizes that Jared's come too, right there against his hip.
The best thing about being into guys, is that most of them act like, well, guys.
They never object when Jensen just crashes after sex, just rolls over and falls asleep, and Jared's no different.
Jensen dimly registers Jared muttering, "You're fucking awesome," against his shoulder, but then he's gone--out like a light.
Jensen wakes up the next morning to Chad walking in and stopping in the middle of the room.
Jared's drooling on his shoulder and they're both very clearly naked--though at least it seems they've somehow found their way underneath the covers at some point during the night. Jared's hair looks like birds might decide to nest in it, and Jensen doesn't even want to think about what his just-waking-up face is looking like at the moment.
Jared snorts a little, then blinks sleepily, and they both stare at Chad.
"Dude, I can't fucking believe you put out on the first date," Chad says in an incredulous tone, and Jensen's not sure to which of them he's speaking.
"You fuckin' man-whore."
Jensen chuckles at that, and Jared blearily gives his roommate the finger.
"I think you'll like Misha," Jensen says as they walk down the hallway to Misha's room. "He's pretty out there, but he's good fun."
Jared just grins back at Jensen, like he can't stop, and Jensen really knows the feeling.
Except just as they reach Misha's door and Jensen raises his hand to knock, it bursts open and Misha practically leaps out into the hallway, backpack thrown haphazardly over one shoulder. He's got such a momentum going that he promptly knocks Jared over--which is no small feat, considering the sheer size of Jared--and Misha himself almost bounces backwards from the impact, falling flat on his own ass in the process.
"Motherfucker!" Misha exclaims, as Jensen is scrambling to help Jared up. Just as Jensen grabs Jared's hand however, Misha climbs to his feet, grabs his fallen backpack and swings it around to get it back onto his shoulder, and the whole thing hits Jared square in the face.
"Son of a bitch," Jared says, clutching his nose, and Misha makes a frustrated sound that sounds suspiciously like a growl.
"Jesus, watch where the fuck you're going," Misha says, then roughly shoves Jensen out of the way and sprints down the hallway. Jensen estimates maybe another two corners before he knocks someone else on their ass.
Jared glares up at Jensen from the floor.
"Yeah, he's a hoot all right," Jared says, voice dripping with sarcasm.
Jensen doesn't really know what to say to that, so he just shrugs, helps Jared to his feet and checks his nose for blood.
First impressions are a bitch, anyway. There's plenty of time for Jared to meet the real Misha later.