Pairing: Jared Padalecki/Jensen Ackles
Disclaimer: Lies, lies, lies.
Summary: Jensen is attracted to Jared, a volunteer at the children hospital. But there's a little problem. He's Cupid's worst nightmare who hardly expresses his feelings while Jared wears his heart on his sleeve. But Jensen really likes him. Kathy is his cheerleader who wants them to date so bad so she can celebrate love and buy new shoes.
Note: Happy V Day :D
“Oh my God, this is horrible.”
Jared says. Jensen watches Jared in horror as his hazel eyes go teary after Eva told a story about the kid monkey she saw at the zoo some months earlier.
It’s not because Jared is weird. He doesn’t sob like a baby or a girl, with tears streaming down his cheeks and stuff. But Jensen just can’t stop looking at him. There’s something about Jared, the way he cries when he's sad or laughs his head off at something funny and it’s just…wow. Jensen can never do that. In 24 years, he can count the time he cried with one hand. And he thinks he only roared with laughter like once or twice. So yeah Jensen is…fascinated.
“Why do they have to separate the kid monkey from its mother?" Jared pouts. "It’s cruel. Little monkey needs his mom to cling onto.”
Even with tears in his eyes, Jared grabs the leg of the bedside table like he is a kid monkey clinging to its mother. Eva giggles. It’s easier to do the ankle rehabilitation when she is distracted so Jensen takes the opportunity. He stretches her leg and bends it at the knee.
“Tell me more about the zoo.” Jared continues, smiling wide and carefree. “Do they have penguins?”
“No. I want to see penguins!” Eva says.
Suddenly, Jared starts his demonstration on how a penguin walks. Jensen smiles and tries not to stare.
Jared started his work as a volunteer at the St. Jude Children Hospital in New York two months ago. Jensen is an intern in a physical therapy department. Normally, he is at the therapy room on the third floor but he goes down to patients’ room a lot, too. Some Fridays, he’s called to help setting up a kind of send-off parties for kids who are healthy enough to go home. It’s become a regular event. Jensen will bring soda and cookies from his locker, set tables and decorate the room with balloons. Then he will hide behind the T.V. and chuckle into his fist as Jared dances with the kids, his laughter loud and clear and just delightful. The party will be in full swing, as much as it can be with kids eating cookies and playing around, then Jensen will end up handing a box of tissue to Jared when he cries and hugs the kid’s goodbye.
Jared gets emotional so easily. And when he gets emotional, he’ll cry. What’s more surprising is that he acts like it’s no big deal, like it’s totally normal for a grown man to shred tears. Maybe it is true but Jensen just hasn’t been raised that way. For Jensen, he’d rather trip and fall on his ass and embarrass himself in public than having someone see him cry.
“Hey, Jensen,” Jared pokes his side as they walk out of Eva’s room, bringing Jensen back from his reverie. “Tomorrow is a movie night. Are you going to join? I think we’ll watch Eight Below. The boys got sick of Transformer, eventually.”
“Eight Below?” Jensen smirks. He wants to ask if it really is the kids’ request since Jared is known to be crazy about dogs. But he simply crooks his brow instead. Jared scratches his head, smiling shyly. Guess he understands the unspoken word after all.
“Well, I may have given some kids candies to back me up a bit. I’ll reserve a VIP seat for you.” Jared pats his back. “See you tomorrow, Jensen.”
“Bye.” Jensen says to Jared’s back. He jumps when Kathy pushes open the door of the therapy room on his left. She is in a white nursing uniform but she’s wearing a pair of very red shoes. With a smug expression, Kathy looks back and forth between Jensen and Jared’s back. Then she smirks.
“I saw that. You’re in love.” She attempts to whistle. “I need a new pair of shoes to celebrate.”
Jensen pushes pass her into the room. “I’m not in love. And seriously? Red shoes? You’re a nurse.”
She follows him inside, doesn’t seem to hear Jensen’s snap. “Hey, why don’t you ask him out? He’s cute and you’re definitely interested.”
“Yeah, okay. Now go change your shoes. We have a patient in five minutes.” Huffing, Kathy slaps the patient’s file on his chest. Jensen grumbles behind her retreating form. “And stop slapping me with a patient’s file!”
When he pokes his head in the T.V. room on Friday night, the first thing he sees is Jared helping Brian to sit on the couch before pushing his wheelchair to the corner. Brian is looking up at him like Jared is his hero.
Jensen can’t help but smile when Jared moves quickly around the room full of children in hospital’s pink and blue pajamas. His stomach does a little flip-flop when Jared laughs at the trace of dinner on Peter’s nose before wiping it off with his thumb. Eva cries for his attention, too, and she is arranged to sit near Jared on the couch for her trouble. She beams like she just got the best present on her birthday.
As soon as Jared spots Jensen hovering in front of the door, he hushes Tony, the skinny kid who is wearing a cast on his left arm to go get him. As promised, Jared has reserved the couch--the VIP seat--for Jensen. He hurriedly sits down and hugs the pillow to his chest, suddenly feeling self-conscious in a room full of kids.
