Title: Yesterday Was the Day That I Was Born
Pairing: Jared/Jensen, Jared/Sandy
Words: ~36,000 overall (6,829 this chapter)
Summary: Being informed by your friends and loved ones that you're congenial to the point of boredom and occasionally nausea is sort of a drag. Which is why Jared Padalecki resolves to have an irresponsibly awesome time on his twenty-first birthday. But when his foray into excitement proves to be the iceberg of his Titanic of a life, he's left wondering who and what exactly he'll wake up to once he gets his head back above the suddenly murky waves of his own existence......or something.
Warnings/Disclaimer: AU. Hooker fic. A scene of non-con. A scene of Het. Schmoop. Humor. Everybody owns themselves.
A/N: Beta'ed by the most awesome antarshakes.
Back to Master Post
It wasn’t the first time Jared had been pepper sprayed.
There was the night Freshman year he went over to help a girl whose car had broken down on the side of the road and earned a face full of spicy, burning agony for his effort. And then a few months later when a different girl had accepted his assistance but not his subsequent overture to stay with her until the tow truck showed up. Cue the dousing.
Which ultimately begged the question of whether or not she had only been waiting for an opportunity, assuming Jared was planning on hurting her the entire time.
It’s not that he blames any of them. Well, maybe a little—mace afflicts in a malignantly incessant, debilitating sort of way—but he still feels guilty over the fact.
If he were a woman, stranded and alone, and a guy his size approached, seemingly offering something for nothing—well, it’s only natural to have your guard on high alert. Doleful comment on the condition of the world, but accurate nonetheless.
Growing up, just him and his mother, it sat uneasy when she was forced to work late, had to be out alone without anyone there to protect her. The thought of someone hurting women—inspired emotions utterly indescribable in him. Irritated eyes or no, he most definitely understood the general grounds. How sometimes it appeared that everyone had an agenda.
People are so reluctant to accept aid offered to them. Suspicious. Even fewer willing to offer it themselves. He refuses to give in to the pervasive cynicism.
After all, for those who abstained from the pepper spray, he was the nice guy. The sweet one girls felt safe with, wanted to mother and take care of. It had led to more than one relationship of his devolving into acquiescent friendship, but if it was that or being one of those guys who came home one day to find his clothes on fire on the lawn—it was an easy decision.
Still, at times he felt like a freakish anomaly, in his eagerness to do things for others, perfect strangers. But, it was who he was, how he was raised, and apparently a portion of its price was an annual macing to the face.
In actuality, he’d taken more knees to the groin but seeing as those weren’t always direct hits, and could occasionally be blocked, he generally preferred them. When it had to happen, of course.
And, it was how he met Sandy with her deceptively strong legs. Ahem. Once he could sit comfortably again, she’d insisted on taking him out to eat to his stomach’s content (although he always ate a polite amount on someone else’s dime) at the campus café.
After a server greeted him personally while bringing their waters, Jared mentioned he was Assistant Manager and rarely had a lunch anywhere else. She hid behind her menu adorably, convinced she was screwing everything up and he knew right then that a promising spark existed between them.
Like he knew this morning he would be late to see her. Already too late to make it to class. Groaning, he touches his way back to the car, opening the door carefully but still managing to bang his head leaning in.
Fumbling and finding his cell phone in the middle console, he dials, what looks like Tom’s name in his list, holding his eyes open wide enough to read sending a fresh wave of pain through them.
Chad slept like a gaseous, snoring log and Mike drove as soundly as a mental patient. He hoped Tom was awake, today was one of his and Mike’s days off from the campus radio station and if they didn’t have to be up, it was hit and miss whether you’d see either before nightfall.
Five rings go by before Tom picks up and Jared can breathe a sigh of relief. Even that stings his eyes.
“Jay!” he says enthusiastically. “What’s up?”
“Do you think you could give me a ride?”
“Sure. Where are you?”
“Somewhere between the apartment and Smith Hall?”
“You don’t know where you are?“ he starts in confusion, then pauses. “You got maced again didn’t you?”
“Possibly,” he admits tightly.
He can hear Tom keeping in the laughter and appreciates it. In addition to being unreliable drivers, Mike and Chad would have been giggling their asses off at this point. There’ll be ample opportunity when Tom inevitably tells them.
“Yeah. I’m on my way. Happy birthday, Boy Scout.”
