Jared maneuvered his trusty old LeSabre through the gravel lot, following the directions given by the volunteers dressed in orange safety vests and elf hats until he pulled into a spot at the far end of the nearly full parking lot. His four passengers all sprang from the vehicle the moment he switched into Park and turned off the engine. Genevieve, in her excitement to exit the vehicle, nearly hit Chad’s crappy Cherokee as he pulled in alongside them. She slammed her door shut as Katie stepped down from the SUV and then the two girls were bouncing practically in each other’s arms and squealing with delight.
Jared met Chad’s eyes over the roof of his car and his friend just lifted both eyebrows and shrugged helplessly at him. And then he smirked, and Jared rolled his eyes; there was nothing about excited girls interacting with each other that Chad couldn’t find some perverted enjoyment in, he thought, bemused, as he pocketed his keys and turned, trying to locate an entrance to the Christmas City lights display. He shivered a bit in the biting night air and brought both hands up to pull his beanie further down over his ears. He was just about to return his arms to his sides when one elbow was yanked down for him by a tiny brunette wearing pink, fuzzy earmuffs.
“Jesus, Sandy! Careful!” he scolded playfully. She just turned her face up to him, smiling brightly, her cheeks the very definition of rosey.
“Aw, Jare-bear, don’t be that way,” she whined prettily. “Aren’t you excited to see Santa?”
“Sooooo excited,” he drawled, just as his other arm was claimed roughly by Genevieve. Her cheeks were flushed just as pink as Sandy’s, and her other arm was wrapped tightly around Katie’s waist. Katie was arm-in-arm with Felicia, and Osric was hanging off Felicia’s other side. Jared looked up and down their human chain, then glanced back over his shoulder where Chad and Sophia were holding hands and just smiling quietly at the antics of their friends.
“You two are no help, you know that?” Jared admonished as Katie started pulling their line between the cars and towards the giant Christmas light castle that designated the main entrance to the park. Sophia just winked at him and Chad stuck out his tongue. Jared took in the excited, child-like chatter of his friends around him and he shook his head fondly at them.
“That’s it, man,” he shouted at Chad. “Next year, we’re taking the freakin’ bus so I can pre-game too.” The girls and Osric had gone through an entire bottle of Dragonberry rum about an hour before, alternating shots while sipping hot toddies. As if any of them needed to do anything to increase their natural exuberance, Jared thought, mentally rolling his eyes at all of them.
“Thought I wasn’t allowed to drink around you anymore?” Chad responded.
“You’re right, you’re not.” Jared nodded decisively. “Doesn’t mean I can’t still drink though. You can just ride the bus with us. Sober.”
“Aw man, you’re no fun. Such a whiny little bitch.”
Sophia elbowed him roughly in the side at that.
“Ouch! Sorry, babe.”
Jared just threw back his head and laughed.
“Alright. Ladies? Osric? Show me to the lights.”
They made it down the first stretch of the path, passing a display of a little Christmas-light Santa and his eight Christmas-light reindeer, Rudolph and his bright red nose leading the way. The small figures were animated in such a way to make it look like the creatures were leaping off into the sky, ready to fly around the world with the sleigh. This, of course, had led Felicia, ever the math whiz and all around word nerd, to attempt assigning each of them with their own reindeer name (after all, there were eight of them, too, so it only made sense). She had just finished declaring Chad to be Blitzen when the entire group got gleefully distracted by a volunteer dressed up as Rudolph. The fortuitous event, naturally, meant that all the girls needed their pictures taken with the giant reindeer. After the third girl attempted to hand their phone to Jared to have him take the same damn group picture with it, he’d had enough.
“Alright, alright! Let the poor deer go. One of you can put the picture on Facebook and the rest of you can get it from there, okay? Jeeeesus.”
At least the girls had the decency to look slightly ashamed of themselves, and Jared returned the iPhone to its proper owner.
“Man, it’s fucking freezing!” he said, replacing the mitten he’d taken off in order to take photos. He glanced around their current location. The lights were on display in a large park at the center of which towered a wire-frame Christmas tree; its light-draped surface constantly changed colors and patterns in time with the music piping over outdoor speakers. There was a long, circular walking path that ran along the edge of the park, light-tunnels arching along several sections, there were people by the dozens strolling through the park to gaze upon the lights displayed in every configuration imaginable. There were more reindeer, and visual representations of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and a menorah - even a pirate ship made entirely of Christmas lights.
