This wedding was a disaster and it hadn't even happened yet.
The resort had screwed up half of the room reservations, Jared's date didn't actually exist, the catering was a fucking disaster, the groom was missing and Jared's hair was trying to stage a hostile takeover of his head.
And now there was an assassin in his hotel room.
"Um," Jared said.
The assassin whirled, gun in hand and pointed unerringly at Jared.
Jared threw his arms first up and then immediately back down again to grab at the towel wrapped around his waist before it could end up on the floor.
The man's steady aim didn't so much as twitch but Jared thought that some of the tension in his spine had eased at Jared's flailing.
They stared at each other in a tense silence for several heartbeats, which Jared used as an opportunity to convince himself not to have a heart attack. Also, wow, Jared didn't know that assassins could be that pretty. Wasn't that a bad idea for someone trying to blend in?
"Um," Jared said again, since it seemed as good a way to start as any. "Can I… help you with something? Preferably something that doesn't involve you killing me?"
"I'm not going to kill you," the assassin said after a moment, and thankfully lowered the gun. He didn't put it back in whatever pocket of reality he had pulled it from in the first place, but Jared took his victories where he could get them. Especially after the day he'd had. And the fact that there was no longer a gun pointing at him. That was awesome.
"Awesome. Best news I've had all day," Jared said, because his brain to mouth filter was broken at the best of times. No help for it now, he figured, and paired the words with a cautious smile.
It was probably Jared's imagination, but he liked to think that the guy's mouth twitched just slightly at that.
Since him getting shot seemed to have been taken off the table, Jared dared a question. "So, if you're not going to shoot me, any chance you can tell me what I've done to deserve an assassin in my hotel room?"
"I'm not an assassin," the guy said, sounding a little affronted.
Jared took a deliberate look at the guy's decidedly assassin-like skintight black clothes and gloves, skirting away from the sight of the gun for the sake of his precarious state of calm. "Uh huh. So you're, what? A spy."
Jared blinked. "Wait, what? Why the hell would you tell me that? Isn't that, like, totally opposite of what a spy is supposed to do?"
The spy actually snorted. "Because it's better than you coming up with some crazy theory and alerting God and everyone else to the fact that I'm here. Which I would object to quite strenuously, in case you were wondering."
"Strenuously in the sense that you'd shoot me after all?" Jared asked.
The spy shrugged. "If worse came to worse, yeah, probably."
"Right then," Jared said, after a moment. "That's kind of terrifying. Your secret is safe with me."
"I'm so glad you're easily convinced."
"At least you're an American spy," Jared said. "I wouldn't want to be unpatriotic."
The spy looked to be somewhere between chagrined and amused. "The fact that I speak English without an accent doesn't make me American, you know."
"Bullshit. I know Texas when I hear it," Jared said, when the spy cocked an eyebrow at him. "And I can't imagine that that's a particularly popular accent to mimic when trying to fool the world as a super secret spy."
"Your logic is incredibly faulty," the spy said. He paused. "Although, amazingly, your conclusion is surprisingly accurate."
Jared beamed. "You can take the boy out of Texas…"
"Yeah, yeah." The spy looked at him. "You ever going to get out of the doorway?"
"What are you even doing here?" Jared asked, because why the hell not.
"You honestly think I'm going to tell you?" the spy asked, and he was back to sounding condescendingly amused.
Before Jared could answer, he heard the distinctive click of the main door's lock disengaging and had barely looked in the direction of the little sitting room that his suite came with before the door crashed open with a bang.
"S'up, cocksucker!" Chad's voice called, right on the heels of the door.
Jared whirled around to look at the spy with wide-eyed panic.
The spy held up a hand to forestall Jared's immediate instinct to speak, then pointed towards the door to the restroom. He was already moving before Jared even had a chance to nod, and Jared decided that his job in this situation was to go run interference against his crazy friend.
The bathroom door had barely clicked shut when Chad appeared, looking like an utter douche in an obnoxiously yellow Hawaiian shirt and with a pair of massive aviators perched on his head. He recoiled visibly at the sight of Jared's unclad state. "Fucker, put on some clothes before you poke someone's eye out with your nipples."
Jared automatically crossed his arms over his chest, realized what he was doing, and dropped them. "Don't barge in when I'm not wearing clothes," he returned, in what he vehemently denied was a squeak. "When did you get here? And why do you have a key to my room?"
Chad rolled his eyes. "Told the chick at the front I was your brother," he said, in a tone of voice that suggested that he thought Jared was the dumbest person ever to dumb. "Would have said I was your big gay life mate but I figured your pretend fiancé might not like that."
