Jensen thinks this might turn into the worst day of his life. Admittedly, his life hasn’t been around all that long yet. And still, this day might top every other “worst day of his life” in the last seventeen years.
Okay, so maybe he’s a little exaggerating, but this day hasn’t started in a good way.
Mack finished the last bits of Choco krispies and Jensen can’t start his day without them. He took it as the first sign that things might be going slightly downhill today. Then his favorite socks were still hiding somewhere in the hamper because his mom’s doing double shifts and his dad is practically useless when it comes to housework.
So Jensen left the house in mismatched socks that didn’t match the rest of his outfit, an empty stomach and no car. Oh yeah, the no car thing had been going on for several days already due to him being grounded and everything.
He feels it’s punishment enough that he’s forced to take the bus for the next three weeks. It’s unfair and way too harsh. All he did was stay out too late on a school night. Two hours too long, which isn’t even much. He’s seventeen, for God’s sake, not seven. But then, he’s not really sure it was him staying out too late or the fact that he was with someone he’d promised to never see again.
Well, yeah, might have been that.
Jensen, of course, missed the bus and is already running late when his march into school is stopped by a brick wall. Or something that feels like it anyway. The fact that he’s now drenched as well as bruised registers only a second later.
“Oh my God ... I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you ... I ... Oh God, here ... let me.”
And then there are hands, more like huge paws, petting him down, trying to dry the front of his shirt that is now soaked through.
For a second, Jensen is too stunned to do or say something. Then he realizes that the hands make things worse; rubbing the cold water into his shirt instead of getting anywhere near dry.
The hands disappear instantly. Jensen tries not to regret it or feel their loss.
“I ...” it’s stammered out more now, less babbling and more embarrassed.
“I mean, I get that you want a piece of me but really rubbing the water in wasn’t doing anything for me. Way too cold to be enjoyable,” Jensen feels his trademark cocky smirk appear and wishes his defense mechanisms weren’t so brash. He knows people think he’s an ass, but that’s mostly because he wants them to.
Jensen finally looks up then. Oh. “Hi, Jared.”
Jared blinks at him, then smiles slightly and shrugs. There’s a slight blush staining Jared’s cheeks, highlighting those cheekbones and Jensen tries very hard not to stare. Jared’s been out of his league for years and he’s not giving in to any illusions just because they crashed into each other and Jared’s blushing.
This feels way too much like a teenage rom com anyway.
Jensen shivers when a wayward droplet slides from his collar inside and onto his skin. This water really is freaking cold.
“Sorry ... again. About the water,” Jared mumbles, fidgets a little and looks like he wants to either sink into the earth or run away, far away from Jensen. It stings a little but Jensen’s used to those kinds of reactions. He’s the school freak after all.
Jensen sighs, looks down at his soaked Beatles retro shirt now clinging to his chest and gives up on fiercely hating this day. It can only get worse and he just doesn’t want to waste his energy on hate. Also, Jared’s puppy dog look is making it very hard to muster up even tiny bits of hate anyway.
“No worries. It’s just water after all. I was late anyway and now I have a good excuse skipping. The nurse loves me and crashing into your iron chest there, might provide a few good bruises. Time off for me then.” Jensen cringes inwardly; he doesn’t know why his mouth runs away from him every time he’s around Jared.
It might have something to do with the fact that Jensen is crushing like mad and hasn't found a good way yet to stop himself. Other than lashing out that is.
“Glad I could provide an excuse then,” Jared says and Jensen stares. Because Jared and sarcasm are normally things that exclude each other. Jared’s the nice guy, loved by everyone. The athlete who has a passion for photography and who knows how to make people smile.
Jared’s not supposed to be sarcastic. It throws Jensen a little.
But there’s a smile now as well. A small one Jensen thinks not everyone gets to see and it makes his chest ache a little. Because, really, his heart doesn’t flutter. It would be bad if it did.
“You are okay, though, right?”
