Rating: PG-13 (OMG!!!! What is happening to me?) -- Wordcount: 1,700
Warnings: Schmoopy crushing boys, shy!geek!Jensen
Notes: Ok, I'm almost done with the next chapter of This Hell We've Made - it's ended up like twice as long as I thought it would - but in the meantime, this meet-cute wouldn't leave me alone.
Summary - Jensen is the painfully shy art student/comicbook geek who comes into the bookstore every week. Jared is the clerk with a massive crush on him.
Now with awesome podfic by reena_jenkins ! Check it out here! Or take a listen to both stories as a podbook (compiled and with coverart by the lovely cybel ) here! Now with Russian transalation - Теперь с русским переводом by elvit
Jared’s thumb strokes over the top corner of his paperback, ruffling the pages back and forth, back and forth idly. He’s been on this same page for the last twenty minutes. There’s every possibility that the book’s upside down.
“I’m back,” Katie announces with the same enthusiasm she’d greet a bout of genital warts with as she walks around the counter and checks the register. Jared grunts something approximating a response, not really paying attention to what she said in the first place. He glances up as stealthy as he can manage and searches between the stacks. Over in the far corner under the “Graphic Novels” sign he can make out the back of a spiky, dark blond head and one strong arm, hastily sketching out something in his ever-present notebook.
“Hey,” Jared jolts as Katie’s hand smacks into the back of his head, “I said I’m back. You can go on break now.” She flips her hair and gives him the ‘duh’ face that Jared’s pretty sure his little sister already holds the patent on. He’s really not up to discussing it at the moment; this conversation cutting into prime spying time.
“It’s ok,” he assures, hoping that the way his gaze flicks back over to the Graphic Novels section isn’t too obvious, “I think I’ll hold off for a little bit.”
Ok, apparently it was a very obvious gaze-flick because Katie’s eyes have followed along the same path like Jared had put up orange traffic cones for her. She groans in exasperation and rolls her eyes so hard he thinks she may have dislocated something.
“Fine,” she huffs, “I’ll go restock until you’re done ogling like a pubescent girl.” Katie stalks off, every ounce of movement dedicated to expressing ‘Jesus, men are idiots’ to the fullest extent; it’s actually kind of impressive – he reminds himself to watch Katie’s body language for his next character study project.
And the pubescent girl thing? Harsh, but fair.
Jared knows he’s being pathetic about this little crush – he’s a tall, fun, good-looking guy by all accounts, and he’s certainly never had trouble finding a date or, you know, a lay before, but there’s something about Jensen that just throws him off of his game. It’s like trying to hit on a frightened woodland creature; all skittish and halting and soul-crushingly slow. A matter which is made no easier by the fact that every single time Jared sees the other man, he’s overwhelmed by the need to drag him across the counter and stick his tongue so far into the plush, pliant mouth that his tongue forgets it doesn’t live there. If it wasn’t for the fact that Jensen would probably have a coronary and die of embarrassment, Jared would totally do it.
As it stands, he’s stuck with looking forward to Jensen’s weekly comic binge with an embarrassing level of breathless anticipation. He’s actually switched his schedule around to make sure he’s always working Thursday afternoons.
Practically everything he knows about Jensen has been gleaned from the other man’s mumbled, monosyllabic replies to Jared’s unnecessarily avid questioning and the available context clues. In fact, he only happens to know Jensen’s name because the bookstore gives a discount to the local college students and you have to present a student ID for it. Jared has mentally framed that tiny, awkward picture on Jensen’s ID card with pink hearts and gushy little doodles. Yeah, the pubescent girl thing was pretty much spot on.
Most people would probably have given up by now; it’s been a month and a half and he’s only actually coaxed Jensen into talking five times, one sentence each; Jared’s drunk up every syllable like a fine wine. The thing is, Jared’s fairly certain that Jensen’s into him too, if the way he blushes whenever Jared smiles at him is anything to go by – he doesn’t blush for Katie, and yes, Jared’s watched.
Plus, Jensen’s totally let Jared check out his sketch pad – from which he determined that Jensen’s an art student; confirmed by an uncomfortable nod. Well, ok, maybe let is a strong word; Jensen left it sitting on the counter while he rifled through his wallet and Jared might have started flipping through it without permission. But Jensen didn’t stop him, so there’s that. And he’d even smiled when Jared told him how beautiful he thought all the pictures were, which promptly melted Jared’s insides into something very much akin to goo.
It honestly doesn’t make sense the way he lets Jensen affect him; he barely knows the guy and has only nominal proof that he’s even capable of speech, let alone whether or not he’s actually gay and interested. Jared’s heart doesn’t seem inclined to listen to that particular line of logic, though, erupting into frantic butterfly flutters every time Jensen walks through the door.