Jared winced before he could stop himself.
Luckily, Chad was too busy scoping out the room to notice. "Where is your pretty new cocksucker, anyway? Still imaginary?"
"No, shut up," Jared said, even though Chad was, in fact, completely right. Probably for the first time in his life.
Chad squinted at him, practically radiating disapproval. "Seriously. You've been as good as dead for two fucking years-"
"I've been on a dig," Jared protested. "And I Skyped you all the time, fucker."
"-and you told Genevieve that you've brought home a fucking fiancé. Unless you packed him in your goddamn carry-on, I'm thinking you're full of shit. And Genevieve is going to kill you dead for messing up her guest count or whatever the fuck."
Jared winced again. That was definitely true.
"So trot his gay ass out here before I have to tell Gen that you're a ball-less cockmonger who doesn't even know how to lie about not being pathetically single without getting called out in, like, five seconds."
It was about then that an absolutely terrible idea occurred to Jared.
"Well?" Chad asked expectantly.
"He's in the shower, actually," Jared said, loudly enough to be heard through the bathroom door, hopefully. He gestured up and down his own towel-clad state. "You interrupted, in case you were wondering."
Judging from the expression on his face, Chad hadn't been wondering.
"Seriously," Chad said, somehow managing to turn it into a question and a scoff at the same time.
Refusing to think too hard about what he was doing, Jared nodded.
"Right," Chad said, and he was in front of the restroom door before Jared could react. "Open up, pretty boy!" Chad yelled, pounding on the door loud enough that the people down the hall could probably hear him.
"Chad!" Jared yelled. "What the fuck?"
Chad ignored him and kept on hammering. "Hurry it up!"
Jared was considering the merits of throwing Chad out on his ear when the door swung open and the spy, sans gun and wrapped in one of the obscenely fluffy bathrobes that had come with the room, stepped out. His hair and skin were damp as if he actually had just got out of the shower and he had a mild, pleasant expression on his face.
It was a good look for him, Jared had to admit.
The spy answered Chad's vaguely dumbfounded look with a charming smile and an extended hand. "Hi, I'm Jensen," he said. "You must be Chad. I've heard all about you."
Chad raised an eyebrow. It wasn't a good look for him, Jared could also admit. "Oh yeah? And what have you heard?"
"Not to believe anything you say," the spy - Jensen - said easily. "And that drinking with you will be hazardous to my health."
Chad's scowl melted into a self-satisfied grin. "Fucking right."
"Not exactly a compliment, Chad," Jared felt the need to point out, not entirely surprised when Chad flipped him off.
"Shut up, douchebag." Chad eyed Jensen up and down.
Jensen suffered the attention graciously.
Jared braced himself.
"At least you're pretty," Chad said finally. "J-man's last boyfriend looked like someone had stepped on his face and then shit on it."
Jensen just smiled. "I'm glad I meet your approval," he said, somehow managing to sound completely sincere about it.
Chad's mouth opened again and Jared decided that it was high time he did something about this.
"Okay, that's enough of that," he said, seizing Chad by the arm and dragging. "You'll get to emotionally scar him later. Go away."
"Up front," Chad said as Jared all but frog-marched him to the door. "You paying him? Because he totally looks like he gets paid to suck cock for a living."
"Fuck off. And give me that keycard."
Chad flicked it at him, unconcernedly. "Whatever. You think I want to see your gay ass in action? Bring a hot chick next time."
"Goodbye, Chad," Jared said pointedly, and shoved him into the hallway.
Chad mumbled something that was almost certainly an insult and Jared took a vindictive sort of pleasure in slamming the door in his face. He started to put the chain across the door in case Chad went down and got another keycard - because Chad might not have been gay, but rooming with him in college had made it very clear to Jared that he should never try and understand the way that Chad's brain worked - then realized that might not be the best idea when he had a spy in his room.
Almost as soon as he had the thought, Jared felt a presence behind him and turned to see his unexpected guest leaning against the wall with a nonchalance that Jared admired very much.
"Um," Jared said.
"Care to explain what that was all about?" Jensen asked mildly.
"Chad's an idiot?" Jared tried.
"I got that. Not what I was talking about."
"It's not a bad idea, actually," Jared defended, and never mind that he wasn't quite sure of that himself.
Jensen arched an eyebrow. It looked much better on him than it had on Chad. "In what possible world was it a good idea to pretend that the spy in your hotel room was actually your imaginary boyfriend?"
"Fiancé, actually," Jared corrected.
