Word Count: 12,384
Rating: Hard R
Summary: Jensen and Jared are seniors at an elite private boarding school, competing for the same girl, and they can't stand each other.
acknowledgements: Thank you so much to balefully who put up with my pestering all day long just so that this could posted quickly, and I wouldn't lose my mind. The soundtrack at the end is for her.
Notes:This story was written for causeways, I don't actually remember why. That's how long this story has been in the making.
Jared wanted to go home. He was sick with it. This college thing was overwhelming all of his last reserves—he just wanted his bedroom, a place where he could put on sneakers and shorts and sling on a backpack and that was who he was. He wished he'd never known how to iron his own shirts or how to get blood and fruit juice and chocolate stains out of his clothing.
"What is it?" Cam asked him after dinner, fingertips stained yellow from cigarettes. He'd been out behind the dorm since he'd gotten his thin envelope from U. Chicago.
"Just thinking," Jared said. He felt so alone, like even the people he surrounded himself with couldn't touch him.
"Brooding, more like," Cam told him, smile thin.
Jared shrugged. "Why get a class ring?"
"Because somebody thought snobbery was the equivalent to intelligence." Cam laughed. "Jesus, Jared, what does that have to do with anything?"
"I just—I thought—I'm worried about college, is all."
Cam made a face. "You know at the high school all my friends from home go to, they blew up the fountain for a senior prank in 1989."
"Kinda makes me wish I'd gone there instead," Cam said, face split with a grin. "I'd look so fucking amazing next to those guys."
"That's the only reason?" Jared could feel Jensen's lips parting underneath his.
Cam sighed. "No, of course not."
He ran on the treadmill at seven miles per hour for almost forty-five minutes, trying to stop thinking about his papers, and the rejection letters, and why he wanted to fall into bed with Jensen, pull him close and lose himself in the give and press of his body. Jensen, who hated him, and was standing halfway across the gym.
The belt on the treadmill was loose, flapping a little on the right side, and Jared kept freaking out that he was going to step on it and go flying right off the treadmill, and once that line of reasoning started, he inevitably went from thoughts of slamming into the elliptical at seven miles an hour to worrying about living in a tin can one day.
When some kid changed the gym TV to the Food Network, he couldn't stand it anymore. He couldn't work out and look at food at the same time. The gym was already really close to the student kitchen, and that always smelled like pork rinds. The last thing he wanted was to think about foie gras and pork rinds while he tried to run his way to oblivion.
His t-shirt was stuck to his skin with sweat, and his hair was damp. When he picked his iPod up out of the little cup holder he always stashed it in, it nearly slid out of his fingers.
Jensen lay by the weights, driving Jared nuts like a sore tooth. He faced the only wall that didn't have mirrors, like he desperately didn't want to look at himself, and Jared got that, he really did. When Chad worked out, he flexed and pumped in front of the mirror like only his image kept him going, but Jared had to turn away, or he'd get discouraged by what he saw.
Jensen struggled with the bar, spotter too busy chatting up a girl to help, and Jensen too proud to ask for it. Ninety pounds of weight hung inches over his neck, and Jared got there, tugging up and setting the bar smoothly back on its stand without a clang.
Jensen stared up at him, lips parted, sweat beading on his forehead, and they stayed there, Jared standing over him, caught in this strangely intimate pose. Jared cleared his throat, muttered something non-committal and left.
He still hadn't gone to the mailroom yet.
One of the day students held a party off-campus, and all the seniors managed to escape to go. Jared always expected these parties to be totally insane, like in American Pie or Can't Hardly Wait, but it was just a lot of bodies packed in tight, tripping over each other in the struggle to get at the punch.
Jared asked for a Jack and Coke, but his words were drowned out by the bass beat of "Low" and the drink he received was sweet with tonic water and heavy with gin. Students were twisting their bodies close to the floor, leaving him the only one upright, leaning against the wall. He'd dodged two invitations to dance, preferring to remain within the circle of his friends, bopping up and down when a song came on that he liked.
The song changed, and the students cheered. They shifted and parted, and Jared made Jensen out across the living room, dancing smoothly in a group of people.
Jensen looked up, hair falling into his face from sweat, and caught Jared's eye.
