When Jim told him that his next job was going to be babysitting the security desk at Muse FM, Jared answered with, "Oh, the one with the monster show," and got a weird look for his trouble.
"You've heard of 'em?" Jim asked.
Jared shrugged. "Sort of. Their overnight show is this scripted fiction thing where the DJ pretends monsters are real. Talks about, like, fairy rights and the dragon migrations and stuff. I've caught it a few times. What?" he asked, when Jim arched an eyebrow. "You try watching the walls on the third shift every night and see if you don't start looking for something to do."
"Been there, done that," Jim said. He paused, before adding, "Schlocky horror radio doesn't really sound like your thing, is all."
Somehow, Jared got the impression that it wasn't what Jim had originally had in mind.
Which wasn't to say that the words didn't hit where it hurt. "It's surprisingly entertaining," he said, trying not to sound defensive and failing utterly.
"Right," Jim said, drawling the word out just to be an asshole. "Well, either way, you're their new weeknight security detail as of Monday."
"Works for me. Who's got the day shift?"
"No one. They want third shift coverage only."
Jared frowned. "That's weird. They say why they suddenly need third shift coverage and nothing else?"
"No," Jim said, a wealth of things unsaid carried in that single word.
"But you think there's something they're not saying," Jared intuited.
Jim snorted. "No one hires security just because. Of course there's something they're not saying. You up for dealing with it?"
Jared offered him a grin. "Guess we'll find out."
Jim clapped him on the back. "Good man. You let me know if anything weird goes on, and we'll pull the plug on the contract, y'hear? Don't want you getting in over your head."
"Of course," Jared said, privately thinking that the chance would be a fine thing.
The thing was that Jared's job was really not interesting.
He'd initially become a security guard to help pay his way through school, only to find that it ultimately paid better than any of the jobs that he was qualified for with his shiny new degree in English Literature. It also required mostly no effort to do, which he'd appreciated greatly after the madness of college.
Nearly a decade later, the salary was looking rather less generous, but it was still enough to live on, and Jared had always been more of a night owl, so working the third shift was no great hardship. Despite what Die Hard had taught him, however, it was also boring as hell, which meant that he'd had to become very creative about finding things to do to pass the time. Hence his newfound fondness for overnight radio shows. Muse FM's in particular.
Of course, if he was being honest, Jared had to admit that the main reason it was his favourite was because the DJ sounded like someone ought to be paying him for phone sex. Jared would put up with a hell of a lot of yammering about fake monster politics to get to listen to that voice for a couple of hours a night.
What? So Jared was shallow sometimes. He had to entertain himself somehow.
And speaking of which…
"Good evening, listeners," the DJ purred, right on time. God bless live streaming. "This is the Witching Hour and I'm your host, Jensen. Thanks for tuning in. Here's tonight's thought to ponder: should warlocks be protected under Unseelie retribution laws? Call in with your opinions, folks! And in the meantime, let's start off the night with some urban jazz "
Jared settled himself more comfortably in his chair, keeping his eyes fixed on the bank of computer monitors while the sound of saxophones and drums echoed through the empty lobby of GoreTec Industries. Mike was off doing floor sweeps, so there was no one around to judge Jared for his esoteric radio tastes. Or his much more discerning taste in smoky-voiced DJs.
It wasn't long before Jensen's voice came back on the air, the rolling timbre of it enough to send a shiver down Jared's spine. "That was Richard Elliot with 'Lip Service'," Jensen said, grin clear in his voice. "Which seemed like an appropriate choice given our topic du jour. And here's our first caller of the night: Lindsay! So, Lindsay, where do you stand on the question of warlocks and legal protection?"
"I don't think they should be counted under Unseelie law," said Lindsay, who sounded 20 at the most. "Like, those laws are there to protect the fae when their retribution goes wrong, right? Warlocks aren't bound by the same rules of hospitality and retribution as the fae, so why should they get the same legal protection? They're double-dipping."
Honestly, the thing that Jared was most impressed about on the Witching Hour - aside from how endlessly creative their writers seemed to be about making up fake monster news - was how good the callers were at playing along. Whoever screened the calls before they went on air must have been a frigging genius because there was no way that they didn't get bullshit prank callers all the time.
Frankly, he was a little surprised that there seemed to be so many people willing to play along with fake monster radio. He suspected that they were mostly bored goths. Who else would be awake and listening to Jensen McHot Voice talk about warlocks at 1 o'clock in the morning?
