Their first meeting goes something like this.
"Hey man, I'm Jared, nice to meet you; you're Jensen Ackles, right? Dude, I have your posters all over my walls, well, had them; my little sister came and took 'em all back when she heard I got to look at you every day. Like, I never really watched soaps or any of that shit, but you fucking kicked ass on Dark Angel; Alec was the fucking shit, man! You got to be all smart and kickass—oh, hey, that's probably why they call it 'smartass,' ain't it? Bet that was fuckin' fun to play, man. I was on Gilmore Girls; my character's name was Dean, too, but I wasn't cool or any of that shit, I just played some dork who got to make out with Lexi and sock Chad once, but man, who doesn't dream of slugging him at least a couple of times, right? Hey, would it be weird if I asked you for an autograph so I can prove to my sister and her friends and my jackass brother that you aren't some drugged-out coke dream fueled by the pressures of Hollywood—Vancouver, really, I guess—getting to me?"
"...Was any of that English?"
Their first day of shooting is almost ruined by Jensen's inability to sleep like he's people.
Call time is five-fifteen, and at ten to five, the van is still sitting in front of his hotel. The driver is on the phone with Kripke—"Please, call me Master"—and Jared is laying in the leg space between the seat with his feet shuffling restlessly on the ceiling.
There are five more worried phone calls—three to his room and two to his cell—before some scrawny bellhop comes out and tells them to move their van. Jared can't get back to sleep, and he can hear Kripke on the other end of the driver's phone, screaming and freaking out in general.
It takes some maneuvering, but Jared manages to roll himself over and belly-crawls out of the van before making his way to the front desk. Getting a new key to Jensen's room is ridiculously easy, and Jared is baffled as to why Jensen doesn't check in under an alias. Though, given, Jared's motivation is less because he's afraid of being discovered by a horde of fans and more because he gets a kick out of answering to "Mr. Bond."
Jared's rehearsing the conversation he's going to have with Jensen about why he should probably lock his door at night when he makes his way into the suite. The conversation is quickly derailed when he sees Jensen stretched across the bed, one arm thrown out with the other tucked under his back. His legs look like they must be broken—there's no other way for them to bend like that—and he's completely tangled in the comforter. He thinks about grabbing a chair and launching himself feet-first onto Jensen, but he stops himself when he realizes that A, Jensen is only playing his big brother, and B, Jensen is not 6'7" like Jared's real big brother and will probably snap in half. So he settles for the next best thing.
Jared mostly misses Jensen's errant arm when he pounces on the bed with a loud yell of, "Come on, Jennybear, rise and shine! Time to wake up, Jenny!"
Unfortunately for Jared, Jensen's aim is way better than his, even half asleep. Jensen's roll is too quick for Jared's still sleepy eyes to follow, and it's only the simultaneous knee to his kidney and fist slamming into his head that make Jared think twice about jumping on people who are, basically, strangers, to wake them up.
"Dang, boy, what the fuck?"
Jensen's hair is half-flattened, and his face has pink-red creases from his pillow on it. There's a crusted path of drool leading from his mouth to his cheek and then down to his chin. One eye is squeezed shut, and the other is squinting. The sound he makes isn't exactly human; it reminds Jared of the orcs from Lord of the Rings, fresh-made and mad as hell.
"Um. Good morning, starshine?"
They start shooting two hours late, a great start considering that just a few hours earlier, most everyone was afraid their new star had overdosed or killed a hooker and ran off to hide the body.
Sadly for everyone, but mostly for Jensen and Jared, shooting went ridiculously long to make up for it. Kripke was a champ, though, a real king, and let them leave at only a little past midnight.
Jared doesn't remember all the details. He was sore and achy and fucking tired, and one moment they're on the I-5 after dropping Jensen off at his hotel, and the next thing he knows, Jensen is screaming like a maniac next to the van—and when the fuck did they go back to his hotel?—about evil technology and high school dropouts. Apparently, Jensen couldn't get into his room and couldn't show ID to prove he was himself—because it was in the room with all the rest of his important things, because Jensen apparently is not an actual human until he's been awake for at least four hours—so he was stranded until Kripke or whoever was in charge of their rooms managed to get the hotel to do something.
It's about one by the time Jensen seems to give up, quits his fit, and decides that declaring to the world at large that he's going to lie down on the couch right there in the lobby and sleep until someone makes him move is a good idea.
"Shut the fuck up, you big drama queen. Just come crash in my room already. Makin' me miss my sleep just because you don't know how to open a fuckin' door..." He's not sure if Jensen can even understand him. There's Texas, and then there's Texas, and neither one of them is even slightly coherent right now.
When Jensen's jacket hits his face, Jared figures he was understood. Rather than try and pick a fight, he just wads the soft fabric into a pillow and kicks his legs over Jensen, making himself as comfortable as he can in the van.
During the elevator ride up to Jared's room, Jared refuses to give back Jensen's jacket, and the eleven floor ride is spent in a half-assed, inept game of tug-of-war that ends with Jared falling ass first onto his floor when Jensen suddenly lets go. Jared vows revenge from his spot on the cold tile, and Jensen only kicks him a little as he walks over him.
