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Among Us - Chapter 2
namichan89
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It shouldn't mean a lot.

It doesn't mean a lot.

Jensen's life just goes on.

For the next day, the muscles in his back ache every time he bends sideways, a side effect left by his first, clumsy tries to ride Misha. It's a gentle reminder, and as weird as it appears at first, whenever Jensen feels that twinge in his back, he's a little giddy inside. Also, his ass is still sore, and Jensen wonders if that's something that always happens or only because it was his first time. He sits down with his laptop to google it, but can't think of what actual term to type into Google, then decides that neither he nor the NSA agents checking his internet search history need to be confronted with that particular information and closes the tab.

After all, it was just a one-off thing anyway, this night with Misha.

And Misha is gone now. Who knows if he'll be back. Plus, this all just happened because they don't know.

Jensen is back on set and working as usual, and Jason gets to say a few lines to Susan on how Dmitri is dealing with the whole Alexis situation. He gets to comfort her because she's angsting about it – of course she is, they're on a soap opera after all – and she gets to cry onto his shoulder, which apparently gets a couple appreciative fan reactions.

They had these before.

Jensen has been on the show long enough to have had one or another love interest paired to his character in the past, right until The Powers That Be decided that the character who runs their favorite setting doesn't need a girlfriend. Because he doesn't. It only complicates the other main storylines and Jason the coffee shop owner is very happy on his own, since all the people in town are venting to him over espressos and latte macchiatos all day anyway.

And Jensen is cool with that, he is, it's just that his character hasn't had a storyline of his own for years. From an actor standpoint, it's a comfortable, but unchallenging job. And he's not too keen on cheesy romantic dialogue anyway.

Jensen hasn't ever had a problem with stepping back to have other characters shine.

That's why he perks up at Susan asking Jason one day, “Do you miss Dmitri?”

The script supervisor immediately interrupts her. “Hold. It's 'Are you worried about Dmitri?'.”

“Thanks,” Allison nods towards her with a smile, then gets back into character. “Are you worried about Dmitri?”

Jason sighs and puts down the towel he used to wipe the counter down. “A bit. He promised to let me know what's going on, but I haven't heard from him in three days.”

“He'll be alright, you'll see,” Susan says with an encouraging smile. “So, Jason, there's a favor I'd like to ask of you.”

“Sure, shoot,” Jason looks up, grateful for the change of topic.

“Would you mind babysitting on Saturday? After you lock up around here,” Susan asks.

Jason doesn't mind, and it gives them a wonderful opportunity to have an actual baby on set for an episode of Jason being instructed on how to babysit and hold Susan's little bundle of energy and it's all a lot of fun.

“The fans love it,” Brian says to them three weeks later, after the episode aired. “The whole dynamic between Susan and Jason, I mean. They want to see more of you.”

“So, this is happening?” Jensen asks, a bit taken by surprise. The truth is, he's feeling his character getting closer to Susan, he does, but it's very much platonic.

“Absolutely,” Brian nods and smiles with confidence. “You'll see, they'll eat that up.”

“If you say so,” Jensen smiles back, trying to stay positive no matter how much Jason is not okay with this. Jason never needed a love interest. Forcing one just feels weird.

***

The next time they get a script, it has a scene between Susan and Jason that makes Jensen's skin crawl. It's been a while since that happened.

It's supposed to be subtle and flirty, but all Jensen can see and hear while Allison is doing her best to get a casual complaint about being a young parent across is too bleak and too boring.

“You could come over some time,” Susan offers to Jason with a tilt of her hip. “The little one likes you, he'd be happy to see you again.”

“I hope not just him,” Jason returns, in an unsubtle attempt to fish for compliments.

“Not just him,” Susan winks and turns around in a way that makes her dark skirt lift and her short blonde hair swing. She looks absolutely stunning, but Jason isn't too impressed.

They say goodbye and Jensen sighs quietly to himself.

It's just another Tuesday and Jensen does his job.

Can't be helped.

***

“Hey, have you heard it yet?” Allison bounces over to where Jensen is sitting in the cafeteria, having lunch, and plops down beside him, nudging his shoulder.

“Hear what?” he asks back with his eyebrows raised.

That's when Tom joins them, one of the guys on set that Jensen gets along with very well. He'd say they're friends, as far as workplace friendships go. Tom is smart and talented and also the gentlest, nicest person Jensen has ever had the pleasure of meeting. Unfortunately, he only plays a minor recurring role, so he isn't on set too often.

Tom's blue eyes find his immediately when he sets his tray down across the table from Jensen.

“Supernatural got canceled,” he explains, sounding as baffled as Jensen feels.

“What, after only three years? I thought they had good reviews and ratings,” Jensen shakes his head and lays his knife aside to take a sip from his water.

Tom shrugs. “Well, the ratings dropped during their last season, and the reviews started getting worse. Some kind of chemistry issue between the lead characters, as far as I understood it.”

“You're kidding,” Jensen is stunned. Stephen and Jared? Really?

Allison shakes her head. “No, that's what I heard, too. But you know what that means.”

“Yeah,” Jensen nods and can't help himself. He's grinning from ear to ear and he doesn't care one bit how evil it might look, that he's so happy to see two fellow actors lose their jobs. “Jared might come back. Alexis, I mean.”

Allison grins right back. “Damn right. Man, I hope they get him on the show again.”

Tom shrugs again, then starts to chuckle. “I honestly don't care how they manage it, I'm just hoping to have Jared on set again. It's been so quiet since Misha left.”

Jensen's grin dims at that. “Yeah.”

“He's such a funny, talented guy. Really brought something special to Dmitri,” Tom starts, shoveling baked fish into his mouth.

“Yeah,” Jensen says again and swallows.

Damn, he knew that Tom's blue eyes reminded him of someone.

He rubs his hand over his mouth, pretending to brush away some leftover crumbs, when all he wants is to hide how he feels when Misha comes up.

It's been more than five weeks and the twinge in his back has long since healed.

He's mostly convinced himself that the night he spent with Misha was a one-off thing. Curiosity, explored, done.

