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Real Person Fic - CW: To Kiss the Sweet Rose [Part 1/2]

Title: To Kiss the Sweet Rose
Fandom: Real Person Fic – CW
Characters/Pairings: Jared/Jensen, some Jared/Sandy and Jensen/Danneel
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG-13 for Language, Alcohol Consumption, Decimation of Great Classic Literature, and Sexual Suggestion
Word Count: 20,314
Summary: College AU: Jensen’s been in love with Jared almost as long as they’ve been friends, but he’s given up all hope that Jared will ever feel the same. So when someone Jared could fall in love with approaches him for advice on how to win Jared over, Jensen finds himself in over his head. (J2 retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand)

AO3EPUB


JENSEN


“Jared.”

Jensen kicks at the snoring mass by his door and hears one last sharp intake of breath before Jared’s shaking hair out his eyes and blinking up at him. He smiles sheepishly, which means Jensen’s pulling off the glare he’s going for.

“Hey.”

“There a reason you’re sleeping outside my door, dude?”

Jared staggers to his feet. “I got sexiled.”

“Again?”

“Yup.”

“How does that guy even manage to get so much play?”

“Don’t ask me, man.” Jared makes the face Jensen can’t ever say no to. “I was wondering if I could stay here tonight.”

Jensen sighs, getting his keys out and fumbling with the lock. “You wouldn’t have parked for the night if you didn’t already know what the answer was gonna be.”

Jared doesn’t waste his breath pretending otherwise. “I brought you gummy bears,” he says. “And stupid movies.”

“Don’t you ever have homework?”

“Did it.”

“Well, I was at work all day, so I have to study.”

“That’s okay. I forgive you.”

Jensen rolls his eyes and snatches the pack of gummy bears away from Jared. “Keeping these, though.”

“And you say I don’t pull my weight around here.”

Jensen snickers, letting the door swing open and leading the way into his apartment. “I’ll get you a pillow and some sheets.”

“Jen, I know how to set up the couch by now. You really don’t have to play hostess with me.”

Jensen ignores him, bringing out Jared’s favorite blanket and pillow and shoving them into his friend’s arms. “One day, I’m going to start insisting you call me before you do this.”

“One day, I’m going to start insisting Chad calls me before he does this. Or rather, I’m going to find a way to enforce it because insisting hasn’t been hugely effective thus far.”

“Well, you knew what you were paying for when you bought it, Jared. Don’t know what to tell you.”

“I’ve been thinking,” Jared starts, a calculating look in his eyes. “We should live together next year.”

“What?”

“Seriously, there are some two-room apartments in this building. We could probably find one on this floor, even. You would hardly have to move your stuff at all. It’s a good idea, right? I mean, I practically live here anyway, and you won’t have to put up with Chad when we hang out, or worry about me showing up unannounced on your doorstep because you’ll already know I’ll be here, and…I could help out with rent.”

Jensen freezes for a moment, then tries to play off the chill in his veins. Jared’s offering charity, however hard he’s trying to hide it, and Jensen’s not up for it. “It’s not a good idea,” he says, heading for the kitchen.

“C’mon, Jen. It’ll be fun.”

Jensen turns from the water he’s about to boil to face Jared, who’s leaning in the doorway like he belongs there. The truth is: it would be fun. Jensen looks forward to the nights Jared’s here waiting for him when he gets home, loves curling up on the couch with shitty carry-out and a running commentary on whatever crappy kung fu movie Jared pulled off the shelf at Blockbuster first. It’s the best part of his day on the days it happens, and it hurts enough when Jensen gets a few nights in between to recover.

Living with Jared would mean Jared’s stupidly distracting smile every morning, Jared walking around in his boxers at night, Jared’s hook-ups the next room over where Jensen couldn’t help hearing them if he tried. There’s a lot wrong with Jensen, but masochism is not on the list.

“I’m sure it would be, Jared, but I’m not looking for a roommate. That was the whole reason I moved off-campus to begin with, remember?”

“Yeah, but that’s because you didn’t know me that well yet.” Jared bats his eyes. “I’m ten times less crazy than that psycho you were living with back then.”

“Not interested,” Jensen says, turning back to his dinner.

“Ah, I see it’s been a long day for you. We’ll table the discussion until a better time.”

“Dude, I just told you no.”

“Mmm, dinner smells wonderful.”

“You’re not getting any.”

“Oh, I ate. Thanks for offering, though.” Jared smirks, and Jensen can’t keep his lips from tugging up.

“Look, I’ll get you a copy of the key, and you can let yourself in whenever you need to.”

Jared smiles wickedly. “Aww, that’s such a big step in our relationship, sweetie. Can I meet your parents next?”

Jensen feels his ears begin to burn and deflects his attention, hoping Jared won’t see him blushing. “Next time, I’m leaving you in the hall.”

“Big talk, little man,” Jared says, entering the kitchen and poking Jensen’s side. “Hey, why don’t you go shower or study or something? I’ll finish dinner.”

“You’ll eat it, too.”

Jared laughs. “Just a few nibbles.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Nah, I got nothing better to do. You look exhausted. Go take it easy and I’ll let you know when the pasta’s done.”

“Yeah, thanks Jay.”

Jared hardly acknowledges Jensen with a nod of his head before shooing him out of the room.



With the time he saved making dinner, Jensen manages to get his prep work for his physics lab done before ten and decides to join Jared in the living room after all.

Jared blinks at him through sleepy eyes when Jensen picks his feet up off his couch, sitting down where they’d been resting, and replacing them on his lap.

“You fallin’ asleep already, Padalecki?”

Jared yawns. “I’ve only seen this movie eighty-thousand times, and it’s not as fun without you.”

“How sentimental,” Jensen says, ignoring the aching pull in his chest. “Where are we?”

“Fighting montage number four.”

“Oh, good. So I’m in time for number six. Number six is my favorite.”

Jensen can just hardly see Jared smile into his pillow on the other side of the couch. “I know. I would’ve paused it for you, anyway.”

“You’re weirdly nice tonight.”

“Yeah, well, I’m in a good mood.”

Jensen looks at Jared closely and reflects on the evening. Jared’s been acting affectionate since he showed up, and it makes Jensen hope, for the first time in two miserable years, that maybe he’s not destined to live out the rest of his life pining after all. So he decides it’s about time to try telling Jared how he feels—just in case, by some tiny scrap of luck, Jared’s been waiting for him to say something, too.

“Jared, I…I have something to tell you. It’s important.”

Jared sits up. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Me, too!”

“Oh.” Jensen pauses. “You first.”

“No, you brought it up. You go first.”

“You’re obviously excited about something. Just spill it, Jared.”

“Okay. I’m in love.”

Jensen tries to keep his features in check as a sick feeling tosses his stomach like a ship in a tempest. “In love?”

