Title: Is this seat taken?
Genre: Jared/Jensen AU
Word count: 2,500
Not beta'd, so hit me up with any mistakes. Thanks!
Summary: Jared's morning commute is about to get a lot less boring.
Jared tips his head backward against the window, stretches his legs out and closes his eyes. The vibration of the train and the music piping through his headphones lull him into a half-doze. He counts the stops. Jared’s as familiar with the red line as he is with his own apartment, knows how the curve of the track between the stations at Ft. Totten and Brookland will make the train rock and screech a little. By the time the train gets to Union Station, all the seats will be filled, and it’ll be standing room only well before they reach Dupont.
The train comes to a stop at Brookland, and a blast of humid morning air hits Jared, bringing him partially out of his tired daze. The car shifts as passengers file in, and Jared winces, draws his feet quickly beneath the seat when someone steps on his toes. The person is already mumbling an apology by the time Jared rouses and looks up at him.
“No,” Jared says, “it’s my fault. I--” He stops short. The guy has moved on toward the opposite end of the rail car. There’s something familiar about him, though. Something in the tilt of his shoulders and his shuffling, bowlegged gait, made more pronounced as the train takes off from the station. It’s possible that Jared’s seen the guy before. He’s certainly not the only person to take the same train at the same time every single Monday through Friday.
When the man turns around and collapses into a seat, Jared immediately takes back the thought. He has a face that’s impossible to forget: a strong jaw, green eyes that are framed by dark lashes, making them even brighter, and a mouth that was made for sin. He’s dressed for work. Just the standard, boring business attire, but the way he fills out his white collared shirt makes Jared shift some in his seat. Jared catches himself gawking, and has to look away quickly when the guy’s gaze locks on him for a second before moving on.
One week’s worth of surreptitious staring under his belt, and Jared’s starting to feel pathetic, like he’s the worst kind of unintentional stalker. Sure, some of it might be out of Jared’s control. He can’t help that they both always choose the rail car at the end. The guy probably picks it because it’s less crowded, something they have in common. Jared also can’t control the way his stomach swoops every time he sees the guy standing on the platform, or how his mouth goes dry and his hands feel clumsy whenever they’re sharing the same anonymous space.
Jared should be able to stop his eyes from wandering in the guy’s direction, but there’s just something that’s so damn magnetic about him. He always reads a newspaper, The Post, if Jared’s not mistaken, and in an age where fully half of the morning commuters are plugged into their cellphones, it’s refreshing, a little old fashioned and classy. Jared’s drawn to the subconscious way that the guy runs a hand over the back of his neck, how he absently chews on the corner of his lip as he reads, and that tiny hint of a smile that comes when he inevitably turns to the comics.
The train is a little less crowded than usual today, but somehow twice as obnoxious. A man blocks the center walkway with enough luggage for a six month safari, a kid is crying two rows up, and a woman is on the phone, talking at the top of her lungs about who the hell knows what.
Things don’t seem quite as bad, though, when the guy folds back his newspaper and looks directly at Jared, rolling his eyes like they’re sharing some sort of inside joke, ruefully smiling before ducking behind the front page again.
Jared grins, and suddenly the screaming kid doesn’t seem so bad, and the lady’s conversation sounds a few decibels quieter, and who gives a rat’s ass about luggage, anyway, because the guy just smiled at him, and it was intentional. He meant it.
The grin lasts clear through the next five stops, his head somewhere over the moon, even when he misses his station and has to double back.
“Is this seat taken?” A voice bleeds through Jared’s earphones, and he opens his eyes to focus on a polished pair of wingtips. He’s shocked fully awake when he lifts his chin to see newspaper guy expectantly looking down at him.
“Y-yeah. I mean no.” Jared shifts some to make more room and the guy sits beside him. Jesus, he even smells good. Not only is he supernova hot, he also has impeccable taste in shoes and aftershave. “Sorry,” Jared says, “I must have fallen asleep.”
“Rough morning?” the man asks, and his voice is deep, a little hoarse, sexy as anything.
“Fun weekend,” Jared corrects him.
The guy laughs, and the sound shoots straight down Jared’s spine and right back up again. “Jensen,” he says, his smile bleeding into his voice and his hand extended.
Jared gapes at it for a full five seconds before he remembers that he has a part to play in this exchange. He takes Jensen’s hand in his own, hoping like hell that the flush he feels creeping up his neck isn’t obvious. “Jared,” he says.