And this is the Jared Jensen knows. Well, he supposes, he doesn’t really know Jared anymore but this is the Jared Jensen can deal with.
“I’m perfect,” he says and moves around Jared, pats him on the arm and starts walking towards the nurse station. He doesn’t think he can hold on to his sanity any longer. Jensen’s is very much aware of how ironic it is that he’s the one fleeing.
He almost stumbles to a halt when Jared’s mumbled words reach him.
“That you are.”
When Jensen dares to look back it’s to find an empty hallway and a thudding heart in his chest.
Jensen doesn’t get sent home but gets an excuse slip for two classes. It’s all he actually hoped for.
AP English is usually awesome, but Danni’s home sick and Aldis decided at the beginning of the school year that AP English really isn’t his case and chose to go for the regular class instead.
So Jensen’s basically the loner in the back of the classroom now and it feels as awesome as he thought it would be. He actually contemplates making his thread about going punk reality only to see people’s faces. He can fulfill clichés when he wants to. He’s the outsider already, so why not show it more obviously?
It would be a wall, a protective mask even and Jensen wonders when he started needing one.
So instead of joining his fellow peers in massacring Shakespeare and pondering mathematical equations that will never play any important role in anybody’s lives, Jensen spends two hours in the bleachers and watches the football team train.
Early morning training is the best to watch anyway, most others are in class and no one makes stupid comments Jensen has to roll his eyes at.
Rolling eyes is hard work and the resulting headache isn’t really worth it most of the time. It’s just that sometimes stupidity knows no boundaries and rolling your eyes is the only way to deal. Teenager are fucking morons most of the time. Ogling hot guys on the football field shouldn’t offer that many excuses to be stupid but then hormones do a lot towards that.
And Jensen can appreciate a good view from time to time.
That Jared’s part of the team is just an added bonus. That’s what Jensen tries to tell himself anyway.
So Jensen tries to stare as less as possible and submerges himself in the latest part of “Game of Thrones” (and yes, he knows the series is called “A song of ice and fire” but sometimes even Jensen likes to go mainstream, so sue him).
He doesn’t count on the fact that Jared sees him halfway through training and actually walks up to him.
“So, sustained bruises are worth some time off then, huh?”
Jensen snaps his head up so fast that he hears the crack and winces slightly. Jared just smirks. This is new. Jared doesn’t smirk. He sure as hell doesn’t smirk at Jensen. Also, Jared doesn’t talk to Jensen either.
They stopped talking four years ago when Jared joined the team in junior high and Jensen refused to do the same, instead opting for drama club and less popular extracurricular activities. It wasn’t a big fight or something fast. It was a slow slide into stopping hanging out with each other, acquiring new set of friends that didn’t get along and basically developing different interests.
One of those interests would be Jensen going for boys. At least he thinks it played a roll. He never really told Jared. They were already not really talking anymore by the time Jensen realized he’d rather hump George Clooney than Eva Longoria.
Jensen blinks. He hasn’t heard that nickname in years.
Jared actually chuckles, amused and a little self-conscious.
“You okay there, you seemed a little out of it? Didn’t think I got your head earlier.”
“Yeah... no, you didn’t. I’m good. Just... surprised.”
Jared’s eyebrows raise a little and Jensen has to look away, out onto the field, to stop himself from reaching out.
Jared’s right there, in front of him, so close and almost standing between Jensen legs where he’s sitting on the bleachers. He can smell soap and a little sweat and the shampoo he still remembers from some sleepovers - can’t believe Jared’s still using it.
“Dunno. ‘Cause we are talking?” Jensen shrugs because he feels weird right now, talking to Jared and actually, for the first time ever, acknowledging that something went wrong between them.
“Uhm yeah...,” Jared’s fidgeting again. It’s not unusual but Jensen’s not used to it in close proximity anymore. “I just felt like I should maybe try again?”
“You felt you should try again?”