Jared had been to Christmas City every year since he was old enough to drive, almost always with Chad, at the very least, in tow. The friends they brought with them had varied widely over the years, but the display just kept getting bigger and better each holiday season. And there were other attractions besides the lights as well; there really was a Santa - and a Mrs. Claus! - that children of all ages lined up to meet every night. There were several fire pits for roasting marshmallows, there was a free popcorn stand. Ooh, and there were free cookies and hot cocoa, too!
“Hey, you guys want hot chocolate?”
Unsurprisingly, this idea was met with much enthusiasm as everyone immediately agreed. Jared looked around their group and bit his lip in concentration.
“Okay, there are too many of us for me to grab it by myself. Chad, Sophia? You guys willing to help me out?”
“Sure man.” Chad shrugged. “No problem. What’re the rest of these clowns gonna do then?”
“Hey Sandy.” Jared grinned down at her. “You guys wanna actually go see Santa? If you don’t mind waiting in line, now might be a good time to do it.”
“Sure, Jare-bear!” She rose to her tiptoes to kiss him on his cheek with a resounding smack! “Come on, guys!” She grabbed Genevieve by the arm and the other three followed close behind, headed towards Santa’s throne.
“Like freaking puppies,” Chad mused as he watched them skip off.
“Yeah. I just hope they don’t get kicked out,” Jared agreed. Then he clapped his hands together with fake determination. What say we go get some hot cocoa?”
Sophia smirked at him and just linked her free hand through his and led him and Chad towards the hot chocolate stand. It wasn’t a long walk - the event coordinators tended to keep the hot cocoa towards the start of the path; whether that was because it took most of the journey around the park for it to be cool enough to drink it or what, Jared didn’t really know, but it meant they were already pretty close to its location since they’d only just made it through the first part of the display.
Jared stepped in line first, letting Chad and Sophia be all cutesy and couple-like behind him. He’d always thought this would be a great place to go on a date, but he’d never found a guy he thought would appreciate it enough to even bother asking. He sighed a little unhappily at the thought. It was never fun to be single, but somehow being single around Christmas seemed to be just that much worse. Jared tried not to get too bummed about it; he had a loving family, a great group of friends, and the hope that, someday, he’d find a guy who’d make all the lonely times worth it.
As fate would have it, that was the exact moment Jared reached the counter and looked up ready to make his request of the volunteer there, only to be caught in the gaze of an immediately recognizable set of sparkling green eyes.
“Well hello, you.” Jensen smiled down at him. He was wearing a bright red hoodie with the Christmas City emblem stitched across the chest and the same elf hat that the parking lot volunteers had sported. His cheeks seemed to have an extra sort of glimmer to them, and as Jared leaned forward to get a better view, he realized Jensen had some sort of glitter on his face.
“Are you… are you wearing… glitter?” he asked, a little dazed by the possibility.
“You bet I am,” Jensen answered with a wide grin. “All part of the costume. Even got special ‘ears’.” He pointed to said body part, and Jared couldn’t help the joyful laugh that bubbled its way out of his throat when he caught sight of the earmuffs cleverly disguised as large, pointy ears.
“Wow. You really go all out. That’s awesome,” Jared finished on a small giggle. He then realized he was holding up the line, so he made his order. “Uh, could I get eight hot chocolates please?”
Jensen raised one perfect eyebrow at him.
“Eight? You do realize the limit is one, right?”
“Well, yeah, but there’s a group of us, and…”
“Jared, I’m just teasing, it’s fine. You gonna be able to carry ‘em all, or do you need some help…?”
“I’ve got Chad and Sophia,” he answered, pointing a thumb over his shoulder. Sophia gave a little wave of her hand and Chad lifted his chin in his version of the ‘bro greeting’.
Jensen nodded back politely, then began filling styrofoam cups.
“So that’s Chad, huh?” Jensen asked, quiet so only Jared could hear.