You and me, baby, ain't nothing but mammals, so let's do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel, and the baseline rocked through Jared's breastbone. Jensen mouthed the words along with the song, eyes intent on him. Jared put a hand over his mouth and laughed.
Cam knocked into his side. "Got your eye on somebody?" Jared jerked, slopping his drink over the edge of his cup. Cam laughed like it was a joke from Life of Brian.
"Bugenhagen!" Jared shouted back.
"What the fuck?"
Sean closed in on his other side. "Don't listen to him. We've been having a horror movie fest, and we watched the remake of The Omen, and one of the characters was called Bugenhagen." Jared cracked up despite himself. Sean rolled his eyes. "Don't encourage him. He's been saying it, like, every five minutes."
"Jensen's staring at you," Cam said, poking Jared in the ribs as he laughed. Jared looked up again, but he didn't see Jensen anywhere. Cam poked him again. "Over there, fool. Do you think he's plotting your demise?"
Jared followed the line of Cam's finger, and sure enough, Jensen was standing by the doorway, looking straight at him, his head tilted in invitation. Jared made an excuse about going to kick his ass in, and then he pushed through the bodies, nearly getting spiked by a girl's heels. Jensen waited for him with his eyebrows down over his eyes like Jared held no interest to him.
Jared snorted. "What are you doing?"
Jensen grabbed Jared's shirt collar and tugged him up the stairs.
Jensen was getting his own back, shoving him into a second-floor bathroom. "It's the only room with locks on the door," he whispered, before forcing Jared back against the marble counter. He scraped his teeth down the sharp angle of Jared's jaw, followed along it with his tongue, dipping down to cross his pulse.
Jared tipped his head back, and pushed cosmetics, soap, and a toothbrush stand out of the way so he could lay his hands flat. Jensen stepped between his legs, hands tight and punishing on Jared's hips.
"You don't get to walk away from me," Jensen told him, mouth skimming past Jared's ear. He tugged on Jared's jeans, trying to get the fly open. Jared choked when Jensen finally got his hand on his dick, palm sliding up and down, knuckle of Jensen's thumb pushing just under the head, almost forcing tears out of Jared's eyes.
His hips rose up off the marble. Jensen huffed out a chuckle. His hand snaked to the small of Jared's back, pulling him closer. Jared breathed hard, head rolling back on his neck. The cold tile behind him, and Jensen, who was burning with heat and energy, in the front: it was surreal, euphoric. Jensen held him at the edge, almost getting him there and then backing off while Jared sobbed and gasped.
He tightened his stance around Jensen's hips, needing purchase, something to tie him back to earth. Jensen whispered in his ear, breath brushing across the sensitized skin at Jared's neck. He groaned, struggling against Jensen for orgasm.
"Hey, I need to piss!" Someone hammered on the door, and Jared went off, finally, muscles locked, his entire heart being yanked towards his toes. He had to take a second just to breathe. "Let me in! I need to piss!" the asshole was calling again, and Jensen started laughing, mouth against Jared's skin. Slowly, Jared started laughing, too.
They had a Quadheader against Paley Academy that Monday.
The varsity boys' basketball team won against their rival in overtime, but only barely. Jared had fouled out with only two minutes left on the clock, and he felt sick with worry and adrenaline despite the win. Jensen was wearing an HG Seniors t-shirt and blue and red war paint across his cheeks when Jared finally saw him.
They eyed each other across the gym. Chad hammered on his back. They pushed and pulled at him, so much attention, and Jared could only see Jensen leaping down bleachers with his friends and shouting about going for burgers.
He finally went to check his mail after he got an e-mail from the post office claiming his box was too full to put anything else in there. There were three unwatched Netflix, his credit card statement, a pink-enveloped card from his sister, and nearly a dozen letters from colleges.
He lugged them all back to the dorm unopened. Jensen sat in the common room, drinking a Coke and watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel. He looked at the heavy envelopes in Jared's left hand.
"What are you waiting for?"
Jared cocked his head. "I don't know if I'm ready for college." He set them all down on the coffee table in front of him.
"Why?" Jensen asked, muting the special on acid.
Jared breathed out. "Because I wasn't ready for here."