Jensen unfolds his newspaper and offers the sports section to Jared. “Thanks, but I can’t read on the train. It makes me seasick,” Jared says.
Jensen hums. “Your ride to work must get a little boring.”
With a shrug, Jared says, “I don’t mind it.” In fact, his commute is a lot less boring than it had been a few weeks ago.
The train pulls into the Brookland station, and people start piling on. Jared glares at a college kid who looks like he might be considering taking the empty seat to his left. It’s school bus politics, wanting the cool kid to sit next to him.
Jensen strides into the car. His shirt is untucked, his jacket and tie slung over an arm, and he’s juggling his briefcase, the ubiquitous newspaper and a cup of coffee. He spots Jared, offers him a smile that’s brighter than sunshine and makes a beeline for the spot next to him.
“Overslept,” Jensen says.
“You could have taken the next train,” Jared tells him.
“Yeah. I could have.” Jensen leaves the thought unfinished. “Hold this for me?” He hands the coffee over to Jared as the train jerks away from the platform, freeing his hands to fiddle with his tie.
“This is contraband, you know,” Jared points out. “You aren’t supposed to have drinks on the subway.”
“Not even coffee?” Jensen asks, frowning at the knot in his tie. “That’s unconstitutional.”
“Exactly which amendment guarantees your right to coffee?”
“How many are we up to at this point?”
“Twenty-seven, I think,” Jared muses. “Maybe twenty-eight.”
Jensen takes back his cup and toasts Jared with it. “Then I propose the twenty-ninth. No citizen shall ever be denied the right to a cup of coffee.”
Jared squints at the subway map beside the doors, a twisting tangle of bright Crayola colors. “You can transfer to the blue line. March right up to the Capitol building and put it in the suggestion box.”
The next morning, Jensen brings two cups of coffee.
“Are you blackmailing me?” Jared asks, holding the warm paper cup between his palms.
“I’m making you my co-conspirator. Trying to win you over with good coffee and my dashing charm.” Jensen gives him a sideways look. “Is it working?”
“A little bit of cream next time, and maybe you’ll have yourself a deal.”
Jared swings by the bakery the morning after that, and picks up a couple of muffins and a few donuts to go with their coffee. It seems liked the right thing to do.
It’s early and everyone is suffering from the Monday morning drag, moving a little slower, talking quieter.
Jared almost doesn’t recognize Jensen when he boards the train. He’s wearing jeans, frayed at the bottom and worn pale and thin at the knees. His t-shirt, an ancient thing from a Rush tour a decade ago, looks like it’s lived through a million spin cycles. He hasn’t shaved and his hair is a little skewed from his pillow. Jared’s fairly sure he just rolled out of bed ten minutes ago. It looks damn good on him, makes him seem somehow softer, and twice as gorgeous.
“Street clothes,” Jared notes, dropping a brown paper sack in Jensen’s lap. Lemon muffins with poppy seeds this time. Jared will be picking the little bastards out of his teeth the rest of the morning, but they’re Jensen’s favorite. “Did you get a different job or something?”
“Nope.” Jensen scuffs his hand through his hair, rubs at the back of his neck and talks through his yawn. “Had the day off.”
“Why the hell are you up so early?” Jared asks. An untamed cowlick sticks Jensen’s hair up helter skelter on the crown of his head, and Jared’s fingers twitch with the urge to set it straight.
Jensen shrugs, and perhaps it’s because of the chilly morning air, but Jared swears he might be blushing. “I didn’t wanna miss breakfast. Thought you might like some company.”
“How do you feel about Ethiopian food?” Jensen asks.
“Never really thought about it much,” Jared replies. He’s distracted, looking down the barrel of a long day at work. “Why?”
“I was thinking about asking someone to go to dinner tonight.”
Jared perks up, hoping that this is Jensen’s awkward way of asking him out. If it is, Jared couldn't possibly be more on board with the plan. It wouldn’t matter, Jensen could buy him a Snickers bar out of a vending machine and it would still be the best date he’s had all year.
“Anyway,” Jensen talks around a mouthful of cheese danish, “the guy’s a vegetarian, so that new steak house is out.”
“Oh,” Jared says. His heart’s just fallen through the floor of the train and is getting ground up on the tracks. It’s okay. Jared’s pretty sure he doesn’t need it anyway. He swallows past the lump in his throat. “There’s that place on U Street. Etete. It’s pretty good. The Yellow line drops you off a few blocks from it.”