Nobody looks at him weirdly though. Some night-shift nurses join them but they sit out back. There are no sign of Kathy, the doctors, other interns or volunteers. So it’s pretty much Jared and him and a bunch of kids who can’t seem to sit still. Jensen wonders why they don’t get all excited like this when he bends their knees and pulls their fingers in a rehabilitation session.
“Everyone ready?” Jared claps his hands. The kids say yes in unison. Jensen watches in awe. With a satisfied nod, Jared pops Eight Below DVD into the DVD player and sits back near Jensen on the couch, grinning at him as their thighs align.
Jensen spends the first ten minutes of the movie sneaking a glance at Jared. And every time Jared catches him staring, Jensen turns back to watch the movie, heart drumming so fast his chest hurt.
But Jensen soon finds himself engaged in the movie. His throat tightens when Paul Walker leaves the dogs and one of the twin dogs dies. In the middle of the movie, Jensen has a room to take a deep breath and enjoy the dogs’ adventure in the snow. But around the end, as Paul Walker comes back to get the dogs and finds Maya—Jensen’s favorite dog, hurting, Jensen has to blink rapidly to chase away the sudden moisture in his eyes.
Jared puts his hand on Jensen’s thigh and gives it a comforting squeeze. But he is sniffing. As always, Jared doesn’t try to hide the fact that he is crying. Instead, he wipes his face with the sleeve of his shirt and hands the box of tissue to Jensen. Blinking back to the television, Jensen’s eyes dry in an instant and he watches the movie in silence. He is still sitting there like a statue when the credit rolls.
Jared is back to laugh and play with the kids again in no time, growling and crawling on all fours after Tony as if he is the dog. Jensen can just stare.
“Hey, that was fun.” Jared says after all the kids have gone back to their room, his face so bright Jensen almost has to squint at him.
“How can you do that?” God knows why but this is what comes out of Jensen’s mouth.
Jared frowns. “What?”
“How can you just…cry?”
“Well,” Jared gives out a little casual shrug. “Crying is good, you know. It’s like laughing, letting out different kind of emotions. It can clear your soul.”
“Yeah,” Jared beams again then he stretches his arms above his head. Jensen watches how his hands almost reach the ceiling. “You don’t cry?”
“Come on, everybody cries.”
“I guess.” Jensen shrugs. “..you sure cried harder than the kids though.”
Jared just laughs. He has dimples. Jensen never noticed before that Jared has dimples.
Jensen is keeping his eyes on Thomas on the platform. They had just taken the cast off his left leg and he is scheduled to start his therapy today. Even though Thomas seems strong enough to start the rehabilitation, Jensen wants to be close to him in case something happens.
“Slowly, sport.” Jensen warns when Thomas speeds up his pace on the platform. “Another three minutes and we'll have a break, okay?”
“I can walk more.”
“I know but you have to let me give you a massage or I’m not going to get paid. You don’t want me to loss my job, do you?”
Three minutes later, Thomas teaches Jensen to sing a SpongeBop theme song while he lies on the bed, looking relax and happy. Jensen massages his leg in amusement.
Someone is chuckling and Jensen glances up to find Jared leaning against the door frame, looking right at him.
“SpongeBop?” He smirks.
Jensen shrugs. “Come on, we all watch SpongeBop.”
“Right.” Jensen chuckles. Jared is still looking at him when Jensen finishes the massage. “Um, you need anything?”
Jared taps his watch. “Lunch?”
Jensen stares at Jared for a long time. It isn’t until Thomas giggles that he nods dumbly. “Okay.”
“Jensen and Jared sitting in the tree. K-i-s-s-i-n-g! First comes love then comes...” Thomas sings, swaying one of his dangling feet merrily. Jensen pats his leg and ignores Jared’s laughter.
“Okay, tough guy, one more round. Come on.”
“He likes you.” Kathy says the next morning as she slips her feet in a pair of turquoise high heel shoes. “And you should do something before Sandy makes a move.”
“We just had lunch. Once. And who is Sandy?”
“A volunteer. She doesn’t come here very often but I think she has a crush on him. And Jared talks about you all the time so yes, he likes you. He totally wants you.”
Jensen purses his lip. He scans the content in the patient file and signs his name. After a quiet minute, he says, “you think so?”
“Positive. You like him, too, don’t you? He’s cute and you’re gone for him.”
Jensen groans. “But he cried when June played piano last week.”
Kathy rolls her eyes. “Everybody cried. She’d been in a coma for days and we were all happy she could sit up and play piano. You just watched in the shadow, I remember.”
“I was happy, too.” Jensen feels the need to defense himself. Jensen isn’t the kind of guy who always says what his heart says. He feels uncomfortable when people get all emotional like that. And he hates when he has to talk about it. Jensen jerks his thumb to the door. “I’ll go check on Eva, okay?”