To endure the walk to his afternoon class, he snatched a pair of Chad’s darkest sunglasses to cover his puffy, sensitive eyes. He looks like a highway patrol cop.
His phone rings, probably Chad calling to complain. He finds a bench to sit on since he has a few minutes to spare.
“Happy birthday JT!” his mother cheers when he answers.
An automatic smile breaks out, sound of his mother’s voice triggering some primal healing response that has his eyes less inflamed and irksome. Or maybe he just misses her. Less than two weeks until Spring Break and he can head down for a visit.
“Thanks. Isn’t it almost time for you to be in class, Mrs. Padalecki?” he teases. His mom was the best damn high school teacher in all of San Antonio. If he became half the teacher she was, he’d count himself lucky.
“Watch it, young man. You’re not too big for me to come down there and take over my knee—both my knees.”
“Actually I think I was around the day I turned twelve.”
She laughs heartily. “Any big celebrations planned for tonight?”
“Nothing major. I’ve got an exam in Early Childhood Development tomorrow. Sandy’s coming over to make me a birthday dinner though but I’ll be sure to call you again before the end of the day.”
“Jared, you don’t have to call me every day, you know.”
“I know. I want to.”
She’s quiet for a moment. “I can still see you running around in the living room with your little Ninja Turtle shirt on. And those plastic nun-chucks.”
“I hit myself in the face with them and started crying,” he recalls, chuckling lightly.
“You wouldn’t let me kiss it better. You said you were too big. That it was your job to kiss my boo-boo’s.” Her voice is even and strong, so that anyone else might believe she was only being facetious and fond in her remembrance of that time in their lives.
“Who else was there to do it?” he mumbles awkwardly.
“JT, you don’t have to take care of me. Don’t spend your life worrying about everyone but yourself. Maybe you should let your friends take you out tonight?”
“Are you really condoning hanging out with Chad?” he tries to lighten the mood.
“The boy knows how to have fun.”
“Did you just call me boring?”
“You’re twenty-one! Go act like an idiot! I’m late!”
“Stop screaming!” he laughs.
“I love you and I’ll talk to you later, but not today. Think about what I said?”
“Maybe,” he says noncommittally.
“Bye-bye, sweetie.” She disconnects and he leans back into the bench, gingerly prodding at his eye. Women never ceased to confuse him, at least he could clutch at that scrap of normalcy. In retrospect, his earnest devotion and courteous demeanor had been the cause of nearly every one of his break-ups. Too nice or too dull. Some of them took the time to dress it up into something more palatable but in the end, the point was hammered home just the same.
The tenth grade dance filters to the forefront of his mind. Jenny Medina. Chad was crushing on her hard but she picked Jared, despite the fact that Chad’s parents could afford a limo for him and his date. It cast a pall over the whole thing, thinking of Chad being pissed at him. Sure, he liked Jenny but Chad talked about her constantly. Over PS1 sessions in his basement, bike rides to school, walking the hallways.
And it was less—sex obsessed jawing than he normally did. Frequency of the word fuck in his description of her way down. When the dance came around, Chad went stag, spend most of it laughing with a group of guys in the corner.
Jared didn’t miss his concealed glances in his and Jenny’s direction out on the floor. After the slow dance, he pulled her to the side toward him, put their hands in one another’s.
“Jenny, I think Chad really wants to dance with you,” he said. The two of them looked at him as if he’d grown another head.
“Jared, I came here with you. Don’t you want to be with me?” She gazed at him expectantly. Waiting for him to come to his senses, fight for her and make a scene maybe.
“I do, but—maybe Chad does more?”
Her face tightened in anger. “Fine. Chad, let’s go.”
Chad gaped at him. “Dude, you are the best friend ever.”
He stuck his hands in his pockets and watched for a moment as they pressed against one another. Didn’t stick around much longer after that.
Jerking off in his room later, he thought about her. Her painted lips on him, sucking him down, and eventually came guiltily across his fingers. In the end, he still did the right thing. He was never going to ask her for that. Chad would.
Girls didn’t want dependable and sweet. At least not his girls.
And now that the can of worms had been opened, he’s second-guessing even Sandy. What if she’s just holding on until she can make a graceful exit and leave him in the dust?
He looks up to find her waving at him energetically from across the quad, hurrying over with a bulging shoulder bag. Standing up, he manages a weak smile.
