It goes ding when there's stuff (cleflink) wrote,

Gently Play upon Your Heartstrings 1/2 (CWRPS, J2 AU)

Title: Gently Play upon Your Heartstrings
Fandom: CWRPS
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Rating: PG
Word count: 11,615
A/N: Written for kefa2112 for the AO3 Author Auction (anyone remember it? Me neither). She has been so incredibly patient waiting for me to write this and I can only hope that it's what she was looking for. Title is from Queen's Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy. Also available on AO3.
A million thank yous to dugindeep for a) endless enthusiasm for this concept and b) a stellar beta job. I heart you forever, hon!

EDIT: becc_j made this amazingly gorgeous piece of art to accompany the story! Because she is fantastic like that.

Summary: Jensen is the superstar lead singer of the world's hottest rock band and, as such, is totally not bitter about getting turned down by Jared fucking Padalecki. Too bad the guy manages the hotel that Jensen lives in and is incredibly difficult to ignore.


Jensen was not fidgeting.

"If you don't stop fucking fidgeting, I'm going to throw you off the goddamn bus," Chris said, not looking up from his guitar.

"I'm not fidgeting!" Jensen snapped back. He put one hand on his leg to stop it bouncing.

"Mm hmm," Chris said, sounding entirely unconvinced.

Jensen scowled at him. "Oh fuck off. After four months on fucking tour, I'm allowed to be eager to sleep in my own bed again."

Chris darted an amused smirk at Jensen through the fall of his hair. "Hate to break it to you, sunshine, but you're a couple of states away from your own bed."

"You know what I mean. Could you maybe try not being a colossal dick for once?"

"You kidding?" Chris said. "I look forward to this part every time we come back to L.A."

An expectant pause followed Chris' words, so Jensen turned pointedly away from him to stare out the window. They'd been in heavy traffic since they'd left LAX and, while Jensen knew from experience that the actual distance from the airport to the studio offices had nothing whatsoever to do with how long it took to make the trip, this seemed excessive even by L.A. standards. Fuck, he could probably have walked there faster.

Jensen could feel Chris' eyes on his back as the silence stretched out. The traffic outside the window didn't miraculously improve. Jensen's leg started twitching again.

"Oh, fine," Jensen said finally, rounding with his glare already in place to combat Chris' smug amusement. "I'll bite. What part do you look forward to?"

Chris grinned widely. "Watching the great Jensen Ackles getting all nervous about a boy. If your fans could see you now."

"I am not-" Jensen started hotly.

"Pipe down before you wake the others," Chris warned. He cast a significant glance towards the back of the bus.

It was good advice. Jensen was pretty sure he could handle a grumpy, sleep-deprived Aldis, if it came down to it, but Beth was downright terrifying.

"I am not nervous about seeing anybody," Jensen hissed, voice carefully lowered. "I just want to get off this damn tour bus already, okay?"

"Whatever you say, Jensen," Chris said, not sounding the least bit convinced. The bastard. "Maybe you should name the next song you write 'Denial'."

Jensen cast about and threw the first thing he found - one of Aldis' shoes - at Chris' head. "Fucker."

Chris leaned easily out of the way, undeterred. "Maybe if you dedicate it to him, Jared will even put you out of your misery. You've tried everything else."

This time, it was himself that Jensen threw at Chris. Chris' instinctive 'fucker, watch the guitar!' was far more satisfying than it should have been.

The gentle fist to Chris' face, on the other hand, was exactly as satisfying as Jensen had expected.

The resulting scuffle did not, in fact, break Chris' guitar, although it did an impressive amount of damage to the table and got both of them in trouble with Beth, who looked about ready to beat them to death with her drumsticks.

After they managed to avoid death by sleep-deprived drummer, Jensen returned his attention to the fucking traffic. He decided to ignore the fact that Chris still looked smug, even with a bruise high on his cheek, two buttons on his shirt missing and a hairdo that looked like it had just lost a fight with a hurricane. Jensen also refused to waste any brain power thinking about who might or might not be waiting for him when he got back to his apartment.

Because Jensen was absolutely not nervous. Fucking Chris.