Jared chuckled softly.
“Yup, that’s him. Sober tonight though, so he shouldn’t cause any problems.”
“That’s good.” Jensen slid a handful of steaming cups across the counter and Jared turned, distributing them between Chad and Sophia. Jensen smiled as he handed the last few cups to Jared to grab.
“Say, I keep running into you like this, I’m gonna start to think you’re stalking me or something.” Jensen winked down at Jared. “Not that I’d mind, really.”
“Yeah?” Jared asked.
“Yeah,” Jensen responded, and his smile was small, but like they’d just shared some secret between them. “Think maybe you could stop by this way again before you leave tonight?”
Jared’s grin overtook his face.
“Yeah, I think I can manage that.”
With the huge smile still plastered on his face, he turned to Chad and Sophia and headed off to rejoin their friends.
Nearly an hour later, Jared and his friends were finally ready to leave Christmas City. The girls were starting to fade, and quickly; Chad, Sophia, and Jared were all good still, as was Osric, but that really wasn’t surprising since he never seemed to run out of energy. As they approached the hot cocoa stand from the opposite side, Jared searched the brightly lit windows for any sign of Jensen. His shoulders drooped significantly when he saw there were only a few spectators in line, and only one volunteer tending to them, no Jensen to be seen. He paused for a moment, just to be sure Jensen wasn’t there; when there was no change inside the stand, he continued following his friends towards the exit with a slight frown and a heavy heart.
“Jared! Jared, wait up!”
Jared whirled around immediately at the sound of Jensen’s voice. All his disappointment disappeared and hope spread like warmth in his chest.
“You’re still here! I didn’t see you in the cocoa stand, I thought you’d left,” Jared admitted.
“No, I caught sight of you a little ways back, just had to go grab my coat.” He was indeed now wearing a long, black peacoat, which would be quite classy looking if not for the fact that his red hood was sticking out comically at the neck and his head was still fully adorned in his elf accessories and makeup. Not that any of that mattered, though; he was still the most beautiful man Jared had ever seen.
“Anyway,” Jensen stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels, breathing out a huff of air before continuing, “I wanted to ask you… I wanted to ask if you wanted to hang out sometime. Like, on purpose.” His gaze was steady on Jared, but he had his bottom lip trapped beneath his teeth, and he looked… nervous, of all things. Jared knew there was only one possible answer for him to give.
“Fuck yeah! I mean, yes. I’d like that very much. Jensen.” Jared smiled so wide he could feel his dimples indenting his cheeks, and Jensen’s returning grin was just as bright.
“Awesome! That’s… yeah, that’s great!” He let out another breath and his whole body seemed to relax. “Here, let me give you my number. I’m kind of busy the rest of the week, but my friends and I are having a party next weekend - maybe you could come?” He pulled out his phone and looked at Jared expectantly.
“Yeah, that sounds perfect.” Jared grabbed his phone from his pocket, too. A few moments and one text exchange later, Jensen was on his way back to his post with a shy smile and a wave, and Jared was hurrying off to unlock his car for his not-so-patiently waiting friends. Their complaints and protests fell on deaf ears though, as Jared still had Jensen’s voice - I wanted to ask if you wanted to hang out sometime. Like, on purpose - playing on repeat like a soundtrack in his mind. He just couldn’t wait for next weekend.
Pacing. That was the only word for it, really. Jensen was pacing. From one end of the tiny kitchen to the next, then around the cut-out-wall/island that separated the kitchen from the dining room, into the living room, past the front entry, and looping back into the kitchen again. Sometimes he’d switch his path in before he made it to the living room, doubling his time spent in the kitchen.
“Dude, if you don’t fucking stop it right now, I’m gonna put you on cleaning duty with Steve.” Chris scowled at him from where he was putting the final ingredients in a crockpot that, in a few hours, would contain his famous hot wings. “Seriously. Chill. Out.”
Jensen stopped in the middle of the dining room, spinning on his heel towards the island. He leaned his elbows on the countertop, pulling his hair in frustration as he peered through the open wall to look at Chris in frustration.
“Fuck, I don’t even know why I’m so nervous. It’s not like I really even know the guy, you know? I should not be this messed up over some guy I’ve only run into a handful of times.”