Once they're in the suite, after Jared has moved the coffee table and all the crap he's managed to pile on the floor in such a short time, they discover that the fold-out couch isn't. It's just a pretty looking couch with shitty cushions and no excuse for the giant pain in the ass—and back, and neck—Jared gets every time he sits on it . "Guess you got the couch anyway, huh, dude? I think there's an extra blanket here. Feel free to hunt."
"Fuck that shit; I'm not sleeping on the couch!"
"It's my room!"
"Dude, I'm a middle child. I will hissy fit all over this damn room until you give in and I get the bed. You might as well just save time and forfeit now."
"I'm a middle child, too, and I'm not sleeping on that short-ass thing." The staring contest doesn't even last a full minute; Jared yawns, and Jensen twitches, and they split it down the middle. Literally.
"Whatever, I've got left side."
Jared's already sitting on his side of the bed, trying to make his fingers understand how to undo the double-knots in his laces. "Good with me. I sleep on the right, anyway."
Jensen's pants are already undone and halfway down his ass when he asks, "You don't mind if I sleep in my jockeys, right?"
"Hey, man, sleep naked for all I care. I don't know how I'm still awake and talking right now."
That combination of words seemed to be some magic key because when Jared blinks his eyes open, he's flat out across the bed, and Jensen is smacking his stomach lightly. "Come on, Jay, wake up. Don't make me take off your pants when you're asleep, dude, I don't see any good kind of relationship starting out with this."
"Did you know that Luke kidnapped Laura and raped her before they fell in love?"
"My momma made me watch The Soap Network with her when I told her about the show, " Jared says blearily, rubbing his eyes. "Soap operas are scary, dude."
"You can say that again."
"Soap operas are scary, dude," Jared repeats, giggling a little.
"So if I rape you, by your soap-stained logic, we'll live happily ever after?" Jensen asks. He sounds confused or disturbed or tired or something. Jared's barely awake; thoughts like tone are confusing to him right now.
"Well, when you say it like that, it just sounds weird."
"How about you take off your own pants and we'll just hate each other from now on, okay?" Jensen tries to compromise.
"Can I hate you in secret?" Jared asks. He doesn't think he can hate Jensen, so if he promises to hate him in secret, then he can like him and just pretend.
"Can you keep a secret? I've known you less than two days, and you've already told me every bad prank you ever pulled in high school."
Jared makes a scoffing noise, followed by a gurgle that he thinks was meant to convey words. He fumbles with his belt and shucks his pants down, kicking them off the bed and halfway across the room. Jared climbs over to his side of the bed and snuggles into three pillows and much more than his half of the blankets. Jensen doesn't complain—probably because he's tired like a normal person for once.
Jared hears rustling and grunting—almost definitely Jensen getting some degree of undressed. Jared keeps his eyes closed because he respects Jensen's privacy and, more importantly, he is not a masochist. There's a tugging at the comforter, and Jared keeps his death grip on it until he decides he wants the pillows more and loosens his grip.
Jared is almost asleep a few minutes later when Jensen suddenly smacks him across the chest. "Dude, Jared. Jared! You don't, like, cuddle in your sleep or anything, do you? Jared?"
The only response Jensen gets is a sound somewhere between a mostly fake snore and a cough.
For the record, Jared is not a sleep cuddler.
He is, however, an occasional sleep kicker, as evidenced by the size fourteen heel print right in the middle of Jensen's sternum when he wakes up on the floor in the morning.
This starts a pattern that continues throughout all the rest of filming.
Jensen oversleeps, Jared gets the scrawny red-headed guy working graveyard to give him a key—which deactivates Jensen's own room key—and goes to wake him up. They work late, and the same scrawny red-headed guy who thinks Jensen is nineteen feet tall with floppy hair refuses to give Jensen a working card, so Jensen crashes with Jared and wakes up with some random bruise somewhere on his body and then spends his lunch being driven to his hotel so he can get a working key before the "stupid little bastard" gets to work. Jensen sleeps in his own room and is woken up by Jared, and then the cycle starts itself again.
It never occurs to either of them for Jared to just give Jensen his working card.
By some miracle of coffee and icy water, Jensen is awake and mildly coherent when they pick him up on the fourth day. He and Jared make small talk about late night TV, older brothers, younger sisters, the 'Boys, the Mavs, the Spurs, and a dozen other subjects for about a sentence each.
"You live here in LA, right?"
"Yeah," Jared says. "I mean, not really. I got a house here and shit, but I'm kinda all over the place between here and my Momma and Daddy's and Chad's place and all that. But—"
"But you have a house here, right?"
"Why're you staying in a hotel then?"
"Oh, man, three am wakeups are not my friend. I'm, like, conscious and shit, but I don't wanna, like, wake up and hop in my car and go crashing into a Starbucks or something because I'm still half asleep and shit. What about you, I know you got a place here. Why ain't you there?"
"Stalking me, Padalecki?"
"Yeah. And you need to water your plants more; the fichus by the window looks half-dead."
"Dude. Are you psychic?"
"Seriously? I was right?"
"No, dumbass. I don't even have plastic plants."
"Man, shut up. Seriously, what's the matter, broke the key to your apartment?"
"Fuck you. And yes, I have a place here. But man, fuck that shit. Free room with someone else making your bed and cleaning up after you? Like I'm gonna pass that shit up."
Jared snorts and manages to find the energy to roll his eyes. "Lazy ass motherfucker."
