Word Count: 8,300
Summary: Jensen is a bartender who has the shit luck of falling for a married man, or the cocktail waitress who ended Jared and Sandy's fabulous marriage.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to causeways and azephirin for beta-reading, I definitely needed some help. Also, thanks to Gabe (the man of the gay chicken fame) for helping me straighten out Jensen and his desire to have sex. Straight boys are good for something!
Jensen doesn’t drink. Not since his first job at a bar in his hometown with rotgut on tap and sloppy graffiti carved into the walls. He can’t even say why. It’s not because he failed to make a kid walk home when he should’ve, a kid who later wrapped his parents’ car around a tree. That happened to somebody else on his day off. It wasn’t because he saw the men with bruised knuckles, their women swaying like shivery cowering willows. It wasn’t for a higher purpose and he has no pretensions otherwise.
Jensen doesn’t drink. He can’t stand the stuff. It tastes like hospital and metal and bitter and if you’re not drinking to get drunk, than why are you drinking? Because Jensen thinks alcohol tastes like the end of the world. But when he walks through the door, a head taller than everybody else, tie loose around his collar, coworkers shoving and joshing at each other, Jensen wishes desperately for the sobering burn of bourbon across his tongue—anything to make himself look away.
They order three crantinis, beers all around, and a bunch of tequila shots. The tall one, the one with the polka dot tie nearly undone, stays silent, accepts his Stella Artois with a nod, while one of the wisecracking assholes asks him to make up a ‘57 Chevy. He’s blond and squinty, and thinks he’s getting engine oil to go with his side of macho. Jensen doesn’t say anything. He likes stupid assholes. Or rather, he likes stupid assholes when they’re publicly embarrassed.
He’s working with the strainer and the Grand Marnier, and Loose-collar catches his eye, watches him add the SoCo and the pineapple juice. And he thinks, oh, you’ll spoil it, you’ll tell your squinty friend to give it to the long-legged brunette nursing her finger’s worth of gin, but loose-collar doesn’t. He keeps his eyes on Jensen as Squinty spits up over himself, and the rest of them roar with laughter.
He’s not sure embarrassing a guy’s friend is the best way to a good impression, but Loose-collar is back two nights later, double Windsor firmly in place. He sits by himself at the bar, silent, lip quirked like he’s got a secret.
“What can I get you?” Jensen asks, and Loose-collar looks at him, lips curving. There’s a ’72 cognac sitting on a shelf behind him—Jensen could down it with barely a hitch in his routine. The urge is almost crippling.
Loose-collar shrugs. “What have you got on tap?”
“Chimay, Six Point Sweet Action, Fat Tire, and Lagunitas,” he lists, remembering days when it was Coors, Bud, Miller, and maybe a Sam Adams if someone asked right. Loose-collar looks like he’s aching for one of those, something boiled straight to bitterness. But he’s in the wrong place.
“Uh, Sweet Action, I guess,” Loose-collar says, and leans his chin on his fist. Jensen slides the drink over, poured straight into the stein ‘til there’s foam the width of an index and middle finger floating at the top, perfect. He figures the effort is lost on Loose-collar. He doesn’t wait for a smile, just finds himself a convenient patch of countertop to scrub down.
The next time it’s the crowd again, squinty asshole at the fore, but Loose-collar isn’t there. They must work close by, but not too close, because Jensen had never seen them before that first night. He wonders what they do—hedge funds maybe, because they’re ridiculously young and already have enough put away to get a Catholic family through college. Young and so unused to having all that cash they’re positively scrambling to find stuff to spend it on.
When Jensen left home he didn’t know people like that existed. There were people who lived comfortable, and there were people who didn’t have enough, but “too much” were words unheard of.
He’s learned, since then.
He feels like an idiot when his heart jumps, but there's Loose-collar again, walking in the door. He slides onto a stool in front of Jensen and folds his hands.
“What can I get you?” Jensen asks, wishing there was some better way to ask.
Loose-collar shrugs. “I dunno.” He smiles at Jensen. “Make me something?”
Jensen looks at him for a long moment, and then quirks a grin. He pounds a shot glass down on the bar, efficiently dashing Sambuca and coconut rum into it. It’s a Big Shot, heavy with lime that Jensen will taste on his own skin later.
Loose-collar nods at it. “I’m Jared, by the way.” And it isn’t until he reaches up to loosen the knot in his tie that Jensen sees the wedding band winking at him like an unwelcome advance.
“What do you do?” Jared asks when he comes in next time. “Actor? Artist? Poet? Dancer?”
Jensen cocks a brow and leans forward. Jared hasn’t even asked for anything yet. “Those are pretty creative.”
“You’re clearly not just a bartender.”
Jensen wants to look away all of a sudden, miss the way Jared’s slightly long hair curls over his eyes and under his ears. “Maybe I am—just a bartender.”
“No, you’re not,” Jared says, wealth evident in the cut of his suit, the quality of the fabric, even the cufflinks. It would be hard for someone like that to understand how someone might only be a bartender.
“I’m a playwright,” he says finally. He’s done okay. Some of his work has ended up in little theaters in the East Village and Brooklyn.
“Thought it was something like that.”
