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08 February 2014 @ 07:59 pm
Hands of Fate: Chapter Thirteen  
Title: Caught in the Hands of Fate
Author: fadedsparks
Beta: lunadragonx
Art: trueshellz
Fandom: RPS
Pairing: Jensen/Jared
Rated: R, with NC-17 in later chapters
Genre: AU, Angst, Romance
Disclaimer: This isn't meant to offend anyone and I am making no profit from it.
Warnings: Violence and Homophobia. Also, Jensen and Jared are the same age in this story.
Summary: Jensen has had his share of ups and downs, but he pushes forward and tries not to take life for granted. Starting college in California seems like the right choice for him, and everything is going better than he imagined it would. However, fate can be a tricky thing sometimes.

Chapter Thirteen:
Some Kind of Fool

Jensen is moving mainly on autopilot, albeit sluggishly, as he enters his room and just barely remembers to lock the door behind him. His mind has been playing the confrontation with Jared over and over again, the scene is seemingly stuck on repeat and he doesn’t know how to right it. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, seeing the slightly younger man again, but he still can’t believe he ran out the way he did. The way he reacted was completely undignified and the shame he feels is nearly consuming him. I’m sure no one can blame me for my reaction but I still feel like such a fool.

Jensen drops down onto his bed with a long, drawn out sigh, lying boneless on his back and throws an arm over his eyes. He startles when the familiar ring tone he picked for his phone breaks the silence of the room. With a groan, he digs his cell out of his pocket and glances carelessly at the screen. He doesn’t bother to answer when he sees that it is Steve trying to get a hold of him; he’s not in the mood to talk to any of his friends at the moment.

When the phone stops ringing he checks the missed calls and is surprised to see Chris, Steve, Sophia, even Chad, have been trying to get a hold of him. He figures they have been trying ever since he ran out of Malone’s. He is grateful to have such caring friends but even this knowledge isn’t enough for him to call them back. He truly just wants to be left alone at the moment, believes that it is for the best. He is not in any frame of mind to talk to his friends right now. He decides he will just give them a call later when he is feeling more up to it and let them know that he is fine and there is no reason for them to worry.

Feeling the crushing weight of depression bearing down on his chest he begins to wonder if his decision to be alone was a wise choice. Now that he gives it more thought, he doesn’t truly want to be alone right now. He actually wants someone to be here for him, to tell him that everything is going to be alright and this isn’t the end of the world. He needs a shoulder to cry on, an ear to pour his heart out to. Really, there is only one person he can think of that he wants to talk to at the moment.

Picking up the cell phone he doesn’t remember discarding, he dials a familiar number and waits for his call to be answered. Thankfully, he’s not left waiting long.

“Hello?” A sleep rough voice answers, sounding both out of it and a little irritated. “Do you realize I just laid down for a nap and won’t be able to get any more sleep until tonight?”

“Mack?” Jensen says softly, on the verge of tears and falling apart as soon as he hears his sister’s voice.

“Jensen? What’s wrong? Are you okay? Did something happen?” The questions come out rushed and concerned and she sounds instantly more awake and alert. “Jenny, talk to me!”

Jensen takes a deep, calming breath before attempting to speak once again. “I… well, I just really needed someone to talk to right now, but I’m sorry if I woke you up from your nap. I can call back again later, or you can give me a ring when you wake up.”

“Don’t be stupid, I’m up now. Besides, you come first, you know that,” She scolds him gently, worry and slight fear in her voice. “I’m always here for you when you need to talk. Now, tell me what’s happened, you don’t sound good at all. Are you okay, is Jared alright?”

Jensen’s breath hitches on a sob at the mention of Jared’s name and Mackenzie latches onto it immediately, demanding that he tell her what is going on right this instant. Jensen is grateful for her protectiveness; it was what he needed, even though he hadn’t realized it until now. What he needed all along was his sister, the love of a one of the few family members he has left.

“Come on, Jen, tell me what’s going on, you’re starting to scare me.” His sister prods impatiently.

“Physically I’m fine,” he whispers but doesn’t elaborate further, knowing he doesn’t have to.

“But you’re not emotionally,” she finishes for him softly, a huff of breath leaving her lips as she tries to calculate how bad the situation is.

“Jared broke up with me.”