Besides Jared, of course.
"All good points," Jensen said, when this Lindsay finally ran out of steam. "But I think it's important to remember that warlocks don't benefit from most of the Salem Protections, even though they arguably should. Can it really be considered double dipping if most of the laws for spell casters purposefully omit warlocks?"
Jared let his attention drift while Jensen played devil's advocate with his caller, thoughts turning to his new assignment. There was a lot to think about.
An embarrassingly large part of him was excited about meeting Jensen in person. He'd never been the type to get star-struck, but there was something about Jensen - his gorgeous voice and his ridiculous fictional radio program - that compelled Jared's attention. Not to mention that he couldn't help but wonder if the man was as hot as he sounded - statistically unlikely, but a guy could dream, right?
The rest of him was concerned about the job itself. Because, quite honestly, the whole situation seemed sketchy as fuck.
The way Jim had explained it, Muse FM was on the second floor of an office block that had its own security at the front entrance and throughout the building. Which meant that, by rights, they should have gone to that security company for extra coverage, rather than contracting Jared for weekdays and Tom for weekends. Not to mention the fact that no one paid out of pocket for extra security unless there was something specific they needed protecting from.
It also meant that Jared would be working essentially solo for the first time, and he wasn't sure how to feel about that. There would still be security in the building, obviously, but they'd be strangers to him, and he'd likely only see them when someone arrived to cover his breaks. Nobody he'd know he could trust.
Like he said: sketchy as fuck.
The lone active elevator chose that moment to ding, heralding Mike's return to the lobby. Jared glanced at his laptop, which was still broadcasting Jensen's thoughts about warlocks, and considered turning it off for all of two seconds before deciding that he couldn't be bothered. He could listen to what he wanted when he was manning the desk; those were the rules.
Mike, of course, had hardly even made it out of the elevator before he was complaining.
"Oh my god, Jared, are you listening to this weirdo monster crap again? Why can't you watch porn at the desk like a normal security guard?"
Then again, maybe there was something to be said for the chance to work alone for once.
Four days later found Jared in the lobby of a building he'd never really noticed despite his familiarity with the area, trying not to quail under the glare of the mountain masquerading as a human being at the security desk.
"Can I help you?" the guy asked, in a voice that was very nearly as craggy as his face. His tone suggested that he doubted it very much.
Jared's first attempt at speaking definitely didn't come out an octave higher than usual, honest. "Uh, I'm from Gamble and Kripke Security," he said, gesturing at the insignia on his uniform mostly for the sake of having something to do with his hands. "I, er, I've been hired by Muse FM to, uh, man their security desk?" Provided they even had a security desk, Jared realized belatedly, even if now was so not the time to be wondering about it.
The security mountain gave him a narrow-eyed look, and Jared resisted the urge to either quail or glare back in response. Neither option was likely to put him in this guy's good graces, after all.
He settled for a look of calm determination. "I was told that I'd be liaising with a Daniel Harris?"
"It's Danneel, actually," an amused and decidedly female voice said from his left. Jared turned to see a startlingly pretty woman in a business jacket and skirt approaching him, one hand extended. "Head of security for the Olympican Building."
"Jared Padalecki," Jared answered in kind. Danneel's grip was firm and no-nonsense, and Jared could feel the edge of gun callouses on her fingers. "Nice to meet you."
"Don't worry about Clif," Danneel said, with a distinctly impish grin as she canted her head toward the security guard. "His bark's worse than his bite."
Clif snorted. "You keep right on thinking that," he said, but made no further objection as Danneel led Jared away from the desk and towards an office that he hadn't noticed.
"Let's get the paperwork out of the way, and then I'll give you the tour."
It took the better part of half an hour to get through the normal contract rigmarole, and then Jared followed along after Danneel like a lost puppy as she led the way up to the third floor, which was apparently entirely the domain of Muse FM.
As it turned out, Muse FM did have its own security desk. Not an especially good one, mind, but it was better than having to ask for a supply cupboard to hide in. Jared couldn't really say that he'd even given much thought about what a radio station looked like, so he gazed around with interest as Danneel showed him around the rabbit warren of offices and production rooms, culminating their tour with the main recording studio.
"We can't go in right now," she said apologetically, with a gesture at the solid red light over the door. "The evening show is broadcasting live."