"Choosy moms choose Jif." Jared doesn't need to open his eyes to see the questioning look on Jensen's face. "Peanut butter. Y'know, Skippy, Jif, that Peter Pan one."
"Yeah, man." Jensen yawns. "I got that. I watched TV growing up, too."
If anyone asked him, Jared wouldn't be able to say exactly why he smiled at that.
After fifteen days straight of shooting, they finally wrap. It has been fifteen days of waking up way before the ass-crack of dawn, working sixteen hour work days, and doing take after take after take until their will to live is almost but not quite extinguished. Jared is glad it's finally over. Not just so he can get some rest, but because it was starting to look like Jensen might set fire to the set and then jump in from the tallest building or tree or moose or something.
Jared couldn't make himself watch the dailies. He always ended up begging for just one more take, so when Kripke asks if they want to see a very shitty, very pasted together version of the pilot, Jared all but runs screaming in the other direction. This works in his favor, though, because if not for that, he never would've caught Jensen as he finished clearing out the last of his things from his temporary trailer.
The goodbye is awkward, neither of them willing to say the words because of some bone-deep superstition that it will jinx them, will mean they won't get picked up and this will be the end of the ride. They joke and kid and trade numbers, they say they'll call, and when they go to leave, Jared loses his mind. He tries to resist, tries not to do it, but he just can't help himself. Chad fucking warned him—"Don't fucking hug anyone, dude. Hollywood doesn't do that. And you creep people out, too."—but he just couldn't resist.
It's the longest, most awkward ten seconds of Jared's life. When they break, and Jared heads into his trailer, it's all he can do not to slam his head into the wall repeatedly.
It's the beginning of May, about a week or two before Upfronts, when Jared gets word that the WB wants them to start filming again.
It's not a full season, not even the standard thirteen—they just want them to start filming and go until the network says stop. He's only really been on Gilmore Girls, so he has no idea if that's good or not, but no one looks like they're about to kill themselves in the office, so he figures it's not bad.
A week later someone's assistant's assistant's assistant's secretary calls Jared to tell him to be in New York for Upfronts.
Chad makes fun of him, of course, but he has every fucking right to freak out. He's never really been on stage at the Upfronts before; that was Alexis and Lauren's thing.
It's kinda cool, though. Jensen's even more awesome than he remembers, which Jared seriously did not think was even possible, and he doesn't seem to mind the fact that Jared can't seem to shut up for even three seconds the entire night.
Jensen's girlfriend is even awesome, which is unfair on about fifteen levels. She speaks Polish, she's big on animal rights, and she's absolutely hilarious.
Sandy almost deafens him when he tells her this the next day on the phone.
"She was Maxim's model of the year last year! I can't believe you didn't tell me you were meeting her."
"It's not like I called Jensen up and asked if he had a hot girlfriend to bring."
"Next thing you go to, you're bringing me with."
"She's dating Jensen, I'm pretty sure you aren't gonna get anywhere with her."
"Yeah, and I'm dating you. Ask me how much I love your dick."
Jared doesn't actually remember most of the All Stars thing. There were probably cameras involved at some point. And execs. Jensen was probably there, too. He knows they had alcohol.
All Stars is so fucking much more fun when he doesn't have to spend a half an hour proving he's legal every time he wants a drink.
And apparently, according to Sandy, he climbed Jensen like a tree. Which isn't exactly unexpected, but Jensen didn't freak out. Which just rocks.
Jared finds out they got picked up for a full run a few weeks before his birthday. He's laying on the sofa in his momma and daddy's house, Sadie on the floor in between the couch and the table and Harley sprawled over him and drooling on his chest. His cell rings, and he blames the heat and being tired on why he didn't bother to check the caller ID.
When he's told they've been picked up for the season, his response is, "You know what, Chad? Fuck you. You're a fucking douchebag. This shit wasn't funny yesterday or the day before or last week. Quit it with the fucking calls already, or I swear I'm gonna come down there and drown you in a lake."
Fifteen minutes later, his phone rings again, and this time it's Kripke—Eric—on the other line. The combination of mortification and excitement causes Jared to leap from the couch. His haste causes him to forget two very vital things: Harley, who was asleep on him and who immediately clawed and scrambled in an attempt to not plummet to the ground, and Sadie, who had the bad misfortune of being asleep right where Jared's feet came down. Between the dogs barking and Jared flailing and yelling, he manages to overturn the couch and send himself through his momma's good glass coffee table.
Jared showed up to his first day on his brand new TV show with four stitches in his ass and a big pink donut to sit on. Jensen glues sprinkles to it during lunch, and Jared blows nine takes of emo because he can't stop giggling over Sam's newly iridescent pants.
They aren't even four days into filming the second episode, and they've already got six quasi-interviews under their belts, though, given, the interviews are less about the upcoming show and more about their past roles. Jared's tired and hungry, and he swears that if one more person needs to ask "just one question" while he tries to make it to the food tent, he will throw himself on the ground and start kicking and screaming for his bottle. Or a pastrami and swiss on rye with mustard. And a steak. He could really go for a steak.
Sadly, the caterers have no steak, so Jared settles for three sandwiches, a salad, a small bag of Fritos, and two oranges. Had he known that the very second he sat down, Jensen would appear from whatever interdimensional portal he uses to get around and start stealing food off his plate, he would have grabbed more.
"Dude, you're laying it on way too thick."
