01 June 2014 @ 04:17 pm
Title: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Author: Rose
Pairing: Jared Padalecki/Jensen Ackles
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 25,000-ish
Warnings/Enticements: Dark Fic. Read At Your Own Risk. I will not post any additional content/potential trigger warnings as they will completely spoil the story.
Summary: Friendly neighborhood pharmacist Jared Padalecki falls in love with frequent customer, Jensen Ackles. He attempts to earn Jensen’s affections but when it appears that another man is stealing him away, Jared abducts the object of his affection and holds him captive. As the days pass, Jared must face the shattering realization of all he has done with tragic consequences.
Author’s Notes Written for the 2014 [livejournal.com profile] spn_j2_bigbang. Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] raise_the_knife, [livejournal.com profile] colliding_skies, and [livejournal.com profile] samanddeanfan1 for their beta skills and feedback to help me make this the best I could.

It was quarter ‘til ten and the pharmacy was empty. Pharmacist Jared Padalecki bent over the counter as he stared intently at the Sudoku puzzle. Always a bit of a night owl, he was more than at home in the empty store. The doors slid open which forced Jared to lift his eyes from his puzzle book. A man had just entered the store and by the looks of him he was pretty sick. His shoulders were hunched and his footsteps were shuffling. With great effort he lifted a basket from the stack just inside the door and disappeared down the cold/flu aisle. The quiet of the store was broken by the soft rock being piped through the store and the lone customer that sneezed and coughed. Deep hacking coughs that made Jared’s chest ache in sympathy.

A couple of minutes passed before the man trudged up to the counter. He hefted the basket onto the counter and looked at Jared through bleary bloodshot eyes. He sniffed and managed a weak smile as he handed over one of the plastic cards for the medicine that was now kept behind the counter. Jared found himself mesmerized by the sprinkling of freckles across the man’s fever-flushed cheeks and the bridge of his nose, and even the deep green of his dull eyes. Who was this man who came in to buy himself what looked like every cold remedy they sold? Why was he alone? Had he no one to run to the pharmacy for him? No girlfriend or significant other? If that was the case then it was tragic. In spite of the awful pallor, runny nose, and dark circles under his eyes, Jared could see the customer was handsome. He would love to see him healthy. Jared would bet he would be stunning.

“Plea—” The man broke off into a series of chest-rattling coughs. When the attack subsided the man winced and rubbed his throat. “Please.” The man’s voice was raw and he pointed to the Mucinex-D card Jared held.

“Oh, yeah. Of course. I’m so sorry.” Jared flashed an apologetic smile and grabbed a box of meds from the shelf. Jared set the box of pills on the counter as the customer was trying to empty his basket of purchases. “Let me help.” Jared emptied the blue basket that had been filled with: Nyquil/Dayquil combo pack, Tylenol, Vicks VapoRub, Kleenex, Halls cough drops, and other necessities.

“Thanks.” The man tugged a wad of tissues from his pocket and wiped his red nose and winced as he did so.

“You have a fever. How high has it been running?” Jared asked, as he scanned the items and placed them in a plastic bag.

The man sniffed and lifted a broad shoulder in a shrug. “Dunno.”

“You need to keep tabs on it.” Jared reached over and plucked a cheap plastic thermometer from the display near the register. He scanned it and tossed it in the bag. “If you get higher than 103 you need to get to an ER, okay? Any higher and you could begin to have convulsions or hallucinations. It could even be fatal.”

“’Kay.” The man swayed on his feet and blinked. Jared hoped he would be okay to drive himself home. Or maybe he had walked, or taken the bus.

“$42.38,” Jared stated when he finished scanning the sick man’s purchases.

The man struggled to pull his wallet from his back pocket. It took him a couple attempts before he was able to swipe his Visa. The register spit out the receipt. Jared slipped it in the bag and handed it over to the customer. Their fingers brushed and Jared felt a charge deep in his belly. He wanted to see the man when he wasn’t sick—clear eyed, well rested, and maybe clean shaven. Hear him laugh and see him smile. Listen to him talk. Make love to him. Marry him.

“Take care now.” Jared smiled, hopeful that it would make some difference in the man’s mood for the rest of the night.

As the man left the store, a pang of longing hit Jared. If he were lucky enough to be the object of that man’s affections Jared would take such good care of him. Wrap him in blankets, hand him the remote. Put a cold cloth on his head or hot water bottle on his tummy. Make him chicken soup. Give him meds on time.

Once more Jared wondered if the man had someone to look after him. Jared hoped he did, but if he didn’t Jared sure wanted to be that person. Jared was an attractive and charming enough guy. He could make that happen. He would make it happen.

* * *

A couple of days later, Jared was beginning his shift when the sickly but handsome customer returned to grace the store with his presence. Jared knew at once that the man was not feeling any better. Seemed like he didn’t have anyone home to look after him. It saddened Jared, and at the same time pleased him. When the man reached the counter he handed over a ‘script for Penicillin.

As much as Jared hated to do it, this man was a new customer and he needed to collect information before he could fill the ‘script. “Can I see your insurance, if you have it, and an ID, please?”

“Yeah,” the quality of the man’s voice hadn’t improved any since his last visit: husky and scraped raw. Jared wondered if it was what he sounded like during sex. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. From within he extracted an insurance card and driver’s license. He handed them to Jared.

“This’ll take a few moments to get you in the computer. While I’m doing that I’ll just send this back and have one of the techs start filling it. You have a seat there.” Jared indicated the row of chairs to the right of the pharmacy counter. The man, Jensen Ackles, according to his license, 6 ft 1 inch, born March 1st 1978, weight 173, eyes green, hair blond, Jared noted. Organ donor as well. It was a shame relationship status wasn’t listed, but Jared didn’t recall seeing a ring on Jensen’s left hand. Not that that meant anything. Maybe he didn’t wear one.

“Mr. Ackles, sir. I apologize for making you talk, but is this your current address?” He didn’t think so because there was no reason for him to come so far from Dallas, which was the city listed on the license, just to fill a prescription.

Jensen’s face twisted as he swallowed. “No. Just moved here. Haven’t—” He broke off, swallowed once more, cleared his throat and tried again. “Haven’t updated it yet. Is it a problem?”

It could be if Jared made it one, but that was not his prerogative. It wasn’t right for a little bureaucratic red tape to keep a sick person from getting their meds. “No. I’ll put this in the computer and the next time you come in we’ll update it then.” Jensen looked relieved.