"That's fine." Jared looked at the door to the recording studio or, more precisely, at the metal shutters that covered the windows. They looked like they'd be able to withstand a shot from a grenade launcher, which was serious overkill for a radio station. "Those shutters seem kind of… intense."
Danneel spread her arms in a 'what can you do?' gesture. "Guess they want to make sure the equipment is safe. Let me show you where you can store your things," she said then, which was possibly the most blatantly obvious conversation segue Jared had ever heard. "Then I'll get you settled at the desk."
Jared decided to let it go for now, although he privately resolved to poke his nose into everything he could get away with until he figured out what was going on here. Ten minutes later found him ensconced at the security desk in the lobby, which boasted a single monitor that cycled through four security cameras and plenty of empty space for Jared to sprawl out into.
"Muse FM runs a very limited amount of all night programming, so it's mostly a skeleton crew round here for the third shift; they don't need a lot of staff on hand to handle it," Danneel told him. "There's a list of approved personnel in your orientation package, but you'll probably only ever see a handful of them. Oh, and early birds among the morning crew."
The radio clipped to Danneel's belt chose that moment to sputter to life, and she barely glanced at him as she turned towards the elevator. "Can you handle things here?"
Jared nodded. "Sure."
"I'll check in a little later, see how you're doing." She flashed a quick smile over her shoulder. "Welcome to the team, Jared."
"Thanks," Jared answered, and then she was gone, leaving him alone in the cramped lobby.
"Well," he said to the empty room. "So far so good."
In Jared's experience, guarding a building that was actually open during the third shift wasn't usually much different than guarding an empty one. Oh, he'd worked at trucking depots and the like that had traffic coming through at all hours of the day and night, but most businesses received substantially less front door traffic in the middle of the night.
It didn't take long to determine that Muse FM was little different from the norm. Jared sat behind the desk, alternately playing Angry Birds on his phone and watching the elevator display light up with an occasional passenger. None of them stopped on the third floor.
It was all so utterly uneventful that Jared actually startled when, just before midnight, the elevator dinged open, unexpectedly loud in the relative silence. Pausing his game, Jared looked up to see a guy in dark sunglasses and a hoodie stride into the lobby. His hands were shoved into his pockets and the hood was pulled right up around his face, leaving him with hunched shoulders and a 'fuck off' vibe a mile wide.
Jared felt his eyebrows arch. Because that wasn't suspicious.
The guy didn't even glance at the security desk as he marched past, so Jared cleared his throat unsubtly.
"I'm going to need to see your ID," he said, when the guy whirled to face him.
"What?" the guy asked, his voice croaky and hoarse like he'd only just woken up. Given this was the third shift, he very well could have. "Since when?"
"About two hours ago." Jared extended his hand. "ID?"
The guy huffed. "Unbelievable." He dug into his pocket for his wallet, then thumbed out a card that he practically shoved in Jared's face. "Will this do?"
Jared's eyes crossed a little, and he leaned back to get a better look. Apparently, Mr. I Wear My Sunglasses at Night was smoking hot, with piercing eyes, artfully tousled dark hair and a jawline that Jared was profoundly jealous of. It made him wonder why the guy was dressed like an extra from a Wu Tang Clan music video; hiding that much pretty was almost a crime against humanity.
He glanced at the personal information and found that the guy's fingers were covering half of it; all Jared could read was his last name (Ackles) and part of his street address (ter Drive).
A quick glance at the list of employees that Danneel had given him revealed that there was, indeed, a J. Ackles among them.
Jared looked back up at Ackles, ignoring his disgruntled frown with the ease of long practice as he compared the photo to the man in front of him. He could see some resemblance in the lower half of his face, particularly around the mouth, but it wasn't in his job description to consider that a good enough match.
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to remove your sunglasses."
The hand holding the card pulled back. "No."
Jared put on his best 'do not fuck with me' face. "It wasn't a request."
"Look," there was a pause, presumably while Ackles checked Jared's uniform for a nonexistent name tag, "whoever you are. I work here and I have a job to do. So stop hassling me before I-"
"Calm down, both of you!"
Surprised, Jared's head swung towards the elevator, where Danneel was just exiting.
"Sorry," she said when she reached them. "I meant to be up here before you arrived, but I was on a call. This is Jared Padalecki," she told Ackles. "Our new night security. He'll be here on weeknights, same as you, so you'll be seeing a lot of each other."
