Word Count: 6200
Rating: R (with maybe a tiny slip into nc-17 territory, just to be safe).
Note: Written for the lovely petite_madame and originally posted over at to_pm_with_love. I snagged a little inspiration for Jensen's tattoo studio from this beautiful painting of hers.
Summary: Five years should have been enough time to get over Jared. Jensen finds out that it doesn't even come close. (Alternatively, the one where Jensen is a tattoo artist and Jared has one hell of a sweet tooth.)
The outline's almost done, a thousand tiny scales and the vibration from the tattoo machine is starting to make Jensen's fingertips go numb. Snakes, man. They can mean a ton of small details. This one has two heads, some metaphorical reference to his client's personality to hear the guy tell of it, but all Jensen knows is that looking up reference photos for it had been interesting.
Jensen's just happy that the barbed wire armband trend has run its course. He'd once lied his ass off and told a client that they were all out of barbed wire, saved everybody a fuckton of future regret and suggested that she get a crescent moon on the side of her wrist instead. More feminine. Still totally badass.
He sits up, works out a kink in his neck, wipes his temple with his forearm and cleans up the blood and extra ink from the guy's skin, then tries to shake the feeling back into his hand.
"How you doing? Wanna take a break?"
His client is new, a big mountain of a guy, shaved head and a long, scraggly goatee. A leather jacket with some motorcycle gang's logo on the back and a soon-to-be-finished snake tattoo adds to the stereotype.
"Sure, but only if you need to," the guy says, a study in non-commitment, but Jensen notices the guy's fist unclenching, the pinched expression on his face easing back some. Jensen's never understood why people deny the pain. He's spent plenty of hours on the other side of the needle himself. If it hurts there's no shame in admitting it.
"You got a sec?" Felicia says, scratching her fingernails on the trim on Jensen's door. Her version of a knock. "There's a guy out front who's looking for a consult."
Jensen snaps his gloves off and tosses them into the trash, stretches as he stands and catches a glimpse of the sugar skull he has inked on the underside of his upper arm, remembers that he meant to talk to Chris about a touch up.
"Nice," Felicia says to the client, shit-eating grin on her face and two thumbs up.
She's got a work in progress visible around the strap on her tank top, a mendhi-inspired design that curls along side of her neck and across her collarbone, trailing off at her shoulder. Jensen touches her neck, swipes his thumb along a black, five-petal outline.
"I think purple would look great here. Really offset your hair," Jensen tells her, then hooks her close with an arm around her shoulders, pulls her along down the hallway when she lightly jabs his ribs with her elbow.
"A two-headed cobra," Felicia whispers.
"It's my job to give the people what they want." Jensen shrugs.
"Speaking of," she goes on, "You're looking at a cover-up. They guy's got something pretty interesting going on under his shirt, and I'm not only talking about the tattoo."
A soft chuckle creeps down the hallway and Jensen misses a step. His stomach sinks and his heart trips up into his throat and it can't be. His ears have to be lying to him. It can't be.
Jared's shocked expression might have been funny if the newly-formed faults in Jensen's heart weren't sliding into earthquake territory, if his feet were on solid ground and his lungs were doing their fucking job and actually delivering oxygen to his bloodstream. As it stands, none of those things are happening.
Handfuls of details come back to Jensen in a blink. Jared at fourteen, throwing rocks at his window at two in the morning, pale, wide-eyed face turned up to him and grinning. How he shoves his hair back when he's nervous and the way he annoyingly, endearingly sucks on his teeth when he's concentrating. Growing up together and all those long summer days with nothing to do but get into trouble. Jensen's first kiss. How Jared had leaned over him in the bed of Kane's truck, deliberate as he held Jensen down with a hand in the center of his chest and kissed him sweetly, with equal parts caution and hope and how Jensen had been waiting for it for at least three years, how it had been better than every single one of his daydreams.
All of this, all of it and a hundred other things besides, the stuff Jensen wants to remember sitting shotgun next to the stuff that he'd really rather forget.
Jared's the first to recover, rocks back on his heels, hands in his pockets like it's any other day, tilts his head to the side and smiles, wide and beautiful.
Damn, he even sounds the same, voice deep, rich and sorta breathy and Jensen doesn't know how long he's been staring but it's probably starting to get awkward at this point.
"It was fifty-fifty," Jared's saying, with a shake of his head and another small chuckle.
