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Under His Skin

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"He's not your type," said Jared, taking one look at the picture then sniffing and turning back to his calculus textbook.

"How do you even know what my type is?" said Jensen. "You've been living here less than six months. You've only seen me with, what, one guy? Ever?"

"Yeah, and he was nothing like that," said Jared, reaching for a fresh chocolate chip cookie from the plate on the table. "Ergo, he's not your type. And no offense but even if he were, I'm pretty sure you're not his."

"How can you even tell that from just a picture?" said Jensen, taking one last look at it before closing the tab in his browser. "You didn't even read the bio."

"Blah blah blah, did graduate studies at Stanford, blah blah blah, likes waterfalls and kittens and dressing like a woman. I didn't need to read it, Jensen, I know who he is. Everyone knows who he is."

He did have a point there. About most people on campus knowing who he was, not about the kittens and the rest. Probably.

"One skirt, once," Jensen protested. "And I'm pretty sure he was using it to make a point."

"I'm pretty sure he skipped laundry day and just borrowed it from his hot roommate's closet," said Jared. "And I don't mean roommate in the wink wink nudge nudge sense because I swear that guy's gayer than you are. Now are we helping me study for mid-terms or are we mooning over your poetry professor?"

"We can't do both?" said Jensen. "Consider it my fee for helping you out with my old notes. You ace your mid-term; I get to try to figure out Professor Collins."

"Better men than you have tried and failed," said Jared gravely. "There might even be published studies on the subject. Come on, though, seriously. The test is tomorrow and you're going to have to explain what you see in him before I can help you anyway."

"This is how I know you're straight," said Jensen, shaking his head but returning to his notes anyway, all still neatly divided and color-coded. He'd been a freshman once, too; he remembered that mild and irrational feeling of panic that maybe you weren't cut out for this whole college thing anyway, no matter how well, objectively, you were doing. "Hell, even Chris probably wouldn't have to ask that."

"Then maybe you should have asked one of your other roommates," said Jared. "Or have you gone through all of them already and now you're stuck with the new guy who doesn't know enough yet to head for the hills when you have a crush?"

Okay, he might have had a point there. Jared was Sandy's stray, brought home a few weeks into the year with the proclamation, "Here, this is Jared. His roommate set their dorm on fire, so he's going to be taking over Tom's old room. You're both in the sciences and you're both from Texas. Be friends." He hadn't had time yet to get used to Jensen's issues.

"Yeah, whatever," said Jensen, "it's not a crush. Go work through the problems in chapter three, already."

Jared just smirked at him and grabbed another cookie before doing just that.

:::

As he finished reading the excerpt aloud, nearly ever member of the class hanging on his every word, Professor Collins perched himself on the edge of his desk and looked up to survey them.

"I'm not going to ask you what I think that means because the subject matter is fairly overt--" There was nervous laughter at that, the kind you got when your professor has just said 'cock' at least half a dozen times in the last five minutes. "Yeah, yeah, I know," he said, smiling. "But I will ask, in those few minutes we have left us today, that you journal your responses to this particular piece. Don't be embarrassed if they're sexual, but don't be embarrassed if they're not. Cohan gets into some heavy power issues here, and those don't necessarily bring out an erotic response if you aren't wired that way."

The vaguely uncomfortable squirming of the class could have - and probably had - signaled both responses. Jensen himself hadn't even entirely figured out his yet. Cohan's use of animal metaphors to describe sado-masochistic activity-- No, too analytical. This was his journal, not a paper. The rhythm of the middle section reminded me of the kind of porn where the top thinks making like a piston is somehow enough. Probably a little too telling of Jensen's personal activities, and at the same time, still not personal enough.

"And when you're finished," said Professor Collins, getting down off the desk and moving around the other side of it again to open his messenger bag, "you can pick up last week's assignment from me."

Jensen chewed on his pen and wrote It was hot. and tried to go from there. This whole exercise was so not his thing; he was having trouble telling if the poem really had that kind of effect on him, or if imagining Professor Collins as the narrator was the real culprit.

He managed about a paragraph before giving in and packing up. More than half the class had already gone before him, which was either a sign he'd done enough or a sign he really was as bad at is as he thought. He shuffled down the steps and slung his bag across his chest as he waited for Professor Collins to pick out his assignment from the dwindling pile.

"You have a good imagination, Jensen," he said as he handed it over. Damned with faint praise, Jensen figured. "I've recommended some authors you might want to read to help you with your ear for language."

It was the creative assignments that Jensen dreaded the most. He could analyze a poem passably, but write one? The green C at the corner of his paper mocked him with its obvious charity.

"Thanks, I appreciate that," he said, and moved closer to the whiteboard to look over the list so the next student could pass by. He was still there after the last of the class had filed out.

"Was there something else, Jensen?"

He looked up, only then realizing he was the last one there. "Sorry, Professor Collins--"

"Misha, please," he said, waving off the title with a faint wrinkling of his nose. "And no need to apologize."

"I was just looking at your reading list. Do you know if all of these are available in the library?"

"If they're not, they should be," said Misha. "If there's anything on there you're interested in that you can't get your hands on, though, I'd be glad to help."

"Well, I was planning to read them all," said Jensen with a nervous laugh, "but with mid-terms to get through that might be a little ambitious. After all, just a couple months to go before I finish all this." Well, until grad school, anyway.

"It's nice to see someone with actual time management skills," said Misha. "I think you're the only senior in my class."

"Just looking to broaden my horizons before I graduate," said Jensen. "I like poetry."

"Yeah, me too," said Misha, smiling at him.

I like poetry. Jensen couldn't believe he actually said that. "So I've got to--" He gestured at the door.

"Of course," said Misha. "You know where my office is if you need anything."

He sure did.

Jensen didn't go straight to lunch with Chris and Danneel, instead making a pit stop in the men's room in the basement of the Laurence Building, locking himself in one of the stalls. No way was he going to try to sit through lunch with a hard-on visible from space. He unzipped and stuffed his hand inside his pants and bit his lip so that nobody would know what he was doing in there.

And if when he closed his eyes he imagined a certain someone following him down there, trapping him against the wall and roughly jerking him off, only he had to know that.

:::

"You know this is a terrible idea, right?" said Sandy. "He's your professor."

"He's only a few years older than me," said Jensen defensively. "This is his first faculty position."

"Yes, and he's your professor," said Sandy again. "I don't care if he's younger than you, he's still your professor. Professors should definitely stay in the look but don't touch category. Violating that is just asking for trouble."

"He asked me to call him Misha."

"Jensen, look at him. He probably asks everyone to call him Misha," said Sandy, her look part sympathetic and part indulgent. "Haven't we been here before?"

"Hey, no," said Jensen. "This isn't like with Jeff. That was just a fleeting... I admire him. He's my mentor. The whole crush part of it passed pretty fast."

"And you're both lucky you got past the whole awkwardness of that," said Sandy, "considering you'll be working with him for the foreseeable future."

"It wasn't awkward for more than a day," said Jensen, "and I'm glad it all got out in the open so we could move past it. Besides, Jeff is straight, and involved. I swear, this isn't the same thing at all."

"Just promise me you won't do anything stupid?"

"I won't do anything more stupid than I usually do," Jensen promised her, which when compared to Chris and Jared and even Danneel was actually a pretty fair promise. "I've done a lot of looking and definitely no touching."

"I shouldn't be encouraging your crush," said Sandy, "but you're irresistibly adorable like this. You even blush."