Kathy sighs and slaps a patient file on Jensen’s chest. He glares at her.
Apart from being an insensitive guy who hardly cries, Jensen is also pretty slow when it comes to romance. It isn’t really his fault. He hasn’t dated in a long time and he kind of forgot how. Besides, Jensen doesn’t really need romance, hardly think about it actually. Until Jared showed up, that is. Jared kind of messes with his head, a lot.
But even when Jensen is slow, he knows that he’s being hit on for real when Jared comes up to him on Tuesday morning with a cup of steaming coffee that smells so great.
“Hey,” Jared holds out the steaming cup. “Good morning. I assume you like black coffee?”
“Wow, this smells heavenly. Thank you.” Says Jensen. Jared’s eyes that are gleaming do something funny to his stomach. He doesn’t know if he’s disappointed that Jared leaves right after that, with just a little wave and a see-you-later pat on his shoulder. Still, Jensen takes a big gulp of coffee and hums happily. Today is going to be a good day.
On Thursday, Jared brings a box of donuts with the coffee. His eyes are gleaming even more when he looks at Jensen through the hole of the pink donut. Jensen vows he’s going to eat them all. He is munching on the chocolate frost one when Kathy slaps a file on his chest. Jensen doesn’t glower at her this time.
That afternoon, they bump into each other in front of the elevator. Jensen has been reading the patient file when he trips over his own feet. And with a surprise yelp, Jensen suddenly finds himself pressed chest to chest with Jared’s larger and stronger frame and held safely in his arms.
“Are you okay?” Jared asks, looking down in amusement at Jensen, his arms go tighter around his waist.
“I-I’m sorry. I mean I’m okay, thanks.” He stutters. Jared lets go reluctantly and Jensen shudders when Jared rubs his forearm.
“Be careful, okay?” Jared reaches out to playfully flick his nose. Jensen trips over the stairs anyway.
On Friday, Jared corners him at the copy machine with Melanie and Cindy trailing behind. The twins were admitted three days ago because of twin flue. They seem better now, and are looking excited. The girls’ excitement, plus, the teasing smile on Jared’s face suddenly make Jensen nervous.
Then Jensen realizes. Jared isn’t supposed to be here. He usually has classes on Friday.
“I thought you have classes on Friday.”
“Morning classes got canceled. And there’s something more important than that anyway.”
“Okay,” Jensen gazes down at the giggling twins.
“It’s a long story. To make it short, we played truth or dare and I have to kiss you.”
“Close your eyes.” Dumbly, Jensen flutters his eyes shut. He hears Jared chuckle before a hand landing softly on his cheek. “No, not you. Not yet.” Jared whispers. Jensen can feel his breath hot and damp on his skin and he opens his eyes obediently. “Melanie, Cindy, are your eyes closed?”
“Yes!” They say. And Jensen has a few second to see Jared’s soft expression before he has to really close his eyes this time. He holds his breath as Jared kisses him. It is just a press of his lips on Jensen’s. Then the girls drag him away with high-pitched squeal and Jensen is left alone with tingle lips and a heaving heart.
Jensen is slow when it comes to romance. Really. And so far being single has been awesome but that isn’t the reason why he doesn’t date. The real reason is Jensen isn’t made for romance. He is awkward and he sucks at showing emotions. He’s Cupid’s worst nightmare.
And Jared is…God Jared is beautiful. He has a kind heart. He loves children and helps taking care of them for free. He cries when he wants, he wears his heart on his sleeve and if Jared knows the real Jensen, he will be disappointed.
He sucks. Why does Jared like him anyway?
That night after he has changed into his jeans and t-shirt, Jensen walks out of the hospital to find Jared sitting on the bench near the entrance with several text books in his hand. He puts them down and gives Jensen a wave.
“Hey, you’re still here.” Jensen walks up to him. “It’s late.”
Jared shrugs, his face a little flush as he smiles shyly. “Hi, I ah. I’m on my way back from school. Just thought maybe I can catch you after work. Wow, you look different without the blue scrubs.”
Jensen grinned. “And you, for once, look like a normal college kid.”
Jared laughs and Jensen can’t take his eyes off him. Jared looks different. He looks so young… and Jensen suddenly feels shy. Jared is grinning when their eyes meet again.
“God, this is ridiculous. Listen, this sounds stupid but I feel like there’s some unfinished business so I’ll just…”
Jensen knows what that unfinished business is. He moves into Jared’s personal space and leans up to press their mouths together. Jared lets out a surprise gasp but he smiles and kisses him back.
It was the real, honest-to-God kiss this time. And damn Jared is a great kisser. He pulls back reluctantly after a while and nuzzles Jensen's cheek. “Do you have to go now?”
Instead of answering the question, Jensen deepens the kiss. He likes the feel of Jared’s little pointy nose touching his cheek, the warmth of his big hands cupping his face, the way their bodies fit together like a puzzle.
