Fandom: CW RPS
Word count: 835
A/N: Day 9 of my August fic challenge. This one is for gypsy_atavari who requested a future!fic timestamp for Summer to Your Heart about the increased acceptance for inter-species relationships.
Also available on AO3.
Summary: In which Jared is a terrible lecturer but manages to be inspiring in his own way nonetheless.
One day, Jared would remember that one of the main reasons he'd decided not to become a professor was that he couldn't speak in public worth a damn, and he'd stop agreeing to do guest lectures at the university.
"That sucked," he moaned into Jensen's chest.
"There, there," Jensen said, patting his shoulder comfortingly. "You were just fine. Stop being so hard on yourself."
"You don't even know what I was talking about," Jared said, mumbling around a mouthful of Jensen's hoodie. "It was awful, trust me. Some of the students were asleep."
"It's a freshman course. Some of the students are always asleep. And I don't need to know the first thing about corporate architecture to know that the students who weren't sleeping took plenty of notes. So at least they learned something."
"Those are not the same thing," Jared said, but he was already feeling better despite his residual humiliation. He'd told Jensen that he didn't need to take time off work to come watch Jared fumble his notes and go off on useless tangents and generally act like a complete tool, but Jensen had ignored all of his protests and Jared could only be grateful for it now.
He'd also earned the added bonus of seeing Jensen disguised as a student: baseball cap, hoodie, worn jeans, chunky skate shoes. It was amazing how young the outfit made him look - even more than usual.
"Stop worrying already, Jared. There was nothing wrong with your lecture."
Jared snorted. "Careful: your boyfriend bias is showing."
"It was less awkward than the last one?" Jensen offered, with a cheeky little grin, and Jared had to laugh.
"That at least is true. I think they'd have staged an intervention if it had been as bad as the last one."
"By those standards, I think we can consider this one a rousing success," Jensen said, and leaned in for a kiss that Jared readily returned.
"Always good to have low standards," Jared agreed.
"Mr. Padalecki?" a voice asked, and Jared turned away from Jensen's smile to see a young woman standing a couple of feet away. Her eyes flicked back and forth between them and Jared knew that, even if she magically hadn't seen the kiss, there was no way that they way they were leaning into each other could be mistaken for anything other than what it was.
"Yes?" Jared said, carefully neutral. It was true that the world was a lot more accepting of inter-species relationships than it had been when Jared had been her age, and universities were, as ever, some of the more liberal institutions, but there was still more than enough people who didn't approve. He hoped this wasn't going to be one of those times.
Although it probably said something pretty pathetic about him that he would almost rather get a speciest rant than a question about the lecture.
"I just wanted to say that I think you're a real inspiration."
"Because of the lecture?" he asked, openly surprised. No matter what PR wizardry Jensen had managed to spin, that had definitely been a shit lecture. God help her if she'd found that inspiring.
She shook her head. "No. Because you-," she shrugged, a little helplessly, "-because you love each other, I guess is what I'm trying to say. That you aren't afraid to love each other. I- can I ask how long you two have been together?"
"Twenty-three years," Jensen said, with an endearing mix of pride and fondness.
"I kind of figured." She gestured towards their hands, not clasped but close enough together that their pinkies touched. Which was how they'd been holding hands in public for decades, even though newer mixed couples had started holding hands the normal way. "I just- it's hard enough now. If it wasn't for people like you, there wouldn't be much hope for… for people like me."
Jared smiled, his heart going out to this girl. "Oh, I don't know about that. What's his name? Her name?"
She coloured, looking down. "His name. Simon. He's a Salamander. My mom's kind of okay with it but his family's not very happy."
"Join the club," Jensen said, though not unkindly. "The fae have long memories. And like to hold grudges. They'll probably get used to it eventually."
"But if they don't," Jared added. "That's something you'll have to accept if you're serious about each other. It's not easy, that's for sure."
"Is it worth it?" she asked, in a carefully neutral voice that betrayed just how much the answer meant to her.
"There's no easy answer to that," Jared said. "It's different for everyone. But for us?" Jared looked at Jensen, and it wasn't even a surprise how much in love he still was, even twenty three years on. Jensen looked back at him with a tenderness that didn't often dare express itself in public, and Jared knew that he felt just the same. "Without a doubt."
"Yeah," Jensen said, still smiling. "What he said."
NB: Sadly, I'm going to be putting this challenge on hold while I try to meet a deadline for an original fiction submission. I promise to pick it up again as soon as my schedule allows it. This, er, also applies to all the comments I haven't responded to, by the way - sorry for taking so long!