Characters: Jared/Jensen, Danneel, Misha and other minor characters.
Length: 14,300ish words
Summary: AU. When Jared moves in as his roommate, Jensen is annoyed that his perfectly ordered life is turned upside down. And that's just the beginning of the changes in store.
Disclaimer: I mean no offense with this act of fiction, to either those depicted within or, in this specific case, to the Buddhists of the world.
Author’s Note: Written for j2_everafter and loosely based on the movie Freaky Friday. Thanks to Mel (lostt1) for her patience and support and fabulous art for this fic! Check out the wallpapers she made, too, over at her post!
If you cannot understand, you cannot love.
That is the message of the Buddha.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
"Jensen, you told me yourself it was going to be hard to make ends meet when Mike took that fellowship in England. You’re just going to have to deal with it. Jared’s old roommate moved out and his Dad said he’d love to take Mike’s old room. What’s the problem, sweetheart?” Jensen’s mother’s voice was on the edge of exasperated.
“The problem is that I don’t even know Jared, and I need to concentrate on my dissertation. My defense is in six weeks, Mom. What if he parties all the time or brings strange people to the apartment or any number of things?”
His mother sighed. “Jensen, you’re worrying for nothing. Jared is a nice young man. He’s family.”
Jensen pinched the bridge of his nose, clenching the phone. “He was the son from a previous marriage of Uncle Todd’s second wife, and he’s on number four now. That doesn’t make him family. There is no actual relationship between Jared and our family.”
Her voice sharpened. “Be nice. His mother was a good woman and Todd shouldn’t have let her get away.”
“Mom, that’s all true, but I barely remember Jared. He spent one summer in Dallas when I was, what, 18? He was some scrawny kid. How is this a basis for living with him?”
“Jensen?” He tensed. Jensen knew that tone of voice from his childhood, and it usually meant he was about to be straightened out.
“Deal with it. You’ve spent five months not finding a new roommate.” She paused, seeming to sense the harshness of those words. “I love you, sweetie, but you’ve got to learn to take the curve balls life throws at you sometime. This is probably a good time to see what that’s like.”
“I - what - “Jensen sputtered. Just because he didn’t want to share an apartment with a virtual stranger didn’t mean he couldn’t handle life. He just liked life on his terms. Was that so wrong? Mike had been the perfect roommate. He had spent 95% of his time at his girlfriend’s place, only stopping by their apartment for occasional laundry and to drop off his rent check.
“Love you, dear. Call me after Jared gets settled and tell him I said hi.” Without waiting for a goodbye, his mother hung up and Jensen sat there, vaguely shell-shocked for a moment before thumbing his phone off.
Jensen had cherished the last two weeks of peace and quiet prior to Jared’s arrival. Jared had called not long after the phone call with his mother and rambled at him for a good fifteen minutes about how awesome it was that Jensen was letting him move in and how awesome Jensen’s neighborhood was and how awesome it was going to be to get to know him better and generally he said awesome more times than a fourteen year old girl and Jensen had had a headache for an hour afterwards.
He’d called to bitch at his best friend Danneel about it, and she had been zero help. He wasn’t sure why he even talked to her.
"He's a Neanderthal, living with him is going to suck so hard, Danni." Jensen sighed.
"What? Explain. And god, stop being such a snob. You read books for a living!"
“He's a personal trainer, for god's sake. He lifts weights for a living. I'm getting my doctorate. I need quiet, not some sweating, grunting ape."
"Jensen, you really need to pull your head out of your ass and look around every once in awhile. The world doesn't revolve around you, getting your doctorate doesn't pay the bills. You need to save money, Jared is going to pay you rent so you can buy more precious books. Now shut up and take it."
"Ugh, fine. But I don't like it."
"Call the media, Jensen doesn't like something. Oh wait, that's not news. You don't like anything. Well, except me. You loooove me."
“Not anymore.” Jensen pursed his lips. “And I do too like things.”
“I can see your pout now, sweetie. Suck it up and live a little.” Her voice softened and the noise behind her disappeared, so Jensen figured she’d gone into her bedroom. “He could be good for you. You really haven’t done much outside your safety zone in, well, you know. Since Mark.”
Jensen tensed, felt old hurts bubble up. “Listen, Danni. I love you, you know I do, but this is how I want my life. Jared is going to be a distraction.”