Jared looks around for a moment and can't help but wonder if maybe he started slathering butter on his sandwich while he wasn't looking. He didn't. "What?"
"All that shit about Sandy. 'I met my girlfriend when we were working on Cry_Wolf, isn't she hot?' and 'yeah, when I was working on that movie I met my girlfriend, Sandy. Man, I love her so much! She's the love of my life!' 'I have a girlfriend, and she's totally hot, and I totally love her, and we totally have tons of manly straight sex, and the only cock I want anywhere near my body is mine.'" It's not the best imitation of himself that Jared's ever heard—way too high-pitched and just this side of lisping—but sadly, it's not the worst one, either.
"I don't say 'totally' that much."
Jensen snorts, and Jared's eyes can't help but follow the small bit of ranch-covered carrot that goes flying out of his mouth and into what is now Jensen's salad. "You know, most guys wouldn't focus on that part of the conversation."
"Is it still a conversation if you're just talking at me?"
"We've got two more interviews this afternoon, Godzilla. I'm just trying to give you some pointers. It's cool if you're bearding it up and all—I'd be a hypocrite to judge. I'm just saying that all that overcompensation crap sends off sirens. Next time try for less Tom Cruise and more Justin Timberlake."
"Wait, you're gay?"
"Nothing that looks this good is straight."
Jared freezes with his sandwich halfway to his mouth. "That's the saddest thing I've ever heard in my life. You stole that from a TV show, didn't you?"
"Or a movie, whatever. I'm only half gay, really."
"Front half or back?"
"I bet that was funny in your head, wasn't it?"
"Shut up. And Sandy's not my beard. I'm hers."
Jensen's mouth is, thankfully, empty this time when he scoffs. "Bullshit."
"No, seriously, her publicist set it up. He seems to think that guys don't like chicks they don't think they have a shot with, and lesbians aren't exactly big fans of dick."
"The dude's obviously gay."
"And stupid," Jared adds. "Guys fucking love lesbians."
"Straight guys, at least."
"Bi ones, too, apparently," Jared points out.
"True, true," Jensen agrees.
"Speaking of lesbians, you know I have to ask."
"No, I wanna ask if your other girlfriend likes to muff dive."
Jensen scoffs at him. "Joanna's not my girlfriend."
"Seriously? Oh, duh," he says, feeling supremely stupid. "The hypocrite thing."
"No, dude, she's not my beard. We're friends. Sometimes we fuck, but we don't really date. She's better arm candy than Chris, and she doesn't get drunk and fuck as many random strangers as him, either."
Jared nods his head like he has any idea at all who Chris is, while debating with himself if he should get more food or not. He's not exactly hungry, but he's not full, either.
"And?" Jensen prompts him. Jared has no idea what he's being prompted for.
"And. Come on, man, tell me."
"Tell you what?"
"I just told you I swing both ways; now it's your turn," Jensen says, looking expectant, "You're dating a lesbian, for fuck's sake. You're about as straight as I am, admit it."
"I'm less straight, actually."
"...Oh. Well, fuck you; I had this whole thing worked out to get you to confess for nothing."
Jensen shrugs. "Eh, not a big deal. But now I've got a week and a half with nothing to do."
"I could always fake being straight, and you could go back to trying to wheedle it out of me?"
"Nah, may as well just move on to phase two."
"Don't worry about it. There's only minimal risk of physical harm involved."
Jared shrugs and fishes a baby tomato out of the salad. It's almost to his mouth before he remembers the carrot and drops it back into the Styrofoam bowl. "S'less risk than everything else I do."
"Judging by the donut, I'd have to say you're probably right about that."
They sit in silence for a few minutes, smacking each other's hands away from food and chewing quietly. "You do know—" Jensen pauses and sucks something from his teeth before spitting it out and starting again. So attractive. "You do know that she's your beard, right?"
"She is not," Jared says.
"You're gay, and you have a girlfriend," Jensen says slowly. "She's your beard."
"She's not my beard," Jared says back, just as slow. "I don't even have a boyfriend." It's like Jensen doesn't know anything.
Jensen stares at Jared for a long moment. "While I'm sure that makes sense on Planet Jared, it means nothing here on Earth. Beard."
"Does, too," Jared argues, distracted. There's a PA on the other side of the set who's either taken up jumping jacks or has been trying to get their attention for a while now. "Come on," he says, swatting at Jensen's arm lightly. "I think I see Nutter sharpening knives for us. We better get back on set."
"Yeah, whatever," Jensen scoffs, getting up. "Does not."
"Does, too." Jared spits out his gum, mentally sliding himself into Sam's headspace.
"Really, really does not." Jensen grins back at him. It's all teeth and no eye-crinkles—almost Dean, but with enough Jensen that Jared misses his cue in all of the first three takes because he can't stop thinking about it.
Jensen snatches the bagel right out of Jared's hand and takes a bite, tearing off a large chunk before handing it back.
"I know there are more bagels around here somewhere."
"Yeah, but yours already has cream cheese on it. Next time, don't forget the jelly, though."
"I don't like jelly. It's messy, and I get it all over, and then wardrobe yells at me and makes me change."
"My mom asked me if I had romance with you."
Jared pauses with the bagel halfway to his mouth. "What?"
"She talks like she's from movies, right?"
"Your mom thinks we're fucking?"