Jensen’s eyes follow Jared’s hand where it runs through dark brown strands of hair and ends up scratching at the nape. It’s hypnotizing almost, until Jared’s next words wake Jensen up like a bucket of cold water.
“Yeah, would be very awkward if we weren’t talking when I have to photograph your drama club for the programs and the yearbook. Gonna follow you guys around for a while from next week on.” Jared says it with a smile but Jensen’s pretty sure Jared would rather eat earthworms again then being seen anywhere near the drama club.
He’s made that very clear several times.
“Right. We should be on good terms then, huh. So I won’t destroy your chances at getting extra credits.” Jensen doesn’t even know why he’s so ticked off, it’s not important and it shouldn’t hurt that Jared apparently only wants to talk to him so Jensen won’t be a nuisance or something.
Everything to make Jared’s live easier, or Jensen’s harder, whichever way you’d like to look at it. The outcome for Jensen isn’t all that great though. Not when those two things apparently are connected inseparably.
Jensen grabs his book then, shivers at the slight breeze because he forgot his sweater in his locker, and stands up.
“Don’t worry Jared. I won’t get in your way. Will even pose. And you won’t have to talk to me at all.”
With that Jensen jumps of the bleachers and makes his way back towards school. There’s a slight bit of satisfaction present inside of him at the dumbfounded look on Jared’s face and it makes the encounter a little better. Not by much though.
This crush can die in a fire now, Jensen thinks and tries not to listen to Jared calling his name.
“Jen? Jensen. I didn’t mean it like that.”
Jensen imagines Jared’s voice fading, getting harder to hear, only it doesn’t. It comes closer and Jensen scowls.
“Jesus Christ, Jensen! Would you just stop for a second and listen to me?” Jared’s almost next to him and Jensen swears if he grab’s Jensen’s arm there’ll be violence.
Well, a slap at least because Jensen’s not a violent kinda guy.
Jensen stops when Jared slides in front of him, only so that he won’t crash into the other guy yet again.
“Man, you really are a drama queen,” Jared sighs and there’s no mocking or derision there. The lack of it makes Jensen bite back the scathing retort and instead keeps silent. He just looks at Jared.
“Look... I just wanted to start over.. Not because of the photos. More like, they’re the right incentive to get over myself. I just... I want to know what happened. Between us. I just want to know.”
Jensen’s not really sure what’s going on here right now and he doesn’t really know how to answer either. But then he’s saved from stumbling through words by the shout of “Padalecki” from the field and Jared flinching.
“Sorry... I gotta,” Jared says, pointing towards his teammates and Jensen’s heart settles somewhat. “But I want to talk to you. Later. After school.”
Once Jared’s jogging back to his team Jensen vows to do everything in his power to not have that talk with Jared. Not before he hasn’t laid awake at least one night pondering about it all and having a chance to overanalyze everything. And freak out, because that’s obviously what he will do.
So maybe this day isn’t the worst of his life just yet, but definitely one of the weirdest so far.
Jensen actually manages to successfully avoid Jared for an entire week. It’s easier than he thought it would be but then Jensen knows all the secret ways around school. It’s sometimes really useful being the principal’s son.
Most of the times it’s annoying as hell though.
“Why’s Padalecki staring at you?”
Jensen doesn’t jump but it’s close. His heart’s hammering in his chest and he turns away from his locker to glare at Danni. The smug smile that’s greeting him, tells him all he needs to know.
“You did that on purpose.”
“Of course, honey. You know me too well,” she says with a wink and slings an arm around his shoulders. Jensen’s aware that everyone in school thinks they’re together or at least ‘doing it’, despite the fact that everyone also knows that he’s really not into girls at all. And he’s far from letting people in on the secret that is his and Danni’s friendship.
Jensen never hid that he liked boys but somehow people tend to forget about it when the most popular cheerleader in school hangs out with you. Danneel’s presence saves him a lot of trouble and Jensen is keenly aware of it.