Jared busily entered Jensen’s info into the computer. He was so curious about Jensen. He had just moved here. That certainly explains why he seemed to be on his own when he was so sick. What had prompted Jensen to move? So many questions.

Once Jensen’s insurance info was in the computer Jared ran the ‘script through. “Mr. Ackles, my apologies again, but I need you to sign the HIPAA form. It just says your rights and our responsibilities. We cannot divulge your private healthcare information without your consent; basic, standard stuff.”

Ackles got to his feet and approached the counter. While he signed the form Jared rang up the Penicillin. “Do you have any questions for me about your prescription?”


“And is this all for you today?” Jared asked.

“Uh…” Jensen looked toward the cold/flu aisle again. He held up his index finger and went to the aisle. When he returned he had a bag of Chloraseptic Liquid Filled Lozenges and Chloraseptic Spray. “Haven’t had Strep Throat since I was a kid. Sucks.”

Jared rang up the rest of Jensen’s purchases and gave him the total. Jensen swiped his card. Jared handed him the bag and receipt. “You stay home and take care. Strep isn’t something to fuc—er, fool around with.”

Jensen gave a tired lopsided smile. “Thanks.”

Jared watched him go and hoped the next time he saw Jensen he would be healthy.

* * *

As it turned out, that was the case. Jensen came into the store maybe a week and a half later. He was dressed in deep blue sweats and hoodie with a whistle around his neck. Gym teacher or a coach at the middle school or high school maybe, just off work, Jared surmised. Jared, who was counting out Mr. Beaver’s Viagra, perked up. The store had a dozen or so other customers, a couple of them browsed while they waited for their prescriptions to be filled, a couple of teenagers bickered over what chip/soda combo to buy, an older lady looked at the greeting cards. There were two open registers at the front of the store. Jared probably wouldn’t encounter Jensen now that he was well. Five minutes or so later Jensen came up to the pharmacy counter and set down a box of One A Day Men's Vitamins and a bottle of Vitamin C and a bag of Haribo gummi bears. As if this man couldn’t get any more perfect he liked gummi bears. Jared loved gummi bears. They were so meant for each other. He suppressed a dreamy smile at the thought.

“Mr. Ackles. You’re looking much better.” His eyes were clear, filled with warmth and intelligence instead of dulled by sickness or over-bright with fever. His dark blond hair was styled in artfully mussed spikes. Jared’s fingers twitched to reach across the counter, cup the back of his head and pull him in, taste those plump lips.

“Thanks.” His voice was still a little husky, like he smoked, but it was low and sexy and did things to Jared. “I feel better.”

“I’d hope so since you single-handedly cleaned out our cold/flu aisle.” Jared flashed his most disarming smile. “This all for you today?” He began scanning Jensen’s purchases.


Jared tamped down on the little thrill it gave him that Jensen chose to check out at the pharmacy counter rather than the registers. Maybe it meant something. Maybe it didn’t, but Jared hoped it did.

“How are you enjoying our little town?” Jared asked.

Little was a bit of an understatement--the entire population of Jupiter, Texas was just over 1,200. There were a few shops on the main street but if people wanted to shop they went to nearby Austin.

“Nice. Quiet. Friendly people.” The smile he gave Jared was like honey and it made Jared melt and fall a little harder.

“$24.89. Where ya from originally?”

Jensen dug out his wallet. “Richardson.” He swiped his credit card. “Went to college in Dallas though.”

“What brings you here?” The register printed out the receipt and some in-store coupons.

“Job at the high school and after a decade in Dallas I wanted to try life in a small town again.”

“Awesome. Welcome to Jupiter!” He slipped the receipt in the bag and handed it over to Jensen.


Jared watched him leave the store and admired Jensen’s bowlegs and tight round ass. He had to have him.

* * *

Sometimes after work Jared grabbed McDonald’s, sometimes it was Subway. Tonight was a McDonald’s kind of night. He tossed his keys on the side table just inside the door. After grabbing a beer from the fridge, he settled in with his food and laptop to do what he had been since he learned Jensen’s name.

He had learned so much about Jensen just by looking at his Facebook page. Chief among them being that Jensen was currently single and interested in men. He had also learned they came from similar upper middle class backgrounds, both were middle sons, with an older brother and younger sister. Even their siblings had the same first initial. It had to be some kind of sign.

Like most people, Jensen posted a lot of random thoughts on his Facebook, shared music videos from YouTube and news stories of interest to him. All these things painted a clear picture of the kind of man Jensen was: funny, snarky at times, socially conscious, and intelligent. The posts Jared favored from Jensen were, of course, pictures, not that Jensen posted many but when he did they were the stuff of wet dreams. Photos of Jensen being a goofball with family, pulling faces at the camera; photos of Jensen getting rowdy and drinking beer with friends. Jensen sporting a dirt-stained wifebeater, jeans and cowboy hat in a corral with a beautiful horse. A thrill of excitement went through him. Jensen liked horses! Jared’s grandfather had left him a bankrupt horse farm. Jared got lost in a happy daydream of himself and Jensen living on that farm and working hard to restore it to its former glory.

The photo set Jared was drawn to again and again was from an album labeled “July 4”. It had photos of Jensen playing guitar, surrounded by a group of friends. Jared couldn’t help but wonder if a couple of the men Jensen hung around with were an ex; that produced such a surge of jealousy and hurt that it left him gasping. They didn’t matter anymore, if any were an ex, Jensen was single now, and if Jared had his way he wouldn’t be for too long. His favorite picture of Jensen was one with a cigarette hanging from his mouth as he intently strummed his guitar. Jared just bet Jensen sang and he would give just about anything to hear him.

He navigated away from Facebook and over to YouTube. He didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it before. He typed in Jensen’s name and user JRAckles popped up. Heart speeding up, Jared clicked to the channel profile. All that was written in the channel description was “Just a guy named J who likes his whiskey, food, and friends.” A man who enjoyed the simple pleasure of life. Jared sighed and clicked the tab to look through the couple dozen or so videos Jensen had uploaded. There were some videos of a dog chasing a Frisbee or tennis ball in the backyard. He could hear Jensen laughing and talking to his dog, Icarus, in that high baby voice people often used with animals. It was adorable. There was a series of videos of showing how Icarus’s training was coming along. Then Jared hit paydirt: five videos of Jensen singing and playing guitar with a small group of friends. Jared clicked play and was swooning like a bobby-soxer over Frank Sinatra. Jensen’s voice was gritty and soulful. It could woo ya and blue ya. Jared was a goner for sure. He converted the videos of Jensen singing to MP3 and loaded them onto his iPod.