"Don't be so crude," Jensen says. "She wants to know if we have romance. I told her you're a bad boyfriend who doesn't bring me flowers. I also gave her your number, so beware of Richardson area codes."
"But we aren't going out. Are we?" Jared is pretty sure he would notice if they were. Dating Jensen would be a memorable thing like that. Or something.
"You never take me out anymore," Jensen says. It's not really a complaint, but it's so deadpan that Jared is actually a little impressed, despite himself.
"You fellate coffee cups and growl at fans," Jared taunts him, sliding back into familiar territory.
Jensen scoffs. "Even I can't fellate a coffee cup."
"No wonder we aren't going out." It's out of Jared's mouth before he thinks about it.
Jensen raises an eyebrow in a look that's half Dean, and Jared can't help but be jealous. Only two weeks into real filming, and Jensen already has movements and tics that are all Dean, whereas the only things Jared has that scream Sam are a deeper voice and the annoyed face Meggy made at him for nearly six years straight.
"If your dick is as big as a coffee cup, you need to see a doctor because someone you fucked had something very wrong with them," Jensen tells him.
Jared squashes his first instinct, because his Momma taught him right, and instead responds, "He said that the sores were from riding horses."
"I'm sure they were, Seabiscuit," Jensen laughs at him, ripping off another huge chunk of bagel.
Jared waits until he gets half of it in his mouth before saying, "They weren't that infected. The pus was more like a thin vanilla shake. It wasn't, like, cream cheese thick or anything."
Jensen pauses mid-chew, and Jared knows that face well from his own big brother. He knows Jensen's trying to decide if he's bothered enough to stop eating.
"And, I mean, it's not like they smelled that bad. It didn't really bother me until I was going down on him because, you know, when you're down there, you're already waiting for things, so if one of those bur—"
Jensen spits the bagel out right there, little half-chewed bits of it bouncing off of Dean's boots, and shoves the uneaten part back on Jared's plate. "Sick fuck. Keep your bagel, then. I don't want it anyway."
Jared can't hold back the cackle, and he doesn't even try when Jensen pushes himself off the table and walks away.
He's laughing so hard that he almost doesn't hear his phone ringing. A number he doesn't know with a 214 area code flashes across the screen, and he stops laughing.
"You gave her my number?" Jared yells across the tent. Jensen pumps a fist in the air as he continues walking, and Jared's pretty sure that he can hear Jensen's own evil laughter exiting craft services with him.
Shooting wraps early. The last of the day's shots are finished, so there's a full twenty-six hours before they have to be back on set again. Jared's relaxing in the van, last night's PJs still too thin against the unexpected wind.
Jensen climbs in, fully dressed with actual shoes and not just ratty old slippers, like he's the one who's the morning person. Jared thinks he probably still wins, though, because Jensen's shoes are boring and grey, and his are fuzzy and pink.
"You didn't really go down on someone infected, did you?"
Jared's eyes dart to their driver, not because he's worried—even Jared can't crash a car that hasn't started yet—but because he doesn't want to scare the poor girl. To her credit, she doesn't even seem to acknowledge that there's anyone else in the car with her.
"I have better taste than that."
Jensen settles in next to him in the second row, legs kicked up on the backs of the first row. His left knee is touching Jared's right, and even though his calf is cramping a little, Jared doesn't have the willpower to move. "Pun intended, of course," Jensen says, handing him a huge Styrofoam cup.
Jared takes a tiny sip and burns his taste buds. Hot chocolate. "Of course."
"Good," Jensen says, gulping down what's probably half of his equally large cup of coffee. Jared absently wonders if Jensen's tongue is burned and sandpaper-rough like his. "'Cause I don't think I can bring myself to fuck someone who is clearly way too stupid to consent."
Jared snorts; he can't help it. "Please, like you've ever topped before."
"Not unless you're infected," Jared says. "Lack of pus is a deal breaker for me."
"Damn. Guess I'm gonna have to call up that skeezy dude from your movie."
Jared rolls his eyes. "Chad's not that skeezy."
"And yet, you knew it was him I was talking about."
Jared takes another sip, the hot chocolate no longer scalding. "He didn't really fuck Paris, you know."
Jensen just smirks, head tilted back and eyes closed behind his ridiculously cool aviators. "Sure."
They ride in silence for a while after that. The silence not exactly comfortable, but it's by no means awkward.
The van pulls up to a stop, some traffic accident involving a Volkswagen. Jared looks out the window. "Is that a moose?"
Jensen doesn't even open his eyes. "Smallville set. Probably Lana's newest stalker."
"It's much hotter than the last guy they got," Jared teases.
"Yeah, that dude looked like the north end of a south-bound mule."
"Completely hideous," Jared agrees.
They start moving again—at more than five miles an hour, even—and the quiet is easier this time, calmer.
Jared's phone start vibrating in his right slipper, and he doesn't bother trying to move to get it. "Thanks for giving your mom my number, by the way."
"My pleasure. Thanks for telling Kripke you think I'm bulimic."
Jared doesn't even try to stop the grin pushing itself forward. "Anything I can do to help you in this difficult time of need."
"They're hiring me a nutritionist."
"Your momma has my cell number."
"They're probably gonna turn Dean into a pig now because you told them I shove my finger down my throat."
"That's not true," he objects. "I told him I saw you throwing up behind craft services."