"What?" Jensen spits out.
Tipping his chin toward some of the framed drawings on the walls, Jared says, "I sort of thought this looked like you." He chews on his lower lip, and there it is, that thoughtless swipe of hair away from his face, casual on the surface, but in reality very far from it. "Alright, so maybe it was more like eight-twenty."
"I take it you know each other," Felicia says. She takes a slow step backward, starts putzing around, straightening stuff on the reception desk that doesn't necessarily need straightening.
"Used to, yeah," Jensen says, and Jared flinches like he's taken a palpable hit. "How long have you been back?"
"Couple of weeks," Jared tells him and now they've both taken a sucker punch. "How about you?"
"A couple of years." Jensen sets his jaw, schools his expression, although he's very aware that it's as obvious a move to Jared as Jared's tics are to him. Fists on his hips, Jensen continues, "Let's see it."
"Huh?" Jared says. His gaze has wandered down to Jensen's mouth and now it flicks back up to his eyes.
"He's probably talking about what you want covered up," Felicia provides. Under her breath she adds, "Call me crazy."
"Never mind. It's okay." Jared takes his hands from his pockets, his key ring hooked on his pinky finger, and crosses his arms over his chest. His t-shirt rides up and shows off a slice of bare hip in a way that's downright criminal.
"C'mon," Jensen says as he circles around the counter. "It's not like you're shy, and anyway, I've seen it before." It's professional curiosity, that's all. Mildly self-destructive professional curiosity.
Behind him, something clatters to the floor and Felicia mumbles an apology.
Jared chuckles again, does this sorta one-shouldered shrug and picks his shirt up at the hem, gathering it as he goes until it's bunched up under his arms.
"Impressive," Jensen says, and he's not talking about the cut of Jared's hips or the definition in his chest and stomach. Mostly, anyway. "You finally did it."
"Yeah," Jared says, swallowing his voice a little. "Hope you don't mind."
"It's your design. I drew it for you, so whatever you wanted to do with it was your call. Gotta say that whoever did it did a fantastic job."
Starting half-way up Jared's side is a stylized phoenix in fiery red, orange and magenta, its tail curling down around his waist and disappearing into his jeans, flames just starting to eat up the tips of its feathers.
"Three sessions, hurt like a bitch right here." Jared points out a swoop of the phoenix's wing that reaches partially around his back.
"I'm sure," Jensen says, distracted, hunching down to get a close look. "Tender vittles right around there." His fingers fan out to touch, but he holds back. "Healed up nicely."
"Man, the itch."
"Yeah, I bet. So it's the arrow, then." It's not a question.
"Just." Jared pauses, shifts his weight between his feet. "Forget it."
"I put it there, so it makes sense that I should cover it up," Jensen says as he inspects the other side of Jared's ribs. This time he allows himself a light touch along the straight shaft of the tattoo, the wispy feathers at the end and the diamond shaped arrowhead that points toward Jared's heart. He chooses to ignore the hitch of Jared's body under his fingers. "If I do it, then it'll be in the same sorta…handwriting."
"Yeah, makes sense," Jared repeats. "I was thinking about turning it into a compass."
Jensen nods, already running through his mental portfolio and thinking of potential designs. He plasters on a smile. "Sounds awesome. A compass, like you could go anywhere, no longer pointed in a specific direction."
"Something like that," Jared agrees, soft and musing.
They're standing close, near enough that Jensen can smell Jared's shampoo and the soap that he uses, that fruity gum that he still prefers after all this time. Felicia's gone quiet and Jensen can feel her pointedly not looking at them.
"It doesn't look like I'll have to re-ink the original design. It's still sharp and dark. It's aged really well."
"So have you," Jared says, then rolls his eyes, gives Jensen a sheepish smile, the one that's always made Jensen want to give him everything he could ever ask for. "Fuck. You know that thing I used to do?"
"The thing where you open your mouth and speak before your brain can kick in?"
"That's the one. Listen, Jensen—"
Both of them snap to as the bell over the door sounds and a woman in her early twenties comes in, shoulders pulled tight to her body, looking so nervous that it's making Jensen edgy even to be standing in the same room with her. Newbie.
"I'm here for my appointment," she says, eyes darting between the three of them.