“Is he cute?” He could hear the smile in her voice, and it aggravated him.
“How would I know? I haven’t seen him since he was 14. I only remember that he was tall and skinny and needed a haircut. Besides, it’s not relevant.” He wasn’t going down this road with her. Mark had hurt him enough for one lifetime.
“Seriously, Jensen. Try to be nice.”
“I am nice!” Jensen paused, considered. It probably wasn’t the most honest statement, actually. Danni’s snort of disbelief echoed his conclusion.
“Sweetie, I didn’t ask for a miracle. I said to try. Call me later.” She blew a kiss and hung up before he could sputter back.
Why he’d ever befriended someone getting a degree in theater, of all things, he’d never know.
And now, it was the day. Jared should be arriving in about twenty minutes with most of his stuff and a couple friends who were going to help him unload. For this, Jensen was grateful, as he had not looked forward to the awkward need to offer to help. It was June in L.A., and while it could be worse, it was not cool outside and lifting somebody’s boxes of free weights and protein powder all day was not his idea of a good time.
As if on cue, and of course, early, the doorbell rang. Jensen straightened his blue polo shirt and headed for the door, heart pounding. He was stupidly nervous and annoyed at how nervous he was, and it wasn’t the best combination.
That coupled with the fact that he’d opened the door to find an apparently misplaced Greek god didn’t help his nerves much. Because no way was this Jared at his door.
“Jensen!” The tanned face lit up and the god who must actually be Jared grinned a big white grin at him.
Jared was very, very sweaty. It made Jensen uncomfortable, especially when Jared yanked him into a hug.
"Hey man, long time no see!"
It's true, it had been a good nine years since they had last seen each other. Jensen was pretty sure Jared had actually doubled in size since then. And of course, he knew Jared wouldn’t be that skinny kid since he was a trainer, but he also didn’t remember him being so gorgeous.
Jensen made a soft noise of protest when he was squeezed by Jared's gargantuan arms, the scent of sweat overwhelming. Jared released him quickly. "Oh shit, sorry. Did I hurt you?"
Jensen looked down at his shirt, nose wrinkled. "What? No, of course not. I'm not frail, Jared. You're just...you're damp."
Jared's smile faded a little, and Jensen had the distinct feeling of kicking a puppy. “I mean, it’s hot out there, isn’t it?” He was trying, he could hear Danni’s voice in his head even now.
“Oh yeah! Man, I’m sweating like a pig. Took the whole morning to load up my truck, even with Aldis and Chris pitching in.” Jared was just standing in the doorway now, hands on hips and he was just glowing with health and muscles and sweat, and Jensen was a little overwhelmed. Jared was pretty much larger than life, in all ways, his voice booming, his laugh echoing. His biceps bulging.
Jensen’s eyebrows arched, heart racing. He shook his head at himself. Stupid. One, he didn’t even go for the huge, muscle-bound types usually and two, Jared would probably shit a brick when he found out Jensen was gay. Which is why he wasn’t going to tell him. In fact, the less they spoke, the better. Danni would just have to get over it.
“You, uh, find a place to park out front?”
“Yeah, right outside the door! Must be my lucky day!” Jared turned and headed out into the sunshine again, calling out to someone named Aldis arriving. "Chris had to work, you mind helping?"
Jensen was pretty sure it was not his lucky day. He frowned and sighed before following Jared outside.
Jensen rubbed his eyes, squinted over at his alarm clock. It was still dark outside, which meant the news wasn’t going to be good. He fumbled for his glasses, held them up to his eyes long enough to read the numbers. 5:42 a.m.
“Jesus Christ.” He muttered to himself, dropping the glasses on the table and staring at the ceiling. He could still hear it, now that he was awake. A slow, rhythmic thudding from down the hall. His sleep-addled brain latched onto numerous explanations ranging from repeated aftershocks of an earthquake he’d slept through to Jared having very slow sex, but since that one caused his morning wood to stir a bit more than he was happy about, he dismissed it and got up.
Jensen grabbed his glasses from the nightstand again and shoved them on, raked one hand through his hair. When he’d gone to bed, Jared had been watching TV, making the morning sex unlikely, so he figured he’d better investigate.
