Title: Yesterday Was the Day That I Was Born
Pairing: Jared/Jensen, Jared/Sandy
Words: ~36,000 overall (5,404 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 Part Two
Ten minutes later, he’s standing at Professor Morgan’s door, wondering what the hell he’s doing. Here. Anywhere. This is the life of the brand new, exciting Jared. A clusterfuck. Somehow, he still flinches at the word.
The probability of getting to retake that test is less than zero. He should just save them both the time and embarrassment by going home to his traitorous best friend and his hostile girlfriend and praying that in his hung over panic he scraped a low C.
Shaking his head, he turns to go.
And hears it.
A low, muffled moan emanating from the office. Looking up and down the hallway—no one else is in this early to take a cue from. He shifts from foot to foot in indecisiveness until another louder moan comes out.
The door is locked but—someone didn’t close it completely, lock sticking out where it should meet the frame. An acrid smell filters toward him, the unpleasant, bitter aroma of a cigar. Common sense is screaming at him to leave but common sense went awol on him when he needed it the most. It can sit quietly in the corner and think about what it’s done.
Pushing the door open gently, the sight of Professor Morgan puffing contentedly on a cigar at his desk meets him. Legs splayed behind it, unoccupied hand coming into view at regular intervals as the head beneath bobs on his lap.
Now that he’s closer, he can make out the faint smacking sounds, slick glide of Morgan into another man’s mouth. He’d never seen two men together in his life. Always expected he’d have, well, the reaction he had waking up to find that he’d experienced it first-hand but after that, this is easier.
But still feels himself heating up, blood running hotter. Discomfort and uneasiness at being a voyeur but it’s the strangest thing, it almost feels like—
“Fuck!” Morgan spots him, jarring him from his reverie. He flails and nearly lets his cigar land in a pile of papers, which wouldn’t have ended well. Shoves whomever is under the desk away from him roughly, zipping up and blinking at Jared, obviously not recognizing him.
“Oww!” comes from his accomplice, bumping his head before raising it over the desk.
“Jared!” Jensen’s face lights up mischievously.
The heat pooling in his stomach shifts sharply to something more familiar. This wasn’t only the first time he’d seen two guys, it was his first glimpse of someone debasing themselves for money. It makes him sick. Angrily, he rounds the desk and pulls Jensen to his feet, dragging him out of the room as Morgan gives them as much space as possible.
Outside, Jensen jerks from his grip. “Ready to pay me?”
“What the hell were you doing?” Jared interrogates him.
“Uh, what did it look like? Working. Gotta eat somehow. Man can not live on cock alone,” he brushes off Jared’s indignance. “Jealous?”
Jared reels back. “God, of that? That’s what you call a job? Selling yourself?” Jensen’s face, now that Jared has stopped to search it, is bruised. Bottom lip busted, darkness circling his mascara-ed eye. Nothing he was sporting the last time Jared saw him.
“What happened to you?” his anger bleeds off the way it tends to when he sees that someone’s hurt. He tries to inspect Jensen’s injuries but he bats his hands away.
“What the hell do you care?”
“I just want to help,” he corrects in frustration.
“You just want to make yourself feel better so you can go back to your apple pie existence. There’s a difference.”
“Not so apple pie anymore,” Jared reminds in resignation. Jensen meets his gaze, seeming to mull over the statement. He sighs, put-upon.
“Speedy, the guy from outside your test, saw me around. He wasn’t alone this time and he and his friends jumped me. Whatever, it happens. ”
“I’m so sorry,” Jared says honestly. Cowards jump people with their friends. Too scared and weak to fight anybody one on one. Pathetic.
“Don’t be crazy. I met the nicest biker at the Laundromat I hit up to wash the piss out of my clothes.” More jokes and sarcasm. Everyone has their way of coping.
“Do you need a ride somewhere?” Jared offers, has to because whatever else might be changing, he’s still the guy that’s not going to turn his back on someone in need.