But he can't help it, when Misha's name is brought up, his heart jumps into his throat and stays there.

“Let's see if we get Jared back,” he changes the topic.

Tom's gaze lingers on him for just a second too long, and Jensen wonders if he suspects something. Tom has known him for a while now, but they're not that close that he'd dare ask what happened between Jensen and Misha, even if he knew for sure that something happened at all in the first place.

Jensen is more than glad for Tom's sense of tact.

***

Days like today, when Brian is on set, there's always something going on.

So, it's needless to say that Jensen is waiting for the bomb to drop all day. Either they're getting some new cast member – along with a big announcement, because they change cast members all the time, it's not something Brian usually graces them with his presence with to announce – or they're losing somebody.

Jensen is pretty sure he's not being fired.

His acting with Allison was solid these past few weeks, no matter how much he personally thought that their characters had nothing in common that would be a suitable base for a romantic relationship. Allison felt the same way, but. It was their job, and their paycheck.

Brian rounds them up at lunch, and Jensen doesn't know what to hope for.

On the one hand, he hopes for Misha to come back, because, well, it's Misha. And the thought of Misha makes him feel weirdly excited and only a bit awkward. On the other hand, he hopes to get Jared back on the show, for purely selfish reasons.

Jared and him – it wasn't a long story. It was a couple of episodes until Jared got cast for Supernatural, and no matter how much of an asshole Alexis was, Jared was one of the friendliest, nicest actors Jensen ever had the pleasure of meeting. Beside Tom, that is. He was talented, too. They hit it straight off from their very first scene together, finding themselves in an almost too easy friendship within days of working together. Jensen rarely had so much fun filming as he had with Jared. They were good for each other, they had that whole actor chemistry without any sexual implications, they just clicked and they fit and it was comfortable.

So the prospect of Jared coming back for just an episode would make Jensen insanely happy, while the prospect of Misha returning is still tainted with mixed feelings, mostly because of his own insecurities.

When Brian says, “Jared Padalecki will be back on set with us from next Monday on, reprising his role as Alexis,” Jensen sighs with relief, then starts to grin.

Tom high-fives him. Allison claps her hands and grins just as big as Jensen does.

Jared will be back. One of the best friends he's ever had will be back.

The tiny bit of disappointment stabbing at Jensen's heart is completely overwritten by the happiness he feels.

***

In true fashion for the set of 'Among Us', they welcome Jared back with an evening of drinking at Mike's bar.

“Look who's showing his ugly mug around here again,” Mike cheers when they come in, going so far as to walk around the counter to hug Jared. “Jare, my man!”

“Glad to have you back,” Tom says when he arrives five minutes later – it wasn't one of his scheduled shooting days, but he wouldn't miss Jared's welcome-back-party – and pats Jared on the back. “Even though I have serious competition on set now when it comes to who's the tallest cast member.”

“You gotta learn how to deal with it sometime,” Jared shrugs, then breaks into that sunny grin of his to match Tom's.

When Jared showed up on set earlier, he'd immediately greeted them with hugs and handshakes all around, and Jensen got an especially tight hug. “It's so good to be back working with you,” Jared had said into his ear, and Jensen couldn't help but chuckle.

He can't wait to get this whole ordeal over with and sit down with Jared like they used to, on the couch in one of their apartments, playing videogames or shooting the shit over a game and beer in the evening. With Jared, that's easy, second nature, something they didn't need to discuss to fall into. Kind of like it was with Misha, minus the sexual tension.

Jared is the kind of friend you don't need to talk to all the time. Even if you don't see each other for months or even years, you're still friends after being apart.

So Jensen restrains himself right now, just leans back in his booth and watches Jared joke around with Allison and Tom, watches the newer cast members watch him to get to know him, smiles to himself and drinks his beer.

Objectively speaking, Jared is more than attractive.

And Jensen doesn't feel the least bit attracted to him.

It's an incredible relief to realize that, for some reason.

Later that night, after they've worked up a nice buzz over beers and the younger actors started to trickle out on their way home, Jared returns from the bar with two whiskey tumblers in his hands.

He puts them down on their table, now wet and sticky in places from condensation and spilled drinks, and grins at Jensen. “Laphroaig. Your favorite, right?”

Jensen grins right back and picks up one of the two glasses, toasts to Jared. It's just the two of them now, so he feels comfortable enough to sling some fake insults. “You're not just the size of an elephant, you've also got a brain like one.”

Jared throws his head back and laughs in all his glory, loud and unabashed and unapologetic, a sound that makes Jensen feel warm and comfortable. It's genuine when Jared wheezes for air, then raises his own glass to clink it against Jensen's. “I'll just take that as a compliment. Here's to... being back on a show with awesome people I enjoy working with.”

“Here's to having you back,” Jensen answers, although that makes him perk up.

“What?” Jared raises an eyebrow, setting his glass down. Of course he'll immediately pick up on Jensen's thoughts. They always have always been able to do that.

“Can I ask you something about Supernatural?” Jensen asks while staring at the bar to avoid Jared's inquiring eyes.

“Sure.”

“I don't want to pry and you don't have to answer, but... there were rumors,” Jensen explains.

Jared huffs. “Of course there were.”

“And I just wondered how you of all people might not get along with somebody. It seems strange.”

Jared shrugs and stares into space for a few seconds, then clears his throat. “Do you want the long story short or not?”

Jensen smiles to comfort him. “Whatever you want to tell me.”

“I guess there's no point in telling the whole sob story. Maybe sometime else.”

Jensen shrugs, then nods for Jared to continue.

“I made a mistake. Well, we – Stephen and I -” and the way Stephen's name rolls off his tongue, Jensen already knows there's something wrong, because Jared doesn't put that much suspicious non-emphasis and a shrug into saying someone's name, “- we made a couple mistakes. We had great chemistry, and we hit it right off. In more ways than one, if you catch my drift.”

So Jensen had expected a lot, but not that. He guesses it shows, because Jared chuckles a bit nervously.