“What’s wrong?” she asks in concern, seeing through it.
“Nothing,” he lies.
“So you say. Why can I see my reflection in your sunglasses?”
“Sandy, are you—entirely happy with the way things are?” he ventures carefully.
Reaching up on the points of her toes, she wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him tenderly, soft lips making him a little weak in the knees. “I love you,” she murmurs against them, “You’re the sweetest, most thoughtful guy a girl could ask for.”
She takes his face in her hands, “Now, cheer up. It’s your birthday and I won’t have you moping around.” From her bag she produces Tupperware containers full of cookies. “To tide you over until dinner when I can give you something extra special.” Voice infused with lust and promise.
With a last kiss, she pulls away and slings her bag over her slim shoulder. “I’ve gotta go. Have a good class!” She bustles off while he attempts to extricate himself from the fuzzy, indistinct place girls had a way of sending him to.
When his head clears, he starts walking, remembering he’s parked in the middle of the busy quad. It doesn’t escape him that Sandy never directly answered his question.
The sugar cookie secured between his lips falls to the floor as they twist into an O of surprise. In the kitchen, Sophia is eating peanut butter out of the jar with her finger and there is skin. A lot of it. Jared feels his face heating up as he fixes his eyes to the ground. It hadn’t been more than a month since he got to know her and now he likely knew her almost as well as Chad.
He clears his throat in uneasiness.
She finally notices his predicament at the door and sets the jar on the counter. “Oh, shit, Jared I’m sorry. Wow, I’m probably making you so uncomfortable, huh?”
“Um, it’s—if you want,” he rambles to the floor. His neck is starting to cramp a little from being bent at the angle.
“Just put some clothes on before he loses it all over the couch. He’s not going to let you walk around like that while he’s perving on you,” he hears Chad’s—feet say.
“Nice,” he can hear her rolling her eyes. She crosses over and gives him a peck on the cheek. “If only I had a boyfriend with your manners. I’ll see you at the café later, Jared. Happy birthday.”
“Thanks,” he answers sheepishly as she pads back to Chad’s room and clicks the door shut.
Jared’s as much a red-blooded male as Chad or anyone else, had his share of girlfriends before he met Sandy, but there’s something about—ogling women in the open like that. He can’t do it. Always ends up thinking about the fact that it’s someone’s sister, or daughter, or god forbid, mother. Then thoughts of his own mother edge in and that’s the end of anything arousing.
He prepares to eat crow from Chad over it per usual.
“You saw Sandy today?”
Apparently his birthday carries some weight after all. Although, Chad is eying his cookies. Jared offers him one.
“Yeah. Made me a batch of sugar and a batch of chocolate chip. Don’t eat ‘em all, if you don’t mind.”
“Wasn’t gonna,” he heads to the fridge and pours them out two glasses of milk. Jared takes his with a look of mild confusion at the niceties.
“You feeling okay?”
“Like a million fucking bucks,” he pops a whole cookie into his mouth and makes some sort of clicking, tonal sound in affirmation that sprays Jared with food. He wipes his face off in disgust.
"What was that supposed to be?"
"It's my new thing."
"It sounded like a wounded duck."
"That's cause I had too much crap in my mouth, hold on."
Jared backs up this time, and avoids the worst of the backspray as Chad goes about perfecting it. When a morsel flies into his milk, he holds his hand up.
“I think I got it. Why’d you ask about Sandy?”
“Need some notes on Miranda v. Arizona. Nothing you need to worry about. Saving the world teaching kids to finger paint and shit.”
“Of course,” Jared answers sarcastically.
Sophia re-enters the kitchen, fully dressed and reattaching her earrings. The two of them met when Chad showed up to give him a ride while his brakes were shot, not too long after she’d started at the café. Jared admired her forceful personality but she had a habit of—shoulder-checking him into speechlessness with her candor at times.
For Jared, whose ideal image of women still occasionally slid to the soft, demure side—it was something of a clash at times dealing with a female Chad.
“You guys have time to hit the Dot before work?” Chad asks, chewing another cookie.
“Totally. If we’re late, Jared can tell them to fuck off, he’s Manager today.”
Sort of like that.