“Not really.” He says when they pull back for air again.
Jared’s hand moves to cup his nape as he nips Jensen’s lower lip. “Have dinner with me?”
Jared licks his way into Jensen’s mouth and kisses him again. Guess they are on the same page. Dinner can wait.
The next morning, Jensen opens the door of the therapy room and freezes. Jared is sitting on the patient’s bed, his long legs swinging. He’s holding a Starbuck coffee in one hand and a box of donuts in the other.
“Coffee? Black? Donut? Chocolate?” He puts them on the table near the bed then points at his own chest. “Jared? Padalecki?”
Jensen snorts and wrinkles his nose at the same time. He walks closer and is tugged toward to settle between Jared’s legs. “Where’s Kathy?”
“Not here.” Jared says. “I can’t sleep. I need to see you.”
Now Jensen wrinkles his nose harder but he is smiling. “That’s…uh...wow.”
Jared laughs. “Ain’t you sweet? I just…I don’t know. Should we talk about what happened yesterday?”
Jared kissed Jensen yesterday. They kissed and then had dinner and kissed some more before they went home. Jared’s eyes are soft and comforting but Jensen finds himself shaking his head furiously. “Hell, no.”
“I’m bad at talking.” He whispers.
"How bad?" Jared whispers back.
"When I say no, it usually means yes."
“Well, I'll take a note of that.” Jared winds his arms loosely around Jensen’s waist. “Are you doing anything on Sunday? Want to grab lunch with me?”
“Central Park. I always go to Central Park on Sundays.” Jensen says, toying with the collar of Jared’s blue shirt.
“Let’s go to Central Park then. It’s a date.”
Jensen ducks his head, looking where their chests almost touch. “Okay.”
“So, why a physical therapist?”
Jared asks and plops down on the grass near Jensen before digging into the bag of apples they have bought from the farmers market. They have wandered around the Mall and Literary Walk for a while. But it was too busy for their liking so they avoided people to sit at the side of the big lake where swans are their only company.
Jensen stretches his legs. “I don’t know. Why engineering?”
Jared copies his gesture, his long legs spreading out for mile. “I love buildings. It’s fascinating. Look at that." Jensen follows his finger to the view of the Eldorado Building at the background of the lake. Jared then puts his hands in the air. “One day, I’m going to build the world tallest building, go to the top and touch the sky.”
Jensen stares. He’s a bit jealous of how good Jared can express his thoughts. He just made Jensen shiver with a story of a building he sees everyday. That’s…wow.
“How about you?” Jared hands an apple to him. “Have you always wanted to be a physical therapist?”
Jensen toys with the apple in his hand. “I’d been studying to be a doctor, you know. But I don’t like dealing with people so I started all over. It’s stupid actually.”
Jensen scratches his neck shyly. “I don’t know how to talk to patients. I’m awkward like that so I think I’ll just make them feel better with my hands. Damn, I think I just made it sound very naughty.”
He shrugs awkwardly but Jared is smiling softly at him. Without a word, he grabs Jensen’s hand and traces his palm with the pad of his thumbs, the little gesture that makes his heart pound hard in his chest.
“I talked to Thomas a few days ago.” Jared says. “You know what did he say about you?”
“Jensen’s hands heal my knees.” Jared talks in a boy’s voice then he threads their fingers together. “Magical…”
Jensen swallows. That’s probably the best thing people have ever told him.
“Well,” Jared bounces their hand on his thigh. “I need to buy some books later. Come with me?”
Jensen blinks at their entwined hands and fakes a wary sigh. “Do I have a choice?”
Jared laughs. He’s still laughing as he leans in to kiss Jensen. “No,” he says and Jensen doesn’t really mind.
Kathy is wearing a bright and sparkle low-heel blue wedges when Jensen walks into the therapy room the next day. He goes straight to the cabinet and digs for patient’s files, humming good-naturedly under his breath. Kathy pokes his cheek with a pen.
“You’re happy. I need to buy new shoes.”
“I admire the way your brain works.”
Jensen hands her the small stack of patient’s files he’s found. “Shall we go?”
Kathy studies his face and grins. “You guys are dating.”
“Nice shoes, by the way.” Jensen says. Kathy doesn’t slap a patient file on his chest this time but she murmurs all the way to the patient’s room on how Jensen never answers her questions.
I’m starving. Can I eat you?
Jensen widens his eyes at Jared’s message and slips his cell into his pants pocket when Thomas plops down on his back on the platform in the middle of his therapy session.
“Easy buddy.” He tickles Thomas. The kid squirms and giggles. That’s a good sign. “Should we go one more round? Or you want to stop?”
“Where is Jared?” The kid asks instead.
“Probably on his way.” Jensen says. And as if summoned, Jared walks into the room and throws himself half on the platform half on the floor, trapping Thomas under his gigantic self.
“Where is Thomas?” He lifts his chin and feigns a frown at Jensen. “I think I can hear his voice.”