"I was throwing up because of your sick-ass story."
"Yeah, I might have forgotten to mention that part."
"You're a dick," Jensen says, with no real anger in his voice.
"Your momma asked me if I 'practiced proper hygiene.' In my ass."
The driver snorts at this, a small huff of air, followed by what is clearly stifled laughter.
Jensen doesn't bother trying to stifle his. "Okay, yeah," he pants out. "You probably win that one."
The night shoots just plain suck.
Jared can't bring himself to ask Jordan to fuck up his sleep schedule just because Jared's gonna be nocturnal for two days, and he can't just leave them alone. From previous attempts, he knows that Harley won't sleep if there isn't a person to lie on and that Sadie will get into everything, probably to entertain Harley.
She knocked over his bedroom TV the last time Jared spent a full night out—he tries not to crate them unless he absolutely has to because they look so betrayed when he lets them out—and Jared nearly had a heart attack when he saw the blood on his carpet. It was only a small cut on one of Harley's hind legs, but it could have been worse.
So he takes them with him to set.
Jensen gets picked up first, something that Jared will never not find fucking hilarious, so by the time the van arrives, he's already half asleep again, face smushed into the far window. Jared stands there for a few minutes, trying to figure out how to get Sadie and Harley into the back row without them slamming into the back of Jensen's seat.
It's moot, though, because Jensen isn't as asleep as he looks.
"I didn't know it was take your kids to work day," he says. "I would've brought a couple of cheeseburgers or something."
He knows Jensen's being mostly sarcastic, but it doesn't stop the little flip thing his stomach's been doing for the last week. "Jordan, the guy who watches them during the day, can't stay here all night because he's got this crazy girlfriend who thinks she's his fiancée, and I can't leave them alone because last—"
Jensen flaps his hand around while making some half-duck face, and Jared laughs because he realizes Jensen's trying to do Dean's "stop" hand from the Pilot. "I am nowhere near awake enough to understand any words coming out of your mouth, much less care about them. Just get in here so I can go back to sleep, okay? There's no way your sasquatch ass can get back there without someone needing to call for the jaws of life."
"That was a pretty big monologue for someone who says they're asleep. I think you're secretly a morning person, aren't you, Jensen? You're up with the sun and singing to the birds like Mary Poppins, right?"
Jensen flips him off and curls back into the window. Jared herds the kids into the van, Sadie first with Harley following her faithfully, and then climbs in himself to play the lamest, most un-fun game of live action Tetris ever.
Sadie's usually good and tends to fall asleep as soon as she gets in a car, so Jared doesn't feel guilty about ignoring her for the moment. He has to make sure Harley doesn't make them crash while he stakes out this brand new place and its new smells.
Harley settles down in a few minutes, snug half under the seats, tail thump, thump, thumping happily against Jared's ankle. Sadie's got herself snuggled up on the seat, stretched long so Jared has to lift her hind legs to have somewhere to sit. She's got her snout buried in the bend of Jensen's far arm with a paw digging into his stomach and the other close enough to Jensen's crotch that Jared's squirming in sympathy.
"Sorry," he says, whispering more because of Sadie than Jensen. "They get all narcoleptic when they see people sleeping. I'll take her."
Jensen smacks his hand—smacks it like he's a little kid reaching for the cookies—and scritches between Sadie's ears with his free hand. "She's my little nap buddy," Jensen says. "Aren't you, baby girl?"
"You're gonna spoil her, you know."
"Whatever, I bet you feed them right from the table, don't you?"
"Can't do that; if you feed 'em from the table, they get confused about where their food comes from. That's how come you get them begging at the table for food, 'cause they think that's where you feed them from."
"I'd mock you if I could remember the name of the guy who brings all the animals on Leno."
"Jack Hannah. You watch Leno?" Jared asks, cocking an eyebrow at him. "I figured you for Letterman."
"It's funnier when he bombs than when Letterman does. What about you, you don't really think he's funnier, do you?"
Jared shrugs, "His set is brighter. Letterman's is depressing." It might be lame and kind of dumb, but it's the truth.
Jensen doesn't say anything, and when Jared glances over, Jensen's staring at him. "You are a very odd duck, Padalecki."
Jared has a couple of comebacks for that one, including pointing out that Jensen talks just like his nana, but he bites them all back. "Quack, quack."
Jared laughs and tries to block the chapstick Jensen throws at him.
"How's Hoover Boy doing? Is he just as hot in person?"
Jared hates Sandy, he really does. He has no idea why he still picks up the phone for her. "Don't call him that."
"You of all people should know that is so not an insult, Jared. And you called him it first. I'm not going to change his name just because you actually know him now."
"I was drunk."
"And it serves you right."
Jared groans as he flops down on the bed. His body aches too much to even work up the brain power for that one. "What does that even mean?"
"Exactly," she says, and he hangs up on her. She's worse than Chad, he fucking swears it. Even Chad knows better than to call right after work ends. Sandy's just evil. The phone rings again, and Jared sighs.
"Just because Sofia-with-an-F won't go down on you doesn't mean you get to call me up and torture me."
"You're just being bitchy because your big, gay, ass-crush doesn't want to have babies with you."
"Ass-crush?" Jared asks, distracted. Harley's standing by the door, his nose just poking around the corner. Jared switches ears and pats the bed. Harley trots over and hops up, licking Jared's face.