"Right," Felicia pipes up, relief through and through. "Three o'clock. Tongue piercing. You're all mine, sweetheart." She turns to Jensen and stabs a finger into his sternum. "Which reminds me, by the way—we're really gonna have to find someone to work the front desk. This double duty thing is getting pretty fucking old."
"Are you really hiring?" Jared asks.
"Apparently." Jensen means it as a joke. It goes sideways on him real quick.
"Yes, we are," Felicia says. "Are you really looking for a job?"
"As a matter of fact…" Jared leaves the thought unfinished. "Does it get me a discount?"
"The artists' schedules are in a drawer somewhere." Felicia waves vaguely at the desk. "Don’t' forget to give Jensen time for lunch. He gets testy otherwise. Make yourself at home." Turning her sweet smile to the woman, Felicia continues, "Come on back here with me. Let's get you hooked up with a brand new set of balls."
Jensen doesn't really know what just happened or how it did. His head's somewhere else, thinking about the last time he'd had his hands on Jared, and everything that came after it.
"Looks like I'm in," Jared says, "at least until someone else rolls around."
The phone starts making noise, and Jared moves past Jensen, slides back behind the desk and picks it up before the third ring. "Uhhhh," he finds one of the shop's business cards and reads it, "Jaybird Tattoo, what can I do for you?" He holds the receiver against his shoulder, mouths at Jensen, Jaybird? Really?
In a stage whisper, Jensen says, "Set yourself up an appointment for that cover-up. I gotta see a man about a two-headed cobra."
Jensen runs late that night on a three-hour piece that turns into well over four. After he walks his client to the door and locks up behind her, Jensen wanders around the reception area, notices that the chair at the desk has been set up higher to accommodate Jared's long legs. The magazines have been tidied and put into chronological order according to publication date. There's a lemon-scented candle on one corner of the desk and flowers from the grocery store down the street on the other and the whole place smells like Mr. Clean.
Jared's sitting on the curb, his knit hat jammed low on his head to keep his hair out of his eyes. His elbows are propped on his widespread knees, a crumpled paper bag and two cups of coffee between his feet. Without a word, he hands Jensen one of the cups. The lid looks like Jared used his thumbnail to etch an arrow on it and Jensen feels another hook sink into his chest and start pulling.
The coffee's hot, dark roast, just how he likes it. A ton of cream, just how he likes it. No sugar but a lot of cinnamon, just how he likes it. Jared expression is expectant, his grin immediate when Jensen hums at the taste and licks his lips. He cracks the knuckles of each finger in rapid succession, one right after the other and there has to come a time when Jensen stops finding every single little thing he does fucking fascinating. There should be a limit. This isn't it.
"Is it safe to talk to you yet?" Jared asks. The sky is bright this morning and Jared has to squint to look up at him. He pulls at the collar of his shirt, vintage Joy Division with the arms cut off. It's older than Jared and almost older than Jensen, or at least that's what the guy said to him when he bought it years ago.
Jensen shrugs, tries to hide his smile. "I'm only three sips into it, so it's iffy."
"Is this okay?"
Another shrug. "You got that fancy college degree under your belt. Figured you'd be chasing something bigger and better by now."
Jared breathes out a small chuckle. "It's a BA in philosophy, which sorta qualifies me to do fuck all except sit around coffee shops thinking very esoteric thoughts."
"Or sit around tattoo parlors."
"Yeah, that too." Jared raises his coffee cup and toasts Jensen with it. "You didn't answer the question."
Jensen takes another sip to buy himself some time. He hasn't given an answer because he doesn't have a good one, spent half the night staring at his ceiling trying to figure it out. "C'mon," he says, and holds his hand out to pull Jared to his feet. "My first appointment is in about ten minutes and I haven't finished the drawing yet."
The look Jared shoots him is sharp, exasperated, and Jensen nudges him in the ribs to get him to smile, saying, "I'll get a key made for you, alright? Where are you staying, anyway?"
"Over at Shirley's," Jared says.
Jensen asks, "The attic room or the one over the garage?"
"Score," Jensen says. It's good to know the lady still has a soft spot for strays. Shirley's been a surrogate grandmother to a good number of kids in this town, runs a sorta halfway house to adulthood. Forty bucks and a few handyman chores a week and she'll give you a warm bed and the best breakfast you'll ever wrap your mouth around.
"I'm pretty sure I'm sleeping in that bed you and I hauled up there back in the day," Jared says.