“Yeah. I mean, okay, maybe not in love. But I’ve got it bad.”

“For who?”

“She’s in our anthro class. I haven’t actually talked to her, but she’s smoking. She sits on your left most of the time. You know, the little brunette? She’s been giving me eyes all week.”

“Sandy?”

“You know her?”

“Yeah. Not well, but she’s in my physics lab.”

“The really hard one?”

“That’s the one.”

“She’s a genius. I knew it.”

“How do you know that? She’s never spoken in anthro.” Jensen realizes he’s getting snippy. Jealous. Friends are supposed to be encoursging, so he takes a breath to even out his tone and adds, “I mean, she’s definitely smart, I just don’t know how you could be so sure of it.”

“You can just tell.”

Jensen laughs. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because you fall in love every month, and you’re completely convinced you know these girls at first glance, and then you get tired of them after a couple of weeks.”

“Harsh,” Jared says. “True, but harsh.”

“Sorry,” says Jensen. “I had a long day.”

“No, I know. And I get what you mean. But it’s different this time.”

Jensen nods, doesn’t remind Jared that he said that the last three times he ‘fell in love.’ He stays quiet until Jared smiles, putting a hand on his thigh and shaking him. “So what were you going to tell me?”

Jensen opens his mouth, then closes it. He can’t exactly confess undying love to Jared, not after Jared’s just reminded him how not interested he would be. So instead, he shrugs and fakes a yawn.

“Just that I’m more tired than I thought I was, so I’m gonna call it a night.”

Jared’s eyebrows draw together. “That’s not what you were gonna say.”

“Says you?”

Jared doesn’t let it go. “No, seriously, what was it?”

“You tell me so I can get to bed,” Jensen replies with a shrug.

“Jensen, come on, like you can lie to me.”

Jensen scowls. “Night, Jared.”



“So, you’re best friends with Jared Padalecki, aren’t you?”

Jensen looks up from his reading and somehow manages to repress a sigh. There’s no way this is about to happen to him. “Yeah.”

“He’s really cute.”

“Is he? I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear it.”

Jensen turns back to his book, but Sandy moves closer. “Does he have a girlfriend?”

Oh god, he thinks. I’m in high school all over again.

“No.”

“Oh,” she says, smiling. “Do you know if he’s looking for one?”

“I’m actually trying to get this done before lab is over, because I really can’t stay today, so if you don’t mind…”

“Oh, no, of course.” Sandy doesn’t draw away. “Wanna work together on it?”

Jensen glares up at her in response.

She smiles easily, ignoring his bad attitude. It reminds him of Jared, and he secretly admits that they’d be a pretty perfect match. Which only makes him glare harder.

“I’m already done with most of it, but I’m kind of stuck on number 12. Maybe you could explain it to me?”

Jensen sees right through the move, but he doesn’t have the heart to point it out when she looks so damn cute and hopeful. “Sure, fine,” he says.

Sandy leans in and lets Jensen work through the problem for her, until she’s gotten to the point where she’s able to figure the rest out herself.

“Thanks,” she says. “I would offer to help you out with any you were stuck on, but I guess I’d be wasting my breath, huh?”

Jensen shrugs.

“Look, I’m sorry I bothered you about Jared. It was rude of me. I just hear really great things about him, and he’s gorgeous, and I guess I got a little selfish.”

“It’s okay,” Jensen replies, even though it kind of really isn’t. “Look, you should just walk up to him and introduce yourself, Sandy. You don’t really need much help getting a guy’s attention.”

“No, look, I screwed up on number 12, but I’m not a complete moron. I know I can get his attention. What I want to know is how to hold it.”

Jensen pauses, lets his pencil drop. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve heard all about him, Jensen. Revolving roommates, revolving girlfriends, the only consistent thing in the guy’s life from what I can tell is you. And I don’t want to be someone’s two week flame. So I thought maybe you have some tips or something. A book I could read or a movie I could watch or something. A jumping off point for conversation.”

Jensen shakes his head. “Seriously, just talk to him.”

Sandy frowns. “Whatever,” she says. “Thanks anyway.”



Jared spends the next two days pining over Sandy, but neither of them seems to have the balls to say anything, and Jensen gets so fed up with sitting between their puppy dog look exchanges in anthro that he changes his mind by the next time he has class alone with her.

“Music,” Jensen says, first thing when he gets to lab on Thursday.

She arches an eyebrow at him. “Um, hi?”

“That’s how you get Jared’s attention, okay? Find a band you both like and go to town.”

“Oh. Oh!” She sits up, face glowing. “I can do that.”

“Can you? What bands do you like?”

She starts listing every shitty pop phenomenon for the last ten years, from Justin Bieber to The Backstreet Boys, and Jensen eventually finds himself incapable of holding back his disdain. He groans.

“What?” she asks, face falling. “I like happy music, sue me."

“I think, if bad taste in music were a crime, I would.”

“Oh, you’re so clever.” She pauses. “Nothing in there Jared might even kind of want to talk about?”

“No. No. And further, no.”

She sits back, looking glum. “I guess…I guess I should just give up on this.”

Jensen thinks of all the upset faces Jared’s been making for the last few days and shakes his head. “No, look, I’ll…I’ll help you out, okay?”

“How?”

“I’ll make you a CD of some stuff Jared will like. You can listen to it, get to know the songs on it. I’ll make Jared a copy, too, and then you guys can bask in your wonderful shared love of music and get to know each other from there.”

“But if you give him the CD and then I just happen to know only the songs on it, won’t he be able to figure out that you helped me?”

“Not if we make him think you made it. I’ll slip it to him. Won’t be a problem.”

She bites her lip. “You really think that’ll work?”

“Trust me, I know the guy. He loves cheesy secret admirer shit like that.”

Sandy smiles and nods. “Sure, okay. Sounds good.”

Jensen turns back to his work and wonders what the hell he just signed up for.



He spends way too long on the mix, carefully picking out each song so he can be sure Jared will like it, hasn’t heard it before, and will hear something in it that resonates. They’re not love songs exactly, just songs that hover on the edge of being about love, songs that one way or another make Jensen’s chest tighten up every time he listens to them, because he knows exactly what they’re talking about.

Jensen makes a copy for Sandy and for Jared and keeps the playlist on his computer, because it’s worth listening to. It isn’t easy to sneak the CD to Jared, considering the fact that Jared’s always around, but he does manage to get Chad to let him into their dorm over the weekend while Jared is out, pretends he left something, and leaves it sitting on Jared’s desk.

He gives Sandy the copy he made her after anthro on Monday and by the time he gets home that night, Jared is waiting outside his door as usual. He looks up at Jensen from where he’s sitting on the floor with his headphones on. “Hey. I think I somehow accidentally stole a CD from you last Friday.”