“Yeah, I know. It was a surprise for me, too, but, um. I'm bisexual. It's not that big of a deal, and we worked great, on and off camera, well-- until we didn't. Which was kind of what killed the show and everybody knows it. To the public, it's only an argument between the two leads, but practically everybody on set knew anyway. So I'm not surprised about the rumors.”

Jared scratches the back of his neck and Jensen empties his glass of whiskey in one go.

“Next round's on me,” he says and goes to fetch some more whiskey.

By the time he returns to the table, Jared fidgets with the label on his empty beer bottle, looking nervous and completely out of his comfort zone.

Jensen just tries to find the words he carefully set together while waiting for their drinks.

“Are you uncomfortable with what I just told you?” Jared asks, seeming dejected and unsure, lips pinched and a crease between his eyebrows, a look that doesn't fit him at all.

That makes Jensen's dive into this topic a lot easier.

He shakes his head vehemently, because he'd be kind of a hypocrite if he was. “Not at all. It surprised me, is all. I always thought you were as straight as they come.”

“Well I'm still pretty low on the Kinsey scale, but... it's those kind of situations, you know, where you're just caught up in the moment, in the heat, whatever, and you just go with the flow and afterwards you can't believe that you did that, but on the other hand you're glad you did? And then everything just falls into place and it's okay, you know?”

Jensen tries not to sigh too loudly or too obviously, because god, “I know.”

Jared huffs with obvious elation, and is only a little redder than usual when he says, “He just swept me off my feet, and it wasn't like he ever dated another guy before either, so it was great to discover that together. But dating a co-star is a minefield, and one day we realized that we couldn't handle it anymore.”

“Couldn't handle it how?” Jensen frowns.

“It's not just the publicity stuff, like conventions and red carpets that you always have to explain why you're only there with your co-star and not a date,” Jared starts, then sighs heavily and rubs the heels of his hands over his eyes. “It's also the whole discussion about whether or not you want to come out and which friends to tell and how obvious we can make it to the crew and... arguing is so exhausting. You'd think because you're both men, you know what the other one means without the whole schtick that women do, but it's not easier to deal with someone who's a straight-up dick to you.”

“Hm,” Jensen hums, and his mind circles back to Misha's words. He quickly shakes that off.

Jared groans. “It's hard to explain. But let's say I get now why women complain about men not telling them when things aren't as peachy as the women like to believe, just because men don't want to talk about their feelings.”

“Yeah,” Jensen huffs amused. “I get that.”

Jared looks up and smiles at him, then. “Cool. But hey, enough about my pathetic love life. What about you?”

“Single and happy about it,” Jensen answers, then quickly adds to avoid the landmine right in front of him, “Enough about my pathetic love life, though. You want me to update you on the road so far on 'Among Us'?”

Jared chuckles, obviously grateful for the change of topic. “It's probably necessary, I haven't really kept up with it, you know.”

“I can imagine,” Jensen smirks lopsided at him. “So Susan and Jason are currently on their way to dating--”

“What? How the hell did that happen?” Jared laughs. “Jason of all people?”

“Hey, I beg your pardon,” Jensen quirks an eyebrow at him and takes a sip of his whiskey, eyeing Jared over the rim of his glass. “Jason is a very attractive man.”

“He's also, like, completely romantically unavailable! If 'Among Us' was one of those cheesy dating simulation games, Jason would be the guy faithfully helping the main character along without being a love interest! It's just... wrong.”

Jensen chuckles, more at Jared's half-serious rant, and shrugs. “It's what The Powers That Be want, so.”

“Soap operas, I swear,” Jared groans.

“You're back working for one, if I may remind you,” Jensen teases.

“No, you may not!” Jared laughs and tosses his whiskey back, stares into the empty glass for a few seconds. “So tell me how that train wreck waiting to happen started.”

“Well it started with Alexis...”

Jared groans again.

Jensen hides his grin behind his hand and continues, “After you left, we had him mentioned on the show a couple times, and Susan got pregnant by Alexis. And then the baby was born and now Jason is helping her out and apparently people think that's very cute and romantic.”

“Wait, how did they wing the off-screen dates? Or, one-night-stands, whatever?”

And Jensen launches into another explanation of horribly cheesy backstories, until they've both made so many jokes about the show and daily soap clichés that they're practically lying across the table, laughing and in tears.

“Man, I'm so glad you're back,” Jensen gasps for air at that.

“Yeah, me too,” Jared answers, with a nostalgic and happy tone to his voice.

***

The thing about ad-libbing is that Jensen doesn't do it.

No matter how much he loves his character and thinks some sentences are out of line, he only throws verbs and grammar around if he thinks the sentence doesn't fit Jason's speech pattern. Nothing more. Nothing that would cause the script supervisor to throw a fit. He's learned his lesson the first five times around.

Life is too precious to be wasted on directors and writers alike arguing on set whether or not to keep the line or discard it or shoot the scene again just in case, which they do anyway. They've got enough lines to get on camera as it is, Jensen surely doesn't need to add any.

But when Alexis is all up in Jason's face about Susan and the baby and, “So you think you can be his father, or what? Please, don't make me laugh, you pathetic excuse of a coffee slinger.”

“Screw you, too,” Jason hisses back, his face distorted in the ugliest grimace he can manage.

“Or is it that you want to screw Susan, huh? Well good news on that front, she's easy as can be,” Alexis snarls. “That slut.”

Jason has a hard time not spitting right into his face, and he's supposed to defend Susan, here, to throw a punch, and Jared braces for dodging it. Jensen doesn't think about it when he fumes, “How dare you? Didn't Dmitri knock some sense into you, you prick? I swear if you laid even a finger on him...”

Jared hesitates for a second before he says, infuriatingly calm, “What's this about Dmitri? He's got nothing to do with it.”

“Cut!” the director – Paul, today - interrupts them. “Jensen, that wasn't in the script. I like it, though. Just, say it after defending Susan, alright?”

Andy, the script supervisor, just nods from the sidelines and Jensen stares from him to their director and back. “Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously,” Paul nods. “Come on, pick it up from the slut insult.”

Jared nods.

“Rolling.”

“That slut,” he snarls at Jason, who reacts immediately by slapping him across the face.