Unsurprisingly, Jared is the first one to the diner. Despite the effort of getting their varying schedules to line up, punctuality seems to be lost on most of his friends. Tom had assured him that morning when he dropped Jared off that he and Mike would show, but again—they would not be his lifelines on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The diner is fairly slow, impending dinner rush a ways off still. Meeting here is preferable to the campus café where it’s perpetually crowded and Sophia apparently has a thing about being at work when you’re not working. Gives her the creeps.
Sam, the older waitress that usually serves him, strides over and smiles. Flicks a lock of hair from his face. “And how are you today, my darling? You look a little down.”
He never claimed to have a pokerface. “Just some birthday blues, I guess.”
“Aww. Let me get you something to celebrate. On the house.”
“No, you really don’t have to—“
“Nonsense! You’re one of my best customers and such a nice, young man.”
A guy in a leather jacket steps up to the register to pay and Sam wipes her hands on her apron. “Give me a minute to ring him up and I’ll get you a great, big slab of apple pie. How ‘bout it?”
The sugar coursing through his system from the tub of cookies he ended up going through was already making him jittery but, predictably, he says yes anyway. She rounds the counter and takes the check from the customer, tapping his hands rhythmically on the ceramic.
“That’ll be $12.49, please.”
“No problem,” he draws out, reaching for his wallet and finding nothing. Furrow forming between his eyes, he searches his other pockets but to no avail. Sam is beginning to look at him in unsympathetic irritation.
Jared has his own wallet out before the guy has finished patting himself down. Didn’t matter if he was just trying to skip out on the check. Erring on the side of helping could only cost him, what? Twelve bucks. Small price to pay if he was wrong. Far less than being disappointed in his own selfishness and paranoia for the rest of the day. Possibly turning his back on someone who could’ve used a hand.
Simple, unmotivated friendliness was a dying concept. Every opportunity he had to postpone its expiration date, he wanted to take. Macings and groin kicks and all.
“Here,” he gets up and fishes the bills out. “It’s on me.”
The stranger turns his eyes to him and this close, Jared gains a deeper impression of just how much of a—trainwreck for lack of a better word, he is. Over-gelled hair mussed and disheveled, eyeliner—and he’d been taught to respect personal differences but mascara on a man would never sit right with him—smudged and a little runny.
He’s still smiling brilliantly at him though. Jared can’t help but grin in return, mood lifting at a good deed done.
“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.”
“I’m sure you would’ve done the same thing for me,” Jared shrugs.
A pause. “Oh yeah. Sure. So, what do I call the man that saved my life?”
Jared extends a hand amiably. “Jared.”
The guy grasps it tightly, pumps it up and down a few times. “Well, Jared. I’d sure love to make this up to you.” He moves them away from the counter and is standing a little closer than necessary, Jared thinks. Some people are like that.
“Don’t worry about it. It was nothing.”
“Still. There has to be something I can do to show my gratitude.” He takes another step into Jared’s space, prompting him to take a slight one back. Doesn’t want to offend the guy, but feeling more than a little cornered and unsettled.
“I work at the campus café, you could stop in and buy me a coffee,” he offers.
The guy lets out a low laugh, amused. “Coffee? Yeah. Okay.” As he’s heading for the door, Jared calls to him. “Wait. I didn’t catch your name.”
“I didn’t throw it. It’s Ross. See you around, Jared.”
“See ya.” Jared watches him go, something odd about the whole thing. Once he’s gone, he asks Sam, “Did you get a weird vibe just now?”
She opens her mouth as if to speak but closes it, pursing her lips. “Sweetie, I think he was—“
Jared listens, curious. “—I think that was a real stand-up thing you just did. Let me get you that pie,” she finishes, obviously not what she intended to say.
He huffs in frustration at the clear pattern of women in his life acting like he can’t handle the simple truth. If his mother was the only one willing to tell him what he didn’t want to hear—then there was a distinct possibility he was going about a lot of things completely wrong.
When Mike and Tom show up, he’s frowning into his pie. “Whoa, I didn’t know your face could do that,” Mike notes, sitting down.
“I’m not having the best day,” he grumbles.
“How goes the higher learning?” Tom questions.
“Got an exam tomorrow. Have my first student teaching day after the break,” he responds shortly.
They leave him alone for a few minutes until Chad and Sophia detach from each other’s faces so he can open the door. Jared stabs at the remains of his food.
“Dude, Jared’s frowning,” Mike marvels again.