He’s a drama club geek who isn’t all that into sports, rather reads a good book then show up at parties - well parties not thrown by Danneel or Aldis that is - and who is the son of the principal. These are just the major points standing against him having a successful social High school career.
The thing is, Jensen doesn’t mind being on the outside. He loves it even because it grants him the freedom he needs to be himself. He’s never had to lie about who he is and if people don’t want to see it, it’s not his problem.
“So? Why is he staring?”
Jensen reflexively turns, looks down the hallway and meets Jared’s eyes. It’s a little weird how Jensen just stares back and can’t bring himself to stop. Only Danneel dragging him towards the Chem room breaks the connection.
“And now you are staring back. What’s going on, Jensen?”
Jensen shrugs, flops into his seat at their work bench and frowns. He doesn’t really know what’s going on. Only has been lying awake over it the last few nights and didn’t come up with a good explanation. Because Jared finally wanting to know what happened all those years ago clearly isn’t a good one.
“Dunno,” he mutters into one of the test tubes in front of him and starts to set up the things needed for the experiment.
“Jensen,” and of course Danneel won’t let it rest.
“Jared’s gonna take the pictures for the drama club booklet and the yearbook. He kinda started talking to me a few days back, wanting to.... I don’t know, make up again, I guess. And I’ve sort of been avoiding him ever since.” He doesn’t want it to sound like a question and doesn’t dare to look at Danneel because he knows she’ll either frown at him or laugh.
“He wants... make up with you? Isn’t that just wishful thinking on your part?”
Now Jensen scowls at her, glares even and wishes that his glares would actually work on Danneel. They never do. She’s smirking at him again, bright red lips, eyes twinkling. Jensen thinks he loves her and wouldn’t have survived the last few years without her.
The gentle smile he gets now says the feeling is mutual.
“Yeah, kinda,” Jensen finally admits. “But I guess he.. dunno, wants to be associates? ‘Cause friends would be too much.”
“Maybe give him a chance? He could surprise you.” Danneel pats him on the shoulder then, squeezes a little and turns towards the table to prepare their experiment.
When it turns into something pinkish, bubbling and smelling suspiciously like bubble gum Jensen just grins and feels a little better.
Jared finally corners him right before the first rehearsal for the play the drama club decided on doing this year. It’s the senior year for most of them and they want it to be something different and special.
So Jared traps him right outside the changing room backstage and freezes up when he gets a good look at Jensen’s outfit.
Jensen smirks. He knows how he looks, a tight fitting jeans, a tank top and nothing else. Just because he’s not into team sports all that much doesn’t mean he isn’t fit. He swims, he runs a little and he knows how to work out.
Jared, apparently, didn’t expect that.
He’s standing there, in front of Jensen, clutching his camera and stares.
“Uh,” Jared stutters, blinks and stares some more. Jensen thinks it’s cute and maybe a little hilarious as well.
“You’ve been avoiding me.” There’s no accusation like Jensen thought there would be, just a little sadness and maybe a bit resignation present in Jared’s words. Jensen suddenly feels like a dick.
“Clearly. Still one for stating the obvious?” And there it is again, his defense mechanism.
“Oh, fuck you,” Jared says with a smile and seems to have gotten himself under control. Jensen is a little disappointed, he kinda liked having Jared’s eyes on him. Also, Jared’s smile is disarming and making Jensen’s knees go weak - just a little though, he’s not damsel in distress swooning at the sight of the prince. Not that Jared wouldn’t make for a good prince.
Okay, that’s going a little too off track now.
Jensen opts for looking at Jared expectantly.
“Dude, are you really going to make me beg?”
Jensen chokes in a breath and curses violently when he can’t stop coughing. Then there’s a bottle of water pressed into his hand and he gulps it down in almost one go only to come face to face with a worried looking Jared when he’s done.
“Uh... thanks.” His voice sounds fucked and Jensen so wants that pun to be there, if only in his head.
“Still one with a one tracked mind?” Jared says so deadpan that it surprises a laugh out of Jensen. It feels surprisingly good, laughing with Jared again. Just a tiny twinge in his chest.