“She's probably the most honest, wonderful person you've ever met, and you didn't deserve her, anyway,” Jason spits while Alexis cradles his cheek, looking totally stunned. Jason was never the violent type. “How dare you? Didn't Dmitri knock some sense into you, you prick?”

Jared plays along this time, collecting himself and looking smug when he answers, “This has nothing to do with Dmitri.”

He looks like something happened, something he won't admit to Jason. “I swear if you put so much as a finger on him, I will make you pay for it.”

“Ah, so you're reverting to vigilante justice to defend your boyfriend, is that it?” Alexis replies, quick as a shot and as sharp as a knife.

“Get out of my shop right now, or I'm gonna call the cops,” Jason answers, a deadly calm aura around him.

Alexis laughs, deep and husky and dangerous, huffs, “Don't bother,” and leaves Jason glaring after him.

“Cut! Well, that got intense quickly. Nice, guys.”

Jensen has to shake the weird feeling off with unusual effort. Getting out of character and taking a few breaths has rarely been that hard. Then again, Jared has always been able to draw his best performances out of him.

“Why didn't you deny the boyfriend part, though?” the director wants to know.

Jensen startles, only now remembering Jared's – Alexis' – words and their meaning. “I, um. Didn't think too much about them. The audience knows it's not true, anyway, and if I'd go all No Homo on him, the viewers will probably take it the wrong way.”

Paul strokes his bearded chin with his index finger and thumb and nods. “Like it's a joke, an insult. I get it.”

“Even if it was true, it'd be okay, so not giving it the power to even be considered an insult was the right way to go,” Jared adds as he returns to the stage. “Sorry for using it, though.”

“It's alright,” Jensen waves him off, knowing full well that Jared would be the last to pull something like that and mean it.

The director pats them both on the shoulders. “Good work by the way, guys. I could practically see the sparks flying between Alexis and Jason, and not in the way Dmitri made them fly, either. Keep it up.”

He goes back behind the cameras to the filming crew to review some shots, and Jared leans towards Jensen, asking quietly, “What does he mean with the sparks and Dmitri?”

“Well... Jason and Dmitri kind of struck up an unlikely friendship, after lots of heated arguing,” Jensen explains.

“Who played Dmitri, anyway? Do I know him?”

“Misha Collins?” Jensen tries to sound nonchalant and probably fails.

Jared shrugs. “Never heard of him.”

Jensen almost swallows his tongue, but manages to cough out, “Cool guy. I liked working with him.”

And fucking him.

He doesn't add that part. Jared shoots him enough curious looks as it is. “Something else I should know?”

“Nah, that's all,” Jensen answers, only realizing after answering that Jared probably meant the whole Jason-and-Dmitri dynamic on the show, and not his personal relationship with Misha.

“Alright guys, another take!” the director calls from the sidelines, and Jensen has never been gladder to be called to set, if just for being spared the awkwardness following their exchange. “Last one for today!”

***

Allison tries, bless her heart.

Jensen tries, too, but it's just--

“Cut! Take ten! Guys, what's going on?”

“I can't kiss him, he's Jason!” Allison laughs around a snort, steadies herself with her hands on Jensen's shoulders as she leans forward and laughs into Jensen's chest.

“So what?”

“He's. Jason.” Allison grins.

“I don't get your point.”

Jensen sighs. “She means that...”

Pam, their director for this episode, shoots them confused looks. “Oh, come on. Don't tell me you can't do that,” she chuckles. “C'mon, Jason. Lay one on Susan, just so everybody knows just how much chemistry those two have.”

And Jensen almost splutters in protest, but then Pam shoots him a wink over her shoulder, and-- oh. So her words were dripping with sarcasm, then. Jensen can work with that.

He grins and makes sure the next take with Allison turns out to be one extra awkward kiss.

***

It takes five days until Brian shows up on set. He looks constipated, lips pinched and a frown on his face.

Five whole days, Jensen can barely believe it took that long.

“What does it usually mean when he shows up here?” Jared asks when they're gathering around him, Pam, the staff and on-set actors.

“Plot twist announcements and PR related stuff,” Jensen whispers into his ear, since everybody has fallen quiet.

In the silence, Brian looks around until he finds Jensen. “Jensen, this whole thing with Susan doesn't work. Fan reactions have been negative, so we're gonna drop that storyline.”

“Alright,” Jensen nods, and only wonders for a moment if it's his fault, his acting choices, that made the producers drop the story. Part of him hopes so, but part of him is also afraid to get reprimanded if that's the case.

“It wasn't yours or Allison's fault, by the way, it just didn't make sense to a lot of people,” Brian adds as if he's read Jensen's thoughts.

Jensen breathes a bit more freely after that.

***

“Hey, Jen,” Jared calls him two days later, when Jensen is exiting his trailer and on his way to his car. “Any plans for tonight?”

“No?”

“Because I'm in dear need of a wingman, and I don't want to ask Chad. Not really.”

“That's kind of obvious,” Jensen chuckles. After all, he remembers Chad Michael Murray in all his glory, from a short, early stint at The OC. How Jared can stand the guy, much less be friends with him, is beyond Jensen.

“So, The Q-Club today? I'll come over to your place and we can share a cab,” Jared suggests.

And since Jensen doesn't have anything better to do, he agrees.

***

“Why are we here again?” Jensen groans around the cigarette they bummed off some guy who's probably fifteen years younger than them.

It's two in the morning and they both have worked up a nice, comfortable buzz, and Jared grins at him.

“Well I'm here to get laid and you're here to get me laid, wingman,” Jared explains, plucking the cigarette from Jensen's fingers.

Jensen groans again and rests his chin in his hand, looks up at Jared. “What are we even looking for? Man or woman?”

Jared shrugs. “I'm more of a woman's man tonight, but I'm not opposed to men, either.”

“You think we’ll find anyone here?” Jensen adds, sincerely skeptical.

“It's the Q-Club. I know it's not a gay club by definition, but it might be the closest thing we have to a gay club. I mean, what else would the Q stand for?” Jared chuckles and takes a drag from the cigarette, snipping the ash off before he hands it back to Jensen.