---

Jensen was famous. Not the 'actually contributing to society famous' like Stephen Hawking, or the 'flash in the pan' famous like Justin Bieber, or even the 'always in the rag mags famous' like Paris Hilton, but the genuine 'common household name, universal acclaim and undying glory' famous.

Which was pretty fucking awesome.

He was the lead singer of Ascendancy, one of the biggest rock bands in history. They'd been at the top of the music scene for twelve years now and had no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. They had full handfuls of gold and platinum records to their name, their fans numbered in the thousands upon thousands, they'd played to sold out crowds all over the world. They were TIME Magazine's band of the decade. They'd been described as Led Zeppelin for the new millennium, and Jensen himself as the most magnetic front man since Freddy Mercury.

They were a four-man show: Jensen on vocals and occasionally guitar; Chris on guitar and backing vocals; Aldis on bass; and Beth on drums. Some bands had a revolving door policy when it came to membership, but Ascendancy was, and always would be, just them. They'd had a different drummer to begin with, when they'd been just another group of stupidly optimistic kids with dreams that had nothing whatsoever to do with how reality worked. The guy had been talented, sure, but Beth had fit, which was exactly what the band needed. Jensen knew that none of them - himself most definitely included - were half as good alone as they were together.

Years of living in each others' pockets had given them a close-knit sense of unity and belonging that made their music even tighter than it already had been. They were a team, a family, and that was why they were so good.

Which wasn't to say that Jensen didn't want to strangle Chris nearly as often as not, or that Aldis' tendency to act like a particularly ineffective Rottweiler whenever the fans started getting a little too interested in Beth's rack wasn't irritating as fuck, or that Beth's particular brand of crazy was incredibly hard to handle when he wasn't caffeinated, but putting up with bullshit was what family did.

Not that Jensen's biological family had ever really got that, but Jensen had stopped feeling bitter about that years ago. He'd had the chance to tell all of his relatives to fuck right off when they'd started circling like vultures after he'd earned his first million. Which had been incredibly satisfying. He was better off without them.

These days, Jensen had everything he could possibly want. He was adored by millions. He had his bandmates and his music and a stage to play on. He was on top of the world. And he loved it.

So, as far as Jensen was concerned, Chris could go fuck himself. And so could Jared Padalecki.

---

By the time their bus conquered the traffic and pulled up outside the studio, Jensen was wound tight and twitchy with the desire to beat Chris to death with his own guitar just to make him stop smirking so blatantly. It was with a sense of relief so profound that Jensen was surprised it hadn't been heralded by choirs of angels that he finally escaped the bus, flanked by two bodyguards-slash-porters who were carrying all the shit he'd lugged with him all over the country for the last four months.

"Say hi to Jared for me!" Chris called after him, because jackass was his default settling.

Jensen casually gave him the finger as he slid on his stupid famous-person aviators and followed his bodyguard-porters out to where a car was waiting to take him to the closest thing he had to a home in this state.

Jensen's actual home, inasmuch as he had one, was in Texas. The quietly sprawling ranch house far from the bustling mass of the city had been the first thing he'd bought for himself when his career hit the stratosphere. It was big for one person, but not too big, and the lack of demands on his time, personality and smile made Jensen feel as much like himself as he ever could when he wasn't on a wide-open stage, spurred on by the thrumming energy of a thousand screaming fans.

But the distance between Texas and California made it incredibly inconvenient for Jensen to stay there while they were writing or recording in the studio. And even he could only rattle away by himself in a big, quiet house in the country for so long before the solitude started getting to him.

The label had recommended that Jensen buy a second house in L.A., in one of those gated, rich-people neighbourhoods. Jensen ignored them. He hardly lived in the one house he already owned; what would he do with more of the damn things?

To begin with, Jensen had dealt with the commuting issue by either staying in hotels or crashing at Chris' place whenever they needed him in the studio. Sadly, neither option was particularly enjoyable; being a face recognized by literally two-thirds of the world made staying at random hotels a security nightmare and Chris was a fucking terrible roommate.

So Jensen's manager, in a desperate bid for compromise, sent him to The Insula.