It wasn't just a crush, that much Jensen knew. Or if it was just a crush, it wasn't the kind where he was content to watch him from afar and enjoy the pleasant, squishy, warm feeling that came from being near the object of one's affection. He was interested. He was paying attention. He was googling him.

But not in a stalkery way.

"He uses that tiny lounge off the third floor of the library to meditate in the early afternoon," Sandy told him finally. "That's all I can help you with."

"I knew one day your job would come in handy for more than just waiving late fees," said Jensen. "I wonder why he doesn't use his office."

"I don't know, probably because his office is in the basement and the lounge has those crazy floor-to-ceiling windows," said Sandy. "It's like a sauna in there. Actually, one of these days I should take our sad little rubber tree up there and see if we can't rescue it from almost-certain doom."

"No, let me," said Jensen. "It's probably my fault for never watering it anyway. I don't know what we were thinking, getting a plant."

"Let me guess," said Sandy. "You'll take it in tomorrow, early afternoon?"

Jensen didn't even try to deny it. "It's for a good cause," he insisted.

"What, for you, or for the rubber tree?"

"Does it really have to be one or the other?" said Jensen. "Come on, Sandy, the guy's fascinating."

"Is he hot enough for you, Jensen? I know you like the well-muscled type. Or is it the well-muscled type that likes you?"

"I have no complaints about that body," said Jensen. And that voice. He was pretty sure Misha could be reading poetry about cheese making aloud and Jensen would still find it sexually charged. "It's my last semester as an undergrad. I think I get to indulge my ridiculous crushes at least a little."

"One of these days you're going to have to stop using that as an excuse to do every little thing that crosses your mind."

"Probably," said Jensen, "and that time will come after I graduate. Thanks for the tip, Sandy. I owe you one."

:::

Jensen wasn't really looking to change his life. He liked his life fine, liked his home and his friends and his hobbies and didn't really feel like he was missing anything. But that didn't mean it was full, it didn't mean that there wasn't room for something more.

The first time he watched Professor Misha Collins, it was from across the quad on a November morning, months ago now. And right in that moment he started wondering what he might have to do to make room for him.

Contemporary American Poetry was just a start.

He pushed open the door to the lounge quietly, even though it was a public space. Sandy was working down on the main floor and as Jensen had passed, rubber tree in hand, she gave him a discreet signal that yes, Misha was up there. And sure enough there he was with his back to the windows, sitting in a sunbeam with his eyes closed.

Okay, maybe Jensen hadn't thought this through entirely. Running into someone while they were meditating wasn't exactly conducive to conversation. But he had a struggling rubber tree in one arm and his hand on the doorknob and it was too late to back out now. He crossed the small room as quietly as he'd entered and was just about to place the plant in a sunny corner when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, saw Misha unfold himself and stretch out, cat-like.

"Jensen Ackles," he said, and Jensen hoped he wasn't imagining the faint note of pleasure in his voice.

"Hey," said Jensen, suddenly awkward now that he'd actually been acknowledged. "I didn't meant to interrupt you, I was just--" He held up the rubber tree as though it could explain better than he could. Given Jensen's people skills, it wasn't an unreasonable assumption. "My roommate Sandy works the information desk part-time? She said there was a lounge up here that got a lot of light, and I just thought... well, uh. Obviously the plant needs a little more TLC than it's been getting."

"Yeah, it's pretty limp," said Misha.

"What?"

"The plant," he clarified, holding one leaf between his thumb and forefinger and frowning at it. "Have you been watering it?"

"Probably not nearly enough," admitted Jensen, holding the pot in both his hands and glad to have something to do with them. "It was sort of... communally owned. I think everyone thought someone else was taking care of it. We're terrible people."

"Poor thing," said Misha. "You know, I'm up here nearly every day if you want me to keep an eye on it."

"Uh, sure," said Jensen. "That'd be great, actually. I mean, between me and Sandy we should be able to take better care of it now, but... no, yeah, that'd be great. Because obviously we've taken such good care of it so far."

Misha laughed and let go of the leaf. "I'm pretty good with plants," he said. "My mother had an amazing garden when I was growing up, back to the earth and all. It was sort of her thing."

"Yeah?" said Jensen carefully, trying not to ruin the easy, normal conversation they had going on.

"It wasn't a commune exactly," said Misha, "but it probably wasn't what a person would call ordinary."

"That kind of explains a lot," said Jensen, thinking only after it was out of his mouth that it probably wasn't the most diplomatic thing to say. Misha just laughed again, though. "I mean--"

"No, I know what you mean," said Misha, waving off his need to explain. "I'm well aware of my reputation. And yet somehow I managed to fill my classes this year anyway."

"You're a good teacher," said Jensen, then winced - probably visibly - when he realized he'd just reminded Misha of just what their relationship to one another actually was.

"I was a little worried I'd get complaints about the subject matter," Misha went on though, the conversation not really shifting tone at all. "But I don't think you can talk about contemporary poetry without dealing with its sometimes explicit nature head on. I don't think you should. It's different from what came before because we're different from what came before."

"Like music," said Jensen. "It's a product of the culture it came from."

"Yes," said Misha, "yes, exactly. Are you a music major?"

Jensen almost said yes, but he'd have been caught out on that particular lie so fast he probably wouldn't have even had time to finish telling it. "Biomechanics," he admitted. "But one of my other roommates is studying music. And I listen to it."

And I listen to it. Like there were people in the world who didn't. Seriously, Jensen didn't know why he even opened his mouth sometimes.

"Biomechanics," said Misha, sounding both curious and impressed. Or at least it made Jensen feel better to think so. "That explains a lot."

He just hoped it was the same kind of compliment he'd been attempting to pay Misha. "Like my inability to craft a rhyming couplet?"

"That's not what I was going to say," said Misha, though that didn't mean Jensen was wrong. "I should--" He gestured towards the door, though his eyes were still on Jensen. "I have a class at two and if I don't show up on time the students start wandering away."

"Right," said Jensen. He'd seen it happen.

"And then a committee meeting, and then my yoga class."

"Busy afternoon," said Jensen. "Thanks for, you know." He nodded at the plant, which he was still holding, like an idiot.

"We'll see if we can't get it to perk up again," said Misha. "I'll see you in class tomorrow, Jensen."

Jensen would have waved if he could, but instead he was stuck saying a faint, "Bye," as Misha slipped out of the lounge, and out of Jensen's sight.

That could've gone better. But it could've gone a lot worse, too.

:::

Jensen's t-shirt read "whine less, breathe more" and yeah, he'd picked it up when he was checking out local yoga classes, but it sort of applied to his discipline too. His next volunteer shift at the physical therapy clinic he was going to wear it just to see what kind of reaction it got.

"In contrasting the work of Cohan with the work of Whitfield, you'll see a shift in focus from the physical to the emotional, not just in the subject matter and the imagery but in the very language. Without the very precise use of language, after all, there would be no poetry."

As Misha paused to move some papers out of his way, a question came from the back of the room. "Does that mean bad poetry isn't poetry at all?"

He laughed as he leaned back against the desk, his eyes pausing on Jensen for just a moment before traveling the rest of the way to the back of the room. "That argument can and has been made," he agreed, "but even language used badly is language used deliberately."

Thank God for that, and thank God for the fact that the syllabus indicated only two creative assignments for the entire semester.

Misha was silent for moment then began to speak again, his mouth forming each word distinctly and carefully.