“Tell me what it's like,” Jensen says on a whim, right as he exhales a lungful of smoke and air.

“What?”

“Being with a man. In a relationship, I mean.”

Jared looks at him in surprise. “Why?”

“Just curious.”

“Well...” Jared drags the word out. “It's not like I'm the big expert on gay relationships. I only had the one which, as you might recall, didn't end up very successful.”

“Okay, then, what was it like being with Stephen?”

Jared flinches a bit at the name, but shakes it off quickly. “Nice and easy, at first. Like I said, no idea if other guys are like him, but the whole dating a guy thing wasn't a big deal with him at all. The sex was easier, since he always wanted to have sex when I wanted to, and there's no such thing as a period interfering with that. So that's cool. And you can't hold hands or kiss in public, like with a woman, unless you want people staring at you, but that's kind of obvious.”

“Huh,” Jensen says and watches as the red glowing end of the cigarette comes closer and closer to his fingers, radiating warmth and smoke that makes his eyes water. From inside the club, the muffled bass line of Uptown Funk rears up every time someone opens the door to head outside to the roof terrace of the club located on top of a five-story office building.

Jared sighs. “Overall, it's just a relationship. Apart from the physical stuff, it's really not much different. You talk differently, that's true, though. But that depends on the person, too. With Stephen, it was like pulling teeth when he was angry. You had to weasel it out of him or – to make it worse – make him angry so he shouted his problems at you. Fucking A, you know,” Jared grumbles, then finishes the stub and dumps it in an ashtray.

Jensen stares at the city beneath them and wonders.

This isn't actually about Misha.

He's genuinely curious.

Jared makes it easy and just keeps talking, like he does so often – bless his heart. “I wouldn't ditch it on principle, you know. Same-sex lovin'. You'd be surprised how good and easy it can be.”

“So I hear,” Jensen coughs, thinks about Misha's hands on him and Misha's mouth on him and Misha.

Fuck.

“No, really,” Jared gestures and turns fully toward him, hip tilted against the railing of the terrace. “It's completely different and great in certain ways. Don't knock it 'til you tried it, 's all I'm saying.”

Jensen hesitates for a second, tries to assess Jared, but his perpetual smiling face gives nothing away. “You hitting on me or what?” he asks, jokingly.

To his utter surprise, Jared breaks into loud, pearly laughter. “Hell no. You're totally friendzoned, Jen, I'm sorry.”

“Believe me, I'm glad I am,” Jensen laughs.

Because Jared means a lot to Jensen, but never would it ever cross his mind to hit on Jared. The thought is so absurd that Jensen can't stop laughing. Jared just looks fondly at him, and they stand there in the warmth of an early summer night in companionable silence for a while.

“So, how about we get me laid? Because I really need to get my mind off things,” Jared sighs.

“Who do you have in mind?” Jensen asks, because Jared has that tone in his voice.

Jared hums, smiles to himself. “There's this brunette girl at the bar...”

***

It's a regular, boring Wednesday.

Jensen has a couple scenes with Allison today, who has been an absolute angel about the weird Jason-Susan thing. She was probably happier than Jensen that the whole thing was blown off.

“No, seriously,” she said to Jensen in private, after the disastrous kissing scene. “Not that I resent kissing you, it's just so... weird, you know? We don't fit, our characters don't fit. If you ask me, Jason had more chemistry with Dmitri of all people, than with Susan.”

Jensen laughed, back then, and hadn't reminisced about the fact that the chemistry she saw was probably the one between himself and Misha. It was alright, though. Misha isn't here anymore anyway.

It's just a regular, boring Wednesday and Jason stands behind the counter of his coffee shop, chatting with Susan and not being the least bit awkward about it. They play it pretty straightforward and easy, which Allison has always been able to do.

It's just a regular, boring Wednesday, and the door of Jason's coffee shop chimes its usual jingle.

This isn't supposed to happen. Not in the script they gave Jensen.

He looks up from talking to Allison. Looks up to find blue, blue eyes and dark tousled hair and a smirk on plush lips and--

Jensen swallows.

Misha is back.

Not only does it hit him from the far left field, but Jason, too. He swallows heavily, can't look away from those full lips, can remember exactly what they feel like on his mouth, on his skin. There's the spark in his eyes, too, affectionate and mischievous, making Jensen's stomach tingle.

“Dmitri,” he manages to choke out, his heart hammering in his chest.

“Hi,” Misha says.

They stare at each other, eyes locked, until Jensen can't help it any more. He breaks into a grin. “Man, it's good to see you.”

If they wanted his genuine reaction to meeting Misha again, they can have it, Jensen thinks.

Without hesitation, he rounds the counter, steps past Susan and greets Dmitri with a manly hug, the kind where you shake hands and pull the other one in with your spare hand across his shoulders. Two claps, not holding on for too long, and retreat.

“You too,” Dmitri says with Misha's spark in his eyes.

“How have you been?” Jason asks with emphasis, maybe too much thereof. It's just that he was worried about Dmitri, a lot, but he sure as hell won't admit that. He's also kind of stunned by those blue eyes on him, by that set of plush lips drawn into a smile.

Fuck, he wants to kiss Misha.

He wants to kiss him, head off to his apartment, and--

Dating a co-star is a minefield.

Jared's words ring in Jensen's ears, sharp and crystal-clear.

Whatever, he can daydream.

He can imagine, and he can read Misha's expression, and he can tell himself that there's still more behind that easy smile. He can still hope.

“Things got out of hand with Alexis. So I return to you,” Dmitri explains.

“Yeah, I noticed that,” Jason snorts. “He's been around.”

“We can take care of him now,” Dmitri nods, smile still firmly in place.

“Cut!”

Jensen stares at Misha.

Misha's eyes are still fixed on him, not blinking, not budging an inch.

It's like a spell on Jensen, making him happy and high on his own feelings. Eventually, they both break into a grin, and Misha knocks his fist against Jensen's shoulder, and Jensen thinks Misha is a bit too far in his personal space, so he shoves him away with one hand cupping his cheek.

“It's really good to see you,” Jensen admits under his breath.