Jensen struggled to say something and then leaned forward to grab the envelopes. He leafed through them. "Jesus, Jared, MIT? Caltech?"
Jared snatched them away from him. "It's nothing—
Jensen grabbed his hand. "You're not going to make the wrong decision."
"I mean, whatever you do, it'll be the right decision."
Jared shrugged, and left. He spent the rest of the day with Jensen's words running through his head.
"You and Jensen haven't tried to kill each other in awhile," Cam pointed out, shading his eyes from the sun. "He apologize for Alicia?"
They sat out on the hill overlooking a golf course that neighbored the school. Every once in a while, Cam would pick up a rock and toss it at one of the golfers below, ducking down when it made contact.
Jared laughed. "Not exactly."
"Well, what happened?" Cam rooted around for more pebbles.
Jared shrugged. "Nothing."
Chad, who was sunning himself like a tool, pulled off the newspaper he was using to shield his face. "You are so full of shit."
Jared sighed, and grabbed a pebble away from Cam to toss it at Chad. "We didn't fight it out or anything, we just came to an agreement about Alicia."
"An 'agreement?'" Chad made air quotes. "What, do you get to bone her on Monday and Wednesday, and he gets Tuesday and Thursday?" Cam and Chad both laughed.
"No, asshole, we're both leaving her alone." Jared crossed his arms.
Chad asked, "You found someone else?"
Jared hesitated too long before answering and then Chad and Cam were both throwing rocks at him, trying to get him to dish.
The problem was that Jensen and Jared weren't friends. They didn't have each other's phone numbers. Jared didn't really know Jensen's friends. He never knew where the fuck Jensen was, but he also didn't feel like he could search him out, because what if Jensen really did still want Alicia and was only fucking around with Jared because he could?
Jared couldn't even figure out how to tell his parents he didn't know what school to go to, let alone how to track Jensen down and solicit him for sex.
On Saturday night, when Sofia and Amber invited him to join them while they made truffles in the student kitchen, Jared decided he had to go, even if the kitchen smelled like pork rinds. Otherwise, he was going to sit in his room and jerk off thinking about Jensen, which was starting to get pathetic.
The girls had already started when he arrived. He sat himself down on the counter with a glass bowl of melted chocolate balancing in his lap that he was supposed to be tempering. He messed around more with the chocolate thermometer than anything else.
"Jared, when it's too hot, you're supposed to add more of the solid chocolate, not just stir it," Sophia called and dumped a handful of chocolate chips into the bowl.
He liked Amber a lot, but he wasn't always sure what to make of Sofia. She'd gone out with Chad in middle school and so she'd always been a fixture of the group, but sometimes she could be a little cruel. Especially to Chad. And she always had like eight different boyfriends, a regular Don Juan with boobs. She talked about this one boy she'd gone out with the last couple weeks, Patrick or something, in the junior class. It sounded so much like how Jared felt about Jensen that he wanted to sit down and take notes.
"Jared, you're a guy. Give us some insight!" Amber called as she set a wax paper sheet of cointreau-filled chocolates to cool on the table.
Jared shrugged. "I have no insight. None!"
"Unsurprising," Jensen said from the doorway. They all turned to look at him. Jared shook his head and didn't bother with a reply.
"Hey, Jensen." Sophia was the human rights chair, oh the irony of that, and spent every F period closeted in a room with him. "Wanna try a truffle?"
"That's okay, I don't actually like chocolate." He leaned against the doorway and shot a pointed glance at Jared. "We need to talk."
"Hey, we need him!" Amber protested.
"No, we don't." Sofia grabbed the bowl off of Jared's lap. She caught Jared's gaze. "Don't kill him, okay? He has a really cool plan for prom so that we don't have to be in the gym this year."
Jared shook his head and followed Jensen out the door.
"You do like chocolate," he said to Jensen's back.
Jensen looked over his shoulder and smiled. "And you didn't say anything."
Jared rolled his eyes.
They walked into town, barely speaking. This was a problem. They were never going to get anywhere this way. He agonized over it.
And then they were kissing, backed up against the pole of the traffic light, while the evening traffic honked at them. "You suck, so incredibly much," Jared said when they pushed apart. Jensen breathed deep.