"You were serious about that?" Ackles demanded. He pointed an accusatory hand at Jared. "You can't possibly think that having him here is a good idea!"
"Hey," Jared protested. "You don't even know me, man."
"Jared's resume is impeccable and I'm not going to listen to you when you're being childish. Sorry," she said to Jared. "This is Jensen Ackles. Host of our overnight show. He tends to be a little cranky before his coffee, I'm afraid."
"I've been up for, like, an hour," Ackles - Jensen - said. "Gimme some slack."
"Wait," Jared said in realization. "You're the host of The Witching Hour."
That made Jensen perk up. "You know my show," he said, almost a question.
"Know it?" Jared grinned broadly, glad to be on firmer footing. "I love it!"
Jensen's mouth did something complicated. "Really?" he settled on, in a suspiciously neutral tone. "I'm kind of surprised. It's not for everyone."
Jared had to give him that one. "Well, fictional radio isn't usually my thing, but there are really only so many ways to entertain yourself when you're a night security guard. Not to mention-" Too late, Jared bit off that sentence. He was pretty sure there was no way to tell someone they had a hot voice without sounding like a total creeper.
An eyebrow arched over Jensen's sunglasses. "Not to mention what?"
"I… like listening to you," Jared ad-libbed lamely, offering an awkward shrug. "You're a good host."
"Thanks," Jensen said, somewhere between grudging and shy. Maybe he was on radio because he was bad at talking to people.
"Anyway," Danneel interrupted, looking amused. "Jensen's fine. I'm sorry for the confusion. I'll definitely be back up to introduce the morning host when she arrives."
Jared nodded. "I'd appreciate it." He slanted a grin at Jensen, who didn't look especially impressed. "Wouldn't want to deprive your listeners of their beloved hosts just because they look shady."
"Because I've never heard that one before." Jensen glanced at the clock on the wall and his mouth flattened into a line. "And now that I'm officially running late, I have to go."
He turned without bothering to say goodbye, vanishing down the hallway on silent feet.
"Sorry about him," Danneel said, and Jared pulled his attention away from Jensen's departing silhouette to find her smirking, just a little bit. "He might actually have been raised by wolves."
"It's fine," Jared said. He hesitated, then forged ahead. "What's with the sunglasses?"
Danneel looked understanding, but her tone was steel when she answered. "You'll have to ask Jensen. I don't appreciate gossip."
"Hey," Jared said, fighting the impulse to put up his hands in self-defense. "I wasn't looking for gossip. I was just wondering."
"Wondering's understandable, as long as it doesn't go any further. He's sensitive about it. Be respectful."
"Right," Jared said, and didn't argue when Danneel excused herself a moment later, leaving him alone again.
The excitement over for the time being, Jared sat back down and sighed. And now back to his regularly scheduled monotony.
At least he'd be able to tune into Jensen's radio show soon.
The rest of Jared's shift passed without incident: he listened to The Witching Hour, his mind automatically filling in the very attractive visuals every time Jensen spoke, beat his high score on Candy Crush and read through his contract again to make sure he was familiar of the contents. One of the building's usual security team came just after one to cover Jared's dinner break, which was more than a little awkward. Mostly because the guy - Gabe - stared at Jared the entire time.
Jared was used to people in this line of work being kind of socially awkward, but come on. He didn't think the guy blinked even once. It reminded him of the way his roommate's cat in college used to stare at people, possibly just to weird them out. He wondered if Gabe was trying to weird him out (it was working).
As the dawn crept closer, Jared signed in the morning crew as they trickled in, including Alona the breakfast radio host, whom Danneel introduced him to as promised. The silence of the graveyard shift melted gradually into a steady hum of activity that Jared assumed was only a precursor to the normal daytime rhythm of the place.
The clock eventually ticked over to signal the end of his shift and Jared, who wasn't used to leaving his post without handing things over to an incoming guard, felt more than a little weird about abandoning the desk in favour of heading to the locker room to collect his things. He saw a couple of the employees on his way, but most seemed more interested in communing with their coffee than saying hello.
As he was shouldering his bag and patting at his pockets to make sure he had his cell and keys,
the sound of an argument moving down the hallway in his direction caught his attention.
"Danny, no!" Jensen was protesting. "You're being ridiculous."
"Still not listening," Danneel answered back, in a decidedly singsong tone. "You're not going to convince me, so you might as well stop trying."
"There's no need for this!"