That night he jacked off and fell asleep with Jensen’s smokey voice in his ears.

* * *

Jen, as Jared had taken to calling Jensen in his thoughts, became a regular at the store, much to Jared’s delight. He would come in in the early evening—probably after work—and buy mundane things. He would always check out at the pharmacy counter. The only time he hadn’t checked out at there had been when he bought a pack of smokes. Jared had determined that Jensen was more of a social smoker and wondered who Jensen might be hanging around with after he bought the Marlboros.

Jensen laid a couple of bags of gummi candy, a bottle of vitamins, and box of Airborne on the counter.

“Hey, Jen,” Jared greeted with a smile and began ringing the man up.

“It's Jensen,” he corrected with a scowl.

“My apologies.” Jared kicked himself for the slip of the pet name. “Having a good day?”

“Can’t complain.”

“Don’t want to get sick again, right?” Jared indicated the Airborne.

Jensen raised a sardonic brow. “Right. It’s an occupational hazard, working with kids.”

“For me as well. Germ-ridden sick people always coming in. $28.32.”

That got a smile out of Jensen and Jared’s heart sped up. He would do anything to keep that smile on Jensen’s face. The man paid cash this time. Jared made change and their fingers brushed as he gave it to Jensen. Jensen had to feel that spark. How could he not? It was electric.

“Have a nice night.”

Jared watched Jensen go, he wanted so bad to ask Jensen on a date, but it was way too soon. They only ever exchanged occasional small talk. He would have to take steps to get to know Jensen outside of the pharmacy.

* * *

Sunday night saw Jared in Jupiter’s only bar: JD’s Tavern. It wasn’t exactly a high-class joint but the beer was cold and cheap and the food was greasy and good. His long legs were stretched out in front of him, there was a pitcher of beer and a plate of chicken fried steak smothered in homestyle gravy and mashed potatoes on the wooden graffiti-scarred table. Brooks & Dunn were playing on the juke and Jared was halfway through his dinner with no sign of Jensen. He had hoped Jensen would come in here tonight. Jared supposed Jensen could have gone elsewhere, maybe to nearby Austin, if he wanted a more active night out, or maybe he had come in on a night Jared had to work.

Jared was finishing his dinner, and the bar getting more crowded as the night wore on. he was about to give up, pay and leave when the battered cowbell above the door signaled the arrival of another customer. Jensen came into the bar, but he wasn’t alone. A man with longish brown hair and a stocky build had his arm around Jensen. Jared felt all the air leave his lungs and his heart dropped to his shoes, leaving a hollow ache in his chest. Numbness trickled down from his crown to his toes.

“My kinda place, boy, but why do you like it?”

“It has its perks,” Jensen said a sly grin and an upward tilt of his head.

Gloomily Jared followed Jensen’s gaze to see the bar owner JD Morgan facing away from the bar’s interior and into the kitchen talking to the head cook, his half sister Sam Ferris. There was no way Jensen could be talking about JD. JD was…he was old and had a heavy, lined face and doleful eyes. Was he even gay? Jared had no idea. He had never thought about Morgan’s sexuality before, never had a reason. Maybe Jensen meant the food. It was pretty spectacular, hearty and sick-to-your-ribs. He couldn’t have meant Sam, because Jensen was gay.

Jensen’s companion slapped Jensen on the back. “Shit, cuz, you don’t waste no time, do ya?”

“A man has needs.”

Compelled to speak Jared said, “Hi, Jensen.” He waved a little too enthusiastically.

Jensen and his friend (Jared sure hoped that the guy was just a friend) turned to Jared. Now that he could see the guy fully, he recognized him from pictures on Jensen’s Facebook. He was Christian Kane, Jensen’s cousin, must be visiting Jensen from Dallas. Jared let out a little sigh of relief, but couldn’t relax all the way because of the look Jensen had aimed towards JD. Jared tried to shrug it off. JD was way too old for Jensen to be into. Besides, he and Jensen were meant for each other. Jensen just had to get to know him a little better and he would see it too.

Jensen looked at Jared, took him a moment before he was smiling, light of recognition in his eyes. “Hey, Pharmacy Guy.” He and Christian came over.

Jared extended his hand. “Jared Padalecki.”

“All right. Jared.” Jensen took his hand and gave it a firm shake. There was that spark, that sizzle that crackled along every nerve whenever they touched. Jared was reluctant to release Jensen’s hand and his smile faltered a bit. “This is my cousin, Chris.”

“I kn—,” Jared broke off, catching himself. Jensen had no way of knowing Jared had been creeping on his Facebook page. “I figured. There’s a bit of a family resemblance.” He shook Chris’s offered hand but released it more quickly than he had Jensen’s.

“Now that hurts,” Chris said clutching his heart. “Sayin’ I look like this fugly dude.” He ruffled Jensen’s hair. Jared’s eyes narrowed. He did not like Jensen being insulted, even in jest. Anyone with eyes could see Jensen was the most beautiful man in creation.

“Fucker!” Jensen playfully shoved Chris and smacked him upside the head. “You wish you were as handsome as me.”

A spike of jealousy lanced through Jared at their easy camaraderie. Oh, well, soon enough he and Jensen would be thick as thieves. Jared just knew it. And from that friendship, love would grow.

“Seems like you’re expectin’ company.” Jensen indicated the full pitcher of beer. “We won’t intrude. Have a good one, Jared.”

“I’m not, expecting anyone. Well, I was, but they bailed on me,” Jared lied. He had ordered the pitcher intending to split it with Jensen, assuming he came in. “You and your cousin wanna join me? Y’all get the next round?” It wasn’t the perfect situation, with Chris the interloper, but it was better than nothing.

“That sucks, man, but looks like you’ve already eaten. Maybe some other time.” Jensen’s smile was warm and genuine.

Jared forced a smile and nodded. He felt as if his dinner was going to come back up. Wouldn’t that be a great impression to make?

“Besides, Jenny wants to sit at the bar and perv on the bartender, don’t ya?”