Jared doesn’t ask for a drink. So Jensen pulls out a hurricane glass and a shaker. Jared watches as four different liqueurs, three juices, but only one kind of rum go in. He doesn’t seem to mind that Jensen’s made him a frilly drink two times in a row.
He takes a sip, and then smiles with his teeth sunk into his lip. “Hmm, what is this?”
And Jensen was counting on him not to ask. Jared hadn’t bothered last time, and Jensen never expected Jared to like the taste of this one. He’s really playing with fire here, what with that ring on Jared's finger. He should’ve let Allie take him this time, but he couldn’t help himself. He fidgets for a second and then finally says, “It’s a Gay Bartender.”
He doesn’t expect for Jared’s eyes to go soft.
“So what do you do?” he asks Jared, when he shows up according to routine. Jared doesn’t quite fit in here, so Jensen pretends that Jared is coming for him. “You and your buddies?”
“What do you think?” Jared asks.
He’s really gone nuts this time. Jared the wealthy boozehound is clearly the antithesis to every free-flowing socio-political ideal that Jensen has. “I-banking?”
Jared snorts. “I’m a lawyer.”
Jensen’s just happy he didn’t say advertising, because then he really would have to get Allie to take him for the sake of his self-preservation. He doesn’t want to do that at all. Jared’s visits--well, patronage--are just about the only thing interesting about this slick bar, with its low lighting, soft chatter, and black leather.
Jared smiles at him, doesn’t bother to ask how he’d guessed. This time he mixes tomato juice, vodka, and cayenne pepper into a glass, stuffing in a stalk of celery and a habanero pepper as a garnish.
“Oh, I know this one,” Jared says, popping the habanero into his mouth. “A Bloody Murder.” Jensen blinks at him, and Jared laughs. “You think you’re the first one to make this drink for me?”
“I was staring because you just horked down that pepper.”
It becomes a thing. Jared tells him he’s from San Antonio, and Jensen makes him a Texas Tumbleweed and finishes it off with his own stories about growing up in Richardson. After Jared cleans the last of the Tumbleweed up with the pad of his index finger, he learns that Jared is a fiend for chocolate, and that his wife only likes vanilla. He nearly dies when Jared sticks the digit straight into his mouth and sucks, cheeks going tight around his finger.
When Jared is in the middle of closing a tough case, some hit-and-run celebrity mess two weeks later, it’s a Good Fortune, two umbrellas and a lot of lemonade. Jared barely drinks it, but he takes both the umbrellas, and leaves behind a big tip and a hastily scrawled 'thanks' on a napkin.
Jared teases him for the way lonely professional women are constantly buying him martinis and vodka shots that Jensen perfunctorily spits out when they look away, and he fixes up a Smarty that Jared inhales with gusto. Jared never stays too long, never gets drunk, he’s always up and back to his wife in time for dinner.
And Jensen feels almost anxious on the days he doesn’t come in. Once Jared brings the squinty asshole—Chad—and Jensen has to go searching in the kitchen for vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and enough alcohol to fell even the hardiest stomach but it’s worth Jared’s laughter when Jensen reveals the concoction as The Dark Side.
Jensen gets off early one of the days that Jared comes in. He wishes there was more of a schedule to this, because now he doesn't want to leave, but his friend just got her first part in a little Off-Broadway venture, and she’s having a party to celebrate.
He figures, one drink, and I’m out of here. Jared sits at the bar in a slump. And Jensen knows he couldn’t leave now if he wanted to.
“Hey,” he offers. “Rough day?”
Jared massages his temples. “Oh yes.” He doesn’t divulge any more. Jensen wonders what makes a hotshot lawyer look like he wants to string himself up with a noose. Maybe Jared has crises of faith about the people he defends, maybe his shittastic coworkers finally got to him, maybe his wife’s upset her husband isn’t more ambitious. Maybe it’s all of those things.
He’s hoping as he pours crème de cacao and Bailey’s into a hot chocolate that it can take the edge off. He sets the Big Hug down in front of Jared, who looks at the tower of whipped cream with a small smile. He reaches for it, but Jensen stops him. “Wait, almost forgot.”
And then he’s grating chocolate shavings over the confection. When Jared tries to pay, Jensen sucks the taste of semi-sweet chocolate off the edge of his thumb and says, “Don’t. It’s the least I could do.”
He smiles, throws his dish towel in the little bin they have under the counter and tells Allie good night.
“Did you track down a date?” she means for the party.
Jensen sighs. “No.”
“Take Jared,” she says, looking past Jensen’s shoulder at Jared eating away all the whipped cream before getting to the drink.
“What? No, he’s mar—” Never mind that all of his knowledge of Jared has been garnered from his drinking habits, either.
“Okay,” Jared pipes up.
“Okay, what?” he and Allie both ask.
“Okay, I’ll be your date.” He pushes the Big Hug away. “Least I can do, right?”
Jensen blinks. He should tell Jared to fuck off, go back to the wife, what the hell is he playing at, but instead he finds himself walking out the backdoor with him, and hoping that nobody wonders what his beat up leather jacket is doing next to Jared’s Armani suit.
They get to the party--an old warehouse in Bushwick--a little late. Jared pauses at the door and transfers his ring to his right hand. Jensen winces. Jared's just doing him a favor, but it feels somewhat symbolic.
