Three long-standing WIP dusted in 10 days. I don’t know what’s come over me. Oh, wait: yes, I do. I have conference papers I should be writing. Amazing what that’ll do.
Some Cockles, then, that I finally finished on my birthday.
Being a good listener has gotten Misha into trouble before.
He’s interested in people, period. Never gets tired of studying them, of unwinding their mental intricacies, of tracing the carefully woven spider webs of selves they give to the rest of the world. The way each person makes up their whole.
He doesn’t get it, what it is about him that makes people confide. What about him says trust me even to his family, the ones who know him best, people that sure as hell ought to know better.
But there must be something to it, whatever energy it is he gives off, or else he wouldn’t know all that he does about everybody around him: the ones he works with and the ones they sleep with and the ones they’ve all left behind.
He might get paid to play an angel, but in real life, he feels like a priest.
All things considered, it’s good for business; helps him find material for his acting, his writing. And his dreams, sometimes, in that confusing way that his brain puts everybody’s secrets in a blender and feeds it back to him at night: Tim the grip’s head on his brother Sasha’s body and both of them cheating on Jim Beaver’s dead wife, a dream that brought him up in a cold sweat, his fingers latched in the sheets as he shoved open his eyes. Unpleasant.
Usually, though, when he’s burned by it, being a fucking good listener, it’s born of misinterpretation: his lack of judgment, his kindness, his refusal to parry back shame—more than one person has read this as an invitation to redraw Misha however they like, to assign him the role in their personal drama that they’re certain he’d like to play.
There’s a reason Misha’s never been cast as a romantic lead, except the serial killing kind. He isn’t anybody’s Prince Charming. He doesn’t love from afar, never has, doesn’t pine or dam his feeling up behind a hedge of coy propriety. No. If he feels something, he says it—if he loves you, you’ll know.
In retrospect, every time, he can see how they got to this point, he and the former confessor who’s now decided they wish to be wooed and who’s sure that Misha wants to woo them; that with the proper prompting, he will.
He’s been kissed or groped or cried on a few too many times now, and still he hasn’t figured out an easy way to say it: Oh no, sir madam or zir, I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood.
These days, those moments are rare, much more so than they once were. He’s gotten better at reading the signs, of recognizing when he should open his fucking mouth and suck the air out of the room, should stick the balloon of somebody’s else’s feelings before they can get off the ground.
He’s more adroit at the balance between trench coat and cassock, these days.
But there is one person, pointed, who’s never leaned on him that way. One person, if pressed, Misha would have to admit, whose secrets he’d be happy to bear.
Normally, he wouldn’t hide his affection, his particular predilection for someone who intrigues him. Depending on the situation, he might have said: I like you you’re lovely let’s fuck have you read Heraclitus please put your cock in my mouth I’ve waited my whole life to kiss you snag your hands in my hair and I’m lost.
Misha is a good listener, sure, but he knows how to talk when it counts, how to carve his desires into syllables that his would-be lover can hear. He knows when to cast and when to hold the words close to his chest, to the vest, yes; Misha is a master of timing.
But there’s something about Jensen—No. There is everything.—that shuts him up, makes him doubt every instinct he’s ever relied on, the ones he’s cultivated to trust. The ones that say yes, there is something in his eyes when they’re under the cameras that’s calling, Misha could swear it—but fuck. He doesn’t know Jensen, is what it comes down to. Can’t read him because Jensen doesn’t talk about anything that matters, about anything other than the texts of their everyday: scripts and logistics and why Dean’s being such a bitch in this scene.
It’s been seven months since he started his Cas gig and they aren’t friends, he and Jensen. That’s fine. Misha doesn’t take it personally. Not everyone likes him. He’s always known that. He’s picky himself, on occasion, and anyway, he’s get-a-beer friends with Jared and Jim and good-lay-with-no-strings with Tamara, one of the PAs. It’s fine. He’s only lonely when he wants to be, when his writing is calling or he’s reading Vicki’s galleys or when he just wants to get high. It’s fine. He’s really busy, anyway. It’s so fucking fine.
Except he wants to know Jensen, wants to take him apart like his grandfather’s gold watch and find out just how he works; how Texas meets LA and profession trumps hell-raising and who it was that taught him to sing.
He wants to know, damn it, but Jensen doesn’t talk to him about anything that really matters.
Come March, it’s making him gonzo, and he can’t stop wondering why.
“First off,” Jared says, instructive through a mouthful of cake, “He doesn’t like talking. About himself, you know. To anybody. It makes him”—he gestures with the ragged grace of the highly intoxicated—“really fucking uneasy. Nervous. You know what I mean?”
Misha nods behind his Molson, only his fourth of the night. Only. “Yeah. Sure.”