Jared’s face went flat and he shot daggers at JD, who was wiping the counter. So Jensen was interested in Morgan. What the hell? Jensen was into old dudes? Daddy issues, anyone?

“Still wanna have a drink with a faggot?” Jensen’s scathing voice cut through Jared’s thoughts. The death glare Jensen was giving him could have rivaled the mythical Medusa. Jensen had adopted a fight stance, legs wide apart, back straight, shoulders square, and jaw set. He was beautiful and terrifying, like an avenging angel. Jared felt a blush crawling up his neck and into his cheeks as he realized what Jensen must think when nothing could be further from the truth.

“What? No. I wouldn’t mind. I’m gay, too.” He flashed his most disarming smile. “Out and proud since ’98.”

Jensen still appeared wary, but his stance had relaxed.

“So, partner,” Chris said to Jared. “What’s good to eat here?”

This was promising. Jensen was close to his cousin so if Jared could get in good with Chris maybe he could get in good with Jensen.

“Just about anything.”

“Well, all right. Let’s eat!” Chris sauntered up to the bar.

Jensen moved to join him. “Have a good night, Jared. I’m sorry your friends bailed on you. Must not be that good’a friends.”

“Thanks.” He flashed a smile. He thought it was sweet Jensen cared what kind of friends Jared had. Truth was Jared kept to himself. He still kept in touch with his old friends from UT but it was sporadic at best. “You have a nice night, too.”

Before Jared left the tavern he watched Jensen interact with JD. Bedroom eyes. Licking his lips. Slow, lazy smile. Yeah, Jensen was flirting. The idea that Jensen would prefer the middle-aged tavern owner over him was laughable, but still, Jared would have to take steps to gain Jensen’s affection and favor.

* * *

Jensen looked tired when he came in around eight on a Wednesday night. Jared hoped he wasn’t getting sick again. When Jensen was ready to check out, as usual he came to the pharmacy counter. There was a slight line at the two registers up front but no one at the pharmacy counter, besides the older man testing his blood pressure at the machine.

“Evening, Jensen,” Jared greeted as he began to ring Jensen up, a bag of gummies and a couple of Soup for One cups.

“Hi, Jared.”

Jared felt warm as he heard his name fall from Jensen’s lips. He thought about hearing Jensen say that to him every morning as he handed him his coffee and kissed him good morning. “You know, you buying Soup for One is tragic, because no way should a guy as nice and good-looking as you be spending his evenings alone.”

Jensen smiled and ducked his head. Aww, he’s shy about his looks. So cute! Jensen gave a small cough and raised his head again, meeting Jared’s gaze. “That’s kind of you to say.”

“Not hard to be kind to you, and anyway it’s the truth.” He winked and totaled up Jensen’s purchases. “$7.56.”

Jensen handed over a twenty. Jared gave him his receipt, change, and handed him his bag. As much as he wanted to ask Jensen out, he thought it might be too soon, but he was encouraged by Jensen’s reaction to Jared’s compliment.

* * *

When Jensen came in again a couple of weeks later it was a Thursday, a slow day for the pharmacy. A couple of pharmacy techs and Jared were filling prescriptions, a couple of customers sat in the waiting area. He heard something being set on the counter but didn’t look up from counting out Mr. Kripke’s Lipitor. “Right with ya,” he called out, sliding the pills from the counter tray into the prescription bottle. As thrilled as he was to see Jensen he wasn’t going to let the man’s presence interfere with his work. After printing and applying the label to the bottle Jared bagged it and filed it away, ready for the customer to pick up.

He turned to the counter to see Jensen texting someone, a fond smile on his face. Jared really hoped he was texting Chris and not JD. Jensen had a can of shave cream, replacement blades for a Gillette Mach 3, and his standard monthly purchase of a box of One A Day Men’s Vitamins.

“How are you doing today, handsome?” Jared greeted, once Jensen had tucked his phone away.

Jensen exhaled sharply and looked away. When he met Jared’s eyes again it was with a tight smile. “I’m good, thanks.”

“Glad to hear it.” He rang up Jensen’s purchases. When he announced the total Jensen swiped his Visa.

“I’m sorry, Jensen, it says the card is declined. Do you want to try another one?”

“Shit,” Jensen growled. “Damn bank is supposed to be sending out a new one because this one is set to expire. Guess they must have deactivated this one or something.” Jensen shook his head and put the card back into his wallet. He glanced at the total on the register and into his wallet. “Ya know, I’ll just come back after I get this sorted out.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it for you.” Jared removed his own wallet and slipped in a couple bills to take care of Jensen’s purchases.

“Jared, no, really you don’t have to do that. I couldn’t let you do that.”

Jared handed Jensen the plastic bag, making sure their fingers brushed. “Don’t worry about it. It’s a community service, keeping you beard free; although, a little beard burn can be fun, don’t ya think?” He winked. “Have a nice night, Jensen.”

Jensen nodded and left the store giving Jared a lingering look over his shoulder.

* * *

Jensen set down an energy drink, a box of Visine and a prescription for acid reflux on the counter. “Hi, Jensen.” Jared took the ’script and typed it into the computer. “Be just a minute to get this filled.”

Jensen took a seat in one of the chairs beside the counter.

“How ya been?” Jared asked as he worked. He had seen Jensen posting on Facebook about his dog needing a biopsy for cancer and possibly surgery after, or maybe euthanasia. Jared knew all about that, having lost his own lovable mutt Harley to cancer a little over a year ago. Jared’s heart ached after he’d read a post of Jensen’s where he was asking folks to send prayers and good vibes Icarus’s way. Jared wasn’t a religious man but he was sure gonna be doing some praying.

“’M alright.”

Jared snagged the bottle of pills needed to fill Jensen’s prescription and shook some out on to the counting tray. “You sure? You look, kinda, I don’t know,” he hedged, not wanting to give away that he had been reading Jensen’s Facebook posts, “down.”

Jensen dragged a hand down his face, his shoulders slumping, looking weary. It took a great deal of self control for Jared not to bound over the counter and take Jensen in his arms, tell him Icarus was gonna be okay, let Jensen cling to his white lab coat, and cry on his shoulder. “Just stuff, man.”

“Anything I can do to help?” Jared took the counting spatula and began counting out the correct number of pills for Jensen’s prescription.