"No, I don't. I've never tried it before." Jensen looked at him, eyes flicking down to Jared's crotch, and he swallowed. Jared was getting hard just under the power of that green gaze.
"Do you wanna grab something at the diner?" he asked, just to change the subject.
"What? Like a date?" Jensen raised his brows and backed up.
"No, not like a date." Jared laughed. "I don't like you enough to take you out on a date."
Jensen drew a hand down Jared's side. "If you buy me dinner, I might attempt to blow you, later."
"What is this 'attempt?' If I'm shelling out cash, I expect results."
"You don't have to," Jared said, when they got back to his room. Jensen leaned against the door, expression unreadable. He cocked his head, and Jared realized that for the first moment in all of this, he had the time to be nervous.
He wasn't being assaulted. They'd entered into a contract.
Jensen came away from the door, closing the space between them. "When I jerked off, I used to imagine you spreading Alicia out over your lap, her head lolling on your shoulder as your fucked her, tits heaving—like you were presenting her to me." Jared swallowed. Jensen hooked his fingers into his belt, sliding it free from his pants. "Before you even touched me, I thought about those things."
Jared raised a hand and thumbed Jensen's lower lip. "Oh, yeah?"
"Mmhm," Jensen kissed him. Tugged his jeans down his hips at the same time he sucked on his tongue. Jared didn't drink coffee, wasn't accustomed to the taste, but he was rapidly getting addicted to the way Jensen tasted like French roast with too much sugar.
Jensen pushed him back on the bed and kneeled over him. "I didn't know what to make of it. I just saw your big hands smoothing up and down her thighs, parting them for me, pulling her hair up off her face." Jared crawled backwards so that he could lean against the headboard and Jensen allowed his momentum to pull his pants off the rest of the way. "I always came when I thought of your big dick moving in and out of her."
Jared moaned and arched his hips into empty air. He got hard from the sound of Jensen's voice. "Okay, I think now you have to," he said with a shaky laugh.
Jensen smiled wickedly and slowly rolled the elastic of Jared's boxers down. He breathed on Jared's erection. "You think mozzarella sticks and a turkey melt gets you a blow job?"
"I hadn't previously thought so," Jared said, closing his eyes when Jensen's mouth closed over the head of his dick, "but apparently you're turning out to be just that easy."
Jensen snorted and choked before pulling off. "Oh, dick softener, man." But he kissed Jared quickly, palming Jared's dick, before bending down again. This time, Jared kept his eyes open as Jensen messily sucked him in as far as he could take him. He twisted his hands around what he couldn't get into his mouth, callused palm against Jared's shaft nearly as good as the swirl of Jensen's tongue over the crown.
He kept his hips still, thigh muscles trembling with the effort. Jensen's mouth slid down slowly on him, until Jared hit the back of his throat and he had to pull up. He did it again and again, cheeks hollowed tight around Jared's dick.
Jared wasn't sure how Jensen would feel if he touched him, but he couldn't stop his fingers from brushing over the burnished brown hair spilling over Jensen's forehead. "I think about you sometimes, in your Speedo, pulling yourself out of the pool after a dive."
Jensen's eyes caught his and Jared's breath stopped up in his throat. He moaned around Jared's dick and Jared had to reach up and grab the headboard for leverage. He was close, so close already. Jensen's tongue ran over the slit again and again, and his fingers were pressing tight on Jared's balls and the place where his dick met his body.
"I thought—oh, fuck—about peeling it—it off of y—ou, and fucking you in the water—pulling you so tight to me that—my dick was in your throat, and my heart was in your chest."
Jensen pulled off at the first rush of come and pushed his face into Jared's thigh. "Oh, god." He twitched and jerked, and Jared realized belatedly while he was still trying to assess the availability of his mental faculties that Jensen had come, just like that, in his jeans.
Jensen wiped his mouth off with the back of his hand and grabbed a gulp of water out of the Nalgene sitting on Jared's night stand. "That is so gay," Jared laughed, eying Jensen's crotch.
"Shut up," Jensen hit him on the arm, hard, cheeks pink with embarrassment. The line of his back was tense. Jared rolled around so that they were spooned together and wrapped his arm around Jensen's hips.