The Insula was a high-end hotel designed specifically for the long stays of the rich and famous. Jensen paid a hefty chunk of change to live in the penthouse there because, fuck yeah, hotel penthouse, and he had a continuous lease, which meant the place was still his, even when he wasn't in it.

Which sounded more like an apartment rental than a hotel stay, but The Insula was far more than that; it had all the advantages of a rental as well as all the amenities of a hotel. Full room service, including meals, laundry and housekeeping. A restaurant and a bar on the main floor. Open areas for guests and residents. Free Wi-Fi. A swimming pool the size of a football field. Mints on his freaking pillow. The works.

It really was the best of all possible works, except for one tiny thing.

Well, one rather big thing if you were going by height. Jensen mostly tried not to think about it.

---

Jensen slouched into The Insula with all the dignity he could manage while slouching around like a teenager sneaking into the house past curfew. He hid behind his sunglasses and leather jacket without thinking too hard about the impulse to do so - or about the complete futility of attempting subterfuge in a place where the security guards needed to see his I.D. before they'd let him in the front door.

"Welcome back, Mr. Ackles," smiled Dave, the head guard. Because it apparently went against the security guard code of conduct to call him by his first name. As if most of the known world didn't use the damn thing nearly as often as they passed the salt.

Still, it was nice to see a familiar face. Despite his fatigue, Jensen chatted with Dave for a few minutes, catching up on the saga of Dave's vaguely suicidal parrot and offering a short anecdote from the tour. He was definitely not stalling.

Eventually, though, Jensen couldn't resist the lure of sleep and bid Dave farewell. Armed with his keycard and bag-carrying minions, Jensen steeled his resolve and walked through the security doors into the building proper. His shoulders tried to climb up to his ears but he forced them down; he refused to let anyone accuse him of being nervous. Because he wasn't.

Besides, maybe Jared wouldn't be there.

"Mr. Ackles," Jared said. He was standing in his usual spot at the concierge desk, wearing the same polite fucking smile he always wore. Jensen hated it. "Welcome back."

"Thanks," Jensen said, because he was not fucking nervous and he had fucking manners. "Do you ever leave that desk?"

Jared chuckled. Which Jensen did not find at all attractive. "I'm surgically grafted to it. They peel me off when someone needs to sign paperwork."

Jensen made a noncommittal noise in response and lifted one hand in an absent farewell before continuing on to the elevator, head held determinedly high. Jared made no attempt to encourage him to stay and talk, not that Jensen had expected him to. Theirs wasn't that kind of relationship. If it could be called a relationship. Which it couldn't. Which was just fine with Jensen.

Fuck Jared Padalecki anyway.

(Literally, if possible. Except it wasn't. Which was also just fine with Jensen. Really).

---

Jared was the general manager of The Insula. He'd been the first person Jensen had met when he moved in six years ago. It hadn't been the most auspicious first meeting.

That first time, Jensen had just stepped off a red-eye flight from Paris and, while he was awake enough to smile for the paparazzi that bombarded him at the airport, all he really wanted to do was face plant into his fluffy new bed and sleep until he was hungry enough to harass room service for food.

Then he saw the guy waiting for them in the foyer and made a slight adjustment to that plan: the bed could stay, but the sleeping was going to have to wait. Because damn.

Mr. Yes Please was wearing a navy suit that fit like a fucking glove and showed off broad shoulders, narrow hips and legs that went on forever. He wore his hair overlong in a shaggy mess that Jensen was already looking forward to messing up further, and the muscles in his arms were giving Jensen some delightfully wicked ideas.

And Jensen would have liked to say that he hadn't let all of his fame go to his head, but he had to admit that he was kind of used to having what he wanted when he wanted it. He did a better job at staying out of the tabloids than a lot of other stars - seriously, Paris - but Jensen had his own share of indiscretions. That didn't automatically make him an asshole.

Chris would have said that Jensen had always been an asshole, because Chris was a douchebag like that. Chris would probably also have said some bullshit about Jensen being both afraid of commitment and too much of a coward to have a real relationship, but Jensen wasn't the only one who preferred one-night stands over 'real' relationships; dating just wasn't on the table when living the kind of life they did.

