Bimbo Baggins (cherie_morte) wrote in infatuated_ink,
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Real Person Fic - CW: To Kiss the Sweet Rose [Part 2/2]

Back to Part One


Jared pretty much falls in love with Jensen the first time he sees him.

It’s not the first time he’s fallen head-over-heels in love-at-first-sight, but it is the first time Jared’s caught by someone’s words instead of a cute smile or a nice rack.

It happens at the tail end of what Jared so far considers to be a pretty miserable first month at college. He’s in the dining hall—of course he’s in the dining hall, aside from his dorm and his classes, he doesn’t really go anywhere else—and he overhears some commotion from the far side of the hall. Jared hasn’t really outgrown high school just yet, so he abandons his lunch to be nosy and find out what’s going on.

There’s a girl being loudly accosted by some preppy douche with bleached hair, a bad fake tan, and a cardigan wrapped around his neck. She says ‘no’ about eight different ways, but the guy doesn’t back off. Jared rolls his eyes and is about to step in, but someone beats him to it.

“Come on, Danneel, let me take you out tonight.”

“For the tenth time this week, James, the answer is no.”

“Baby, I know you’re playing hard to get with me—”

“I know I’m really not.”

“But one day I’m gonna get tired of it and move on.”

“Oh, please, don’t tease a girl.”

He moves forward to grab at her, and a guy steps in, shoving his hand away.

“Why don’t you back off and leave her alone, jackass?”

“What’s it to you? She your girlfriend or something?”

“Maybe,” he replies. “Doesn’t make much of a difference, she’s clearly not interested.”

“Aren’t you, like, a charity case? You can’t afford to take her out, anyway.”

The guy’s lips thin for a moment, but then he shakes his head and smiles condescendingly. “You know, if you had a single shred of creativity or intellect, that might have hurt my feelings there. But I think you kind of blew your chance. I mean, yeah, I’m pretty broke, but I’m sure she’d rather go out to a McDonald’s with me than spend a night at a five-star restaurant with a guy who can’t even string together a decent insult.”

The blonde stares back, clearly thrown by the response, and the other guy continues, “Here, I’ll teach you. See, it’s all in the tone. Now, your delivery was definitely aggressive enough, but you didn’t really go out on a limb. If you’re going to insult someone, you might as well go all the way.

“So next time, maybe something a little more direct. Like, ‘Jensen, you are so poor, I can’t even pretend to care what you have to say.’ Or you could have gone more dramatic, ‘if I were as poor as you, I would just kill myself!’ You could have done a nice, backhanded compliment, ‘I am impressed that you were even able to learn to speak considering the amount of money you were raised on!’ You might have said it like a worried friend. ‘My dear Jensen, I hope that you’ll still have something left for yourself after you’re done taking her out to dinner.’

“Hell, you could have really played it up, gone into Dickensian detail, ‘if you take this lady out to dinner, be wary of her seeing the conditions you live in, with the rats and the mound of dirt you call a bed and the rags you have to wear as you beg, desperately, for any bit of pity—a crumb of bread, perhaps—to get you through another cold, miserable day.’

“You could have marveled at my even managing to make it here alive to get between you and harassing poor Danneel, or maybe pried me with questions like I’m some kind of curiosity. ‘But tell me, do you really have to work to pay your rent? What about your trust fund?’ You could have offered me a little false empathy, that might have been funny. ‘Ah, I can only imagine what it’s like for you, being so poorly equipped for life, to attempt to impress a girl. Of course, I would have to imagine, because, unlike you, I am not a pauper.’

“You could have thanked me, maybe, for giving rich losers everywhere something to feel better about themselves over—that probably would have stung a bit. I mean, even calling me ‘poor as hell’ would have counted as Shakespearian. But you chose to go the Beavis and Butthead route. So instead of offended, I’m mostly just glad that, although God didn’t bless me with a yacht of my very own, at least he gave me the brain cells I’m going to need to make it through life, and I don’t have to live in fear that daddy will realize what a waste of space I am and cut me off. We aren’t all that lucky, now are we?”

The preppy guy—James—blinks back in shock, and the crowd of bystanders who have gathered by now all start laughing, some (including Jared) even applaud.

“Aren’t you a fag, anyway?” he finally responds.

Jensen, Jared thinks this guy said his name was, smiles wide, his eyes folding up in the corners. He pats James on the shoulder indulgently. “I see I was wrong about you. Clearly, there’s a great mind in there somewhere.”

He walks off then, completely dismissive, and James looks around for a few seconds like he’s been hit by lightning before he heads straight for the door.

Jared watches the guy talk to the redhead he’d been defending for a few seconds before she smiles at him over her shoulder and gives him a tiny wave goodbye. The guy turns to leave, but Jared catches up to him.

“Hey,” Jared says.


“I’m Jared, Jared Padalecki.” He extends a hand. “I just wanted to let you know that that was awesome.”

“Thanks, Jared, Jared Padalecki,” he replies, his lips slightly lopsided as he takes Jared’s hand and shakes it.

Jared blushes and looks at his feet. “Sorry, that was kind of dorky, huh?”

“Yes, totally dorky,” he admits. “But mostly I’m just feeling catty. I’m Jensen, Jensen Ackles. But you can call me Jensen if you wanna avoid being too repetitive.”

The name clicks, and Jared finds his mouth dropping open. “Whoa, whoa, you’re Jensen Ackles? The Jensen Ackles?”

“I don’t know about that, but I am a Jensen Ackles.”

“Oh, man. That was dorky again, right?” Jensen nods. “Sorry if I sound like a total stalker or something, but I know your work.”

Jensen raises an eyebrow. “You ‘know my work’?”

“Well, I mean, kinda.” Jared scratches the back of his neck. “Are you…were you done eating or do you have somewhere to sit already? I’d love to, uh, I have plenty of room for another…” Jared stops talking, because he knows he’s making an ass of himself and can’t seem to stop. He points to his table across the hall, hoping it’ll finish the offer for him.