Jared ducks down, like the Empire State Building tipping to talk to a tree. “I think,” he says, frosting bobbing on his nose, “he thinks that if he doesn’t talk about stuff, then that means it isn’t real. Like, a problem’s only a problem if he names it.” He smiles, stupid beer beautiful in the dingy bar light. “Like Rumplestiltskin. If he doesn’t say that there’s something wrong, he can pretend every thing is still golden, you know?”
Misha gets this picture of Jensen in a ball gown working the hell out of a spindle and he’s drunk enough to cackle, to lean on Jared’s elbow and snort as the rest of the room pushes past. It’s crowded as hell, seems like all of a sudden. He wonders where all these people came from. Or have they been here the whole time?
Jared pats him on the head and bobs back up with a grin, using Misha’s arm like a handrail until he’s towering over the crowd.
“Hey!” he says like it’s suddenly Christmas. “Speak of the devil, huh? The birthday boy himself, he’s stuck over there by the back door. He looks sooooo bored. Bored bored, Misha. We should go rescue him.”
“What?” Misha says, scooting back towards the bar, the relative safety of booze. “No, Jay, I’m just gonna stay—”
“Bullshit!” Jared booms, cheerful and oh, drunk as fuck. “He likes us. We’re his friends, Mish Mish. Come on.”
He grabs Misha’s arm so hard that Misha loses his balance, so hard that he can’t correct the record—you’re his friend, dumbass—before Jared is churning, Category 4 Padalecki with a poor Collins caught in his wake.
The place isn’t that big; at least it didn’t seem that way two hours ago empty and clean, but now it’s full of noise and lots of people Misha doesn’t know and a lot more he does and it feels like a cavern, vast and confusing and maybe Misha shouldn’t have been mixing this early, shouldn’t have been shifting from bourbon to beer and back and again. Maybe he shouldn’t have said a goddamn word to Jared, is what, shouldn’t have brought Jensen up at all, should have kept his mouth shut and just listened to happy moose babble like he usually does at these things.
Maybe there was something in the cake.
They break through past the pool tables and there’s a hit of fresh air, leaking in cold from the alley. Misha sweeps some in, grateful, but Jared doesn’t seem to take notice.
“Hey!” he says, still latched onto Misha like a demented tugboat. “Jensen! Hi!”
Jensen’s leaned up against the wall, talking to one of the second unit directors whose name Misha can never remember, out of the way even at his own fucking party. He’s wearing a white shirt with the sleeves shoved up to his elbows and there’s sweat bobbing below his collar, in the dip of skin between the top buttons undone.
He looks like a lot of things, Misha thinks, but not trapped, not like he needs to be rescued. No, he’s in the middle of a sentence, clearly, his hands gesturing in front of his face that’s full and heady with scotch and whatever the hell he was talking about.
He lifts his head and smiles, long-suffering patient. “Hi,” he says. “What’s up, Jay?”
“I have Misha!” Jared announces, tugging on Misha’s arm like a leash, like a puppy that’s got his master on the chain.
Jensen laughs. “I can see that,” he says. “You come all the way over here to bring him to me?”
It’s funny ha ha and Jared laughs and Misha does, too, but the look Jensen gives him doesn’t fit with that, funny, and Misha wonders if it’d make more sense if he was a little more drunk.
“Well, yeah,” Jared says, bobbing like Big Bird on crack. “Duh, Jensen! It’s your birthday!”
Which makes even less sense, that sentence, and now Misha is really fucking confused. Or too sober. Or both.
Second Unit Bob or whoever has vanished and it’s just the three of them now, tucked in a chevron by the wall as the party all around them keeps raging and even Jared looks serious, as much as he can with that damn blue frosting still stuck on his nose. He’s watching Jensen and Misha, back and forth, like a goldfish with ADD, waiting for—?
“Jared,” Jensen says, wagging his empty glass. “Dude. Could you—?”
And bam, Jared’s back in business. “’Course!” he chirps. “Yeah, man. No problem.” He pushes off from the wall, cracked paint curling under his hand, and lets Misha go just in time.
Whatever cool Misha brought to this party—not an inconsiderable share, mind—is drip dripping away like the polar ice caps and he’d really like to know why, why Jay dragged him over here and why Jensen is looking at him like that—staring, quite frankly, as if Misha’s an object exotic, slinky sweet smile and eyes gone dark and wide.
“Am I—?” Misha says around his bow tie of a tongue. “I’m sorry. Am I missing something?”
Jensen lifts an eyebrow with a nonchalance that Misha kind of admires. “Like what?”
There’s this Zen master silence where it’s clear that Jensen is waiting for Misha to stumble his way to enlightenment or something. He doesn’t say a word, no, but Misha gets the feeling that Jensen is listening, paying really close attention to shit Misha didn’t even know he was saying. And now, his instincts are roaring, the bastards, saying hey, we told you so, but no, that can’t be what Jensen means, what he’s implying with his damn pretty face framed by a faded Bud poster and a wall that hasn’t seen a paintbrush since Nixon.