Jared finished counting the pills and looked up to see Jensen slumped back in the chair, gazing at his booted feet. “Well, if there is don’t hesitate to ask, okay?” Jared closed the cover over the open end of the counting tray and dumped the pills into the orange bottle. He bagged the meds. “All ready, Jensen.”

Jensen got to his feet and approached the counter, digging his wallet out of his pocket. “Should work this time,” he smiled but it was half-hearted.

Jared rang up the drink, eye drops, and the prescription then totaled it up. Jensen swiped his card.

“Success!” Jared said grinning as the charge went through, but Jensen didn’t say or do anything. The register printed the receipt and Jared placed Jensen’s things in a plastic bag. He hesitated before reaching into the breast pocket of his lab coat and took out one of his cards. “If you do decide you want or need to talk, gimme a call. I’m a good listener.”

Jensen took the card and tucked it into his wallet with the Visa before he put it back into his pocket. “Thanks, Jared.”

Jared handed over the plastic bag with Jensen’s things in it. “Have a good day, Jensen.”

“You, too.” Jensen said and left.

As Jared watched him go, all he wanted to do was hug him and kiss away his frown. Maybe Jensen would call and he would get the opportunity.

* * *

Jared stared at the list of Jensen’s friends on Facebook and saw he had added a new one: JD Morgan. Jared clicked over to JD’s page. His relationship status was listed as “complicated”. Jared rolled his eyes and scoffed. What the fuck did that even mean? Either you were in a relationship or you weren’t. He had better not be trying to move in on Jensen. Jensen belonged to Jared. Jared looked through some of the posts on JD’s wall, nothing very interesting some pics of him, his dog, motorcycles, and some other people Jared recognized as working at JD’s Tavern. Looked like they were all related to him.

Jared clicked away from JD’s page and back over to Jensen’s. He was happy to see Jensen had posted a new pic, him and Icarus with the status update: “Tumor benign! Thanks to everyone for their prayers for Icky.” Jared smiled. He was so relieved, that even though it had been years, he made the sign of the cross over himself. His relief turned to something else when he read further and saw that Jensen had tagged JD in his post. “Thanks JD for giving me the name of Bisou’s vet. I really think she saved Icky’s life.” It sounded like they talked more than just casually over Facebook and pleasantries at JD’s Tavern. Had JD given Jensen his number? No, that wasn’t possible. Why would Jensen call JD over him? He and Jensen were meant to be together. Jared was just going to have to be a bit more proactive. He would have to ask Jensen out. Jared closed his laptop and stood, stretching. He glanced at the clock and saw it was nine. Not too late. Maybe he would swing by JD’s Tavern. Maybe Jensen would be there.

Jared had a quick shower, sprayed on some cologne and headed out. He arrived at JD’s a little after nine thirty. It was Thursday, a bit busier than usual, people gearing up for the weekend; Bocephus playing on the juke, pool balls clacked, cheers of those playing darts occasionally rose above it, and the smell of beer and home cookin’. Using his height to his advantage he scanned the place, his eyes locked on Jensen at the bar immediately, he appeared to be alone, watching the football game on the TV. JD was at the other end of the bar pulling drafts. Jared wove his way through the crowd, smiling at people he recognized from town or work, to sidle up to Jensen.

“Hey ya, Jensen,” Jared greeted.

Jensen turned. “Hi, Jared.”

“How they doin’? Jared asked indicating the Cowboys game on the TV.

“For shit, as usual.” Jensen threw back what was left of the beer in his glass.

“Fuckin’ Romo. Can’t he just, like, break a leg or snap a tendon or something?”

Jensen threw back his head and laughed. God, it was a beautiful sound, vibrant and Jared wanted to always make him laugh like that. “That’s cold, man. Cold.”

“Hey, Jared. Usual?” JD greeted, taking away Jensen’s empty glass.

Jared turned hard eyes to the bartender. “Whatever Jensen is having, and bring him another, too.”

“No, Jared, that’s fine.” He laid a hand on Jared’s back and gave a couple gentle pats. “I need to head home. See ya later, Jeff. Jared.”

Who the hell was Jeff?

“Later, Jensen,” JD replied.

JD? JD was Jeff? Jared had never given much thought to what the J in JD stood for. Jensen was on a first name basis with JD? Jared scrambled. This wasn’t how he thought this was going to go. He hadn’t stayed on top of things. He needed to move or JD was gonna move in on Jensen—if he hadn’t already, and Jared did not want to think about that. “Hey, Jensen, before you go, I wanted to ask if you wanted to have dinner with me sometime? Maybe see a movie?” Jared smiled waiting for Jensen to accept. Jensen threw him a curveball.

“I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think so, Jared.”

Jensen said something else before he left but Jared didn’t hear it. The second Jensen’s polite refusal of a date registered, his ears had filled with white noise. His chest tightened and it was hard to draw breath. Jensen turned him down? Why? Did he not feel the heat or connection between them? How could he not? It crackled between them whenever they were together.

“Here ya go, Jared. Can I get ya anything to eat?” JD slid a mug of beer in front of him.

Jared flexed his fingers, longing to bury his fist in JD’s face over and over until it was an unrecognizable pulp. He clenched his jaw and rolled his shoulders, squashing the violent impulse. He turned his gaze to JD. The bartender’s brows furrowed and he cocked his head.

“Ya okay, Jared? You look like you’re gonna be sick or maybe take somebody’s head off.” JD smiled, showing deep jowly dimples in his heavy face.

God, everything about JD was repulsive; his looks, his voice. There was no way Jensen could be attracted to that. No way.

“I…I need to go,” Jared said, not sure it was loud enough over the crowd and music to be heard. He wanted to get home and think about where to go from here to get Jensen to see how perfect they would be together. He had time to come up with a suitable plan to woo Jensen.

* * *

Tuesday night saw Jared and a couple of pharmacy techs filling prescriptions, a couple of teenage girls were loitering near the cosmetics. Jared was trying to keep an eye on them in case they lifted something, but stopping shoplifters wasn’t really his priority, assuring the patient got the right medicine was. After counting out the correct number of Inderal for Ms. Smith and sliding them into the bottle, he looked up again to see Jensen waiting patiently at the counter. His stomach did that little happy flutter it always did when he saw Jensen. Jared applied the appropriate label to the bottle and handed it over to a tech to bag and put away until Ms. Smith could pick it up.

“Jensen, how are you tonight?” Jared greeted.