Curious, Jared ducked his head into the hallway to see what the fuss was about, and found Danneel striding down the hallway towards him, practically dragging Jensen behind her. He appeared to be trying to hold her back, and was having about as much luck as a billy goat holding back a lion.
Then Danneel spotted him.
"Jared!" she exclaimed, in a tone of voice that made him wish he'd kept his head down. "Just the man I wanted to see. You have a car here, right?"
"Uh, yeah? You registered me for a parking permit with the building when I got here." Jared eyed her. "Is something wrong?"
Danneel beamed like he'd just told her he was getting her a pony for Christmas. "Any chance you could give Jensen a ride home?"
Jared blinked. That wasn't what he'd been expecting. "Uh, sure? No problem."
"It's really not necessary," Jensen said, in a voice that could have cut glass.
Danneel, it appeared, was not phased. "Yes, it is. It takes him over an hour to get home on public transit," she told Jared. "It's not safe."
"I can take care of myself," Jensen said, through gritted teeth.
"Dammit, can you ignore your macho side for five seconds and think about this rationally? You know the risk you're taking by going out alone at night-"
"It's hardly even nighttime anymore-"
"And by all the gods, you will let me finish or I will slap you." Danneel's voice, which had been rising steadily throughout the conversation, was nearly a bellow by this point. Jared wondered if he ought to stage a tactical retreat back into the locker room. "You have been fighting this thing the entire way out of some misguided idea that you're going to endanger the people around y-"
"Danneel!" Jensen snapped.
Danneel took a deep, steadying breath. "You are not allowed to act like an idiot out of some misguided belief that it's the better option." She jabbed a finger at Jared. "We have a solution.Use it."
Spinning on her heel, she strode away down the hall, a figure of towering fury.
"So, um," Jared ventured into the painfully awkward silence that followed her departure. "Where do you live?"
Jensen divulged his address like Jared was torturing him for the information. Jared tried out a smile. "You're on my way home, so it's no problem. Really," he added, when Jensen looked like he was about to protest some more. "I don't mind. And I'm kind of afraid that Danneel's going to kill you if you don't, which would not be good for my reputation as a security guard."
"Sorry about this."
"It's not problem," Jared said automatically. "Uh, is everything… okay? That seemed…"
"Over the top?" Jensen finished. He shrugged fluidly. "Danneel's like that. She's pretty militant about safety."
"Oh," Jared said. "That's… good, I guess? Have you been, like, mugged in the past or something? Cause, I'm not sure over the top entirely covers-" he gestured vaguely "-that."
"Nearly," Jensen said, after a moment. "She gets protective."
"Huh," Jared said, because really, what else could he say? He cast about for a way to change the subject. "So, uh, are you ready to go now?"
Jensen nodded. "Let's get this over with."
Clearly this was going to be a delightful trip.
They were just enough in advance of rush hour that the traffic was tolerable, which Jared could only be grateful for given the sullen atmosphere in his car.
Jensen gave directions in a terse monotone that made it very clear how little he wanted to be in Jared's immediate vicinity. Jared obediently followed the rights and lefts as they angled towards the old part of town, trying and failing to think of something to say that would break the ice. Somehow, he didn't think gushing about Jensen's radio show would have quite the intended effect.
Despite his best intentions, Jared found his eyes darting over to Jensen with increasingly regularity the further they drove.
In his sunglasses and black hood, Jensen was little more than a shadow in the passenger seat. His face was turned towards the window, although - between the sunglasses and the slowly receding night - Jared had no idea how he could see anything of the world beyond.
Jensen sighed heavily. "You might as well ask already."
Jared winced. "Sorry, I didn't mean t-"
"Yes, you did. Everybody does." Jensen turned to face him, the paleness of his skin standing out in stark contrast to his dark clothes. "I have a rather severe case of photophobia."
Jared had never heard of it. "Fear of… photography?" he guessed.
"Sensitivity to light," Jensen corrected. "These sunglasses are designed to filter out certain ranges of light spectrum and protect my eyes from the worst of the brightness."
Jared cast a dubious look around them. The morning sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, but he wouldn't have called the world 'bright' by any stretch of the imagination.
"That must be a really severe case," he said finally. "How do you go outside during the day?"
Jensen's answering shrug translated into a rustle of fabric in the dim. "I don't. There's a reason I do an overnight radio show."
"So you can't handle any light? Doesn't that make it hard to work?"