Jensen looks where he's being directed, then back to Jared, and even though he’s still smiling, he looks a little sad, too. “I was just passing through, actually,” he laughs uncomfortably, “the Van Der Beek asshole’s a moron, but he was right. I’m here on the university’s mercy, and the dining plan financial aid picks up for me means I can only eat every other day. So, uh. I ate yesterday.”

He shrugs nonchalantly, but Jared feels his lips tug down.

“Did…do you want me to get you a sandwich or something?”

Jensen flinches, then looks up at Jared, clearly pissed. “No.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend or anything. I just wanted to…”

He looks apologetic and gives Jared a light squeeze on the shoulder. “I meant ‘no thanks’, okay? I don’t need your charity. I don’t even know you.”

“I’d really like it if we could change that,” Jared admits. “I mean, seriously, I’d love to pick your brain about, whatever. It could be a working lunch. I’ll make you earn the sandwich, I promise.”

Jensen bites his lip. “You sure about that?”

Jared nods. “Look, I’m a freshman. I have no idea what I’m doing here and it’s…it’s kind of lonely. You’d be doing me a favor.”

“Alright, sounds fair,” Jensen says. “Buy me a sandwich, then.”

Fifty minutes later, they’re sitting opposite each other, Jensen tearing into his sandwich in between answering Jared’s questions. He pauses and looks up at Jared. “Okay, I’ll bite. How do you even know about me?”

“You’re going to be a household name soon, right? Aren’t you going to save us all from global warming?”

Jensen smiles, sure of himself, but his cheeks are suspiciously pink. “You can imagine how pressured I don’t feel when people say that.”

Jared laughs. “I read your article in some science magazine last year, the one about the alternate energy research you’re doing? I couldn’t believe it when I got to the end and found out you were a freshman. I mean, that’s, like, half the reason I chose to come to Rostand University. It was already one of my top picks, but other schools have great engineering programs, too, you know? But I figured the opportunities here must be something else if freshmen are writing for legitimate science journals. Or, you know, that’s what I thought at the time. Obviously it’s not like every freshman in the school is doing it or anything. You’re like a genius, right? But it was still—oh god, I’m rambling, aren’t I? I ramble sometimes.”

“Yeah, I noticed.” Despite the tone, Jensen looks more amused than annoyed, and Jared lets out a long, nervous breath. “You made a good choice. I’ve been very lucky with my professors here, they really take an interest. I’m sure it’ll be the same for you.”

“Maybe. If I don’t fail everything.”

Jensen shakes his head. “Man, I know the first semester feels like that. I promise it gets better.”

Jared smiles tightly. “Really?”

“Really.” Jensen sits back for a second and looks Jared over critically. It makes Jared want to avert his eyes, but he manages to hold Jensen’s gaze. “You trying to go into mechanical engineering?”

Jared laughs. “Actually no.”

“No?” Jensen says, feigning outrage. “Well, what’re you wasting all my time asking me about turbines for, then?”

“I told you, I thought it was interesting!”

Jensen waves a dismissive hand at him. “So, what are you studying? Tell me you’re not going to be one of those electrical engineering dweebs with their circuit boards.” Jared tilts his head and Jensen scoots up. “Shit, are you? I swear I was kidding. My best friend’s an electrical engineering major.”

“No, no. I’m hoping for civil engineering. Again, assuming I even get i—”

“None of that. You’ll do fine. You’re smart, Jared.”

Unfortunately for Jared, Jensen’s faith in him turns out to be pretty misplaced. By the end of midterm season, Jared isn’t exactly sinking, but he’s not top-engineering-program-in-the-country material, either.

He decides to swallow his pride and go see Professor Singer, whose math exam Jared just barely managed to get a C on, during his office hours for help. He sits and talks to the professor for about thirty minutes and feels just the slightest bit better by the end of it. Professor Singer is impressed when he finds out Jared is a freshman—apparently most freshmen are too intimidated to take his class—and he reminds Jared that he’s offering a second chance on the exam to students willing to do some extra credit work.

Jared leaves his office with a study packet that weighs half as much as he does, and his head swims when he reads over the first few pages. Jared is royally screwed.

He bumps into someone and two stacks of papers—one his and the other belonging to whoever he just walked into—fan out across the hallway in all directions.

“Shit,” he says. “I’m so, so sorry. I should have been looking where I was going.”

“Yeah, you should have been.” The voice sounds vaguely familiar, and when Jared finally gets a look at the person, his stomach sinks. Of course, the day wasn’t embarrassing enough just yet. “What kind of dork doesn't look where he's going?”

Jensen is smiling that same half-smile he’d given Jared when they met.

“Jensen!” says Jared.

“Jared, Jared Padalecki,” Jensen replies.

“I’m so sorry, man. I’m such a klutz.”

Jensen crouches and smiles up at him, offering him the packet he’d dropped. “It’s no big deal, Jared, calm down.”

They gather the rest of the papers together in silence and stand up at the same time. Jared holds what he has of Jensen’s stack out, frowning. “Fuck, I made a mess. Fuck.”

“Really, I can get it back in order. That’s why we invented page numbers.”

“Is it—it wasn’t a paper or anything, right? Because now if you turn it in it’s going to be all bent and your professor is going to think—”

“It’s a stack of handouts for Professor Gamble’s Mathematical Ideas class. It’s seriously not a big deal. Just a bunch of loser freshmen like you getting crappy photocopies. They’ll know who to blame.”

“Are you an aide for her or something?”

“Working for the department right now. I’m supposed to tutor, but no one ever shows up, so I either spend the time doodling or running errands. Work study—it’s every bit as glamorous as they say.”

“Do they say that?”

“Smartass.” Jensen laughs. “No, they don’t say it. And if they ever try to, they’re lying to you.”

Jared stands, awkwardly blocking Jensen’s path until Jensen gives him a pointed look. “Was there something else?”

“Oh, no, sorry.” Jared steps aside, then the rest of what Jensen said sinks in, and Jared grabs him before he can leave. “Wait, yes, there is.”

“What’s up?”

“You do tutoring?”


“For any class in the department?”

“I’ll tutor you in anything that doesn’t involve writing papers.”