"Not as gay as this." He nuzzled the back of Jensen's neck and reached over and switched the light off.
Slowly, Jensen relaxed against him.
When Jared left the gym for practice, Jensen was waiting outside, humming along to his iPod and kicking rocks. Jared managed to come up behind him and thwap him with his sweaty gym towel before Jensen noticed anything.
"Holy!" Jensen shouted and whirled around. He pressed a palm to his heart. "You scared the shit out of me."
Jared laughed and draped the towel around his neck. "What brings you here? Need help on your math homework?"
"I do just fine, thank you." Jensen glared at him, but his expression melted quickly to a grin and he leaned into Jared's body, his mouth hovering bare inches away. "No, I was thinking—"
"Jensen! What the fuck?" Jensen's friend Danny called from the bend in the path. "We've been looking everywhere for you! I thought we were having the Terminator marathon in your room tonight!"
Jensen shoved himself away so quickly he almost stumbled. "Fuck, I forgot." Jared inhaled quickly. That was close, that was really close—if he'd come out of the gym five seconds earlier—well, he wouldn't have to worry about Alicia always asking him to hang out anymore.
Danny made a noise in the back of his throat and looked back and forth between them. "You've been forgetting kind of a lot lately, but whatever. Are we still on?"
"Yeah, we're on." Jensen walked away from Jared without a glance back.
Danny looked slightly sheepish. "Padalecki, man, you're welcome to join?"
Jensen still didn't look back. "No, he isn't."
Jared scuffed the toe of his shoe against the ground and huffed out a bitter sigh. He left when the sounds of their conversation faded.
It took Jared awhile to get up the nerve to go by Jensen's room after the incident at the gym. Jensen answered the door with a pair of glasses sitting low on his nose and his hair a disheveled mess. It was three days to Parents' Weekend, and Jensen had been in session with the student executive council for the better part of a week. They hadn't talked in days.
"Hi," Jared said, standing awkwardly in the doorway as Jensen just stared at him. There was a Duke banner tacked to the wall, and Jared remembered distantly hearing that everybody in Jensen's family had been going there since the dawn of time.
Jensen lowered his eyebrows. "I'm halfway through a paper."
Jared shrugged. "Okay, I can leave you alone then."
Jensen nodded and turned to head back into the room.
Something was a little bit off. Jensen was acting exactly like he had during their blood feud. "Oh, hey wait—for Parents' Weekend, I was thinking we—" He knew as soon as it left his mouth that he should've left it alone.
Jensen froze, muscles locking tight. "What did you say?"
Jared raised his brows and said slowly, "Nothing yet, I was just going to—"
Jensen yanked his shoulder, tugging him into the room and slammed the door behind him. Jared stared at the shut door behind him and planned to ask Jensen what his problem was, when Jensen tightened his hand on his shoulder. "Listen Jared, whatever you're thinking—don't!"
Jared shrugged Jensen's claw-like grip off. "Jesus, I was just—"
"I cannot be gay," Jensen interrupted again. "Do you get that?"
Jared narrowed his eyes and raised his palms. "I didn't—"
"What'd you think was going to happen here?" Jensen looked him up and down. "Did you think I was going to take you to the prom? Parade you around in front of everyone?"
"Shut the fuck up!" Jared shoved him. "You think I'm mooning after you? Waiting for you to show up with a dozen roses? Christ, man, your ego knows no bounds."
"My ego?" Jensen started shouting, "My ego! You have no fucking clue, Jared. None. You act like your life is so difficult because everybody in the goddamn world is begging you to come to their school. Jesus, some of us have real problems!"
Jared laughed bitterly. "Really, Jensen? Rich, attractive white male—how much you must have suffered."
Jensen backhanded him.
"Well," Jared said, fingertips pressed to his cheek. "All's well that ends well."
He left silently.
When he got back to his room, he found Cam leaning up against the door. "Hey, I thought we were going to go over our skit—wow," he said, interrupting himself.
Jared could feel the heat coming off his cheek, and from the way his eye was exploding in pain, he figured a nice sunrise was bruising up. Jared sighed. "Can't be that bad."