"Those fucking stairs." Jensen grins and Jared smiles back, and they both pause in the doorway, stuck for a moment in the memory of it. "Does she still make those killer cinnamon rolls?"
Shaking the bag in Jensen's face, Jared says, "She put two in here for you. Made me promise not to eat them on the walk over."
Jensen could kiss him right now. He won't, but he could.
"Got a code green in here," Felicia calls out. Not quite a shout, but close. Kinda muffled.
Jared's rushing down the hallway, nearly runs into Jensen and asks, "Code green?"
"Fainter," Jensen tells him, although it's obvious by now. Felicia's holding the man up, trying to keep him from sliding out of the chair and struggling with it. He about doubles her weight, seems hellbent on tipping over the arm of the chair, the clamp for his piercing still fixed to his lower lip.
Jared and Jensen rush to her side, get him propped up while Felicia ducks out from under them. Gingerly, Jensen removes the clamp.
"Why green?" Jared asks. Most people would either freak out or laugh in a situation like this. Not Jared, though. He's calm, one hand on the client's shoulder to keep him steady, reaching for the trash can with the other.
"It's the color their face turns right before they pass out," Jensen says.
As Felicia rifles through a drawer, she mumbles, "Should have known. He wasn't breathing properly from the jump. I hadn't even touched the needle yet." She turns back, a small dot of smelling salts on the tip of her gloved finger. "Hold him down, boys. Folks don't like this too much."
The guy comes to with a lurch as soon as Felicia waves her finger beneath his nose, white knuckles as he grabs the arms of the chair, staring at her like she's the one personally responsible for every bad day he's ever had. He makes a strangled sound and Jensen's right there, taking the trash can from Jared's hand and shoving it into the guy's face.
"Better out than in," Jensen tells him and pats him on the back.
Jared disappears, comes back a minute later with a bottle of water and the mouthwash they keep around for the tongue piercings. The green tint to the guy's skin has been replaced with a dull red blush.
"I got this," Jared tells them, hunkers down beside him and Jensen's reminded for the tenth time today why he fell so hard for Jared in the first place. "Hey dude, it happens to me too, every single time I give blood."
Jared's making the client laugh by the time Jensen and Felicia have backed out into the hallway, quietly telling him about the time he almost punched the doctor after he'd had his wisdom teeth taken out.
"I like having him on the payroll." Felicia takes her gloves off and presses on the newly purple flower on her neck.
"Don't scratch," Jensen says, then, "I like it too."
"Do you really?"
"Yeah, of course," Jensen says, and he's as surprised as anyone over how true it sounds coming out of his mouth, how true it feels.
"One of these days I'm gonna get you drunk and you're gonna tell me everything." She knocks her hip against him and that gets him moving back to his room, to his desk and more specifically the design he's working on for Jared's cover up. It's his second shot at it and it's still not coming out right. Not at all.
"You can skip the booze." He falls onto his stool. "We grew up together."
"And by grew up you mean…" She trails off, leans against his desk and crosses her ankles.
"Yeah, that too." A series of lines disappears under Jensen's eraser and he picks his pencil up, twirls it absently through his fingers.
"You can tell," Felicia says, then waves away Jensen's quick glance, his cut off protest. "It's not like that. You haven't been all gooey-eyed or anything. You can be a tough nut to crack, Jensen. You hardly ever say what you mean. It's always about the stuff you don't say. He knows how to read between the lines. Like the other day at lunch, when Jared brought us those awesome cupcakes? You guys spoke almost entirely in fragments, had this whole conversation that was, like, two dozen words long."
"You've been studying us." He starts shuffling tracing paper around until Felicia hands him his protractor from a shelf above his desk. "Thanks, Ms. Goodall," Jensen says.
"I've observed less interesting primates in my day," Felicia shoots back. "It's just...you two know how to walk together."
"Walk?" He spins his seat and looks up at her.
"You make your steps longer and Jared shortens his. You adjust and you don't even think about it. It's a really little thing, but it's an important little thing."
Something lodges in Jensen's throat and his breath feels like it's coming in all crooked. It's been five years. That should have been enough time to get over him. Jensen starts to crumple up the drawing, but Felicia stops him, puts her palm down in the center of it.
"Don't," she says, and ruffles his hair before she pushes off the desk and heads for the doorway. It's a total kid sister move and Jensen kinda loves her for it. "It's worth saving. Maybe you're heart's not quite in it yet."