Jared laughs. “Well, are you, um, I mean, are you busy right now? After the handouts? I think I could use some help.”

Jensen smiles. “No, of course, that’s what I’m here for. Just wait for me in room 543, okay? It’s a conference room, right down the hall. I just gotta drop these off.”

“Yeah, great! Awesome! Thanks.”

Jensen shows up ten minutes later and sits down, helping Jared work through the packet Professor Singer had given him. At around seven, a janitor sticks his head into the room and tells them the department is closing down, and they need to leave.

“You still have a few pages left,” Jensen says with a frown. “You let me know if you have problems, okay? I’m here on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to three.”

Jared looks back at the clock. “Wait, are you kidding me? You were supposed to be done at three and I held you here? You could have just told me.”

Jensen shakes his head. “Naw, I was having fun. It’s seriously not a problem at all. It’s kind of nice to finally be doing what they hired me to do.”

Jared bites his lip. “Well, shit. Thanks so much, man.”

“I’m just sorry we didn’t finish. Probably shouldn’t have joked around so much.”

Jared shrugs. “It was worth it. At least I didn’t stab my eye out with my pencil like I probably would have if I tried to do this alone.”

“Don’t do that, it almost never ends the way you want it to.”

“Anyway, I think I have most of this stuff down now. You have no idea how much it helped.”

Jensen smiles, and Jared decides to go a little out on a limb.

“But, I mean, if you’re really not tired of me yet, we could go somewhere else to finish? Maybe order a pizza or something.”

“Sure,” says Jensen. “Sounds fun.”

It is fun, and Jared goes back to Jensen for tutoring every Monday and Wednesday for a month before Jensen catches on that his grades are steadily improving, and he doesn’t actually need that much help anymore. They start hanging out on weekends, outside of Jensen’s tutoring hours—they become real friends.

By then, Jared’s settled into school a lot more, found his niche with a few of the other kids he shares classes and clubs and living space with, but none of them are like Jensen. No one makes Jared feel the way he does, and Jared’s not sure what’s going on. He’s had a million crushes, but the way he wakes up everyday wanting Jensen a little bit more is completely new.

He keeps waiting for the magic to wear off, and it doesn’t. Jensen’s brilliant, funny, will go on tangents about things people his age aren’t supposed to know about, but he’s never showy about it, never says anything in a way that confuses Jared or makes him feel left behind.

Jared thinks about asking Jensen out constantly, but he doesn’t really know how to. He doesn’t know if Jensen’s really gay, or if that guy was just trying to get a rise out of him, and Jared’s scared that if he asks, Jensen will take it the wrong way, assume he’s asking for the wrong reason. The last thing in the world Jared wants is for Jensen to associate him with guys like that.

They eat together all the time. Jared has no idea if they’re dating or not. Probably not considering the fact that it’s entirely platonic, but a part of him hopes maybe Jensen doesn’t want it to be. So he asks Jensen out to a movie on a Friday night, and Jensen agrees happily.

Jared spends too long getting ready, just to have Jensen show up with the gorgeous redhead, Danneel. He spends as much of the night teasing her, playful touches passing between them like it’s nothing, as he spends talking to Jared. So, yeah, there’s obviously a message there and Jared gets it.

Two weeks later, he sees Danneel leaving on the way to Jensen’s room—her hair and clothing are a mess, and it’s obvious she spent the night. Jared manages to smile as he passes her and tries not to feel too sorry for himself when Jensen greets him with equally messy hair and a tiny, smug smile.

I guess she was his girlfriend, after all, Jared thinks, though Jensen assures him later that they’re just really good friends who sometimes mess around. Jared doesn’t really think it matters—he’s never understood the friends with benefit arrangement and watching Jensen and Danneel together…Jared can’t imagine they won’t wake up one day and realize they’re perfect together.

It’s obviously not the end of the world. Jensen’s still a great friend, and Jared can live if that’s all he is. Jared starts dating girls after that, hoping one of them will distract him from getting any more attached to Jensen than he already has, but it never works for more than a few weeks at a time. Sooner or later, Jared realizes that they’re not going to teach him new things, or share his stupid interests, or spend hours talking to him and never get boring. Sooner or later, none of them are Jensen, and that’s a deal breaker.

Jensen stays at school over the holidays, which bothers Jared to no end. It would be okay if it was something Jensen chose, but Jared can read what Jensen refuses to say—he can’t afford to go home for the holidays, especially not while he’s saving up to move off-campus.

By the summer, Jensen has enough to rent a small apartment a block outside of the school’s limits, and he seems happy enough. He gets a few jobs to fill the time, and Jared drives back to Rostand some weekends to hang out with him.

He considers it the great triumph of his summer when he convinces Jensen to let him bring him home for Fourth of July weekend. Jensen keeps his eyes cast to the ground, thanks everyone four times for every bullshit thing they do for the entire first day, but, by the second night he’s there, Jensen’s almost at home. Jared’s parents love him, his friends love him, hell, even his bratty little sister loves him. Jared can’t imagine how anyone could ever not love him.

By Jared’s sophomore year, Jensen agrees to come home with him for Thanksgiving and Christmas without putting up more than the few objections Jensen feels are strictly required. Jared decides to stay at school for an extra semester that summer, drives home on the weekends instead of the other way around.

He tells people this is to get ahead, push his GPA up with extra classes. Jared knows exactly how full of shit this excuse is, and he’s pretty sure everyone else does, too. It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing in Jared’s life that isn’t about Jensen, no thoughts that don’t somehow lead back to him. Jared can’t imagine a day when Jensen won’t be top priority, doesn’t even want to.

And then Sandy happens. Two years into believing he’ll never love anyone but Jensen, Jared does fall in love.

At first, he thinks it’s Jensen. Knows it’s Jensen. It has to be. Jared doesn’t know why he plays dumb every time Jared tries confronting him with a letter or a CD or any of the things he receives, but Jared figures he must have a good reason. It’s annoying, but he waits it out. Because he knows, there’s no mystery to it, no suspense.