"Man, you have a black eye three days before the 'P's show up." He grabbed Jared's elbow, tugging him down the corridor towards the ice machine. "What happened?"
"Don't really want to talk about it."
Cam shot him a look. "That's getting really tiring." He sighed and pulled off his sweatshirt, using it as a bag for the ice before handing it off to Jared.
"Thanks, man." Jared held it up to his face, hissing at the first contact. "Don't worry about it, okay? Ackles and I just had a little misunderstanding."
"When will you get over yourself?" Cam shook his head. "What was it about?"
"Nothing." Jared started walking back to his room. "It was about nothing."
All Jared wanted was for Jensen to meet his parents.
There was a picnic on the East Lawn for Parents' Weekend. Tables were lined up with cheap fruit plates and assorted cold cuts while the staff working the barbecue did their best to keep up with the unanticipated demand for Gardenburgers.
It seemed like Jensen was surrounded by identical ridiculously good looking people with vibrant eyes. Jared did his best to be as far away from them as possible.
His mother fussed over his shiner. "You have to be careful, sweetie."
Jared reigned in a sharp retort. "It's nothing, okay? I just took a basketball to the face."
She patted his shoulder and pushed a bowl of fruit salad at him. "Eat some. I doubt you get enough fruits and vegetables without me staring over your shoulder."
"I do all right, Mom."
His father laughed. "Do you know what the schedule is for the rest of the weekend?"
"Shit, I left it in my room." Jared put down his fork.
"Language," his mother said perfunctorily. "Well, run and get it."
Jared nodded and pushed out of his seat. "I'll be right back, okay."
His dad waved him off.
Jared set off jogging for his dorm. He wasn't desperate to get back to the party, but it wasn't safe to leave his parents alone with people, as they had no sense of shame when it came to embarrassing stories of his youth. Chad knew it, and always did his best to take advantage of it whenever Jared's back was turned.
He had to turn his entire room upside-down before he found the paper under a stack of physics textbooks. He checked his watch. Only gone for five minutes. They could hardly have gotten to the chest-key story.
He backed out of his room and slammed right into Jensen.
"Watch where you're going," Jensen growled and checked him with his shoulder. There was something dangerous and wild about his expression.
"You watch it, asshole." Jared pushed him away. Jensen shoved him again and then they were scuffling, sliding down the wall, fists connecting with any soft bits. They rolled across the floor, limbs knocking into the opposite wall.
"I hate you," Jensen hissed and then his lips crashed down on Jared's mouth. Jared moaned and forced his thigh between Jensen's legs. He reached up to touch him, but Jensen grabbed both his wrists and forced them back to the floor. His kisses turned sharp, teeth worrying Jared's lip. Jared wondered if he was imagining the taste of blood. He choked on a moan.
Jensen ground down against him, sliding over the muscle of Jared's thigh and biting at his neck. Jared felt too warm, feverish. He should say something. Any moment now he was going to get up the courage to say something, because Jensen did not have the right to do this. But it was what they did best, and Jared knew it too well to stop it.
Jensen released one of Jared's wrists to reach between their bodies. He worked their pants open, pulling them free of boxers while Jared lay prone on the floor, allowing himself to be manipulated.
Jensen gripped their dicks together, thrusting viciously as his fingernails bit into Jared's arm and he buried his face in Jared's throat like he couldn't stand to watch. Jensen came like that, legs tangled up with Jared's, chest heaving with something close to sobs.
Jared wondered if he was going to leave him hanging, but Jensen adjusted his grip, tightened it to the sweetest edge of pain. Jared's eyes drifted shut. He filled his senses with the sound of Jensen's heavy breaths, the sharpness of his aftershave, and that bitter hot tug in his belly.
Jensen bent his head to lick the bruised skin underneath Jared's eye, point of his tongue skating over the ridge of bone. Jared lifted his hips one last time and came, straining against Jensen's death-grip on his arm.
Jensen rolled off him and lay staring at the wall. Reality intruded. Jared felt like throwing up. He slowly sat up and took stock of himself. He'd definitely have to change before going back out there, and the schedule lay crumpled, an Oxford footprint pressed right in the center. Jared fished it up off the floor.