Jensen gives him a confused look and unlocks the door. Jared stands and pulls the CD Jensen spent too many hours of his life putting together for Jared out of his bag and hands it back to Jensen. It’s almost poetic in a kick-to-the-gut kind of way.

“I hope you don’t mind I listened to it while I was bored between classes earlier. And now I’m kind of hooked. Great stuff, man. Can I have a copy?”

“It’s not mine,” he says, wishing his voice weren’t quite so thin. “I don’t know what this is.”

He hands it back to Jared, and Jared makes that stupidly unattractive confused face of his. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I haven’t made a mix CD in months. It’s not mine.”

“But it sounds like you,” Jared says simply, as if that makes any sense.

Jensen laughs dismissively. “Nah, not mine.”

“Oh,” Jared frowns. “I guess…I guess I must have taken it from someone else, then. Shit.”

“At least you get to keep it like you wanted, right?”

Jared nods, still unsure.

Jensen claps him on the shoulder. “Hey, wanna play some Halo? I’m actually ahead on my homework for once.”

Jared agrees, temporarily forgetting the grief of having accidentally robbed someone of their mix CD.



So, that didn’t work, Jensen admits after Jared’s left. Jared is under the impression that the CD was a mistake, which means it’s not going to be the romantic moment Jensen was going for when Sandy claims to be behind it. So Jensen decides to do one more thing on Sandy’s behalf, just to drive the point home.

Jared doesn’t even bother giving Jensen the time to say hello or tease him for bumming out in front of his apartment when he gets home that day. He leans in the doorway, looking intently at Jensen.

“Hey, is there something you want to tell me?”

Jensen lifts an eyebrow. “Is this like the other day when you wouldn’t let me go to bed because you were convinced I was keeping a secret?”

“I don’t know, Jensen,” Jared says. “You tell me.”

“I…don’t get it?”

“There’s nothing you want to talk to me about?”

“I feel like I talk to you about a lot of things, but there’s no burning conversation topic for me right now, no. I’d kind of just like it if you let me into my apartment so I can unwind.”

Jared shoves a paper in Jensen’s face. “Look at this,” he says.

Jensen makes a show of handing it back to Jared after a quick glance. “What is this, your math homework?”

He shoves past Jared to enter his living room, and Jared hangs back, eyes glued to the paper.

“It’s a love letter, Jensen,” he says. “I found it taped inside one of my notebooks after lunch. I have a secret admirer or something.”

“That’s not creepy at all.”

“It’s not. It’s romantic. There’s a difference.”

“Not where you’re concerned, apparently.”

“Dude, can you please look at this for more than a second? It’s actually brilliant. It’s coded in equations, but it’s a goddamn love letter. It took me three hours to figure out. And it’s beautifully written. Not sappy or anything, just. I don’t know. It’s clever,” he smiles distractedly, “and whoever wrote it obviously knew I could figure it out.”

“That’s the geekiest thing I’ve ever heard, Jay.”

“I thought it was kind of awesome.”

“Well, that’s great. You and geek-math-equations-creepy-person are clearly meant to be.”

“That’s the conclusion I came to.”

Jensen swallows hard, trying very hard to ignore what Jared just said, because Jared doesn’t mean it. “What does it say?”

“You can’t figure it out?” he asks, sounding annoyed.

“I don’t have three hours to spend on it, Jared.”

“Well, it would take you an hour, tops.”

Jensen actually knows what the letter says by heart after spending nine hours picking every word apart and finding a way to code it numerically, but he sure as hell isn’t about to tell Jared that. “Or you could just tell me.”

Jared snatches it away from him. “I don’t think I will”

“So who do you think it is?”

Jared shrugs. “I don’t know. I thought maybe it was…never mind. Wishful thinking.”

“Who? Your crush, Sandy?”

“There’s no way Sandy knows me that well, I don’t think I’ve spoken four words to the girl.”

“Maybe she’s good at picking up hints. I mean, you said it yourself, she’s pretty sharp.”

“How about you? How was your day?”

“Hello, non sequitur. My day was fine. I had a really awesome lecture in Vibrations—”

“Oh, I bet you did,” Jared says lewdly.

Jensen rolls his eyes. “I cannot wait until I am done with that class and I never have to hear you make one of those jokes again.”

“You’ll miss it.”

“It must be really special in that little world of yours.”

Jared sticks his tongue out.

They hang out for a few more hours, but Jared’s only half paying attention to anything Jensen says or does. He keeps reaching into his pocket, and Jensen hears his fingers playing with the edges of the letter. Jared smiles absently every time he does it, a tiny, completely infatuated smile that may not be for Jensen but is for a part of him. Jensen could spend the rest of his life making Jared smile like that without getting sick of it.

He decides one more little favor for Sandy isn’t going to hurt anyone.



Two weeks, five CDs, three more encrypted letters, and about nine-hundred hours of hearing Jared gushing about his mysterious love later, Jensen is ready to admit he might kind of have a problem.

It’s not hurting anyone, though, or that’s what he tells himself to make it okay. Jared is on cloud nine, and Sandy is going to reap the benefits, has already started to talk to Jared, even dropped a few of the bands Jensen’s introduced her to and gotten Jared’s attention piqued in her favor. He hasn’t exactly filled Sandy in on just how actively he’s wooing Jared for her, but Jensen’s pretty sure she’ll appreciate it when Jensen finally convinces Jared it’s her without a doubt, and she gets to bask in the warm words Jared says or the starry eyes he greets Jensen with every time he has a new letter.

“Hey, you,” Jensen says.

Jared turns his head, smiling, and makes room on the booth chair he’s sitting on for Jensen to squeeze in. He has his laptop open, and his meal’s hardly touched. Jensen feels stupidly proud knowing he actually managed to hold Jared’s attention even when there’s food sitting right next to him.

“What’s this?” he asks, looking onto Jared’s screen.

Jared’s smile spreads. “It’s a video game.”

“Oh? Which one?”

“Mine,” he says.

“Putting those computer programming classes to good use there, kid? I’m sure Professor Kripke will be impressed.”

“Professor Kripke’s only ever been impressed by one student, Jensen, and we both know it’s you.”

“This looks pretty good, though.”

“That’s because I didn’t code it.”

“Ah, let me guess.”

“My admirer made it for me.”

“Of course,” Jensen says, in a mocking tone. “You ever wonder why this poor sap has so much time on their hands?”

“Nope,” Jared replies, attempting to spoon something into his mouth without letting his eyes leave the screen.

Jared is already on level seven, which Jensen had expected to take much longer. His stomach fills with butterflies. “How long have you been sitting here like this?”

“Since my classes finished,” he says sheepishly.

“Jay, that was six hours ago.”