"You want his ass. Ass-crush."
"I'm tired, and I want to go to sleep. Leave me alone. Please?" Jared is aware that he sounds like a five-year-old, but he can't seem to make himself care. He's been up since four and just spent three of his nine hours at work falling over logs and sliding down rocks because he has all the coordination of a drunken monkey.
"You're usually more fun than this."
Jared scoots up on the bed and lies down against the pillows, curled on his side. Harley follows after, fitting himself up against Jared's chest, face tucked under his armpit. "Usually I only have a bunch of words to memorize. Now I have to say weird shit like 'wendigo' and try not to knock my eye out with a shotgun."
"I don't think I like you when you haven't slept."
"Then let me sleep."
"It's only four."
"Don't care, sleeping now, love you, don't call till morning."
The ringing of his phone is what wakes Jared up. He's tempted not to answer it—he's comfy where he is with Harley on one side, Sadie panting on the other—but the damn thing is a foot away from his head and loud as shit.
He doesn't answer it somebody better be dead because the one time he ever did, it was his momma on the other end, and she told him off so bad that his ass hurt in sympathy. "Please be something important."
"Hell yeah, it's important. I'm bored, and the fucking crapass TV in this room won't hook up to the DVD player. I'm coming over to steal yours, okay?"
"No, it's Eric. I'm flying up from LA to use your TV for two hours." Jensen's voice sounds weird, higher than usual and kind of scratchy. It occurs to Jared that he has no idea what time it is, so he glances at the clock and groans.
"Is it six am or six pm?" Jared asks, scrubbing his hand over his face.
"If it were six am, we'd be on the way to work right now."
"Shut up, I'm tired. What's about my TV?"
"What's about your TV?"
"What's this about my TV." It's not a question, just a correction."I just woke up. Don't make me hang up on you. I'm pretty sure that would prove Sandy's point somehow."
"Nothing. The TV?"
"Oh, right. I'm bored, and I want to watch a movie, so I need to come borrow your TV."
"Why for my TV?"
"Did I really wake you up?"
"I'm good, I'm good," Jared makes himself sit up. "Okay. So you want to come watch a movie because... you can't watch a movie?"
"The DVD player won't hook up to my TV because my hotel is shitty. So I'm coming over there."
"Yeah, okay," Jared agrees, yawning loudly. "Oh, hang on, lemme check my TV first."
"Don't wanna make you come all the way over here if mine's like yours," Jared says, trying to work his way off the bed. It'd probably be easier if he didn't have to climb over a sleeping German Shepherd without waking her up. He swings a leg over, trying to hop over her, and misjudges where the floor is, landing with a hard, bed-shaking thump.
There's a small voice yelling Jared's name from his phone, now lost somewhere around the bed. His ribs ache surprisingly bad for such a short fall.
"The fuck was up with that, man?" Jensen asks when Jared finds his phone again, trapped after having landed in last night's underwear.
"Nothing," Jared groans, pushing himself off the floor. "I'm good. 'M good, 'm fine. S'just a little fall."
"You sure about that? Cause it sounded kind of like when Godzilla crashes through Tokyo. Without all the screaming Asians."
"You forgot to mention the bad dubbing."
"If you can't see them, it isn't badly dubbed."
"Huh? But... you're watching a movie. Why wouldn't you see them?" There's nothing but silence on the other end of the line. "Is it 'cause I'm on the phone?"
Jensen's laughing on the other end of the line, cracking up and wheezing into the phone. "Dude, I'm never gonna let you live this down."
"Live what down?" Jared asks, moving the TV on the dresser. "Well, fuck. Mine doesn't have A/V jacks either. Guess you're shit outta luck."
"Yeah," Jared says, crawling back on the bed and laying his head on Harley's stomach. "Bummer. What did you wanna watch, anyway?"
"It's this football movie. S'called..." Jensen starts, trailing off for a moment. "The Receivers."
"You woke me up because you wanted to watch a football movie?"
"Yeah. It's queer cinema. You know, coming of age story, young kid in the closet, all that stuff."
"A queer football movie called The Receivers?" Jared pauses for a moment to let his brain process this. "You know it's probably porn, right? Bad porn, at that."
Jensen doesn't say anything for a moment, and it takes everything Jared has not to laugh at him. "I thought it would be like The Replacements. But gay."
"The Replacements is pretty gay."
"Yeah, but too much tit for you, right?"
"You wish," Jensen laughs.
There's an extremely awkward moment of silence there before Jared's brain clicks over and reminds him to say something. "You wish."
"What are you, twelve?" Jensen hardly pauses before continuing. "I'm bored. Let's go get something to eat."
"You eat when you're bored? No wonder you make yourself throw up."
"Whatever, man, come on. Don't act like you aren't hungry. You're always hungry."
Jared can't argue that one. "Okay, so maybe I eat a little bit. There's nothing wrong with that."
"Absolutely not, let's go eat."
"I was sleeping. Why do you wanna make me move and do things?"
Jensen makes this sound, something like a sigh or a grunt. It could be Harley, though. "Dude, come on. It's Wednesday. Don't make me be that creepy, pathetic guy waiting for the table for one in the middle of the week."
"Ooh, you're gonna take me somewhere with tables? Fancy."
There's another silence on the phone, but this one doesn't last as long. "Where do you eat that they don't have tables?"