Besides, with people like this guy hanging around, Jensen couldn't imagine why anyone would give up the chance to get a piece of that.

So Jensen pushed his sunglasses up into his hair and flashed his best pants-dropping smile. "Well hello, you."

The guy smiled, warm but professional, and Jensen was pleased when the motion carved dimples into tanned cheeks. He'd always been a sucker for a pretty smile. "Hello, Mr. Ackles," he said, extending a hand. "My name's Jared Padalecki and I'm the general manager of The Insula. I hope you enjoy your time here."

"Oh," Jensen drawled, as he reached out to shake Jared's hand. Jared's grip was firm and the contrast of his deeply tanned hands to Jensen's paler skin was very nice indeed. Those fingers were going to look gorgeous wrapped around Jensen's hips. "I'm sure I shall."

Jared's smile deepened briefly, before he released Jensen's hand and gestured towards an office near the concierge's desk. "If you'll follow me, Mr. Ackles, we can sort out the last few details and I'll introduce you to the hotel."

"Call me Jensen, please." Jensen gestured for Jared to lead the way and proceeded to stare at Jared's ass the entire way to Jared's office.

Jared was a consummate professional as he walked Jensen through the booking contract and discussed the hotel's policies and amenities. Jensen paid no attention whatsoever, too busy mentally undressing Jared to give a shit. No flicker of either discomfort or arousal crossed Jared's face under the scrutiny, which Jensen was grudgingly impressed by. The idea that he might be married was disregarded with a quick glance at Jared's bare ring finger - not that something like infidelity would have stopped Jensen, but it made things simpler when he didn't have to deal with the guilt - and there were no framed pictures on the desk to suggest that Jared was in any kind of long-term relationship or a single dad or something.

It was always possible that the guy was straight - not that that ever stopped Jensen, either - but Jensen had been around the block enough to know when someone was checking him out, no matter how covert they were about it. And Jared was definitely checking him out. Jensen shifted in his seat, letting his hands fall to the tops of his thighs and his back arch just slightly, and bit back a smirk when Jared's eyes flicked briefly but unmistakably up the length of his body.

"…contact the security desk. And that's just about it." Jared smiled at him again, and Jensen let his eyes drift away from the slight strain of Jared's shirt buttons to return to Jared's pretty eyes. "Did you have any questions for me, Mr. Ackles?"

"First one is why you're being so rude as to ignore that fact that I asked you to call me Jensen," Jensen said, with a smile that made it clear that he was only half serious.

"Selective hearing, I'm afraid," Jared said, without a trace of apology. "Tends to happen in situations like this."

"I'm not accepting that as an excuse."

"I must insist, though. Next question?"

"My bed big enough to fit a guy like you in it?" Jensen asked, with a shamelessly hungry smirk. He let his body language fall open and ready, making it perfectly clear that it was more than just innuendo. "I like a big bed."

Jared smiled, a pleasant, unhurried expression. "Our beds make king sizes feel inadequate. You'll be perfectly comfortable."

"Uh huh. You gonna make sure of that?" Jensen let his voice drop along with the slow slide of his hand up his thigh towards his crotch. "Cause I'd really appreciate it if you did."

"I'll have housekeeping send up some extra pillows," Jared said, giving every impression of being totally honest. He winked, which was incredibly unfair. "Like sleeping on angel wings, I swear."

Jensen stared at him. "Are you being serious?"

"Serious is part of the job description. Let me show you to your suite."

Jared stood and held open the door, waiting until Jensen finally climbed to his feet and followed him out of the room before he let it swing shut.

"You're in the penthouse on the fortieth floor," Jared said. Jensen suspected that he was saying it more out of a desire to talk than a belief that Jensen didn't already know that. What Jensen couldn't decide was whether Jared talked a lot when he was nervous or he just talked a lot in general. Being around Jensen tended to make people nervous. "Every floor in the building requires a keycard to access it, so just swipe your card when you get on the elevator to go straight to your suite."

The elevator binged open and Jensen smirked when Jared gestured for him to enter first. What a gentleman.

"How long's the trip to the top?" Jensen asked, as he flicked his keycard through the reader.

"About three minutes."