Jared ignores him. “It’s a love story. I mean, it’s a kick ass one with, like, guns and shit, but the story, it’s actually really compelling.”

“Isn’t everything Anonymous does?”

“Yes,” Jared says. “That doesn’t make this less spectacular.”

“You know we have a Theta Tau meeting in half an hour, right?”

Jared sighs, saving the game and grudgingly exiting it. “You know you ruin all my fun, right?”

Jensen kicks him under the table. Jared turns his attention to his meal.

“This is cold,” he grumbles.

Jensen snickers. “Well, you left it here abandoned for however many hours while you played your cheesy video game.”

“It’s not cheesy. It’s—”

“Romantic, which is different.”

Jared smirks. “Okay, fine, so I’m predictable.”

“Oh, a little.”

“Hey, Jen, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah?”

Jared shifts uncomfortably, and Jensen worries a little. He’s never seen Jared this nervous before.

“There’s this Cyrano concert next month, and I got us tickets as an early Christmas thing. Not that you have to come or anything, but I thought it might be fun. Do you…I mean, does that sound like something you want to do?”

Jensen lets out a long breath, still confused as to why Jared was so hesitant to ask but relieved nonetheless. He shrugs inwardly, figuring Jared probably splurged and got incredible seats and is now freaking out that it’ll make Jensen uncomfortable. Which, Jensen would be able to get past his pride, especially with Jared, for a chance to see Cyrano play. But, in the end, it’s too good an opportunity to finally get Sandy and Jared together, and Jensen can’t justify blowing that just so he can spend another night hogging Jared’s attention when he knows it won’t go anywhere.

“You know who loves them?”

“You?”

“Other than me.”

“Me?”

“Sandy.”

“Oh. That’s cool. She has pretty awesome taste in music, so…”

“Yeah, she does. You should take her.”

“I was kind of hoping it would be, I dunno, a thing. Like, just us?”

“I’m probably working or something. You should give her my ticket. It could be romantic.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it could.” It’s the first time in Jensen’s experience that Jared doesn’t immediately turn into a smiling mess at the slightest mention of the word.

“So go for it.”

“It’s your favorite band, Jensen.”

“Eh, I’m kind of over them. I didn’t love their new CD.”

“Yes you did. Dude, you played it so many times even I got sick of it. And I’m a fan.”

“Well, I guess I spoiled it even worse for myself, because I can’t stand the damn thing anymore.” Jensen licks his lips. “You should take Sandy.”

“Maybe I will,” Jared says. He slams his computer shut a little too hard and gets up, forgetting his meal. “We should probably get to the frat meeting or we’ll be late.”



Jared takes the free seat next to Sandy at the meeting, giving Jensen a half-hearted shrug in apology when he’s left standing at the door on his own. Jensen lets it roll off him, heading for his usual place next to Chris and trying not to stare too hard at the empty spot next to him where Jared usually sits.

After the meeting, Jared comes up and tells Jensen that he was right, that Sandy is totally excited about the concert. They have a date. Which is exactly what Jensen wanted. Which means Jensen shouldn’t feel quite as put out about it as he does.

The next day, Sandy is already sitting with Jared, laughing at something Jared’s just said, by the time Jensen gets to class. It’s obvious they’re flirting, and Jensen takes the seat that’s usually Jared’s so that they can sit next to each other. They look like a couple already, so Jensen isn’t really surprised when Jared tells him a few days later that Sandy’s his girlfriend.

The first three weeks of Jared and Sandy’s relationship aren’t all that awful for Jensen. Jared is completely wrapped up in her, exactly the way he always is with his girlfriends for the first few weeks. A part of Jensen kind of hopes this means Sandy will be as fleeting as the rest of them, and he’ll have Jared’s undivided attention back in a month, at least until Jared meets the next girl. A less ugly but infinitely smaller part of him wants Sandy to win this time.



“This is redefining pathetic on so many levels, Ackles.”

“Shove it, Chris,” Jensen replies. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

“No, seriously, this is ridiculous. You don’t even know what you’re doing.”

“That’s what I have a consultant for.” Jensen lifts his head from the metal he’s trying to meld just long enough to give Chris a cheeky grin.

“Seriously, Jensen, seriously. Why is this a good idea?”

“Because Christmas is coming up, and Jared is going to expect something really special from—”

“From someone who doesn’t exist.”

“Shut up, Kane.”

“Shut up nothing, dude. It doesn’t bother you that he’s out at some concert you really wanted to go to with some girl, and you’re sitting in the electrical engineering lab, where you are not supposed to be because you aren’t part of the department, risking your friend who is only supposed to come here after hours for school work’s life, to build him a Christmas present that she is going to get credit for?”

“Nope.”

Chris crosses his arms over his chest and fixes Jensen with one of his Looks. “Ok, ‘why not?’ is my next question.”

“Because…” Jensen looks down at the wires he’s playing with and pretends to know what he’s supposed to be doing with them better than he does, just to make sure Chris can’t see his face. “He loves it.”

Chris, surprisingly, doesn’t laugh at all. He even sounds kind of sincere when he responds. “He loves you, too, Jensen.”

“I know. I know, but not the same way. Not the way he loves the person who does these things for him. I don’t care if he thinks it’s Sandy, man. It’s really me and that’s so much closer than…”

“You haven’t even tried telling him how you feel.”

“Because I know he’s not interested.”

“How do you know if you—?”

“Because I know him. Stop asking so many questions. This electrical shit doesn’t come easy for me, I need to concentrate.”

“Bite me, Jenny.”

“Don’t call me that. I’ll rip your balls off.”

Chris winces. “Jesus. That was a visual I did not need.”

Jensen smiles and winks at him.

Chris gives him all of five minutes of peace, then sighs and continues lecturing, “I swear, haven’t you ever seen the way he looks at you? It’s like you shit rainbows or something. In fact, the only reason all of this doesn’t make you a total freak is that he’s your one-man fan club, too. There’s no way he’s not in love with you.”

“What do you know about it? The only things you love are your guitar and your bong.”

“And those are strong loves. Pure, unwavering, perfect loves.”

“Help me make him walk.”

Chris steps closer to the robot Jensen’s been slaving over and rolls his eyes when he sees it. “Typical, Jensen. Your design is all style and no form.”

“Fuck you, I don’t build robots. I build things that are useful.”

“Oh, yeah, turbines. Nothing gets the chicks wetter than that.”

Jensen elbows him. Chris laughs, not unkindly, and begins to undo all of Jensen’s electrical work. It’s another 45 minutes before the thing comes to life, but, when the night is up, Jensen’s managed to build and animate a little robotic dog for Jared’s desk.

“Not too shabby?”

“Well, for a mechanic,” Chris teases.

Jensen smacks his shoulder and takes him out for the beers he promised.