Thomas’s muffled voice comes from under Jared, who is now rolling a giggling Thomas on his belly and surging up to kiss Jensen on the mouth. “Hi,”
Jensen licks his lips, feeling his face stretch into a smile. “Hi,”
Jared kisses him again and Jensen soon finds himself watching Jared carrying Thomas on his back and galloping like a horse around the room. The next thing he knows, he is laughing right along with Thomas. He's even humming the SpongeBob song with them when the therapy session starts again.
It’s another two trips to Central Park before Jensen invites Jared to his place. He's excited and still is Cupid's worst nightmare and he wants to take things slow so he won't screw up this relationship but... He really likes Jared and wants to spend some time alone with him.
“It’s not much.”
He opens the door to his apartment and watches as Jared looks around the room. He sits on the couch and smiles up at Jensen. “It’s great. I don’t even have a T.V. at my dorm.”
“Ah, now I see why you’re always excited on movie nights.” Jared laughs again. “Well, is pizza okay? We can order pizza and watch some DVDs.”
“Yeah.” Jared says. “Sounds good.” He shrugs shyly. “It's great to just spend some time with you. So yeah, pizza is okay.”
Jensen’s mouth turns dry. He wants to say something, too, something to let Jared know that he wants this just as much. But he can’t form any word. He gazes down at Jared’s hand that is tugging his and swallows. “I suck at this.”
“What?” Jared looks amused.
“This.” Jensen swings their hands together. “I suck. Think you should know.”
“You don’t suck.” Jared bites his wrist. “You’re kind of awkward and cute.”
"And I'm Cupid's worst nightmare. For that, don't expect chocolate on Valentine's Day."
Jared laughs. "That's not a problem 'cause I'm going to buy you tons of chocolate and we'll eat them until the next Valentine's Day comes around."
Jensen rolls his eyes but let Jared tug him to the couch. They wiggle until they find the ankle where they fit together the best. Jared sighs contently as he kisses Jensen, his hands rubbing every where he can reach. Jensen squirms. He lets out a soft moan when Jared rubs up the naked skin of his stomach. It’s been a long time, too long, and Jensen isn’t sure what to do. He sucks in the deep breath and looks nervously at Jared who is weaving his fingers in Jensen’s hair, his touch gentle and comforting.
“Kiss me back.” Jared says, kissing his nose. “I’ll even give you a ride on my back later. I know you were jealous of Thomas.”
Jensen laughs. The sound startles him but he has no time to panic ‘cause now Jared is kissing him again. Jensen kisses him back, opening his mouth and letting Jared’s tongue inside. And suddenly it is so easy to kiss Jared, to touch him, to twine their legs together like it’s the most natural thing to do.
Thursday afternoon finds Jensen standing like a statue in front of the common room, sheen of sweat covering his skin. There will be another farewell party for Grace in ten minutes and Jensen is nervous.
Grace had been admitted for a heart operation for months. She is a sweet kid and everyone is happy that she is healthy enough to go home. But then Jared will cry.
If it was a month ago, there wouldn't be any problems. Jensen might just have to prepare lots of tissue. But now that they are…well…dating, Jensen doesn’t know what to do if Jared cries. He hasn’t told anyone at the hospital about them yet. Jensen is very private. He just doesn’t talk about this kind of thing with people. At work, they kind of steal kisses behind closed doors, and sometimes they eat breakfast or lunch together. Jensen is content enough. And for Jared, he cries to let go of the pressure in his chest—some emotional release as he always say. So it isn’t like Jared needs a comfort. Right? So Jensen doesn’t have to hug him or anything. Right?
“Jensen?” He startles. Kathy startles, too. “You scare me! Why are you hiding here?”
“I’m not hiding.” Jensen says and makes his way slowly into the room. Kathy follows.
“Okay, what happened?”
Jensen pours apple juice into a plastic cup. “Nothing. Why?”
She wiggles her moss-green shoe. “You didn’t make shoes comment today.”
Jensen waves her off and drinks the juice. It tastes weird. Kathy bumps his shoulder. “Really. What happened?”
He sighed. “Really. Nothing. Juice?”
She punches his arm.
Jared’s eyes go all watery when Grace makes her short thank you speech. She is such a really sweet kid and Jensen is touched that she prepared gifts to everyone (he gets a pack of chocolate). She got Jared a big stuffed bear, saying Jared is like a bear to her—except that he’s not a mean bear, but a very kind bear. And she's going to miss him. Jared’s laughter is shaking as he hugs Grace. Jensen smiles down to the floor.
At the end of the party, they all trail behind Grace and her parents to the parking lot to send her off. Jared still hangs on to the stuffed bear beside Sandy who is pushing Grace’s wheelchair to the car. Jensen stays out back and watches, hands deep in the pockets of his scrubs.