“Apparently.” Jensen feels the smile in his lips and wonders where it’s coming from. But then, his crush has been there for so long that Jensen thinks it’s normal to latch on to every chance his brain becomes aware of.
“So... uh... could you maybe stop avoiding me now? It’s rather tiresome and I actually just want to... maybe start anew? I don’t even know. I just think that this project might be a good thing and we could, you know not suck at doing it.... and please, don’t comment on my word choice here.”
Jared isn’t even out of breath, which is a feat on its own but he’s also still smiling, making it almost hard for Jensen to concentrate on the words instead of solely on the moving lips in front of him.
“Wow, Jensen. Really, you know how to encourage someone.”
“What can I say? My charming demeanor is well known and loved. Seriously though, we can talk. Just not right now. I need get rehearsal done. If... uh... if you want to take photos already, be my guest. Just no flash. We talk after.”
Jared grins like Jensen just handed him the world. Jensen tries to let it not affect him too much.
Jensen totally forgot about Jared being there for rehearsal. Which probably was for the best, because he could actually concentrate on the play and his lines instead of thinking about Jared watching him.
So naturally Jensen forgot about their plans to talk as well. When Jensen’s in his ‘actor zone’ - like Danneel loves to call it and how pretentious did that sound anyway? - he usually forgets a lot of things that don’t belong in this zone.
He only remembers Jared when his mom calls up the stairs.
“Jensen. Jared’s here. He says you two have a date.”
His momma sounds way too amused about it all and Jensen would roll his eyes if he wasn’t currently standing naked, still wet from his shower, in the middle of his room. His timing apparently sucked today.
This is how Jensen ends up diving into his closet and slamming the door shut just as Jared knocks and walks into his room.
And again with the nickname. Jensen swears he feels like a Pavlovian dog, reacting with a thudding heart at hearing Jared say this one word.
“In here. Sorry, wasn’t decent.”
“Are you ever?”
“Very funny, Jay.” Jensen says without thinking and freezes when there’s no quick retort back. He sighs low and resigned, struggles into boxer briefs, then sweatpants and manages to bang into every wall around while doing so. Finding a t-shirt proves to be harder until Jensen just grabs the next best thing.
It apparently takes him a little too long.
“Are you coming out of the closet any time soon?” Jared sounds amused though.
“That ship sailed years ago,” Jensen says when he opens the door and finally faces Jared. Jared who is staring again.
“What now?” Jensen grumps and throws himself onto his bed. Probably not the best idea with Jared in his room but Jared’s standing in the way to his comfy armchair so the bed is the only available option.
“What the hell are you wearing,” is what Jared says a minute later, after he regained control and stopped outright staring at Jensen.
Jensen looks down at himself and burst out laughing. He’s wearing one of the shirts Danneel gave him as a gag gift when they were on that infamous Las Vegas trip with his brother last summer.
It’s pink, has flashy neon green stripes and proudly proclaims him to be nobody’s bitch but his own. The t-shirt is surprisingly comfy. Jensen grins and shrugs.
“Pink is so not your color,” Jared says then but smiles anyway.
“I know, right? It’s just the only thing I could find in a hurry and really, I don’t need you to spaz out on me again when we want to actually get some talking done.”
“No idea what you mean. And I didn’t spaz out, I was just surprised.”
“Seeing as you totally know what I’m talking about you’re clearly lying, “ Jensen replies with an even brighter smirk and laughs when Jared rolls his eyes.
Jared’s fidgeting again, something he’s always done and Jensen takes comfort in the fact that this at least hasn’t changed.
“Sit down, Jared. You’re making me dizzy.”
It’s sort of funny to see Jared turning around and looking for a place to park himself only to realize that the desk chair is home to a fluffy cat, the armchair is occupied by Jensen’s laundry and the bed has Jensen himself.
