I KNOW! I was being strict! And it WORKED! o.o
Anyway! One of the fics I was working on can now be posted, because everyone knows that today is poisontaster's BIRTHDAY? Because YAY! It is!!
I can't even put into words how incredibly talented and awesome I think PT is. She's just - I have fangirled her so hard, for so long, that to meet her at Wincon was one of the best things to happen to me this entire year. Seriously. PT, you are AWESOME, and I love you to bits ♥
This is already over at your bday comm, but I figured I'd share with everyone. I wound up sliding it into an AU, and there's no real porn to speak of *yet*, but once these holiday ficathon things are done, you can be SURE there will be porning. Oh, yes.
(in case anyone is curious, PT's prompt was Jared being in love with Jensen, but thinking Jensen and Chris are together and being all RAWR and jealous about it, and then Jensen and/or Chris figures that out and tortures Jared about it a little. which I think I pretty much got, even if it veers off a little sideways in parts *g*)
Happy Birthday, Baby!! I hope the coming year is all you could hope and wish for!
Title - All These Tangled Truths
Pairing - JA/JP (au - bar owner!jared and playing with chris in a band!jensen)
Rating - r-ish
Word Count - 3400
Special thanks to my Lindsay, baby, for the most excellent beta! MWAH!
All These Tangled Truths
Late afternoon sunlight poured through the front window of the bar illuminating every fault in stark relief. From the way he was leaning against the palm of his hand, Jared could see just how much dust was lining the tables and floor. How the purple curtain hanging behind the stage was actually ripped in the top right corner, the rest of it faded and spotty. It was five o’clock on a Friday and the place looked trashed already.
Jared shrugged and looked back down at the paper he was flipping through. He wasn’t running a five-star joint or nothing. It was east Texas, for god’s sake. People expected sawdust and dirt; he was hardly worried. If anything, the look just made his bar that much more authentic for any tourists who happened to pass by. And tourists equaled money.
He squinted and paged through to the sports section that he hadn’t finished reading with his morning coffee. There was a good article about the pros and cons of the Rangers pitching staff, but just as he started trying to read it again, a bright yellow flyer slid into his vision. When Jared lifted his head, Chad was standing on the other side of the bar and grinning like a maniac.
“What?” Jared folded the paper and shoved it on top of the cooler to finish reading later. Concentration took a backseat when Chad was around.
Chad lifted his hands in the air and grinned, wide and bright. Christ, he was up to something. Jared knew that smile, and it never led to anything good.
“Dude,” Jared said, trying to cut off whatever lameass prank Chad was thinking of at the pass. The last time Chad grinned at him like that, he had the bright idea to glue all the strings of Sandy’s aprons together. Jared didn’t like to admit that his five foot nothing cocktail waitress kicked his ass that night, but he also wasn’t a liar. Some things were better left unspoken. “Whatever you’re planning,” Jared said, pointing a finger in Chad’s face, “No.”
Chad fluttered a hand against his breastbone. “Jared, man, I’m hurt.”
Jared rolled his eyes and nodded. Chad deserved an Emmy he was so goddamn dramatic. Jared figured the longer he ignored Chad, the quicker he’d go away, so he busied himself by running a bunch of glasses under the tap before sticking them in the cooler to freeze.
“Seriously, Jared,” Chad added, shoving the yellow flyer across the bar again. “Did you even look at who I got to play here tonight?”
Which, no, he hadn’t. Running the bar was Jared’s gig, booking the bands and DJ’s and singers was Chad’s. That was the way it’d always been, since the day they signed the lease on this place five years before. Why the hell would Chad think Jared was dealing with the bands now, after all this time?
“Chad, if you’re trying to jerk me around about something—“ Jared started, but then the lettering across the top of the page Chad was shoving at him caught Jared’s eye. He looked up at Chad, and blinked. Chad grinned like a loon again. “Dude. Are you shitting me?” Jared asked. Because this – this was fucking awesome.
“Oh, no, my friend.” Chad’s blue eyes crinkled at the corners, and Jared looked around the bar, thinking of how packed it was going to be in just about five hours. How much money he was going to make, and goddamn, sometimes it really was worth dealing with Chad’s bullshit when he managed to pull things like this from his ass.
“No joke,” Chad finished off saying. “At ten tonight, we got Chris Kane playing here.”
Chris walked in off the street like every other redneck they served every other night, not one of the hottest singers in all of Texas. His hair was pulled back into hot pink rubber band at the back of his neck, the sleeves of his blue flannel shirt ripped and rolled up to his elbows. Jared was in the middle of a conversation with Sandy about how to run the tables that night, when they both stopped talking, dead in the middle of a sentence.
