Title: Sweet Touch
Fandom: CW RPS
Word count: 3570
A/N: The utterly fantastic art was created for me by dollarformyname for the Fall 2016 round of quicky_bang. Also known as the comm where lucky authors do nothing and get amazing art in return. :)
Summary: Jared loves being a dessert chef even if catering wedding showers doesn't do much for his love life. Of course, this is the first time he's met a maid of honour who isn't a girl.
As far as Jared was concerned, the customers were the best part of his job.
His job was all around awesome anyway - how many people got paid to set their own hours, work with a fabulous kitchen crew and indulge in a ridiculously enthusiastic love of all things sugar? - but he'd never found anything quite so satisfying as the delight he got from watching other people enjoy the fruits of his labour. And the cakes of his labour. And the pies of his labour. And so on.
It was why he'd opened his own catering company in the first place, really. He'd landed a job as a pâtissier at a fancy hotel right out of culinary school, but it hadn't taken a genius to realize that he really didn't enjoy spending long days in the kitchen creating expensive-looking desserts for an unseen and often overly particular clientele.
Just Desserts specialized in creating unique, multi-course dessert buffets to suit any special event. It had taken several years of heavy saving and a loan from Jared's parents to be able to afford the initial investment, but the business in the first six months alone had made it clear that it had been money well spent. Since he'd opened, Jared had moved from a one-man operation out of his momma's kitchen to a good-sized company that boasted its own specialized facilities, a small army of well-trained kitchen workers and a handful of fully certified pâtissiers who were just as crazy as Jared.
Jared created all sorts of fantastic desserts for his day job and then unchained himself from the stove to set up events and meet the people he was working for. He got to grin when contentment slid across someone's face as they bit into a slice of apple walnut caramel crumble, and smile when the birthday girl blew the candles out on her rainbow swirl birthday cake with the matching icing. Being a regular old dessert chef just didn't compare.
Pretty much the only thing about his job that wasn't perfect was the fact that it didn't really do much for his love life. Most of the events he catered were either kid's birthday parties or wedding showers and, while the combination of lonely MILFs and flirty bachelorettes would have been an ideal date-getting scenario for most guys, the whole gay thing meant that Jared's own track record was considerably less impressive.
His friend Genevieve, who'd actually started as one of his customers and had since turned into his friend-slash-event manager-slash-secretary-slash-taste tester, told him he needed to get out more. Jared figured she probably wasn't wrong. But the business side of owning his own company already meant that he couldn't host as many events as he would have liked; time spent going to bars and suffering through first dates only made it harder. And Just Desserts was far more important to him than a back alley blowjob or a quick tumble between the sheets.
Not that this argument ever seemed to keep Genevieve from needling him about his atrocious inability to get laid, but at least she'd more or less stopped with the awkward blind dates and links to internet dating sites.
Which is why he hadn't thought anything of it when she'd booked him for a wedding shower on a day when he was supposed to have been dealing with a supplier issue. She'd even offered to handle the situation for him, which should have set off warning bells inside his head, but Jared had been so eager to get out of the office and do something that he hadn't bothered asking.
He was, Jared thought, kind of an idiot.
The building's front door opened on a flurry of excited female voices and Jared reached automatically for a mostly-clean cloth to wipe the custard off his hands as he straightened.
"Can you finish off the fruit tops, Gabe?" he called, already heading for the kitchen door.
"No problem," Gabe called after him, stepping up to do just that. Jared thought again how hard it was going to be to replace him when school started up in the fall.
There were four women in the vestibule when he walked out of the kitchen, all of them wearing pink ribbons round their necks and looking like they'd been dipped in glitter.
"Afternoon ladies," he said, with his best smile. "I'm Jared. I'm guessing you're the bridal party?"
A stunningly pretty redhead laughed. "What gave it away?"
Jared grinned at her. "Besides the fact that you're two hours early to the party? I've got no idea." He glanced around. "So which one of you is the lucky lady?"
"Looking at you, I'd say all of us," a blonde girl said, open appreciation curving her lips as she eyed him up and down.
That made the rest of them laugh and not a few gave him flirty once-overs of their own. Jared was pretty used to that reaction. Being decently good-looking and able to bake apparently made him a hot property for single women. And not-so-single women, but that was just awkward so he tried not to think about it.
Jared pulled a somber face. "Now see, heartless objectification like this is exactly why I'm not on the menu."