Jensen had done more with less. It'd do.

The moment the doors slid shut, Jensen stepped right up into Jared's space, not bothering to hide the thrill that went down his spine when he had to look up to meet Jared's startled eyes.

"So," he said, flattening one hand against the expensive silk of Jared's tie. "You gonna stop jerking me around now? Because I'd much rather you jerk me off while you fuck me in this big, big bed I've apparently got to break in."

Jared inhaled sharply enough that Jensen could feel his chest contracting under his palm. His pupils blew wide in automatic arousal and Jensen smiled, dark and hungry.

"Feel like taking an early lunch break?" he asked, in the deep rumble that made people all over the world masturbate to his songs.

Jared took a deep, shuddering breath and Jensen smiled in anticipation.

"No," Jared said, to Jensen's utter surprise. "I don't think I do."

"Oh, come on." Jensen boxed him up against the wall of the elevator and leaned in close. "I can pay your salary for the next three years with the cash in my daily expense account. I think I can convince your bosses to look the other way."

Something that would have looked like amusement if not for the arousal clouding Jared's face lifted the corner of Jared's mouth. "Not actually why I'm saying no."

Jensen felt himself frowning, confused. "Don't you know who I am?"

Jared's smile was impossibly steady. "It's kind of hard to miss."

"Then you must know that this isn't the sort of offer people turn down." Jensen let his eyes drift unapologetically down the length of Jared's chest. His hand followed the same path, slow and languid. "How many people do you think would kill to be in your place right now?"

"More than I want to count." Jared caught Jensen's wrist in one hand, stopping it just short of Jared's belt. His grip was iron strong and careful. "Perhaps you should ask one of them."

Jensen rolled his eyes. "You cannot be serious." He ignored Jared's possession of his hand and rocked his hips into Jared's. He felt the weight of Jared's dick through his pants - not hard yet, but definitely interested in the proceedings. "You and I both know you want this. So why not indulge?"

Jared's free hand landed on Jensen's shoulder and gently, but firmly, shifted Jensen to one side so that Jared could move away from the wall.

"I'm not the indulging type," was all he said.

Jensen stared at him in open shock and no small amount of anger. The elevator shuddered to a halt before he could make up his mind about what he wanted to say.

The elevator doors opened onto a small antechamber that looked disconcertingly similar to the mud room Jensen's parents had in their house, just without the detritus of football gear and discarded shoes. Jared moved towards it and Jensen grabbed his arm before he could complete his escape. "Wait."

Jared looked down at Jensen's hand, then up at Jensen. "I don't really want to get laughed at for filing a harassment charge against Jensen Ackles, but that doesn't mean I won't do it," he said evenly. "Kindly let go."

"Fucking-" Jensen waited several long, deliberate moments before letting his hand slide away from Jared's arm.

"Thank you," Jared said. Then he smiled, and it was just as polite and open as it had been when Jensen first walked through the doors downstairs. "Come on. I'll give you a quick tour. I'll let you investigate the bedroom on your own, though."

---

After that first, disastrous attempt at getting Jared into his bed (or against the wall or on the couch in Jared's office or or or), Jensen had made several further attempts to make the man realize that he was a fucking moron to be passing this up. He was a little more subtle than he had been in the elevator, since the direct approach clearly didn't fly, yet nothing else he tried was any more effective.

When Jensen still hadn't made any headway with Jared by the time the band went on its next tour, Jensen decided that enough was enough. He didn't throw himself at anybody. Jared and his muscles and his stupid dimples could just fuck right off.

Now, six years later, things hadn't changed much.

Jensen's main reaction to Jared these days was to ignore him beyond the level of basic politeness. Jared took this in stride, and never seemed offended or put out by Jensen's brusque nature. Which, if Jensen was being honest, irritated him more than any other reaction would have.

The other problem with ignoring Jared, sadly, was that he was surprisingly difficult to ignore. Jared apparently lived at the concierge desk which meant that Jensen had to see him essentially every time he walked through the lobby. It also meant that Jensen had to give Jared an appreciative once-over essentially every time he walked through the lobby, both in an attempt to make Jared uncomfortable and because he really was just that nice to look at.

