Jared wasn't looking for much when he met Jensen. Not love, not companionship, not conversation.
He was just looking to forget, and working to move on.
It was Spring when they first met, right after Jared's bad breakup with Sandy. It hurt him so much back then. He often wondered why she spent more time on her phone than interacting with him. He got his answer soon after finding her with his best friend in their bed.
A betrayal of trust from both ends. Chad was supposed to be his best friend, the guy who'd bring over a box of extra cheesy pizza with stacks of DVDs. Jared could never have guessed what would happen when he turned his back or when he took a short bathroom break, leaving them alone.
Jared shook away those thoughts, however, to focus on weightlifting within the gym he had recently started frequenting. He needed an outlet for everything he had been dealing with. At just 24, he'd been stressing like crazy over finding a new place far, far away from the apartment he shared with Sandy.
As he lifted the weights, Jared grunted, blowing out air in a ragged manner. He wasn't exactly used to doing things like that; if anything, he would just go jogging and do a few sit ups and push ups at home.
But no. He had to get out, get some fresh air. It was routine by now: wake up, shower, go to work, go home, work out, shower again, go home, repeat. It was a pretty stale, predictable routine. That was, however, until he met Jensen.
"Need a little help there, man?"
He glanced up, angling his head until he saw another man standing over him looking rather bemused. He was sweating, yet not as much as Jared had been. On that first day of meeting him, Jared took note of how solid his figure was. He thought to himself This man could definitely handle himself in a fight. And he would be proven right, much later down the road, of course, when defending him in a bar brawl.
Jared continued to lift. "No, I'm fine."
His faltering grip did not help his case one bit, and Jensen knew it. He bent down, staring at each other face to face. All Jared could remember were those dazzling green eyes and that bright grin.
"Yeah? How long you been coming here?"
"2 weeks." Jared grunted. "Everyday."
"Everyday?" Jensen asked, quirking up his eyebrow.
"Every. Single. Day. No help needed."
The strange, incredibly too close man chuckled breathlessly. "Seems like you know what you're doing, I guess. But what do I know? I'm just an old guy who's been coming here for 5 years straight. I just thought I could help a clearly struggling young man. Well, guess I'll be going then."
Jared thought about his words, about how that guy obviously knew he had been struggling with the weights. Jared didn't keep it that well hidden, though, in the first place. In hindsight, it looked more like a duck fighting to stay afloat in a small pond.
And yet...the only thing Jared could do was call out to him before his back was fully turned.
"Wait--wait!" He said with mild desperation in his voice. He looked at Jensen, forming an embarrassing half-smile. "I, um, I might require a bit of...assistance. If you don't mind."
Jensen smirked, and took up position behind Jared to spot him. "That's a good sport. What's your name, kid?"
"Jared. And I'm not a kid. Fresh out of college, actually."
"Okay, College. I'm Jensen. Let me show you how this thing's done."
Back then, Jared had thought Jensen's first name was hilarious. He didn't really look like a Jensen. Didn't talk like a Jensen. Damn sure didn't speak like a Jensen, but, as it were, he was a Jensen.
And...Jared was grateful for him.
On that first day, Jensen helped him through multiple exercises that Jared hadn't even thought of doing since coming there. Most of them seemed like torture devices, but after Jensen explained their usage and showed him how to work the machines, he felt more comfortable with them.
As well as more comfortable with Jensen himself.
"You do 15 minutes of this before you begin a workout, then everything will be smooth sailing." Jensen said as they ran on the treadmill side by side.
Jared laughed, meeting up with Jensen's pace. "You must be the Grand Wizard of this place."
"Hardly, but it helps to have a guide, wouldn't you agree?"
He was right. It helped immensely to have a guide in such a place.
It made coming there easier.
Jared saw Jensen again the next day, almost as he he had been waiting for him by the treadmills. He was dressed in a blue sleeveless shirt with black basketball shorts and tights underneath. Seeing him there, standing with such swagger and grace sent chills up Jared's spine.
There was something about Jensen that made Jared smile, and, even then, he was unsure about what that thing was.
"I've been waiting for you!" Jensen smiled, confirming Jared's suspicions. "You were taking forever. Come on, let's get started."