Jensen's eyebrow gained a partner in the wry quirk of his mouth. "You lied to your friends about having a fiancé? Who you promised to bring to a wedding? That's ballsy."
Jared scowled at him. "I know that, shut up. It's not like I planned it this way."
"From what I can see, it's not like you planned anything at all."
"Anyway," Jared said loudly. "It'd be helpful for both of us."
"If I pretend to be your fiancé?" Jensen asked. "Forgive me if I don't see the advantage that playing happy families would have for me."
"Genevieve, the bride I mean, booked out the entire resort," Jared told him, trying not to sound smug. "Nobody allowed in except staff and wedding guests. There's no way you're going to be able to get around without getting noticed, and I don't think that's what you want. Hard to do spy stuff when you can't go three steps without getting asked for your pass."
"Whereas I," Jared continued, with a confidence that he didn't entirely feel. "Am in need of a date for the rest the week and just happen to have a spare pass that I'd be willing to share."
"A fair point," Jensen said. "But it's also going to be hard for me to 'do spy stuff' when I'm busy being your arm candy."
"It won't be that bad. I'm the man of honour so-"
"You're pulling this shit when you're in the wedding party? Did you get dropped on your head as a baby?"
"Are all government employees such jerks?" Jared asked. "Like I was saying, I'm going to be spending most of my time rushing around getting all the last minute stuff done. You'll hardly see me except during the dinners and rehearsal stuff. So you can go around and do-" Jared waved an absent hand "-whatever it is that spies do, without getting bothered and I can focus on not letting this wedding be a complete and utter disaster without getting hassled for being single."
Jensen stood there and looked thoughtful for long enough that Jared had resigned himself to being ridiculed for still being single and doing a terrible job at trying to lie about it, by the time he spoke.
"When is this wedding?" Jensen asked.
"Five days from now," Jared said. He paused, considering. "Well, five and a half, including today. Is that going to be enough time for you? The resort's presumably going to go back to normal afterwards, though, so I guess you could just stay."
"Don't worry about it," Jensen said, in an 'it's none of your business' kind of way. "And how many of these guests know you by sight?"
"I dunno, a lot? Me 'n Genevieve have been friends since we were kids, but I was busy with my doctorate and I've been out of the country for the last two years so-"
"Okay, I get the idea." Jensen stared at him for a long moment. "Alright," he said finally, and extended his hand to shake. "You've got a deal. You just have to tell me one thing, first."
"What?" Jared blinked, surprised. "I mean, great!" He pumped Jensen's hand maybe a little too enthusiastically, but he blamed his nerves for that. "What do you want to know?"
Jensen's smile was unexpected and, once again, distracting. "Your name. Somehow I doubt it's 'hey, cocksucker'."
Jared laughed, perhaps a little manically. "Yeah, no. That's all Chad. My name's Jared. Padalecki," he tacked on as an afterthought.
"Alright then, Jared Padalecki. I'm Jensen."
"Jensen," Jared repeated, trying it out. "Is that your real name?"
Jensen gave him a look. "I'm a spy. What do you think?"
"Oh," Jared said, obscurely disappointed.
"So," Jensen said. "Anything I should know about this fictional fiancé of yours?"
"Uh, like what?"
Jensen rolled his eyes. "What he does for a living, maybe? Or how you met. Or any other ridiculous details that you came up with when creating your dream man."
Jensen, Jared decided, was one of those people who ought to register their sense of sarcasm as a lethal weapon. Actually, considering that Jensen was a super secret spy, he very well could have.
It was a valid point, though, so Jared did his best to come up with a real answer.
"He's, uh, a musician. I think I told Gen he played the guitar, but, I mean, we can bullshit like you only play the bassoon or the bagpipes or something else that no one will have an easy time getting a hold o-"
"Guitar is fine," Jensen interrupted. Jared would have been irritated by how often he seemed to do that, but Jared figured that he probably deserved it with the way this whole conversation had been going.
"Uh, right, okay. Well we met in Sicily - that's where my archeology dig is - but I never said anything about what you were doing there so it's easy enough to say that you were just an American tourist and not-"
"I can speak Italian," Jensen said, like it was nothing.
"You take this international man of mystery thing seriously, huh?"
Jensen shrugged. "Took a course or two in high school. It was useful, so I kept it up."
"You're kidding. You're not kidding?" Jared shook his head, laughing a little. "Wow, this is not how I pictured it would go if I met a spy."
"You spend a lot of time imagining what it would be like to meet a spy?"
"Duh," Jared said. "It's right up there on the list between 'superhero' and 'astronaut'."