He says this quietly, deciding it is best to just get straight to the point rather than beat around the bush any longer. He isn’t the type to usually talk about his feelings, would rather bury them deep and deal with them on his own, but he has never had a problem talking to his sister. She is the only one who can ever get him to talk, sometimes without even trying. He always feels better after talking to her, or at least a little better, and most times, like this one, he seeks her out for these conversations.

There is stunned silence on the other end of the line for a good period of time and Jensen doesn’t say anything either, giving Mackenzie time to process what he just told her. He knows this probably comes as a shock to her, especially since he hadn’t told her about the problems he and Jared were having. This probably isn’t making any sense to her and he doesn’t quite know how to explain it all to her, where to start or if he is even strong enough to give her the details.

“What?” she whispers a moment later, shock and disbelief coloring her voice.

“Yeah,” he responds, unsure what else to say.

“But everything was going so well for you two, I don’t understand how it could all fall apart so suddenly.” When she says this she is mostly talking to herself but Jensen answers her all the same.

“Things haven’t exactly been as good as I made you believe. I didn’t tell you about the problems we’ve been having. I dunno, maybe I thought they’d sort themselves out and I didn’t really need to talk about it. Obviously, I was wrong.” He breathes out a sigh and closes his eyes tightly when he feels the sting of tears. “For some time now he’s been distancing himself from me and there was something bothering him that he refused to talk to me about.”

There’s silence on the other end for a beat of a moment. “This thing that was bothering him, was it the reason you guys broke up?”

“His mom’s been asking him when he’s gonna settle down with a girl and start a family. He’s terrified of disappointing his family, losing them like I lost mine when mom and dad found out I was gay, so he thought it’d be easier to break up with me,” Jensen explains the best he can while fighting off stubborn tears. “He says he loves me, but he obviously doesn’t love me enough.”

He hears his sister breathe into the phone before she finally speaks again. “Do I have to come out there and knock some sense into that boy? You know I’d do it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t be too hard to get a ride, I’m sure Josh would elect to drive me. I can kick some Texan ass for you, just say the word.”

Jensen can’t help but laugh when he hears this, silently thanking his sister for cheering him up; it’s been a while since he last laughed. He knew she would be able to make him feel a little better. He can always count on Mackenzie to, at the very least, bring a smile to his face, and right now he really couldn’t ask for more than that.

“Nah, I won’t subject him to the wrath of Mack, no matter how much he may deserve it right now. Besides, I highly doubt it would make any difference, that man is too stubborn for his own good. Thanks for offering, though.” He smiles into the phone and then they change the subject to a lighter topic, Mackenzie doing her best to cheer her brother up.


November 30th, 2000

Jensen is out of breath by the time he reaches his dorm room and he has to take a moment to allow some oxygen into his aching lungs. The backpack slung over his shoulder feels as though it weighs a ton, but he knows that is mainly because he has had to lug it around all day. After a full day of class after class all he wants to do is take a breather and relax, but, unfortunately, he knows that isn’t about to happen. He has to be at work in thirty minutes, meaning he has no time to dawdle around. On a good note, tomorrow won’t nearly be as hectic as today has been.

He can’t say that he completely hates these grueling days; at least they keep his mind off of Jared, and at this point he is grateful for anything that can keep his mind from straying in the shaggy haired man’s direction. These last two months haven’t been easy on Jensen and he knows he isn’t over Jared yet, is beginning to wonder if he ever will be. Some days are easier than others, but for the most part the younger man has a way of entering his thoughts throughout the day at some point or other.

He still misses Jared like crazy, isn’t even about to deny that fact. Anyone that knows him knows the breakup has hit him hard and he is still dealing with the aftermath. Things are a little easier to handle than they were right after they broke up, though. Jensen can stand in the same room as Jared and not feel the need to flee. He isn’t saying it is easy, but he is strong enough to be in the other man’s presence now. He has spoken to Jared here and there as well, though they are nowhere near the friendship they used to share. Tension still hangs in the air whenever they are in the same room and he always feels awkward talking to Jared now, has grown accustomed to feeling this way.

He has finally given up on the hope that Jared will wake up and realize that he has made a mistake. He no longer believes the younger man will come back to him, has resigned himself to the fact that what they had was great while it lasted but it just wasn’t meant to be. Jared has made no indication that he misses what they had, has shown no signs of eventually coming to his senses, and has even gone on a few dates with girls that turned out to be a bust. So really, the only thing left for Jensen to do is accept it.