Jensen’s friends are like advertisements to American Apparel, while Jared is that one restrained stately grey dove amongst all the peacocks. He sticks close to Jensen’s shoulder, and their hands brush. Where did you meet? What do you do? Jensen expects his friends to turn and run, to glare at him when Jared answers with all honesty. But they love him. They love his earnest smile, his self-deprecating humor, and the way he holds their gaze unflinchingly.
Jensen sees a whole new side to him, a charmer, a politician. Jensen’s not sure how he feels about it, but maybe he’s glad, because he gets to keep the goofy lawyer with the mussed tie all to himself.
When they finally leave, the wind is chilling, bringing the blood up to their faces. Jared kisses him right outside the door. Just a soft brush, barely bending his head, and Jensen inhales. “What about your wife?”
Jared sighs, expression blank, he drops his eyes to look somewhere over Jensen's shoulders. And Jensen can’t help it, he’s tugging Jared back, using him as a shield against the cold. Jared doesn’t kiss like a straight guy toeing the line, he isn’t hesitant or yielding. He takes Jensen over with the pressure of his lips and the flick of his tongue.
He hadn’t had the courage until then, but now that he’s had his tongue in a married man’s mouth, he’s pretty determined to figure out who that man is. When he hits enter on the Google page, he’s not sure what he expects to pop up.
Jared’s married to Sandra McCoy of the D.C. McCoys. He attended Georgetown Law, and they met while he was there. He can just see, all of a sudden, how Jared’s being groomed for politics—his beautiful socialite wife, his big law-firm craziness, and the brownstone they have in Brooklyn Heights. They look happy in the pictures, in love even.
What is Jensen doing? He’s being stupid like he swore he never would be again as he crossed the stage at his graduation from high school.
Jared comes in again with all the guys. Jensen rushes to fills nine tequila shots, four white Russians, a dirty martini, and five Coronas. They’re packed tonight, some office party spilling over into the bar. He sends the drinks over with a waitress and takes another cocktail glass down, and shakes together gin, Triple Sec, coconut cream, Pisang Ambon liqueur, and orange juice.
He has to be careful pouring in the Campari so that it layers in the cocktail glass the way he wants it. Allie is much better at this than he is. But it turns out all right. He sends Melissa, the waitress, over again.
She sets it down in front of Jared.
“What is that?” Shittastic coworker # 2 asks—Flat face, Jensen calls him in his head.
“Bittersweet Symphony,” she replies.
Jensen likes to think of it as his goodbye.
It doesn’t work like that, though. Not at all. Jared doesn’t come in, probably got the message, or maybe a massive attack of guilt. Allie keeps asking him why he’s moping.
“I’m not moping.”
She whacks him with a cloth rag and forces him to dash sugar all over the counter as he's making a caipirinha.
“I’m not moping.”
“Look, sweetie, I know you’re not Mr. Effusive Energy Bunny, but you didn’t even laugh when that muscle-bound wife beater at table four ordered a Rob Roy! A Rob Roy, Jensen!”
Jensen looks at the guy at table four whose neck barely fits into his suit. He tries a weak laugh.
Allie shakes her head at him.
He closes that night, and as he walks to the subway, he spots Jared stepping out of the lobby of his firm, brief case drooping and coat closed tight.
“Hi,” Jensen says first, unable to believe he ran into Jared out here at four a.m., when all the other times he desperately wanted to see him, Jared had been so elusive.
Jared looks up, and Jensen watches the exhaustion slide off his face.
He doesn’t know when Jared offered, or how he managed to work his mouth to say yes, but then Jared’s giving him a ride home in a compact Audi TT with Mariah Carey and Madonna hanging off the CD folder attached to the sun visor.
“I’m using my wife’s car while mine is in the shop,” Jared explains, but then they’re heading past the exit for the street Jensen lives on. If he drives by again, Jensen wonders, will he be able to find the exact place where he decided to go along with this?
Blue insanity: mix 2 oz. of UV blue raspberry vodka, 2 oz. of Blue Curacao liqueur, 2 oz. of triple sec, shake well and pour into a Highball glass over ice, top with 6 oz. of Smirnoff Black Ice and serve.
Jared lives on a tree-lined street that young couples probably hire hit men to oust previous owners. The floorboards are a smooth unscuffed wood, and they whisper under their footsteps. There are only a couple family pictures on the wall, nothing to make it personal, just large reproductions of vintage French ads in heavy gilt frames.
He wouldn’t have thought Jared’s space would look like this, plum velvet and carefully distressed brown leather, so bland and cold, a Design Within Reach catalog of sophistication.
Jared follows Jensen with his eyes as he moves through the house, waiting for any of the open doorways to reveal some secret into Jared’s psyche. Why does Jared hesitate? Jensen certainly doesn’t know how one starts these things. He’s giving himself an anxiety attack just thinking about it.
When he looks back at him, Jared has loosened his collar tie hanging limp around his neck, just like it always is at the bar. He sits on the arm of a couch, still.
Jensen’s heart nearly explodes as he crosses the floor, but then he’s between Jared’s spread thighs, hands tight on the two ends of the blue and gray striped tie. Jared sits passive right up until Jensen brushes their lips together, and then he takes control, palms sliding over Jensen’s hips, he holds Jensen to him and tilts him over onto the couch. The first time it’s sweet and slow, they kiss and move together like molasses.