“I’m not a battered co-ed, I think I can handle getting home.”
“Why are you so defensive?”
“Why are you such an idiot?”
“Don’t act like a child.”
“You better watch who you’re calling a child because if I’m a child, you know what that makes you? A pedophile. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand here and be lectured by a pedophile.”
A few beats go by. “What?!”
“Family Guy,” he tries, “It’s a show—which I doubt you’ve ever seen. Okay, let’s go,” he finishes lamely.
Jensen’s periodic directions pass for conversation for the first half of the drive. He spends the rest leaning over and studying Jared in a game chicken, testing how long it takes until he turns toward him in irritation.
Evidently, he’s bored with it now because he pops Jared’s glove box and sifts through, retrieving a photo of Sandy and him on her last birthday.
“Hey,” he protests, snatching it away from him and closing the glove compartment. “That is really rude.”
“So are a lot of things. People do ‘em anyway,” Jensen shrugs.
“Not in my car,” he declares, sticking the photo of he and Sandy in the visor, face down.
“She didn’t take it so well, huh?” Jensen asks, not mocking for a change of pace. Jared glances at him, kicking himself for apparently having rambled out his life story amongst the drunken fiction. “Doesn’t matter. She was leaving me anyway.”
“Oh, yeah. The anal,” he says knowingly. The wheel jerks slightly out of his grasp.
“I—it—“ he begins in his usual eloquence when most anything sexual comes up. “It wasn’t even about that. I just—she was just looking for something else, for your information.”
“A guy that’s sexually attracted to her?” He’s still not being sarcastic but it grates on Jared just the same.
He huffs angrily. “I’m sorry if I led you on but I was drunk. I didn’t know what I was saying, okay? And for the hundredth time, I am not gay! Why would I say I wasn’t if I was?”
Jensen stares at him, face composed for a moment before he cracks up, laughter wracking him. A familiar feeling, being laughed at, but not when he’s being deadly serious. “I don’t even know why I care what you think about anything,” he grumbles unhappily.
Jensen collects himself, catching his breath. “I’m sorry, man, it’s just—every time I think you’re bullshitting me I look over and it’s like—oh my god this kid’s for real.”
Jared remains unamused, face stony.
“Come on,” Jensen finishes laughing, “The world’s full of jaded assholes. You’re not one of them. Take it as a compliment.”
“I used to.” Before the rude awakening that he was the world’s biggest, stupidest, little kid. The protoectee and not the protector. Can’t even say words like fuck or anal out loud, know that Chad wanted Sandy, know not to give prostitutes he had drunken sex with rides home. They pull up to a light and he ruminates miserably on his newfound title as he waits for it to turn.
Until Jensen tilts Jared’s face toward him and presses their lips together. His own open in shocked stupor, granting Jensen entrance, but he doesn’t seize the opening. Swipes his tongue languidly over Jared’s bottom lip, slow and unhurried. It’s soft and easy—just the way he used to kiss Sandy. Except underneath, it’s intense and frightening, overloading his senses.
He jerks away, pulse firing dangerously. Everything about this is dangerous. But Jensen gives him a breezy, genuine smile like he hadn’t seen from him—since that night, he supposes. “I think it’s cute,” Jensen tells him.
“You kissed me,” is all he can say.
“I like to kiss. The light,” he reminds him casually. A horn honks behind them and Jared takes his foot off the brake, suddenly recalling just what Jensen was up to earlier. He wipes his hand roughly across his mouth in disgust.
“You had your mouth on Professor Morgan’s—“ he gags and searches frantically for a bottle of water in the back as he drives. Jensen finds one and hands it over with the lid off. He takes a few, rinsing gulps and spits them out the window.
“It’s not my fault you have a habit of interrupting me at work,” Jensen notes, edge returning to his voice.
“Work? Selling your body to a bunch of lowlifes? God, how can you not be sick over doing that to yourself?”