Chris stirred his wings and, once satisfied, covered the pot and turned it on High. He placed his spoon neatly in its rest and then stepped over to the sink to rinse his hands off.
“Yeah, it’s not exactly like you to be so hung up on some random guy.” Chris shrugged as he wiped his hands dry on his jeans. “Doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing, right?”
Jensen ran his fingers through his hair and considered Chris’ point. Jared had burrowed under his skin and didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon, and that thought didn’t scare him off as much as it normally might. He found that he wanted Jared around, wanted him close. Wanted to get to know him, socially, personally, physically. Intimately, in all ways. It was, quite frankly, terrifying. And yet, not. Jensen really didn’t know what to make of it. All he really knew is that they’d been exchanging texts for a week now, and he couldn’t remember ever having been so excited to just talk to another person before. Jared was funny, and smart, endearingly shy and reserved at times, delightfully and unintentionally dirty at others. There was a candid way about him, combined with an almost innocence that Jensen couldn’t help but simultaneously admire and want to see break, just a little. See what Jared was like when he let really let loose and lost whatever filter he did have. If Jensen was any bit as lucky as he was hoping he’d be, he’d get to find out tonight.
Just then, Steve popped his head out from the stairwell that led to the basement.
“Hey there, lover boy. You still pining over your stalker?”
“Yes, he is,” Chris groaned, at the same time that Jensen exclaimed, “No, I am not! And he’s not a stalker!”
Steve looked between the two of them with a bemused expression on his face before rolling his eyes. He reached behind him then and ascended the final step, carrying a large cardboard box in his arms. He dropped it on the island counter, almost on top of Jensen who moved his elbows (and head!) out of the way just in time.
“Well, here’s somethin’ that should take your mind off of him for a bit. Check out what Danni and I found downstairs!”
Jensen tentatively pulled back the corner of a well-worn flap to peer inside. The box was stuffed full of soft, prickly fake evergreen boughs. Upon closer inspection they looked like pieces of a…
“Dude, you found a Christmas tree in the basement? Just this, or the whole thing?” Jensen asked, a slight amazement coloring his voice. The four of them had been living together in this particular house for a little less than a year now, but apparently there was still plenty of junk left by previous owners stowed away in the more remote corners of the place.
“Found the whole goddamn thing. Plus what looks like a couple boxes of lights and decorations, too.” Steve looked so ridiculously pleased, his smile wide and his chest puffed out a bit with pride, that Jensen had to stifle a giggle.
“Alright, that settles it then,” Chris said, clapping his hands together with a noise that made Jensen jump. “Jensen, you’ve just been relegated to decorations committee.”
“Buh...what? Why me?”
Chris looked around the living area with raised eyebrows.
“Well, I don’t see you doin’ anything else useful around here. ‘Specially since you’ve just been wearing a hole in the floor, and we certainly don’t need another one of those. Therefore, you get to decorate,” he declared, punctuating his delegation with a stern finger and a hard gaze pointed directly at Jensen’s face.
“Alright, alright,” Jensen conceded with an overly dramatic sigh.
“You’ll be fine, princess. Now, how ‘bout we go haul up the rest of the boxes for Jenny here?” Chris clapped Steve on the shoulder and, with a final wink at Jensen, he turned them towards the stairs.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jensen muttered as they disappeared around the corner. Then he turned to face the dining and living rooms, resting his elbows on the counter behind his back, and started mentally moving furniture around to determine the best place to put the tree. If he was gonna do this, he was gonna do it right, and it was going to look perfect for their party (perfect for Jared, his subconscious whispered) that night.
Jensen finished decorating about half an hour before their party guests had been told to arrive. Which left him approximately thirty minutes to freak out about what clothes to change into for the evening. He solved the first part of that dilemma by taking a quick shower and styling his hair. Then he trudged to his room wearing nothing but a pair of black boxer-briefs (earning a wolf-whistle from Danneel as she exited her own room, looking flawless as ever), sat down on his bed, and gazed into the intimidating abyss that was his closet.
Ten minutes passed that way, Jensen staring blankly at his clothes, mentally laying out and subsequently rejecting outfit after outfit. He was still sitting there when Danneel popped her head around his bedroom door.