“Yeah,” Misha agrees, still grinning.

“And that's our unexpected cliffhanger for this episode, and also our wrap. Good job, everybody. Jensen, wonderful delivery. I just wanted to have you genuine on this. You nailed it. Misha, great one. That was a perfect scene right there.”

“No do-overs?” Jensen asks, puzzled, but the director just shrugs and shakes his head. “Alright.”

That's when Jared bounces onto set with an unsettling grin stretching his lips, like he knows something Jensen and Misha don't. Jensen feels like he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Hey!” he greets Misha immediately, in his usual friendly manner, “So you must be Misha!”

“And you're Jared, right?” Misha returns, and Jensen watches as they shake hands and size each other up.

“Drinks tonight?” Jared asks eventually after exchanging some small talk, casting a glance towards Jensen, too.

“Sure,” Jensen says. “You in, Misha?”

“Of course!”

***

There's a point, in every story arc, a dead point.

Jensen knows it, he's been on a shit show of dead point after dead point for six years. He feels it when a character's arc runs out and there's nothing more to tell. Or half the story has been told, but they're at a comfortable point in space and time where everything is more or less well and otherwise boring. It's a good point to reach, it's nice and easy, but it doesn't keep their regulars glued to their TV screens.

With soap operas, it's an endless flow, like sine and cosine curves. While one builds up to a climax, the other is calming down, only to start anew once the former has reached its climax.

Build-up, climax, cool-down, repeat.

And since not every regular is invested in every story line, they have a continuous bundle of four to six story lines going on at all times, Jason's being only one of them, if at all.

The thing is, Jason has reached that dead point now.

He's good with Susan and with not being interested in her as more than a friend; his foe Alexis is still in town, but he's more Susan's problem and Susan's story line. So Jason is back to being a regular side character without his own story, after the writers hit themselves in the face with their attempt at writing him into Susan's arc.

Dead point.

This is usually where new characters are introduced, old characters are brought back, or a plane crashes into the street where the whole cast lives in and they do a five year time jump.

Who is he kidding, they aren't Desperate Housewives. They don't have the budget for a plane crash, CGI or not. Though the writers probably wouldn't be averse to the whole concept.

Not that a side character like Jason would ever be worth a plane crash.

But for what it's worth, Dmitri is back. Jensen can work with that. Jason can work with that.

“Bottoms up!” Jared announces, and Jensen swallows the shot glass of way too sweet, too artificially flavored strawberry limes with a grimace.

“Why are we doing shots like we're back in college?” Misha coughs, mirroring Jensen's disgusted grimace.

Jensen pats him on the back, his hand firm and steady, even though he feels a bit jittery inside. Restless. “Because we're all in denial about getting old. Don't tell Jared,” he stage-whispers into Misha's ear.

Misha starts to laugh and leans into Jensen's body just a bit, but enough so that Jensen can smell his aftershave, his shampoo, him. Sandalwood, lemons, Misha.

It's like a flash grenade went off in front of him. Jensen sees white, and images float back to him, of Misha and him rolling around in the sheets, naked, laughing, easy.

He looks at Misha then, who has his beer tilted towards him but is too captured by whatever story Jared is telling, so the bottle just hovers in mid-air, rim almost against Misha's lips, his thumb and index finger curled around the neck of it.

Jensen's thoughts admittedly drift off into NC-17 territory, before he shakes himself out of the fantasy – only to be met with Jared's eyes, meeting his with the amused raise of an eyebrow.

Really?

Yes, really.
Not like Jensen had any say in this. Not like Jensen could change the way his eyes are always drawn towards Misha, towards his blue, blue eyes and that sharp nose and cheekbones.

Not like Jensen feels guilty for looking.

Not like Jensen would tell anyone any of this. Doesn't matter how Jared looks at him.

***

“So, what happened?” Jason wants to know, over the counter while he prepares two cups of black coffee.

It's dark outside, Jason's coffee shop has just closed, and his last customer of the day – and the most awaited, all the same – sits at the counter, drumming his fingers on the wooden surface.

“He was warned that I look for him,” Dmitri explains, accepting the white cup of steaming hot coffee with a grateful nod.

Jason sips from his own cup, and Jensen has always been glad that he gets to drink as much of the real coffee from a real barista coffee machine as the scene allows him to.

“So, you didn't get to confront him?”

“No, I did find him,” Dmitri corrects him, then winces. “Didn't end good. I had to go away for some time, get out, so he can not find me. I followed when he fly to America, but he can not see me. Not now.”

“Mustn't,” Jason corrects him.

“Yes.”

“What can I do?”

Dmitri fumbles with his cup, looks into the dark, swirling fluid in it, and back up at Jason with big, begging eyes. “I don't have place to stay. Being outside is dangerous and I need uh... inconspicos--” and just the way he pronounces the word makes Jason crack another smile.

“Inconspicuous,” he says with a fond smile.

Dmitri nods and points a finger at him. “That. I need a place like that.”

Jason ponders, then eventually sets his cup of coffee down onto the saucer, swallows carefully, drags the scene out. “My apartment is right above this shop,” he explains, slow and deliberate. “And I've got enough space, if you're okay with sleeping on the couch.”

Dmitri nods again, hasty this time, with a big grin on his face. “Awesome!”

“And you're gonna have to help around the house, do some chores and stuff,” Jason reminds him, only half-serious.

“Of course,” Dmitri agrees with excitement. “You know, this is the best information I got for a lot of months.”

Jason smiles, fond and amused and a bit shaken.

Dmitri and him are roommates now.

***

They have never filmed as much as they do now in Jason's apartment.

Dubbed the 'bachelor pad' by the crew, it becomes the background of a couple of heart-to-hearts – guy version, with lots of 'dude' and 'bro' and slapping each other on the arm. At least that's what their latest script says.

“I hate this, why would they talk like that?” Misha comments during one of their lunch breaks, fork in hand as he works his way through shrimp-and-chicken curry, his script in his other hand. “'Yeah, dude, no problem, I run around like that all the time. No homo, right?' I refuse to produce these words from my mouth. Nope. Not doing it.”