It can’t be anyone else, and that’s not just because Jensen’s the only person Jared’s ever met who’s smart enough to pull something like this together. It’s unlikely but not impossible that there’s someone else this brilliant at a school like Rostand—but that other person? They don’t feel this way about Jared or know him like this.

It goes beyond personality traits or shared experience. The person writing these letters to Jared has him memorized, knows what to say to melt him, what to love about him, even knows what his faults are and teases him for them. This person very literally knows how Jared’s mind works, forms a code and programs things in a way Jared’s thought process is uniquely equipped to handle. It’s either Jensen, or it’s Jared himself.

But it turns out Jared is imagining the tender attention he thinks he finds in every word, every letter, every number. Maybe he pretends it’s there because he can’t—or won’t—face the truth.

In the end, it’s not Jensen at all.

Looking back, Jared feels guilty about the night of the concert. It was more like a chore than a fun night out with his girl.

Jared had big plans for that night when he bought the tickets, had been planning to tell Jensen how he felt, kiss Jensen, finally take a chance. If Jensen said no, they would still be out seeing a great band play, and Jared knows Jensen wouldn’t be upset with him. It was going to be his last-ditch effort at getting what he really wanted before finally just giving up on Jensen, forcing himself to let go of those feelings.

His plans get shot to shit, however, because, not only does Jensen reject the date, he even makes sure to offer Jared a replacement for the night. As far as rejections go, it’s pretty spectacular. And yeah, Jared got his answer—Jensen is definitely not interested, probably more than a little fed up with Jared asking him out every year just to get turned down—but it doesn’t leave him particularly excited about the concert.

It’s not like it’s Sandy’s fault, but a part of Jared can’t help being bitter when he thinks about her being with him instead of Jensen.

They decide to take her car, and she pulls up an hour and a half before the opening band is set to take the stage. She’s all dolled up, even more gorgeous than she looks in class, and Jared wishes he were a decent enough boyfriend to appreciate it.

The drive to the concert is spent with the radio blasting, Sandy singing along with a smile as they drive. Jared is so used to hearing the songs playing the way they’re set up on the mix he thought was Jensen’s that it doesn’t hit him until the end of the sixth song that Sandy having them in that order means she has the same mix as him. And if Sandy has the mix, knows it as well as he does…then Jensen hasn’t been lying about not knowing how the CDs have been showing up in his things, really can’t read the code Jared assumed he invented. Because it’s Sandy who made this CD, Sandy who made all of it.

She looks over at him again and smiles, and Jared feels warmth explode in his chest like a firework. He does love Sandy, has loved Sandy for months, and gave all that love to someone who doesn’t even want it. He smiles so wide his face hurts and puts his hand over hers on the shift gear.

“Did you make this CD?” he asks, just because a part of him still doesn’t believe it.

Sandy nods. “Do you want me to change it?”

“No,” he says. “Fuck no.”

Jared decides that Sandy wanted him to figure it out himself, that’s why she didn’t tell him. All these months of waiting for his admirer to reveal themself, months he associated with Jensen’s shyness, that inability to take credit for his work that always means Jared has to stand backstage and urge him forward when he has a paper to present or an award to accept—it wasn’t that at all. Sandy just wanted him to earn it, and Jared spent so long assuming it was someone else, he didn’t even try.

The night gets better after that. Everything gets better after that.

Dating Sandy is weird, in a way. She plays coy about the letters and gifts, never wants to spend too long talking about them when Jared brings them up. She’s fun, and funny, and a great time in general, but Jared never would have guessed just how perfect she was if he didn’t know better. She isn’t as good at putting her thoughts into words as she is when she has time to sit down and think them over. Sandy is better on paper.

Jared doesn’t mind or tells himself he doesn’t mind. It’s endearing. When she starts to feel like all those other girls he’s dated, a passing thing, he gets home to find something from her and is reminded that she’ll never pass. She’s everything, and she understands Jared in a way only…Jared hates when he thinks of it like that. He shouldn’t just love her because she compares to Jensen, and he doesn’t, not really. Because Jensen would still win, and Jared doesn’t want him to. Being with Sandy makes him happy. He loves her, and, finally, the person he really loves feels the same.

It’s just sometimes that Jared can’t forget.

Like Christmas. Jared really, really doesn’t know how to get through Christmas without Jensen. It would be one thing if Jensen was really with his family, if Jared hadn’t seen right through that lie before it was even out of his mouth. But Jensen isn’t. He’s probably in his apartment, Danneel’s probably over hiding from her evil aunt, and, if Jared’s honest with himself, Jensen’s probably getting laid right now. Jared tries to shake the image out of his head. He has no right to be jealous. But he sure as hell isn’t feeling bad for Jensen, that’s for damn sure.

Mostly, Jared's feeling pretty dismal for himself. And—he doesn’t care how well they mean—if one more relative asks him where Jensen is, Jared is going to scream until he ruins Christmas.

Jensen not being here is like missing a central part of the family, the one thing Jared can usually depend on for a vent when he’s had it with traditions and nostalgia and catching up. It just feels wrong.

He’s been pulling away ever since Jared started dating Sandy—like he can tell that Jared has finally found someone to take some of that love away from him, and he doesn’t want to be a distraction. It ruins the point of falling in love when your girlfriend costs you your best friend. Jared wants to be on cloud nine; instead he’s on cloud seven-and-a-half.

It’s not that they grow apart, they’re exactly the same when they’re together. And Jared will admit that some of the time that used to be devoted to Jensen is now Sandy time. But he still makes room for Jensen. Jensen just doesn’t want to be around him as often, and that’s maybe the worst thing Jared can think of. He ignored it, told himself Jensen was just having a busy semester, and he bought all the excuses until this. Jensen blowing off Christmas stings.

He excuses himself from the table a little bit after dessert. Most of the conversations are still going strong, but Jared can’t even pretend to pay attention. He goes up to his room and stares at the ceiling for fifteen minutes before rolling over, picking up his phone, and calling Jensen.

It rings until it goes to voicemail, and Jared does everything he can to keep his mind blank, not picture all the things Jensen and Danneel are doing that take priority over his call.