Using one hand on the wall to keep himself from walking into it, Jensen stumbled down the hall towards the sound, which was definitely coming from Jared’s room. A faint light shone from under the door, and Jensen was pissed, and it was stupid early, and he shoved the door open without knocking.
He opened his mouth to tell Jared to stop whatever he was doing so the rest of the world, especially him, could sleep until a decent hour but the sight that greeted him actually stole all his words and left him with a mouth gone dry.
With a soft grunt, Jared shoved the weighted bar up and Jensen’s eyes trailed over the muscles flexing in his arms, in his chest. He took in the sweat covering Jared, his hair damp around the edges, the worn gray shorts hanging low on his hips as he pressed up from his position reclined on the bench.
With a start, Jensen remembered that he was pissed, and managed to say, “Jesus, Jared, do you know what time it is?”
He clearly startled Jared, who had his eyes closed until right then, and the bar wobbled in the air, Jared’s hands clenching white around it. Instinct had Jensen move to help, and still irritated, he helped Jared set it on the rest above the bench. And damn, Jared could bench. It was seriously heavy.
“Oh my god, Jensen, you scared the shit out of me. What are you doing in here?” Jared’s voice was kind of rough, face flushed as he sat up. His eyes scanned Jensen quickly, locked on his face.
“I scared - fuck, it’s 5:45 in the morning. I was sleeping and you woke me up!” Jensen gestured broadly, backing a little away from Jared.
“I did? How?” Jared looked genuinely confused and a little annoyed. He grabbed the towel hanging on the bar and wiped his face.
“With your weights and the banging noise and all that.” Jensen was flustered, and really, that was a lot of skin.
“So, you decided to punish me by making me nearly drop over 300 pounds on my chest?”
“Over 300...?” Now Jensen did feel kind of bad - and impressed - but he was sleepy and it was dark outside and - “Why were you lifting now, anyway? You work at a gym showing people how to lift weights, for Christ’s sake. Aren’t there weights there you can grunt with?” And yeah, his voice was a bit sharp, probably more than a little condescending. He realized that a little too late.
Jared’s face shut down, clouding over. Jensen had learned in the two short weeks they’d lived together that it was actually hard to piss Jared off, and even that annoyed Jensen. Jensen’s life was all disrupted by loud laughter and new friends coming to visit, and Jared just being there, and Jared didn’t have the decency to even take offense when Jensen grumbled at him. It irrationally pissed him off, and Jensen found himself driving harder to make Jared mad, for some twisted reason.
Well, it looked like he’d succeeded. The sick feeling in his stomach at the angry, hurt look on Jared’s face was not what he expected. It felt like regret.
“Sorry, Jensen. I’ll be sure to grunt more quietly next time. Excuse me, I’m hitting the shower before I go teach people how to lift heavy stuff. Do you mind?”
And Jensen wanted to find a way to apologize, but Jared was turning away from him, and he felt had a feeling his words weren’t going to fix this.
Jensen came home from the university later that day hoping to find a way to smooth things out between he and Jared. He didn’t need Jared to be his friend, but he wasn’t so much of a dick he wanted Jared to hate him. They did live together, for better or worse.
The apartment was empty, though, and Jared had left a note on the breakfast bar. Back late. Sorry I woke you this a.m.. - J.
And wow, Jensen was now a first class, grade A dick. That was a new level, even for him. He went into the kitchen, leaving the note where it was, trying to focus on dinner and the reading he needed to do.
Eating warmed up soup at the bar while skimming a new article forwarded by one of his advisors in a mostly dark, empty apartment used to be fine by Jensen. He had relished the quiet, the ability to concentrate on his studies. Unexpectedly, he found himself glancing at the door, wondering how late was ‘late’, and why he cared.
He muttered to himself. “Just feeling guilty, that’s all. Nothing more.” Because developing a desire to have Jared be around, and spin his carefully controlled life into chaos was idiotic and counter-productive, and clearly a sign that prepping for his defense was putting him under way too much stress.
And he was a little afraid it was too late, regardless. Jensen turned in early, the apartment far too quiet. He stared at the ceiling, brain tired of thinking, heart a little bruised by his own doing. It pissed him off that he did this to himself. He didn’t need someone like Jared around. His life was just fine before. Just fine.
He heard the apartment front door open quietly and click closed, and the fuzzy numbers on his clock read something after 1 a.m. Finally, Jensen turned over and fell asleep.