Jensen snorts because Jared looks like his cat when he tries to figure out how to move. A very overgrown cat, though. He shifts on the bed to make room and pats the open space.
“Come here. I don’t bite... at least not unasked,” Jensen smirks and yelps when Jared actually flops down right next to him and almost squishes him in the process.
“Don’t be such a smartass, Jen.”
Once Jared is settled an awkward silence descends on them and Jensen suddenly isn’t so sure that this was a good idea. He should have told his momma to keep Jared downstairs, on neutral ground so to speak. Too late for that now.
“What happened between us, Jensen?”
Right, he forgot how Jared liked to come to the point straight away. And as always, it throws Jensen a little. He swallows, looks anywhere but Jared and tries to come up with a way to start that particular conservation.
“Guess we just grew apart.”
“That’s bullshit, and you know it.” Jared sighs, not angry but sad.
Jensen suddenly has the absurd thought that he needs to redecorate his room. It looks too bleak right now, too dark with the blue walls and missing posters from his childhood.
“Yeah. Yes, it is. I... always thought, still think, it was about me. Just me saying it out loud and it got between us,” Jensen says to the window, the blue sky outside that makes you think it’s warm when there’s really a chilly breeze going.
“You saying what out loud?” Jared sounds so confused that Jensen finally looks at him. It’s then that Jensen realizes that maybe, and only maybe, there might have been a huge misunderstanding all along.
Jensen kind of wants to faceplant, like really hard. So he does. Only to hear Jared snort and shift next to him.
“Care to elaborate? I’m not really sure I can interpret your gestures all that well anymore.”
It’s the way Jared says it that makes Jensen laugh, it sounds exasperated as well as amused and Jensen decides that he likes it.
“Just, wasted time. I thought... well, that me coming out was the reason for us... not being friends anymore.” Jensen feels weird saying it, feels awkward being on his room with Jared after years of not doing this.
“Wow... I mean, wow... never thought you’d think it would matter to me. Okay, it matters, as in you were my friend and I’d want to know this stuff about you... But, Jen, you... I thought you knew I don’t care. It’s more like... we could have commiserated about how stupid boys are instead of me thinking I did something to make you hate me,” Jared rambles, like really rambles and Jensen can only sit there and be the one staring.
”Guess we didn’t know each other as well as we thought.”
Jensen blinks and then he reaches out to cuff Jared over the head.
“The fuck? Jen?”
“Dude, we were thirteen. That is teenage angst personified. Don’t tell me you could think straight back then.”
“Definitely not straight.”
They just look at each other and then burst out laughing. The tension dissolves like it was never there and they lie on the bed giggling for a long time.
“So... you’re gay?” It hits Jensen then, what Jared just told him. The star athlete, loved by everyone, likes boys.
“Yeah? It’s not a secret, Jensen.”
Okay, so maybe Jensen has been too deep into his own crush and denial of it that he missed some very important points during the last few years.
“I’d say so,” Jared snorts and Jensen blinks. He’s never been one for saying his internal monologues out loud but something took away the filter between his brain and mouth.
He blames Jared and the weird situation.
“So, we kinda have been not talking for no real reason?”
“Seems like it. I dunno... you just slid away somehow. One day we were hanging out and the next you were all into drama club and bitched at me for liking sports. It was weird and I didn’t think you’d be this...”
“Shallow...” Jensen hedges.
They talk for a while, nothing earth moving or enlightening, just catching up and there’s a lot of it. They talk about the pictures Jared took during rehearsal and they somehow end up hunched over Jared’s camera.
“These are good.”
“Oh wow, sound any more surprised, would you?” And Jared is actually pouting. Jensen laughs at him, shoves him a little and stamps down on the hope rising up inside of him. Just because Jared’s batting for the same team doesn’t mean he has any chances.
His momma showing up with milk and cookies brings back old memories but also has the boys scrambling away from each other like burned. Jensen’s mom just smiles knowingly and tells Jensen to do his homework.
Seriously, sometimes he wishes she would leave the principal at school.