“That is the hottest man I’ve ever seen in real life,” Sandy said, licking her lips. From the corner of his eye Jared could see her smoothing down her hair, pushing her tits out a little further. Not that Jared could blame her. Sandy was cute and had a hell of a rack, if that was the kind of girl you were looking for. Something told Jared that she’d suit Chris Kane just fine.
Jared though – he was way more interested in the guy walking in after Chris. The one with the short, dark hair and stubble, wearing a tight black t-shirt and looking like he’d rather be dead than carrying the guitar case he was holding in his hand. The guy lifted his head as Chris walked over to talk to Chad. He looked around the bar with quiet eyes, a serious mouth, and when his gaze landed on Jared, Jared’s mouth went dry and his palms felt cold and clammy.
“Jared, man, come over and meet Chris Kane.”
Jared could hear Chad talking, he could. Sandy was standing at his elbow, clearing her throat and sounding all for the fact that if someone didn’t introduce her to Chris soon, there was going to be mutiny at the Last Call Saloon that night. Jared smiled and dropped his eyes from the other guy, taking Sandy’s elbow in his palm and turning toward Chris with the brightest grin he could manage.
“Chris,” Jared said, extending a hand. Chris smiled, bright blue eyes crinkled at the corners, and Jared tried to sound as sincere as he could when he added, “It’s real good to meet you.” After all, it wasn’t Chris’ fault Jared was practically frothing at the mouth because of the quiet guy with the green eyes standing behind him.
Chris’ grip was firm, the palm of his hand calloused and rough. “Good to meet you too, Jared,” he said. “Thanks for having us.” When Chris’ eyes flicked down, Jared gave Sandy a little shove, putting her between the two of them. There. His job was done.
“This is Sandy,” Jared said, watching as she slipped her tiny hand into Chris’ huge paw.
Chris smiled politely as he lifted her hand to his lips. “A pleasure,” he said, with a smile. Jared’s eyes flicked to the guy behind Chris again, who was looking back at Jared with steady eyes.
“Oh, and this here’s my partner Jensen.” Chris jerked a shoulder back at Jensen, before dropping Sandy’s hand to sling an arm around Jensen’s shoulders.
Jensen nodded a hello, gave them a wave, but when Chris slid his arm up around Jensen’s neck and yanked his head down to noisily kiss the side of Jensen’s face, both Jared and Sandy sighed out loud.
“What the hell’d you do that for?” Jensen yanked the cords for the PA out of the wall and jammed them into the speaker sockets. The stage was small and rickety under the combined weight of the two of them, Jensen was glad they didn’t bring the full bang for this gig. They’d have never fit up there all at the same time.
“Do what?” Chris asked, mouth curving in a slow, wicked smile. Jensen wanted to punch him in the mouth. Obnoxious prick.
“Cockblock me.” Because he had, the fucker. “That guy, the hot one—“
“Jared,” Chris supplied.
“Yeah. Jared.” Jensen narrowed his eyes. He knew the guy’s damn name. “He was checking me out and—“
“And we got a show to do, Jenny boy.” Chris threw an arm around Jensen’s shoulders again, and this time kissed the shell of Jensen’s ear.
“I know.” Jensen shoved Chris off and kneeled on the floor to open his guitar case. Chris was his best friend, but man, sometimes Jensen hated his guts. “And what, it’s better to do a show with blue balls?”
Chris laughed, deep and throaty. “Nah. But it’s better to keep ‘em guessing,” he added, flicking his fingers across the back of Jensen’s neck as he passed. Jensen shivered, reached around to smooth down the goose bumps, and when he looked up again, he could feel Jared watching him from across the bar.
When Jensen caught his eye, Jared looked away. Jensen smiled a little. Well, hell. Maybe Chris was right.
“They’re good, right?” Chad stood up on his toes to talk right against Jared’s ear.
Jared flicked a hand across Chad’s face. Had he never heard of personal space? “Man, quit breathing on me.”
Chad laughed and twisted a fist in Jared’s shirt. His palm was hot on Jared’s back. “They’re good, and the place is packed, so what’s the reason you’re being such a bitch, Jared?”
Jared frowned. Chad was right, was the bitch of it all. Chris and Jensen were good. Damn good, if Jared were telling the truth. The songs were catchy, the two of them were talented as fuck, and for as rough and gritty as Chris could sing, the way Jensen would back him up - voice slip-sliding through the air like the thickest honey – Christ. They two of them were a hell of a team.
Which just pissed Jared off even more.