“Hey, this is Jensen. Leave a message, and, if I decide I don’t hate you, I might even call you back.”

“Hey, Jen,” he says, forcing joviality. “What’s up, man? I just wanted to call and say, ‘Merry Christmas.’ We’re having a lot of fun here, but we all really miss you. I hope you guys are having a good one, too. Let me know.”

He hangs up and sets the phone on his nightstand, already knowing Jensen’s not going to call him back. He lies on his side in bed, and there’s a soft knock at the door.


Jared’s mom sticks her head in, makes a worried face when she sees him. She sits on the edge of his bed and moves a few hairs out of his eyes, and Jared complains about her babying him as he leans into the touch.

“You alright, honey? Your father and I noticed you’d come up before Cranium started. That’s not like you.”

Jared shrugs. He really doesn’t want to play tonight, not without Jensen on his team, not without their stupid inside jokes, and Jensen’s inexhaustible brain there to make them unstoppable.

“Just feeling kinda sick. I think maybe I ate too many sweets.”

Mom laughs. “Well, I always told you that was bound to happen one day.”

Jared smiles as much as he can. They sit in relative silence until she squeezes Jared’s leg.

“You’re too young to be this in love,” she says sadly, and they both know she’s not talking about Sandy.

Jared doesn’t bother denying it.

That night, he dreams of Jensen on top of him, legs straddling Jared, nothing but warmth and affection as he kisses Jared for hours, no intention beyond that. He leans down at one point and whispers I love you, and the best part about the dream is that it doesn’t feel special. Jared thinks I know and doesn’t waste his breath saying it back.

He wakes up in a much better mood than he was in when he fell asleep and realizes that his phone woke him. He answers Sandy’s call feeling perfectly light-hearted and happy to hear from her. He doesn’t remember what he dreamed about, just knows it was something good. Hearing Sandy’s voice over the phone makes him feel a tiny spark in his chest, and he thinks he must have been dreaming of her.

Jared gets back to his dorm after the break to find something crawling back and forth in front of his door. Sandy already gave him his gift, but he’s not entirely surprised that she decided to give him something special in the secretive way she has. He is a little surprised by just how special it is.

The dog stops pacing when Jared picks it up and he realizes there’s a note attached. By now, Jared can read the code he’d once had to sit over for hours on first glance, he smiles as he unlocks his door, feeling overwhelmed by an uneasy feeling.

It’s not the same, but this guy will try to keep you company while you’re away from the kids.

He knows he talks about his dogs a lot, but he didn’t think Sandy got just how hard it was for him to leave them while he’s at school. He always thought it was something you had to see to understand about him, and Sandy’s never seen him with Harley and Sadie. But then again, Sandy has always been pretty fast on the uptake when it comes to Jared.

Jared shoves aside the voice that still sometimes insists this has to be Jensen and wonders why he can’t just accept what he knows and be happy.

After the low point that was Christmas and the high of coming back to school to find how hard Sandy had worked on his gift, Jared is finally successful in squashing out the last of his amorous feelings towards Jensen. Jensen is still his best friend, and Jared would do anything for him, but Sandy’s his girl. Sandy’s what matters most now.

Only he should have appreciated her more earlier. Somehow, he screwed things up, and Jared doesn’t know what’s different, but he can feel her slipping away, even as he falls more and more in love with her by the hour.

She stops writing him letters, making him gifts, drawing him little comics and diagrams of the most random things. It all just stops one day out of nowhere. Jared’s not a complete brat, he doesn’t need his girlfriend to spoil him every day to be happy; that’s not what bothers him. What bothers him is what it means that she’s stopped. She’s getting over him, he can see her love him less a little more every time they’re together, and no matter what Jared does, she just keeps slipping.

It hurts every hour of the day, but he tells himself he’s being childish. She just doesn’t feel the need to woo him anymore, that’s all. He’s completely hers and she knows it, and it’s not like they could keep this secret admirer thing up forever.

Jared repeats this mantra incessantly and never believes it, and his heart’s so broken he can hardly breathe when she finally dumps him, but he can’t pretend he’s surprised.

Jared practically crawls to Jensen’s the night Sandy breaks up with him, and Jensen is there for him in a way he hasn’t been for months. It’s nice, nice enough that Jared almost feels it.

At first, Jared has every intention of winning Sandy back. He doesn’t even know what he did, so it couldn’t be that bad. And Sandy…she really loved him. She told him so constantly, in the most beautiful ways. There’s no way Jared can’t get it back.

But she never seems down about their break up, never mopes or gives any indication that she regrets losing him. She’s not mean to him, but she’s firm enough as she rejects him. She only ever looks happier as the time passes, and Jared wants her to be happy.

He lets go, or at least he stops harassing her. Suffers in relative silence, though Jensen gets an earful. Jensen is endlessly gracious putting up with Jared, he’s everything Jared has left to depend on, and Jared spends an embarrassing amount of time at Jensen’s, clinging for support, remembering how to be at least the shadow of okay again. Jensen even has a key made for him, like he’s always joked about, and stops shutting Jared down every time Jared suggests they room together if Jensen gets the spot in the grad program he wants (which he is basically guaranteed, anyway).

Jensen fixes Jared as much as Jared can be fixed, and Jared doesn’t even bother trying to put out the flame that reignites in the wake of losing Sandy. It’s no worse to be hopelessly in love with Jensen than it is to be hopeless over her, Jared just accepts both heartaches with resignation.

Jared really is getting better, and then the other shoe drops.

One stupid, drunken night over spring break, Jensen ruins the last good thing Jared had left. And, God, Jared would rather have never known. Would have preferred to stay completely in the dark for the rest of his life, so he could go on believing in Jensen. Jared can’t anymore when he finds out what he did, and there’s nothing to believe in once Jensen’s off the list.

Losing Sandy was bad enough, but Jensen. Not just losing Jensen, either. Finding out he was right about the letters all along—finding out the person he’d already been mourning, the person he was sure he would never fall out of love with, and the person he really never will, are one and the same.