“If you’re considering something Angel would wear, may I suggest waiting until after you start sleeping with guy?”
Jensen gave a start at her sudden appearance and then his face turned red when he registered what she’d said.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Danneel. I’m not looking to scare him off.”
“How do you know he won’t like it? Maybe skirts are totally his thing.” She shrugged and came over to join him on the bed, wrapping an arm around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. After three seconds of staring at his clothes with him, she leapt back up and sprung into his closet. She quickly pulled out a pair of dark blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and a soft, charcoal-gray sweater.
“There! Done. Now, get dressed before Jared gets here and I just send him straight to your bedroom to fetch you, whether you’re wearing clothes or not.”
Jensen considered the possibility.
“You know, that actually doesn’t sound all that bad…” He leered at her; she threw the t-shirt at his face.
“Jensen Ross, get your ass dressed. If you’re not down in five, I’ll send Rosenbaum up to fetch you instead.”
Jensen immediately stood and saluted Danneel sharply.
“Ma’am, yes ma’am!”
Danneel just rolled her eyes and left, and Jensen stepped into his jeans. His indecision was gone, but the small feeling of anxiety was still fluttering between his stomach and his chest. It’s not like this was even a date, or anything remotely like one. It was just a party. That he’d invited Jared to so they could ‘hang out.’ God, why couldn’t he have just asked Jared out, straight up? That’s what he usually did when he was interested in guy… Even as Jensen thought it though, he knew that, for whatever reason, Jared was different, special. Jensen already didn’t think of him the way he’d ever thought about another guy, and that was what made his stomach jump and his heart dance. As he pulled the fuzzy sweater over his head, he decided right then that he was going to continue doing things different this time, if that’s what it took to keep Jared in his life.
Jensen checked his phone and re-read the last message he’d received from Jared.
Really looking forward to tonight. See you at 7!
He tucked the phone in his back pocket and headed downstairs with a huge grin on his face. All nervousness aside, he was really looking forward to tonight too.
Jensen knew the exact moment Jared arrived at the house because he was the only one of their party guests to bother using the doorbell. The adorableness of the action had Jensen smiling widely before he even swung open the door.
“Jared, hi! Come on in!”
Jared returned his greeting with a small “hey” and met Jensen’s smile with a deeply dimpled one of his own. Jensen couldn’t help but swoon a little; he had not had nearly enough time to appreciate those gorgeous indentations, but he was hoping he’d see much more of them throughout the evening. Jensen leaned against the door, holding it open while Jared stepped inside. Jared scuffed his snow-laden boots against the doormat and started pulling off his scarf as Jensen closed the door behind him.
“Oh here, I can take that. And your coat and hat too.” Jensen held out his arms to take Jared’s things, all the while doing his best to casually observe every delicious detail of the beautiful man being revealed before him. Under his short black peacoat, Jared was wearing an outfit fairly similar to Jensen’s - jeans and a sweater -, but his shirt had a more visible knit to it, and it was an olive hue that really brought out the green in his multi-colored eyes. He removed his beanie (an accessory Jensen had only seen him without that one time they’d met at the bar, during the RENT cast party) and shook free his near-shoulder length layers of silky chestnut hair. Jensen really hoped he’d get a chance - sometime soon, preferably - to run his hands through it. Once Jared was stripped of his outerwear, Jensen’s arms heavy with it, he started looking around at the floor.
“Oh! Right. Um, we’ve got a spot here, along the stairs, for your shoes.” Jensen pointed and Jared dutifully went to remove his boots. “I’ll just hang your stuff in the closet here and then give you a short tour.”
Jensen finished squeezing Jared’s coat into the already overstuffed entry closet then turned to his… friend - hopefully soon-to-be boyfriend, he admitted to himself - with a bright smile. He crooked his elbow.
“Shall we?” He asked, remembering the first night they’d met, and how Jared had escorted Genevieve out of the theatre. He was rewarded with a full-bodied laugh and more of those treasured dimples.