After Grace is seated at the back seat of the car, she opens the window and waves before the car pulling away. It is then that Sandy cries. Jensen watches her bury her face in Jared’s chest, her fragile shoulders trembling. Gently, Jared sways her body and rubs her back, chuckling and whispering comforting words into her hair.
Jensen blinks his dry eyes up to the dark sky. He waited for a few minutes and looks back. It's enough time for Jared to realize that his boyfriend is also here. But they are still hugging. Jensen turns on his heel and walks back to the therapy room.
“Why can’t I cry? I want to cry.” Jensen asks Kathy who had changed into her own cloth and is packing her stuff.
She studies his face. “Oh, so you have a heart of steel. Who cares? Your boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind.”
“He isn’t my boyfriend.” He didn't mean to say that. In his mind, Jared is his boyfriend. But he gave up long time ago to figure out why he never says what he really means. He throws his hands in the air. "I mean, come on, he’s a cry baby.”
There’s silence stretching in the air between them. Then Kathy waves at someone standing behind Jensen.
“Oh, hey, Sandy.”
Jensen turns into stone when Sandy walks pass him to give Kathy a good night hug. She turns to give him a wave, too, with sheepish expression on her face. “I’m sorry I blubbered like a baby. It’s just…I’m going to miss Grace. She’s a great girl.”
Jensen shrugs. “Nah, that was sweet actually. Though we should all be happy for her, right? That she can go home now? The girl must have thought…’wow I made them cry. I should stay in the hospital longer’.”
Kathy clears her throat and that makes Jensen snap shut his mouth. He curses himself mentally because Sandy’s smile has faded. Again, he didn’t mean to say that. It just slipped. Before he can open his mouth to say something, Jared walks into the room and puts his hand on Sandy’s shoulder blade.
“Come on, Sandy. It’s late. I’ll walk you home.”
Then they leave the room without registering Jensen, as if he isn’t standing there. Jensen swallows. He wonders if Jared had been in front of the door and heard the ‘cry baby’ part. But he guesses the damage is done. He may now think that Jensen is a mean jerk who always snaps at women.
“You’re an ass.” Kathy kicks his shin with her purple boot. Jensen closes his eyes, his throat too tight to speak.
Later that night, Jared finds Jensen and pushes him into the equipment room.
“What’s wrong with you?” He asks, looking upset. “You’re not the kind of person who snaps at people and then act like nothing happens. I’m so, I’m…God... Sandy was very sad. You shouldn’t have said something like that to her. She and Grace were pretty close and she was just sorry that they can’t hang out again. It didn’t mean that she wanted her to stay in the hospital forever.”
Jensen is so tense his body almost shakes. So Jared thinks that Jensen can be such a…jerk? He thought Jared knows him the most and that he likes Jensen just the way he is. They click. But turned out Jared didn't actually know him at all.
Huh. So he's Cupid's worst nightmare. Sooner or later, Jared will be disappointed at the real Jensen and breaking up with him. Why not let it be now before the feelings he has for Jared roots too deep? He had pictured this scene in his head some sleepless nights. It shouldn't hurt this much. But it does.
“Jensen,” Jared sighs. “What happened? You don’t seem to be yourself.”
He snorts. “Well, maybe you just don’t know me.”
“We’ve been dating for a month.”
“I have a very complex personality.” Jensen shrugs. He can’t stop the ugly smile that is tugging on his lips. “I just hate it when people cry over stupid things, you know.”
Jensen forces himself to look at Jared. It hurts so bad to see how his face changes from worry to doubt and finally to the verge of angry, his lips pressing into a thin, hard line.
“Well,” Jared opens the door. “then I have nothing else to say.”
Jensen jumps when the door bangs shut. But he doesn’t cry even though it hurts like hell.
Jensen sees Sandy sometimes after that but he never sees Jared. He doesn’t plan to. Jensen keeps himself busy and he no longer joins movie nights and finds accuse not to join any parties. It works so far. Nobody messes with him. Nobody except Kathy, and her so-very-colorful shoes.
“I hate this Jensen.” She says one morning, stomping her yellow pump shoes on the floor. “I want a crazy-in-love Jensen back.”
“There’s no crazy-in-love Jensen.” He mutters and knee-closes the cabinet. “Jensen is a jerk and Cupid's worst nightmare.”
“Jensen isn’t a jerk. And Cupid loves Jensen. Cupid loves everyone and he makes the world go round. Jensen just needs to believe in love and learn how to talk like normal people do."
Jensen sighs. “I don’t talk.”
“Then Jared will never know that Jensen didn’t mean to be mean to Sandy. Jensen was just jealous.”
He opens his mouth to argue but can only sucks in his breath as Kathy kicks his shin, stopping him from denying. With a groan, he plops down on the floor. “He should be the one who knows me. He should know I didn’t mean what I said… It’s just… Turns out he didn’t know me at all.”
"Love is not easy. And it takes time."
"It's too hard for me." Jensen picks the hem of his scrubs. "The feelings inside, it's..." That's all he can say. He hopes to be able to express how he feels 'cause now the feelings inside his chest--love, fear, hurt--are making it hard to breath.