Jared gets his pants off, but pays extra special attention to his nipples, licking and sucking them, laving them with the flat of his tongue until Jensen’s hips are rolling up, desperate to seek some contact. Jared slicks him up patient and careful, and it makes Jensen realize he’s probably not the first guy Jared has brought back to his house and fucked. A wave of sickness, desperation, washes over him. But Jared strokes down his back, his thighs, with tender hands, and at the same time it makes Jensen’s throat go tight. It shouldn't make everything okay again, but it does.
He learns that Sandy had been out that night for some Bachelorette party, dashing Jensen’s hopes that the Padaleckis had been entertaining some distant barely functioning union of Dickensian woe.
But Jared doesn’t kick him out, hand him off with cab fare and bed burn. Jensen spends the night, and in the morning Jared makes eggs and thick-sliced bacon. He walks around the house in flannel pajama pants, sex lines showing where they ride low, and a pair of thick rimmed glasses. Jensen is so taken with it, they fuck on the floor of the laundry room while Jensen’s jeans go through the spin cycle.
It could be any normal hook-up, except for the picture of a smiling woman with upswept hair on the desk in Jared’s home office.
When Jensen finally leaves, it’s not because Jared wants him to go; it’s because he’s got a meeting with a producer who likes his script. His hand stays on the doorknob of the front entrance for a full fifteen minutes longer than is safe because he’s pressing Jared against it, learning the grooves of his hips and the flutter of his heart all over again.
He realizes as he leaves that he's doing this all out of order. He only got Jared’s cell number after they fucked and had breakfast rather than before. He shrugs his shoulders, and doesn’t even mind that it takes three different trains to get him to his meeting.
Jensen loves the Met. After he read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in the second grade, he wouldn’t have minded picking up all his stuff and moving in too. Or he could easily have set up right in the Cloisters and never have any reason to leave.
So it comes as a shock when Jared walks in on Saturday afternoon with the excuse that he just happened to be in the area, and would Jensen like to go with him. He says it like Jensen might say no. “I promise we don’t have to go look at the Temple of Dendur!”
Jensen smiles, gets out a glass, mixes together a few different fruit juices and champagne. Jared looks on, chin on his fist. “A mimosa? What am I? Liberace?”
Jensen laughs when he tells Jared no, and pours in a decorative swirl of maple syrup.
“What is that?” Jared asks, skeptical.
“A Great Idea,” Jensen tells him and gestures for him to drink up.
Jared’s eyes bug out a little. “That looks like a horrible idea! Orange juice and maple syrup?”
“Not the maple syrup, smart one, the cocktail is called a Great Idea!”
“Ah, so you’ll go with me?” Jensen nods, ducks his head a little at the bright grin Jared directs at him. “I don’t have to drink it, right?” Jensen huffs out a sigh, like the whole world is crashing down on his shoulders, and nearly pees himself with laughter when Jared guiltily takes a big gulp.
They’re looking at a Vermeer when Jared finally asks him how he knows so many drinks off the top of his head.
“Some people know phone numbers, I know mixed drinks,” Jensen explains, eyes intent on the folds in the serving girl’s wimple. “Did you ever read The Girl with the Pearl Earring?” Jared shakes his head. “Nah, I guess not, you look more like the Robert Jordan type.”
“What?” Jared protests, and shoves at Jensen's head, “I do not like Robert Jordan.”
They nearly get kicked out of the gallery when Jared starts in on a tirade about George R. R. Martin, Tolkien, and Robert Jordan all together—something about incest, and everybody dying, and too many characters, and Tom Bombadil being a marijuana-fueled narrative fart.
“So you’ve read them then?” Jensen asks when Jared finally quiets down.
“Oh, shut up.”
The first time they go back to Jensen’s place it’s on his day off. Jared spent half the day in court, and then texted Jensen that he deserved a vacation. Jensen doesn’t know if “deserve” comes anywhere near the truth, but Jensen is glad to have a reason to tidy up around his little studio.
He opens the door at the first knock, highly aware of the fact that he has streaks of dust across his cheek and that his hair is sticking up every way but the way he wants it. Jared’s suit is rumpled. He has a habit of fucking with the left lapel so that it never lies flat, and there’s a big stain down his shirtfront.
Suddenly Jensen doesn’t feel so sorry for himself. He wrinkles his nose. “What happened?”
Jared rolls his eyes. “Just let me use your shower.”
“Oh no, not until you tell me why you have puke down your front.” Jensen finally steps back from the doorway so that Jared can walk inside.
“Because one of the witnesses for the prosecution vomited on me.” Jared glares at him, stripping off his tie and shirt with quick savage motions. He bends to pull his shoes off next. “And I know you, you got my text, and you sat there and thought, ‘Vacation, that pompous asshole needs a reality check.’ Don’t you lie to me! I have your number, Jensen Ackles.”
Jensen stifles a laugh very poorly. “What if I suck you off in the shower?”
Jared pushes down his charcoal pants, revealing blue boxer briefs and the tantalizing indentation at the base of his spine, and Jensen knows there’s no 'what if' about it.