He has decided that he is done waiting around for Jared. He may still miss the younger man like crazy but he isn’t holding on to false hope anymore, he sees no point in it. Jared isn’t coming back to him, this is fact, and Jensen isn’t going to wait around for something that simply isn’t going to happen. He still has his pride; he keeps his feelings hidden to the best of his ability, and is more than ready to go on with his life. He is tired of pining over someone who doesn’t want him, doesn’t want to live like this any longer.

All in all, Jensen is doing his best to get through the days, hoping one day he will come to find that he has moved on and Jared is nothing more than precious memories of the past.

Jensen pulls out his room key once he regains his breath and slides it into the lock. He frowns, however, when he realizes that the door is already unlocked. Cautiously, he steps into the room and looks at the unfamiliar guy standing beside Jared’s old bed rooting through a suitcase.

The guy lifts his blonde head when he hears the door open and meets Jensen’s eyes, bright blue connecting with emerald. He stops digging through his belongings, standing there a bit awkwardly for a moment before stepping around the bed and stopping a few feet in front of Jensen.

“Hey, man, I’m your new roommate,” the guy says as he extends his hand out to Jensen. “My name’s Will Emmons.”

Jensen takes Will’s hand in his own and gives it a brief shake. “I’m Jensen Ackles.”

“Yeah, I know,” Will responds and Jensen raises an eyebrow at this. “A friend of mine told me who you were when I told him who I was rooming with,” he goes on to explain.

“Oh, I didn’t realize many people knew me on campus,” Jensen says softly, suddenly feeling awkward in Will’s presence.

“I don’t know how many people actually know who you are but apparently my friend has a class with you. He, uh…” Will trails off for a second, looking unsure and a bit uncomfortable. “He also told me that you’re gay. Is that true?”

“Yeah, you got a problem with that?” Jensen frowns, voice coming out slightly defensive. Last thing I need is my roommate to be a homophobe.

“No, of course not,” Will rushes to say, though he still appears to be a little uncomfortable. “As long as you don’t hit on me or anything we’ll get along just fine. I’m not homophobic or anything but I don’t swing that way either and I won’t deny feeling a little uncomfortable being hit on by guys.”

“Well, that wouldn’t be a problem anyway, I wouldn’t hit on you. Besides, no offense or anything, but you’re not my type.”

“None taken,” Will laughs softly, seeming to relax a bit more in Jensen’s presence now that the awkward conversation has been dealt with.

“Sorry I have to rush off so quickly after just meeting you and all, but I have to get to work or I’m gonna be late,” Jensen says, excusing himself from any further conversation and heading into the bathroom to get cleaned up.

“That’s cool, I understand. Besides, we’re living together now, we’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other later,” Will replies from the other room.

Jensen nods his head absentmindedly, though he knows Will can’t see him, and releases the breath he was unconsciously holding. He knows he should have expected something like this to happen, he wasn’t going to be without a roommate forever, but it just feels weird with Will here now. He can’t help feeling as though Will is trying to take Jared’s place. He realizes how ridiculous this sounds, it is irrational and unfair, but he can’t stop from thinking in such a way.

Some part of him always hoped Jared would come back. Maybe not in the sense of his boyfriend, but he had hoped they could salvage their friendship enough for Jared to move back in as his roommate. He always figured the idea was possible so long as Jared still had a room to come back to, but now all that has changed. The little bit of hope he was still holding on to has been crushed and he must face the facts.

Jensen shakes his head, whether to rid himself of these thoughts or for his own stupidity, he isn’t sure. Focusing his mind on getting ready for work, he pushes all thoughts of Jared and having a new roommate to where they won’t bother him and quickly changes into his work uniform.

“Hey, I have a little time to kill, do you need a ride to work?” Will asks once Jensen reappears from the bathroom.

Jensen considers this for a moment but decides it might not be all that smart to climb into Will’s vehicle. He may be his new roommate but he doesn’t know all that much about the other man and it is too early to put any kind of trust in him, especially blind faith. Besides, Chris would have his ass if he found out Jensen took a ride from someone he just met. Jensen isn’t in any mood to get his ass kicked right now so he politely declines the offer.