“I’ve seen this before. No one make any sudden moves,” Chad says.
Jared glances at Tom, who’s staring at him intently. From the unspecified nature of Chad and Mike’s taunting, he hadn’t filled them in on the incident this morning. He’d consider it a birthday gift.
“Leave him alone,” Sophia steps in, “He’s obviously upset about something.”
“I’m fine,” he answers automatically.
“He saw Sophia naked today,” Chad brags for some reason.
“Seriously?” Mike asks. “So the Boy Scout got a free show? Exemplary,” he commends.
“Anyway,” Sophia changes the subject, “Why do you guys call him that?”
Jared keeps his eyes glued to his plate as they continue to talk about him. “Couple years ago when I was an R.A. we were having one of those dorm bonding outings. ‘Course most of ‘em ended up in liquid ‘cause I was an awesome R.A. like that—“
“Before they kicked your ass out,” Tom supplies.
“As I was saying. We’re bullshitting, have a few in us. It’s a good night. Managed to get Jared to drink one, which was a feat in and of itself. He’s designated driver like always and we stop at a light where, outside of this Wal-mart there’s these two little old ladies with a big ass shopping cart full of groceries in the middle of the night. Jared pulls in—but not before the light changes—and fucking escorts them to their car at the back of the lot. Put their groceries in and everything. They tried to pay him. I think they thought he worked there.”
Chad scoffs. “When we were in ninth grade, these two guys got into a fight over shoes or some shit, and Jared runs in the middle of it, breaks it up and keeps them apart until the administrators come over to drag ‘em off. He didn’t even know either of those guys. And I had to buy this asshole named Jake a slice of pizza the next day ‘cause nobody won.”
Mike’s shoulders are shaking in barely suppressed laughter. “That’s our Jay. Hey, make sure you’re listening to the station in the morning so we can give you your shout out. I already have the perfect song—“
“Fuck it,” Jared interrupts. The table is quieted. Mike actually looks to Tom first for confirmation it wasn’t him who spoke.
“I want to go out tonight.”
Silence. Mike breaks it at last with a stunned, “Huh.”
“I mean it. I’m legal now, I can party all I want, right?”
“Why would you want to? Party guys are always assholes or idiots. Or both.” Sophia wonders indelicately.
“What about that test?” Tom adds.
“I think I’ve earned it studying all week. As long as I’m up in time, I’ll be fine.”
“Hell, we can make sure you’re awake,” Chad mentions, idea gaining traction. That doesn’t necessarily inspire the greatest confidence in Jared but, too bad.
“You deserve it for being a self-flogging saint, more like it. Oh, and you should blow off work,” Mike rubs his chin in thought, plotting. Indecision threatens to undermine him but Sophia squeezes his hand reassuringly.
“If you’re dead set, go on. You’ve never missed a day. I’ll tell them you’re puking all over the place,” she beams happily.
“Okay,” he decides. Chad howls in victory in the middle of the diner, attracting strange looks. “I’ve been waiting to hear that for seven years. It’s fucking beautiful.”
“Congrats, man,” Tom slaps him on the back.
“You still going to see Sandy?” Chad asks, simmering down.
“Yeah, and then I guess I’m ready,” and he doesn’t dare voice it and lame up the moment, but—he’s having fun already.
“We’ll take Murray’s car,” Mike says.
“Weak. Why mine?”
“Jared’s your boy. Shouldn’t his first drunken up-chuck be in his best friend’s German luxury car? It’s your birthright, just take it.”
He relents in short order. “Can’t deny a man that gave me Jenny Medina,” he shrugs, bumping Jared’s fist with his own. Jared smiles at him in appreciation.
“Who’s Jenny Medina?” Sophia wonders.
“’S what I like to call Jared’s Mom,” he covers up the moment.
Jared glares at him. “Are you going in tonight, Sophia?”
She sighs, beleaguered and annoyed, shoving Chad out of the way so she can get out of the booth. “I guess so.”
Jared drops the price of the bill and the customary large tip for Sam on the table and follows her. “I’ll give you a ride on the way to Sandy’s.”
There’s a newfound spring and swagger in his step on the way out. Jared Padalecki is about to become a pimp. A nice pimp that honors the ladies while partying with them.
But not too much or Sandy will whack him with that enormous shoulder bag.
Sandy throws open the door in a robe as he raises his hand to knock. “Jay! You’re going out tonight?”