Kathy is quiet for a while before plopping down to sit with Jensen. “Damn,” she pats his head. “Jensen is in love, isn’t he?”
Jensen looks up at the ceiling, remembering how Jared can almost touch it with the tip of his fingers. He swallows down something salty that tastes like tears.
Eva is having a goodbye party tonight. Jensen had already bought a present and planned to ask Kathy to give it to her. So he’s caught off guard when Eva shows up in the therapy room that morning and hands him a hand-made invitation card.
“I’ll have a party tonight.” She says, looking up at him with hopeful eyes. Jensen's stomach sinks.
“Yeah?” He opens the card. Inside is a self-portrait of Eva (a girl with yellow hair and very big blue eyes) and a man with messy brown hair and a ridiculous wide mouth. Jensen taps the man’s head in the picture. “Who is this?”
“It’s Jared. He’s leaving, too.”
Jensen’s hands suddenly get cold. “Jared’s leaving?”
Eva nods then throws her arms around Jensen’s legs. “You are going to join us right? Mama said she will bring strawberry cheesecake, too.”
Jensen sighs and lets his head drop weightlessly. So Jared’s not working here anymore. Jensen thinks he’s going to be sick.
He pats Eva's head and forces a smile. “I'll be there.”
“And we’ll watch Kang Fu Panda! Oh, I need to find nurse Kathy, too. Where’s nurse Kathy?”
“Nurse Kathy is here.”
Kathy pokes her head into the room. Something is different about her today. She’s wearing a pair of white flat shoes. Her long blond hair is tied back neatly and her face is masked with a tight smile. It’s depressing.
“Are you okay?” Jensen asks Kathy after Eva waved goodbye and walked out. Kathy’s smiling face turns stone when she turns to him.
“No. I’m depressed. And you? Are you okay?”
Jensen closes his eyes. “I’m super.”
"Liar." Kathy hands Jensen the patient’s file. “I can’t even look at my red shoes. I blame you for my depressing mood.” She hooks her arm with his and half-drags Jensen out the door. “Are you gonna be okay at the party?”
Jensen nods weakly. “I’m going to be awesome.”
Jensen looks out the window of the kitchenette to the cloudy sky. Ten minutes before the party starts, Jensen is hiding here with his coffee like a loser.
Tomorrow, Jared will be gone.
Looking down at his cell, he thinks about Jared and their date at Central Park, how he held Jensen’s hand and told him that his hands are magical. He will never find someone like Jared again and he will die alone at 70 or maybe 75. Jensen thumps his head on the table.
There is a phone number list attached to the fridge with a KFC magnet. He sees Jared's number, and Sandy's. He has to talk to her.
With determination, Jensen calls volunteer’s room from the phone in the kitchenette. It should be easier to say sorry on the phone. When Sandy says ‘hello’ after the third ring, Jensen clears his throat.
“Sandy?” There’s a moment of silence that makes Jensen fidgets. He tries again. “I just…I’m sorry. I’ve been a jerk. I shouldn’t say…”
“No. Jensen. I overreacted.” She cuts him off.
Jensen frowns. “No, you didn’t.”
“I did.” She says. “I’m not an innocent girl like you think I am, Jensen. I might act a little over the top for a reason.” She mutters the last few words like she’s afraid to say them.
“I don’t understand.”
She chuckles but it sounds frustrated. “I like Jared, for years. I’m in love with him. So yeah my motives aren’t the purest when it comes to Jared.”
Jensen drops to sit on the chair, kneading his head. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because Jared’s miserable and I hate to see him miserable. Fix it, Jensen.”
He lets out a bitter laugh. Now Sandy says he should fix this, like it is totally his fault? Seriously? Like she's not the reason behind the mess?
“I have to go.” Sandy says. “I have to prepare plates for cake. Just talk to Jared.”
She hangs up. Yeah, so maybe it's Jensen's fault he got jealous. And it's his fault that he's too stubborn to accept that he hates to see Jared with her. Why can't he just go talk to Jared?
And say what?
Jensen looks at the phone and stays in the kitchenette even when he hears the sound of hand-clapping from the common room. The party’s started.
Jensen is ten minute late and spends the whole time sitting at the corner of the common room, making himself invisible as much as possible. Jared saw him and he looked uncomfortable. Jensen wants Jared to have fun ‘cause it’s his night, so he stays outback and keeps his eyes on the kids.
It doesn’t work. Jensen keeps looking at Jared and it hurts to think that he won’t have him no more. He wants to reach out to Jared but his body is stone-like rigid. He wants to shout out that he's sorry but his mouth is numb. When they dim the light in the room and Kang Fu Panda starts, Jensen isn’t surprised that the movie is blurring because of the tears in his eyes.
Kathy sits down next to him. “Wanna leave?”