“Nah, I’m good. Besides, the Paradise Café is only a few blocks away. Thanks for the offer, though.” Jensen says, smiling to show he appreciates the other man’s kindness, and slides his wallet into his back pocket.

“Alright, man, I guess I’ll catch ya later, then.” Will responds with a shrug of his shoulders, causing a few loose strands of blonde hair to fall into his eyes.

Jensen forces his eyes away from the sight, remembering how Jared’s hair used to do the same thing, and heads to the door. He spares Will one last glance and a “see you later” before closing the door behind him and heading off campus.


“I ordered roast beef on a white roll, so, tell me son, why is the bread lightly toasted? I specifically remember saying I didn’t want roast beef on toasted bread! Tell me young man, are you hard of hearing? Is that why I didn’t receive what I ordered?” An elderly woman - Jensen assumes she has to be in her seventies - barks at him with narrowed eyes.

Right about now Jensen is starting to believe God has a grudge against him. His whole work shift so far has been filled with difficult customers of the likes of the one currently glaring at him. He wants to tell her that she did in fact order roast beef on toasted bread, but the damn policy here at the café is that the customers are always right, and if he were to call her out on her senility problem he would most definitely be fired, something he can’t afford to happen.

For the past ten minutes the elderly woman has ranted and raved at him, not allowing him to get a word in. She is by far the most rude and difficult customer he has dealt with today and he is hoping desperately she will be the last. Right now he is just wishing he could get her off his back, just make her go away. That obviously isn’t happening any time soon though, because she still isn’t done yelling at him and calling him a moron.

Evan, of course, is just standing off to the side smirking as he helps his own customers. Jensen wants to smack the smug grin off the prick’s face, or send senile lady over to him to deal with. Now that would be sweet. Jensen can’t help smiling at the thought and the images that pop into his head - picturing a flustered and annoyed Evan is pleasing - but the old bag sees this and thinks he’s trying to be a smart ass and that just pushes her into spouting more insults at him.

“Look, ma’am, I’m sorry for messing up your order,” Jensen gets out through gritted teeth, knowing good and well he didn’t mess up her order but is being forced to take the blame. “Please, give me a moment and I will make you another one just the way you want it.”

“That won’t be necessary, I don’t want you making anything for me only to screw it up again like the moron you are. No, I want a full refund for my ruined dinner.”

Jensen quickly opens the register and pulls out the amount of money the woman paid for her sandwich, eager to get her out of his face. “Here you go, ma’am, and once again I’m sorry for this mix-up.”

“I’m going to tell all my friends about this incident, let them know the type of employees they have working here. They have a right to know just how incompetent you people really are,” she snarls maliciously before storming out of the small café.

Jensen lets out a relieved sigh the moment the lady disappears from view and rubs at his temples, pretty sure he can feel a headache coming on. This has not turned out to be a good day for him and the fact that Evan is laughing softly at him doesn’t help matters any. He truly didn’t expect any less from the other man, though, he knows how much Evan despises him, taking joy in anything that bothers Jensen.

From day one the brunette hadn’t taken to Jensen very well, openly showed his disdain the moment they met. Jensen can’t put his finger on what he did to make the guy hate him so much, doesn’t believe he ever did anything to deserve the cold stares and rude comments. Nevertheless, Jensen has grown accustomed to Evan’s attitude and knows how to deal with the guy for the most part.

“The nerve of some people, wouldn’t have wanted to be you back there.”

Jensen looks up to see a guy, close to his mid thirties, standing where his difficult costumer vacated. A hint of a smile tilts up a pair of luscious looking lips and Jensen’s eyes are instantly drawn to the neatly trimmed hair lining the man’s jaw, chin and upper lip. Without conscious knowledge, Jensen’s gaze trails down to the spot where the man’s pristine white shirt hangs open, left unbuttoned at the top, showcasing a sliver of tanned skin. The shirt is practically molded to the guy’s torso, showing off an impressive chest and set of abs that Jensen can’t help but notice.

Jensen’s gaze travel up to the man’s face once more only to find a pair of deep brown eyes boring into his own. Instantly he feels his face flush with embarrassment at having been caught openly checking the guy out. The man’s lips turn upward into a full blown smile and his eyes shine with the same emotion, knowing full well Jensen finds him attractive. That gorgeous smile doesn’t help Jensen’s current predicament either.