“Did Sophia call you as soon as I dropped her off?”
“She gave it about five minutes. Get in here!” Yanking him in, she clicks the locks into place and practically leaps into his arms, forcing him to get his hands underneath her for support as she wraps her legs around his middle like a boa constrictor.
Her lips are insistent at his so he yields to them but imagines it can’t be especially enjoyable when she’s the only one moving. She’s never been so forceful and he’s not sure he’s enjoying it.
“What about dinner?”
“Screw dinner,” she pants and digs her heels into his sides, urging him on. At that, he carries her through the apartment to her bedroom, laying her on the bed gently. Having none of it, she unbelts her robe and tosses it towards his face, absolutely nothing on underneath.
“Oh, god,” he groans, catching it. Flicks off the light next to him.
The devilish grin of a vixen plays upon her lips in the dim glow of sunset and she eases him onto the bed, kneeling between his legs and working his pants off. He tenses up as he’s stripped to his boxers and puts a hand on her wrist to stop her. Instead, lifting her up and back onto the bed where she was originally. The most awkward game of switcheroo ever played.
She huffs as he hesitates and the discomfort is as thick as his head apparently. He still can’t relax and lose himself in the moment.
“Do I suck at giving head? I mean—” she catches herself.
“What? No, of course not,” he assures her, feeling guilty that she even had to ask.
“It’s just—I feel like I have to hold you down and make you take it sometimes. And you always turn off the lights,” she puts in blunt terms, and he supposes he wanted that from her rather than find her on the way out one day because they never discussed their problems. The blush creeping up his neck apparently didn’t get the memo. “I’m not that comfortable having you do that, okay? I’d rather make you feel good.”
“And you do, but, sometimes a girl likes to know she’s doing something right too,” she squeezes his hand, eyes vulnerable.
Squeezing back, he steels himself, tries to shut off his brain. When it comes to sex, it hasn’t helped him once. “Why don’t we do this. I’ll do what I like to do and then we’ll do whatever you want. Something you’ve always wanted us to try.”
“Anything?” she asks, cheering up.
Hoping he can deliver on his word he replies, “Anything.”
“Okay. But you have to say what you want to do,” she challenges him with sparkling, mischievous eyes.
“Well, it’s my birthday and I—“ he braces himself, “Want to eat you out.”
She claps her hands in approval like he’s a toddler that just conquered the potty for the first time. Floor, please swallow him now.
Leaning back, staring at him lovingly, she answers, “You may.” Back in control, he loosens up and flashes her a genuine smile. This he knows. And daresay, is good at. It’s something he’s always been happy to do for girls rather than have them get on their knees for him.
His hands dwarf her thighs, constant reminder to him to be easy and tender. Take it slow and make it good for her. Holding her folds open, he laps leisurely at her center, content and in his comfort zone. She utters the sweetest noises when he does this, every sound tells a story—whether he should go faster, how close she is.
After several minutes of diligent attention, the hitches in her breath pick up their pace and he kisses his way up her stomach. To her breasts, then her throat. Pressing wet, little kisses to the heated skin. She exhales complacently and catches his mouth in a brief, chaste embrace.
“Close your eyes.”
He does, hearing her rifling through her nightstand drawer.
She slaps what he surmises is a condom and a cold, plastic tube into his hand. “Okay, open them.”
He blinks at the tube, realizing he’s missing a crucial point in this and willing it to reveal its mystery. It’s lube. Check. People use lube to make, things, glide easier. Check. But they’d never had an issue with that, and the only other kind of, thing, it was used for was—oh no. No, no, no. Sandy was tiny enough as is and she couldn’t want him to put his—in her—“I can’t do that to you!” he blurts.
“I—“ His hands flail as he gets more flustered. Where does he start? He was expecting something like sex in the kitchen. Had never strayed from face-to-face, missionary sex in his life and certainly wasn’t aiming to make the leap from point a to point z tonight.
“I thought most guys wanted to try it?”
The crestfallen tone is weighing heavily on him but—Jared’s not most guys. Is apparently as big a freak as everyone says because as much as desperately as he wants to make her happy, there’s no way. He can not do that.
All he can do is shake his head and cast his gaze downward.
Humiliation evident, she pulls the sheet about her, covering up. “Maybe you should go,”
Scrubbing his hand over his face, he gathers his pants from the floor, sting of how badly he blew it beginning to sink in.