Jensen smiled. “I’m good.” Jared reached for the couple of items Jensen had in front of him so he could ring him up, but stopped short: a box of Trojans and a bottle of lube. He lifted his eyes to Jensen’s, breathing going shallow, heart feeling like it was one second from shattering. He was buying condoms and lube and he sure as hell wasn’t going to be using them with Jared. JD. Jensen was going to fuck JD? Or let JD fuck him? Images of Jensen and JD tangled up in cheap sheets—because what other kind of sheets would a bartender have?—exploded in his mind in crippling 3D-IMAX detail. He felt light headed, like he was falling from a great height. He had no idea things were becoming that serious between Jensen and JD. Their Facebook posts back and forth were friendly for the most part, a few innuendos here and there, but nothing that had set off any alarm bells in Jared’s head. Had he known that things were progressing this way between the two men, he would have moved faster. As it was he was screaming internally at his stupidity. He had seen firsthand that night weeks ago at JD’s Tavern that Jensen was flirting with the middle-aged bartender. The world had been knocked off its axis and Jared was tailspinning. Slowly wooing Jensen was no longer in the cards. Christ, he needed a plan and he needed one now!

“Jared? Ya okay? Jared?”

Jared blinked and his vision cleared. Jensen was waving a hand in front of his face and gazing at him with an expression somewhere between amusement and concern.

“What? Yeah. Sorry, just got lost in thought for a moment there.” He forced himself to smile as he scanned and rang up Jensen’s purchases.

“Didn’t look like they were happy thoughts. Ya kinda went all pale on me.”

“’M alright.” Jared hit the total button on the register. “$26.83.”

Jensen’s brows knit in a little frown before he fished a couple of twenties out of his wallet. Jared made change and handed him his bag and receipt. “Have a nice night,” he said, but his tone was a little too curt and he knew it, but, fuck, if he just didn’t have it in him to put on a convincing happy-smiley voice, not when he was still seeing Jensen naked and writhing beneath JD.

“Thanks.” Jensen took his bag and, with a last glance over his shoulder at Jared, exited the store.

Jared knew he was going to be shit for the rest of the night as far as work was concerned--his mind was going to be on Jensen and what he may or may not be doing with JD. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t cry off for the night, not without another pharmacist to take over his duties. It would have to be tomorrow then.

Fuckin’ JD. Bad choice of words. That son of a bitch had gotten into Jensen’s good graces by helping him with Icarus. As Jared replaced the bottle of Inderal on the shelf and hunted down the Metformin, a rudimentary plan began to form.
* * *

Jared had worked for Sheppard’s Drugs & Sundries for nine years and for the first time in a couple of years he called in sick. He had worked a full shift in the pharmacy every day—except Sundays and holidays—for the last two years. He was more than entitled to a sick day or personal day. His alarm woke him at 5, he dressed in jeans and an old UT tee, stopped for coffee and began the long drive to the farmhouse where he had spent his teen years. He didn’t mind the drive. It looked to be a gorgeous day, the sky was clear, and the heat not too oppressive.

It was nearing noon when Jared turned his car down the long gravel drive leading up to the old house. He could see the peaked roof off the solid structure in the distance, growing larger. He came out here a couple of times a year, to check on the property and feel close to his grandfather. He brought his vehicle to a stop and shifted into park. He sat back and stared at the house, seeing it with new eyes. It was fitting he should be back at the place where he had been happy and known love. His older brother, Jeff, and younger sister, Megan, had got away from the place as soon as they could, but Jared always came back. He liked the peace of it, liked working with the horses, it was hard but also rewarding.

He got out of his car, joints popping back into place after the time spent in the car. The house itself was a little more weathered than the last time he had been here, more of the apple red paint peeling away to expose the coat of white beneath. The cross gabled roof was in need of repair, there were some shingles missing but it wasn’t sagging. He would have to make a more thorough inspection from the inside. Some windows were broken; teenagers, thinking the place abandoned, probably broke in to drink, smoke, or have sex. He pulled the little notebook out of one of his pockets and wrote down some notes. He was going to get the windows replaced ASAP, and the doors as well. He popped the trunk, rooted around in his toolbox until he found a tape measure.

He took a lap around the house, jotting down window measurements, looking at the foundation, the chimney. There were no gaps, cracks or shifting. Around back was the barn and stables, both appeared to be in decent repair. A new coat of paint would really spruce them up. The same could not be said about the paddocks at the side of the house. The fencing was rotted and collapsing.

Finished with the outside inspection, he moved to the inside. The porch creaked but felt strong and stable beneath his feet. The lock on the front door was busted and the screen door hung lopsided, screen missing. Jared’s chest tightened with emotion when he stepped over the threshold. He had been happiest here and there was nowhere else he could imagine spending his life with Jensen. The inside was empty of furniture. He had given away or sold what was left after his grandfather passed, having no need of it.

He moved from room to room cataloging the damage, making notes. There was some minor water damage, mostly from rain that had gotten in through the broken windows. The hardwood floors were scarred but solid. The fireplaces were in good condition. There was some graffiti scrawled on the walls and initials carved in the doorframes but everything was easily taken care of. Some of the wallpaper was peeling from the walls, there were thick cobwebs and the overall smell of must, disuse, and warm wood. Beer and soda cans, cigarette butts, joints, and the occasional used condom littered the floor. He should have brought a broom, but he wasn’t planning to do any work on the place today, just inspect, and he was pleased with what he found. He would see to it the windows were boarded up, then replaced, new doors and locks, a No Trespassing sign (not that he thought it would do much good) would be put up. He would have to get the utilities turned on eventually and get some furnishings, but those were tasks he could deal with later. It was a good solid house where he and Jensen would laugh, love, and build a life together. He knew Paps would be delighted that Jared was returning after so many years, and with plans to make the farm successful once more.

Jared closed the house up as best he could then drove to the big home improvement store in town. With his list and measurements he picked out new windows, front and back doors, and locks. He arranged to have them installed on his next day off, which was Sunday. While he was there, he took several paint swatches to mull over.

It was evening by the time Jared got back to his place in Jupiter and he spent the rest of it browsing the internet. In the course of his research he had learned that the internet, while useful, was also a frightening place. The ease with which he was able to obtain instructions for manufacturing certain drugs was startling. He decided against that course, although he did print out the instructions, just in case. After bookmarking a certain site for later use, probably sooner rather than later, he set about printing and filling out the 4473 he would need to purchase a gun. Then, satisfied with all he accomplished that day he went to bed and dreamed of Jensen.