“Absolutely,” Jared rumbled at him, his voice still heavy with amusement. “Lead the way.” Jared slipped his arm through Jensen’s offered one, and Jensen flushed with pleasure at how quickly Jared had agreed to share space with him. It warmed him all over as he lead them towards the kitchen. So it felt like a bucket of icewater had been dumped on his head when Jared pulled away almost immediately, right before they crossed into the next room. Jensen turned to see what was wrong, only to find Jared looking between him and the ceiling in front of them.
“Ah,” Jensen stated oh-so-eloquently when he saw what had caused Jared’s reaction. Hanging in the top center of the doorframe was a little sprig of plastic mistletoe. Jensen wondered at its presence, since there hadn’t been any in the boxes of decorations he’d had, so he didn’t know how or when it had been hung there. Not that it really mattered; clearly, though Jared may be okay with sharing space, he wasn’t quite ready to move to anything more serious yet. Jensen just shrugged, trying convey nonchalance with the movement.
“Hey, no worries, man.” He smiled kindly at Jared, hoping it was clear that he understood Jared’s hesitance. “Why don’t you just go ahead. There’s always time for that later, if… when… we want, right?” Jensen winked at him, but the nerves from earlier were trying to resurface. He pushed them down as he waited for Jared to respond.
“Yeah.” Jared licked his lips and looked down at Jensen’s mouth, then flushed and dropped his gaze to his feet quickly before meeting Jensen’s eyes again. “Yeah, when we’re ready, that sounds great. Thanks.” He smiled softly and stepped into the kitchen, Jensen following only a step behind.
Steve and Chris were there, leaning against opposite counters, both of them with a bottle of beer in their hands. Steve spotted them first; when his gaze darted to the ceiling behind their heads, Jensen thought maybe he had a pretty good idea of who was responsible for hanging the mistletoe. Both men turned towards him and Jared expectantly; Jensen grabbed Jared’s upper arm (and holy biceps, Batman, Jensen mentally swooned again) and held his other arm out to point at his friends in turn.
“Jared, this smug bastard here is Steve Carlson - yes, we know what you did, Steven - and surely you’ll remember my friend Christian Kane from the grocery store.”
Jared gave a friendly smile and firm handshake to both men.
“Yeah, I do remember, unfortunately,” he laughed. “Though what is it I’m supposed to know about Steve doing?”
“If I’m not mistaken, Steve is responsible for the mistletoe.” Jensen glared at his friend, daring him to contradict his accusation. He just crossed his arms and leaned back against the counter again, his grin only growing.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Jensen said. “They also happen to be my roommates, ever since we were all in college together. Danni’s our fourth, but she was over by the drinks last I saw her. Come on, let’s go get some booze.”
Jensen turned around the island to enter the dining room where Danneel was, in fact, busy pouring drinks for a small group of people. Rather than bother her right at the moment, Jensen showed Jared where he could get some snacks, stopping to introduce him to more of his friends along the way. A lot of them had been his castmates in RENT, and Jensen was impressed with Jared’s memory of their faces and characters. He seemed to have words of praise for everyone’s acting, and he expressed a genuine interest in the stories they shared with him from the play’s three week run. He expressed Genevieve’s regrets to one of her fellow understudies that she was unable to attend the party due to being out of town visiting her boyfriend’s family that weekend, and that sparked a fairly steady conversation between Jared and the other girl. Jensen, not really having much to say at the moment, took a look around the room and noticed that the drinks table had cleared up.
“Hey Jared,” he started, laying a hand on Jared’s warm forearm, “I think I’m gonna go get us some drinks. You gonna be okay here for a minute?”
Jared flashed his dimples.
“Sure, Jen, I’ll be fine, thanks. As long as it’s not Jäg, I’m good with whatever.”
Jensen’s heart skipped happily at the nickname, and he swore he could feel Jared’s gaze on his back as he turned and walked away towards the booze.
A few beers in, and Jensen was feeling good. The longer they spent in the large dining/living room area - the longer they avoided any more mistletoe run-ins - the closer Jared stuck to Jensen’s side, and he couldn’t get enough of it. At one point, Jared had even casually draped his arm over Jensen’s shoulders as they were chatting within a group, and Jensen had every so slightly leaned even further into Jared’s touch. After a few moments of that, Jensen had grown bold and wrapped his own arm around Jared’s waist, to which Jared’s only response had been to smile down brightly at him, not even missing a beat in the story he was in the middle of telling. Jensen was certain his cheeks would still hurt in the morning with all the smiling he was doing.