None of it was real. No one ever loved Jared; Jared didn’t love anything that could love him back. Jensen’s been a fraud since day one. And Jared…Jared is so fucking stupid he fell for it. Won’t let go of that love even when he knows that he was nothing but a plaything.

He takes Jensen back to the cabin that night and puts him to bed, listens to Jensen blabber on in drunken apologies he won’t remember or mean in the morning. Then he knocks on Genevieve’s door, throws up three times—even though he hasn’t had very much to drink—and curls up on her floor like a dog.

He can’t leave the room, can’t see the house or the lake or face the happy memories of his last two spring breaks here. Jared can’t risk seeing Jensen. Genevieve brings him most of what he needs, only rarely insists he actually go outside and face the world. Jared’s never been so thankful for her, for the fact that he never dated her and screwed things up between them. He’s pretty sure all his other friends would laugh him out of their rooms, but Genevieve understands.

She takes care of him. Good care—it’s just not what Jared’s used to. It’s nothing like the way Jensen took care of him after Sandy, but then again, what’s the point? He’s not recovering this time, no matter how good of help he gets.

Jensen knocks on the door three days after the incident, two days before they’re all supposed to head back to campus. To Jared’s surprise, Danneel opens the door and tells him to beat it, and Jared catches a glimpse of Jensen’s disbelieving, broken expression.

He shuts his eyes so tight it hurts and tries to push the image out of his head. He’s not supposed to care about that anymore.

“Jared, please hear me out.”

Jared muscles past Jensen into his room, trying to shut the door before Jensen gets in. He doesn’t make it.

“For some reason, I really don’t want to talk to you. Like, ever.”

“Jay, please.”

“Fucking leave already. This is my dorm, I didn’t give you permission to come in.”

“It’s been a week, I’m gonna burst if this goes on any longer.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” Jared mocks. “Alright, you wanna talk? Just tell me why.”

Jensen opens his mouth to answer, but Jared can already hear the lie he’s about to tell, and he can’t really stand to hear it.

“Don’t tell me you love me, Jensen. Just tell me the truth. Did you ever really like me at all? Because I gotta say, I always thought I was a pretty fucking decent friend to you.”

“Better than decent,” Jensen replies.

“Then why? How could you? You made an idiot out of me, Jen. You…” He bites his lip to keep it from trembling, because he is not going to cry, not over Jensen…not to his face. “You broke my heart twice.”

Jensen steps forward, tries to reach out to him, and Jared shoves Jensen away. “I would do anything to—”

“To take it back? To fix it? You could have fixed it. If you’d told me it was you after Sandy dumped me, I would have been so happy, I wouldn’t have even had the brain cells left to care that you lied. You could have fixed everything then, instead you let me suffer for months. Kept lying. Fuck, I trusted you. I’m so stu—”

“Don’t take this out on yourself, okay? This is all me. You are not stupid.”

Jared shakes his head. “I wish you wouldn’t tell me that. I wish you’d never told me that. You should have just let me fail out as a freshman instead of dragging me through three years of actually believing in myself. You must’ve had some good laughs since meeting me, huh?”

“No, Jared. I believed in you, I will always believe in you.” He shakes his head. “Hate me as much as you want, but…I never lied about that. You’re gonna be great.”

“Yeah, right. I can’t even tell when I’m someone’s chew toy.”

“I know you’re pissed at me right now, but…try to understand what it was like for me, okay? I was in love with you. I’ve been in love with you for years. Really, really—everything those letters ever said? I meant every word.”

“That’s a pretty fucked up way of showing it.”

“I know,” Jensen says, so softly Jared hardly hears it. “I didn’t know how to say it. But that’s what it meant.”

“If you loved me, maybe you should have just asked me out. Or, better yet, all those times I asked you out and you rejected me? Maybe you could have said yes.”

Jensen tilts his head. “You never asked me out.”

Jared stares at him in shock, waits for him to break into laughter, but Jensen’s serious. “Jensen, I ask you out every year. It’s practically a fucking tradition by now.”

“When did you—?”

“First there was the movie night you brought a date to. This year you not only said no when I asked you out, you told me to take someone else. For crying out loud, Jensen, you’re supposed to be a fucking genius, aren’t you? I made up an excuse to spend Valentine’s Day with you last year.”

“You were snowed in,” Jensen points out.

Jared laughs. “Oh my God, Jensen, no. I could have gotten out if I wanted to. It would have been inconvenient, but I’ve left here in worse weather, and you’ve seen me do it. I only offered the snowed in excuse as an out if you wanted it, and you took it.”

“No.” Jensen shakes his head, his face horrorstruck. “No, Jared. You. You don’t love me. You can’t have loved me this whole time.”

“Of course I love you. I thought you—if you didn’t know that, Jensen, it’s because you’ve been going out of your way to convince yourself otherwise.”

Jensen looks down. “I just didn’t ever think you—”

“Great. So your inexplicably fragile ego fucked up what could have been a really great thing between us.”

Jensen steps forward, presses his hand against Jared's chest. “You don’t love me anymore?”

“I don’t trust you anymore.”

Jensen pushes up into Jared until his lips brush Jared’s lightly and—there’s love there. There’s so much there that Jared can’t push it away, returns it for a few seconds. It’s everything he’s ever wanted; it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.

He pulls back. “I hate you,” Jared lies, wishing he could mean it just a little bit. “I hate you. I never want to talk to you again.”

“You can’t say that to me. I’ll die.”

Jared scoffs. “I’m supposed to be the dramatic one here, right? You’re not going to die.”

“I’ll want to,” Jensen replies without missing a beat, sounds like he means it.

Jared’s heart seizes up and he takes a step forward automatically. It’s basic instinct to want to draw Jensen in, comfort him, and make whatever is upsetting him go away. But Jensen wouldn’t do the same for him, and Jared manages to hold his ground.

“I think we’ve both said everything we have to say,” Jared says, keeping his tone icy. “You should leave.”

Jensen stares at him for the longest minute of Jared’s life before closing the door to Jared’s room behind him.