"I keep the lights turned down low in the recording booth, so it's mostly just the hallways that are a problem."
"Yikes," Jared said. "That sucks. I'm sorry."
Jensen made a dismissive noise. "It is what it is. Turn right here."
He said it in a final sort of way that made it clear that the conversation was over.
It was more than Jared had expected honestly, so he shut his mouth and kept driving, leaving the mystery of Jensen's ubiquitous hood for another day. Or never. Never might actually be a better idea, come to think of it.
A few minutes later, they pulled up in front of what Jared assumed was a house. The trees on the lawn grew so close together that all he could make out in the dimness was the end of the driveway and a glimpse of the roof through the branches.
"This is you?" Jared asked, even though Jensen was already unbuckling his seatbelt.
"It is," Jensen agreed.
"That's a lot of trees. Isn't raking leaves in the fall a nightmare?"
"I like my privacy."
And even Jared wasn't dumb enough to miss the obvious double meaning in that statement. He nodded and decided to give up for tonight. "Guess I'll see you tomorrow, then."
"Guess so," was all Jensen said, and then he was gone, the car door slamming closed behind him.
Jared watched him go, craning his neck to try and see the front door to make sure that Jensen got inside alright. It was a wasted effort; the trees were too thick to let him see. Shaking his head, he turned the car back on and pulled away from the curb, deliberately thinking about the best route to get home from here.
And definitely not thinking about the mysterious man behind the voice on his radio.
"You going to ask for my ID again?" Jensen asked as he came out of the elevator the next night, sunglasses on and hood pulled up. His hoodie was dark red today.
He didn't seem nearly as surly as he had yesterday, but Jared wasn't exactly keen to test that.
"You're fine," he said, instead of offering a joke like he would have with anyone else. He gestured towards the hallway. "Go ahead."
"Thanks." Jensen started to walk past the desk, then paused, turning back with a mulish expression on his face. "Look," he said, shoulders hunched awkwardly. "I was kind of a jerk yesterday."
Jared shrugged. "Hey no, I get it. I came into your workplace and started making your life difficult. I'd have been unhappy too."
"Still," Jensen persisted. "We're going to be seeing each other every day, and I don't want you to think that I'm always like that. I'm not. I'm just not used to…"
"New people?" Jared suggested, when Jensen trailed off. He offered an understanding smile. "I work the third shift too, I know how it is. Heck, if it wasn't for the fact that my job requires me to interact with people, I'd probably never talk to anyone except the guy at the grocery store and my dogs."
"Right," Jensen said. "Exactly. Radio callers are easier."
Jared grinned, pleased to know that he wasn't going to have to tiptoe around Jensen as much as he'd been expecting. "Hey, can I ask you a question?" he asked, before Jensen could turn away.
"You can ask," Jensen said, with an unexpected smirk. "No guarantee I'll answer."
That was good enough for Jared. "How do you know that your callers will all play along with your whole 'monster radio' shtick? Don't you get drunk assholes calling in and ruining the illusion?"
"Sana vets them before they get put through to me," Jensen said. He shrugged. "Not many people up in the middle of the night listening, anyway."
"Just us poor overnight workers," Jared agreed. He considered. "And probably a lot of college students. Which probably explains why they'll play along, come to think of it."
"I guess." Jensen shifted in place. "I've got to go get set up."
"Right yeah. Have a good night."
Jensen raised one hand in an awkward sort of wave, which Jared couldn't help but find charming. He vanished down the hall, and Jared found himself wishing that he had a reason to call him back.
This might be a problem.
Day two turned out to be even less interesting than day one had been, as Jared grew rapidly used to the regular faces and the slow pace. He didn't see Jensen again, which he firmly told himself he wasn't disappointed about.
Danneel came looking for him not long after Jared got back from his dinner break.
"Any chance you could drive Jensen home again today?" she asked, once the basic small talk about how he was settling in had been dealt with. "He never wants to wait for my shift to end, and I hate the idea of him going home alone."
"Er," Jared said. "It's not that I mind. It's just, um."
"You might want to think carefully about how you finish that sentence."
"He seemed uncomfortable, okay?" Danneel blinked, and Jared hunched his shoulders awkwardly. "I don't want to make him… more uncomfortable."
And now she was smirking at him. Dammit. "Well aren't you a little gentleman? Well," she amended, with an appreciative look at Jared's shoulders. "Not so little, I guess. But don't worry about Jensen. He just takes a while to get used to people."