Speak of the devil… er, angel, whatever. Jensen slips out from behind one of the long rows of books, a stack of comic books in one hand and his sketchpad in the other. He watches his black Keds – yes, Keds, because Jensen doesn’t do the overplayed geek chic thing, he’s original… or at least that’s how Jared explains it in his head - all the way over to the register, handing over his picks of the week with graphite-stained fingers. Jared lets his own fingers brush ever so slightly up against Jensen’s as he takes the comics from the other man’s hands; just barely enough contact to feel the warmth of Jensen’s skin. Jensen jerks back like he’s been burned, pushing his wire-frames back up the bridge of his nose with a fingertip while his cheeks darken under the dusting of freckles that Jared’s positively dying to lick.
The store’s still pretty old school and Jared has to punch in the barcode numbers by hand for every purchase, and Jensen’s visits are the only times he’s ever grateful for that fact because it draws the precious moments out just a little longer.
His fingers skate over the worn-smooth computer keys, working automatically as he glances up at Jensen. Those green eyes are still pointed down; plump bottom lip caught by white teeth, one bitten-short fingernail picking at the peeling stickers on the counter top. Jared’s hit with a pang of worry; maybe he pushed it too far with the touching. He’s usually at least gotten a tentative half-smile from Jensen by now.
Jared flips over the last book in Jensen’s stack for the call number and a piece of paper flutters down to the floor behind the register. With an annoyed grumble that’s more at himself for pushing too hard than at the stupid promo flyer or whatever it is, Jared tosses the comic onto the stack by the register and digs around under the counter until he finds errant litter.
By the time he stands back up, pinching the lost page between his fingers, Jensen’s halfway out the door, comics clutched to his chest, forty dollars sitting on the counter as payment. Jared’s heart falls untold lengths.
It’s unnervingly difficult to figure out how to push the button to open the cash drawer and put Jensen’s money in, his body operating with effectively no input from him. Jared’s not exactly sure how long he stands there staring at the little blinking numbers before he realizes he’s still holding the piece of paper in his hand.
The page is too thick for a comic book, lightly textured under Jared’s fingertips and ragged at the edges like… like it was torn out of Jensen’s sketchbook.
It’s a comic, Jared sees as he lays it out on the counter; slightly sloppy, hand-drawn boxes and chicken scratch handwriting underlying the clear care given to the actual drawings. It takes a minute to click that the guy standing behind the register counter in the first frame is himself, even though it’s actually a very good rendering. In the comic he’s smiling at a guy with short, spiky hair and thin framed glasses who is really nowhere near as cute a Jensen is, but it’s hardly surprising to discover that Jensen has no concept of his own hotness.
Whatever comic-Jensen lacks in looks, he makes up for in suave. He’s leaning against the counter, smiling and smoothly asking comic-Jared out for coffee – lucky bastard. Comic-Jared grins and runs a hand through his hair – which Jared has to admit, he does a lot – and it’s clear how much more attention have been paid to his portraits than to Jensen’s. There’s a lot of detail work on comic-Jared’s face, minute ticks of the pencil highlighting his cheeks and eyes and dimples, all the way down to the arduously precise depiction of the ridges of his throat, the little dip between his collarbones just peeking out above his shirt. Comic-Jared has been lavished with attention and Jared gets hung up for a minute on the warmth blooming in his chest at the idea of Jensen lingering over the details like that. That Jensen cares enough.
Comic-Jared, not being a gigantic idiot, of course agrees to coffee and comic-Jensen, being the smooth motherfucker that he is, leans in to get a fistful of comic-Jared’s – really tight; like, wow, do his clothes really fit like that? – shirt and drag him into a kiss.
Again, it’s obvious which figure received the most effort; comic-Jared’s hand is painstakingly defined as it cups comic-Jensen’s jaw, his face at the forefront with even the shine on his lips drawn in while comic-Jensen is only vaguely sketched. It makes Jared ache; a suddenly overwhelming need to fill in the pencil and paper shadow with the real thing; Jensen’s mouth kiss-bruised and shining from Jared’s tongue, eyes heavy-lidded and hazy with arousal. It’s a really good thing that the register is covering up his massive hard-on while his mind runs rampant on that image.
God, Jensen likes him. Jensen wants to ask him out. Jensen is so adorably shy that Jared wants to cuddle him and keep him as a pet. The noise that bursts out of Jared’s throat is a couple octaves short of manly and he doesn’t even care because Jensen wants to kiss him and this is officially the best day ever!
Now all he has to do is figure out how to get hold of Jensen. He’ll make a few calls; Jared knows practically everybody around campus – one of the perks of being a friendly kind of guy - and someone’s bound to know how to track down his – maybe maybe maybe, fingers crossed – future boyfriend.
After all, it’s the responsible thing to do - Jensen forgot his change.