Jensen started pulling himself together, and suddenly the bile in Jared's throat and stomach was too much. "You never asked me what was wrong, you know? You didn't even want to know why I was unhappy."
He shut himself up in his room before Jensen could respond. He changed his clothes quickly and then waited, listening at the door to make sure Jensen had left before he dared to venture out. When he got back to the table, his mother had started telling the story about the key to Amber's parents.
"And then he had to go on a little trainer toilet for a whole month so that we could check his poop."
Jared sighed and handed his mom the schedule. She took the rumpled paper from him.
"Oh, Jared, you never take care of your things."
Jared went back to the dorms to change for dinner. His parents wanted to take his friends out, and they were going to some fancy French bistro Amber's parents had told them about.
When he finally got his dinner jacket ironed flat and his hair presentable, he was running a little late. They were all going to meet outside in two minutes. Jared was rushing down the corridor that took him past Jensen's room when he heard Jensen's voice.
He stopped and looked back in the opposite direction. Going out Entryway F would take him twice as long to get to the front, but it was probably worth it. He'd gone five steps in the opposite direction when the conversation he couldn't help overhearing stopped him.
"You enquired after their football team, son?"
Jared leaned back against the wall. That had to be Jensen's dad.
"I'm going to be on the swimming and diving team, Dad."
There was a soft snort. "Don't know how we let you get involved with that, all that jumping around, but you're really going to want to reconsider your options, or we'll have to talk."
"No contradictions, Jensen."
His mother finally spoke up. "Why don't you show us your room, honey."
Jared couldn't believe it. He'd never heard Jensen sound so subdued, not after four years of getting tossed in the principal's office right beside him. If Jared's parents had overheard, they would've gone barreling in and told the Ackles family that they were choking Jensen's youthful vitality. Some shit like that.
He looked up at the hallway clock. Five minutes late. Christ.
Bistro Élan was all right. They had real homemade iced tea. Unfortunately, the bread was stale and his mother commented on it. "We're so spoiled in California, we forgot what everybody else in the States has to deal with."
Cam, Sean, and Chad were just glad for free food. Jared kept his eyes on his plate, thinking about what he'd heard earlier. Chad ate all the bread his parents didn't touch.
Everything was fine until his dad pointed out that the matriculation deadline was approaching fast.
"I want to take a gap year before I go off to college." Jared set down his knife and fork on his plate, waiting for his parents' reaction. Suddenly, he wasn't hungry for his steak.
His mother looked at his father. "Well, Jared, that's fine, but do you have a plan?"
His father nodded. "If you're going to take a gap year, you have to have a plan."
Jared shook his head. "That's the entire point—a year of no plans."
Chad and Cam stopped eating to stare at him. Sean fidgeted with his napkin.
"Jared," his mother started. His father inspected his watch.
Jared was surprised at the sudden rush of irritation burning straight through him. His mouth was almost beyond his control. "No! I came to Horace Green because you felt guilty, Mom, not because it was best for me, and now I want to do what's best for me!" He pushed his plate away from him and stood. His parents, like guilty convicts presented with their crimes, didn't have anything to say.
"Wait," Chad said, half rising out of his seat. Jared shot him a quelling look and he sank back down. Sean tugged Chad's arm and whispered into his ear. Jared's parents were looking at anything other than him. He turned on his heel and headed for the door. He didn't care how rude it was to leave his friends with his parents. He'd do something worse if he stayed.
Jensen found him behind the bushes where Cam always went to smoke. It was littered with cigarette butts. Jared didn't care. He sat with his knees pulled to his chest and waited for the horrible desperation to fade. It didn't seem to be going anywhere. Jared started in surprise when Jensen crashed through the undergrowth. "Chad told me to stay away from you tonight—said you didn't need to deal with me too. I thought I was going to come kick your ass for earlier, but I guess not."
Jared shrugged and leaned his head back against the brick wall.
"You ever think the reason you feel so out of place here is because you're gay?" Jensen offered, hands in his pockets.
Jared stared at the sky when he answered, "Why do you get to be straight and I don't?"
Jensen sighed. He sat down Indian style across from Jared.