Jensen would never, under pain of death, admit to being just the slightest bit disappointed whenever he walked through the lobby and didn't see Jared standing there.

He'd also never admit that it was more than the fact that Jared was hot like burning that made it so hard to ignore him.

Somewhere around about year four of their acquaintance, Jensen had come to the uncomfortable realization that he actually knew more about Jared than he did about some of the people on his road crew, despite the fact that the two of them had never managed a conversation of more than fifty words that didn't involve Jensen trying to get into Jared's pants.

And Jensen would honestly have been happier not knowing anything whatsoever about Jared besides the fact that he was hot like burning, both because it proved that he paid far too much attention to Jared and because, somehow, knowing more about Jared made it even harder not to pay attention to him.

Some of the highlights on Jensen's far too long list of Things He Knew About Jared were that Jared:
- Smiled all the fucking time
- Was obscenely nice to everyone he talked to, worked with or bumped into at the grocery store
- Talked incessantly
- Was liked by fucking everybody
- Had two dogs that he pampered mercilessly
- Was gayer than a handbag full of rainbows
- Had the occasional date or three but no long-term boyfriend
- Clearly didn't need sleep, given the fact that he was always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed no matter what time of day or night Jensen went past the concierge desk

It was like a list of undeniable universal constants. The sun was shining and Jared Padalecki was an impossibly endearing excuse for a human being.

Which was why, when Jensen walked into the lobby about two weeks after they'd finished their tour and found Jared fairly wilting at the concierge desk, looking like he'd gone three rounds with a brick wall, he knew that something was seriously wrong in the world.

Without thinking, Jensen made an automatic about-face and walked right back out of the building, under the bemused eyes of the security guards. Once outside, he paused, wondering what the hell he thought he was doing, and dithered on the sidewalk for a moment before deciding that he'd only look like a bigger idiot if he walked back in again. He squared his shoulders, tucked his hat more firmly over his head and strode purposefully down the street.

He was back in ten minutes with a coffee cup in each hand and a line of determined tension stiffening his spine. The security guards waved him through with a pair of matching grins that Jensen did his best to ignore.

Jared's head lifted towards him as Jensen passed through the security gate and Jensen could see the dark circles under Jared's eyes standing out starkly against the unnatural pallor of his cheeks.

"Hello, M-" Jared started, trailing off with a confused blink when Jensen marched towards the desk instead of bee-lining for the elevator like he usually did.

Jensen shoved one of the cups in Jared's face. "Blasphemy coffee," he said. He paused, then added, "For you."

Jensen didn't think he'd ever seen Jared look so obviously taken aback. "I- thank you?" Jared said, after a startled beat. He accepted the cup from Jensen with careful fingers, taking obvious care not to let their hands touch. Jensen ignored the part of himself that wanted to twitch. "Dare I ask what blasphemy coffee is?"

"Coffee that's full of milk and sugar and whipped cream and stuff." Jensen took a deliberate swallow of his own, gloriously black, coffee. "It's a sin against mankind. Everyone knows that coffee's got to be strong enough to melt your teeth or else it's not worth drinking."

"Well," Jared said, his tone somewhere between shocked, amused and something Jensen could almost categorized as touched. "Guess I'm going to have to be a sinner because blasphemy coffee is definitely the way to go with me."

I know, Jensen didn't say, because he had no desire to look like a stalker. "Always knew you had bad taste," he said instead. He gestured up and down his own body with a sweep of his hand and a cheesy leer. "Look what you passed up."

Jared grinned at him, the expression easing the tension in his face. "Buying me coffee and then insulting me for it isn't likely to make me swoon into your arms, you know."

Feeling surprisingly self-conscious, Jensen offered up a jerky shrug. "Not trying to make you swoon. Just thought you needed a pick-me-up. You look like crap."

Jared's smile turned sheepish. "Had a busy few weeks. My parents descended unannounced, then my best friend's wife kicked him out so he's been living on my couch, and last night he decided to throw a pre-divorce party. Hard to get any sleep when the apartment's full of people reliving their college rager days."

"So you do sleep," was all Jensen could think to say. "I wasn't sure."