Jensen woke up cranky, and it didn’t get better. He had slept like crap the night before, hadn’t done all the work he needed to do and now Jared was singing in the shower.
And Jared could not sing. At all. Oh, he had the volume, but hardly the tune.
Jensen stormed out of the apartment, and headed to campus to try and get some work done. By lunchtime, he welcomed Danni’s text asking him to lunch and a chance to vent.
He shoved his fork into the food on his plate, twirling noodles around it. It was Wednesday and Wednesday was Lucky Buddha day at Mr. Wong’s, which was his favorite, and he couldn’t even really enjoy it. He took a drink of his hot tea and continued his tirade.
“And he never washes his dishes until hours later and he always makes these horrible protein shakes and did I mention the singing in the shower? God....” He looked up, met Danni’s eyes. “Why are you smiling? I’m telling you about how Jared is ruining my life and you’re smiling!”
Danneel laughed, head shaking. She sipped at her iced tea before answering, smile playing around her lips. “You like him.”
“Are you insane? I just spent twenty minutes telling you all the reasons why I don’t - why he’s messing everything up and, and I don’t like him.” Jensen gaped at her. Sometimes it was hardly worth interrupting his work and walking to the end of the block to meet Danni for lunch, Lucky Buddha or not.
“No, you just spent twenty minutes listing a million little things you’ve noticed about Jared that you claim are you driving you crazy and messing up your perfectly controlled life. And I can guarantee he could make a list about you, too.”
“What? I don’t do all of those things! I’m just - “ Jensen scowled, at a loss.
“No, you do some that are worse. You have a way the dishwasher must be loaded.”
“It’s the most efficient for fitting -“
“You insist that your clothes hang in order by weight of fabric, and then by color.”
“Well, it makes sense when you’re trying to -“
“You insist that nobody speaks directly to you before you have coffee in the morning.”
“I need my coffee and -“
“Also!” Danni raised one purple-painted fingernail in front of Jensen’s face, cutting him off. “ You didn’t just tell me about all of Jared’s apparently annoying habits. You also told me about how he’s sweaty and has stupid hair and is too tan and wants to get a dog, of all things and well, Jensen, all I’m saying is you’ve noticed an awful lot about someone you can’t stand.”
Jensen floundered a little. “I never said I couldn’t stand him, only that he’s messing up everything.” He ducked from the piercing gaze coming across the table at him, stabbing at a shrimp on his plate.
Danni poked her straw up and down in her tea, jostling the ice. She clucked her tongue against her teeth. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much is all I’m sayin’.”
Before Jensen could retort that he didn’t appreciate being called a ‘lady’ and that she couldn’t be more wrong, Danni’s attention shifted, eyes looking over his shoulder as the bell rang to signal a new customer entering the diner.
“Hello, come to mama.” Her eyes narrowed slightly, and Jensen could have sworn he heard claws pop out.
Taking a bite of his lunch, eyes rolling, Jensen tried to ignore Danneel’s murmurings. “You’re impossible.”
“No, he’s impossible. Wow. Oh, he’s coming over. How do I look?” She lifted her eyebrows and Jensen looked up.
“I think you’ve got some drool right there.” He gestured at the corner of her mouth with his fork, smirking.
“Shut up, you - hi there.” She grinned, white and feral. Jensen snorted.
“Oh, uh hey! I thought that was you, Jensen!”
It was a deep and familiar twang and Jensen turned to look up. And up and up. Because really, Jared was also ridiculously tall. “Oh, Jared. Hey!” Jensen smiled a little, eyes darting to Danni, whose eyes had nearly bugged out of her head.
“This is Jared? Well, well, well. Hi, I’m Danneel. I’ve heard all about you.” She held up her hand and Jared took it, glancing over at Jensen.
“You have? I mean, I hope it was good. Nice to meet you, Danneel.” He shook her hand and then let go, gesturing over his shoulder at the counter, shifting the strap of the messenger bag across his chest. “I was just coming by to pick up lunch. They have the best thing here called the Lucky Buddha and - “ Jared laughed, looking at Jensen’s plate. “I guess you already know that, huh?”
“Yeah, this stuff is the best. I’m here almost every Wednesday.” He smiled, unable to help himself.