“We’re not friends,” Misha says, beer too loudly. “Um.”
Jensen’s mouth twitches. “We’re not?”
“No, I mean— ”
“Does that bother you?” Jensen says, as if he really would like an answer.
“Um,” Misha says again.
Jensen tilts his head, or maybe that’s just Misha’s last Molson. “No,” he says. “To me, we’re friends. But if we’re not, to you, then you gotta set me to rights.” He leans in, tiger bright, and lowers his voice. “C’mon. What do friends do that we don’t?”
There’s a line there, there’s such a good line—he’s handing it to Misha on a damn platter—but for some reason, Misha’s mouth won’t reach out and take it.
“We, uh,” he says instead, smooth as crunchy peanut butter. “We don’t hang out.”
Jensen’s eyebrows go five different directions. “Hang out?”
“Yeah, you know,” Misha says, sort of flailing, because he’s got no fucking clue what he’s talking about. He sure as hell can’t say I want to know how you work or You’re delicious intriguing, so he sticks to, you know. Hanging out. “We don’t, uh, get together and watch a movie and shoot the shit or whatever.”
“Oh,” Jensen says. “Oh, yeah. Ok.”
He’s actually nodding, as if Misha’s making some sort of sense, which is even more disconcerting than an old-fashioned what the fuck.
“Uh,” Misha says. “What?”
Jensen hip checks the wall and leans in. “You’re right,” he says. “We should do that sometime. Hang out, you know. Talk.”
Jensen smiles, the slow steady kind that makes Misha think of Homer, of Ulysses facing a rosy-fingered dawn. “Tomorrow night,” he says. “I’ll come over to your place. So we can hang out.”
“Good,” Jensen says. “It’s a date.”
Misha drops his beer.
“Hey guys!” Jared sings, slapping them each on the back, a human semi-conductor. “What’d I miss?”
“Oh,” Jensen says, cool; but his eyes, they’re still torching Misha’s. “Not much. We’re just shooting the shit.”
Misha is losing it. Has lost it. Is officially too drunk to be here. His body feels like it’s made of Sriracha slathered in serranos and even his metaphors are fucking drunk.
“I’m gonna—“ he says, thumbing towards the alley. “You know what? Fellas. I’ve gotta go.”
“Bathrooms are up front!” Jared calls after him, and he might hear Jensen laughing, maybe; might hear Jared’s smashed honk in return, but it’s hard to be sure over the lions roaring in his ears and the blowtorch that once was his face.
There’s no elegance, no shine, to him leaving; no, it’s a fast and dirty retreat.
He wakes up way late, almost noon, still stuck in his bar-sodden clothes and stupidly, inexplicably hard.
In the shower, he jerks off to Jensen’s white shirt, to his smirk, to the utter ебаный certainty with which he’d said: “It’s a date.”
He comes, sure, because he’s good with his dick, but getting off makes him feel tense. More tense. Present tense. Whatever. Short version: he’s freaked.
It’s Sunday, the one day he can usually count on to get up early of his own fucking volition and get some good writing done before the sun. The one day he can stomp around his apartment naked and knock off a few lines of verse.
But today, the words taunt him. His poetry, it mocks him, half-eaten quatrains each marching inexorably towards the word Jensen. There’s no peace in the pencil today.
Even the weather gives him the finger: rain that blows sideways and knocks him flat on his ass when he tries to go out for a run.
He spends hours trying to translate “tomorrow evening” in his head, to set it to some temporal fix. After five? Once it gets dark? Some random time of Jensen’s own choosing?
He takes a nap and tries to read and accomplishes exactly none of those things.
What in the ever-loving hell.
Sundays, he’s always silent. Doesn’t speak to anybody. Doesn’t reach out. The only person to he listens to on Sundays is him, because on Sundays, damn it, he writes.
But by four, the quiet’s eating him up alive, and somewhere around there his nerves roast and turn into fury.
He folds himself in the middle of his living space and fumes.
Jensen probably expects him to pick up the place, to put away all the week’s empty glasses and roll up his damn yoga mat.
Jensen probably expects him to make dinner, or at least to have food in the fridge that’s not bean sprouts or four-day old curry.
Jensen probably expect him to be clean, to have on deodorant and aftershave and a t-shirt with minimal holes. And probably shoes.
Well. Fuck him.
He wants to “hang out,” he can have the full Misha experience, not one of the dozen faces that Misha pulls out for company, for his family, for the страстный woman at the grocery store checkout.
Jensen may not like it, but oh well. Fuck him.