Jared seems like a wet and soapy god under the spray, lashes dripping crystal. Everything would be perfect if there wasn’t a simple gold band, currently resting on the corner of his porcelain sink. But life’s not perfect, and Jensen’s gone down on his knees for worse. Jared feels like the expensive couch, or gadgets, or shoes, or gourmet food that Jensen just can’t afford, but he can’t help wanting.
It’s made all the worse when Jared lies in bed with him, asks him about his day, asks Jensen about his life. And Jensen isn’t good at this, he almost feels like if he says too much, he’ll lose a part of himself, but he’s giving it away now, to someone who probably doesn’t want it, and definitely doesn’t need it.
“I was chief editor of the newspaper in high school,” Jensen says, eyes on the cracked mess of his ceiling. “It was fine, I just wanted to write, you know?”
Jared stays quiet like he’s supposed to, fingertips trailing comfortingly over his back.
“My journalism teacher was really great, got me started, everything. I was thinking about physical therapy until he came along, because I had this friend, growing up, who got into an accident, and they said he’d never walk again, but he did. It was like his physical therapist talked him into it. And I thought, well, writing isn’t ever going to get me anywhere, because my dad had told me that often enough, and it was kind of cool how they seemed to take broken people and just”—Jensen swallows—“just make ‘em work again.”
Jared’s hand stills on his shoulder, waiting for the ‘but’ that’s coming. “But,” Jensen smiles, “my teacher literally said ‘fuck that, you have to do what you love,’ so I went to school, my dad said he wouldn’t pay for it if I was in the creative writing program, so I made do in college with waiting tables, until I was old enough, got my bar tending license, and sort of got stuck there.”
Jared nods like he knows, which makes Jensen want to ask is this what you wanted? Your wife? Your job? Was that what you dreamed of when you sent your college applications off?
Jensen wouldn’t say that the well had run dry for him. He’d been writing, hammering away on his old laptop at a snail's pace, printing out pages that he later went over with a red china marker, with things to fix. The roommate he had before he got his own apartment, Zack, had had a freak out every time he heard Jensen’s printer running.
“Why can’t you just change it on the computer! Save paper! Don’t you give a fuck about the environment?”
Jensen had merely shrugged and continued to do it.
A couple of nights after he spills everything to Jared, Jensen has a crazy dream about the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, because they just made the playoffs. He remembers watching the last time they went up against each other. He was in elementary school, and it had probably killed his interest in basketball for life.
Jared throws around names like Manu Ginobli or Steve Nash like Jensen’s supposed to know who the fuck that is. Jensen does not know, and it’s only because Jared actually likes basketball that he knows the Lakers are playing the Celtics. He works in a bar that doesn't have any TVs. But he has the dream, Larry Bird is running around in it, and there are hot dogs, and being stuck in the candy aisle and not knowing what on earth to pick, Butterfingers or Jolly Ranchers.
Suddenly his muse is buzzing around him like a mosquito, taking jabs at him while he’s drying glasses or riding the subway or trying to take a piss. He has to take a notepad around with him.
It’s turning into the most bizarre thing he’s ever written, and this includes the time he was inspired by Kate Atkinson to write a play where everybody was connected in freakish and mind-bending, and above all, tragic ways. That gray woman you made faces at because her dentures fell out? Totally your long lost grandmother, but you’ll never know, because she’s too busy sticking her teeth back in to notice you, and you don’t know a thing about what she looks like, or that your mom has a picture where she’s wearing that exact same pin on her shirt. He'd gotten horribly attached to it and he couldn't make it work.
That script was bad.
This script…it is quite possible it's heinous, but Jensen can’t stop writing. He wonders if this is how Charlie Kaufman feels, like all the crazy is being tugged right out of him. He’s half ready to put a fight up about it with Jared—this whole “no sex until I stop being inspired” thing like a baseball player on a streak. But Jared gets it. When he goes home with Jensen after his early shift on Wednesday, Jared pulls out some briefs and starts going over them. He steals Jensen’s china marker while Jensen isn't looking, marking up pages the same way Jensen does.
Jensen pauses, leaning back in his chair, watching Jared in his dorky glasses, his own wire rims pushed down on his nose, and he thinks they could get old together. There would be no sex, because you know, old, Jensen has no aspirations to be Hugh Hefner, but it would still be mind-blowing. They could do this forever.
When Jensen finally finishes, prints it out, and sticks some heavy brads through it, he feels triumphant. And really fucking horny. He was getting regular sex, and then for two weeks, two weeks he went completely dry and now his senses have finally woken up.
He would totally jerk off, dig out some good porn, get really into it, but he’s got ten minutes to get to the subway, so that has to wait.
Jared shows up at the bar at 5:48 p.m. with Chad, and Jensen is stiff and wired, and really needs a good lay. Instead, he has to watch Jared with his hand curled around a beer, because Allie got there first. He thinks, Chad will totally kill the mood, but he doesn't. He couldn't possibly at this stage. Jensen doesn’t even see him. He sees Jared’s mouth on the bottle, imagines that mouth stretched tight around his dick, and God, he doesn’t get off work for hours. Jared doesn’t even have plans with him that night. But then Chad’s leaving, taking one last pull on the beer. He salutes Jared, picks up his briefcase and coat, and is gone.