At some point during the Cyrano concert, Sandy finally convinces Jared that she’s his secret admirer. Jensen never gets the details, but he gets the aftermath, and that’s more than enough to keep him from asking.

Jared actually seems kind of surprised as he tells Jensen that it was her, which throws Jensen for a loop. Jared’s been insisting pretty much since this started that he knew who his admirer was, so Jensen doesn’t get why having his suspicions confirmed is so exciting.

After the concert, Jared and Sandy turn into that couple that is so unfairly perfect it’s impossible not to hate them. Jared treats Sandy like she’s a goddess, his earlier affection mixing with the love he’d been harboring for his secret admirer, and Sandy would have to be pretty stupid—which she definitely isn’t—to not get completely swept away and fall swiftly in love with the way Jared touches her and talks to her and kisses her and fucking worships her.

Jensen is left without anything to do except wrap himself up in making things for Jared, making Jared fall more in love with Sandy, attempting to distract himself from the fact that he’s the only one left still pretending.

He doesn’t regret it. Or, at least, not for a long time. It’s like being a part of what they have, which is better than nothing. Jensen always knew Jared would eventually meet someone who would be able to hold his attention, at least this way he knows he has a place in it.

This is how he chooses to look at the situation until the first time he has to sit by and have everything he did to bring them together thrown into his face.

It’s towards the end of fall semester, and Jensen and Sandy are in the library, cramming for their anthro exam. Jared shows up four hours into the study session and places two Starbucks cups on the table, one regular coffee with a few packs of cream and sugar and one tall triple shot Americano.

“I didn’t know how you take your coffee,” he says, handing Sandy the packs of sugar with her cup. “Is this okay?”

She smiles. “Perfect, baby. I’ll take anything with caffeine at this point.”

They kiss briefly, and, when he pulls away, Jared smiles at Jensen, wordlessly handing over his drink. Exactly the way he likes it.

Jensen’s heart sinks at the tiny show of affection. He finds himself wishing that, just once, Jared would act like a normal person: reply to his and Sandy’s whiny texts about studying for this exam with a that sucks and go on enjoying the break he earned by working hard all semester instead of putting it off. But no, Jared shows up, smiling infectiously, offering much-needed refreshments and help, and reminding Jensen, as usual, of just how warm and selfless and impossibly perfect he is.

“Thanks,” he says.

“I think that’s the least excited I’ve ever seen you get about coffee. What’s wrong?”

Jensen scrubs a hand over his face and looks down at his text book, wishing the words would stop swimming. He takes off the glasses he hates wearing, especially hates wearing around Jared, and pinches the bridge of his nose. “This test is going to be the death of me.”

“Come come now, Jensen. I thought you were smart. This class is for freshmen.”

“Dude, I’m an engineer, okay? Humanities requirements are not my friend. There’s a reason I put this shit off for four years.”

“We only put it off for three years,” Sandy says, giving Jensen a cheeky smile and putting her head on Jared's shoulder. Jared snickers.

Jensen allows himself to glare.

“Want me to help you out?” Jared offers. “It’s kind of nice to finally get something you don’t.”

“When did you become an anthropology major?”

“You don’t have to be an anthro major, Jensen. You mostly just have to be literate. Like I said, the class is for freshmen.”

Sandy joins Jensen in glaring at him.

He throws his arms up in the air. “I came to help.”

“The coffee was a good start,” Jensen concedes. “Shutting up would be good, too.”

Jared shrugs and sits back, grabbing one of the open books on the table and glancing over it without interest. After about half an hour, Jensen hears stifled giggling from the other side of the table and looks up.

Jared is leaning over Sandy’s notes, writing something with his tongue sticking out like he’s trying his best to concentrate. When he pulls back, Jensen sees that he’s written out an equation, in the code Jensen invented. He slides it towards Sandy, who smiles and immediately bends over the paper, responding in kind. Jensen probably should have realized Jared would want to talk to her in the language he thinks she invented for him, and he’s not surprised Sandy was able to put it together and master it. She probably doesn’t even know Jensen’s behind it, probably thinks Jared dreamt it up for her.

Sandy answers too quickly, tosses out the first thing she thinks of. It’s funny, but it’s not perfect. Jensen reads her response and snidely thinks, I could have done better. Jared smiles at it, though, looks satisfied.

It shouldn’t hurt, but it does.



“My parents want to know which of your families you’re going to grace with your presence over the holidays,” Jared says, peeling the top off a chocolate Snack Pack with an excited look he should have outgrown ten years ago.

“I, uh, I think mine are gonna come up to see me this year,” says Jensen, eyes intent on the television.

“Hey, that’s awesome,” Jared replies, smiling wide. “I mean, we’ll miss you. And Ma will probably lock herself in her room and cry because her favorite son never comes to see her anymore. But I’m really glad you’re gonna get to see your folks.”

Jensen gives him a half-hearted smile and tries to keep his displeasure from showing. He doesn’t like lying to Jared. Jensen’s parents can’t afford to take the time off to drive up to see him, not when the factory his dad works for is just looking for excuses to lay people off. And Jensen can’t afford to fly home; he’s hardly scraping by on work-study.

Going to Jared’s used to be the perfect solution, a real home that he fled to, where no one—not even Jared’s distant relatives—ever paused to question if he belonged. He was a part of the family, in on the old jokes. He had a place. But he can’t go home with Jared this year, not when Jared will be talking about Sandy non-stop, and Jensen will be an afterthought, and everyone present will begin to notice that he doesn’t fit into Jared’s life anymore.

“Yeah, I’m pretty excited.” Jensen swallows hard and asks the question he has to ask, “You and Sandy have any big plans before the break?”

Jared shrugs. “We’re having dinner with my parents when they come to pick me up,” he says. “You should come, too.”

Jensen takes a long drink from his beer to keep himself from scoffing and doesn’t say anything else on the subject.



Jensen closes the phone on Jared’s ‘Merry Christmas!’ voicemail, ignoring the part of his brain that tells him to delete it. Jared sounds happy, completely carefree, and entirely oblivious to how much Jensen’s night is sucking. He sighs and tosses his cell onto the coffee table.

“Do you wanna have sex?” Danneel asks, hand rubbing soothing circles on Jensen’s shoulder.

Jensen considers it for a long time, then stabs his spoon miserably into his Ben & Jerry’s. “I don’t even think it’ll help at this point.”

“Nonsense, sex always helps.”

“You know, you’re not supposed to get messages from friends asking for sympathy and take it as a booty call.”

Danneel laughs. “Well, how am I supposed to keep track? It’s ended that way before.”

Jensen smiles and lets himself fall to the side a little, until his head is resting on Danneel’s shoulder. “I wish I’d just fallen in love with you. At least then I’d be getting laid.”

“Yeah, but the friends with benefits thing just doesn’t work when one person goes all clingy.”