A couple of days later, Jared, with appropriate papers filled out and permit obtained, he entered Alastair’s Guns. God bless Texas because there was no waiting period before obtaining a gun in the state. Not that it would have been a problem to wait. He still had a couple of weeks, maybe more, before he could move from planning and into action. The fellow who owned and operated the gun shop was knowledgeable and helpful. He presented many handguns and explained their pros and cons. In the end Jared settled on a sleek .9mm Taurus and a box of ammo; although, if worse came to worst he would only need one bullet.

Being a responsible gun owner, Jared locked the weapon away in a lock box, and placed it on the shelf in his closet before heading out to put phase two and three of his plan into action.

His first stop was Jensen’s house, having memorized his address from the pharmacy computer. He parked near the end of the block and waited. Jensen lived in a little one story bungalow with charming flowerbeds along the walkway that led to the porch, flowerboxes under each window, a trellis stretching up to the eave with big beautiful roses in bloom, and a new chain link fence. Probably to contain Icky, Jared thought.

He lost himself in a beautiful daydream as the sun began to set, painting the sky orange, red, and pink. He imagined walking up to Jensen’s front door. Jensen would answer dressed in wash-worn jeans and that gray Henley that he looked so delectable in. They would declare their undying love for one another, fall into each other’s arms. He would kiss Jensen breathless and take him to bed, make love to him over and over again until neither of them could move. The sound of an engine rumbling pulled Jared from his happy thoughts. The engine belonged to a big black GMC truck which stopped in front of Jensen’s. Jared sat up a little further in his seat. His heart felt as if it was being squeezed by some phantom hand. It was no surprise when JD hopped out of the cab of the truck. He was wearing slacks and button up shirt—at least he dressed up for his date with Jensen. Date. Jared’s stomach twisted when he thought about how their date was likely to end. Jensen opened the door and Jared watched as the two men embraced. They chatted briefly before they went back down the pathway, got into the truck and drove away.

Jared waited until they had been gone for a couple of minutes before he got out of his car and walked up the block. Not many people locked their doors in Jupiter, but Jensen—coming from Dallas—did. Still, with a lock pick it wasn’t hard to gain entry into the quaint home. He closed the door behind him and the click of claws on the laminate floor preceded Icarus’s arrival. He was a fuzzy dog of medium height and weight, a good sized dog. He saw Jared and looked at him for a moment, head cocked. Jared always had an affinity and special rapport with animals. He had even thought of becoming a veterinarian so he could work with the horses on his grandfather’s farm. “Hey ya, boy.” Jared greeted squatting down. “I’m a friend of your Daddy’s. C’mere.” Jared made kissy noises.

Icarus bounded over to Jared, eager to greet him. He took that as a good sign and wondered how Icarus had greeted JD. He hoped Icarus had attempted to bite him. He hugged the dog as he licked Jared’s face and wagged his tail. “You’re gonna come with me for a few days. It's gonna be so fun.” Jared got back to his feet and gazed around. The house was nicely furnished in tones of brown and blue, a nice sized widescreen television, comfy couch, heavy wood tables. He moved from the living room down a hallway and into what had to be Jensen’s bedroom. There was a Van Gogh print framed hanging above the bed. The bed was unmade, but the covers had been smoothed out and turned back, like it was expecting an occupant soon. Or two. Jared shuddered. He moved into the room, Icarus on his heels, panting and begging for lovins. Jared absently patted the animal's head as he moved over to Jensen’s bedside table and opened the drawer; inside were the condoms and lube he had purchased, a couple of magazines featuring Daddies and Bears, a dildo, and a prostate massager. There was a desk pushed against the far wall and a closed laptop sitting on it. He thought about going over there and snooping but decided against it. He wanted to learn about Jensen from Jensen, and he would soon enough.

“C’mon, Icky.”

Jared returned to the living room and inspected the windows and screens. They were in decent repair. Jared chose the window that had a view of the walnut tree in the side yard and pushed against the screen, it gave way under the insistent pressure. He stood back to admire his handy work. Helpfully a squirrel with a bushy tail scampered by before hopping onto the tree trunk and scrabbling up. Icarus barked and lunged forward. Jared snagged the dog’s collar and hauled him back before he could escape for real.

Icarus gave a pathetic whimper and looked up at Jared with wounded eyes. “Yeah, I know, buddy, but don’t worry, you’ll get that squirrel one day.” He tugged on the leather collar and headed back to the door. “Let’s get goin’.”

Upon returning to his home with Icarus, Jared dug out Harley’s old toys and things to help make Icarus at home. He filled the water bowl with a couple of bottles of Evian and another full of Blue Buffalo kibble. “Enjoy, buddy. My home is your home.” He patted the dog on the head before heading out again.

Jared drove into Austin to visit one of the gay clubs. He put the word in a few people’s ears he was looking for party favors. He drank his Chivas and enjoyed the eyecandy of the go-go boys. It wasn’t long before a well-built good-looking guy approached him.

“Hey, handsome, somebody said you were lookin’?”

“Only for quality product.”

“That’s all I offer, man. What’cha want?”

“Some E and liquid G.”

The man nodded his head toward the backrooms. Jared sat his glass down and tossed the bartender a couple of bills. He followed the dealer, but not before putting a twenty into the thong of the go-go boy who had been eyeing Jared like a T-bone and shaking his ass for all he was worth.

Once ensconced in the darkened backrooms, with moans and grunts echoing down the hall, and the music fading into the background, the guy asked, “How much you need?”

Jared told him and the exchange was made. As the dealer was leaving, Jared grabbed him and held him up against the wall, using his height and weight to stare him down and intimidate. To any casual observer it looked like just another backroom hook up. “This better be as good as you say. It’s for someone very special to me.”

“It is, stud, it is. You and your boy will enjoy the trip.”

“If this hurts him? I’ll hunt you down, rip out your heart…and eat it.” Jared had no idea where the words were coming from, only that they were the truest words he had ever spoken. He would rather slit his own throat than allow harm to come to Jensen. He imagined Jensen would be scared at first, but after he got to know Jared, he had no doubt their incredible chemistry would take over and the rest would be history.