“Lowlifes? Like your tenured professor? I know you love your little dream world where you have to be the big hero and save everyone from the bad guys but you know what? Half the chicks I see on the street could kick my ass. And most of my customers? Look exactly like Morgan. Married, families, straight,” he rolls his eyes at the last word.
“I don’t have a pimp, I’m not an addict. Going by whore standards, I’m living high on the fucking hog. Save your guilty, suburban conscience the fucking effort and just let me out here.” As Jared slows down, Jensen unbuckles his seatbelt and hops out of the car. Jared does the same, not wanting to drop him in front of a roach motel in this run-down part of town.
“Jensen—I’m sorry. I don’t want leave you in this place. Please let me take you home?” he pleads, contrite.
“I live here.”
“Here?” He just can’t stop putting his foot in it.
“Just while my penthouse suite at the Four Seasons is being renovated.” Jensen withdraws a key from his pocket and opens the door, ending the conversation but Jared, determined, follows him in.
Jensen whirls around, “You said it yourself, you were drunk. Forget the money you owe me and go back to playing pretend. Nice fucking you.”
“The two of you want to keep it down before the manager comes back?” A husky voice says from behind Jensen. A guy in cowboy boots takes a guitar pick out of his mouth and approaches them, glancing at Jared disinterestedly. “This guy giving you shit, Jen?”
Unconcerned with the fact that Jared has a good six inches on him, he steps into his space warningly. “No, I just want to apologize,” Jared explains.
“For?” he drawls.
“I’m sorry but it doesn’t really involve you.”
“My boy is pissed. You barged into my place. I’d say it involves me.”
Jensen slaps his shoulder. “Leave him alone, Chris. He’s annoying but harmless.”
Chris chuckles and plants himself back in his chair, fixing a cowboy hat to his head and propping his booted feet up. “Something else you need before you get the fuck out?” he asks Jared.
Jared goes back to Jensen, still standing with his arms crossed. “You can’t be happy doing this.”
“Well he is. We both are actually,” Chris smiles.
“Since you’re so interested, Scout Master Jared,” Jensen starts. “It’s not like I plan on doing it for the rest of my life. We’re leaving as soon as we have the funds for the gear.”
“Speakers, wiring, new guitar for me and new mikes for Jen’s pipes. Maybe fix up my truck and we’re outta here, college boy.”
“You sing?” Jared is surprised by it. If he didn’t know better, he’d call the expression on Jensen’s face sheepish.
“Damn right,” Chris supplies.
“I don’t get it. You’re prostituting yourselves for that? There are plenty of ways to make money.”
“Not this much. Not this fast,” Jensen tells him. “What else are we going to do? Flip burgers for seven bucks an hour? No thanks,” he says emphatically.
“You could work at the campus café,” Jared argues.
Chris snorts. “Real world away from flipping burgers.”
“There’s a lot of competition for job openings but I could get you one since I’m Assistant Manager.”
Jensen regards him with a gleam in his eye. “What a shocking abuse of authority that would be. How un-you.”
“Is that a yes?” Jared is uncharacteristically daring.
Chris looks between the two of them, frowning. “Give me a break. What else are you gonna do, Jen? Hang out in the dorms? Go to his little classes with him? That’s right, you went to school for a few months, right? Bet that preppy shit is right up your alley.”
“Fuck you. What if I did?” Jensen asks him.
Chris gapes at him in disbelief. Jared is still staring at him hopefully. “What are you going to tell them about my face?” he questions Jared cautiously. Jared tries not to let his excitement bleed through and scare him off.
Jared sees him roll it around in his head and it doesn’t sound too bad. “Balls flying at my face is pretty damn close to the truth.”
He grimaces briefly. “So—that’s a yes?”
“It’s not going to bother you to have the hooker whose ass took your cock virginity making sandwiches next to you?”
