"You pawned your grandmother's ring?" Jensen asks stupidly because he heard exactly what Jared just said, he's just not sure if this a topic he can have before his morning coffee.
"I just said that," Jared whines petulantly. "And yes. It was six months ago and I need to pay off this guy and I got desperate. But now my family want it back."
Jensen's not really sure where Jared is going with this but he lets out an affirmative grunt anyway. He's hoping that if he listens like a good boyfriend he'll be able to go back to sleep.
"Are you even listening to me?" Jared asks, poking a long bony finger into Jensen's side. "I'm in some serious shit."
Jensen groans and sits up. He turns on the lamp, grimacing when the bright lights sting his eyes. "You've been some serious shit for a long time, Jared. Honestly, it's getting kind of hard to help you."
The thing is that Jensen understands Jared's plight, he really does. Jared's a college dropout who has no idea what to do with his life and somehow he's ended up taking over the rundown bed-and-breakfast his parents once ran. The whole thing is a recipe for disaster but right now Jensen's done all he can. The establishment is still not taking in as much money as it should be. Every time Jensen starts making jokes about hiring the guy from Mystery Diners, he gets a punch in the arm and blue balls.
However, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something is amiss, Jared just has to care hard enough to figure it out.
Right now he doesn't and that's not Jensen's problem.
Jared looks away from him and starts picking at the edge of the pale blue comforter. "I've done everything you've suggested and – maybe this isn't meant to be. But I can't just sell the place. I owe too much."
That's exactly why he should sell it but Jensen's not crazy enough to bring that topic up again. He kind of likes getting laid regularly and not having to deal with an angry boyfriend.
"How much is the ring?" Jensen asks, because well, he seriously hates the sad look on Jared's face and the way his bottom lip juts out. He's sure that he's not actually going to do anything crazy and buy that damn thing. They've only been dating for four months. Jensen's not the kind of person who gets whipped or lets other people wrap him around their little finger.
Jared bites at his lip and says, "Twenty-thousand dollars."
"Yeah, well, you might have to get Derek to bail you out this time," Jensen replies. Twenty grand? Hell, no. That would have him eating ramen for the rest of his life and no amount of sex is worth doing that kind of damage to his delicate palate.
"Like he bailed me out with the restaurant?" Jared asks. "Fat fucking chance. I guess I'll just leverage some assets and see what I can get my hands on."
Jensen practically facepalms because he's torn between wearing his work hat and his boyfriend hat but really, the former is seriously winning.
"Jared, I...like you a lot but sometimes you do things that are stupid," he says carefully. "And as your boyfriend, I would like it if you maybe stopped to consider these things. As someone who's paid to tell people what they should and shouldn't be doing, there's an obvious way to sort out your most glaring issue."
Jared frowns. His eyes narrow and Jensen braces himself for yet another denial.
"How many times, no one is ripping me off!"
Jensen rolls his eyes and realizes that he's going to have to take a different approach.
"How about this – if you at least investigate the issue and find nothing amiss, I'll get you the ring back. If there is – you have to man-up and deal with it. What do you say?"
"I don't need you to buy things for me, Jensen," Jared snaps suddenly. His tone is rather icy and Jensen guesses that he's overstepped the mark. "That's not why I am telling you this."
Jensen throws his hands up in exasperation and does his hardest to refrain from tossing his lamp at the cream-colored walls. It's way too early for them to get into an argument but it seems like they're going to have one anyway – it might as well be now and not during Jensen's lunch hour when he calls for some light phone sex and ends up wondering what the fuck he's done this time.
"Okay, so what do you want me to do?" Jensen asks helplessly, because it sucks to see Jared scrimping and saving just to keep the B&B running. It sucks that his employees are taking him for a ride and Jared's just letting it happen. He can't just sit here and watch Jared scrambling for pennies just to make enough money to buy back a supposed family heirloom.
"I don't really know," Jared admits. He sounds lost, like he's all out of ideas and hope and maybe he is. Maybe this is the moment of realization that he needs. "I do know that I don't want to fail. I want to keep running Lucky's so, fine. I will investigate the issue."
Even though it's completely inappropriate, Jensen lets out a whoop.
One week later and any elation Jensen had is gone because not only was he right but Jared's fucking sleazebag ex (otherwise known as the general manager of Lucky's) is the main culprit. He's been pushing up the housekeeping quotas and pocking the extra money for himself. He's also been ordering triple amounts of food and then selling the bulk of it at profit and pocketing that as well. Not only is Jensen angry about that, he's horrified to learn that Jared's been working with his ex-boyfriend the whole time.
It's not even jealousy that he feels, just hurt. He feels like an idiot, like they've probably been laughing behind him the whole time. Realistically, he knows that Jared wouldn't cheat on him – he's not the type and he spends almost every night at Jensen's place, but still, it doesn't sit right with him.