"Silky," he said. "Hot. Throb. Tongue. Nip. Flutter. Thrust. Melt. Shiver. Skin. Slick. Burn. Glide. Twist. Tease. Pulse. Shatter. Come."

He fell silent again and Jensen could hear only breathing, his own and everyone else's.

"Every one of those words can be used in a multitude of contexts," Misha went on finally. "It's how you use them that matters." Then he glanced at the clock and sighed. "And that is, apparently, the thought I'm going to leave you with today. Don't forget your papers on war and revolution are due on Monday, barring fire, flood or famine. Sadly, not everything in this course can be about throbbing, teasing or coming."

The hell it couldn't.

Jensen remained in his seat until he wasn't quite so obviously hard anymore, making like he was jotting down notes, then took his time repacking his things until he was nearly the last one out.

"Nice shirt," said Misha - now that he'd been invited to be familiar, Jensen had trouble thinking of him as anything else - as Jensen passed his desk. "I think my roommate has one just like it."

The same roommate, Jensen presumed, that he had borrowed the infamous skirt from. He wasn't quite sure how to take that.

"Well, you know," said Jensen, giving him a shrug and a smile. He thought up about a half dozen excuses for it and didn't end up using any of them. "It's unisex."

It's unisex.

"So many things are, if you look at them the right way," said Misha. "How were your mid-terms?"

"Rough enough to make me glad I'm almost finished," said Jensen, "and easy enough to make me realize I really do know my stuff."

"I remember that point entirely too well," said Misha as he gathered his things. "Do you practice?" He nodded at the t-shirt, making his meaning clear.

"Yes," said Jensen immediately. Technically speaking, having tried it out once made that not a lie. "I mean, I'm a novice, but... yeah."

"Interesting," said Misha, smiling at him.

Having managed to make it through that much of a conversation without being outed as an idiot or a fraud, Jensen got out while the getting was good. He smiled back and slung his bag over his body and left with his head held high.

The men's room wasn't empty but Jensen didn't let that stop him, slamming the stall door shut and dragging his nails across his bare stomach, hissing softly at the spark of pleasure it sent down to his cock. As if the thing needed any more encouragement right now. The voices outside his stall faded into the background as Jensen rubbed himself through his jeans, remembered watching Misha's mouth forming those words.

Throb. Thrust. Glide.

He got carried away with the push, rub, gasp, and fumbled his pants open just in time to not come in them, panting as he cleaned himself up with a bit of toilet paper and flushed it down.

The voices became more distinct again, then the sound of running water, laughter as the door closed behind them. Jensen knew his face was red but he stepped out into the now-empty room anyway, and even the thought that he'd been overheard didn't affect the pleasure that overtook him.

:::

"Yoga? Seriously?"

Jensen looked down at the mat, then up at Danneel.

"Is it really that weird?" He tried to sound innocent but knew it came out defensive instead. "It's good for the body. Someone in my course did a research project on it last year."

"Yeah, and I'm sure that's exactly why you've decided to take it up now. Uh huh. Sure."

"You weren't supposed to be home for another couple of hours," he said, wishing she'd come in even five minutes later. "Did I look as ridiculous as I felt?"

"Yes," she said. "Yoga, Jensen? Put some clothes on and then meet me in the den so I can sew your balls back on."

He sighed and muttered, "Shut up," and couldn't even really argue with her. Which didn't even mean he was going to give it up, which was the saddest part. He was just going to do it somewhere that he was less likely to be walked in on.

When he met her in the den afterwards, she did have a sewing needle and spool of thread out on the coffee table, but then she grinned and handed him a cup of coffee. "You want to explain your sudden enthusiasm for contorting your - by the way, inflexible - body to me?"

"I just wanted to try it out," said Jensen. "Someplace I thought would be private."

"The only private place in this house is your bedroom," said Danneel, "and that's because you're a freak who put a lock on it. We're taking that off as soon as you move out, you know."

"I'm never moving out," said Jensen. "I'm going to be single and live here forever. I'm going to be living in that bedroom when your grandchildren are going to this school."

"What the hell are you... wait, are you doing this for a guy?" said Danneel. "Believe me, no guy is worth pulling your groin muscles for. Well, unless you pull them during--"

"No," said Jensen quickly. "I'm not... it's just something that came up in conversation with Mi-- Professor Collins and I thought, given my professional ambitions, I'd give it a try."

"Oh my god," said Danneel. "You aren't taking this course because you wanted a broader range of subjects on your transcript. You're taking it because of him."

"I'm taking it because I wanted a couple more humanities on my transcript and between Contemporary American Poetry with Professor Collins and Social and Cultural Aspects of Reproduction with Professor Gamble, it was an easy choice," said Jensen. "I'm not completely academically suspect."

"It's true, reproduction is probably not your forte," said Danny, "much as you should be passing those pretty, gay genes on by any means necessary. You're studying poetry and doing yoga for a guy?"

"Do you have to make it sound so ridiculous?"

"Hey, I'm just calling it like it is, Jensen. Must be a pretty special guy."

"The more I get to know him, the more I think so," he had to admit. "And don't say he's not my type. I've already got Jared on my case about that."

"Jared knew before I did? Oh, how is that fair?" said Danneel. "How would he even know your type anyway?"

"That's exactly what I said."

"Your type is gorgeous and, if you're lucky, smart," she finished like he hadn't even interrupted. "But honestly, Jensen, a crush on your professor? That's so cliché."

"Never claimed I wasn't," he said, glad to have a cup of coffee in his hands to keep him from fidgeting. He sat down on the old sofa and put his feet up on the coffee table next to the spool of thread. "When have I ever been smooth?"

"Not since I've known you," said Danneel. "Just don't get too weird, all right? I like you the way you are."

:::

The clinic was, as always, a good place for Jensen to get his head on straight. Not that his head wasn't these days, but actually working in the field he wanted to be working in - however peripherally - gave him a kind of focus that sometimes he lost.

"Here, let me give you a hand with that," said Jeff Morgan when Jensen found himself up to his ankles in towels.

"No, it's all right," said Jensen, even though laundry duty was just about his least favorite aspect of volunteering at the physical therapy clinic. He wasn't going to complain, though; Jensen was more than willing to pay his dues. Especially since his volunteer work and Jeff's recommendation had gone a long way to getting Jensen a space in the graduate program. "I'm pretty sure you've got better things to do."

"Nah," said Jeff, rolling up his sleeves. "We're done for the day. Sam's just locking up now."

"Already?" said Jensen, glancing up at the clock. Or where a clock should have been, but instead was only a circle of slightly less faded paint from the rest of the wall.

"Time flies when you're handling dirty towels?" said Jeff. "Sorry about this. I wanted you up front today so you could observe but there's a flu going around and we were a little desperate."

"You don't need to apologize to me," said Jensen quickly. "Hell, you can make me do whatever you want me to do."

"I seem to recall you saying that to me once before."

Jensen didn't blush, but it was a struggle. "I was young and naive."

"It was last year," Jeff teased him, catching him with his elbow as he met him at the washer and twisted a couple of dials.

"Exactly," said Jensen. "I've moved on now. You missed that boat, Jeff."

'I'm sure twenty years from now when I'm an old man and Mary Louise has left me I'll be kicking myself over that," he said as Jensen glanced at the not-clock again. "Somewhere you need to be?"

"Just a paper I need to finish," said Jensen, shaking his head. "I don't suppose you know anything about poetry, do you?"

"Poetry?" said Jeff. "Just what is it you're studying, Jensen? You haven't changed your mind about the physical therapy program, have you?"