The train pulls into the Chinatown station. It’s Jensen’s stop. “Thanks for the tip,” he says.
Jared tries to smile. “It’s what I’m here for. Have fun tonight.”
Jared’s on a losing streak that started this morning with Jensen, continued at work, and now is rounding out the day. The air conditioning in the rail car is on the fritz, and Jared pulls at his collar, feeling the slow trickle of sweat running down his temples.
The doors open, a muffled recording telling him that this is the Wheaton station, and Jared makes a break for it, hoping that the next train is at least cooler.
The evening rush is well past over, and the trains are running on a slower schedule. Jared lowers himself onto a bench and pulls out some paperwork. He hates bringing work home, but he’d already blown past two deadlines today and doesn’t want to risk a third.
He’s two pages in when someone walks up to him and gently kicks his foot. Jared looks up to find Jensen smiling down at him.
“You’re late,” Jensen says.
“Work.” Jared pulls a face. “You’re early,” he shoots back. Any date ending before ten o'clock at night can't be good news.
“Yeah, well.” Jensen jams his hands into his pockets, and rocks on his heels. “There’s this bar a couple of blocks away. I used to go there all the time when I was in school. You maybe wanna grab a beer or something?” he asks, adding quickly, “If you don’t have any plans or anything.”
It’s not a date, but a beer is better than nothing. “My plans for tonight involved a six pack of Red Stripe, a frozen dinner and my couch,” Jared says. “Yours sounds a lot better.”
Jensen leads them to the exit, their footsteps echoing off of the blocky ceiling and curved walls that make Jared feel like he’s inside of a giant turtle shell. They round the corner, and Jared pauses for a moment. The escalator is enormous, rising up to a dizzying height. The thing looks like it might reach straight up to heaven.
Noticing Jared’s reaction, Jensen says with a hint of humor, “It's a marvel of modern engineering. Takes a full two minutes to get to the top.”
They’re about a quarter of the way to the top, and Jared’s concentrating on the small of Jensen’s back, a sense of vertigo hitting him each time he tries to look up. His grip is tight on the rubber railing, and he’s already thinking about what the trip back down will be like, once he has a few beers buzzing through his system.
Jensen turns, facing him and canting a hip against the side of the elevator. “So, here’s the thing,” he says. He leans forward, his tongue flashing quick against his top lip right before he presses their mouths together, his lips warm and soft.
Jared’s heart leaps into his throat just as his stomach takes a nose dive, and it’s fantastic, the slide of Jensen’s nose against his, the weight of Jensen’s hand on his shoulder, and the slow, easy way their mouths snag together and catch.
Jensen pulls away with the hint of a nervous smile. “I--”
Jared cuts Jensen off by kissing him back, his fingers wrapping around Jensen’s hip for balance. He sucks the swell of Jensen’s bottom lip into his mouth, humming at the taste of him. His skin prickles in the best way possible as Jensen slides a hand up to touch his face, Jensen’s thumb tracing the shape of Jared’s cheekbone and his fingers curling around his ear.
Jensen’s responds when Jared tugs on his lower lip, opening up and welcoming Jared in with a slow, almost tentative slide of his tongue. A shock runs through Jared, something almost electric, and he deepens the kiss, tightening his grasp on Jensen’s hip.
The first breath of outside air touches Jared’s face as the break apart. They’re almost to the top. Jensen smiles at him, his eyes fixed on Jared’s mouth as he swipes his thumb along Jared’s bottom lip.
“Well,” Jensen says, “that’s good to know.”
Jared wants nothing more than to kiss Jensen again. He’s stupid with it. “What about your date?” Jared asks, wincing as soon as the words leave his mouth.
Jensen tips a shoulder and looks away, as if he’s suddenly unsure. "He's okay, I guess. It's just."
Jared tilts Jensen's face with two fingers under his chin. “C’mon. Spill.”
“He just wasn’t you.”
Notes: Few days ago dugindeep posted a certain picture of Jensen, and then enablelove hit me with it again. I found myself on the red line, thinking about Jensen in that photo, as one does, and thinking about trains, unavoidably. And well, here you have it. Some artistic license has been taken with the order of the stops. The escalator actually exists, as does the restaurant. It’s fantastic, by the way. Check it out if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
Thanks for reading.