"I- are you sure that's it? I got the impression that he'd rather take a hammer to the face than ride home with me."
Danneel looked at him for a moment, then shifted out of her slouch against the security desk. "I'll be right back."
"Where are you going?" Jared asked, and was absolutely terrified by the smile she threw at him.
"To threaten to castrate Jensen with a rusty spoon if he doesn't start acting like a responsible adult," she said sweetly. "Won't be a minute."
Jared blinked at the empty hallway for several long minutes after she'd gone, suddenly very glad he wasn't Jensen.
The end of Jared's shift found Jensen lurking unsubtly by the elevator, a scowl firmly fixed on his face.
Jared considered and discarded several possible options before settling on a neutral, "I can give you a ride every day, if you want. It's no trouble."
He expected a short nod in response, maybe even a brief thanks if Jensen's olive branch at the beginning of the night had been serious, and was surprised when Jensen almost smiled instead.
"Since I have no more desire to get castrated by Danneel than I usually do, I'm going to say that I do want. Thanks. I promise to be less of a dick about it."
"That's okay," Jared said, daring greatly. "Even when you're being a dick, at least you're nice to look at."
That startled a bark of laughter out of Jensen, quickly stifled but more than enough to make Jared feel like a million bucks.
"You do realize that you've now given me carte blanche to be a dick," Jensen said, grinning. "Also, this is me with no effort whatsoever, so you've set the bar seriously low."
"Like I said, I don't get out much. It's not like I have a huge sample set. Shall we?" he asked, before the ease of the moment could fall into awkwardness.
"Let's," Jensen agreed, still grinning.
Jared decided not to mention the fact that Jensen looked about a million times more attractive when he smiled.
This was definitely going to be a problem.
And so, as with every job, Jared's life settled into a pattern.
He got to know the scant staff that worked the third shift at Muse FM, and spent at least part of every shift shooting the shit with Danneel, who turned out to be no less terrifying than she'd first appeared to be, but also kind of awesome at the same time. He drove Jensen home every day, and it slowly morphed from an exercise in extreme discomfort into something a little more friendly.
He wasn't entirely sure that Jensen liked him so much as tolerated his company, but at least he was entertaining to talk to. He showed up every day in his sunglasses and pulled-up hood, and Jared had tried to ask about it, but either he was actually being too subtle or Jensen was deliberately ignoring his efforts, because he never got an answer.
On second thought, it was probably the second one. Subtle, Jared was not.
Either way, it wasn't such a bad place to work.
Except for the part where absolutely nothing ever happened.
And it was driving him crazy.
"It doesn't make sense!" Jared raged into the phone, two weeks after he'd started working at Muse FM. "Nothing happens! There's no way they need someone watching that desk!"
"Nothing suspicious going on?" Jim asked, calm in the face of Jared's irritation.
Jared huffed. "Oh, the whole situation is super sketchy, but it doesn't seem to add up to anything. Unless they've got the Hope Diamond locked in the recording studio, I've got no idea why they're wasting money paying my salary."
Jim was silent for a moment. "If they want to pay you to sit there and do nothing because it makes them feel safer, then that's their business."
"But-" Jared started.
"It's none of our business, son," Jim cut in. "Just keep your eyes open and try not to get yourself into trouble on purpose, y'hear?"
Jared slumped. "Yes, Jim."
"But the job's going okay? No issues with the other security team?"
Jared thought about Gabe and his incessant staring, and Clif's stubborn refusal to give in to Jared's natural charm, and settled on, "Nothing I can't handle."
"Good." Something amused slanted into Jim's voice. "How're things going with that radio host?"
The noise Jared made was embarrassing. "Ngh?! Wha- I don't, there's not, why would even ask that?!"
Jim chuckled. "Glad to hear things are going well. Let us know when you get up the guts to ask him out."
"I hate you so much."
"Of course you do."
Jared nearly fell out of his chair, he started so hard.
"Jensen?" he demanded, whirling to see the man dashing down the hallway like there was a zombie hoard behind him. "You're on air right now!"
Jensen waved a hand. "I've got 'Hey, Jude' playing, and it's, like, seven minutes long, it'll be fi-" Jensen stopped, his face doing something complicated as he looked at Jared's laptop.
His laptop which was currently proudly playing the The Beatles.
"You're listening to my show," Jensen said, a little dumbly.