Jared shook his head, but obliged happily. He ran with Jensen, unwittingly telling him about his horribly long and boring day at work, how Tom had schmoozed his way into that promotion that Jared so desperately desired, how his boss looked down on him for every minor mistake.
Amazingly, Jensen hung on every word, listening with the utmost intent. Jared had captured his attention, and there was no stopping it. It felt great to have someone listen to his complaints and not sound utterly annoyed or bored. Not Jensen. He actively gave him advice and offered solutions to his problems, all of which Jared took to heart.
An hour into their workout session, Jared had learned a great deal about Jensen as well.
42, divorced, one child; 6. He owns a business, he said. A brewery. He even offered to show Jared around sometime, which was honestly not such a bad idea.
"I'm one of two boys, with a girl born after us." Jared told Jensen as they did sit ups together.
Jensen chuckled, grinning. "No shit! Me, too! Born and raised in Dallas, Texas."
Shocked, Jared sat up, mouth agape. "Get the fuck out. I'm from San Antonio!"
"Haha! Just one more thing out of thousands we have in common, Jay."
That nickname made Jared's body vibrate. Sure, others had called him that obviously, yet when Jensen said it, it ignited something deep within him that not even he was aware of.
It excited him so much, and, after the fifth day of working out with Jensen, they exchanged numbers. It didn't take much for Jared to give it up, in fact he had already planned on giving it to him that day had Jensen not asked first.
From there, they became fast friends, texting and talking on the phone for hours and hours on end when they weren't together. Even at work, Jared would sneak in some time to message the older man that had seemingly taken him under his wing.
There was a connection there that was very hard to deny.
But what that connection meant--for Jared--was uncertain.
It had been almost two months since working out with Jensen, and Jared found himself wanting to see him everyday.
There hadn't been a time thus far when he'd walk in and not find Jensen waiting patiently by the treadmills, smiling with two cold bottles of water.
Their friendship was blossoming each and every day they were in the presence of the other; Jared was impressed by Jensen's commitment. Always together, even when apart.
"Hey, so my daughter's having a party tomorrow." Jensen said to him as they worked on their reps. "Wanna stop by? It's a good old fashioned barbeque. Music, food, few cold ones. You down?"
Jared's answer was an all too eager and chipper "Yes, I'd love to!"
After their workout, Jared immediately went home and into his closet to look for something worthy enough for such an event. After all, it was the first time Jared would meet Jensen's daughter, or anyone from Jensen's family for that matter.
It was also the first time he would hang out with Jensen outside of the gym they frequented daily.
Suffice it to say, Jared had an excellent time at Jensen's house. It was beautiful, both inside and outside. Opulent decor, vast open space in the backyard--a pool! Jensen had it all, but as Jared had learned, not enough. He lived alone in that house, though his daughter would come to visit him on weekends.
That same daughter expressed her gratitude for Jared attending the party; apparently, Jensen told her "everything" about his new friend, causing both Jared and Jensen to blush simultaneously.
In a sea full of firsts since meeting Jensen, it was also Jared's first time thinking about a man in a way-too-friendly way.
Jared was always attracted to girls, he knew that. They might not have thrown themselves at him, but Jared knew that, to a certain degree, he was appealing to the eye. Didn't really matter whose eye it was really.
But at that party, when he saw Jensen--grown man Jensen--blushing like a schoolboy who just saw his crush, Jared thought about what it'd be like to...do things with a man.
It was brief, but it had Jared thinking to himself:
What is Jensen to me?
Am I gay?
Am I reading this wrong?
However, the most profound question in Jared's head was:
Does Jensen like-like me?
It had Jared feeling like a child again in middle school, but the questions still rung aloud in his head. Did Jensen like him, or did he honestly read their closeness wrong?
The following Monday when they met again, Jensen acted just as he did every time they were together; all smiles, beautiful glints in his eyes. By thinking of Jensen a different way, he started to truly take in Jensen's distinct features.
Ruggedly handsome with a beard that's always trimmed. Jensen was undeniably beautiful with pink lips and full lashes that made him seem 20 years younger. It didn't help that the freckles that littered Jensen's nose and cheeks contributed to his boyish, youthful appearance.