Jared shakes his head vigorously. Of course it’s going to bother him but he doesn’t need to know that when Jared is so close to getting him off the street.
He glances at Chris and arches his eyebrow in challenge. “Okay. You got yourself a deal.”
Jared takes him by surprise, shaking his hand in official agreement. Chris mutters something derogatory under his breath and pulls his hat down over his eyes.
Slipping the strap of his bag from his shoulder, Jared places it by the others on the floor, rolling the stiffness out of his joints. He takes a breath and knocks.
Mike opens the door with a towel wrapped around his head and a tooth brush protruding from the foamy side of his mouth. Glances at Jared’s luggage. “Sophia finally scare you away?”
“—No,” he answers a beat too late.
“Your name is still on the lease, right? Sophia didn’t beat you up and write hers over it?”
Jared throws his hands up. “It’s just better for everyone if I stay somewhere else for a while.”
“Get in here,” Mike motions for him to grab his stuff. He throws him an appreciative look and saddles up, following him inside.
Mike and Tom’s apartment is reminiscent of every cliché, frat party house one could conjure up an image of—except it’s two guys. And while Tom has the less eccentric personality of the two, he’s no less disorganized and messy. To be fair, the pair of them are radio personalities which doesn’t require the greatest amount of planning or work to be brought home. What things they have to remember, they scribble on a giant dry-erase board in their living room.
“Look at the riffraff I found on the doorstep. Guess we have to feed him.” Tom peers at Jared over the top of his computer screen, taking a bite out of a slice of pizza. An ashtray sits at his side and Jared doesn’t miss it.
“Oh yeah, no more smoking now that Jared’s here to bust you,” Mike taunts. “Yeah, and no more being an asshole for you. Hard habit to break, I realize.” Mike taps his cheek and it devolves into an all-out slapfight between the two of them that Jared snickers at.
Tom ducks a final slap and casts his eyes toward him. “Your spirits seem higher,” he says coyly.
He snags a piece of pizza and goes for casual. “Just looking forward to work tomorrow. I think I did a good thing.” There’s a pile of napkins on the counter amidst the junk and he grabs one only to find them staring at him expectantly.
“Well, squash the fucking suspense already. What is it?”
“It was really short notice and I had to stretch the truth a bit, but I got Jensen a job at the café,” he reveals proudly. They blink at him absently. “I’m hoping he’ll take to it, you know, so he won’t want to—hook himself anymore,” he finishes.
“Who is Jensen?” Tom queries.
“He’s a hooker?” Mike throws in.
“That’s not the guy, is it?”
“He’s a hooker?” Mike repeats.
“Oh, I hadn’t mentioned that, had I?” Jared asks meekly, excitement blocking out that he hadn’t shared that piece of critical information.
Mike raises his eyebrows amusedly. “Fun Jared indeed.”
Jared is first into the building as usual. Being early is a positive trait. Totally unrelated to his jittery nerves over Jensen’s first day. The ones enough to override how exhausted he’s going to end up working a double shift to make up for missing the days at the beginning of the week.
Unlocking the office, he logs into the network to print out the day’s schedule and set the breaks. College students are notoriously short on cash and with the economy in its current condition, staffing and hours have been cut back. He was lucky to get Jensen in. Lucky and determined.
Morning shift was just the two of them. Perfect opportunity for him to show him how things were done, what working a real job you could respect yourself for at the end of the day was like. Running through the list of to-do’s in his head, he recalls the graffiti in the bathroom he still needs to take care of. Someone had drawn a door-length, nude, male torso on the back of a stall door. Awesome.
Well, mostly you could be proud to work a job like this.
Scrolling down to see who’ll be with them midday and close in the evening with him, he sees Sophia’s name. Still not enough to daunt his spirits. He clicks print and tapes the schedule to the wall, heading out to do preliminary set-up. Simple stuff Jensen won’t particularly need to be walked through.