“I think I respect women too much to have good sex with them,” Jared laments while they’re waiting on their shots. Four of them having ended up in a bar-club combo somewhere downtown, far away from campus at Mike’s behest.
“You won’t have that problem tonight,” Tom informs him.
“I’m not having sex with another woman.”
“No one’s saying that,” Mike rolls his eyes. “But for years, harmless, helpful Jared has been strangling—“ he wrings his hands together exaggeratedly, “—choking the life out of, fun, sociable Jared. It’s his turn. Let him fly,” now his hands are forming wings.
He knocks his head into the wall behind their booth. If the subject matter were different, he’d be calling his Mom right now. Which would only go so far toward solving anything considering it’s completely indicative of his overall malfunction.
There is a chance it’s not wholly his fault. Maybe he just didn’t move on from the latency stage of his psychosexual development and become interested in his nether regions again. If he explained in enough detail, Professor Morgan might give him credit for using himself as a short answer anecdote on his exam tomorrow.
“Does that look like Don Wrigley to you?” Mike posits, staring off into another part of the room.
“Where?” Tom cranes his neck.
“Over there, in between the two brunettes with the fake tits.”
“You’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
“Who’s Don Wrigley?” Chad asks them.
“The station manager of WKYX, second-rated modern rock station in the metropolitan area,” Jared recites. The two of them were serious when it came to business. Always on the look out for the chance to break out of campus radio and into the big leagues. He’s not surprised they knew what bar the station manager frequented and uninterested in discovering what means they employed to come to that fact.
“You assholes brought us here so you could network?” Chad gets indignant.
“It’s a work night and we’re multi-tasking. Deal with it, dude,” Mike shoots back.
“That is so fucking lame. It’s Jared’s birthday.”
Mike takes a minute to study him before he forms a response. “Hey, Chad, why don’t you ask Jared about Sandy?”
“What?” Jared finally jumps in.
“Okay! Why don’t we see what’s holding those shots up, Mike?” Tom intervenes. Dragging him off towards the bar.
Being Jared, and generally the only sober party, he usually acts as peacemaker when Mike gets belligerent or Chad—falls all over someone one too many times—but he has his own problems for once. Problems he’s apparently been ignorant of for years. Or had at least convinced himself were positives.
Chad is pointedly not meeting his gaze and failing badly at nonchalance. The drinks can’t come quickly enough. Mike and Tom weave their way back through the crowd having pilfered the waitress’ tray. “The things you have to do to get good service,” Mike comments. Popping their bottle and sloppily pouring out shots, spilling everywhere.
He clears his throat with authority. “Tom has graciously offered to be our designated driver so that Jared may know the joy of spirits as we all have. Before we drink, I just want to say: alcohol makes the aesthetically challenged gorgeous. The weak, strong. The boring,” he arches an eyebrow at Jared, “—Fun. To Jared. The nicest guy you’ll ever meet.”
“Fucking a,” Chad agrees. The three of them knock back their first shots, grimaces in triplicate. Jared had had a few beers before, and that was bad enough but this—it scorches and lingers and his stomach is already protesting.
“You guys don’t want chasers?” Tom offers, face scrunched in sympathy.
“Fuck chasers. Unless Murray needs the help,” Mike slides in.
Jared cuts off Chad’s response. “Another.”
“Whoo!” Mike beams. “Look at our boy go.” Jared takes the second shot as readily as the first. Grabs the bottle from Tom and pours himself a third. “When’s this supposed to kick in?” Jared coughs.
“You do have to give it a minute, man,” Chad advises, face still contorted in distaste.
“Seriously, you keep that up and next thing you know you’ll be puking in your garbage can tomorrow.” Tom is giving him another of his veiled looks of concern. Jared feels sorry he’s going to have to be the wrangler tonight, more than enough experience to know that between Mike’s lunacy and Chad’s neediness, he would come to regret it before night’s end.
But today—he just wants today to be over and done with. “Good. See you tomorrow,” he raises his shot in a toast and climbs into the bottle.
“I swear to god, that’s Don Wrigley!” Mike screams over the trance music pounding from the speakers. He plants a hand on the table and manages to climb on top of Tom, who’s blocking his exit, and roll off onto the floor, hurriedly springing up.