“Awesome. Well, I’ll go order, I don’t want to intrude.” Jared backed up a little, looking between Jensen and Danneel, and it struck Jensen what it looked like.
“What? I mean, no. Danni and I aren’t -“ He gestured at her. “We’re just friends.”
Jared grinned, wider. “Well, it’s really nice to meet one of Jensen’s friends. He doesn’t bring people around very much.”
“Yeah, he’s totally anti-social. Pretty sure he only comes out to eat lunch with me because of the food, and not my sparkling wit.” Danni was grinning, and it was making Jensen really uncomfortable.
Jared laughed, one of his solid booming laughs, and turned for the counter. “I gotta get my order in, but it was nice meeting you, Danneel. See you at home, Jensen.” He jerked his chin toward the counter and turned with a half-wave.
Jensen watched him go, made sure he was completely out of earshot before turning back to Danni. “Why were you all - what was that?”
“What was that? What was that? That’s Jared? That tall gorgeous hunk of muscle with the dimples and the hair?”
“Yeah, annoying, huh?” He knew Jared hadn’t actually been annoying right then, but he had his pride.
“Yeah, annoying how you made sure he knew we weren’t dating, just in case. And how he was so happy to meet one of your friends and how he smiled at you the whole time.”
“I didn’t want to ruin your chances to reel him in. And he did not.” Jensen shot a quick look at Jared. Had he been?
“Right, right. You did it for me. Sweetie, I know it’s been awhile since you’ve had a crush on someone, but you are crushing on tall, dark and rippling over there.” She pointed over at Jared waiting by the counter and Jensen shoved her hand to the table.
“Don’t point at him! And god, you’re so wrong.”
“More tea?” The teapot hovered near Jensen’s white cup. Jensen had never understood how Misha was so good at just appearing next to the table. You never heard him coming.
“Yeah, thanks, Misha.” He watched as the tea swirled into his cup, and gave Misha a quick smile.
“My pleasure. How is the Lucky Buddha today?” Misha had been feeding Jensen’s obsession with this dish for years now.
“Delicious as always. Thanks, man.”
“It is the Buddha we should thank. I will let him know.” Misha nodded and moved to the next table.
Danneel and Jensen shared a look. Misha was weird, it was a given like the sun coming up and the sky being blue. Jensen shrugged, dug back into his lunch. He needed to finish up. He had a class to teach in an hour and a meeting with Dr. Wilkinson after that, and Danneel’s backwards logic was giving him a headache.
Her attention shifted to the counter, where Jared was leaning, fiddling with the takeout menus. Before Jensen could even register what she was doing, she was raising her arm and waving at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Seriously, Jensen? He’s your roommate and he’s just over there waiting. Even if you don’t have any manners, I do.”
Jared looked behind him before standing up and coming over. “Hi again. What’s up?”
“You can wait here. Scoot over, Jensen. It’s a busy time, so it’ll be a few minutes, I’m sure.”
Gritting his teeth, Jensen scooted across the vinyl booth seat and Jared hesitated only a moment before sliding in. Jensen could smell Jared, warm and spicy, and he didn’t like it. No, he did not.
“Thanks, nice of you to offer.” Jared nodded, fingers twisted together on the tabletop for a moment before reaching over to lightly flick at the sugar packets.
Jensen made a note to tell Danneel that Jared was also a fidgeter.
“So, Jared. You’re a personal trainer?” Danneel smiled, looking at Jared and ignoring Jensen’s pointed stare.
Jared shot a look at Jensen, a little surprise on his face, maybe a little wary. “Yeah, I mostly work from a small place down in Valley Oak? Keeps me really busy. What about you?”
“I’m an actress.” She grinned. “Well, that’s the idea, anyway. I’m finishing up my MA in Theater at UCLA. I’m also an excellent bartender, down at Volt on Sunset. Come by sometime, bring Jensen. I can never get him down there.”
His face was starting to hurt from the dirty looks he was giving Danni now. “I’ve been there before, don’t be silly.” Jensen stretched his mouth into a fake smile.
“You stayed like ten minutes, drank one shot and took off, Jensen. Hardly counts. Jared, you’ll come, won’t you? I’m working Friday.”
“Yeah, ‘course I will. It’d be fun, right, Jensen?” Jared nudges Jensen’s shoulder and Jensen feels a little shock run through him.