He’s setting up the house blends when he saunters in. “You came early,” Jared breathes, impressed, before catching the dual meaning. “Or, uh—“ he flounders.
“First time for everything,” Jensen leers at him. He didn’t just come early, he cleaned up. Hair neatly gelled, make-up gone, wearing a Polo shirt and some slightly worn but very presentable jeans. “You look—“
“Like a tool?” Jensen supplies.
“You look good. I think nine to five suits you,” Jared says earnestly.
“It helps to have a hot boss,” he explains. Jared leads him toward the name tag maker in the back office before the pink of his cheeks becomes too evident.
In a cabinet, he finds a blank tag and the label maker. Jensen pins it to his shirt. “Make it Ross,” he tells him. He makes the label and peels it off, placing it on the tag on Jensen’s chest for him. “Why do you go by Ross?” he asks in curiosity.
“Don’t make it a habit to broadcast my name unless I feel like I really know someone.”
“You told me after one night,” Jared reminds him.
“You told me lots of things,” Jensen refutes, glancing down to where Jared’s hand is still on his tag. He lets it drop and clears his throat. “Coffee’s our biggest seller, you should get some practice in on the espresso machine before we open.”
“You two lovely ladies have a great day,” Jensen tells a pair of co-eds, smiling wolfishly at him with their painted lips. Jared pays them no mind, poor girls are barking up the wrong tree. But Jensen had been handling the customers well, smiled and greeted and charmed his way through, even when he messed up an order.
Jared keeps glancing over at him, ostensibly assessing his performance but finding his chest glowing in pride and happiness every time he nailed something new. So to speak.
The bubbly brunette of the two of them, leans forward after taking a sip from her iced coffee. “If you’re not doing anything tomorrow night, we’re having a mixer at the Omega house. It’s going to be bitchin’ and we’d love to see you there,” she infuses it with obvious temptation and rakes her eyes over Jared, currently pretending he can’t hear out of courtesy. “And your friend too.”
Jensen follows her gaze and leans forward to whisper something to her while he’s staring at Jared. “Awww,” the girls say in unison. “Thanks anyway,” the brunette pouts a little, waving bye to the two of them. Jared waves back, approaching Jensen.
“Bet you get that a lot. What’d you say to her?”
“That I would but my boyfriend tends to get jealous when we go to parties,” he smirks in accomplishment.
“Jensen!” he hisses, scandalized.
“What? We are boys and technically we’re friends at this point, right? Who goes out on a limb to get a total stranger a job? You, I guess, but we’re cool anyway. We have history.”
History that as monumental as it is, goes far beyond sex. As much of a lightweight he’s proven himself to be, as much as he had to drink, for the first time since all this began he doesn’t think he would have revealed as much as he apparently did to just anyone. Plenty of that night still escapes him but now that he’s gotten to a point where he doesn’t automatically flinch away from it, he can remember a general feeling.
He felt close to Jensen and the alcohol just twisted it around into abnormal lust. Jensen is waiting for him to ask about that night but as he opens his mouth a customer steps up, interrupting the chance. Reminding him it isn’t the best decorum to discuss this in the middle of the day at work. Stepping back, he lets Jensen handle it.
A guy with a ginger beard drops his cup heavily onto the counter so that some of liquid sloshes out onto Jensen. Jared sees his jaw tighten and hopes he can remain calm in the face of his first unhappy customer.
“There are grounds in my coffee,” he says slowly, pissy.
Jensen takes the cup. “I apologize for that sir,” he keeps his voice even. “It’s my first day and—“
“You know, that really doesn’t help me,” he cuts him off rudely.
“Yeah. Sorry about that. I’ll be happy to get you another cup.” As he pours it out, he gives Jared a smile of concealed anger but—he’s doing it. Keeping his cool and not escalating things. He grins back in encouragement.