The Monday after their fight, Jared finds a note on his lunch tray. He looks up and sees Jensen watching him with a hopeful expression on his face. Jared wants nothing in the world more than to read it, but Jensen’s too good, and Jared knows he’ll lose control if he does, take Jensen back without a second thought. And then Jensen will be able to hurt him all over again.

He makes sure Jensen’s watching, locks eyes across the dining hall as he empties his tray—note still folded on the corner—into the garbage. Across the room, Jensen’s eyes dim and, confronted with the wounded expression, Jared wants to dig back into the trashcan and pull it out.

He leaves before the compulsion becomes too strong to ignore.

But Jensen is stubborn, and it almost seems like he doesn’t even have a choice. Jared wonders if that’s what it was like when Jensen was pretending to be Sandy, if it was something that spun out of control, became an addiction. It doesn’t matter, he tries to reason. Jensen still lied. But Jared is weak, and he desperately wants to forgive Jensen.

He keeps writing Jared letters every day, and Jared pretends not to read them. He waits until he’s in bed and takes them out, cherishing each one. At first, Jensen apologizes over and over, tries to explain himself, hoping Jared will forgive him.

After a few weeks, he must give up on Jared forgiving him, because he stops mentioning anything about it. Instead, he just writes to Jared about his day, keeps him updated, and it’s like a lifeline to know what’s going on in Jensen’s life. He can imagine Jensen’s face and mannerisms if he were telling the stories to him in person, and Jared can never decide if he’s glad for that or not.

The night Jared finds out Jensen got into the grad program, he gets every bit as drunk alone as they would have gotten together. That was supposed to be the highlight of their year, but Jared’s not a part of it anymore. He realizes then that he never found a roommate for next year, had been taking Jensen for granted. The degree to which Jared wrapped his world around Jensen is truly pathetic, and yet Jared doesn’t stop. Instead of being the thing that keeps him happy, Jensen is the thing that keeps him sleeping in too late every day, completely uninterested in what the outside world has to offer.

On the nights before exams, when Jared’s crammed as much as he can and has nothing left to do but panic, nights he used to spend playing video games at Jensen’s just to relax his brain enough to sleep, Jared drifts off watching the little robotic dog Jensen made him walk across his side of the room. Even Chad isn’t enough of a dick to make fun of him.

“You should just talk to him,” Sandy says when she catches Jared staring off into space.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jared mumbles, turning back to his lunch.

“Come on, Jared. You look like shit, he looks like shit, you’re both miserable, he’s sorry.”

“He lied to me, Sandy.”

“I did, too, and you’re still talking to me.”

“He lied more,” Jared says. He bites his lip. “And…don’t take this the wrong way hurts more that it was him. You could have done worse than he did to me, and I would have gotten over it sooner.”

Sandy frowns. “Yeah, I know.” She runs a hand up and down Jared’s arm, soothing. “But I swear he meant well. It was never supposed to get to where it did. He loved you too much, that’s all.”

“I loved him too much. I can’t let anyone hurt me like that again.”

“He wouldn’t. I know he wouldn’t. You know he wouldn’t.”

“I don’t know anything anymore.” Jared stabs at his food and drops his fork. “Look, Sandy, I’m gonna run. Sorry.”

Sandy doesn’t really look surprised.

Chris walks up to him one day and hands him a folded up piece of paper, and Jared tries not to look too excited when he takes it, putting it in his pocket for later.

“I want it on the record that I am completely morally opposed to this,” Chris says as he hands it over.

“Then don’t help?”

“Easier said than done.”

Jared swallows hard. “How’s he doing?”

“Not good, Jared.”

Jared nods slowly. “Yeah, me neither.”

Chris doesn’t try to convince Jared to run back to Jensen like most of their friends, and Jared appreciates it. It makes him think maybe Chris is on his side. “You understand why I have to, though, right?”

Chris scratches the back of his neck. “Look, Jared, I like you. I’ve always liked you. And what he did? I hated it from the start, man, always told him it was gonna blow up in his face. But…I’m not on your side. I know you’re in the right, but I’ve seen how my best friend is because of you, and anything that does that to him is on my shit list.”

Jared frowns, looks back down at the folded piece of paper in his hand. Even now, Jensen seems to be the only thing looking out for him. He sighs.

“Nice talking to ya, Chris.”

Chris gives him a distanced pat on the shoulder and they go their separate ways.

That night as he’s curling up in bed, Jared opens the scrap of paper and finds a cartoon instead of the usual notes Jensen writes him.

He scans over it, a drawing of Jensen as a worm getting the shit beat out of him by what Jared assumes must be karma. It’s not what he expected, but it’s Jensen’s sense of humor, self-deprecating enough that Jared feels a laugh bubble up and surprise him as it passes his lips.

He falls asleep that night in a better mood than he has in a long time, feeling like Jensen’s there with him.

For two weeks, Jared’s resolve has been wavering. Aside from the reports he’s been getting from friends about how Jensen’s doing—not well, according to everyone who’s seen him in the last month—Jared is just about done being able to stay away. Half of him is convinced Jensen will hurt him the moment he lets him back in; the other half has no idea how letting Jensen back in could possibly hurt more than trying to shut him out.

Unsurprisingly, it’s one of Jensen’s letters that finally does him in. Jared comes home one day to find a piece of paper lying out on his bed, black writing on white—Jensen’s hand writing. It’s not coded, it’s not clever, it’s not special at all. It looks rushed and desperate and honest. There are only four words written there, but they shake Jared more than anything else Jensen’s said, done, or written since he told Jared the truth.

I really miss you.

Jared reads it over a thousand times and feels a chunk of his heart floating back into place.

“Yeah, Jensen,” Jared says out loud to the empty room. “I really miss you, too.”

Jared considers letting himself into Jensen’s room—he still has the key, after all, and it would probably scare the shit out of Jensen. He decides against it last minute, wants to stick to tradition.