He had no idea where this all came from about Jensen. Jesus, he’d never even met the guy before tonight. All Jared knew was the minute he laid eyes on him, he wanted him, plain and simple. Jared wanted to touch his fingers to Jensen’s face. Wanted to lay his lips on that wide mouth. Wanted to touch and taste and kiss every inch of him, from the split second Jensen lifted his eyes to Jared’s.
So seeing how perfectly fucking matched Jensen and Chris were did nothing more than piss Jared off and make him want to pinch a baby or kick small puppies. They were great. They were perfect. They sat too close and smiled at each other too long, and if Jensen looked out into the audience and caught Jared’s eye every once in a while, it was just a coincidence, was all. Jensen was a performer. This was a show for him.
Like right now. Jensen was finishing up a song. Some smoky, slow guitar ballad, and as the music drifted into the air and the bar was filled with hoots and hollers and applause, Jensen looked out over the stage, looking around like he was searching for someone. When he finally turned his head Jared’s way, he stopped, smiled, and dropped his eyes again. Even from the distance he was standing, Jared could see Jensen’s face pink up, and he thought, for a split second, Maybe-- but then Chris was leaning in close, saying something against Jensen’s ear, fingers curled around the back of Jensen’s neck, and that was it.
Jared was done.
“You good to close up tonight?” Jared yanked the dishrag from the belt-loop of his jeans and tossed it on the bar. The place was packed, but most people were watching the show, not crowded around waiting for drinks. Between Chad and Sandy they could handle it. Jared didn’t even feel bad leaving. “I think I’m outta here.”
Chad blinked at Jared like he’d lost his mind. Who knew; maybe he had. “You’re leaving?”
“Yeah. Make sure to take care of Sandy tonight. She’s running her ass off.”
Jensen was looking at him again, Jared could feel it. The problem was, though, that Jared was done being jerked around by some guy he didn’t even know. Jensen was with Chris. That fact was abundantly fucking clear, and Jared didn’t need to hang around any longer to watch it all play out. He knew the ending to this story already.
He said goodbye to a few people on the way out, stopping to make small talk with Tom and Mike, who were playing dice and drinking the bar out of it’s tequila stock. They all made plans to meet up the next morning at the park behind the high school, play a little touch football before the bar opened again for the night, and when Jared walked out he felt better then he’d had all night.
The hell with a pair of soft green eyes and a slow, sexy smile.
Him and Chris finished the set, and Jensen had barely placed his guitar on the floor when he stood up, eyes scanning the crowd for Jared. Jesus. The guy was a full head taller than anyone Jensen had ever seen. He couldn’t be that hard to find.
“Looking for something?” Chris drawled against Jensen’s ear.
Jensen flicked a hand at Chris’ face and hopped off the edge of the stage. He turned around and pointed a finger at Chris who was standing with his hands shoved deep in his pockets and smirking. Bastard. “You fucked this up for me, and I will kick your ass, Kane.”
Chris tsk-ed softly. “Promises, promises.”
Jensen ignored him and stalked off. Bunch of bullshit. He’d just find Jared, talk to him for a minute, and explain that, hey, wow, sorry, but yeah, Chris really is mentally stunted, and by the way, did Jared maybe want to go grab a drink somewhere after this or something?
When he got to the bar though, the only one there to greet him was Chad, the smirking fuck. Jensen’s fingers curled into fists.
He was going to beat Chris bloody.
“Hey. Jared around?” Jensen tried to smile. He smoothed his palms against his jeans and chanted in his head to no, do not lunge over the bar and punch Chad in the nose if he kept grinning stupid at him.
“Nah, man.” Chad wiped down the top of the bar slowly, scrubbing every inch of the dull wood until Jensen was sure there’d be a divot in it come morning. “Jared left.”
Jensen waited. There had to be something else, right? A detail more than that, maybe? Chad just raised his head and winked with his smarmy little eye set in that smarmy little face. This was officially the worst night ever. Jensen counted to three, then said, “You know where he went?”
“Home?” Chad answered, with a smirk, eyebrows lifted. “I mean, that’d be my guess.”
“Right. And you’re not gonna tell me where that is, are you.” Jensen nodded slowly. He knew how to play the game. Chad wouldn’t tell him anything unless Jensen gave him something first.
Chad grinned, wide and bright. “Maybe?” Jensen rested an elbow on the bar and dropped his face into his hand. “You wanna tell me why you care?” he heard Chad ask. “I mean, you got your partner here already, and—“
“Chris was just fucking around,” Jensen said, tiredly. He was done with Chris jerking around with him, man. This one took the cake. “We play together sometimes but that’s it. He’s a dickface.” Jensen lifted his head, and found Chad watching him with slitted eyes. “I’m not bullshitting. You can ask him.”