“We could totally just have a relationship, then,” Jensen says, swallowing Chunky Monkey down at a rate that actually makes Danneel, queen of comfort food, force the spoon out of his hand. “If I wanted to, I could have your heart in an instant.”

“Baby, if that’s what your seduction technique looks like, it’s no wonder Jared’s not biting.”

“You’re the worst at this.” Jensen laughs and sits up. “Why do I always forget that?”

“Because we usually end up having sex?”

“Point.”

Danneel sets the spoon on Jensen’s coffee table and finally manages to pry the ice cream away from him. She puts that next to the spoon and brings Jensen’s head down to rest in her lap, begins rubbing her fingers in his hair.

“Want me to punch him?” she says after a long silence.

“No. Yes. No.” Jensen looks up at her. “You should probably just punch me.”

“Oh, the temptation.” She sticks her tongue out.

“Do you think I did the wrong thing, Danny?”

She bites her lip. “I don’t know, Jensen. It’s a crappy situation all around.”

“But do you think…I don’t know. A part of me has to wonder if I’m doing wrong by him.”

“You’re doing what you have to do to stay sane, I guess.” Danneel is quiet for a few minutes and then she softly admits, “Yes, Jensen, I think you’re doing the wrong thing. But I know Jared, and I know how he feels about you. He won’t hold it against you if he finds out. Not for long, at least.”

“I don’t want that, though. I don’t want to depend on him being too nice. I don’t want him to have a reason to be mad.”

Danneel leans forward, grabs the ice cream, and hands it back to Jensen. “Then there’s a veritable fuck-ton of Chunky Monkey in your future, babe, because it is months past too late.”

Jensen whines. “This is the worst Christmas ever.”

“You sure know how to make a girl feel special.” Danneel stops rubbing his head and picks up the remote. “Love Actually or It’s a Wonderful Life?”

Jensen laughs as Hugh Grant begins narrating.



Sandy knows Jensen didn’t stop at a few mixed CDs, Jensen can tell. She doesn’t know that it ever got as serious as it has, though. She’s nice enough to let it rest and doesn’t ask Jensen about it for months.

It’s not until after Christmas break, when Jared gets to his dorm and finds the dog Jensen slaved away on for him, that his response to Jensen’s secret gifts and notes alerts her to the fact that Jensen needs to slow down if he isn’t going to get them both caught.

“Jensen, hey.”

“I haven’t seen him, can’t tell you where he is.”

“Actually, I think you and I need to talk.”

“Oh?” Jensen slows down and turns to her, glancing anxiously across the quad to where his next class is.

“Yeah. About you and this love letter whatever thing you have going on.”

Jensen looks around to make sure no one’s listening and then nods at her to continue.

“I want you to stop.”

“But it’s working. He’s completely gone on you. This is the longest he’s ever been interested in anyone since I met him.”

“No, I know. And it’s great, really. I appreciate it. But, don’t you think…well, I think. I want him to love me, Jensen.”

“He loves you more than I’ve ever seen him love—”

“No, he loves you. He just thinks it’s me. I need to try and see if he’ll love me, just plain old me. Because if not…Jensen, I want him to look at me the way he does and mean it. I want that so bad it hurts.”

Jensen definitely knows how that feels, so he nods reluctantly. “Okay. No more.”

“You know, I never wanted you to put that much effort in. I feel kind of bad now.”

“Don’t. Don’t feel bad. I liked doing it.”

Sandy tilts her head a little. “Why?”

Jensen shrugs. “I don’t know. Lots of reasons. I had a lot of creative energy and nothing to do with it. And I like seeing you guys happy.”

She bites her bottom lip, looking at him much more critically than he’s comfortable with. “That’s it?”

“Yeah.”

“Because from what I’ve seen of the stuff I supposedly made Jared…there’s a whole lot of emotion in it.”

“All fake,” he says. “I told you, I have a lot of creative energy. I guess I’m just passionate about my work.”

She doesn’t stop looking at him, and Jensen can only stand the scrutiny for a few more seconds. He squeezes her shoulder apologetically. “Look, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to make it to Tiller Hall in the next five minutes, so I gotta run.”

It’s not a lie, so Jensen doesn’t feel bad about leaving without giving Sandy a proper goodbye.



Jensen does a very respectable job of ignoring his urges to go behind Sandy’s back and write to Jared. At first, he still makes the gifts—can’t help that—but he tucks them away, and Jared’s never the wiser. After a couple of weeks, Jensen is able to tear them up and throw them away instead of stashing them. Eventually, he works himself to the point where he doesn’t sit down and put his thoughts on paper, no matter how perfect an idea is in his head.

And the result isn’t pretty. He doesn’t know if he’s the idiot or if Sandy is. Jared doesn’t fall out of love with her, but there’s a sad look in his eyes when they’re together and his enthusiasm is noticeably dimmer. Jensen notices, realizes just how much of Jared’s love for her really was just because of him. Sandy notices, too, and he sees how much it hurts her, even when Jared’s kissing her and being a perfect boyfriend. He doesn’t look at her the way he did before, he looks at her like any guy looks at his girlfriend. It would be enough if she hadn’t spent months getting used to something so much better.

Jared doesn’t mention the notes stopping to Jensen, and Jensen definitely doesn’t ask. But there are times when they’re hanging out, just them—like old times, and it’s happening more and more as Jared and Sandy drift—when Jensen swears Jared is on the verge of talking to him about it. Jensen invents excuses when he thinks Jared’s about to bring Sandy up, because he’s a coward and there’s no way he can stand hearing Jared’s disappointment in her and know it’s his fault.



She waits for him after lab. Sandy doesn’t usually talk to him when they’re apart from Jared, unless she has something practical to say, but Jensen knows from the slow, deliberate way she approaches him that she’s not planning to ask for homework help or double check on what the frat dinner hours are this week. She wants to talk to him and, whatever it is she wants to say, it’s something serious.

Jensen starts to panic just a little, worries that maybe one of those letters he never meant to send made it back to Jared. He can’t imagine one did, so he has no idea what he could possibly have done wrong.

Sandy shifts her weight from one foot to another and looks Jensen in the eye. “I’m going to break up with him,” she says.

Jensen laughs dismissively and continues packing his books into his bag. “Look, I think you know I have to take the groom’s side on whatever argument you’re having, so I’m not the best person for girl talk.”

“We’re not having an argument. I’m not blowing something out of proportion. You need to take this seriously.”

“You’re not dumping Jared, Sandy. You’re not that stupid.”

“I guess I am.”

Hearing the defiance in her tone, Jensen turns to face her. She sounds like she means it, but she can’t.

“Why would you do that?”

“Oh, come off it, Jensen. You’ve seen how it’s been since you stopped helping me. I wanted to see if he loved me or the letters and it’s pretty fucking clear that it’s not me.”