"You're not?" a brunette asked, sounding terribly disappointed. "I want a refund!"
"You're not the one paying for it!" another girl chimed in, prompting another round of laughter and dirty jokes about what she could pay Jared for instead.
The redhead shook her head. "And they haven't even had any sugar yet. I'm Danneel," she introduced herself, sticking out a hand. "The guest of dubious honour. You must be the cake man."
"I am indeed," he agreed, liking her already. He returned the handshake and offered her a wink. "What gave it away?"
Danneel laughed. "Besides the fact that you've got icing sugar in your hair?"
Jared shrugged. "Occupational hazard."
"I'll bet," Danneel said, sounding amused.
"So, Jared," the brunette asked, with a winning smile. "Any chance of us getting a sneak peek at the menu?"
"Actually, you're in luck," Jared said. "We've already set up the appetizers and the first round of drinks. They're in the hall. But-" he held up a hand to stall the immediate burst of enthusiasm his words prompted, "I wouldn't eat too many right now or you're going to be too full to enjoy the other courses."
"There are multiple courses?" one girl exclaimed. "Oh god, I think I'm in heaven."
Jared chuckled. "You haven't even tried anything yet."
That earned him a laugh. "Trust me, if it tastes even half as good as it smells, you're going to be on the top of my list of personal gods." She winked at him in clear invitation, though it was a subtle enough come-on that Jared could get away with a bashful smile and a 'very kind of you to say so' in response. He made a mental note not to give her any opportunity for getting her hopes up as the evening progressed.
"Oh, I almost forgot," he said to Danneel, who was watching him with a strange, assessing look in her eye. "I need to run through the timing of the courses with you, if that's okay. My assistant took the details, but some of the desserts need to be prepared immediately before serving so I want to make sure everything's in order."
"Sorry," Danneel said, after a pause so brief he almost didn't catch it. "But I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning. You'll have to talk to Jen."
"Jen?" Jared asked, glancing between the women.
Danneel flashed him a smile that had more than a bit of mischief in it. "The maid of honour. Here, let me."
Jared watched, nonplussed, as Danneel walked to the front door, pulled it open and leaned out.
"Jen!" she hollered and Jared's eyebrows climbed nearly up to his hairline. "There's a seriously hot pâtissier in here who wants to talk to you!"
He couldn't hear Jen's response over the sudden burst of laughter from the girls behind him, but he could clearly recognize the amusement in Danneel's voice as she shouted back, "Oh whatever, you pussy, just get moving! It'll be just a sec," she said to Jared then, at a much more normal volume. She let the door swing shut behind her with an expression of perfect innocence.
Jared was immediately wary. "Wha-"
"Come on, ladies," Danneel cut in brightly. "Let's get started on the drinking and desserts while Jen and Jared pound out the details."
"You sure that's all they'll be pounding?" someone sniggered, which set the rest of them off again.
Jared was officially very confused.
"I'll talk to you later, Jared," Danneel said as she started steering the whole giggling lot of them towards the hall. She tossed him a wink. "Be nice to Jenny, okay?"
Jared nodded kind of helplessly. "Whatever you say," he managed.
They vanished down the hall and Jared barely had time for a bemused 'the fuck?' before the front door clicked open.
"Hi," Jared started, turning. "You must be-"
And then the hottest guy he'd ever seen in his life walked through the door and Jared promptly forgot the entire English language.
The guy faltered in the doorway, blinking at Jared in confusion, and Jared was helpless to prevent the way his eyes followed the curve of a trim waist up a toned chest to broad shoulders that filled out the guy's shirt very well indeed. The rest of the package was just as pretty, from the well-washed jeans to the touch of scruff on the guy's chin, though Jared's attention got snagged on the pink ribbon around the guy's neck and the glitter high on pale cheeks.
"Wow," he blurted, tongue ahead of his brain as usual. "You're the tallest bridesmaid I've ever seen."
The guy flushed hotly and Jared realized about three seconds too late that he was being an ass.
"Er, sorry," he apologized. He rubbed sheepishly at the back of his neck. "That wasn't, I didn't mean to, um. I'm Jared," he tried finally, while the guy stared at him. "From Just Desserts?"
"Right, yeah," the guy said, the colour fading slowly from his cheeks. "Nice to meet you."
Jared bit his lip. "So you're... Jen? The, erm, maid of honour?"
