“I didn’t get a callback for a couple of them, but then I did Gilmore Girls pretty fast out of the gate and it’s been steady ever since. I’m lucky, I know. I mean, I think I went about a month or two without work in the beginning? Since then I’ve been really, really fortunate.”
“Yeah, man, me too. Ever since Days of our Lives I’ve been pretty steady. It ain’t the norm, I know that, but I guess it’s like you said. Lucky.”
“What about before the soap? When did you get out to LA?” Jared asks. Jensen tries not to look for a deeper meaning behind the question. Jared’s curious, that’s all, but Jensen can’t help but wince. Jared doesn’t seem to notice, or at least doesn’t comment.
“Moved out after high school. Figured I’d give myself six months and then go back home. Go to school.”
Jared laughs. That part of the story’s familiar; they’ve talked about their plans for college before. “Guess you got something within six months, then.”
But Jensen hadn’t. He smiles now, gives Jared a noncommittal shrug. He’ll never forget that six months of near-constant auditioning with hardly any callbacks. And he’ll certainly never forget the desperate three weeks that followed: three weeks of scrambling to shadier and shadier casting calls, scrounging through the trades looking for work, and every night, packing another box and lying awake in his bed, scared of what going home would mean.
“It took seven, actually,” he murmurs now, avoiding Jared’s gaze.
“Just wouldn’t give up?” Jared asks with a grin.
“I was scared,” Jensen admits. He stares down at his beer. It’s easier to tell this story to the bottle than his friend. “I was desperate, Jared. If I didn’t nail that audition, I would’ve gone home. And I really didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to fail.”
Jensen had been to a lot of open calls, a lot of creepy buildings and people’s living rooms. He’s relieved to find that this audition is held in a real production office, at least. He walks in and rubs his right hand on his thigh, but the man he finds behind the desk doesn’t stand up, doesn’t offer his hand to shake. Jensen holds up his resume and headshot and smiles.
“Hi, I’m Jensen Ackles, I—”
The man looks up at the words die in Jensen’s throat. He watches the guy’s narrowed gaze travel up and down his body, the look of dismissal cross his face.
“Sorry, kid. You’re not who we’re looking for.”
Jensen’s face falls. “Please, can I just read—”
“I said no. You can go; I’m sure you have other auditions to get to.”
“Please, sir,” Jensen says desperately. He puts his papers on the desk, on top of the stack that’s already there, and leans over the desk, forcing the man to keep looking at him. “I really want this job.”
The guy snorts. “Kid, a lotta people really want this job.” His eyes flick up, taking in Jensen’s expression, and then lower. Jensen fights not to move. As long as the man’s attention is on him, he still has a chance. Finally, he speaks again. “You want it?”
The meaning sinks in and Jensen remains very still. He swallows and forces a nod. “I need it,” he says quietly.
“How much do you need it?”
“Then get on your knees and beg.”
His heart is racing and his mouth is utterly dry; his tongue sticks to his lips when he licks them. He comes around the desk and slides to his knees at the man’s side. “Please, sir. Please. I need it.”
Jensen doesn’t move as the guy unzips his pants and pulls his dick out. He strokes himself, the head of his cock dark and wet where it pokes out of his fist. Jensen licks his lips again and waits.
After what feels like an achingly long time – though probably only a minute or so in reality – the man reaches for Jensen, slides his fingers into Jensen’s hair and pulls him forward. Jensen shuffles closer on his knees and keeps his hands where they are on his own thighs, clenched into fists. The guy’s cock nudges his lips and Jensen parts them, barely remembering to cover his teeth before he’s choked with dick, the bitter, musky taste of precome exploding on his tongue. He gags, surprised, but the man doesn’t wait. He thrusts in again, and this time Jensen’s mouth is wet and slippery and he’s ready. He closes his eyes and holds himself still and concentrates on not letting his teeth touch the guy’s skin. All he can smell is sweat and the pungent odor of sex and pubic hair tickles his nose and he can barely breathe, but this isn’t hard to do. This isn’t too bad. He squeezes his eyes shut and waits.
Thankfully – or maybe not – the guy pulls out when he’s close and jerks himself off all over Jensen’s face. He feels come on his eyelashes, his nose, dripping off his lips. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t open his eyes until he hears the man start to tuck himself back into his pants.
He catches the box of tissues that hits him in the chest and wordlessly begins wiping himself up. The man shuffles through the papers on his desk and eventually finds a thick stack, held together with clips. A script. He holds it out to Jensen.
“Monday morning, you come in, you know your lines cold, and you don’t fuck up, you understand me?”
“Yes, sir,” Jensen whispers.
“Alright, now get out of here.”
Jensen scrambles to his feet and hurries out the door, trying to look like he’s not running away.
When he gets home, he puts the script on the packing box serving as a temporary nightstand and methodically strips off his clothes. He hadn’t checked, earlier, but he thinks there are come-stains on his shirt. He tosses everything into a pile at the deepest corner of his almost-empty closet and retreats to the center of the room. Then he crouches down on the floor in his underwear and holey socks and cries.
He covers his face, as if there was anyone to hide from, and his palms grow slippery wet with tears. But it doesn’t last long. He wipes his eyes with the back of his wrist and stays on the floor, breathing slowly and carefully, because he doesn’t know what might set him off again. He looks around at the neatly stacked boxes, all taped up and ready to go, and at the few things left scattered around the room.
He has a job. He can unpack. He can stay.
“I never told anyone that,” Jensen says in an undertone, “so don’t go repeating it, alright?”
“No, yeah, of course,” Jared replies quickly. Jensen risks a glance up at his face and finds Jared’s mouth pinched into a frown. He feels a little bad about bringing down the mood.
“I never put myself in that position again,” Jensen assures him. “I never let myself get that desperate. And I was lucky enough to get work pretty steadily after that.”
“Once they saw you could do the job,” Jared says, shooting Jensen a half-smile. “Once they saw how good you were.”
“It could’ve easily gone the other way, you know.” It’s a thought that’s haunted Jensen since he was nineteen, when he first had the luxury of turning down shady offers.
Jared’s weird sort-of-grin broadens into an honest, open smile. “I’m glad it didn’t. Though if you had become a porn star, you’d probably be winning more awards.”
Jensen shoves Jared hard enough to knock him out of his chair. “Shut up.”
Jared laughs and spreads his arms wide. “I’m just sayin’!”
They settle down and Jensen drains the rest of his beer. He twirls the bottle against the table, and he can feel the heavy weight of Jared’s gaze on him. “I wouldn’t do it again – I’ll never do it again – but I don’t regret it. I live a charmed life,” he says, meeting Jared’s eyes with an easy shrug. “All my dreams came true. I think that’s worth one little nightmare.”