Jensen retreated from the warm smile Jared was aiming his way. Ridiculous. What was Danni even doing? “Maybe. I’ll - I’ll see how my editing goes this week.”
“Right, the dissertation.” Jared’s smile faded a little and Danni kicked Jensen right in the ankle. He fought not to wince visibly. “Well, I’ll try my best, Danneel.”
“Call me Danni. We’ll be buds, I can tell.” She smiled prettily at him, looking up as Misha arrived at the table once again with a paper bag, which he set by Jared’s arm.
He set a black tray down between Jared and Jensen with two fortune cookies. “Your fortune, my friends.”
Jared looked up, confused. “Oh, I’m just sitting. These are for Danni and Jensen, not me.” He went to push the tray towards Danni, but Misha pushed it back.
“The lady never eats the cookies.” He set a small wrapped chocolate by Danni’s plate, and she snapped it up. “For you, friends.”
Jared shrugged, grabbed one and Jensen did the same. He never could wait ‘til the end of his meal.
Jared cracked his open at the same time Jensen did, and they heard a crash from the kitchen, glass breaking.
“I should look into that. We’ve hired a new dishwasher, and it’s not going....smoothly.” Misha’s blue eyes looked at Jensen, cool and piercing. “Be well, Jensen. Jared.” He nodded and left.
“How’d he - “ Jared looked at the ticket stapled to his bag, which had his name scrawled on it. “Oh, right. That dude’s good with names.” He popped half his cookie in his mouth, slid the other half into his pocket. “I’m gonna be late if I don’t get a move on. Catch y’all later.”
Jared waved as he pushed his way out of Mr. Wong’s, and Danneel called out. “Friday! See ya!”
Her smile shrank as soon as Jared was gone, and she reached over to smack Jensen, nearly causing him to choke on his cookie. “God, you’re defective. Couldn’t you even tell?”
“Tell what?” Jensen glanced at his fortune.
“He has a thing for you. God knows why, but I think he does. Couldn’t stop looking at you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s not even gay.” He read the fortune again, brow furrowing.
“Seriously. De-fec-tive.” Danneel looked down at his hands and the fortune. “What? Are you adding ‘in bed with Jared’ to it?”
“What? No! It’s just weird for a fortune, that’s all. Come on, let’s go.” He tossed the slip of paper on the table and grabbed his bag, sliding out of the booth.
The meeting with Dr. Wilkinson had been a near-disaster, and Jensen was feeling the stress. Of all the people on his advisory committee, Wilkinson was the one who was the most critical of Jensen’s work, the hardest one to convince. This translated into Jensen wanting his approval the most, because Jensen liked the challenge. He had always gone for the difficult road, and there was no more difficult road to his doctorate than through Dr. Elliot Wilkinson. Many a doctoral candidate had quit, transferred, changed fields and/or moved home to live with their parents when faced with him.
Jensen was determined to succeed where others had failed. He loved anthropology and a tough advisor wasn’t going to scare him off. His back was tight, his head was hurting and deep down, there was a part of him that wanted to cry a little. He shoved that part down mercilessly and instead focused on the red comments all over his latest submission, e-mailed back to him just after their meeting today. He’d been steadily working his way through the comments, and when he looked up, he realized it was getting dark. He still needed to review the test he was administering tomorrow, to check for any errors. Jensen sighed, shoved back from his desk and locked both hands behind his head. So much for sleep or watching TV or a life. He kept telling himself he would get one of those after he got his doctorate, but part of him wondered if that day was ever going to come.
Jensen went into his bathroom, popping his contact lenses out and slipping his glasses on. His eyes were tired and sore from the reading, and he knew he had more to do. If he was going to counter Dr. Wilkinson’s argument, he was going to need more evidence. Jensen’s train of thought was interrupted by his stomach growling, a reminder that he’d forgotten to eat any dinner.
Opening his bedroom door revealed Jared on the couch in the living room, sock feet kicked up on the coffee table. He had a bowl of popcorn in his lap and the TV was on, turned down pretty low.
“Hey man, wanna watch Transformers? I only just started, I could start it over?”
“No, can’t. Too much work.” Jensen beelined for the kitchen, hunger warring with a need to eat something besides a cold sandwich or reheated leftovers. He was staring blankly into the fridge when Jared appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, leaning against the jamb. Jensen spared him a look, pointedly ignored how Jared filled the doorway, how his arms were threatening the seams of his t-shirt when he crossed them on his chest.