"What, are you kidding me?" said Jensen. "No, it's just an elective. Jesus, Jeff. You really think I could give up the aching muscles, the terrible hours, the--"

"Laundry?" said Jeff, holding up a towel and making a face at it. Jensen didn't want to try to identify that stain. "No, I guess you wouldn't. What kind of poetry?"

"Contemporary," said Jensen. "It's a bunch of free form stuff, not a sonnet in sight."

"I think I'd be more suspicious if you were studying sonnets," said Jeff. "Here, hand me the detergent there. No, the other one, with the bleach."

"No, you should be worried if I'm writing sonnets," said Jensen. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, though. I'm pretty terrible."

"Pretty words never really were your thing," agreed Jeff. "You're a lot better with your brain and your hands. Speaking of, we've got a massage clinic coming up next month, you want in?"

"Oh, hell yeah," said Jensen. "You've got room for me?"

"I'll make room," said Jeff. "After all, I'm trying to entice you to stay and work for us when you finish your education. I've got to offer you some perks."

"Who needs perks when you've got all this?" said Jensen, gesturing at the room. "So you're sure you're not secretly a poetry genius?"

"Having that much trouble?" said Jeff. "Can you still drop the course without a penalty?"

"Oh, no, I'm not failing," said Jensen, "I'm just...."

"You can't stand not to be perfect?"

"I can live with not being perfect," said Jensen, "but I'd prefer not to look like an idiot."

"Ah," said Jeff, like he'd just grasped the answer to the mystery of life, the universe and everything. "You're trying to impress someone."

"Like I said," said Jensen. "I've moved on. Did you think I was going to pine after you forever?"

"Good for the ego, bad for your social life," said Jeff. "So who is this new guy? Anyone I know?"

Jensen just shook his head, even though it was entirely possible Jeff knew exactly who he was. "It's nothing to talk about yet," he said. "But I'll let you know if it ever is."

:::

"Sandy baked," said Jared, like Jensen couldn't see the already-ravaged cake for himself, "and Chris picked up some steaks. He's grilling out back."

"Thank God," said Jensen, and left his boots on when he put his feet up on the coffee table. "I thought the lab was going to eat me alive today."

"If it ever does, I'll make sure your mother never gets your computer," Jared promised him, because that was what good friends did. "I thought you were almost done with that project?"

"Closer we get to the end of the semester, they more they keep piling it on," said Jensen, taking the PBR Jared offered him with a sigh of relief. "You finish that take-home all right?"

"Yeah, I think I got it," said Jared. "I'm going to be begging for your notes again in a week or two, though. I hear the final's harsh."

"It is," said Jensen honestly, "but you'll do fine. It just weeds out the people who are serious about their stuff from the ones who think they can skate by like they did in high school. Far as I'm concerned, the world doesn't need any engineers who think they can skate by. I like my bridges to remain intact, thanks."

"Yeah," said Jared, sipping his own beer. "But I'm still going to borrow your notes and freak out."

"Course you are," said Jensen, swigging his own beer. "Hey, you're coming out to the lake with us after, right? Me and Chris and Steve and Dave. Sunshine, weed and Chris's guitar. It'll be a good time."

"I'm gonna need it after finals," said Jared, his own booted feet up next to Jensen's. "I'm scheduled right through to the very last exam slot. How's that for bad luck, huh?"

"Consider it extra studying time," said Jensen. "You think Chris needs help out back?

"Fuck if I know," said Jared. "Does he usually need help grilling a few steaks?"

"He'd probably kick our asses for questioning his manhood," admitted Jensen. Not that he'd actually made any move to get up and go out back in the first place.

"So what does it feel like to be almost done?" said Jared. "Does it feel as good as it looks from here?"

"It feels like I've still got at least two more years ahead of me," said Jensen, "which is actually what you're going to feel when you get to where I am and realize you're doing the exact same thing."

"Come on, give a guy some hope that there'll be some satisfaction to come with my undergrad degree," said Jared. "No, screw it. I'm going to drop out to be a barista at the Starbucks on Grand Street."

"Yeah, right," said Jensen. "And I'm going to give it all up to read tarot cards at the county fair."

Jared raised his beer bottle up just to point it at Jensen. "The problem with that," he said, "is that these days I could almost believe it."

"Fuck you," said Jensen, draining his beer. "Fortune telling? Really? What do you take me for?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?" said Jared. "It involves the words 'blinded' and 'lust'."

"I'm not blinded by anything," said Jensen, "and contrary to the rumors flying around this house, there are limits to what I'm willing to do to get someone's attention."

"Really?" said Jared. "You think nobody noticed the organic chicken in the fridge?"

"Food's food," said Jensen. "There's nothing weird about me giving that a try and you know it." Okay, it was a little weird, but it wasn't fortune telling. "We're still watching the game tomorrow, right?"

"Better be," said Jared. "Unless you have yoga class."

"Fuck you," said Jensen again, then laughed and got up to get them some more beer.

:::

"Light me on fire," said Misha, not even looking at the dog-eared book in his hands. "Bleed yourself under my skin." He closed the book over one finger and looked up the class. "Bleed yourself. Bleeding's a very powerful idea, whether you take it literally or metaphorically."

"I don't think that's supposed to be literal."

"No?" said Misha, looking up at where one of the many people Jensen didn't know in the class had spoken. "Are you positive?"

She had the book open in front of her, ran her finger down the page as she read, lips moving swiftly. "I think trying to force a literal interpretation on it weakens the image," she said finally. "The bleeding is emotional."

"Okay," he said, looking around again. "But in what sense?"

"It's submission," said Mike, drawing Misha's attention. "Jesus, it's ten kinds of submission. He's opening himself up to the pain and the experiences and the ideas and hell, maybe even the bodily fluids, of someone else."

Misha smiled, but Jensen couldn't tell if that was because Mike was right, or because he was interesting.

"I think that's definitely a valid interpretation," he said. "The poem works because it's on such a visceral level, because each of us absorbs those feelings he's describing and attaches our own memories and experiences to them, which adheres a whole new layer of meaning on top of what's actually written."

"I think he's getting a tattoo," said Annie, from right at the back. "I think when he says 'under my skin' he means under his skin. He's letting someone in."

"Tattooing is an intimate experience," he agreed. "Not only are you making what is presumed to be a permanent modification to your body, imprinting yourself, you're letting someone else do it to you. It's not just the burning of the needles that evokes a response. It's an intensely physical and emotional act."

"You sound like you know something about that."

"I might," he said, neither confirming nor denying. "That might be what I'm bringing to my own interpretation of the poem, the intensity of that moment, the anticipation, the vulnerability."

"Like sex."

"Read one poem about orgies and people think everything that comes out of your mouth is about sex," he said, shaking his head but smiling nonetheless. "But you're not wrong. The parallels are striking. Maybe, in fact, that's his point. He's speaking to his audience at a base level, from the very core of the experience. Do you think he could have written this without direct experience to draw upon?"

Whether or not the question was rhetorical, there was no answer given.

"I'm not telling you all to run out and get inked or fucked just to know what he's talking about here, but you need to experience life in order to write about it. You can research all you want, but there isn't a substitute for sense memory, however you acquire it. Otherwise you're just repeating someone else's memory of an experience."

Thought the discussion went on for a while longer, it was that thought that stayed with Jensen throughout the rest of the class, and in fact through the days that followed it.