"Of course," Jensen said. "How silly of me. When do these pretend fiancé duties start? Because, amazing as it is, I've actually got better things to do right now than stand here and trade witty one-liners."
"That isn't part of the secret spy handbook? I'm kind of disappointed." Jared pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Everyone's mostly just settling in today, so there isn't much traffic for now. There's going to be a big 'wow, I haven't seen you in forever, how it's going' dinner tonight, though."
Which Jared was very pleased not to be attending solo. Not in the least because having someone who looked like Jensen on his arm - metaphorically speaking - would hopefully be enough of a deterrent for Genevieve's crazy cousin to keep him from hitting on Jared all night.
"Where I'm going to be the dashing Spanish guitar player who has saved you from lonely spinsterhood?"
"Yes actually," Jared answered, a little peevishly. "So you'd better be worth the effort of leaving my single life behind."
"Don't worry," Jensen said. He winked. "I'm more than worth the price of admission.
"And I could have got a date if I'd tried," Jared added, a little petulantly.
"Oh," Jensen said, dragging his eyes slowly up the length of Jared's body, and was he checking Jared out? "I never had any doubt about that. You probably want to get dressed so you can go find somewhere to get me some clothes," Jensen added, while Jared felt suddenly very uncomfortable about the fact that he was still standing around in a towel. "Cause I doubt any of your stuff is going to fit and I didn't exactly come dressed for a wedding."
"Right," Jared said, coughing a little to get the embarrassed squeak out of his voice. "I'll, uh, get right on that."
Jensen gave him another one of those oh-so-eloquent eyebrow raises and Jared made a dignified retreat into the bedroom to avoid stammering like a lunatic about the unintentional 'that's what she said' he'd just committed.
"I hope you know what you're doing," Jared said to his reflection in the mirrored closet doors. He paused. "Besides talking to yourself in the mirror again."
Jared's reflection had no more sage advice to give him than it ever did, so Jared sighed and heaved his suitcase onto the bed so he could find something to wear. And if it felt a little like he was about to go on an undercover mission of his own, well, at least it was bound to be a memorable night.
Jared dutifully picked up a shirt and some light khakis at the first gift shop he found, figuring that Jensen could deal with getting more himself.
Jensen didn't seem to care about the clothes one way or the other; he simply shrugged out of the bathrobe and pulled them on, twisting to check the fit in the back before dragging a chair over and plunking himself down on it.
"Sit down," he said, waving a hand at the couch.
"What's up?" Jared asked. He hoped he wasn't about to be interrogated or something. This spy thing was making him worry about all sorts of things that he'd never considered an issue before.
Jensen rolled his eyes as if he knew where Jared's meandering thoughts had taken him. "We're supposed be engaged. Going to be hard to sell that when I don't know anything about you besides the fact that you're an archeologist specializing in Greek antiquities, have terrible taste in shirts, and are stupid enough to pretend you have a fiancé at the wedding of your best friend who can smell your bullshit a mile away."
Jared hadn't known that it was actually possible for someone who wasn't a cartoon character to goggle at someone. "How-"
"I'm good at my job," Jensen said. "Now how about we start filling in the blanks."
The conversation that followed was clinical enough to make Jared's very worst first dates look like the height of romanticism and connectivity. Jensen worked his way efficiently through the basics - family members, career path, pets, friends, favourite foods - drawing out information from Jared and doling out a series of one sentence sound bites about himself that Jared figured were probably all made up; government agents didn't just go around telling people the name of their dogs, he didn't think.
"Do you actually do interrogations as a spy?" Jared asked at one point, after divulging his shameful fondness for Project Runway in the same breath as he confessed to having wanted a pony when he was ten. "Because you know more about me than some of my friends do."
"That's their fault for not asking the right questions." Jensen stood in one fluid motion. "I've got everything I need, now. So unless you need me for anything, I need to go do my actual job."
"Oh, uh, no, nothing else. That's fine." Jared winced at how much of an idiot he sounded, and stumbled around for something less stupid to say. "I registered you with the front desk," he settled on. "You, uh, didn't give me a last name, so I made one up for you."
Jensen nodded. "What is it?"
"Bonham," Jared said, and was obscurely pleased to see the flicker of a smile curve the side of Jensen's mouth.
"At least you've got decent taste in music. This dinner starts at eight?" he said, checking the time on a fancy-looking watch that Jared hadn't noticed before.
Jared nodded. "Fair warning, though: Chad will probably ask you if you're a hooker."
Jensen smiled again, a little more friendly this time. "Won't be the worst thing I've been called." He straightened his shirt and heading for the door. "I'll see you there."