While he’s looking at Jared, his hand drifts, causing coffee to flow onto the other. He sucks air in through his teeth at the pain and sets the cup down. “Are you alright?” Jared questions him in concern, examining his hand.
“You two want to make googly eyes at each other on your own time?” Ginger complains.
“No, actually I want to—“ Jensen starts pointedly, fed up.
“Here’s your coffee, sir,” Jared finishes pouring it and hands it over along with a coupon for a free one next time. “We apologize and we hope you have a good day.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he takes the cup and strolls off without another word. Jensen lip is curled in dislike. “Asshole,” he mutters.
“Forget him. How’s your hand?”
“Just a little burn, it’ll be fine. Thanks,” he says after a moment.
“Why don’t you take your break?” Jared offers.
“Sounds good to me. Where do you usually go?”
Jared shrugs. “I just get something from here. Eat at a table.”
“Wanna come with me? To lunch,” he clarifies.
“Thanks but I don’t think Misha would appreciate us putting up a ‘be back in forty-five minutes’ sign if he made one of surprise appearances. Especially since we don’t have one to put up. I’ll just take mine when Sophia clocks in so she can help you.”
“Just go when I come back, so you don’t have to wait. You’ll be five feet away, what could happen?” He makes a good point and Jared’s stomach is bemoaning the insufficient breakfast he put on it this morning.
“Good,” he reads the acceptance on Jared’s face. “I’ll see you in three-quarters.” Untying the apron from his neck, he types his temporary code into the clock and strides off with a departing wink.
The subsequent forty-five minutes are the longest and dullest of the day.
Jensen emerges from the back and starts making a club, Jared’s favorite, once he’s has clocked out for lunch. He eyes him curiously. “How did you know—seriously? Under what circumstances would I have mentioned that to you that night?” he asks incredulously.
Jensen laughs. “It was in your fridge. You offered it to me when we stumbled in.” He finishes plating it and presents it to Jared.
“You still have to ring me up,” he reminds him.
“Why? You work here. And you’re a manager. Thought you were entitled to free shit.” Jared just arches an eyebrow, nothing needing to be said at this point. “Lame,” Jensen sighs. “Okay, how do I ring up an employee sale?”
With the sandwich paid for, he takes a table close to the counter while Jensen moves around him, wiping down the rest. “How was your lunch?” he takes a giant bite of his club.
“Found twenty bucks,” he says perkily.
“Yup. Remember the guy that bought a piece of lemon pound cake like an hour ago?”
“Yeah,” he takes a swig of his bottled water.
“He paid me twenty bucks for a hand job in the bathroom.”
Jared does a spit take, dousing his front with water and bits of food. “You can’t sell hand jobs out of the café!”
“Why not? We sell those scones and those things are god awful.” True, but completely beside the point.
“I thought you weren’t going to do that anymore.” Admittedly, cold turkey may have been a pipe dream but it doesn’t erase the feeling of disappointment blotting out the hope in his chest.
“Jared, this gig is fine as a side thing but it would have taken like two hours of being on my feet and dealing with bullshit to make what I just did in ten minutes, tax free.”
Jared nods in idle agreement, face impassive, unable to meet Jensen’s gaze. “Don’t look like that.”
“Like a kicked puppy. Look, I showed up, I’m doing my best here. It’s all I ever promised.”
His sandwich is suddenly a lot less appetizing. “Should probably prep some more of these for the afternoon rush.” Wrapping it up, he tosses it into the trash and gets up. He’ll work off the clock until his lunch break is over.
“Jared—“ That’s genuine regret coloring his voice for having to be the bearer of bad news but he’s uninterested in rectifying it all the same.
“You’re right. You worked hard and you don’t owe me anything else.”
“Is it always this easy to disappoint you? Not everyone can be perfect like you. If that’s what you expect, you’re just setting yourself up to get hurt.”