"Jensen," the guy corrected, with a wry sort of grin. "But Danneel thinks it's funnier this way. I'd shake your hand," he said then, adjusting the grip he had on the numerous bags and boxes in his arms that Jared had somehow magically failed to notice before this precise moment, "But..."
"Oh geez, let me help with that." He ignored Jensen's faint protestations that he could handle it and appropriated a good half of the stack. Hopefully Jensen didn't mind the scattering of custard smears that Jared was certain to get on his stuff.
"Thanks," Jensen said, almost shyly.
Jared, being the incredibly suave individual that he was, managed a doofy shrug. "No problem. One of the benefits to being built like a tree."
Jensen arched an eyebrow. "There are others?"
"Well, I can reach stuff on high shelves," Jared offered. "And I can always see over the person in front of me at the movies."
"Useful," Jensen said and then just kind of looked at Jared, waiting for some continuation of the conversation.
Jared couldn't think of a damn thing to say. Clearly he failed at life.
"So," Jared coughed, after an eternal moment of them staring awkwardly at each other. "You want me to help you cart all this stuff into the hall?"
"Yeah," Jensen said, after a beat. "That'd be good, thanks."
Jared hefted the boxes in his arms and struck off down the hallway, Jensen at his heels.
"So Danneel said you wanted to talk me?" Jensen said as they entered the main hall. An assortment of good-natured catcalls from the rest of the bridal party heralded their arrival. "Something about the food, I'm guessing?"
"Yeah," Jared answered, slumping his armload of boxes down on an empty table. "About the timing of a couple of the courses." A thought crossed his mind and he abruptly changed plans. "But can you give me like five minutes first? Got to make sure everything's okay in the kitchen."
Jensen nodded, setting his own burden down. "Sure, yeah, no problem."
"Right." Jared realized he was openly admiring the truly fantastic sight that was Jensen's ass in those jeans and jerked his eyes back up to Jensen's face. Not that that was any less distracting. Jared took a firm grip on his self-control. "I'll, uh, come bother you in a couple of minutes?"
"Sounds good." Jensen grinned at him, eyes crinkling at the corners, and Jared escaped before he embarrassed himself by proposing marriage on the spot.
He plowed into the kitchen like the hallway was on fire, aware that he was dangerously close to swooning.
"Everything alright, boss?" Gabe asked, eyes not lifting from the swirls of icing he was painting on the strawberry fudge cakes.
"S'good," Jared answered, leaving off being a spaz long enough to throw a critical eye over the state of the dessert trays. Everything looked to be on track, which was good because Jared didn't think he could handle any other complications right now. "I'm gonna talk to the mai... Jensen to make sure we're not running ahead of schedule before we start on the cream toppings and melted chocolate." He fished in his pocket for his cell. "Gotta make a quick call first."
"Sounds good," Gabe said distractedly and Jared wandered into a quieter section of the kitchen before pulling up the number he needed. He took one deep, fortifying breath, then pressed the 'call' button.
Genevieve picked up on the first ring.
"Is he cute?" she demanded. "He sounded cute on the phone."
Jared groaned. "Gen, please tell me you didn't send me to host this wedding shower because you want me to hook up with the man of honour."
"No can do, boss," she said, sounding terribly pleased with herself. "You know you always complain about how you never get picked up at work."
"No, actually you always complain about how I never get picked up at work." Jared sighed. "I appreciate the sentiment, really I do, but I can't just go around propositioning customers. I don't even know if he's gay."
Genevieve snorted. "Please. Have you seen the bride? I'd tap that and I'm straight. And married. Believe me, there's no way they're just friends if he's not part of the rainbow brigade."
"Okay," Jared conceded, because he couldn't really argue with that. "But that doesn't mean he's single or even interested in m-"
"Jared," Genevieve interrupted. "You're hot. You're charming. You make desserts for a living for Christ's sake. And I'm willing to bet my entire next month's salary that you were covered in baking ingredients when he first laid eyes on you."
Jared's fingers snuck self-consciously into his hair and came back rimed in white powder. "So?" he asked defensively.
She laughed. "So, you give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'good enough to eat'. Seriously, you'll be fine."
He could practically hear her rolling her eyes. "Seduce him with baked goods then if you're too much of a girl to ask him out. Or offer to cover yourself in caramel. That'd probably work too."
Jared pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. "You have no idea how much I want to fire you right now."
"We both know you love me." There was a thoughtful pause. "Are your maraschino chocolate whip brownies on the table today?"