Jensen coughs, hoping to deflect any further embarrassment, and smiles a bit shyly at the man staring intently at him. “Yeah, well, I see a lot of difficult customers day in and day out. That lady just so happens to take the cake, though… so far, anyway.” Jensen manages to laugh a little, embarrassment still strumming through his veins.

The man smiles softly. “I dunno, seemed to me like that woman is just a bitch in general, you were just unfortunate enough to have to deal with her. I’m sure there have been plenty of people standing in your shoes before, I wouldn’t take it personally.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right about that,” Jensen shakes his head and smiles slightly. “So, what can I get for you?”

“Can I trust you to get my order right?” he teases, eyes shining mischievously.

Jensen’s eyes widen in mock anger and he finds himself doing what he has never done with a customer, a total stranger, before: he reaches out and smacks the man on his arm. “You have no faith in me, huh? I expected better from you. I’m deeply offended!” Jensen shakes his head in mock disappointment.

“Oh, we definitely can’t have that!” The man plays along, eyes wide and hand placed over his heart. “How bout we make a deal. You prove me wrong, make me a damn good sandwich, the way I order it, and I’ll take that comment back.”

“You’re on,” Jensen responds determinedly, all but shaking hands with the guy to seal the deal, his own eyes sparkling with mischief now.

“How ‘bout you fix me a turkey club with all the trimmings and make sure the bread isn’t toasted.” the guy says, smirking slightly.

“I’ll get right to work on that… that is, after you pay up, of course.” Jensen smiles smugly, unable to believe he is flirting so blatantly with one of his customers. This is so unlike me, what the hell am I doing?

Jensen pushes this thought into the back of his mind, however, when this mystery guy hands over the money for his food. Jensen places it in the cash register, smiles softly at the brown-eyed cutie, a bit of his shy nature returning, and heads over to the counter where they make the sandwiches.

The gorgeous man, newly referred to as ‘mystery man’, follows him over to the counter, watching him intently with those deep brown eyes of his, and Jensen feels his face heat up at the blatant scrutiny. He tries to ignore the man watching him so intensely and focuses his attention on the task at hand, making the greatest damn sandwich to best of his ability. He doesn’t really know what he is doing with this guy but he also isn’t looking too deeply into it; at least he’s trying not to.

A short time later Jensen is finished with the sandwich, which he has done a pretty damn good job on if he says so himself, and turns once more to the man waiting patiently. The guy is leaning against the counter, intense eyes watching his every move, and Jensen can’t stop himself from blushing slightly. He forces a smug smile onto his face, though, and passes the sandwich into the guy’s awaiting hands.

“So, what’s the verdict?” he asks, waiting impatiently.

The guy makes a big show of inspecting the sandwich, making Jensen roll his eyes good-naturedly, and then he nods his head in obvious approval. “Alright, I guess I owe you an apology. I take back that unfounded comment, you definitely know how to make a mean sandwich, uh… Jensen.” the guy replies, reading Jensen’s nametag and then smiling widely.

“Now you know never to doubt me,” Jensen responds, skin crinkling at the corner of his eyes as he smiles.

“So, are you new here?”

Jensen laughs at this. “No, I’m far from new. I’ve worked here for a year now.”

The guy’s eyes widen in surprise. “Seriously? I come here pretty regularly and I’d like to think I would remember if I’d seen you before or not.”

“I’m being completely serious. I work part time though, and my classes are top priority, even over work, so maybe that’s why you’ve never seen me before.”

“You’re a college student, huh?” Jensen nods in conformation. “That’s cool, good for you.”

“Yeah, well, I have a long way to go but at least I’m in the process of getting where I want to go in life.” Jensen shrugs like it’s no big deal.

“Not everyone can say that, you should be proud of yourself.”

Jensen simply smiles shyly and, regretfully, says that he needs to get back to work. He has been enjoying their conversation, would like to continue it, but he has customers waiting on him so he knows their little talk is going to have to come to an end.

“I should be going anyway,” the man says, as he places something on the counter, “it was nice talking to you though, maybe I’ll see you around.”

“You never know, maybe you will. Besides, you know where I work, so maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get another one of those awesome sandwiches.”