“You hungry? I ordered pizza earlier. There's some left if you want it, there in the foil.”
Jensen saw the misshapen packet of foil on the bottom shelf and his stomach tightened in anticipation.
“Cool, thanks.” Jensen grabbed it and went about putting a couple slices on a plate and heating them up in the microwave. His mind started going back to the last page he had been reading, brow furrowing in thought.
It wasn’t until he spoke that Jensen even remembered Jared was still there in the kitchen. “So, what’ve you been working on? You’ve been in hibernation for hours.”
Jensen’s train of thought derailed at the interruption and the brow furrowed deeper. “What? Uh, my dissertation.”
Jared was standing across from him, leaning on the counter. He half-smiled, fingers briefly drumming on the counter. “Well, I guessed that much. It’s pretty much what you do. Was just wondering, I guess, what part of it? You’ve got your defense pretty soon, I remember.”
“I...” The microwave dinged, and Jensen’s brain was exhausted and his body was hungry, and he blamed those things later for how the next words came out of his mouth, resigned and sharp. “It would take too long to explain.” He opened the door to the microwave and pulled the plate out.
Seconds had passed, and then Jared’s voice reached him, low and hard. “You know, just because you’re really smart doesn’t make everyone else a moron.”
Jensen’s head snapped up to look at Jared, fog clearing for a moment. “What - I didn’t say that.”
Head shaking, mouth twisted in a rueful smile. “You didn’t have to. Listen, I’ll just -“ He gestured, palms flat out. “I’ll just stop. Yeah, I think that might be easier.”
Jared turned and left the kitchen without another word, and Jensen was left standing there with the plate of hot pizza in hand. Hot pizza Jared had given to him. He looked at the space where Jared was and then he followed.
“It’s not like I can sum up two years of research in five minutes, Jared.” Now he was annoyed. If Jared was annoyed, he was going to be, too. And he didn’t really care if that sounded childish at this point.
Jared had not yet reached the couch yet, turned to look at Jensen, hands on hips. “I’m pretty sure that’s not what - listen, it’s fine.” He paused, sighed a short breath. “I guess, I thought when I moved in here that we’d be friends or at least, y’know, talk to each other occasionally. But I get it. You want my share of the rent and that’s it. It’s fine.”
It was clearly anything but fine, but even though that was exactly what Jensen had wanted before Jared moved in, faced with Jared’s normally open and happy face clouded and closed off, Jensen didn’t like it. When Jared said those same words, it made Jensen sound like a real asshole, and Jensen just didn’t like it.
But he was stressed out, and when he opened up his mouth to apologize, to try and smooth the waters a little bit, what came out was: “Fine.”
He caught Jared’s hands clenching on his hips before he replied, mouth tight. “Fine.”
“Thanks for the pizza.”
“Yeah.” Jared went to the couch and sat down, unpausing the movie, facing away from Jensen.
Jensen stood there for a moment, and then turned to carry the pizza back into his room. When he closed the door behind him, he was pissed off, worn out, unhappy, but there was one thing he wasn’t.
He definitely was not fine.
A piercing, awful sound launched Jensen half out of bed. He flailed his arm to the left as he normally did and realized the noise was actually coming from his right. Confused but horrified by the sound, he threw himself towards it and slapped at the offending alarm clock until it stopped making noise. He squinted at the numbers, eyes fogged with sleep. When he focused, he read them in disbelief.
“5:30? 5:30?!” He shook the clock a little, as if it would reveal why it was set for such a stupid time in the morning. It was then that Jensen’s brain came online and he realized a number of things in rapid succession.
One, he could read the alarm clock, but his eyes didn’t hurt like he’d left his contacts in. Two, he was not in his bed. Or his room. Or his clothes.
He was, in fact, in Jared’s bed, in Jared’s room and in Jared’s clothes. He stood up and went towards the mirror above Jared’s dresser, and that’s when the last, unbelievable realization hit him.
He wasn’t in his own body. The tall, muscled body that reflected back at him in the mirror was not his. He ran a hand through the hair on top of his head, and the reflection did the same. He looked down and there was no denying it now.
He was, somehow, in Jared’s body.