"Okay," Jared said, and proceeded to sit around vaguely stunned for a few minutes after Jensen left, wondering what had happened to his life all of a sudden.
He didn't get long to dwell before his phone pinged with a rather histrionic message from Genevieve about the florist that meant Jared had better things to worry about.
Now he just had to hope that Jensen actually showed up for dinner.
Jensen did, indeed, show up. In a new outfit that very much emphasized the fact that he cleaned up really nicely. Seriously, what did he go undercover as? A male model?
Jared's friends were delighted by this new development and it didn't take Jared long to realize that he should have warned Jensen better about the attention he was likely to receive.
Love them all though he did, Jared would be the first to admit that his friends were more than a little crazy. And since this was the first time he'd brought somebody to meet them since sophomore year, he really shouldn't have been surprised when they immediately jumped all over Jensen.
Literally, in Genevieve's case.
Chad waited all of thirty seconds before he asked Jensen how much Jared was paying him. Jared shoved custard down Chad's tragically loud Hawaiian shirt in retaliation.
He was pretty sure that Katie and Tom asked Jensen if he wanted to have a threesome, which was only weird because Jared couldn't tell whether they were being serious or not.
Somewhat hilariously, Matt and Gabe decided that they were responsible for delivering the 'hurt him and you die' speech. Jared almost wished he could tell them that their odds of successfully intimidating a government spy were worse than nil.
And Misha was, well, Misha. Which was really all that could ever be said about him.
If it had been him, Jared would probably have been whimpering in a corner long before dessert showed up.
Jensen, by contrast, passed with flying colours.
He was friendly and effortlessly charming, handling Tom and Katie's come-ons with the same ease that he faced down a sulky, custard-covered Chad. He responded to Matt and Gabe's threats with an amazingly believable mix of respect and affection. He even managed to bond with Misha over obscure Kung-Fu movies, of all things.
The most impressive part, however, was the stories.
Somewhere between Jared rattling off information about his imaginary fiancé and Jensen arriving to dinner, those dry facts had turned into a whole history that Jensen delivered full of emotions and little embellishments that made them seem impossibly real. Jared's imaginary fiancé was suddenly a real person, complete with a family in Texas, a dog that drooled on frigging everything, a musical career that hadn't progressed past college bars, and a wanderlust that had him backpacking all over the world. And right to Jared, according to the way Jensen told it.
And Jared would have been more than happy to cut it off there, but Genevieve was practically falling out of her chair to hear better and the rest of them didn't seem much better.
So Jensen told them a vaguely ridiculous story about how he'd been on a museum tour and overhead Jared muttering to himself about all the things the tour guide was getting wrong. 'Jensen' had then decided to ask Jared what he was actually looking at, and followed it up with a suggestion of coffee because 'I was not going to let that" - a gesture up and down Jared's body - 'out of my sight if I could help it'.
He followed it up with snippets about the pair of them enjoying the delights of Sicily that Jared - according to Jensen - was always too preoccupied with work to experience if Jensen didn't drag him away from the dig site.
That made Genevieve laugh. "That's our Jared," she said, with a fond smile. "Always working too hard."
"I know how to have fun," Jared protested, even though Jensen wasn't far off with his estimation of how little time Jared had spent out on the town while he'd been in Sicily.
Jensen shook his head. "Still in denial. Lucky for you, I think it's hot that you get so intense about your work."
Jared blinked, taken aback and trying not to show it. That was something he'd never heard from a boyfriend before - which was probably why he'd never had any boyfriends that lasted any length of time, come to think of it. It wasn't sexy to spend as much time working as Jared did, especially in a field where that work didn't translate into a six digit salary.
He realized that Jensen was watching him with an expectant air that made it clear that Jared was supposed to help sell this thing.
So Jared mustered up all the dubious acting skills he'd gained in the improv club in college and gave Jensen a surprised look. "And here I thought you only liked me for my body."
Jensen arched an eyebrow. "You do realize that you look like a bronzed god thanks to all the time you spend digging around in the dirt, don't you? Half the undergrads on that site probably cried themselves to sleep wishing you'd give them as much attention as you did the pots. My interest in your work is totally shallow."
To his horror, Jared felt his cheeks grow hot. "Thanks for that," he managed. "I always like being objectified."
"Aw, don't worry, baby." Jensen leaned over and pressed a quick caress to Jared's cheek. "Your brain's sexy too."
"Call me that again and you're sleeping on the floor tonight."
"You two are adorable," Genevieve's voice interrupted the staring contest Jared was having with Jensen and he started, caught off guard by the reminder that this awkward sort of maybe-flirting was actually for other people's benefits.