:::

Jensen didn't ask anyone else to come with him, even though he could have. Chris would've come without question, even though he would've given Jensen shit about it. Jared would've taken some convincing, but he would've kept his mouth shut. Sandy would've come but she would've wanted to make an outing of it, especially since Sophia was a friend of hers. And Danny would've come, but she would've wanted to know why, and of all of them she was the most likely to get it out of him.

None of those were the experience Jensen wanted to have.

It wasn't a spur of the moment decision by any means. There were a lot of things that Jensen was willing to do to get Misha's attention, but permanently marking himself wasn't one of them. This was something he'd been thinking about for a long time. Something to both mark the end of his undergrad years and the beginning of the rest of his life. Something he wanted to experience. That didn't mean that Misha's words hadn't influenced him, they just weren't the sum total of his choice.

Sophia's hands were gentle as she prepared him, Jensen straddling the chair, wrapping his arms around the back.

"I'm not even sure what this is," she said, the click of the razor against the countertop louder in his ears than her question. "Who did the design for you?"

"A friend in my human anatomy class," he said, trying to relax into his position. "It's an extended muscle cell. Glamorous, I know."

"It's pretty," she said. "No, it's... I like it. It's interesting."

She didn't talk much after that, and Jensen didn't listen much. Instead, all of his attention became focused on the burning needles against his skin, the gentle swipes of her hand over the ink, the humming beneath his skin that started in his shoulder blade and went everywhere.

He could feel sparks of pleasure-pain in his neck, his hands, his thighs, everywhere his nerves ran, echoing the gun at his shoulder. He'd learned everything he could about it but still couldn't have known what this would be like.

Imagining Misha in this same position, feeling these same things, was what put him over the edge. After that, he couldn't pretend the entire process wasn't making him achingly hard, pressed awkwardly against the back of the chair.

"Don't squirm, Jensen," said Sophia gently, like she knew what he was going through down there. "Do you need a break?"

"No," he said, though he took a moment to adjust himself. "I'm fine. I'm good."

She waited another moment then started again, and Jensen retreated back inside his own head, letting the fantasy spiral out unabashedly this time. He didn't have the language to describe what he was feeling, that was something he didn't ever think he'd have, but he'd know it when he heard it. He'd know it.

"Just a little longer," murmured Sophia, but Jensen wasn't all there, not until she stopped for real, cleaning his skin one last time. "Do you want to see?"

Jensen actually shivered as he opened his eyes, his whole body finally allowed to react to the relentless sensation. "Jesus," he murmured, taking a moment to actually answer her. "Yeah. Yeah, let me see it."

She angled the mirrors just right, and aside from the reddening of the skin, the faint trace of blood, it was perfect.

"Thanks," he said softly, squirming a little in his seat again, rubbing up against the vinyl but not getting any relief. "That's... thanks Sophia. That's just what I wanted."

She gave his other shoulder another gentle pat. "Just let me cover it up and you'll be good to go," she said, and Jensen closed his eyes for another moment as she did, coming entirely back to himself. "All right, put your shirt back on."

He did, slowly, the tape on his shoulder blade pulling faintly on his skin, heightening the already-intense reaction of his nervous system.

"Can I, uh, use your washroom before I go," he finally asked.

"Lotion's on top of the towel dispenser," said Sophia, not even making a big deal out of it. That didn't mean Jensen wasn't embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough to stop.

He closed the door behind him and leaned against it, letting out a hiss at the pressure against his raw shoulder. But fuck, his cock liked that too, straining against his jeans even harder. He was practically just going to have to touch it to come but he took a few deep breaths first, pressing his palms flat against the door and savoring the moment.

He unbuttoned slowly, unzipped, pressed the heel of his hand hard against his cock. But fuck, there was no way to draw this out now. He closed his eyes and shoved his underwear out of the way and tugged hard and fast, pushing his shirt up just in time to come all over his stomach.

It didn't make the feelings go away entirely, but at least it took the edge off. Enough that he could take himself out of there like a normal human being.

Next time he did this, he definitely wasn't doing it alone.

:::

Jensen saw Chris for five minutes in the morning, Sandy in passing in the student union, Jared in the hallway of the Sampson Building and Danneel not at all. He didn't know how finals had crept up on him like that, but between class and yoga and the community garden and, oh, everything else he actually liked to do, the time just slipped right past him.

His head was just too full of molecular biology and physiology and continuum mechanics to worry about much other than surviving the semester.

Which was probably why, when he looked at his Contemporary American Poetry final, it was like looking at an exam written in a foreign language.

"You'd better put out, Professor Collins," he muttered to himself and dove right in. There was no going back now, after all, and if he couldn't impress then at least he could look competent.

He felt a phantom twinge in his back when he got to the last section and realized Misha had used a familiar passage for analysis.

Light me on fire. Bleed yourself under my skin.

Jensen was pretty sure he aced that bit.

He didn't look Misha in the eye as he handed his test booklet in and left the examination room, but he felt like Misha's eyes were on him. He wanted to look back but he still had the rest of the examination period to get through and if there was ever a time when he didn't need the distraction this was it.

Just another week and he'd be done.

:::

Professor Misha Collins' office really was in the basement, his name hand-written on a piece of notebook paper and tacked up with scotch tape, in contrast to the dignified nameplates that adorned the other doors.

Jensen stood next to the office and scanned the bulletin board until he spotted the list of grades for his particular course. He couldn't help smiling when he tracked down his own name. Not that it was great - in fact, it was going to drag his GPA down a little - but he'd made it through and he thought he might even have gotten something out of it.

"Are you done now?" said Misha, suddenly appearing in the doorway and leaning against his doorframe."

"Finished this morning," said Jensen, licking his lips and taking a step back from the bulletin board. "I'm pretty sure I won't be seeing those grades for at least a week, though; you're just a keener. So, uh. You got office hours for a while yet?"

Misha shook his head. "Maybe another ten minutes in case someone comes by, and I've already finished all my grading. Is there something I can help you with?"

"No, no," said Jensen. In fact, he was never taking another poetry class ever again. "I was just... wondering if you wanted to go get a drink. You know... celebrate the end of the semester."

"Of course," said Misha, a lot more easily than Jensen had been anticipating. He'd even prepared a bunch of convincing arguments in his head on the way over. "Just let me clean up and lock the office."

Jensen had spent weeks trying to get Misha to notice him, to think of him as something other than his student. And now that it was all over, now that Jensen was finished not only Misha's class but all of his classes, it was time to find out if it worked.

"O'Reilly's on campus all right with you?" he asked while Misha's key was still in the lock. "My roommate borrowed my truck to take some girl out."

"I never mind going some place they already know my name," said Misha, finally looking up and smiling. "I think I did most of my grading in there first semester, until they posted pictures of it in the faculty lounge."

"Did you look all disreputable?"

"Apparently," said Misha, shaking his head. "I had to find another place off campus where they wouldn't judge me quite so much."

O'Reilly's was in the student union building, second floor across from the sorry excuse for a pool hall, and it wasn't really one of Jensen's hangouts but he knew it well enough. There weren't a whole lot of drinking holes quite that close to his classes, which was when he needed them most. It was quiet enough in the middle of the afternoon, even during finals, for them to find a corner with some privacy.

"I wasn't actually sure you drank," admitted Jensen, glad to have a beer in his hands.

Misha seemed amused by that. "Really? You didn't think I drank?"

"Well, you know," he said, attempting to keep his foot out of the vicinity of his mouth. "For a while I wasn't sure you ate meat, either."