"Maybe my heart's in it a little too much," Jensen mutters.
"Here, try one." Jared says the second Jensen walks into the shop. He's almost bouncing, brimming with puppydog enthusiasm and way too much caffeine.
There are fresh flowers on the counter, pink and yellow daisies this time and beside them is a plate of blueberry muffins, topped with this crumbly brown sugar stuff, and when Jensen picks one up, he finds out that they're still warm, not store bought.
"Shirley again?" Jensen asks, then steals Jared's hat and shoves it down on his own head. Jared's wearing his Cure t-shirt he stole seven years ago and fair is fair.
"Nope," Jared says, "they're all me."
"No shit." Jensen takes a bite and makes a happy noise. It's perfect, sweet and tart, blueberries exploding on his tongue, and he doesn't even care that he's getting sticky sugar and blueberry juice all over his hands. "You actually made these?"
Jared's smile is the brightest thing Jensen's seen in weeks. Full on, dimples everywhere. "Eggs and flour and everything. They're good?"
"Best thing I've ever put in my mouth."
"There's a joke in there somewhere," Jared says.
Jensen finishes the first one off in three bites, provisions himself with two more for the grueling walk down the hallway, and Jared follows him, right on his heels.
"I was thinking…" Jared starts, lingering in the doorway as Jensen sets his equipment out for his first tattoo of the day, taking his time with the second muffin.
Jensen takes another bite and says around it, "Whatever you want, I'll give you twenty. That's how good these things are."
"I mean," Jared says, "it still looks like you just moved in here. Clinical. Maybe we could do something with it. Make it more homey?"
"Homey," Jensen repeats, glancing around at his blank walls and sparse furniture.
"Y'know. Some paint. Maybe a few of your drawings. Do something with the lighting. Put some stuff in here."
"Stuff," Jensen deadpans, but he's already making a mental list of things he could import from home, little touches that could give the room some personality.
"You know you never throw anything away." Jared moves to steal his hat back and Jensen blocks him easily. Instead Jared wipes his thumb beneath Jensen's bottom lip, comes up with a purple smudge of blueberry and sucks it into his mouth. "We can start on Sunday," he goes on, like it's already decided. "Here, have another muffin."
"Okay, so you were right." Two more steps down the ladder and Jensen turns off the admittedly awful fluorescents to admire the view.
They've been at it for hours, half of them spent waiting for the paint on the walls to dry while they scoured thrift stores and antique shops looking for exactly the right, dark wooden desk to replace the boring one Jensen picked up from Ikea.
Jensen's muscles ache and he's sorta loopy from paint fumes, but it's been worth it. The room is unrecognizable, warm caramel and green on the walls, complete with this distressed effect Jared learned from the internet, golden colored light from a couple of lamps and the white strings of lights Jensen's just finished draping around the ceiling. Some of his artwork is hanging on the walls, his sugar skull painting that inspired a couple of his own tattoos, a cartoonish pin-up girl that Jared took a shine to, the skateboard that Jensen painted Ed Hardy-style years and years ago. A new full length mirror leans in one corner and there are knick-knacks here and there, and new blank spots on Jensen's shelves at home.
"Can I?" Jared asks, a small paintbrush in his hand.
"Remember when we," Jensen begins.
"Those damn purple sharpies we carried everywhere," Jared says, nodding.
"We tagged everything." Jensen can't manage to wipe the grin from his face.
"Including each other." Jared sets the paintbrush to the wall and begins to write.
"Mostly each other."
Whatever Jared's writing is blocked by his body, so Jensen doesn't get a good view of it until Jared climbs down from the footstool.
JARED WAS HERE is written in blocky, crooked letters high up on the wall, highlighted by christmas lights.
"Is that okay?" Jared asks. "I can wipe it off."
Jensen's response is immediate. "No. I like it. You've. You've always been here."
"Yeah," Jared says, and it comes out soft, hardly more than a whisper. "You too." Clearing his throat, he goes on, "It's midnight and I'm fucking starving."
The kitchen at Jensen's place is small, seems even smaller with Jared in it. Jensen's got his head in the fridge, pulling out leftovers. Chinese food, cold pizza, a half-eaten cherry pie with the fork still stuck in it, and that's what Jared goes for first. Doesn't even bother getting himself a new fork.