Chad stared at him for a minute, before shaking his head and looking away. “Yeah, whatever. Jared’s gone now, but he comes in early on Saturday’s. ‘Round two o’clock or so. If you wanted to catch him again that might be your best bet.”
Jensen felt his face split wide in a grin. Two o’clock tomorrow. He could do that. “Dude, thank you. Seriously. And if there’s anything I can—“
“Yeah, actually, if you and Chris aren’t a thing…” Chad leaned forward, and Jensen’s eyebrows his hit hairline in shock. Chad? Really? He didn’t think he swung that way. When Chad nodded toward the cute little waitress with the long black hair though, Jensen got it.
“You want me to see if I can hook up Chris with her?” Jensen asked.
Chad nodded and smiled. “She’ll cream her panties, dude.”
Jensen shrugged. “All right, then. I’ll take care of it.” He turned to head back to the stage, but looked back at Chad one more time before walking away. “There’s nothing I can do for you, dude? I feel kinda bad.”
Chad’s grin was wide and bright and filled with too many white teeth. “Nah, man. Just call me cupid.”
Jared was dirty and gross and so sweaty he could actually smell himself. Football had been brutal and hot, and Jared had a new hole in the knee of his dark blue sweatpants to prove it.
When he got to the bar to start doing inventory, he cranked up the air as high as it could go, and was sucking down a glass of lemonade when the front door creaked open, bright, afternoon sunlight throwing whoever was standing there in shadow. Jared lifted a hand to his eyes and squinted. “Sorry, we’re closed.”
The door swung shut, and Jared blinked, green and purple spots dancing in his vision.
“Yeah,” a soft voice drawled, and Jared shivered. He’d know that voice anywhere. “Thing is I’m not really here for the service.”
The glass Jared was holding clinked down on the bartop. His fingers were slick with condensation. Jesus.
“Hey, Jensen,” he said, keeping his voice as steady as he could. His eyes were adjusting back to the dark again, and the more Jensen came into focus, the less in control Jared felt. “You forget something here last night?”
Jensen’s mouth twitched in a smile. He looked down at the floor, grey t-shirt stretched tight across his chest and shoulders. Jared’s fingers itched to touch him, just once. “You could say that,” Jensen said quietly.
Jared came out from behind the bar, and leaned against one of the barstools, arms folded tight across his chest. He wasn’t going to act like a chick and say or do something embarrassing. He wasn’t. Jensen was the one who came here, let him say or do whatever he came for. Hell. He could just be here to try and book another gig, if Jared were being honest with himself. There were a thousand reasons for Jensen standing here, and not any of them had anything to do with Jared.
Jensen walked closer, stopping an arm’s reach away. Jared licked his lips. He could do this, he could. Have a conversation, shoot the breeze. He cleared his throat and said, “Jensen?” just as Jensen stepped even closer and curled his fingers around Jared’s shoulders.
“Shut up a second,” Jensen murmured, and then he was leaning forward, closing his eyes, and touching his mouth to Jared’s in the sweetest kiss possible.
Jared gasped, made an embarrassing sound in the back of his throat, and then he was leaning forward, pressing his mouth back, touching the tips of his fingers to Jensen’s face and the side of his neck. Jensen’s tongue slipped over the seam of Jared’s lips, his teeth gently biting Jared’s skin, and this was it. This was… God. This was everything, right here. There wasn’t a doubt in Jared’s mind.
When Jensen pulled back, his eyes were sparking green fire, his mouth swollen and wet. Jared went nearly cross-eyed with need, and he settled his hands on Jensen’s hips and dragged him closer, into the spread of Jared’s thighs.
“Me and Chris, we’re not—“ Jensen shook his head and kissed the corner of Jared’s mouth. “We’re just not.”
“Well, good,” Jared said. He touched his fingers to Jensen’s skin, under his shirt, smiling against Jensen’s neck when he shook and moaned. “’Cause he’s a damn good musician, and I don’t wanna have to kick his ass.”
Jensen laughed, sharp and bright. He stepped back a little, and when Jared looked at him - stubble darkening his chin and cheeks, the corners of his eyes crinkled in a smile - he felt his heart trip in his chest.
“You think you can talk to the owner of this joint?” Jensen said, teasing and light. He slid his right hand up the back of Jared’s neck and into his hair. “Maybe get tonight off?”
Jared tilted his head into Jensen’s hand and his eyes fluttered closed. God. He smiled a little and said, “Yeah. I think I can manage that.”
“Good.” Jensen moved in closer, until their chests touched. “Now come back here,” he said, and kissed Jared again, as the mid-afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows.