“…Mother of god.”
Jeff hovers in the doorway of their bathroom, hungover and bleary-eyed, and blinks away the sleep in his eyes just in case what he’s seeing is some sort of tequila-induced hallucination. But no, their bathroom really does look like a bomb went off in it.
The counter, which once held him and Josh’s toiletries, has been almost completely cleared off. There are various bottles, tubs, and tubes all over the floor, and half of it is covered in a bright blue puddle of mouthwash that has seeped halfway across their once-tan rug.
The mirror is covered in fingerprints and streaks of sweat and body grease and who knows what the fuck else, and there is a towel balled up in the corner that Jeff wouldn’t touch for all the cash in the world.
He’s still leaning against the doorjamb, mouth agape, when Josh stumbles up next to him with his fists at his eyes, rubbing away the last vestiges of sleep.
“Shit or get off the pot, man.”
“Look at the havoc those little douches wrought upon our bathroom.” Josh blinks at him, eyelids heavy with a distinct lack of caffeine, and Jeff steps aside to let him see the chaos for himself.
“What the everloving fuck?” Josh scoffs disgustedly and rubs at the stubble on his chin. “I’d almost be impressed if that wasn’t my goddamn toothbrush in the toilet.”
“They can kiss my ass if they think we’re cleaning this shit.” Jeff whirls around while Josh braves the mess to take a piss. There are a few stragglers draped all over the living room, and Jeff snags a half-empty bottle of beer from the coffee table as he storms over to Jared and Jensen’s air mattress in the corner of the room.
They’re all curled up together like a couple of puppies, Jensen’s head tucked up under Jared’s chin. Jeff’s brows furrow at the black mark on his brother’s chest, and he crouches down to get a closer look. He rolls his eyes once he sees what it is, and nudges at Jensen’s shoulder to find a matching tattoo.
“Josh.” His friend diverts course and heads over to him, stepping over a dude named Matt who’s passed out in the middle of the floor. “Look at this homo bullshit.”
Josh leans down to inspect the tattoos and then stands up with a shake of his head. They share a look and Jeff reaches out to tip over the bottle of warm, stagnant beer. The stream hits Jared’s face with a splatter, rolling down the line of his throat directly into Jensen’s open mouth.
They both splutter awake, Jared pawing at his face as if to slap the stream of liquid away. Josh chuckles and Jeff lets out an amused snort as he up-ends the bottle and shakes the last drops away.
“Wakey, wakey.” Jared blinks up at him and Jensen flops onto his back, skin making a smacking sound as he lands in a puddle of beer.
“What the hell, man?” Jared’s voice sounds rough, sleepy and shot, and Jensen just blinks up at them like he has no idea who they are or why he’s even alive.
“Get your fucking asses up and clean that natural disaster of a bathroom before we kick you out on the street.” Jeff glares down at them and Jared and Jensen share a look, lips pursed before looking back up at their brothers. Jensen whines and wipes the beer from his face.
“And mop up this beer,” Josh adds, gesturing to the mess that Jeff just created. “Seriously, do it now.”
“Fine,” Jared mutters, kicking their sodden blanket to the floor. Thankfully, they’re both wearing underwear. “Dumping warm ass beer on us was totally uncalled for, dick.”
“What’s uncalled for is you destroying our apartment with your wild animal sex,” Jeff replies, dropping the bottle to the floor with a loud enough thud that Jensen whines and rubs his temples. “It’s like Hurricane Homo touched down in there. It’s vile.”
“No coffee until you’re done,” Josh tells them, and shushes Jensen’s outcry of protest. “You’re lucky I don’t beat you with the wet towel you left on the floor. Get up.”
Jared and Jensen roll off of the wet sheets, grumbling as they stand up and stretch. Jared shakes out his hair in their faces, splattering them with stale beer. Jeff punches him right between the shoulder blades and he lets out a loud yip, limbs locking up before he stumbles forward.
Jensen pouts petulantly and skulks past them, knocking shoulders with Jared as they disappear into the bathroom.
“And you’re out of your damn mind if you think you aren’t replacing our toothbrushes!” Josh sighs and scrubs at his hair, looking around at their mess of a living room. “Why do we do this to ourselves?”
“How have all of our possessions not been destroyed is the better question,” Jeff mutters. Josh snorts and he stretches his arms up over his head, yawning until his eyes water before looking back at his friend. “Speaking of, I was probably going to start packing my shit up today.” Josh’s gaze snaps over to him, quiet and guarded. “I’ll buy you breakfast if you help.”
“I, uh, can’t. Sorry.” Josh swallows hard and scratches at his chest, looking anywhere but Jeff’s face. “I’ve gotta take Sandy home, probably gonna spend the day there. See my mom and shit.”
Jeff narrows his eyes suspiciously, shoulders slumping as Josh keeps his eyes fixed to a spot somewhere over his shoulder. There’s no reason why Sandy couldn’t catch a ride back to Pasadena with Jared and Jensen once they’re done cleaning, and Josh just saw his mother yesterday when they all took Jared out to dinner for his birthday. But Jeff doesn’t have it in him to argue, not if Josh so obviously doesn’t want to be there.
“Oh, yeah,” Jeff replies quietly, resigned. “Sure, man. I can handle it.”
Josh looks at him just long enough to nod, eyes tight, before he spins around and disappears back into his bedroom. Jeff sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. Things have been awkward ever since he announced that he was moving out, and he doesn’t know how to fix it.
Instead of thinking about it, he kneels down to pull the sheets off of the air mattress. He uses them to mop up the beer from the hardwood floor and then balls them up, stepping blinkingly out into the bright morning to take them down to the laundry room just for an excuse to get out of the apartment.
He swallows hard around the ridiculous lump in his throat, and tells himself that Josh will come around.
He has to.
Ed has this thing about Starbucks.
It could be because he owns a tiny little independent coffee shop, but he claims that it has to do with conglomerates taking over the world and fair-trade beans and a bunch of hippie bullshit that Jensen doesn’t really understand.
All he knows is that if he wants to avoid a rant-slash-lecture, it’s best that he leave his Starbucks cup in the car when he goes to visit Jared at work. Jensen ducks down in his seat and slurps the last of his latte through the trademark green straw before sticking the cup back in his console and hopping out of the car.
The air is soupy hot and Jensen frowns in displeasure, tugging the collar of his thin v-neck tee away from his neck as if that might actually provide some relief. The air inside Ed’s is stagnant and not very much cooler, and Jensen takes a moment to mentally note that at least Starbucks has reliable air conditioning.
He walks past a giant industrial fan and comes to a halt when someone tentatively greets him. He pushes his sunglasses up into his windswept hair as he turns to face a table of four girls, all around his age. The one that said hello is coyly smiling around the end of a straw, and Jensen smirks.
“Ladies,” he says, tipping an imaginary hat to them before making his way to the counter. Ed pops up from behind the espresso machine and Jensen nods at him.
“Hey, man.” Jensen nods at him, eyes scanning the small shop before landing on Ed again. “Where are you hiding the employee of the month?”
“He spilled a bag of my finest dark roast – “
“That clumsy bastard!”
“– so he’s on muffin duty.”
“The punishment fits the crime,” Jensen responds with a smirk, and Ed grins toothily at him.
“Yeah, pretty sure the regulars over there are pissed at me.” Ed gestures at the group of girls that smiled so prettily at Jensen when he walked in, and leans in closer. “They like to come in and stare at him. He’s good for business.”
“Well, he is a work of art.” Jensen looks over his shoulders at the girls, who immediately huddle together and start to whisper at each other. Jensen doesn’t think he’ll ever understand the inner workings of the female mind. “As long as museum rules apply.” Ed raises a brow in question. “All look, no touch.”
“No touch,” Ed confirms, sliding a latte across the counter. Jensen grins and snatches it up. “You can go on back, if you want.”
“You’re a king amongst men,” Jensen says as he slips around the counter and passes by Ed. “Even if you do wear a skirt.”
“We’ve been over this! It’s a kilt.”
Jensen smirks and takes a sip of his drink as he heads back into the small kitchen area of the shop. Ed lets him hang out back here sometimes, as long as he and Jared don’t break any health codes.
Jared is bent over a mixer, holding the bowl steady with one hand while shaking blueberries into the batter with the other. Jensen comes up behind him and slings an arm around his waist, pressing a quick kiss to the slightly damp nape of his neck.
“Hey!” Jared’s voice is loud over the din of the mixer, and he spins around in Jensen’s loose grasp to peck him lightly on the lips. “What’s up?”
“I picked up all the tuxes and I just wanted to swing by and say hi.” Jensen pulls himself up onto the counter, leaning over and wrinkling his nose at the muffins cooling on the rack next to him. He’s not particularly a fan of blueberry. “I met your fan club out front.”
“Oh, are you talking about the Plastics that always hang out and stare at me?” Jared smirks over at him and puffs his chest out proudly. “They think I’m foxy.”
“I don’t know where they got that idea.” Jensen blinks innocently and takes a sip from his straw, chuckling when Jared hits him in the shoulder with his elbow. “You’re cute when you bake.”
“You’re cute when you shut up.” Jensen rolls his eyes and hops off of the counter. He snags an orange-cranberry muffin from the rack and sniffs at it. “This muffin is defective,” he says, and then takes a huge bite out of it.
“Ass.” Jensen grins around his treat and leans against Jared’s side as he pours batter into pans. Jared turns his head to kiss Jensen’s temple and he sighs happily as he takes another bite.
“Well, I need to go drop the penguin suits off at Josh and Jeff’s,” Jensen says after a long, quiet moment of being pressed up against Jared’s side as he works. “Come over there when you’re off, okay? I want to go swimming.”
“That sounds good.” Jared replies. He picks up the muffin pan with one hand and slings his other arm around Jensen’s waist, spinning them around to face the oven. The blast of heat that spills out when Jared opens the door makes Jensen wrinkle his nose and shrink away from it. “I can leave when these are done and I get everything cleaned up.”