Jensen finally makes his way over and Jared nods at him. “I think you owe me a drink.”
Jensen is distracted, thinking about the way Jared’s shirt collar hits his neck. The way the muscles in his neck shift when he cocks his head. “A drink? Oh yes…a drink.”
The drink he pushes over is 70 proof from two different liqueurs, SoCo, and Vodka. Only a fractional amount is juice.
Jared sips at it. “What is it?”
Jensen bites into his lip, waits a beat, and then says, “A Fuck Me Hard.”
Jared leans back on his bar stool and looks at him with an inscrutable expression, like he’s contemplating. Just when Jensen is about to say, you know what, never mind, bad idea, he pushes away from the bar, and throws a grin over his shoulder as he heads for the mens room. Jensen blinks. He can’t do that. That is…Jensen does not do things like that. He glances around the bar under his lashes, trying not to look like he's doing reconnaissance. Allie’s busy with two tourists who stumbled in. The patrons talk quietly over their drinks, mostly wrapped up in each other. It’s a quiet night, and she can do without him, and dear god, those are his feet walking him to the bathroom.
When he gets inside, Jared tugs him into a stall, thrusts him face first back against the door, and tugs his pants down his hips. Jensen comes, seven minutes later, his fingertips clutching the top of the stall door, and his lips chewed raw from trying not to scream.
Allie’s got a stack of earrings down one ear, a number of inconcealable tattoos, and a labret piercing that Jensen doesn’t think is terribly fetching. Not even her black button-down and austere bun of brunette hair can cover her indie riot grrl comp lit PhD patina. She doesn’t look like somebody who could work in a cosmopolitan cocktail bar catering to young urban professionals trying to drown their cares away with alcohol-sodden sport and gossip. She doesn’t look like somebody who would be endowed with great powers of perception either. But Jensen has learned never to underestimate her.
When he gets in early to another shift with a smile like he’s lost control of his face, and a bounce in his step, she slides over a red drink with a straw. She knows he won’t take it, not with the cutting taste of vodka laced through out. It’s a statement more than anything else.
Jensen pushes the Passionate Affair back to her, good mood lost, and starts mixing cosmopolitans for the lipstick-smeared girls in publishing who go nuts every happy hour. He realizes he's surprised that she hadn’t figured out sooner. He’d been walking on air for months. Jensen doesn't want to call himself depressed--subdued maybe--but sure she noticed he was different? He feels like Jared should show up as a whole other emotion.
“You wanna talk about it?” she asks, rinsing out glasses and pocketing a very nice five dollar tip.
No, he doesn’t want to talk about it, because what else is she going to say? Even his starving artist friends say you can only use an affair to fuel your creative work and your worldly suffering. Especially when it involves a married man with an extraordinarily rich and powerful father-in-law. A married man who does not give reassurances, who does not say 'I love you,' or 'I will leave her for you.' Jensen must content himself with the words that can be found in Jared’s soft touches, the change of light in his eyes. And it's hard, because everybody knows, especially Jensen who swore he’d never be stupid like this again, that that is simply not enough.
Chad, Power Tool, Embarrassing Tie, Flat-Face, and Chicken Lips—Jared’s colleagues—all come stumbling through the door. Whenever they show up without Jared, Jensen always wants to get out the spray nozzle and hose them all down. But he can’t, because he catches a word of what Chad’s saying.
“—Jared and Sandy—finally trying for kids.”
Power Tool is smirking, demanding a martini from Allie. “—so fucking whipped—pussy!”
And the walls of the bar are tumbling in around him, the tile floor is swirling down the drain, and he’s sinking, sinking too fast to pull himself out.
When Jared drops in on Tuesday, Jensen locks his face down as tight as he can manage. He’s already got a drink ready, even if he doesn't like to admit he agonized over this. It's pale green from crème de menthe and lime juice, and Jared makes a face when he politely sips it over the rim of the cocktail glass.
“What is it?”
Jensen flicks up an eyebrow, wipes off a spot on the marble-top counter and says, “A Jaded Dream.”
He feels a little like James Bond as he walks off and a little bit like his heart is stuck to the bottom of his shoe like gum, and he can’t help but tread on it.
Jared doesn’t call. He doesn’t go by the bar. He lets Jensen go, and if he’s being honest, that pisses Jensen off more than anything else. He’d thought for the longest time that he hadn’t been a simple fuck, nothing about it was simple fuck material, but Jared just let him say goodbye with rum and Triple Sec. There is no justice in that.
He goes with his friends to a piano bar, and somewhere along the way they get sidetracked at a club. They go there for Jensen, that’s the idea anyway, but Jensen ends up shoved into the bar, with this creeper who won’t leave him alone and keeps trying to ply him with Butter Creams.
No amount of “Fuck off, asshole, I don’t drink” is making him go away. So Jensen shoves him away and leaves. Fuck his friends. He doesn’t need someone else, someone else doesn’t make you feel better, especially not at a bar.
Outside he lights up a cigarette mostly for that first burning drag than for any desire of nicotine. Man, where does this leave him now? He can barely stand to walk into his workplace with Jared written all over it.