As the week went by, Jared started thinking more and more of Jensen in a way that had seemed less innocent, and more carnal. He imagined what Jensen was like in bed. Could he be slow, taking he sweet time for both parties, or could he be wild and bestial?
"What are you thinking about, Padalecki?" Jensen questioned, spotting Jared as he lifted weights. "Where's your mind at?"
Jared looked up, seeing that Jensen's crotch was hanging above him. And, unsurprisingly, it got Jared thinking about Jensen's dick size. He had seen glimpses of it in the showers after workouts, but then again, it's the men's locker room. You're bound to see something some time.
But it was beyond schoolyard curiosity for Jared. He wondered what it'd look like rock hard with no reservations, he wondered what made it jump, whether he was circumcised or not. Such questions suffocated Jared, and he nearly ended up dropping the weights on his chest in turn.
Thankfully, Jensen was there to catch it.
He was always there to catch it.
"I'm just thinking about too much at the same time," Jared responded, sitting up on the bench. "Sorry."
Jensen patted his shoulder, but squeezed him for few seconds longer. "Hey, it's okay. No pressure. I just don't want you hospitalizing yourself from 'thinking too much', okay?"
Jared understood what he meant, and he also understood that Jensen's strong hand didn't leave his shoulder until Jared was all squared away.
He'd figure out what it was they were to each other soon enough. But at that moment, all Jared could think about was them on the couch together, watching movies and sharing a bowl of popcorn.
It was July when Jared began thinking about asking Jensen out.
They'd already been put before, drinking and having a good time, but Jared wanted something more.
A date. A date date.
He'd seen the movies--hell, he had lived through this multiple times. But none of his interests had been other men, and that made him all the more nervous about asking.
There were subtle hints Jensen kept dropping to him.
"Hey, are you single? Yeah? Well, I can't imagine why."
"You're too cute, College."
"Never noticed how long your legs were. Haha. Nice."
Jared's face turned crimson each time, yet he never allowed Jensen to see. At night after Jensen dropped him off--because that's where their relationship progressed--Jared would lay awake, staring at the ceiling and imagine Jensen's lips on his.
The thoughts evolved into things more sensual, culminating in Jared taking his dick in his hand, and coming to the made up images of Jensen fucking him 2 days from Sunday.
That was when Jared knew he was too far gone.
That was when Jared knew his friendship with Jensen had mutated to something more than it was.
It was uncharted territory for him, but Jared finally worked up the courage to ask Jensen on a Friday. He paced the outside of the gym for a while, wondering how he'd even approach the situation. At that point, he knew Jensen was interested, but he never acted on it. Why? Was he also nervous? It had to be.
Whatever the case, Jared walked inside looking a nervous wreck while Jensen carried on like his normal self. However, he looked...different.
Gone were the sleeveless shirts and basketball shorts. Now, in all-new attire, he wore black jeans with white shoes along with a dark blue shirt and a blazer. He didn't look ready for a workout, and that puzzled Jared who stood perplexed in his sweatpants and t-shirt.
"What's going on?" Jared asked with a surprised smile.
Jensen shook his head, laughing. "You serious? Don't tell me you forgot your own birthday."
Jared forgot about his own birthday. He had been so busy with other things at work that he complete zoned out. Jared looked foolish, and he turned beet red in front of his literal man-crush.
"I...I'm an idiot."
"Not an idiot." Jensen said. "How about this: I take you back to your place, you get changed, and we go out to eat. I already made the reservations. What do you say?"
And then, Jared asked the question.
"Jensen...is this a date?"
"Jared, to be honest I kinda thought we were already dating. So, is that a yes?"
Reminiscing about it now, Jared is glad.
He's glad he met Jensen who helped him get over a relationship that almost destroyed him.
He's glad that he followed Jensen's advice and quit that overbearing job to search for a better one.
He's glad Jensen washed his back in the showers of the gym, otherwise they never would've shared their first kiss. Sweet like honey lavender.
He's glad he moved in with Jensen, because if he didn't, they wouldn't share a bed and do the naughty things they do in there.
And he's glad that he said what he said on his birthday, otherwise he'd be somewhere else.
"It's a yes."