His lips definitely twitched that time. "I guess the fried chicken I ate in the middle of class that one day probably tipped you off on that one," he said.

"It was definitely a clue," said Jensen. "I'm sure it was free range, though."

"It was definitely free range," said Misha, raising his mug to Jensen. "To surviving the year. Your last and my first."

"To surviving the year," said Jensen whole-heartedly. Which wasn't actually his last, technically, but he'd worry about that later. Right now he just wanted to enjoy the moment.

Conversation was easy after that, and easier after the second beer, even if Jensen felt like he was still holding back some of the things he really wanted to say. He wasn't entirely sure it was clear this was even supposed to be a date until out of the blue Misha asked him on another one.

"Listen, there's going to be an open reading by some local poets at the Earth Mother Cafe on tomorrow," he said. "You know, Cortese, Aycox, a few others. Don't suppose you'd be interested in going?"

"You going to be reading anything of yours?" said Jensen. As if he was even considering saying no.

"Not this time," said Misha. "Are you saying that would be a deciding factor for you?"

"Well, no," he had to admit, grinning into the last of his beer. "But it would've been a perk. Okay, sure. Yes. I'd love to go."

Now he just had to figure out how to explain to his roommates that he was going to a poetry reading without them laughing in his face. And also figure out how he was going to get through the parts where Misha wasn't reading.

The pleasure on Misha's face, much more open - more vulnerable - than anything Jensen had seen since the semester started, made agreeing to sit through a poetry reading worth it.

:::

Jensen, to his credit, did not fall asleep. In fact, he was confident he did a fairly reasonable facsimile of being interested in the reading. At least he didn't have to feign interest in his drink.

Afterwards, Misha asked him up to his apartment for coffee, and Jensen had been around the block enough times to know exactly what that meant. Thank God. His very careful and methodical absorption of all things Misha Collins hadn't been in vain.

"Excuse the mess," he said, flipping on a light. "It's mostly my roommate's, because apparently taking the bigger bedroom still doesn't mean she's capable of containing her things in it."

"She's not home?"

"Visiting her parents for the week," he said. "I definitely didn't invite you up here to be subjected to her third degree."

"Oh yeah?" said Jensen, stepping over a pair of discarded heels. "Then what did you invite me up here for?"

"Something I think we've both been thinking about for a while," said Misha, reaching for Jensen's hand and tugging him right past the kitchen, coffee forgotten. "I'm not wrong, am I?"

"Jesus, no," said Jensen. "You are definitely not wrong."

They didn't make it all the way to the bedroom, instead ending up pressed up against the wall in the hallway, his shirt clenched in Misha's hand and Misha's lips pressed up just in front of his ear.

"I can feel you breathing," he said, letting go of Jensen's shirt to slip his hand up underneath it. "Here. And here. And here. Harder and faster, faster and harder."

Jensen closed his eyes and leaned in closer, Misha's fingertips pressing harder into him. His skin tingled around them, his nerves sparking hard.

"Take this off," he said, suddenly clutching Jensen's shirt from the inside. "Show me, Jensen. Show me."

He almost couldn't for a moment, weak against the onslaught of Misha's voice, but a command to get naked was one Jensen almost never ignored. He stripped his shirt off, dropping it on top of another pair of discarded shoes, and went for his jeans, too, before Misha stopped him.

"No, that's mine," he said, gripping Jensen's hands with his own, his lips still so close to Jensen's ear. "I get to discover that."

"I got so hard in your class," Jensen blurted out, letting Misha pull his hands away, press them back against the wall.

Neither one of them said anything for a while as Misha returned to his jeans, fondled, unzipped, slowly pushed them out of the way. He mouthed the skin of Jensen's neck, hot and wet, breathing against him as Jensen's pants fell to his knees.

This his mouth moved back to suck on Jenson's earlobe before he said, "Yeah, I know," and slipped his hand into Jensen's boxers.

Jensen was rendered inarticulate for a few moments, at least one of his many bathroom fantasies suddenly coming true, and when he did find his voice again all he used it for was to gasp and moan as Misha pushed him up against the wall and finally fucking touched him.

"Tell me how much you want it, Jensen," Misha says, his hand wrapped around Jensen's cock. "Talk to me."

Jensen stuttered over his first few words, trying to figure out what Misha wanted him to say. "Just like that," he got out finally. "Yeah... yeah... right there."

His hand moved smooth and slow, half the speed of Jensen's breathing, and he needed more. "But how?" Misha said, licking his throat in one long swipe. "Hard? Soft? Fast? Slow? Do you like it when it hurts? Do you like it when someone fingers you? Do you like it when my thumb does this?"

Jensen hissed and blurted out, "Yes!" Yes to all of them, yes to everything. Yes to anything Misha wanted to do. He tried to talk, he did, he tried to say what Misha wanted to hear, but what came out was inarticulate, all "yes" and "please" and "god" and "fuck".

"Tell me, Jensen," said Misha, moving harder and faster, moving Jensen's underwear right out of the way and putting some muscle into it, taking him hard. "Tell me how much you want to come."

Jensen didn't tell him so much as showed him, crying out involuntarily as he came all over both of them, his head knocking back against the wall hard enough that he didn't know if the stars were from the bang or the orgasm or both.

"God you're hot," said Misha, and smeared his hand over Jensen's stomach for a moment before finally leaning in and kissing him hard and deep, like he was staking his claim.

They did make it into the bedroom after that, and it was either very late at night or very early the next morning when Jensen finally headed back to his own house. Jensen liked him, and he enjoyed himself, but he still drove home feeling a more than faint sense of dissatisfaction, and he didn't know if it was the residual awkwardness of his first time with someone, or if it was something more.

:::

"So he wasn't great in bed," said Chris. "That's all this moping is about? All it takes is a little practice and you'll get there."

"No!" said Jensen. "No, that's not what I'm saying. He was great. God, he was fucking mind-blowing. He just asked for things that--"

Chris raised both his eyebrows at him. "You telling me you don't know how to say no?"

"No!" said Jensen, running both hands through his hair in aggravation. "That's not what I'm... maybe I was just expecting it to be different."

"You wanted fireworks. Serenades. Simultaneous orgasms."

"I just wanted to be myself."

Chris fell silent then, the only noise the sound of him screwing the cap off a bottle of tequila. "Well then, Jenny, that's a problem," he said finally. "And it's not gonna go away without you doing something about it."

"I wanted that to be me, though."

"Did you?" said Chris. "Seems to me like if you wanted that to be you, it would be."

"He's amazing, Chris," said Jensen. "I want this to work. I just want to be with him."

"So what are you going to do the next time he asks you to a poetry reading?" said Chris. "Or, I don't know, a chamber orchestra? Or asks you to chain yourself to a tree?"

"He's not going to ask me to chain myself to a tree."

"You know what I mean, Jensen. What are you going to do? Keep faking it?"

"I'm not faking anything. I’m just trying to develop an interest."

"Hey, I'm not discouraging you from broadening your horizons," said Chris, "even though the last time I let you do that, you went and decided you didn't like pussy. I'm saying it shouldn't be all work. You like this guy, right?"

"Obviously," said Jensen.

"So maybe, just maybe, he actually likes you too. And not because of your sudden interest in meditation and granola and political rallies."

"He can't," said Jensen. "He doesn't know me."

"Well then, Jenny, that's a problem too." He poured two shots of tequila and slid one over. "Just tell me you're not blowing us off for this weekend. We've been planning this for weeks."

"What? No. God, no," said Jensen. "I'm gonna need this weekend just to feel like myself again."

"Drink your shot and think real hard about what you just said," said Chris, nodding at his drink. He waited a moment then shot his own back, but whenever Jensen thought about it his usual cool reason was short circuited by Misha's voice and his mind and his smile and, now that he had some more evidence, his hands and his mouth.

"What you need to do is you need to suck it up and ask him to come with you to me and Steve's show next week, let him see you with your friends," said Chris. "You really think you're going to spend the rest of your life pretending to be someone you're not?"

"He's interested in me this way, Chris. I'm not changing, I'm just expanding."

"Love you like a brother, Jensen, but you're a real idiot sometimes."

:::

Misha didn't say anything about the truck Jensen picked him up in, but Jensen couldn't miss him checking it out and wondered just what he was thinking about it, whether or not he was judging him for it.

"This isn't too early for you, is it?" said Misha when they were on their way. "I can't always make it work, with my schedule, but I feel like getting a workout at dawn really starts the day out right."

Jensen sipped his coffee and didn't answer either way.

Yoga. No, not just yoga, yoga class. At six in the morning. Jensen was either insane or he was in love with the guy. And Misha was obviously really into this whole thing. No, not just into it, he was good. Jensen hadn't even been sure that real people's bodies could move that way.

It was supposed to be a fairly basic class, obviously far beneath Misha's skill level, but Jensen struggled right from the start. When their instructor did something Jensen deemed physically impossible he rolled his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a moment, and made a series of uncharitable faces as he tried to imitate her anyway. He didn't realize Misha was watching him until it was too late.

"This isn't really your thing, is it, Jensen?"

Jensen was reluctant to admit it, but finally he just sighed and untangled his body. He wasn't sure how he'd even managed to get it in that position to begin with; maybe he was actually getting better at this whole flexibility thing than he thought.

"I'm trying new things lately," he said, which was the absolute truth. It just avoided the question of why. Misha looked at him for a few moments, then took his arm and led him to the edge of the room, away from the curious gazes of the other students.

"A lot of new things?" he said. "Things like poetry and yoga and tofu and, I don't know, guys?"

"Hey, no, I've always been gay," said Jensen quickly. "Guys are definitely not a new thing to me."

"But the rest?"

Jensen's friends, it turned out, really were a lot smarter about people than he was. And maybe there really were limits to how far you could stretch your interests before you were trying to become someone else entirely.

"Look," he said, "I studied biomechanics. I do computer modeling of bone stress for fun. Tonight me and my buddies are going to have a few beers at a country bar, then tomorrow we're going to take my beat-up pickup out to the lake, where I'll probably get drunk, get a sunburn out in the canoe, and help make a ridiculously large bonfire on the shore for no other reason than we like to watch things burn. I don't really read much poetry and I don't eat organic and I just really don't talk during sex. This is me. This is what I'm like, and I'm sorry I ever tried to be anything else."

But Misha didn't look put off at all. "You like canoeing?"

"What?" said Jensen, wondering if Misha even heard a word he said. "Yeah. My dad used to take me out."

"Me too," said Misha. "We should go some time."

"Seriously?" said Jensen. "You did hear what I just said, right?"

"Every word of it," said Misha. "Look, you're obviously interested in me in spite of the fact that I do read poetry for fun, and meditate in inappropriate places, and apparently do a lot of other things that you're just not that into. You could've said something sooner if you weren't having a good time."

"I'm an idiot," said Jensen. "And I'm not just saying that. My roommates are always telling me I'm stupid about people, and they're not wrong. I am."

"You did make this a little more complicated than it needed to be," said Misha. "But there must've been something that made you even try in the first place."

Jensen looked him up and down. "Well, obviously, yes," he said. "Do we have to... okay, I feel like enough of an idiot right now. I was trying to make you notice me, all right?"

"You think I didn't notice you in my class? Look at you."

"Yeah," said Jensen quietly. "Yeah, people do notice me like that."

"And maybe you weren't exactly my star student, but you were definitely one of the most interesting people," he added. "Right from the first day of class. As far as I was concerned, we've been dancing around this thing between us for weeks now."

"You never said anything."

"I was teaching you," said Misha. "Or trying to, anyway. Why did you take my poetry class, Jensen? I checked out your transcripts. Top of your class. That C+ I gave you didn't do you any favors."

"Solid B," Jensen corrected him, "after the extra credit assignments." Which wasn't much better, but it was enough for him to consider the class a success on multiple levels. "Okay, see, I've been accepted to the School of Physical Therapy for the fall. I just felt like I needed to be a little more well rounded to go into a field where I actually do have to deal with people. All they require is intro psych and I did that freshman year but... I wanted to be better. And then... then I saw you and you were teaching that class and it fit into my schedule."

"You were willing to take a B on your transcript just to take my class?"

"Well, it did make me hard," muttered Jensen, staring at his uncomfortably bare feet, "so it wasn't all bad."

He wasn't sure whether Misha's abrupt laugh was amused or outraged. "You do realize that if you hadn't taken my class and had just asked me out, we could've been doing this four or five months sooner, right?"

"That... no, that hadn't actually occurred to me," admitted Jensen. But the thing was, it wouldn't have happened that way, not with him. If he hadn't convinced himself to take the course, they might never have spoken at all. "You wouldn't have known I was alive."

"You seem really sure about that," said Misha. "You seem really sure that somehow you're possible to miss."

"No, people notice me," said Jensen. "People notice me all right. But not people like you."

Misha nodded his head slowly, not quite looking at Jensen, not quite looking at anything, really. Jensen tried to read him, but he really was bad at it, bad at body language, bad at figuring out what anyone was thinking, ever.

"Look," he said finally, as the silence grew more and more awkward. "Do you need a ride home? I can at least give you a ride home."

"How about this," said Misha finally. "How about you give me a chance to actually get to know you before you write this whole thing off as a failed experiment?"

"I... are you sure about that?"

Are you sure about that? Honestly, if Jensen didn't kick himself for that one he should start getting someone to do the kicking for him, because he so clearly deserved it.

"I like you," said Misha. "Of course I want to know you."

And maybe it really was as simple as that.

:::

Jared was up front helping Chris and Steve haul shit so Danneel and Sandy were on their own to stake out a table big enough for everyone. They waved Jensen over as soon as he stepped in the door, but took another moment to realize Misha was with him; Jensen could see the change in their expressions as soon as they did.

"Don't let them scare you off," said Jensen. "They're all pretty curious about this thing we've got going on."

"If I haven't been scared off already, I doubt your friends could do it," said Misha. "Though, pre-emptively, I issue you the same warning about mine."

"They anything like you?"

"They're a lot like me," said Misha.

"Then I think I'll like them just fine," said Jensen, taking Misha's hand very deliberately and leading him to the back of the club. "Danny. Sandy. This is--"

"Professor Collins," said Sandy mischievously, sliding over one seat to make room for the both of them.

Misha put his hand over his face and shook his head, but Jensen just laughed. It felt good.

"How about we stick with Misha," he said, "since none of you are my students, thank God."

"Oh, but you like students," said Sandy relentlessly. "Don't you?"

"Former students," said Misha firmly, not missing the fact that her lips were twitching as she said it. "I'm extremely fond of former students."

Oh, Jensen was going to get hell from his roommates for the next while, and most of it he probably deserved. But he didn't miss that they were making room for Misha more than just at the table.

Jared joined them once the stage was set up, and as Chris and Steve played - neither one of them missed that Misha had joined the table either; Jensen just considered himself lucky that there hadn't been a completely inappropriate song dedication - Jensen pressed up close to Misha and just enjoyed the fact that it felt right. It felt real, finally.

"So you're the one who's had Jenny running around like he lost his head lately," said Chris as he finally joined them, his version of a friendly greeting. Jensen figured he deserved that, too.

"Oh, has he?" said Misha. "Do tell."

"He studied poetry."

"--bought a yoga mat--"

"--brought a plant to school--"

"--has anyone else seen that tattoo--"

"--and the garden--"

"--I don't even know what Burning Man is--"

"--I totally caught him bent over in the living room--"

"I'm never speaking to any of you ever again," Jensen proclaimed. Misha, on the other hand, was laughing too hard to respond. "Seriously. Never."

"Aw, you love us," said Danneel. "You love us because we accept your painful lack of social skills."

"Yes, but with this face, who needs social skills?" said Sandy, squeezing his cheeks together.

Jensen tried not to react, but the look Misha gave him at that - appraising, with a tiny smile - said maybe he understood a little better than Jensen thought why Jensen had been trying so hard.

"Speaking of my complete lack of social skills," said Jensen as Misha squeezed the inside of his thigh. "We're gonna head out now."

"Yeah, I just bet," muttered Chris into his beer, earning himself an elbow in the side from Steve.

"You eat meat, don't you, Misha?"

Jensen choked on the last of his beer and Steve had to clamp a hand over Chris's mouth to keep him from responding. Misha at least had the composure to answer.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, I do."

"Good," said Danneel shamelessly. "Jared lost a bet so he has to make bacon and eggs for all in the morning. I assume you'll be there."

"I hate you all," muttered Jensen.

"That is the plan," said Misha, meeting Danneel's eyes without flinching. "We'll try not to keep you up."

"Like hell we won't," said Jensen, then took Misha's hand again and led him back out to the truck before anyone could say anything else.

:::

"I'd give you the grand tour," said Jensen, leaving the lights off as they went, "but frankly the only thing I want to show you right now is my bedroom, and that's up here."

"Pretty sure the tour can wait," said Misha, stopping him halfway up the stairs to kiss him up against he wall, give him a quick grope. "We have lots of time for that."

"Lots of time," said Jensen, tugging Misha back to kiss him again before they made it up the rest of the stairs. "I'm on the right." But he was the one who got there first, pushed the door open with his shoulder and shut it again with his foot before stripping his shirt off and tossing it aside. Stripping down wasn't a production, they didn't take it slow, just left a trail of discarded clothing between the door and the bed.

"Since you're not much for talking," said Misha, his hands roaming all over, feeling like they were everywhere at once, "how about if I tell you not to talk at all?" Jensen hadn't even known it was possible to get harder than he already was until that moment. "Just let me do all the talking."

"I'm pretty good with my mouth," Jensen did say, while he still could. "When it's not busy talking."

He liked to think, feeling the way Misha suddenly rocked his hips against him, that they were even after that.

"I want to see all of you," said Misha, starting at Jensen's hairline, kissing him there and then moving south, over his jaw, over his shoulders, down over his chest pausing only to nibble his nipples to tight, aching peaks. Jensen sucked in harsh breaths and resisted saying any of the many one-syllable words that crossed his mind. "I want to know it all, Jensen. Don't ever doubt that I want to know what you are."

He moved to Jensen's waist, skimmed over his groin, kissed down his legs and then flipped him over so quickly and smoothly that Jensen barely had time to gasp.

He started at the top again, at the nape of Jensen's neck, then paused at his shoulders.

"This really is new," he breathed, running his fingers over Jensen's vivid tattoo. I wanted to experience it, Jensen thought, and the act of not saying it out loud sent a little thrilling shiver through him. And then another when Misha licked the skin there, grinding his hips into Jensen's thigh.

It was both a disappointment and a relief when he finally moved on, explored Jensen's back with his hands, lingered over the curves of his ass, kissed the backs of his knees, his calves, his ankles.

"Turn over," he said, and hovered as he let Jensen shift himself this time, sprawling on his back in the middle of the bed.

"I don't think there are words in this language to describe how much I want you to fuck me," said Misha, pinning Jensen to the bed with his hands and straddling him there. "But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try."

Jensen squeezed his eyes shut and refused to be responsible for the noises that he choked out at that.

"I've been thinking about it all day," Misha said, leaning forward to pinch Jensen's already-sensitive nipples to hardness again. "I've been thinking about it all month. I've been thinking about what your cock would look like out of your jeans, whether the outline did it justice at all. I thought about it when I fingered myself, thought about how big it would be, how hard it would be."

Jensen couldn't open his eyes or he was going to come all over both of them, he was sure of it. His thighs were tense, shaking, even as Misha stroked his hands over them, then before he knew it Jensen felt a condom being rolled onto him.

"Don't say a word," said Misha, and Jensen bit down on his lip so hard he was surprised it didn't draw blood. "Look at me."

Jensen wanted to say he couldn't, he couldn't look, but when he didn't let himself give in to the words he found it was easier to pry them open, to be watching as Misha sank down onto him. He arched back impossibly far, braced on his knees, and if Jensen weren't so astonished by the position he probably would've lost it right there.

"God," said Misha, his voice softer now, his breathing harder. "Stretched. Full of you. Full of you." If he didn't know better Jensen would've thought he got even deeper as Misha moved, braced himself on one hand, started riding him hard. He couldn't say anything but that didn't mean he couldn't reach out, wrap a hand around Misha's cock, start thrusting up into him.

"Yes," said Misha. "Do that. Do that. Keep doing that until we fall apart." Jensen wanted to, God he wanted to, he wanted this fucking glorious feeling to never end, but when Misha finally leaned forward again he couldn't help himself, he rolled them over and pressed his toes against the end of the bed and started thrusting into him with all he had.

Misha just rolled with it, pulling his legs up and wide and letting Jensen in, letting him in as hard and far as he wanted. He reached up and gripped the headboard and gasped a few times, desperate for air, before speaking again.

"Fuck," he said, the word hard and sharp. One leg fell over Jensen's shoulder with unnatural ease and he grabbed Misha's cock again with the arm he wasn't using to brace himself, jacking it hard and smooth, nothing pretty, trying to get him to come before Jensen couldn't hold out anymore.

It was a hard won battle but Jensen got there in the end, Misha losing his words as he gasped and came all over Jensen's hand, all over his chest, all over them both. Jensen didn't give him a chance to come down before letting go, bracing himself with both arms and thrusting two, three, four more times before coming to the sound of Misha's soft, breathy, "Do it."

He shuddered hard and pressed his forehead to Misha's shoulder and only lifted his head again when he feel like he could breathe, felt like he could see something other than sparks in front of his eyes.

"You don't like talking," said Misha, breathless, head still tilted back and hands gripping the headboard, "but you sure like it when someone else does."

"I like it when you do," said Jensen as they finally separated from one another, blankets on the floor and sheets askew and bodies slick with sweat. "Wow. Jesus. Holy shit. I don't even know how you...."

"That's the thing about yoga. It's great for the flexibility."

Jensen definitely had a whole new appreciation for the art after that.

"If I stick with the yoga, can I drop the community garden?" said Jensen. "Seriously, I’m a black thumb. You have no idea."

Misha laughed and rolled onto his side, running his fingers down Jensen's chest. "Yeah," he said, "I'm pretty sure we can work this thing of ours out."