A month later the guys are celebrating Power Tool’s promotion to partner. Jared’s there. The first time he’d set foot in the bar in six weeks. Jensen knows these things by heart. Jared doesn’t look at him, not once. He’s still got a wedding ring on his finger.
He finds himself making a mojito, lovingly crushing the mint, and it has absolutely no meaning at all. But when the waitress hands it to Jared, he looks up, expression blank, the brief flicker of something in his eyes, but then he drops them back to Power Tool, who is rapidly heading the direction of a drunk and disorderly.
Jensen goes on a long-awaited run through Park Slope on his day off. It’s a shade too hot, but it definitely beats the gym. Jensen’s got a date tonight. A date with a producer who's actually interested in the whackadoo script he wrote. Jensen almost tossed the phone out the window in surprise when he heard the guy’s name. For once, it wasn’t some small-time hipster with a shitty twelve-seater venue. Jensen’s actually going to get his work in a playhouse. They’re in talks about directing, but Jensen's pushing to do it himself. There’s no easy interpretation to the script, and it’s Jensen’s. He knows where he wants to go with it. Maybe it's leaps and bounds too far, but he’s already got actors in mind, names he’s familiar with from other shows, people that he’s seen in small productions and large ones alike.
He makes the mistake of looking out over the grass instead of keeping his eyes on the path, because there Jared is with two rambunctious dogs while he tosses a Frisbee back and forth to his wife. Jensen trips over a pothole and goes sprawling, smacking the ground hard at his speed. He’s only heard about those dogs. They’re usually with Jared’s parents. He thought Sandy hated them.
He has to take a second to get his breath back, and then he slowly pulls himself to his knees. Everything is going so well, everything is going just the way it should, but nothing is okay, because Jared doesn’t want him and Jared doesn’t need him, and when does this stupid feeling finally go away? He’s a codependent mess and he's never felt it any more strongly than here with gravel cutting into his kneecaps and the soupy air sucked into his lungs while Jared and Sandy play with two dogs that Jensen has never even seen.
He’s been convincing himself that everything was all right for so long that he hadn’t even realized it was.
He remembers his high school journalism teacher, the one who said that Jensen was beautiful, so bright and talented. They fucked rough and hard in a janitors' closet, and Jensen had bruises on his hips and shoulders that hadn’t faded for weeks. He'd said I love you, but the literal meaning was different from the actual. When he said I love you, he meant, I love the way your lips look wrapped around my dick. And Jensen wound up one silly-looking fag without a home to go to, no parents to see during breaks from college, and barely enough money to make ends meet.
He nearly gets the fright of his life when Sandy walks into the bar on Tuesday, sundress and Hollywood sunglasses perfectly arranged. Is this the part where she tells him off in front of everybody? Broadcasting his utter shame and stupidity to the entire world? Jensen feels like he might do something drastic like fling a Hypnotiq bottle at her or shove peanuts up her perfect nose.
“Hi,” she says brightly. And Jensen’s heart sinks, because of course she’s nice. They’re always nice.
“What can I get you?” he tries to ask as blandly as possible.
“I don’t drink,” she replies.
“Would you like something to eat? We have good sweet potato fries—”
“I don’t eat, either,” she rests her chin on her fist. “I’m just waiting for my husband. He works at the law firm down the street. I’ve come to meet him and force him to get a new tux for the opera.”
Jensen blinks at her. Jared hates the opera. He spazzed out once when Jensen put Handel’s Rodelinda on. “What are you going to see?” he asked carefully, because Sandy was waiting for him to ask. He could see it in every line of her face.
“Shostakovich—Lady Macbeth—my father’s favorite when I was growing up.”
He listens politely for the next forty-five minutes as she tells him her entire life history up and down, from her first scraped knee all the way to her wedding night. Her husband, he’s just such a guy, not terribly emotionally available, not a real deep connection, and Jensen can’t believe they know the same person. That they've fucked the same person. That they've loved the same person. Jared wanted to know everything about Jensen, and answered any of his own questions without hesitation. He let little tidbits of himself drop like dust and eyelashes.
“Why did he marry you?” and the way it comes out, that’s not right. It should be ‘why did you marry him?’ and Sandy’s thrown for a moment. She looks at him blankly. Jensen knows he should step in, correct his error, smooth it over with a compliment about her hair or something.
“Do you know my husband?” She says, sticking one ear piece of her sunglasses into her mouth.
Jensen makes a noise in his throat. Yes, yes, yes, yes, is threatening to burst out. But she looks at the clock over his shoulder, gathers up her purse and runs right out of there; she's late.
Jensen spends the next fifteen minutes in stasis, imagining running after Sandy, following her white flowered sundress up the stairs and then shoving her out of the way of the door to Jared’s office. He doesn’t even know which office belongs to Jared, he can only imagine the view of the street behind his shoulder, the surprised look on his face as Jensen tumbles depositions out of the way to get to him.
He almost feels his feet ready to leave the floor. But then he remembers. He doesn’t like how he feels with Jared. He’d rather feel nothing than feel like that. Even good feelings hurt and Jared is like sugar to a body that has gone without.
He can’t handle the way his lungs feel, the way his heart beats, and he’s glad he can’t take back goodbye. Because it hurts now, but soon, if he waits long enough, even that feeling will go away.