“If I'm not mistaken, that's Jason's line,” Jensen throws in, feels his lips twitch with the effort to hide his smirk.

“Ah, right. But still! Jay, don't you dare so much as utter these words.”

“Alright,” Jensen shrugs. His eyes find Misha's over the table.

“It's homophobic. And I don't like that,” Misha repeats for emphasis.

“I'd be a hypocrite if I said it wouldn't bother me,” Jensen admits, and feels proud of himself. Subtle hint at their night together minced into everyday conversation, check. Damn, he's good.

Misha raises an eyebrow and just looks at him.

Jensen raises an eyebrow back and smirks a lopsided smirk at Misha.

Misha raises his other eyebrow.

Jensen snorts.

They both break into laughter at that, and Misha snorts white rice through his nose.

It's like they're six years old again and just founded their secret club. Jensen certainly feels giddy like a school kid.

“So what do we say instead?”

Jensen grins. “Something along the lines of 'I don't mind you walking around in your underwear. At all.' Wink-wink nudge-nudge.”

Misha bellows out another laugh, with his head tilted backwards and his neck on display and Jensen... Jensen's heart decides to do a proverbial somersault. Stupid thing.

***

Jason's and Dmitri's scenes start to become the comic relief between drama with Susan and the other characters, mainly Alexis.

While Susan has a hard time finding a new apartment for her son and herself, Jason helps out with babysitting, and Dmitri and him get to bicker about household chores while Jason tries to get the baby back to sleep.

“Like an old married couple,” Jared laughs from the sidelines.

“Yeah, we got that tenfold in tweets and comments by fans already,” Pam, director of their recent episode – the fifth one since Dmitri moved in with Jason – adds amused.

“Really?” Jensen hears Jared ask, but then he needs to get back to make-up for some fixing, and he doesn't hear anything else.

They get to act out a scene of a lazy Saturday evening, sitting on the couch playing Mario Kart – which Dmitri hasn't known about before, but somehow manages to kick Jason's ass anyway.

“How do you do that?” Jason grumbles after his fourth loss.

“Push A and drive, like you told me,” Dmitri answers with a cheeky smirk out of the corner of his eye.

On the inside, Jensen turns to mush. Damn Misha and his damn--

That's when a knock on the door interrupts their scene. The camera follows Jensen as he walks to the entrance door with a confused frown on his face. One look through the door spy reveals the truth, and Jason rears back immediately in a sudden panic. Jason goes back to the couch, puts his index finger to his lips as a sign for Dmitri to be quiet, grabs his wrist and leads him into the bedroom.

“Hide in the closet,” he whispers. “Don't make a sound until I come get you.”

“Who?” Dmitri whispers back, eyes wide.

“Alexis.”

“Shit.”

Jason slaps his hand over Dmitri's mouth, shushing him once again.

Misha licks the inside of Jensen's palm, and Jensen's lips start to twitch, but they'll be able to cut that out.

The knock on the door interrupts them once again, and Jason retreats with a nod.

After two more takes, the scene is done, and they move on.

At the entrance door, Jason opens it to find Alexis standing right there. “Jason, my friend,” he greets Jason with a slap to the shoulder and a friendly smile.

Too friendly, too fake. “What do you want?” Jason spits.

“Hey, now. I thought we were friends, aren't we?”

“No, we really aren't,” Jason says defensively, crosses his arms in front of his chest as he glares at Alexis.

“Ah, but. Susan dumped you, right?” Alexis' eyes sparkle dangerously, it makes Jason shiver.

“Even if it was true, it's none of your business,” Jason replies, straight to the point.

Alexis shakes his head with a too-sympathetic smile. “She friendzoned you? That's harsh.”

“That's not true. Who says I was interested in her in the first place?” Jason states. “Besides, the friendzone is just a term to guilt-trip women. There's no such thing.”

Alexis just raises his eyebrows slowly. “So you wouldn't want, like, a bit of revenge for what she did to you?”

“She didn't do anything, and if you hurt her, so help me...”

“She did plenty,” Alexis sneers. “And you won't be able to do anything if I decided to get my revenge.”

“Screw you, Alexis. We'll get you behind bars one way or another, you'll see. Stay away from Susan.”

Alexis' eyes narrow as he tries to stare Jason down. “What are you going to do about it?” he asks with an arrogance that makes Jason grind his teeth.

“I'll protect her. And I'm not alone. I'll say it one more time, and that's gonna be your last warning: stay away from Susan, you sick, abusive asshole, and get out of this town and out of our lives.”

“You sure talk big for a guy who brews coffee all day. I bet you'd go down with one swing,” Alexis taunts him. “Frail guy like you, chicken-shit pussy that you are.”

“Take that back,” Jason growls. “And get out of my apartment. Immediately.”

Alexis' lips twitch with a cruel smirk. “And what if I don't? What are you gonna do about it, huh?”

“I'll make you,” Jason answers. “Get. Out. Asshole.”

“Sure, I won't bother you again, if you tell me where Susan lives,” Alexis' face distorts into a grimace as he raises his fist. “And if you don't tell me, I'll have to take other measures.”

“I won't tell you jack squat, and I'm not scared of you,” Jason stands, ready for a fight, fists defensively held in front of his chest. “And don't think I don't know how to--”

Alexis pulls back and slams his fist into Jason's face.

They don't have the stunt coordinator or doubles, they don't have the budget to wreck their regular set furniture, so it's only a punch. So Jensen just staggers back, holding his hand over his lip. There's going to be a split later, cutesy of the special effects department.

“I'm going to call the police,” Jason states, as calm as ever, as he reaches for the cell phone laying on the table right next to him.

“Don't think I'm done with you,” Alexis spits, and is halfway across the room when 911 picks up.

Jason has the phone on speaker and glares at Alexis, who, after a few moments of silently staring at Jason, turns on his heels and leaves while Jason states the incident to the friendly lady at the 911 line. It's only for recap reasons. That scene will probably be re-broadcasted every time there's a 'What happened so far...' at the beginning of each episode.

Jason closes and locks the door behind Alexis.