Just then, a loud screeching noise filled the room and everyone cried out in pain as their ears were assailed by the high-pitched sound. Then Steve’s voice could be heard over the small PA system they’d set up earlier.
“Hey, sorry about that folks. Ain’t technology a bitch.”
The group just laughed lightly and then he continued.
“So, we’d like to thank y’all for coming out. Hope you’re all helping yourself to the food and the booze, as we’ve got plenty of both. In any case, we’ve now reached the ‘entertainment’ portion of the evening. Chris, Jenny, Rosey - get on up here, boys.”
Jared mouthed “Jenny?” at Jensen, but he just shrugged in response. He couldn’t help it that his dumbass friends had dumbass nicknames for him. He then gave Jared’s waist a quick squeeze and reluctantly pulled away.
“Well Jare’, you might wanna find a seat, since I’m gonna go sing some songs with the guys. You won’t mind listenin’ to us for a little bit, will you?”
“Oh god, of course not! I’d love to hear you guys sing together! That’s awesome,” he said, a look of almost wonder set on his face as he smiled down at Jensen.
“Well alright then. Enjoy the show!” Jensen shot him a huge grin and headed toward the stage.
Though it was their first Christmas at this specific house, Jensen and his roommates had been playing together at their annual holiday party and other random gatherings like it ever since they’d been in university together. Their friend Michael Rosenbaum, aka ‘Rosey’, joined them whenever he felt like it. They all played guitar and sang, but they were so familiar with each other and their setlist, that no song ever felt overwhelming in either instrumentals or vocals.
They had a pretty standard set in place for their holiday party, and Jensen fell into the familiar rhythm as easily as he always did. Except this time when he would glance out into the crowd, his eyes always sought out Jared’s face first. Well, if he was being honest with himself, once he landed on Jared, his gaze never really left him. As they made their way through their song list, Jensen noticed that Jared’s expression evolved; what began as innocent excitement seemed to grow more and more intense every time Jensen caught sight of his face. He shivered slightly and his voice grew a little rougher around the chorus, and he concentrated on the chords for a few moments, trying not to let his own growing excitement show in front of a crowd of his closest friends.
The next time he looked up, his own expression darkened, but not with the same intensity as Jared’s had been conveying. He narrowed his eyes as he watched Tom Welling sit in the chair right next to Jared and lean very far into Jared’s space. Jensen watched as Jared startled a bit. He moved away as best he could as Tom scooted even closer, his discomfort written clearly across his face. Jensen scowled, in the middle of the final verse, and as soon as the final note sounded, he was up out of his seat. He faced Chris, certain his concern was apparent to his best friend, and informed him that he had to take off.
“Yeah, sure man,” Chris said quietly. Then he leaned forward and spoke directly into his microphone. “Alright everyone. We’re gonna take a brief intermission, so go refill your drinks, grab some more snacks, and… well, you’ll know when we’re back.”
Jensen placed his guitar carefully in its stand and then immediately wove his way through the crowd, headed straight for Jared. If the look of relief on Jared’s face was any indication, Jensen had made the right decision.
“Tom, buddy! Say, you don’t mind if I steal Jared from you for a bit, do ya? No? Okay, great.” Jensen greeted and dismissed the other man all in one breath, even as he touched a gentle hand to Jared’s elbow, encouraging him to stand. Jared quickly rose from his seat and Jensen led them to the end of the living room, past the front entry, and up the stairs to the bedrooms. It wasn’t until they reached the top landing that he stopped to look at Jared again.
“Okay, I’m sorry if that was rude of me, but you looked pretty uncomfortable, and I cannot stand that guy. Are you okay?”
Jared reached out and squeezed his upper arm, a soft smile on his lips.
“No, you’re totally fine. I appreciate the timely rescue. Guy wasn’t really taking ‘no’ for an answer.” Jared removed his hand and shrugged, looking away down the hall towards the bedrooms. “‘sides, I’d rather be here with you anyway.”