"It's all an act," Jensen said breezily, and Jared just about had a heart attack. "I actually hate this guy."
"I can tell," Genevieve said dryly. "So," she said then and Jared braced himself for another round of Jensen making stuff up about his life. "Who did the proposing?"
Jensen grinned at her. "Funny you should ask, actually."
Jensen launched into a story involving a beach at sunset while Jared prepared not to look too surprised by whatever Jensen said.
It was going to be a long night.
Jared somehow managed to survive dinner with his friends and fake fiancé with minimal emotional scarring - helped somewhat by the fact that Jensen didn't seem the least bit stressed out by the entire encounter - but he was definitely relieved when it was finally time to go back to his hotel room for some sleep.
Of course, somehow, it hadn't really occurred to Jared that there was only one bed in his room. And sure, it was a ridiculously big bed, but Jared wasn't sure how he felt about sharing with his stupidly attractive spy-come-pretend fiancé. Not in the least because Jared tended to be kind of grabby in his sleep and he didn't really trust his subconscious mind to remember that Jensen was all kinds of off limits.
Catching Jared's glance at the bed, Jensen laughed. "Don't worry, cowboy. I'm not staying. Your virtue's safe with me."
"Who said anything about my virtue?" Jared muttered without thinking about it.
Both of Jensen's eyebrows flew up and Jared decided that now was a good time to end this conversation.
"I'll take the right side," Jared said, moving to do just that. "I'm a pretty deep sleeper, so you shouldn't have to worry about waking me up if you come in before morning."
He could feel the weight of Jensen's gaze on him as he climbed into bed, but determinedly ignored him. He'd had enough of being thrown off by Jensen's presence for one night.
The silence in the room was interrupted only by the faint rustle of the bed sheets as Jared got himself settled, and Jared shut his eyes, breathing out a deep, calming breath. Everything went quiet and it was a surprise when Jared heard the door to the suite swinging open and then closed a minute later; he hadn't even heard Jensen leave the bedroom.
Spy, Jared reminded himself, and it was a sobering enough thought to make Jared turn his back on the door, bury his face in his pillow and stay like that until he fell asleep.
And if he dreamed about a whirlwind romance in Sicily that existed nowhere but Jensen's words, at least he didn't remember it upon waking.
When Jared woke up the next morning, gritty-eyed and plagued by a feeling of lost contentment, he could hear the shower running. A glance at the empty side of the bed showed smooth sheets and a dent-free pillow, which meant that Jensen had either slept on the couch in the sitting area or else hadn't slept at all. Jared hoped it was the former. Even spies should get a good's night sleep.
The shower shut off and Jared hauled himself out of bed to shuffle over to the coffee maker in the little kitchenette. It never took Jared much time to get his brain online in the morning, and so, by the time Jensen appeared, dressed in a loose cotton shirt and the khakis Jared had picked up yesterday, Jared was one cup of coffee down and ready to get his day started.
"You want some?" Jared asked, gesturing to the carafe.
Jensen nodded. "Thanks." He took the cup that Jared offered him and didn't bother adding anything to it before taking a sip. The blissful expression that slid across his face made Jared bite his lip to hold in any inappropriate noises of approval.
"Fuck," Jensen said, which Jared didn't really want to be thinking about right now, thanks very much. "This place is worth the price just for the coffee."
"Especially when you're not paying?" Jared guessed, and Jensen flashed him a surprisingly uncomplicated smile.
"Naturally. What's the plan for today?" Jensen asked, between mouthfuls of coffee.
"Well, first I need to figure out where the hell the groom is-"
"You're not serious."
Jared rolled his eyes. "I wish. Our best bet is that he got on the wrong plane, somehow."
"I'm pretty sure airport security frowns on that kind of thing."
"You'd know better than me," Jared said. He shrugged. "He probably booked the wrong ticket. Other Chad's a good guy, but his attention span is a little… lacking."
"Chad?" Jensen asked, looking faintly puzzled.
"Not that Chad," Jared hurried to explain. "Chad Lindberg. He's Genevieve's fiancé. He's, well he's also kind of crazy, but it's a better sort of crazy than normal Chad."
"Right." Jensen looked skeptical. "And you're sure he didn't bail?"
"Positive," Jared said firmly. "He and Genevieve are so in love that it's not even funny. Also, she totally wears the pants in that relationship. There's no way Other Chad would think of risking her wrath."
"I'm getting that impression. So what's next after you've finished tracking him down?"
Jared thought about it. "I'm probably going to spend several hours yelling at the management for fucking up the room bookings and talking Genevieve out of shoving her bouquet down the throat of the florist."