A catch-all basket is on the kitchen counter, and Jared picks through it like he's the one who lives here as he eats. He clinks around a few keys of unknown provenience, inspects a postcard from Mexico that Jensen never got around to sending, shuffles around all the detritus that Jensen has nowhere else to put, and comes across a black eyeliner pencil.
Holding it up, Jared asks, "Do you still?"
"Not so much," Jensen says, frozen as Jared closes in on him, uncaps the pencil with his cherry-stained teeth.
Trapping Jensen in the corner of the counter, he says, "Don't squirm. I'll fuck it up if you squirm."
Jensen doesn't flinch as Jared begins to draw along his lower eyelid, a look of keen concentration on his face. Their feet bump together and the heat from Jared's body and the warmth of his hands seeps into Jensen's skin. Jared switches to the other eye, smudges it some, then tells Jensen to close up while he does the upper lids.
Heat is building in Jensen's guts, spiraling outward, and the fall of Jared's breath on his face is making his head float up and up. He reaches for Jared's hips, curls his fingers into his shirt and swears he can feel Jared shiver.
"Done," Jared tells him and Jensen opens up again. "Shit, it always makes your eyes so bright." He doesn't move, keeps Jensen boxed in, works his thumb along Jensen's neck, tracing the scatter of star-shaped tattoos there. "Brightest thing in the world."
He moves slowly, slow enough that Jensen can track every flick of Jared's eyes as he examines Jensen's face, the smallest changes in his expression, how his pupils expand as he comes closer.
It's been five years and Jared still kisses the same, a shy, faint brush of his lips and then another that lingers longer. Jensen hasn't let go of Jared's hips and he might never, uses his grip to pull him even closer, hold him there. Jared traps Jensen's lower lip between his own, and his fingers haven't stopped their restless movement on Jensen's skin, sliding up to his jaw, the side of his face, his breath like a sigh against Jensen's mouth.
Jensen pushes up, wraps his arms around Jared's waist, feels the tickle of Jared's hair on his face, slips his tongue into Jared's mouth and tastes cherries.
"This is a really good idea," Jared says, breaking away. "It's also a really bad idea." He steps back and it takes everything Jensen has to not follow him, pull him back again.
"What happened?" Jensen's knees are unsteady and so is his voice. It's better to ignore both of those things.
Pushing a hand through his hair, Jared says, "A really bad, really good idea almost happened."
Jared sucks on his lips, pops them in and out of his mouth a couple of times before answering. "I left."
"You could have asked me to come with you. I would have." Something cold stabs into Jensen's stomach, breaks through all the warmth there.
"I know. I dropped some pretty big hints. Remember all that stuff I left sitting around your house? That stuff about off-campus housing. All those tabs I left open on your laptop."
All at once, Jensen's exhausted. Frustrated. Stubbornly turned on and he still wants to kiss Jared. That hasn't changed. "You could have said something."
"I might have, but then you got that apprenticeship, the one you'd been waiting on forever and I didn't want to take that away from you. Sorry doesn't even start to cut it, huh?"
Jensen lets that sink in, settle into the carved out sensation in his chest. "I know you. I know the way you think. There's nothing to forgive." He claps Jared on the shoulder, doesn't kiss him regardless of how much he wants it. "The sketch is done. Finished it a couple of days ago. I can do your cover up tomorrow night after the shop closes, okay?"
He locks the door behind Jared, licks his lips and tastes cherry pie.
Jensen feeds his drawing through the thermal copier and gives the result a once over. He might add a few more touches here and there once he transfers the stencil to Jared's skin, but he'll figure that out once he gets a read on him. There used to be a time when Jared trusted Jensen to draw on him freehand, and Jensen wonders if Jared will allow that tonight.
In the front of the shop, Jared's banging around, taking an inventory of supplies and cleaning up for the night, checking and double-checking the lock on the door while Jensen methodically gets ready.
Jensen inspects the needles with his jeweler's glass, taps the pedal a few times with his toe to make sure the speed is steady with both of the machines he plans on using tonight, sets out the ink and petroleum jelly then mixes a fresh supply of soapy water into his spray bottle.
"You ready?" Jensen asks without turning around.
There's a rustling movement behind him then Jared asks, "How do you do that? How do you always know I'm here?"
"I don't know. It's easy. You're big. You take up a lot of space." Jensen spins on his stool, wipes his hands on his jeans and reaches for his gloves.