Jared laughed. Jensen briefly entertained the idea of not staring, but disregarded it almost immediately. It wasn't like Jared wasn't used to it. "I'm battery powered," Jared said. "Plug myself in at night and I'm all ready to go the next day."

"Knew there had to be something," Jensen said, then ran out of words to use. He and Jared stared at each other for a long moment of awkward silence before Jensen cleared his throat and stepped back. "I'll let you get back to work."

"Thanks," Jared said. The smile he offered Jensen was small and somehow warmer than any of the others he'd ever turned Jensen's way. "For the coffee."

Jensen summoned up a smirk. "I expect to see you back to normal tomorrow. I'd better not have suffered the indignity of buying blasphemy coffee for nothing."

"Try candy next time," Jared suggested. "Sugar fixes everything."

"I'll keep that in mind." Jensen hesitated for a moment, before adding, "Bye, Jared."

"Have a good day, Mr. Ackles," Jared answered, just like always.

Which meant that Jensen had absolutely no explanation for the smile that kept threatening to invade his face for the rest of the day.

---

Jensen would have expected that to be that. It wasn't as though Jared was any more likely to sleep with him after a single cup of coffee and, even if he was, Jensen refused to accept a pity fuck from anyone. He was Jensen fucking Ackles; pity and fucking did not go together in his world.

To begin with, it seemed like he was right. Jared continued to be obnoxiously amiable and Jensen continued to pretend to ignore him. Their non-conversations stayed short, no mention was made of offered coffee and Jensen was just as happy to let this moment of accord pass unnoticed.

Sometimes, though, what Jensen wanted had very little bearing on what actually happened in his life.

---

Jensen wanted to be asleep.

Jensen wasn't asleep.

It was too fucking early for this bullshit.

Darkness pressed in on all sides as Jensen rolled his head towards the glow of the clock on his nightstand and confirmed that a grand total of seven minutes had passed since the last time he'd checked. He huffed and hunkered down lower in his pillows, hoping against hope that the sheer bliss of his bed would win out over whatever idiocy inside his brain had decided that waking up at three fucking thirty in the morning was a good idea.

When he got tired of staring at the insides of his eyelids, Jensen traded off for staring at the ceiling instead. It wasn't an appreciable improvement.

The clock glowed a baleful '4:48 AM' when Jensen finally resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to get back to sleep. Grumbling under his breath, he dragged his sleep-sluggish body out of bed and staggered into the washroom where he did the barest round of personal hygiene before banging back out into the bedroom and swayed in place for a while, trying to decide what to do with himself at this godforsaken time of the morning.

Jensen didn't know quite what possessed him to pick up his acoustic guitar and stagger out towards the elevator wearing nothing but a ratty t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants, but he couldn't be bothered to second guess the impulse. He was obscenely famous; he was allowed to be eccentric if he wanted to be.

Jensen took the elevator down to the rec floor and headed for the lounge. The large, well-furnished room was quiet as the grave and Jensen didn't bother turning on the overhead lights. There was enough ambient light leaking through the windows from the streetlamps outside that he could walk through the room without tripping over anything, which was all Jensen really needed.

Guitar in hand, Jensen settled himself in a chair near the window, close enough to catch the light but not close enough to see anything out of it except sky. He tuned his guitar on autopilot and then let the music take charge. His fingers teased scraps and pieces of songs out of the strings, not composing so much as exploring. His thoughts drifted and Jensen let himself become an extension of his guitar, a mouthpiece for its gentle voice.

There was something soothing about the early morning, Jensen decided. Which was a rather laughable statement coming from a guy whose lifestyle generally ensured that he only ever saw mornings from the wrong side, but Jensen couldn't deny that there was a quiet kind of peace to be found in those sketched-out moments while the rest of the world was asleep.

The room grew slowly lighter as Jensen shifted away from hooks and sliding scales to wander through his own existing catalogue, searching for songs that seemed to suit the feel of the morning. He was wending his way through a particularly complicated series of chord progressions when he happened to glance up and was brought up short by the sight of Jared leaning against the wall a scarce ten feet away. Jared had his arms folded over his chest and legs crossed neatly at the ankles, looking as though he'd been standing there for a while.