Jared watches Jensen come home from work that day, turning the corner, appearing at the end of the hallway where Jared can watch his expression change. Once upon a time, this was when Jensen’s mouth would form the shy smile Jared loves more than anything. Now, Jensen is thin and pale, and he freezes when he sees Jared. There’s no smile, no crow’s feet. He just looks scared and it’s so wrong, Jared wants to crush the moment and start all over.

“Hey,” Jared says, standing as Jensen approaches the door.

Jensen doesn’t answer. His eyes move over Jared too quickly, like he’s documenting every detail, trying to memorize him.

“I want you to apologize to me,” says Jared.

Jensen looks down. “I don’t know how else to tell you, Jared. I’ve tried everything.”

“Just tell me you’re sorry.”

“I am so, so sorry. You can’t imagine how—”

Jared takes his face between two hands and presses his lips to Jensen’s briefly. He leans his forehead on Jensen’s and swipes the pad of his thumbs over Jensen’s lips. “I accept. You’re forgiven. Don’t ever apologize to me about it again.”

Jensen looks like he doesn’t quite believe it, then leans back towards Jared, practically attacking his mouth. Jared stops him with a hand on his chest, and Jensen lets him have his lips, but begins to trail kisses on his jaw, his neck, Jared has a hard time pushing him away.

“Stop, Jensen, stop.”

Jensen freezes.

“We’re taking this slow, okay? I…I forgive you. And I trust you. But I’m not ready to…”

Jensen nods and takes his hand, squeezing it. Jared smiles just a little bit, and they have their first date in Jensen’s apartment, eating delivery and making fun of bad television. Just like old times.


Jared drops to the couch, letting out a long sigh as his sore muscles try to get used to the first twenty seconds all day he hasn’t spent running around. Jensen plops down next to him, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck.

“That wasn’t so bad, now was it?” he asks.

Jared opens one eye and uses it to glare at his boyfriend. “How dare you?”

Jensen laughs. “Don’t be a drama queen.”

“You didn’t have to move! All you had to do was throw away some extra shirts to make room for me in the closet.”

“I liked those shirts.”

Jared smirks, turning on Jensen and attacking him, until Jensen tumbles back onto the couch, Jared on top of him. “More than me?”

“They brought out my eyes.” Jensen makes a speculative face. “You don’t bring out my eyes.”

“Oh, you are insufferable.”

Jensen just smiles, cocky and unapologetic.

“I’ve been hauling shit up stairs all day,” Jared says, letting Jensen up and hoping for a little sympathy.

“Need I remind you, this was your idea?”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t get to bitch.”

Jensen laughs. “Want me to help? I’ll unload your crap and you can sit here and rest your abused little feet and later you can reward me with a blowjob.”

“Wow, Jensen. That’s really nice of you to offer yourself a blowjob on my behalf.”

“Well, I figured you deserve a little reward after this long, harrowing orde—”

Jensen’s cut short by a cushion to the face, and Jared realizes, this isn’t just the couch that he steals anymore. This is his couch to abuse now. Their couch. It feels good.

He can’t help a slightly manic smile as Jensen pushes the pillow away from his face. Jensen reaches out and gives Jared a firm kiss. “I’m gonna go clean up your mess.”

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Throw in a French maid costume and it’ll be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Jensen laughs and gives Jared’s thigh a light slap as he stands. Jared grabs the remote and turns on the TV, letting himself sink into whatever the fuck is on when the set comes to life. It sounds like one of those police crime shows Jared hates, but right now he’s too tired to care.

“Why?” Jared hears about twenty minutes later.

He opens his eyes and looks over to where Jensen is unpacking his things, realizes Jensen’s just found the box Jared used to stash all his old letters and gifts. He can’t help catching how unhappy Jensen looks as he picks the papers up and lets them fall back down after scanning them for a few seconds. Top of the pile must be the most recent, which means Jensen’s just found the letters he wrote while they weren’t talking.

“Why would you keep this shit?” he asks, looking at the entire box with disdain.

Jared frowns. “Because I love it,” he admits.

Jensen shakes his head. “No, Jared, I was awful to you. You shouldn’t…”

Jared stands and positions himself directly behind Jensen, taking a letter out of one hand and the robotic dog out of the other. “I love this stuff, Jensen. I love you, and I love that you made them for me.”

Jensen shakes his head. “I don’t want it here,” he says. “I’m sorry. We’re supposed to be starting over, and I can’t with that here.”

Jared shrugs. “My parents can take this box, Jensen. It’s not a problem.”

Jensen nods, pacified, as Jared presses a kiss into his neck.

“But my little robo dog stays.”

Jensen just laughs at him.


Author’s Note: I said I would never in my life write a college AU. Open mouth, insert foot. In my defense, this was for charity. All blame should go to the ridiculously beautiful feathertofly who asked for: “High School or College AU: Someone keeps leaving mix tapes in Jared's stuff (dorm room or backpack/locker) and he doesn't know who, but he wants to. (aka the one where Jensen is sort of a creeper, but he's hotter than hell so it's okay.)” I was going to write another of your prompts, but one day I was lamenting the fact that no one had ever written a J2 fic based on Cyrano de Bergerac (at least to my knowledge), and then I went “heeeyyy, wait a minute” and now I present to you, Jensen de Bergerac. I am sorry, universe. Oh, am I sorry. Title taken from the play (well, it’s a quote from the film version because decent translations of the play are hard to find online, sue me). If Cyrano is a real band, I know nothing about it—I’m just making references to the play because I’m a nerd. Same thing goes for Rostand University, which I made up because I didn’t feel like researching which colleges have really spectacular engineering programs. Cass, I didn’t completely stick to your prompt, but I did write you a college AU, which clearly means I really, really love you. Thanks to the lovely peppervl for betaing for me. Finally, I want to thank yourkidney so, so much for her awesome help. She swept in and told me what things my little engineering majors could do to impress each other and what they could not do and basically helped me make this a more believable story (hopefully). Oh, and when you get to the cartoon—pretend it’s better than it is, okay? Cyrano!Jensen is definitely a less dismal artist than I am, but I figured it might be fun to try drawing it instead of more describing.
Tags: other media: fanart, real person fic: cw, to kiss the sweet rose

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