Jensen nods and leans in for a kiss, lips lingering on Jared’s for a long moment. Jared reaches up to touch the side of Jensen’s face, fingertips brushing the hair away from his forehead before tracing the shell of his ear. Jensen hums happily and hugs him, rocking back and forth a few times before pulling away.
“C’mon, I’ll walk you out.” Jared takes Jensen’s hand and leads him through the kitchen and back into the lobby. The girls are still at the table, and they look over as they approach. “Hey girls,” Jared says, thumb sliding across Jensen’s knuckles as they pass.
Jensen bites back a laugh as their expressions seem to get stuck somewhere between intrigued and heartbroken, and he presses his smile into Jared’s shoulder as he pulls the door open.
“See you soon,” Jensen says as he gets into the car. Jared nods and leans in to steal another kiss. “Love you.”
“Always,” Jared says fondly, kissing him again before pulling away. Jensen starts up the car and pulls out of the parking lot. One thought crosses his mind as Jared waves at him before turning to go back into the coffee shop.
Damn, I’m lucky.
Josh’s mother sometimes likes to refer to him as ‘persnickety’ just because she knows it’ll piss him off even more, which is bullshit.
People think Jensen is the pissy one, what with his flair for the dramatic and all, but it’s really Josh that has the temper. It gets him in trouble. It got Jared the slightest hint of a scar over his right eye, one that’s only visible when the light hits him just right, but still manages to make Josh feel guilty as hell.
He doesn’t give a shit about whatever scars he may have left on Jensen’s body, because the little shit probably deserved them and he has his own to match.
So yeah, maybe he’s sulking. Maybe he’s being persnickety, but it’s been a long, hard day in a series of long, hard days and he just wants to sit on his couch, drink a beer, and not deal with any bullshit.
If only life were ever that simple.
Jeff wanders up and sits on the arm of the couch while Josh is mid-chug, and he glances over at him expectantly as swallows and licks the beer clinging to his lips. Jeff shifts awkwardly, says nothing, and somehow Josh just knows this is going to end badly.
“What’s up?” Josh asks, thumbing the rim of his beer bottle and inspecting the liquid gathered there just for an excuse to not look at his friend. “Dude, out with it.”
“We have shit we have to figure out,” Jeff finally says, and Josh bites back a sigh. “Who’s going to keep what, security deposit, all that.”
“Not now, okay?” Josh says, voice pitched low and almost pleading despite its sharp edge. “I don’t want to do this tonight.”
“We’ve put it off too many times,” Jeff shoots back, and Josh closes his eyes. “Let’s just get it over with, alright? We need to split up our shit, and I guess I’ll pay half – “
“Jesus!” Josh slams his beer bottle down onto the table and stands up, whirling around to face Jeff. “You make it sound like we’re getting a fucking divorce. We’re not married, Jeff, okay? Take whatever the hell you want. I don’t give a shit.”
Jeff’s expression hardens and Josh huffs out a breath, snagging his empty beer bottle and retreating into the kitchen. He tosses the bottle into the recycling bin and stares angrily at the fancy microwave that he and Jeff went in together on two years earlier. Jeff uses Josh’s blender for his protein shakes, but Josh uses Jeff’s toaster oven for his bagels. And he’s fucking insane if he thinks the coffee maker is coming anywhere near leaving the apartment.
It’s too much to think about and Josh just doesn’t want to deal with it. He also doesn’t think about why he doesn’t want to deal with it.
“I know this sucks.” Jeff’s voice is suddenly right behind him, startling him from his thoughts, and he jumps slightly before whirling around with narrowed eyes. Jeff is leaning up against the refrigerator, arms crossed over his chest. “But you don’t have to be such a goddamn asshole about it.”
“Oh, fuck you, man.” Josh tugs the refrigerator door open, nearly smacking Jeff in the face with it, and grabs another beer. “Just because I don’t want to sit down and talk about our feelings and divide our goddamn assets down the middle?”
“Even though it’s a necessary evil – “
“I don’t care, Jeff! Okay?” Josh cracks the beer open with his ring, hissing when he catches the skin inside his finger on the sharp rim of the lid. “Pack up your shit, whatever shit that may be, and just get the fuck out. Quit making such a big deal out of it.”
“You know what? Fuck you.” Jeff spins around and storms across the living room, and Josh takes an angry swig from his beer as he snatches his keys from the coffee table and reaches out to grab the door handle. “I’ll be back when you’re done being an asshole.”
“I hope you’re prepared for a long wait, dick!” Josh knows it’s childish, but he can’t seem to help the words. He flinches when the door slams shut and tosses the mostly-full beer into the sink. It clatters noisily but doesn’t break, and Josh goes into his bedroom and slams the door.
It’s the only room that’s fully his, the only thing that won’t change when Jeff finishes packing up his shit and gets the fuck out.
He sits on the edge of his bed, head in his hands, and vaguely wonders what his mother would call him now.