"Sounds like great fun," Jensen said dryly.
"Don't even get me started," Jared warned him. "I can go on for hours about what a mess this whole thing has been. If I ever get married, I'm going to elope and avoid the entire thing."
"Sounds to me like you'll be too busy working to get in the situation in the first place." Jensen said it idly, no real censure behind it, but Jared had heard variations of it often enough that he bristled immediately.
"Oh, and you're telling me that being a spy is so much better for your love life? I mean long term," Jared added, when Jensen opened his mouth to say something. "Like actually meeting someone you want to date instead of one-night stands."
Jensen's smile this time was thin and unamused. "I'm pretty sure that's none of your business."
Jared blew out an explosive breath, trying to rein in the sudden spark of temper. "Right, yeah, I know. Sorry. I just get sick of hearing it, you know?" he added, while Jensen looked a little startled at the apology. "My work is really important to me but everyone keeps asking when I'm going to stop long enough to settle down. As though that's what I should be worried about."
"Which is why you invented a fiancé," Jensen said, not really a question.
"Not my finest moment," Jared acknowledged. He offered Jensen a smile. "Although it's working out surprisingly well, considering."
"Could be worse," was all Jensen said. "So you don't need me today?"
Jared shook his head. "There are a lot of activities and stuff offered by the resort so everyone else is pretty much doing their own thing during the day. Maybe in the evening again, though? There's another bunch of people arriving today and I probably can't get out of spending at least a little time with them."
"Did you get into archeology because you hate having friends?" Jensen asked. "Because that's kind of what it's sounding like from my perspective."
"No, actually," Jared said, amused despite himself. "But this is the first time I've seen most of them since I went on sabbatical and I'd rather have met them at the bar instead of a massive destination wedding."
Jensen made a noncommittal sound.
"What?" Jared asked.
"Hmm? Nothing. I'm off," Jensen said, setting down his empty coffee mug.
"Oh," Jared said. "Okay."
"You enjoy your day, dear."
"You too, sweetheart," Jared called after him. "Try not to start any international incidents."
"Please," Jensen said, throwing a cheeky grin over his shoulder. "As if I'd need to. Localized incidents are so much more effective."
He was gone before Jared decided quite how he was meant to respond to that, which was probably for the best.
The day panned out pretty much like Jared had expected it would. He organized a flight to get Chad here from Mozambique - seriously, how? - and then got into a blazing fight with the caterers who seemed to understand neither what Jared meant when he said vegetarian aperitifs nor why they did not want to order three roast pigs to go with the army of food they'd already paid for. He never got as far as prying Genevieve off the florist, although that was mostly because Genevieve got caught up in all the hair and makeup stuff that Jared had refused point blank to participate in. He'd pencil it in for tomorrow.
Dinner was less of an interrogation this time around, and Jared decided to let himself relax into familiar back-and-forth banter with his friends - whom he really had missed, even though he sometimes wondered why - and the surprisingly easy comfort of Jensen's company.
It's an act, Jared reminded himself several times, pretty much any time Jensen caught his eye after they'd found something else they had in common and offered him a happy, almost shy grin that made Jared's heart pound. He's a spy, remember?
Only it wasn't an easy thing to remember, not when this invented Jensen was turning out to be pretty much everything had ever Jared wanted in a guy. Even in the depths of the morass that had been writing his PhD thesis, Jared would have made time for a guy like Jensen. Provided he didn't decide that Jensen was completely out of his league and pussy out before he'd started.
"Something wrong?" Jensen asked, and Jared realized belatedly that he'd been staring.
"Just admiring the view," Jared answered, more honestly than he hoped Jensen realized. "You're really pretty, you know."
Jensen chuckled. "So you've said before. At length."
And Jared hadn't, of course, but he would told have Jensen a hundred times over if this had been real. It was a sobering realization to know that, even after a day, he was already wishing it was.
Needless to say, it put a damper on Jared's mood for the rest of the evening.
The following days settled into a clear, if somewhat depressing, pattern.
Jared pretty much didn't see Jensen. He showed up when Jared specifically asked him to but, other than that, Jensen might as well have been a ghost for all he was around. Jared went to bed alone and woke up alone, often without any clear evidence that Jensen had even been in the room in the meantime. Jared did most of the meet-and-greet with the guests alone, shaking hands with people he'd never met before and would likely never meet again and making nice with Genevieve's relatives, many of whom terrified him beyond all telling (and if her aunt made one more regretful comment about how unfortunate it was that Jared was gay because wouldn't he and Genevieve have made such a lovely couple, Jared was not going to be responsible for his actions).