Jensen shakes his head. “No. He does love you. Even if it’s not the way it was, at least he loves you. You’re lucky to have it, and you’ll regret throwing it away.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me how you feel about him?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Please don’t treat me like an idiot.”

“I told you, I was bored, and I thought I could help. That’s it.”

“Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit! I don’t know how I ever believed you were faking it. You’re completely in love with him.”

“Who cares if I am?” he snaps. “What does it matter? You’re the one he’s in love with. I helped you. It’s none of your business if I…”

Unexpectedly, Sandy’s face softens and she puts a tiny, supportive hand on his shoulder. “Jensen, tell him.”

“What?”

“Tell him it was you. Tell him how you feel. You’re the one he’s in love with, even if he doesn’t know it.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“It’s true. I wish to god it wasn’t, but it is.”

Jensen just shakes his head. “Please don’t dump him Sandy. I know you still have feelings for him, and you’ll break his heart. You can’t hurt him like that.”

“I’m sorry, Jensen. I’m hurting myself hanging on to him. If you really don’t want him to be heartbroken, tell him it was you. Let him have the person he actually loves. But it’s not fair to make me pretend to be something I’m not. If I’m going to have a boyfriend, I want him to be a boyfriend who cares about me.”

“But Jared—”

“We should have thought about how this would affect him a long time ago. At this point? The longer we keep pretending, the worse it’s going to be when he finds out. I’m telling him tonight.”

“What do you mean ‘telling him’?” Jensen asks. “What exactly do you plan to say?”

“Everything. The truth. That you helped me, that I’m done with the whole mess.”

“No. You can’t tell him it was me. If you have to break up with him, okay, but you can’t tell him it was me.”

She sighs. “Don’t you even kind of want to know if he feels the same way?”

“He doesn’t.”

“He does.”

“He doesn’t.”

“He at least might.”

“That’s not good enough,” says Jensen. “I can’t risk his friendship on that.”

“Being in love with him isn’t going to lose you his friendship and you know it.” Her lips turn down. “Lying to him might.”

“He doesn’t ever have to know we lied. Please, don’t tell him. I don’t want things to change between us.”

“Not even for the best?”

He directs his gaze to the floor. “Look, Sandy, I gave up on hoping for that a long time ago. I can’t start pretending again.”

“You’re not nearly as smart as everyone gives you credit for,” she says, turning on her heels.

Jensen grabs her by the back of the arm and holds her. “What are you going to tell him?”

“Only what’s mine to tell. That we’re done. But you should tell him it was you. Even if you don’t think he’ll be happy about it. Because, Jensen, one day he’s going to figure it out. And the longer you wait, the worse it’s gonna be.”

Jensen lets go of her arm and watches her take off down the hall.



Jensen has work immediately after his lab; he doesn’t get much of a chance to wonder if Sandy went through with it or not. Jared is sitting outside his door when he gets home as usual, but, for the first time ever, it’s the worst part of Jensen’s day instead of the best.

He’s rolled up, back against the wall, arms wrapped around his legs, with his chin resting on his knee. He looks tiny. Impossibly small. He looks nothing like Jared. All Jensen wants to do is convince himself, somehow, that this has nothing to do with him, because it’s breaking his heart to know that he did this to his friend.

Jared wipes his nose on the back of his sleeve and looks up at Jensen with red eyes.

“Jay,” says Jensen, crouching to get a closer look at Jared.

Jared reaches out. “Jensen.”

“Are you okay?” he asks, even though he knows the answer.

Jared shakes his head.

Jensen doesn’t bother asking what’s wrong, just stands and unlocks the door so Jared can get inside before anyone sees him. He gives Jensen the closest thing to a grateful smile he can muster.

As soon as he’s inside, Jared heads for the couch and falls onto it, grabbing one of the cushions and burying his face against the fabric. Jensen sits next to him.

“She dumped me.” Jared sniffs again, and Jensen tries not to think about how gross his pillow is going to be after this. He doesn’t deserve a distraction, however desperately he may need one. “Jensen, she dumped me.”

Jensen stays quiet, reaches out to touch his friend’s shoulder. Jared’s face contracts, and he leans into Jensen’s touch. Lean’s into Jensen. Depends on him. Jensen is definitely the worst person alive right now.

“I don’t even know…I mean, I thought maybe she was getting tired of me because…but. Jensen. She dumped me.”

Jensen tries to shush him, wraps his arm around Jared, and Jared goes with it, clings to Jensen tightly, lets himself go. Jared’s not an elegant crier, and, before Jensen knows it, his shirt’s soaked through where Jared’s face is pressed against his shoulder.

He moves his hands over Jared, trying to provide some kind of support, not really having any idea where to go with it. Jared doesn’t seem to notice how awkward Jensen’s attempt at comfort is, he just burrows deeper into it.

“I love her.” His voice is muffled, but there’s no way Jensen could miss what he said or pretend he didn’t mean it. “So much it started to hurt after a while. So much I was convinced we were gonna get married. She’s perfect, and I fucked it up.” He looks up at Jensen, fingers still tightly bunched in his shirt. “I don’t know what I did to make her stop loving me, Jensen. I knew it was happening months ago, but I don’t know what I did.”

Jensen swallows hard and considers telling Jared how wrong he is. How far from being tired of him the person who wrote him those letters was. But he can’t make this about him now. “Jared, I’m sure you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I did. I had to. She loved me so much, Jen. You should have seen the things she wrote me. How did I fuck that up?”

Jensen pulls away and makes Jared look him in the eye. “Jared, listen to me. You didn’t. Sometimes, people just grow apart, okay?”

He shakes his head. “Not that kind of love, Jensen. You don’t get over it. I know it. I’ll never—” Jared’s voice falters. “I’m never going to get over this.”

“Come on, Jared. Of course you are.”

“You’ve never…one day you’ll get it. One day you’ll meet someone and you’ll love them the way I love her. The way she loved me. And you’ll get it.”

I get it, Jensen thinks, but he bites his lip and keeps it down.

“I’m gonna get you a pillow and blanket, Jay. You’re gonna stay here tonight,” he says instead.

Jared nods against the cushion.

Jensen does as promised and goes to the kitchen to make Jared something while he sets up his bed. Jared accepts his offering blindly. Jensen would be willing to bet he doesn’t know what kind of sandwich it was once he’s finished with it.

He takes Jared’s plate, and, when he returns from putting it in the sink, Jared’s already lying down, everything but his face covered by his blanket. Jensen sits on the small empty space where Jared’s body curves away from the end of the sofa and brushes a stray hair out of Jared’s eyes.

“You want anything else before I go to bed?”