Jared's filling up the doorway, leaning against one side of it with his ankles crossed and it makes him look even taller, stretched out long like this, accentuated skinny hips and wide shoulders. If it was anyone else, Jensen would think he's doing it on purpose. It's just Jared though, simple and honest and entirely without pretense.
"I'm ready when you are," Jensen says, and doesn't look away as Jared strips his shirt over his head and tosses it into a corner. "I made some modifications to the design, thought it would be nice to pull in some of the elements of the arrow here and there."
Jared comes in close to stand between Jensen's knees. There are dirty thumbprints under his eyes and it's plain that Jensen's isn't the only one who didn't sleep last night. He hisses a little when Jensen dampens his skin with the cool, soapy solution and holds his arms a distance away from his body. Carefully, Jensen orients the stencil, places it on Jared's ribs and makes sure it's smooth and even before peeling it back. His heart does a strange thing when he sees the old lines incorporated into the new.
"What do you think?" Jensen asks, rolling his chair away from Jared to get the full effect. On anyone else Jensen would really like it, but Jared's not anyone else.
Jared steps in front of the mirror, twists this way and that to see how the tattoo would move when he does. "It's--it's really beautiful. Thank you." His voice is tight, strangled and strange. "God, Jensen. I don't want it, and I don't give a fuck that it's a really good bad idea."
With his fingers wrapped around Jensen's wrists, Jared yanks him up from the stool and kisses him, licks inside, his tongue hot and wet and the definition of perfection. They all but slam into each other and Jared's hands are everywhere on him, touching Jensen's face, the back of his neck, pawing at his ass. They break long enough for Jared to tug Jensen's shirt over his head, and Jared's eyes wander along his chest, taking in the colorful tapestry Jensen's skin has become over time, the matching arrow on Jensen's ribs that Jensen put there himself and that Jared has never seen before.
"Most of these are new," Jared whispers, and bends low to run his open mouth along Jensen's ribs.
"You can take stock later," Jensen says, and drags Jared up again, scrapes his teeth on Jared's jaw and works his way to his mouth to suck on his tongue.
Jared tumbles them toward the tattoo chair, lands in it and pulls Jensen into his lap. His hips jerk up against Jensen, the thick ridge of his dick unmistakable even through two layers of denim and the thought occurs to Jensen that this might be a fuckton better if they'd thought to take their pants off first. Nevermind that, because Jared is pushing up and urging Jensen down and it's as if they're back in high school again. Like they're fifteen years old, in the backseat of somebody's car, under the bleachers or hidden away in the chemistry supply closet. Desperate and wanting and trying to find something that they've only barely figured out.
Jensen rocks down and Jared jams his hips up and the rhythm is right there, this beat that neither of them has ever really forgotten. They're hardly kissing anymore, just sorta breathing into each other's mouths, fitful and ragged.
"There hasn't been a day when I didn't think about you," Jared says, rough and breathless. He's sweating, chest slick and arms strong around Jensen's waist. "I thought about you all the time. Couldn't stop. Didn't really want to."
They're both close, drawing closer by the second, with each shuddering thrust and every low moan and Jensen's not sure who tips past the edge first, only knows that Jared's gorgeous like this, with a deep flush in his cheeks and his lips shiny with Jensen's spit, bitten red and pretty as a picture.
"I want this to happen again," Jared says, once they've grown still. "And then again. I wanna wake up tomorrow and roll over and smell your awful morning breath and not talk to you until you've had at least two cups of coffee." A drop of sweat trails down Jensen's temple and Jared picks it up on his thumb, flicks it away. "And I wanna take a cold shower because you've used up all the hot water, and then I want you to make those pancakes you always used to make."
"With the cinnamon?" Jensen asks. A smile spreads across his face that feels really fucking big and his heart is pounding so hard that it nearly hurts.
"Yes. Exactly. They're perfect. I wanna give you shit for leaving every light on in the apartment and listen to the shit you give me for forgetting to lock the door, and when I get home at the end of the day, I want to know that at some point you'll be there. That I can always expect you to come home."
"Of course," Jensen says simply. "I’m yours. I'll always come home, okay?"
Jared holds him close, and sags against Jensen. gives him three quick kisses on the corner of his mouth. "Okay. Yeah. Me too."
"Just…why didn't you tell me any of this before?"
With a grin, Jared says, "I made you blueberry muffins. It took me three tries to get them right. I thought it was kinda obvious."