"Look," Jared started. "I don't want anything out of life. I'm happy just to live it. And just—nobody else is like that." He paused for a second. "I'm not expecting anything from you either, okay?"
Jensen rested his palm on his knee, fingertips just touching Jared's shin like he wasn't sure if he could attempt more contact. "Jared, you're so smart, but if you take a gap year, what if you don't go back to school? You just—I couldn't stand it."
"You couldn't stand it?" he slid his hand down his leg until it ran into Jensen's.
"No, I couldn't, idiot." Jensen huffed. "God knows you don't deserve it."
"You're right, what could I have possibly done to deserve you?" Jared curled his fingers around Jensen's. "I deferred admission to MIT to 2010."
"Motherfucker, you just had to one-up me!" Jensen tried to tug his hand away.
"Shut up, Jensen." Jared closed the gap between them, just brushing his lips. Jensen's fingers tightened around his palm.
"Hey, Jared, are you back there?" Sean called.
"Shit," Jared whispered and pulled back. He brought a hand up to his mouth.
Jensen took a deep breath, like he had finally decided something. "It's all right."
"Jared! I know you're—oh, hey, Jensen." Sean pushed through the bushes and towered over him.
"What? What is it?" Chad called. "Jared! Why are you hiding in the bushes like a pussy?"
A second later Cam and Chad forced their way through to join them, leaves and underbrush getting everywhere. Chad spotted Jensen and stepped forward menacingly. "Jensen! I thought I told you—"
Jared pushed himself to his feet and offered a hand to hoist Jensen up. "Relax, man, we're cool."
"Yeah?" Chad asked, arms crossed tight over his chest. "What were you doing in the bushes?"
Cam started laughing and quickly disguised it with a cough. Jensen rolled his eyes. "Do you have a cigarette?" he asked Cam. Cam patted his pockets before coming up with a crumpled pack with only two cigarettes left. He handed one to Jensen.
"I'm not blowing you if you smoke that," Jared told him.
Jensen smiled and accepted the light that Cam offered. "I'll steal a pineapple from the dining hall."
Chad turned bright red. "That's what you were doing in the bushes?" he shouted at them.
"Shit, keep it down." Sean poked him in the shoulder.
Jared smiled at the look on Chad's face. "Do you guys want to go to the diner? I didn't finish my dinner."
Sean shrugged and Cam shook his head. "Yeah, thanks for that, asshole. Most awkward thirty minutes of our lives!" He started pushing back through the bushes, and Chad and Sean followed.
"Do you have to go see your parents?" Jared asked Jensen quietly.
"Fuck 'em." Jensen inhaled deeply off the cigarette. "I'll deal with that tomorrow." He said it nonchalantly, but even in the rapidly descending darkness, Jared could see how he trembled. Jared nodded and crashed out of the bushes to where his friends were waiting. Baby steps.
Sean bumped his shoulder affectionately when they got out onto the path. Jared blinked, and he realized that the horrible weight he'd been sinking under for months, years even, had finally left him.
"Wait, so everybody knew?" Chad cried. "How can I be the last to know? Jared, how could Sean know before me?"
Cam slung an arm around Chad's neck and lit up his last cigarette. "We still love you, even if you're slow."
Jensen, who walked a few steps ahead of them, looked back over his shoulder and snorted. Chad caught his look and crunched his face into a scowl. "Don't even say it. Just because you're fucking my boy doesn't mean I have to be nice to you."
Jensen laughed and cheekily dropped back to pinch Jared's butt right in front of him. Chad shouted and started muttering. Cam shot Jensen a look. "I think you broke him."
Jared jabbed Jensen in the side. "Thanks, jerk, that's my best friend. Now what am I going to do?"
Jensen threw the cigarette to the ground and stomped it out. "Will you settle for some mozzarella sticks and a turkey melt?" He offered his elbow to Jared and Jared threaded his arm through it.
"Hoo, rolling out the big guns."
"Sean! Sean, they're speaking in gay code!" Chad stared after them aghast.
Cam kept his arm looped around Chad's shoulders. "Jensen'll buy you a milkshake and everything will be all better."
And Because I am a very lame person who doesn't like to do her homework, I made a soundtrack that follows the arc of the story.
24 tracks, 128.46 MB zip