"Yes," Jared said, after a quick mental run through of the menu.
"Perfect. Those things are fucking sinful - he'll be falling all over himself to suck your dick. Have fun, boss!" she finished brightly, while Jared choked. "I expect details when you get back!"
"Gen, wait-" Jared tried, but she'd already hung up. He made faces at his phone for a moment, wondering if he could make Genevieve's hair catch fire if he glared at it long enough, then reluctantly gave it up as a futile effort. He had more important things to do right now, anyway.
And if he took a second to get the damn icing sugar out of his hair before going to find Jensen, that wasn't anyone's business but his own.
Jared managed to get through the prep and the first two thirds of the shower with his dignity intact, though he was pretty sure that he was already halfway in love with Jensen anyway. Because, in addition to being smoking hot, Jensen was also wry, witty and effortlessly easy to be around, so much so that Jared would have been hard pressed to find something to complain about.
Of course, none of this changed the fact that Jared had pretty much no game when it came to asking customers if they wanted to go on a date or have a quickie in the bathroom. Even when he really, really wanted to. So he mostly alternated between hiding in the kitchen and standing on the other side of the hall trying not to feel jealous of the desserts Jensen was sliding into his mouth.
He managed to keep a lid on any terribly obvious ogling until somewhere into the third course when someone told Jensen that he just had to try one of the cherry chocolate brownie things. Jared, who had not been lurking around the buffet table since he'd put them out, really, whipped round so fast that his hair poked him in the eye.
Genevieve really hadn't been exaggerating about how decadent his maraschino chocolate whip brownies were; when the most common term used to describe them was 'orgasmic', Jared had to be doing something right.
Which didn't at all excuse the way his breath caught as he watched Jensen pick one up, but Jared had pretty much given up trying to be the better man here.
One bite and Jensen's face went slack with pleasure, his eyes slipping closed and a positively debauched smile curving his lips.
"Fuuuck," he groaned, inviting and low, and Jared bit the inside of his cheek, all too easily able to imagine where else Jensen might sound like that.
Jensen's eyes slit open, still heavy-lidded with bliss, and Jared felt his knees go abruptly weak when that bedroom gaze fell immediately on him.
"Your recipe?" Jensen asked, his voice whisky smooth and twice as addicting.
Jared swallowed hard and managed a nod.
Jensen smiled, dark and full of promise. "Think someone ought to keep you."
And Jared knew that was his cue to ask Jensen if he was volunteering for the job, but he didn't manage much more than a flustered, "That's, I... thanks, you too, I- need to, um. Check. On the... thing. In the kitchen. I'll. Be right back," before fleeing into the kitchen like the colossal tool he was.
"Stupid," he berated himself as soon as the door swung shut behind him. Gabe was out restocking the drinks and Jared planted his palms flat on the countertop, staring at the wide array of dessert trays waiting to be served. "You stupid, stupid, stu-"
"I'd agree with that," a voice said and Jared nearly clocked his head on one of the hanging pots when he whirled around to look.
Danneel was standing in the doorway, a sparkly tiara on her head and an expression on her fact that was somewhere between amused and exasperated. "So I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don't get out much."
Jared blinked. "...What?"
"I'm going to take that as a yes." Danneel cocked her head at him. "Just so I've got my facts straight; you do want to fuck Jensen, right?"
Jared nearly choked on his tongue. "What?! I don't, that is, I mean, of co- but that's not... also, I wanted to-"
Danneel laughed at his flailing and Jared's mouth snapped shut so fast his jaw clicked.
"Don't worry," she said, with a surprisingly friendly smile. "Believe it or not, that's actually the answer I was looking for. So Jensen's gay," she said offhandedly and was kind enough not to call Jared out for the way he lit up like a fucking Christmas tree at the news. "And he pretty much thinks you're the guy of his dreams so if you wanted to ask him out I'd really appreciate it."
"Um, okay?" Jared said, since that seemed to be the extent of his mental capabilities at the moment and he was not, in fact, a complete moron.
"Good." Danneel half turned towards the door and glanced back at him over one shoulder. "So if you've finished beating yourself up for being an idiot, I'm pretty sure I know someone who wants to tell you just how much he enjoys your desserts."
"Sounds good," said Jared, not even trying to curb the wide smile splitting his face. He followed Danneel out of the kitchen in a haze, hardly daring to believe his own luck.
God, he loved his job. Especially the customers.
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Timestamp: The Art of Not Helping