Jared’s chuckling at the stupid Panda with Eva on his lap. Kathy is still wearing the depressing white shoes. A big drop of tear falls down Jensen’s cheek and he doesn’t even try to hide.
Eva will leave tomorrow so she and the kids continue a game of scrabble after the movie ends. Jensen left ‘cause he knew he must look like a mess, with swollen eyes and red nose. He doesn’t want anyone to see him this way.
Jared may have left already and they may never see each other again. But Jensen is still in love with Jared. And he doesn’t want Jared to hate him.
Taking the cell out of his pants, Jensen types ‘I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me.’ and sends to Jared.
Jensen walks out of the hospital to the sight of Jared waiting at the bench. He freezes while Jared approaches, uncertain smile on his face.
“So they said someone cried.” He says.
Jared is here. Jared hasn’t left. Jensen ducks his head to hide his puffy, red eyes but Jared bends his knees to look at his face.
“So it’s you. You watched Kang Fu Panda and cried?”
Jensen shakes his head stubbornly. Old habit dies hard. But he feels an urge to say something. “You cried when you watched Eight Below.”
“Dogs die in Eight Below. It’s sad.”
“And Panda…” Jensen starts and stops. He finds himself looking at Jared from God knows when. Jared smiles softly, encouragingly.
Jensen ducks his head again. “Panda, he kang fu…s.”
Jared laughs. The sound makes something in Jensen throb to life. “That’s not even English.”
“Shut up.” He closes his eyes as Jared’s cradles his face with both hands. When their foreheads touch, he lets out a soft sigh. “I’m sorry. I’ve been an asshole.”
"I'm sorry, too." Jared kissed his face and hair. “We've both been very, very stupid and you’ve just been really, really stubborn. And I'm a cry baby. Jesus, we make quite a pair."
“I’m sorry.” He buries his face into Jared’s shoulder.
“I know. And I know you didn’t mean what you said to Sandy. You're not that kind of person. I've been watching you working with children. The way you treat them... You're just not good at expressing your feelings." He sighed into his hair. "Guess I just wanted Sandy to like you. She's my best friend.”
“It’s not your fault.” Jensen closes his eyes again. He inhales the familiar scent of Jared and suddenly feels choke-up. “I’m cursed. You don’t deserve me."
“Who says?” Jared trails his hands down Jensen’s back and catches Jensen’s hands into his. “I love a man with complex personality. You're going to make my simple life so excited." He pokes his pointy nose at Jensen's cheek, whispering into his ear, "I love you just the way you are. You might not believe me right now after everything. But it's ture. I'm crazy about you."
There’re tears in his eyes again. Jared smiles fondly.
“I thought you don’t cry.”
“I don’t.” Jensen squeezes Jared’s hands and wipes his face on Jared’s shirt, wishing Jared knows that his hands are saying I love you right now. “I have a heart of steel.”
“I know, tough guy." Jared leans down for a long, lingering kiss that takes Jensen’s breath away. "And we're starting over, okay?”
Jensen nods, smiling. "Okay."
"We're going to talk things out."
Jensen winces. "Can't I...text you?"
Jared laughs, throwing his arms around Jensen's shoulders and hugging him tightly. "You're a weirdo."
Jensen laughs with him. "But you love me."
"I do. God knows why but I do."
Jensen slaps his chest but he's still laughing. He's happy and it feels great. Being in love is awesome and Jensen vows to tell Jared one day.
The next day Jensen finds Kathy in the canteen. She’s chewing lazily on a carrot stick and is still wearing a pair of very plain white shoes. Jensen slides into the long chair to sit in front of her.
“So, we’re going out for lunch at Denny’s.” He says. “Want to join us?”
She stares at him. “We?”
“Yeah, me and Jared, we…ah…are okay now.” Jensen shifts a little. It’s still pretty weird talking about his feelings. But there has to be a starting point somewhere. Right? And Kathy is grinning. He can do this. “So yeah, we’re going to Denny’s and if we have time, you can do some shopping…I don’t know.”
She still stares at him, grinning like crazy. Jensen scratches above his ear.
“So I’m happy. Guess you need another pair of shoes?”
“God, yes,” Kathy punches the air. She hurriedly rushes to grab her bag and almost trips over the table leg.
A hand lands on his shoulder and Jensen looks up to confused looking Jared. “Did Kathy just punch the air?”
“More shoes. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.” Jared grins. It’s his oh, now you want to talk grin that makes Jensen flush. “What? It’s not the end of the world.”
“Okay.” Jared shrugs then bends down to kiss him. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Jensen catches the back of his neck and smiles against his mouth.
Kathy shows up later wearing a brown cardigan over her nurse's uniform and her very red high-heel shoes. Jared’s hand is resting protectively on Jensen’s nape as they walk out of the canteen. He keeps sending Jensen amused looks whenever Kathy starts shoe-talking. Jensen just laughs out loud. Because he’s happy. He has his boyfriend back. Kathy is shopping for more shoes. All is well with the world.