He’s off into the club in a flash and Tom lets him go, rubbing at his temple. Jared is swaying back and forth to the beat, smashing his shoulder into Chad and then slumping over in the empty space where Mike was previously.
“Where’s he going?” Chad asks dully.
Tom squints until he spots him, trying to shove his way into the V.I.P. section. “Shit. Stay here, I’ll be right back.”
“Bye!” Jared yells, sitting up. He feels like he’s floating on thin air. No worries or cares. “You think too much.”
“Me?” Chad wonders.
“No, me. ‘S what Sandy said and she knows her stuff. Like law and—Constitution.” Waving his hand around to make a point makes it feel like it’s not really attached to his arm for how limp it is. The heat from the lights and all the bodies is cooking his brain, he fears.
“Must be great. With Sophia, she reminds me of me and it’s fucking weird. I can’t fuck myself. I suck,” he laments.
“I think Sandy is pissed at me because I wouldn’t do her in her you-know-where!” he shouts over the music.
“In her hair?”
“No, in her—“ he stands up on the seat and pats his behind.
“Holy shit. That’s it. She’s perfect,” he says despondently. “Do you think she likes me?”
“You know, do you think she thinks I’m a decent guy?”
“Definitely not. Which is why you’d probably be perfect for her. I’m too nice,” he illustrates with jazz hands.
With a fist full of Jared’s shirt, he pleads worriedly, ““You’re my best friend, Jared. You have to know that, okay? You have to.”
“Okay,” Jared agrees in confusion. “Hey! I think I you were right. Sandy—girls remind me of my Mom. And I can’t have sex with my Mom!”
“They’re—little. You gotta protect ‘em from —” he slaps a hand over his mouth.
“Shh. Don’t talk about it. And I have to piss.”
Once he finds his footing on the floor, he sets off for the bathroom, finding when he uses his height to his advantage, wielding it like a battering ram as opposed to camouflaging it by hunching slightly—smaller people tend to move out of the way. See, he’s trying new things.
The stalls are all full so he leans up against the first one, knocking furiously. Who knows what they’re doing in there. Jared is very sensitive to the plight of the public bathroom and the horrors that befall it. Still has to clean the one at the café when staff is light and it can be shudder inducing.
He thinks he forgot what he came here for.
Oh, right. To pee. Actually, the urinals are open and apparently appeared out of nowhere because he doesn’t recall seeing them before just now. The door he’s been leaning on opens suddenly and he falls in, head narrowly avoiding the toilet. He rubs at it and it’s possible he did bang it because it looks like two sets of feet stepping over him instead of one.
The door swings open as they exit and a moment later there are hands underneath his arms, dragging him up. “Jared?”
“Tom? Thank god, can you help me up? The urinals suck here! They’re like a thousand feet away and all over the place.”
“You are up,” he looks him over. “You didn’t piss yourself, did you?”
He shakes his head and ends up dizzy, grabbing at Tom’s (he’s pretty sure) shoulders. Taking pity on him, Tom kneads at Jared’s neck for a moment and it helps a little.
“I want to call Sandy and tell her she’s my Mom but it’s too loud!” Jared screams, voice echoing off the tile.
“You’re no good to Sandy tonight,” he sighs in irritation. “I guess I have to make sure you don’t pass out in a gutter now, right?”
“Maybe? I can get the keys to Chad’s car from Tom and—“ Jared pauses and studies his face in deep concentration, pawing at it a few times to prove that— “You’re not Tom.”
“Never said I was.”
“But I know you. You’re—that guy.”
“Yeah, I’m that guy. Look, you got money for a cab? I’ll make sure you get in but I’m not footing the bill.”
He fumbles around in his pocket and eventually produces his wallet, holding it open in example. “You can have it.”
“Put that away and let’s go before I change my mind.” He starts to help Jared back into the club but Jared stops him.
“Will you come home with me?”
That seems to take him by surprise. “You’re just going to invite me into your house, just like that?”
The disbelief on his face dissipates back into exasperation. “I’m working. I don’t have time to hold your hand.”
“But you’re pretty—“
“Pretty, I know.”
“Was going to say pretty nice.”
He considers Jared with less derision and more sympathy at that. “Come on.”
“What was your name again? Rick? Russ?”
“No, there was an R in there somewhere,” he protests.
“In the real world, it’s just Jensen.”
On to Part Two