Really, the lack of Jensen was the only thing that made Jared glad that he was so busy with the clusterfuck that was making sure this wedding actually happened: he didn't need to fend off questions from his crazy friends about why he wasn't spending any time with his ostensible fiancé. The questions about whether they'd set a date yet were more than irritating enough.
Jared, who was involved in yet another altercation with the centerpieces that were supposed to look like swans and most definitely did not look like swans, spun around fast enough that something in his back cracked. "Jensen?" he asked, openly surprised.
Standing a few feet away and dressed a well-fitted linen shirt that Jared wanted to strip him out of with his teeth, Jensen offered him a hopeful smile. "Any chance I could talk you into playing hooky for the afternoon?"
"I'll love you forever if you do," Genevieve said, popping up from God only knew where to offer Jensen a commiserating smile. "I think smoke's about to start coming out of his ears. And the two of you should get to enjoy your time here too."
"But," Jared started.
"They're offering scuba diving expeditions," Jensen said, before Jared could get started. His eyes were open wide, completely guileless. "I know you like diving so thought we could go. They've even got a 'real' fake authentic sunken pirate ship to explore."
And Jared had no idea what Jensen was going on about, but he knew there was only one thing he could say when Jensen obviously wanted to talk to him and Genevieve was beaming at the pair of them like she was trying to power the entire resort with the force of her delight.
So he grinned broadly and said, "You had me at pirate ship." He looked at Genevieve and shamelessly broke out the pleading eyes. "As long as that's okay with you?"
Genevieve laughed and shoved him. "Put those away, you tyrant. Of course you can go. Have some fun, okay? You've done nothing but work since we got here."
"You're one to talk. If you're not careful you're going to end up having a zombie wedding instead."
"You are such a jackass. Go look at pretend pirate ships already!"
"We're going, we're going. Don't kill the caterer while I'm gone!" Jared called over his shoulder.
Genevieve yelled something unkind after him and Jared grinned.
"You do realize that some people might take exception to open discussions of homicide at a wedding," Jensen said as they headed for the elevator bank.
Jared shrugged. "Clearly they've never met the caterer. Where are we going?"
The elevator binged and Jensen led the way in. "Back to the suite."
And Jared tried to ask what the hell was going on while they rode it up, but Jensen just gave him that wide-eyed look and said something about bathing suits that Jared wasn't really listening to. Which meant that Jared had to settle for waiting impatiently for the elevator to reach their floor and for them to get to the relative security of Jared's room.
Once the door had swung shut behind them, though, Jared figured it was his turn.
"So. Scuba diving." Jared hoped that his face was doing something that matched the level of skepticism in his voice.
"It's starting to get suspicious that we don't do anything together. We've got to go out and do some 'couple' stuff. Or suck face across the dinner table, but you don't really seem like the PDA type."
"But, scuba diving?" Jared asked, ignoring the rest of what Jensen had said because this wasn't really an appropriate time for an erection. "Why?"
"Do I need a reason?" Jensen asked.
"Um, yeah. Since you're not really my fiancé and all. And there're easier ways to sell this than spending an afternoon scuba diving."
"Hey, you want to visit the spa, be my guest," Jensen said. "Maybe some shuffleboard afterwards?"
Jared made a face at him. "God, would it kill you to give me a straight answer? And don't you dare say 'yes'; this is not spy stuff."
Jensen stared at him evenly.
Jared groaned. "This is spy stuff? Are you serious?"
"Jared," Jensen said, in a tone of voice that was edging towards warning.
"Sorry, sorry," Jared said, even though they were as alone as they could possibly get in a crowded resort filled with people Jared knew and Chad. "I just… scuba diving?!"
"This isn't as complicated as you think it is, Jared. I need to go diving. You're the one who came up with this cover, which means that you've got to do your part in making it believable." He gave Jared an unimpressed look. "Which you haven't been doing much of, thus far."
"Hey! I have so!"
Jensen sighed heavily. "Jared. Do you, or do you not, know how to scuba dive?"
"I- yes, I do," Jared admitted. "How did you know that?"
"Because we've been several times during our time in Sicily," Jensen said. Jared wanted to shake him until he stopped being such an ass.
"I suppose you're not going to tell me why we're actually going scuba diving?" he asked, which was totally a surrender.
"You're getting better at this. Now get your swim trunks. They've got a place where we can rent gear and I'd like to get there sometime before next week."
Still slightly bemused, Jared did as he was told. At least he was getting a pirate ship out of the deal.
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