Jared shrugged, unaccountably nervous. "Yeah, well. I like it. I told you that."
Jensen appeared to shake himself out of his surprise. "Oh. Well. That's-" He coughed. "Anyway. I need you to do me a huge favour."
"What's up?" Jared asked, because it was a better option than, say, anything you want.
Jensen put on a piteous expression. "Go down the street and get me a coffee?"
"What?" Jared let out an incredulous half-laugh. "Jensen, I'm at work!"
"Me too! But I'm dying for some caffeine, and your job's not as important as mine, so could you just-"
Jared huffed. "Did becoming a radio personality turn you into a self-entitled dick or have you always been like this?"
"It's a gift." Jensen glanced over at Jared's laptop and cursed. "Shit, that's the final verse, I gotta go." Suiting actions to words, he set off down the hallway calling "I like my coffee black!" over his shoulder as he went.
"You're such an asshole!" Jared shouted after him, grinning despite himself.
"Well, I'll be."
Surprised, Jared turned to look at the man stood by the elevator. "Pat! I, uh, didn't realize you were there."
Which was hardly a surprise, honestly. Pat was the elderly custodian responsible for cleaning the Muse FM offices. He had to be eighty if he was a day, but Jared thought he might have been a ninja in his younger years given his uncanny ability to move around quickly and silently no matter how many heavy cleaning supplies he was carrying with him. He'd also exchanged maybe half a dozen words with Jared in total in the weeks since Jared had arrived, so this was an unprecedented situation in more ways than one.
"It's not often I see that one being so friendly," Pat said in his soft Scottish burr, ignoring Jared's awkward greeting entirely.
"You mean Jensen?" Jared asked, intrigued. "Why not?"
"Never been much for people, he hasn't," Pat said, looking past him to where Jensen had been standing. "Hardly talks to anyone."
Personally, Jared thought that Pat was one to talk, but he kept that thought to himself. "He talks to Danneel all the time."
Pat snorted. "Those two have been friends since they were in diapers." His eyes watched Jared from beneath beetled brows, no less intense for all of his years. "He's taken a shine to you, that's clear."
Jared spread his arms, trying to ignore the flutter of hope in his chest. "He's probably just lonely and looking for a friend."
"Hmph. Never thought I'd see the day that Jensen was interested in making friends. Especially not with a-" Pat cut himself off abruptly, cheeks paling.
"Lowly security guard?" Jared finished, because the poor guy looked like he was about to have a heart attack from nearly insulting Jared to his face. "I can't begin to know why he's breaking habit-" though he certainly knew what he hoped the reason was "-but I can't say I'm sorry for it. Even if he is sending me on coffee runs."
"Hmm. I'd advise you to watch yourself," was all Pat said, before turning to head down the hallway. "Not that you're going to listen."
"Hey, I-" Jared started, but Pat was already gone. He really could move for an old guy. Jared huffed. What the hell was he supposed to do with that?
When he found himself rapping briskly on the door to the recording room an hour later, coffee in hand and a hopefully-not-too-stupid expression on his face, Jared couldn't really bring himself to be surprised by it.
The recording light was off, so it was only a moment before Jensen's voice called "What?" through the door, sounding surly and adorable for it.
Jared hefted the cup, even though Jensen couldn't see it. "The coffee fairies were here. They left you a present."
There was the sound of shuffling, and then the door jerked open, light spilling out around Jensen's body and catching on the lenses of his sunglasses as he reached out with grabby fingers.
"There's no such thing as coffee fairies," he said, before taking a huge gulp of coffee that had to have burned going down. A blissful smile spread across his face, the sight temporarily robbing Jared of the ability to breathe.
"Well," Jared managed after a strangled moment. "I guess you'd know. Maybe it fell from the sky instead."
"As long as it's here, I don't care where it came from." Jensen glanced back into the recording booth. "Gotta go," he said, and promptly shut the door in Jared's face.
Jared tried not to wonder if this was what Pat had been warning him about, as he made his dejected way back to the security desk to take over from Gabe.
Of course, when Jensen was practically purring as he dedicated the next set to 'the bringer of coffee and light of his life', Jared had a harder time remembering that he ought to be wary of warnings, especially with as many secrets as seemed to be floating around this place.
Maybe, he couldn't help but think, and proceeded to spend the rest of his shift smiling at the thought.
It wouldn't occur to him until much, much later to wonder why the lights in the recording studio had been turned up so high.