Jensen waggled his eyebrows suggestively and grinned when Jared looked back at him.
“Here alone with me?”
Jared held Jensen’s gaze, and the intensity sent a shiver up Jensen’s spine.
“Yeah. Here. Alone with you. You wanted to hang out, get to know each other - just us -, right? Well, I want that too.”
Jensen sucked in a quick breath. God. Jared was going to be the death of him, in all the best ways, he could just feel it in his gut.
“Well, uh, my bedroom’s just over there.” He tilted his head toward the second door down the hall. “We could go hang out in there for a while, if that’s alright.”
“Yeah, I’d like that a lot.” Jared nodded his head and his bangs fell into his face. Jensen’s fingers itched to tuck the strands back behind his ears. Soon, he thought, soon.
“Alrighty then. Follow me,” he said, grinning happily once again. Time with Jared, alone, in his bedroom? Jensen couldn’t think of anything he wanted more. He turned toward his door.
When Jensen turned back to look at Jared, Jared pointed his chin towards a point just above Jensen’s head. Jensen spun around, only to find another bundle of mistletoe tacked at the top of this doorframe.
“Dammit, Steve, really?” he groused quietly. But then he felt the wide palms of Jared’s hands running, warm and soothing and exciting, across his shoulders and upper back.
“It’s okay. I don’t think I mind so much anymore,” Jared breathed into his ear. Jensen closed his eyes and leaned back into the touch almost imperceptibly. But Jared still noticed, and then he was moving forward and pressing his whole front side against Jensen’s back. Jensen leaned fully back, dropping his head to rest on Jared’s shoulder. He couldn’t help the small moan that escaped when Jared planted a soft kiss to the side of his neck. One more gentle but completely sensual touch of Jared’s lips to Jensen’s skin and Jensen was spinning himself around in Jared’s arms and capturing his lips with his own. Jared instantly gave as good as he got, licking and nipping fiercely at Jensen’s mouth. Jared’s arms bracketed Jensen’s head and his body pressed Jensen against the still-closed door. When Jared slipped his tongue into Jensen’s mouth Jensen sucked and tangled it with his own. He arched into Jared’s body, immediately wanting moremoremore.
Just as he was about to reach for the hem of Jared’s shirt, wanting to get his hands on as much of Jared as possible, Jensen’s brain kicked-in, and he pulled away from Jared’s feverish attentions.
“Whoa, whoa, hold up a minute.” They were both panting for air, and their lips were already a bit kiss-swollen. Jensen thought it was Jared’s best look yet, and Jared was looking like he might think the same of him.
“Not that I’m not enjoying this - because I really, really am -, but I do also still want to get to know you first. Before we go… any further. You know?”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” Jared agreed. “Won’t be easy, because damn… but yeah, I want that too, Jensen.”
“You’re one to talk,” Jensen said, taking another hungry look at Jared’s bitten lips. “But I think we can manage. I’ve got a couch and an Xbox. We can play a game, watch a movie, or even just talk? With maybe a little more making out? But… maybe nothing more for tonight?”
Jared nodded and smiled.
“Yeah. Whatever pace works for us. That sounds perfect.” Jared caught his bottom lip in between his teeth and looked hesitant for just a moment. “What about the music though? Don’t you have to go play with the guys some more? I’m good with more of that, too. Pretty sure there’s nothing you do that isn’t totally amazing and hot,” he admitted, blushing.
“Eh, they’ll manage without me,” Jensen assured him. “Besides, I have another guitar in my room. I can play you whatever you want in there.”
Jared gave a full-dimple smile in response to that, complete with a quick, swooping peck on Jensen’s mouth. Jensen stood there, dazed, for a moment, licking the taste of Jared from his lips, before Jared’s voice grabbed his attention again.
“So, uh, you gonna invite me in, or…?” Jared raised an eyebrow and knocked one of his huge fists against the door.
“Oh, right! Yeah, of course.” Jensen turned the knob with one hand behind his back, the other gripped tight in Jared’s shirt, and he kissed Jared all the way across the threshold.
(But not really, because it’s only just the beginning. ♥ )
PART ONE | MASTERPOST