The man smiles again, all teeth and warmth. “Looking forward to it,” his voice isn’t even a whisper, it’s more like a breath, and then he is leaving the café.

Jensen watches him until he is out of sight and then he glances down at the card on the counter. Reaching out, he takes the card in his hand and inspects it. As he expected, it has the man’s number on it as well as his name, Justin Chambers. Despite himself, Jensen finds he can’t stop smiling like a fool for the rest of his shift, thoughts for once not consumed by Jared but instead by Justin.


The sky is growing dark by the time Jensen reaches Malone’s. It had been a nice evening for a walk, a soft cool breeze washing over his face, and Jensen just couldn’t help himself. He used to love walking back home, most of the time he would elect to walk rather than drive anywhere. He didn’t realize how much he missed it until he just began walking in the direction of the ice cream parlor instead of waiting for a taxi like he usually would.

The scent of cleaning detergents fills his nostrils the moment he steps inside and he finds Jack at the back of the parlor with a mop in his hand. The older man greets him with that smile he has become familiar with and sets the mop aside to attend him. The dark haired man stops in front of him, elbows resting on the counter, watching Jensen inquisitively. Jensen can easily tell that Jack knows there is something different about him today, so he keeps his expression neutral, not giving anything away.

Jack narrows his eyes for a moment, trying to figure out what is amiss, but gives up a moment later. “So, what can I get for you today Jen?”

“I’ll have a plain old milk chocolate shake today,” Jensen replies as he takes out his wallet.

“One milk chocolate shake coming up!” Jack jovially announces to a practically empty room and gets to work on Jensen‘s order.

Jensen tells him that he’s going to find a seat and then he is resting at a booth near the back of the parlor, slouching down in his seat comfortably. Raising his eyes to see that Jack is still preoccupied with the shake he is making, Jensen pulls out the card Justin left behind for him and slides his eyes over the cream colored surface. This is the millionth time he has pulled the card out and just stared at it.

He really doesn’t understand why he can feel butterflies fluttering around in the pit of his stomach every time he looks at the card or thinks about the man that gave it to him. He is nowhere near ready to begin dating again; its only been two months since Jared called it quits, but he can’t stop thinking about the guy who flirted so effortlessly with him.

Jensen isn’t going to deny the attraction he felt toward the man, would be pointless to even try to. That isn’t what is bothering him, though. No, the thing that’s bothering him is he had felt a connection with the guy. How can that be possible though? He hardly knows the man, just met him, so how can he possibly feel any kind of connection? All he knows was that it was easy to talk to Justin, the kind of easy that comes from years of knowing someone, and he really enjoyed the brown-eyed man’s company. He wouldn’t object to seeing him again, even if every fiber of his being is telling him that isn’t a good idea.

With a sigh, Jensen slides the card back into his wallet, firmly deciding not to look at it again. However, even as he’s come to this decision, he knows it won’t be long before he is sliding it back out of his wallet once more. If he was ready to start dating again, Justin would be the man he’d want to give it a try with, but the fact is that he isn’t. He doesn’t know when he will be again, but right now just isn’t the time.

He knows he will probably never give Justin a call. And even if he did, by the time that he’s ready to date again, the opportunity will have more than likely passed him by. He keeps telling himself to throw the damn thing away, all it is doing is driving him crazy anyway, but he can’t seem to do it. Every time he comes near a trash can he itches to toss the burden into it, be rid of it once and for all, but at the last minute he walks away with the card still sitting securely where it has taken up residence in his wallet.

“Here’s your shake, loaded with whipped cream, just the way you like it.” Jack is suddenly at his side, sliding the glass onto the table, and Jensen startles out of his thoughts, smiling sheepishly.

“Thanks, this looks great, it’s just what I need,” Jensen says gratefully as he pulls out the money and hands it to Jack.

The dark haired man slides into the seat across from him and quirks an eyebrow in silent question. Jensen averts his eyes to his milkshake, sucking on the straw hard until the ice cold liquid loosens up enough to drink. He keeps his eyes firmly away from the cheerful owner, his newfound friend, and plants his gaze in every direction but Jack’s.