The man’s throat worked as he swallowed, eyes growing round. “It won’t, I swear. I never sell anything I don’t take myself.”

Jared held him for another few moments, eyes boring into the dealer’s before he let him go. Jared pocketed his purchases and left the club.

The next day when he returned to work, he gave his two weeks' notice at Sheppard’s Drugs & Sundries.

* * *

When Sunday rolled around, Jared was up early and on the road to the farmhouse, Icky in the passenger seat, head hanging out the window. “You’re gonna love it there, buddy. You, me, and your Daddy are going to be so happy.”

He had already arranged to have the utilities turned on a few days prior. The subcontractors were installing the windows and doors today. Jared wasn’t adverse to hard work, but it was beyond his skill level to do the job himself, and he thought things would go faster this way. While the windows and doors put in, Jared took care of some of the indoor work. Icky planted himself on the porch and snoozed away, seemingly unconcerned with the hustle and bustle of activity going on around him. Jared swept up the debris, washed, and primed the walls. That cool Wagner power paint sprayer he’d bought made the job go quicker than Jared had thought. He would hold off on decorating the interior, as it was Jensen’s house too, Jared didn’t want to make decorating decisions unilaterally, but he wanted the place to be livable.

With the light dying, he stood back and looked at the house, even with just the new windows and doors the place was really shaping up. Next week he planned on painting the outside, then it would really look great.

The next time Jared saw Jensen was on Wednesday evening. He came in looking positively dejected, worse than he had when Jared first laid eyes on him and he had been miserable with sickness. Jensen didn’t seem to be buying anything, he came right up to the counter.

“Evening, Jensen. Can I help you?”

“I…” He broke off, eyes meeting Jared’s, glittering with unshed tears. Jared could tell Jensen was struggling to keep his composure. “My dog, he’s missing.” Jensen handed over a flyer with a picture of a happy Icarus on it. “Have you seen him around, maybe? Or anyone else in the store?”

“Aww, cute puppy. I’m sorry, Jensen, I haven’t seen him. I wish I had. I will keep a couple of these and ask everybody that comes in, okay?”

Jensen looked at him with a soft expression and it almost had Jared confessing…everything. “Thanks, Jared.”

“How long’s she been missing?”

“He. And when I got home late Friday night. There was a screen knocked out of the window and Icarus was…he was gone.”

“I’m sorry, Jensen.” And he was, so sorry for hurting Jensen like this, but it would pay off in the end. “I will keep an eye out for him, and, hey, maybe he’ll find his way home. I can’t imagine anyone running away from you.”

Jensen just nodded before turning and leaving the store.

* * *

Jensen sat a package of Twizzlers, a bottle of Bayer, and tub of Icy Hot down onto the counter. Jared bagged and put away Mr. Collins’ Symbyax. “Evenin’, Jensen.” Jared stepped up to the counter. “How are ya?”

Jensen smiled, but it was a shadow of what I used to be. Jared knew that was because Icarus was still missing. “I’m okay.”

“You don’t sound like it. The pup still missing?” Jared averted his gaze and scanned Jensen’s items. The sadness in those amazing eyes and turning his kissable lips into a permanent frown was more than Jared could take, but he had to stay the course. It would all pay off. The repairs and improvements on the farmhouse were finished. Anything else that needed to be done wasn’t urgent and could wait until he and Jen could do them together. It filled him with such a sense of excitement and happiness, he and Jen working together to make their house a home. Jared had gone out there the previous Sunday to paint the exterior. Instead of the chipped and faded red, the farmhouse was a lovely shade of buttery yellow with apple red trim. The new windows looked great against the bright trim. The doors were strong and solid, the locks unbroken, so it didn’t appear as if any kids had tried to break in, perhaps realizing that the place was no longer unoccupied. He planned on one more trip out there to move in some furnishings and stock the cabinets. Then everything would be ready.

Jensen coughed and rubbed a hand over his mouth before he spoke. “Yeah, Icky’s…Icky’s still gone. I’m…I’m beginning to….” Jensen blinked and looked away, but not before a tear slipped down his cheek. Jared tamped down on the urge to cradle Jensen’s face in his hands and wipe that tear away. “I’m beginning to think he’s not coming back.”

That was it. Jared turned and headed for the door that led from behind the pharmacy counter and into the main part of the store. Jensen stood looking lost when Jared reached him. He put an arm around the man’s shoulders and led him out of the store, Jensen going where Jared directed.

“Hey, moose! Where do you think you’re going?” Mr. Sheppard, owner of the store, called after Jared.

“Little crisis here to take care of. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes.”

Outside, Jared directed Jensen around the side of the store. “Hey, look at me, Jen. Icarus is fine. I believe that. You gotta believe it too.”

“I’ve looked everywhere for him, Jared. Everywhere.” Unable to resist, Jared wrapped Jensen in a warm hug. It took a minute but Jensen returned the hug. Another minute and Jensen was crying on his shoulder.

“It’ll be okay, Jen. I know it will.” Jared held Jensen as he cried. He ached to kiss him, but knew that would be going too far. Jared whispered any and all manner of reassurances to Jensen as the man vented his worry and grief. “Maybe he found a girlfriend and that’s why he hasn’t come back. Stay positive. I know it’s hard, but you have to.”

It didn’t take Jensen long to get himself back under control and when he did he pulled from Jared’s embrace, leaving Jared feeling bereft. “Shit. I got snot and tears all over your lab coat.” He wiped a fist across his eyes.

“Oh, this ol’ thing? I only wear it when I don’t care how I look.”

Jensen gazed blankly at him. Jared tossed his head, sassy and over the top, and pursed his lips and sucked in his cheeks in an attempt at Blue Steel. The corners of Jensen’s mouth twitched before he burst out laughing and it was a bright beautiful sound, it lit up his eyes, made him look younger. “Thanks. I needed that,” he said once his laughter subsided.

Jared shrugged. “If it made you feel better then I’m happy.”

Jensen gazed at Jared with fond eyes. “You’re a nice guy.”

“Nice guys finish last.” Try as he might Jared couldn’t keep the note of derision out of his voice.

Jensen gave a soft lopsided smile. “Not always, Jared.”

Hope exploded in his chest. Jared just knew when he got Jensen to their home everything was going to fall into place


At : Abilene, TX
Listening to/Watching: #1 Crush by Garbage
I'm : anxious
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