Jensen's fingers stalled and the melody fell abruptly into silence.

"Sorry," Jared said, in the quiet tone of voice that people used in the early morning. "I didn't mean to intrude."

Jensen shook his head, fighting to pull himself out of the headspace he'd been in. "No, it's fine. I just… um, how long have you been standing there?"

Long enough, Jared's expression seemed to say. Jensen was absolutely appalled to find his cheeks prickling at the thought. He might have played his music in front of people all the time, but he didn't like letting people see him like this.

"Well," Jensen started, and then didn't know where to go with it. His fingers skated restlessly over the strings before he firmly told himself to get a grip.

"I've always liked that one," Jared said, to Jensen's surprise.

"What?"

Jared waved a hand at the guitar. "That last song, Open Handed? Always thought it deserved more recognition than it got. It sounds nice on the acoustic, by the way."

Jensen gaped at him, completely stunned. Open Handed was one of those songs that, despite the opinion of the band, had been eclipsed by the media buzz for some of their other, bigger hits. Jensen still played it at concerts when he thought the audience was in the right mood for it, but it wasn't a song that was ever going to show up on a Best of Ascendancy album.

The idea that Jared had even heard of the song, let alone was able to recognize it when played on an acoustic without lyrics, was staggering.

"Everything okay?" Jared asked.

"Since when are you enough of a fan to recognize Open Handed?" Jensen demanded.

Jared shrugged easily. "Oh, I've always been a fan. Lined up all night for concert tickets, hung pictures of you and your leather pants on my walls, memorized the lyrics, the whole nine yards."

Jensen could hardly believe what he was hearing. "But, then why…?"

"Am I not interested in sleeping with you?" Jared finished and Jensen nodded tightly, refusing to show how much he cared about the answer.

To his continued surprise, Jared smiled and said, "That's an easy one."

Jensen arched his best skeptical eyebrow. "Oh, it is, is it?"

"Yes." Jared pushed himself off the wall and walked up to Jensen. His height and the fact that Jensen was still sitting down meant that he fairly towered over him. He leaned down until his mouth was level with Jensen's ear and a shiver went down Jensen's spine despite his best efforts to suppress it. "I refuse to be a notch in anyone's belt," Jared said, in a low, intimate purr. "Not even the great Jensen Ackles."

He backed away as quickly as he'd come, and Jensen found himself blinking at the sudden distance between them. "I don't collect notches," he said dumbly, a little bit insulted at the implication.

"Not on purpose maybe." Jared's shrug was a liquid, careless thing. "Amounts to the same thing from my end."

"Huh." So Jared was into commitment. Jensen could respect that. Well, no he couldn't really, but at least now he had a reason for why Jared was apparently immune to the sex-ass rock god that Jensen was. It was a shit reason, in Jensen's opinion, but he had to admire Jared sticking to his principles, if nothing else.

So Jensen summoned up a teasing smirk. "Damn. There goes my attempt to seduce you with an early morning concert," Jensen said, punctuating his words with a demonstrative strum of the guitar strings.

"'Fraid so," Jared agreed. "I do appreciate the concert though." There was a grave sincerity in the words that, somehow, hit Jensen even harder than any successful seduction ever had. Jared glanced at his watch. "But it's time I was back at work."

Jensen had no idea what time it was, but he definitely knew that it was too fucking early to be working. "You really are battery-powered, aren't you? How the hell are you even still upright by the time lunch rolls around?"

"There are worse things in the world than being a morning person."

Jensen snorted. "Speak for yourself." He waved Jared away with one hand. "Off you go, then. Wouldn't want you to be late for your date with the front desk."

"No, we wouldn't," Jared agreed, sounding amused. He tipped his head in Jensen's direction. "I'll see you later, Mr. Ackles."

"It's Jensen!" Jensen called after him, even though it had been a good few years since he'd given up trying. This early morning shit was fucking him right up.

At least, that was his excuse for why he brought Jared another coffee pick-me-up that afternoon. And the afternoon after that. And the one after that too.

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Tags: challenge: fundraiser fic, fandom: cwrps, genre: au, pairing: jared/jensen
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