He has two weeks worth of trash that Allie let pile up, even though it’s clearly her turn to throw it out. He’s so engrossed in the can he’s dragging and the box full of recyclables he’s got balanced precariously on one arm that he doesn’t see Jared until he’s right there in front of him in the alleyway.
Cans go everywhere with an explosion of sound, and Jared laughs at him, even as he winces from the noise. Jensen curses. Fuck Jared for coming around here, just after bubble-brained wife sashayed on through.
Jensen doesn’t have anything to say to him. He bends down and starts picking up all the empty bottles and containers that went rolling across the pavement. He’s not going to fuck Jared in this alleyway even if he asks nicely, because he is not going to fuck Jared ever again. Note even if his navy suit and robin’s egg blue shirt fit him really well. Jensen gets to his knees and starts picking up the runaway cans and bottles.
“I left my wife.”
“What?” And the cans fall back to the pavement a second time.
“I called her down to the office today to tell her I was leaving her.”
And Jensen wants to ask how Jared thinks that makes everything better, because he thinks he’s due a little vindication. “So? You just throw everything in your life aside? Just drop it, when you were planning to have a baby?” He dumps the recycling back into the crate with an angry sounding bang. “How do I know you won’t just pick right up when something better comes along?”
“What? Oh for the love of—” Jared rolls his eyes heavenward. “Baby? Jensen, Sandy doesn’t want to be a mother!” Jensen sent him a steely look and Jared put his hands on his hips. “Listen, Jensen, I never gave you anything, because you never asked for anything. In fact, you ended it twice!”
Jensen turns around and presents him with his back.
Jared sighs. “Listen, I’ve been married since I was 24 and stupid. Of course something better was going to come along, you. And I credit myself with enough intelligence to go for it while I still have the chance. Jensen, whose to say you won’t wake up one day and think that one day I won’t have enough to offer you? I’m not going to let one day stop me.”
Jared’s at his back, pulling him around to face him, and they’re kissing like it’s as essential as air. He presses himself against the solid wall of Jared’s chest like he’d wanted to for weeks and weeks. He takes his assurances from Jared’s mouth. He could let it go forever, let Jared hoist him up against the brick, and fuck him right here in the alleyway just like he promised himself he wouldn’t merely seconds before. Finally, finally, he can sink his fingers into Jared’s hair up to the knuckles—show Jared that he’s not afraid of this. Except…
Jensen pulls away, feeling his heart thud against his breast bone. “Wait, my shift’s not over for another forty-five minutes.”
Jared groans but dutifully backs off. “Can’t you just play hooky? Cut out a little early?”
Jensen sighs, tries to right his work shirt and his hair. “Allie’s saved my ass more times than I can count, I think I owe her, I’m leaving the trash though.” Jared laughs, but he doesn’t understand. Jensen’s probably used up all his karma in life. If he throws the trash away now, it’d likely explode all over him, or he’d slip on a stray orange peel that he used in a mimosa and fly face first into the debris.
Jared sits in his spot at the corner of the bar, and watches Jensen with his chin on his fist. Jensen’s glad that there are only two customers attempting to drown their sorrows with Patrón. He feels free to work up his own concoction on the house for Jared just to give himself something to do while he waits out the last few minutes until he can go home and have sex. That’s what they’re going to do, he can see it exactly in Jared’s eyes, and it’s not at all a bothersome proposition. But there’s still 27 minutes left.
He thinks Jared might actually like this drink. It’s Bailey’s and cream and a little nutmeg, not actually terrible like some of the other things he served him. When Jared takes a sip out of the cocktail glass, there’s a milk mustache left behind that he licks off slowly. “That’s the best one yet,” he takes another large swallow. “What is it?”
Jensen leans over the bar, and it feels perfectly acceptable to lick the last remains of foam out of the corner of Jared’s mouth. “P. S. I Love You.”
They don’t make it to the bed.
Jensen, who always thought sex on the floor was rather arduous and painful, even the few times he did it with Jared, winds up begging for it. Jared kisses him, tasting like his drink. For once the taste of alcohol doesn’t burn with the weight of a thousand sins. Jared asks him again and again, what do you want? What do you need? And the only answer Jensen has is you, you, you—over and over, until his mouth overflows with moans and he has forgotten how to form words.
Jared’s got his hand on Jensen's cock and his fingers slick Jensen up, slow and careful, and it was so good that even the cheap pitted pine boards beneath his back felt like a sensual caress.
The whispers feel like shouts when he demands that Jared do it, just take him right here, and Jared listens. When he looks back, he realizes it’s always been his call. Jared has always let him lead the way, always bowed to his command.
“What do you want?” he asks, mouth next to Jared’s ear.
Jensen can feel Jared’s smile against his throat. His cock brushes Jensen’s entrance, and he supposes that’s answer enough. Jared thrusts in hard enough to send him skidding a few inches over the floor, and he has to grab on tight. Jared holds his gaze, refuses to let him look away, keeps him hanging right at the edge until Jared finally gasps Jensen’s name into his shoulder. Then he’s losing it, the floor falls away, and he remembers this feeling, so much like sinking into the depths of despair and yet never farther from it.
Jensen is very good at hating his life, but with Jared’s chest rising and falling against his own, he realizes, he’s really got to figure out how to love it.