“Perfect? I’m a— mama’s boy! I can’t keep a girlfriend, all my friends think I’m gay and lied to my previous one about it and oh—it just dawned on me that I’ve let the world walk all over me for the last sixteen years. And to top it off you keep doing all these things that fuck with my head and—I’m just trying to get on with my life, okay?”
Jensen is quiet at the outburst. “You said fuck,” he notes.
“Felt good,” Jared admits.
“You should say it more. Holding it in all the time is part of what landed you with me. And what a terrible fate that is.” He slings the dishrag over his shoulder and cocks his head like a precocious little kid. “Should laugh more too. God didn’t give you those dimples for nothing.”
His fingers fit right inside them and Jared knocks them away. “You’re not helping,” he carps without bite. Honestly feeling better despite nothing having changed about the facts of the situation. Apparently Jensen just has that effect about him.
Sophia’s sneakers squeak up and she stops to regard the two of them with a contemptuous hand on her hip. Jared’s faint grin fades, realizing how close they’re standing and how it appears.
“I hope he fucks like a tiger,” she says disdainfully.
The midterm afternoon rush is upon them and three people really isn’t enough staffing to handle it. The lines are stretching out into the cafeteria and Jensen is doing his damndest to keep up on the cash register, one day of experience far from enough to equip him for this.
He’d put Sophia on prep while he worked the other register, stepping back to help her every few orders he took in. It was mostly a matter of swapping places at the espresso machine. He squeezes a bottle of syrup to top the whipped cream on a hazelnut latte but there’s nothing but air coming out. “Sophia, could you get me another bottle of caramel drizzle from the back?”
Instead, she moves off to the display case to pull banana bread. Jared sighs and hustles in back to grab one from the shelf.
A few minutes later his request for skim milk is met with similar silence and understated disobedience. He lets it drop midway and just runs to the storeroom once again to get it himself. Jensen glances over his shoulder at the two of them before he rings up another order.
An order comes in for four sandwiches, which come pre-made but all have toasting requests attached to them. This time he stops Sophia and speaks directly to her. “I’d really appreciate it if you could handle those sandwiches,” he pleads quietly.
“Sorry, I’ve got drinks to make,” she answers snidely.
Jensen turns around, irritated. “Why don’t you handle the register. I’ll help him.”
“Fine.” Cool and unconcerned.
The workflow noticeably picks up under the new arrangement, the two of them working in seamless concert to get the orders out. The only weak spot, as expected is—
“Sophia, what was that?” Jared is straining to hear her barely vocalized orders. He knows from having a bedroom next to Chad that she can be as loud as she wants and right now she’s purposefully making it as difficult as possible to be understood.
“Skim white mocha,” she repeats at the same volume. Jensen slams the door of the mini-fridge on the floor and gets to his feet. “Why don’t you save the passive aggressive shit for later and just do your damn job?”
Several people waiting in line applaud him as Sophia scowls deeply, sets her lips into a thin line. She gives the orders normally after that and Jared shoots him a grateful look.
For that, he receives another of those maddening winks.
Once the customers slow to a trickle, Jared glances at the clock to see that it’s time for Jensen to leave. The moment snuck up on him but Jensen is already waiting for it to shift a minute so he can punch out.
Sophia is in the dining area wiping down tables, so he sidles up to Jensen. “Some first day,” he throws out conversationally, concealing his nerves at what Jensen’s reaction will be.
“I will say I have a new respect for the food service industry. My customers are much easier to please. And only one co-worker, although he could rival Sophia in bitchiness at times.” He steals a glance at her as well. “Still pissed over Sandy, huh?”
“She’s just being a good friend.”
“Working with her’s going to be a barrel of laughs,” he checks his cell phone, thankfully ignorant of Jared’s sharp intake of breath.
“Why not? It’ll come in handy to be able to put an official job down on loan applications and shit. Plus, I’m friends with the assistant manager,” he teases, punching in the numbers to clock out.
“Guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says cheerfully. Leaving Jared staring after him long past his leaving.