Jack lets out a sigh when Jensen offers up no explanation for his odd mood and crosses his arms on the table top, eyes boring into Jensen’s. “What’s up with you, Jensen? There’s something different about you today. You’re not being your gloomy, depressed self. That brave face you‘re usually sporting is nowhere to be found,” Jack observes, eyeing Jensen critically. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re looking better today, but I’m curious… what’s gotten you outta that funk you‘re always in?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Jack,” Jensen sighs, confusion over his new predicament finally coming through, “I’ve just had a strange day today, that’s all.”

“Are you sure about that?” The older man asks skeptically. “The way I see it, something awfully good must’ve happened, not strange, like you’re putting it.”

“Why do you say that?” Jensen whispers quietly, almost afraid to ask.

“The dazed look on your face gives it away,” Jack answers with a smile, sincere and warm. “Not to mention the gleam in your eyes and the fact that you don’t seem to notice you can’t keep a smile off your face.”

Jensen startles in amazement when he realizes he is, in fact, smiling softly right this minute. He wipes the smile off his face, expression growing confused once more. What the hell is going on with me? he silently questions, desperation consuming him. Jack frowns as he watches him, concern bleeding into his eyes, replacing the amusement and joy that had been there. He reaches out and rests his hand on Jensen’s forearm, squeezing comfortingly.

“Are you alright, Jensen? What happened today?” he asks softly, as though trying to calm a wild, caged animal.

Jensen is silent for a long moment, trying to figure things out in his own mind, wrap his mind around what he is feeling for a man he doesn’t honestly know anything about.

“I met a guy today. He came into the café for dinner, or a late lunch, I’m not too sure,” Jensen finally speaks, still looking down at his melting shake. “I had been dealing with a really difficult customer when he came in and that was what started the conversation between us. We flirted back and forth, though even at the time I couldn’t understand what compelled me to do something so bold.”

Jack is smiling as he listens to Jensen talk, but he isn’t interrupting, so Jensen continues, “At the end of our conversation he left behind his card with his number on it, obviously hoping I’ll give him a call sometime.”

Jack waits a moment to make sure Jensen is finished talking and then he opens his mouth to respond. “So you’re attracted to this guy.” It’s more an observation than a question.

“Yeah… yeah, I think I am,” Jensen answers, still sounding hopelessly confused. “But I’m not ready to start dating yet, it would be a mistake to call him.”

“Who knows, maybe you are ready to start dating, maybe you’re just scared to even try and so you’re coming up with any excuse you can find to keep from throwing yourself out there again,” Jack suggests lightly, keeping his tone gentle and soft, like the mere suggestion will send Jensen into panic mode.

“I really don’t think I am. It’s only been two months since Jared left me, that can’t be enough time,” Jensen responds firmly, though he isn’t sure who he is trying to convince, Jack or himself. Is he right? Am I afraid of getting hurt again? Am I latching onto anything I can to keep myself from starting another relationship? Jensen shakes his head to clear it, not wanting to think about this.

Before Jack can add any more of his input Jensen steers the conversation in another direction. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Besides, I should get back to the dorms, I have an early day tomorrow and it’d be a good idea to get enough sleep.”

“How’d you get here, anyway?” Jack asks curiously. “I didn’t see a taxi pull up outside.”

“I decided to walk today, it was nice outside and I used to walk a lot back home. It was kind of invigorating, ya know. I don‘t walk enough.”

“Chris will have your hide if he finds out you walked all the way here, you know how protective he is of ya,” Jack scolds lightly, though the upturn of his lips and the gleam in his eyes betray his amusement.

“Yes, but no one is going to tell him now, are they?” Jensen responds, mischief coloring his tone as he smiles impishly at the parlor owner.

“You’re safe this time, but I can’t guarantee next time,” Jack laughs as they make their way to the counter and he pours the rest of Jensen’s shake into a Styrofoam cup. “You’re not walking back, though, ya hear me? It’s dark now and who knows what kind of crazies are out there just waiting for someone like you to come along. You’re gonna wait right here till a cab shows up and I don’t want to hear any arguments out of you mister.”

“Yes sir!” Jensen laughs, shaking his head at the protectiveness his friend is showing and the authoritative tone he’s using.

Jack smiles before turning to the phone and calling for a cab while Jensen moves over to one of the booths to wait for his ride, silently thanking the powers that be for blessing him with such caring friends in his life.

Mood: sicksick
Music: Lana Del Rey