Jared shakes his head a little and Jensen stands up. Jared reaches out and grabs his arm as he’s about to leave. “I don’t know how I’d manage without you sometimes.”

Jensen kind of wishes he was dead.



The weird thing is: Jared really doesn’t get over it. Jensen’s watched him drift in and out of love for two years. He managed to convince himself this would be just one more time. He would comfort Jared, and Jared would mope, and then Jared would get over it and move on to the next. But Jared doesn’t. He’s completely devoted to Sandy, only to Sandy, and Jensen knows that every day Jared is hurting is his fault.

At first, Jared tries to get her back. Tries desperately, promises to fix whatever he did wrong. Sandy generally just gives him a sorry look and dismisses him, always making sure to glare at Jensen as she leaves. She never tells Jared, though, and Jensen’s thankful for that.

It’s not until late February, a few weeks after the break up, when Sandy starts dating a guy named Tom Welling, that Jared really gives up. She looks happy with him, he’s tall and gorgeous—though he’s no Jared—and Jared decides he’s no competition. It doesn’t matter how many times Jensen tells him otherwise, because Jared’s not in love with Jensen, and nothing anyone but Sandy thinks matters to him anymore.

Selfishly, Jensen benefits from it. Jared is back to being a constant fixture in his life and even a less enthusiastic Jared is better than missing him. But there are times Jared mentions her or gets that look or reaches into his pocket to play with the edges of a note that doesn’t exist. Jensen would give anything to have to sit through Jared rambling about how great Sandy is, just to see him smile the way he did when they were together.



It’s the third spring break in a row that Jared and Jensen spend at Lake Roxanne. The family of one of Jensen’s oldest friends, Steve Carlson, owns a cabin on the lake. At least, they call it a cabin. It’s more like a mansion—stone fireplace, four floors, a hot tub—but it’s in the middle of the woods and you can go swimming in the lake or get eaten by bears, so the Carlsons like to make it sound like they’re rustic and down-to-earth, instead of the kind of people with a multi-million dollar vacation home that they habitually give their underage son permission to live in with a huge group of his least responsible friends.

Not that Jensen’s complaining. Some of his happiest memories took place here, and there’s a part of him that believes this is going to be the solution to everything. Jared can’t be heartbroken in a place like this. Jensen can fix him here.

Things start off on the right foot. Jared and Jensen claim the fourth best room in the house, they swim for a few hours, Jensen, Chris, and Jason pass a guitar around the campfire, singing and playing and generally goofing off. The partying starts as early as six and by nine, everyone is drunk or high or both. Even Jared is smiling that fucking blinding, dimpled smile Jensen’s wanted to taste since the first time he saw it.

They sneak off at midnight. It’s tradition. Ever since the first time they came here, when they got lost returning to the cabin from the lake and discovered the perfect place to sit and enjoy the landscape, they’ve always returned to this spot as soon as everyone was too drunk to follow them, sat on their log, and looked out. They talk about stupid, philosophical shit, or how they’d spent the year, or nothing at all. But it was just them, and it was beautiful, and Jensen fucks it up.



He smiles stupidly and nuzzles his face into Jared’s arm. Jared’s skin smells like saltwater and sweat and Jensen wants to lick it. Jared laughs.

“There’s my snuggly drunk,” he says fondly, patting Jensen’s back.

“I’m not drunk,” Jensen says.

“Oh?”

Jensen shakes his head against his friend. “I need a new, stronger word for drunk.”

Jared cracks up. “That’s my boy.”

Jensen’s heart tightens. “I am.”

“Yeah,” Jared agrees.

“If we went swimming right now, I think I would probably drown.”

“You’re a pretty shitty swimmer all the time, though, if we’re being honest.”

“Yeah,” Jensen says through a laugh. “Yes I am.”

Jared’s fingers find his hair. “You can’t be perfect, I guess.”

“Yes, you can.”

Jared doesn’t say anything, but he keeps massaging Jensen, and Jensen can’t think through how good it feels.

“Sandy’s an idiot, you know.”

“Jen, I don’t wanna talk about that right now.”

“No, I know. But I need you to know that she was wrong to let you go. She’ll see that one day.”

He shrugs. “Nah. She won’t. And…I think I’m okay with that.”

“You’re over her?”

“No. But she’s moved on. I’m getting used to it, I guess.”

“You’ll move on, too,” Jensen promises. He grabs Jared’s arm and uses it to push himself up so he can look Jared in the eye. “You’re gonna meet someone, Jared, who is going to actually be for you. And she’s going to be smart and gorgeous and she’s not going to need to draw you diagrams to keep your attention.”

Jared’s expression doesn’t change much, but Jensen sees something in his eyes. If he were sober, he’d be able to read Jared like a book, but instead he’s completely lost. He doesn’t realize how badly he fucked himself over until there’s no chance for recovery.

“How did you know about that?” Jared asks, voice even.

“About what?”

“The diagrams. I never showed you those. I never told anyone about them.”

Jensen laughs. “Jared, all I heard about for months was Sandy and her secret presents.”

Jared pushes his hand away. “Nothing she drew me, Jensen. I never told you she drew for me.”

Jared stands up and faces Jensen, and Jensen realizes he’s angry. He tries to reach out, but Jared steps away from him, and Jensen has to use every ounce of willpower he has to prevent himself from swaying forward and faceplanting into the dirt.

“It was a guess,” he says. “It was just a lucky guess.”

“It was you,” Jared says.

“Just a guess, Jared.”

Jared shakes his head, looks at Jensen in a way that makes his stomach curl. He doesn’t just look hurt. He doesn’t just look angry. He looks disappointed.

“Jay, let me—”

“Explain? Fuck you.”

“No,” Jensen says. “Please don’t get mad at me. I did it because I lov—”

“Don’t say it. Don’t you dare say that to me.”

“But it’s—”

“No. It’s not. You never would have…” Jared kicks at the ground. “I knew it. I fucking knew it.”

“Did not.”

“Yeah, I did. I knew it from the first...”

He turns to leave. Jensen calls him back and Jared freezes. Jensen can tell he wants to keep walking, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t turn to look at Jensen, either.

“You can’t leave me out here. I’ll never find my way back.”

Jared faces him, and Jensen realizes that he has every intention of telling him to deal with it. But Jared is Jared, and, despite everything, he kneels and helps Jensen back to the house.

Jensen falls asleep because Jared’s tucking him in, but Jared doesn’t sleep in their room that night or the next night or any of the nights after. He avoids Jensen, spends most of the trip locked in the room he begins sharing with Genevieve and Danneel. The few times Jensen gets a glimpse of him, he looks worse than he did the day Sandy first broke up with him.

Jensen thinks Jared quite possibly hates him, and, the worst part is, he can’t even blame him.

ON TO PART TWO
Tags: real person fic: cw, to kiss the sweet rose
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