"There are drive-throughs."
"You're a cheap date, aren't you?"
"I'm a classy whore. I don't put out for less than steak."
"Then I guess we're going to a steakhouse."
"You are really committed to your jokes, aren't you?" Jared asks, trying to decide between the porterhouse and double cut prime rib.
"You're the one who mentioned steak first, asshole. I had a taste for it."
"Uh-huh, sure you did."
"Fuck you. A man can crave a rib-eye." Jensen snatches the lemon wedge from Jared's water and squeezes it into his Dr. Pepper, dropping it in after and stirring it with his spoon. "And if you order the salmon, you're walking home."
"What about the lobster? Can I still get a ride in your super gay Jeep if I get the lobster?"
"My SUV is not gay. A Range Rover is a perfectly acceptable vehicle. And what exactly is a gay Jeep anyway?"
"Oh, well, I guess you got me there with that logic." Jensen says, turning the page on his menu. "You're right, my Range Rover is completely gay. It only wants to fuck other Range Rovers."
"Stop saying Range Rover," Jared complains. "It's weird." He kind of wants the throw the lemon wedge from his water at Jensen, but this is the kind of semi-classy place that would probably frown on that.
"It is a Range Rover. And it's not weird. You calling it gay is weird." Jensen still hasn't looked up at Jared. For some reason, that makes Jared nervous.
"It's a Jeep," Jared repeats, snatching the bread out of Jensen's hand.
"No, it's not," Jensen says, grabbing the bread back from Jared. "A Jeep has no roof and, like, fucking cloth for doors and no windows. I drive a Range Rover."
"Fine, whatever, you drive a Range Rover," Jared concedes.
"Thank you," Jensen says, finally looking up at Jared.
Jared grins. "A really gay Jeep Range Rover."
Jensen shakes his head and smiles. It's a small smile, barely there, but his eyes crinkle right at the edges, and Jared's stomach backflips. "Just shut up and order your steak, Elton John."
"That was mean," Jared says, as serious as he can. "I don't know if I want the steak anymore. I might get a salad."
"Who the fuck do you think you're kidding?" Jensen asks. The look on his face is all Dean: eye crinkles gone, with an overly cocky set to his jaw. "If you just ordered a salad, you'd end up stealing my food. And I'm not about to pay a hundred and fifty dollars so you can eat a salad and a steak while I sit here and watch in horror."
Jensen levels a look at him that's a little less Dean this time. "I've seen you eat."
"I'm not that bad," Jared says.
"Your dogs run and hide when you have food."
"See, now that's just not true," Jared says. "Harley would never run from food. And you chew with your mouth open. And spit while you talk." He pauses. "It's kinda gross, if you think about it too long."
"You think about me eating?" Jensen asks.
"Well, you make it sound weird when you say it like that."
"How does it not sound weird?" Jensen asks.
"I dunno, but you make it sound creepy. It's not like I jerk off thinking about you eating a cheeseburger," Jared says just as their water arrives to take their orders.
It's a toss-up for which one of them is more mortified, Jared or the kid with his notepad and bright red face. Jared loses because the kid smiles—big and red and only a little strained—and goes right on with his business like nothing happened. "Would you like to hear today's specials?"
Before Jared can say anything, Jensen cuts in and tells the waiter, "Not if you want to keep your spleen."
"Dude." Jared doesn't care how bad the guy's timing was. That was just fucking uncalled for.
"American Psycho," the kid—waiter—nearly shouts. "Christian Bale kicks so much ass. Have you seen him in Batman?"
Jared is still a little lost, but Christian Bale and American Psycho are ringing a bell. Jared remembers Bale running naked with a chainsaw and how uncomfortable it was to pop a boner a foot away from your friends.
"Not yet, I haven't had the time," Jensen admits, ducking his head and looking more adorable than any grown man should. "I'm glad you know the movie. Otherwise, that probably would've been a little awkward."
Jared snorts. "Yeah, that would've been the awkward part of this. Not the thing about me jerking off—which I don't do, by the way. At least not to you eating."
Jensen chuckles this deep, short laugh that sounds like it's coming right from his chest, but their waiter speaks up before Jensen can. "I can come back if you'd like some more time to decide."
"No, no. Wouldn't want Jared to eat any more of his foot over there. What're the specials?"
Their waiter—who is clearly new, if only for the fact that he hasn't actually introduced himself to them yet—rights his posture, shoulders back and chin out, like Jeff always looked when he knew he was walking towards a spanking.
"Our special this week is the Kodiak burger, a 20-ounce Kobe beef hamburger, topped with Vermont farmhouse cheddar, Portobello mushrooms, and sautéed sweet onions on a parmesan roll." There's a pause, and then he adds, "I think I need my spleen for something, but you can have my appendix if you'd like."
It takes Jared a moment to formulate a response, and all he can do is stare at Jensen. "You planned that."
"As much as I would love to take credit for that, I could not have planned it if I tried."
"I know what I want. I want the double porterhouse, as rare as you're allowed to make it. Put a sweater on it and run it through a warm room. I also want the western Australian jumbo lobster tail. And the mac and cheese for the side."
"Dude, that's, like, a hundred and fifty dollars."
"You can afford it."
"Just so you know, I'm officially considering this a down payment."
"Payback is a tasty, tasty bitch."