Then he takes a deep breath.

“Cut! Jensen, well done. Repeat and then you're off to make-up.”

Jensen nods, and Jared returns to his spot in front of the entrance door.

***

“I'm gonna kill him,” Dmitri states, an angry frown on his face, eyes blazing with rage.

Beside the fact that he picks up Jason's speech patterns, Jason isn't amused. “He's not worth the trouble,” he says, dabbing at his split lip with a paper towel and hissing from the pain.

Dmitri, who stands in front of the chair Jason sits on, sighs heavily. “Do you have a first aid kit?”

“Bathroom,” Jason nods, and they change the set.

Jason is a little dizzy when he retrieves the first aid kit from under the sink, but Dmitri's hands are on his shoulders to steady him in a heartbeat. Then Dmitri makes Jason sit down on the closed toilet lid while he chooses the edge of the bathtub to rummage through the kit until he finds iodine and a soft cotton patch.

“Hands off,” he grumbles, and Jason drops the hand with his blood-soaked paper towel.

Misha's touches are careful and gentle as he wipes the cotton patch over Jensen's lip, mostly to not ruin the special effects make-up. Jeannie is right there to fix it, though, and they need a couple takes to get it just right, complete with Jason's face wincing in pain and Dmitri scolding him for it, telling him to sit still.

All the while, Jensen has to look at Misha. Not that he minds, far from it, actually.

Dmitri's eyes burn with righteous anger, and his lips are pinched in worry, and Jensen can't look away anyway. Those full, plush lips, still so close, so tempting.

It's around the fifth take when Pam interrupts to give Jensen a note. She's grinning when she leans in and whispers into Jensen's ear, “His eyes are up there.”

Jensen feels his face heat up and manages a nervous chuckle. “Okay.”

Then Pam turns towards Misha to give him a note, too. Jensen doesn't understand a single word, and Misha nods without seeming as affected as Jensen is.

When they re-set the scene, Misha is somehow even closer. Head tilted, eyes shining, concerned, one hand on Jason's jawline as he cleans his lip.

Jensen is in so much trouble. He stares at Misha's blue, blue eyes, couldn't help it anyway, and manages not to let his eyes drift to Misha's lips too often.

“We're gonna get him for this,” Dmitri promises.

“He's not worth it,” Jason reminds him, “And don't worry about me, I'm fine.”

“He hurt you, he's gonna pay for it,” Dmitri promises.

“I'm not bent on revenge here,” Jason shakes his head.

“Then what?” Dmitri replies, heated, even though he drops his hands from Jason's face and rests them in his lap.

Jason sighs. “The only thing important is that Susan is safe. I'm just collateral damage on the sidelines, here.”

Dmitri shakes his head. “Idiot,” he mumbles, and his eyes shift to the wound on Jason's lip again before snapping upwards.

For a long moment, they lock eyes, and it's worse than a game of gay chicken. Misha is too close, and Jensen's character is too emotionally vulnerable in this situation, and neither of them is budging an inch. Until Jason leans forward, rests his elbows on his knees, and links his fingers between them.

He has to look up at Misha like this, but he cracks a small smile, winces when it stretches his lips and the wound. What he didn't count on is that they're even closer like this.

“Don't take revenge for me,” Jason insists. “Help me bring him down. Legally and without getting into trouble. Without casualties and without getting hurt. I don't want you getting hurt either.”

Dmitri bites his bottom lip, which is very distracting. “I don't want him to hurt you again as well.”

“So?” Jason gives him a hopeful, lopsided smile.

“Let's bring him down,” Dmitri holds out his hand for Jason to shake, sealing the deal.

In a moment of weakness and mental derangement and entirely too captured by hypnotizing blue eyes, Jensen takes Misha's right hand with his left, squeezing it.

Misha sits there, a bit baffled, taken entirely by surprise, but squeezes back.

They're holding hands.

Jensen's skin is tingling, and he doesn't want to let go.

So they sit there, eyes locked, smiling, holding hands.

Until Pam says – not shouts - “Cut,” and walks towards them, arms crossed in front of her chest, one hand raised to tap her index finger against her lips, lost in thought. She frowns, like she contemplates to give them another note, looks from Jensen to Misha and back, but eventually shakes her head. “Well done,” she smiles. “Repeat it like that.”

Jensen just stares at her. No reminder to do the handshake properly? No 'that was maybe a bit too intimate'? 'Those are two guys, act like it?'

Then again, they acted like two guys. Who were very close and also maybe a bit enchanted with each other's eyes. Jensen can just speak for himself, but Misha didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable.

“Jay,” he says, nudging Jensen's hand, and only then does Jensen realize that they're still holding hands. Still, neither of them lets go. “Let's crank up the UST a bit, shall we?” Misha winks, and Jensen is entirely too weak to resist.

He's basking in Misha's second-hand attention, and he enjoys it way too much. “Alright.”

Misha grins, but quickly schools his features so they can re-do the scene.

This time, after Pam yells “Cut!” with a huge smile on her face, Jared follows it up with, “This is where they kiss, right?”

Misha laughs, the tension falling off of him, and Jensen drops his head forward, laughing into his hand. His knee bumps against Misha's shin on accident, but they lock eyes nonetheless, and Misha leans down, lips puckered and barely managing not to laugh as he pretends to kiss Jensen.

Jensen's heart flutters.

Misha is so close, and he has three options to play this off. Option A, shove Misha away and laugh it off. Option B, pretend to give in, but retreat at the last second and laugh it off.

Jensen goes with option C. Within the blink of an eye, he meets Misha halfway, places a peck on his lips, and leans back to laugh it off.

Misha is baffled for all of two seconds before he throws his head back and laughs, too, a beautiful, pearly sound that makes Jensen feel all warm and fuzzy, just because he's responsible for it.

Jensen's laughter fades into a grin.

“I wasn't serious, you know,” Jared throws in, a bit more serious but still amused, and only then does Jensen notice how the entire crew had gone silent all of a sudden.

Because they all suddenly roar up with cheers and laughter at Jared’s words.

<< Chapter 1 | Masterpost | Chapter 3 >>

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