"There you are," Jared says when he finds Jensen outside. He's sitting cross-legged on the floor of Lucky's back patio and staring the midnight black sky. He barely glances up at Jared, not wanting a reminder of the weird intense argument he just witnessed between his boyfriend and his boyfriend's ex-boyfriend. It sounds so ridiculous in his head that he laughs bitterly.
"Am I that unapproachable that you couldn't just say 'hey, by the way, Tom and I used to date'?" he queries because perhaps this is on him. Maybe he's just not the kind of guy that you can say things like that to. That happens occasionally. He refuses to hear about Danneel's ex-boyfriends anymore because he's not fucking Lifetime; he can't keep warning her about the losers that she seems to attract.
"No, no, no, I just... I guess I didn't want it to play any part in our relationship," Jared explains. He runs a hand through his unruly mop of hair and sinks down onto the patio. He settles next to Jensen and exhales deeply. "I thought that Tom was a really good manager and I didn't want to have to lose that because things were awkward."
And look how that turned out, Jensen thinks, but he doesn't voice it because he's better at reading social cues now.
"I'm sorry," is all he says. He means it too, he is genuinely saddened that Jared's just been betrayed by someone who he obviously cares about. It's the reason why Jensen ran out here like a kid who still believes in the Boogey-Man. He could see it in Jared's eyes, the naked emotion and the way the hurt ran deep. That kind of pain isn't caused by just anybody.
"Sorry for what?" Jared asks.
Jensen gestures in front of him. "About all of this. It just sucks." It's not the most eloquent response but he's kind of stumped. He's too upset to say what he really wants to and truth be told he just wants to sit here and wallow in his own self-pity.
So he does.
Jensen doesn't speak to Jared for three days and as a result, he's extremely productive at work. He takes on extra meetings, arranges late dinners and early breakfasts – anything to eliminate any breathing space on his schedule.
He's fucking ecstatic when Derek actually agrees to meet him for lunch. He even springs for a new haircut and uses that spicy cologne that Jared likes and then pretends that he didn't.
It turns out that Febreze doesn't remove all smells and that it irritates the skin.
Anyway, he's practically skipping after he hands the valet his car keys because this could be it. This could be the afternoon that he finally seals this deal and---
--the table he's escorted to is already occupied. By Jared.
Jensen's never been a dramatic kind of guy. If this was one of those dramatic romantic comedies that his mother loves he would turn and run away, leaving Jared to chase after him dramatically.
Fortunately this is reality and he turns and begins to walk out at a sedate pace.
He's barely taken three steps when the sound of crashing furniture hits him and he revolves back around to see Jared tangled up beneath two chairs and a collapsed table. The old couple across the restaurant start tittering and Jensen can't blame them. It's a pretty fucking hilarious but he can't help rushing over to Jared.
"Are you alright?" he calls frantically, running his hands all over Jared's chest as if he has super laser-ray hands that will magically detect injury.
Jared smiles up at him gently and says, "I am now that you're here."
Although the words are cheesy (and this definitely isn't a rom-com), Jensen finds it hard to stay mad after that.
In the end Derek still doesn't agree to hire Jensen but he does buy the ring on Jared's behalf.
Jared fires Tom and tells Jensen every excruciating detail of their relationship. Jensen mentally debates how wise it would be to find Tom and beat the crap out of him.
"Please don’t do anything that would require me to find bail money," Jared whines when he catches the expression on Jensen's face. "I'm kinda broke, remember?"
Jensen nods because yeah, that's true. And Mel and Danneel would probably let him rot just for the fun of it.
"Fine," he says reluctantly as he begins to set out the plates for the new and improved breakfast service. "But you've got to help me get Derek on board. That guy is harder to schmooze than that last Tic-Tac that just refuses to fall out of the little container."
Jared starts laughing so hard that he drops the plate he's holding but doesn't even seem to realize because his shoulders are shaking so hard.
"You're absolutely ridiculous, you know that?" he says. He inches forward and even there's nothing sexy about making out while broken crockery lies on the floor, Jensen doesn't pull away from the kiss. And then Jared does that thing with his tongue and--
"I think we better move this upstairs before we leave enough bodily fluids in this kitchen that I'd have to get someone to fumigate the whole place."
Jared snorts but he pulls away, allowing Jensen to zoom in on his red, kiss-swollen lips. "You really know how to set the mood...."
Jensen grins. "It's all part of my charm. Besides, this place is called Lucky's Lucky Inn. Technically the mood is set twenty-four seven."
This time Jared groans but the amused twinkle in his eye is good enough for Jensen and hey, he's always had edgy humor.