He could just call Jensen and cancel. He gets that. Ok. But at this point, it’d feel like a declaration of hello, you make me nervous or of weakness, or something, and one Custer run in 24 hours is fucking enough.
The knock on the door, finally, is a goddamn relief.
“Hi,” Jensen says, the pretty green bastard. “Is this a good time?”
He’s got a bottle of Dewers in one hand and a beat-up DVD case in the other. Rattles both in Misha’s face and grins, stomping the rain from his boots and dumping his coat by the door before Misha can even say come on in.
His shirt’s blue—midnight blue, the poet in Misha’s head says—with long sleeves. A pullover, nothing fancy. His jeans aren’t tight, but they fit. He’s still got rain in his hair.
Jensen goes straight for the living room—ok, the living alcove—and fires back over his shoulder. “I’m here to enhance your cultural knowledge. Seriously. How can you not have seen Top Gun, dude?”
Misha scrubs his hand over his eyes. Fine. Jensen’s really here. Fine. It’s so fucking fine. “I haven’t, huh. How the hell do you know that?”
When he comes around the couch, Jensen’s on his knees, messing around with the DVD player. “Well,” he says, “a) you’re you, and you hate action movies; and b) Jared told me.”
The player makes a pleased noise and Jensen does, too; hops up and makes for the couch like this is his fucking house, like he and Misha are buddies who do this thing all the time, watch movies and drink semi-good scotch.
Like it’s completely normal for he and Jared to talk about Misha behind his back, or for Jared to quote him verbatim?
Maybe it is. It’s been a long time since Misha saw normal, so maybe that’s why it seems weird. Why the thought of sitting on the couch with Jensen makes his cheeks burn.
Hey, he has only himself to blame. He knows this. He’s the one who brought up “hanging out.”
He’s the one who’s had all day to back out, to call and wave the white flag. Fake leprosy. Or Ebola. Something.
But he didn’t and now Jensen’s here and ok, they’re gonna need glasses.
He makes a break for the kitchen and hides his face in the cabinets.
“I didn’t know when you were coming,” Misha says, a little louder than he has to. “It was kind of, you know, inconvenient. Have you ever heard of a phone?”
Jensen’s smile when Misha hands him the tumbler is a little uneasy, set off with a soft shade of blush. “You’re right,” he says. “I should have called you. I’m sorry.”
He leans over and wets the bottom of the glass with Dewers. Takes a sip and stretches, his face fluttering as the booze sinks into his skin. “I could go, if you want,” he says, more to the TV than to Misha. “I’d totally understand.”
“No,” Misha says. “It’s fine.”
It’s so fucking fine.
He knocks Jensen’s legs off his couch and settles down. Pours four fingers in his glass and watches Jensen poke at the remote.
The couch is small because Misha’s place is, too; it’s more a loveseat than anything. It sags in the middle where Sasha cannonballed his dumb ass the last time he was here. They’d tipped the coffee table and unpacked half of the bookshelves for reasons called vodka and stayed up way too late, giggling and drinking like they were kids. A visit good for the soul, but less so for Misha’s accoutrements, and so now if his shoulder’s pressed into Jensen’s, it’s unavoidable, sadly.
Jensen isn’t helping, though.
Every time he laughs at the wooden dialogue or the terrible acting, he sinks a little further into the void, moves a little closer to Misha.
He’s warm and he smells good, like traffic and overpriced coffee, and no matter what Misha’s instincts may be telling him in caps lock semaphore code—he likes you he wants you he’s touching you halfwit get with it—he’d rather not know those things.
About 20 minutes in, Jensen’s arm is suspiciously drifting, tugged up like a long blue balloon towards the top of the couch, and the moment his fingertips brush Misha’s scapula, it’s done. Misha’s up on his feet, glaring.
“Is this a date?”
Jensen looks at him, a recalcitrant kid. “Um,” he says. He pushes a button and the screen freezes on Tom Cruise leering through a leather jacket.
Misha shoves his hands in his hair and holds on to the back of his skull, all the better to keep his brain from melting, my dear. “It’d be helpful to know what you think this is, is all.”
Jensen bangs his glass on the coffee table and sits up, soldier-straight. “What this is?” he repeats. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means, you just fucking announced that you were gonna come over,” Misha says, and fuck, it feels good to yell. “It wasn’t really a discussion, Jensen. More like some Bizarro command.”
The storm on Jensen’s face breaks through, looks ready to boil. “A command? Oh, get real, dude. I was trying to be nice and—”
“Nice?” Misha says, incredulous. “Oh christ. Don’t do me any favors.”
Jensen’s off the couch and in his face in two shakes. “Fuck you. I wanted to be friends with you, Misha. Hell, I thought we were friends until last night, but hey, you burst that bubble pretty damn quick, didn’t you?”
He’s shaking, he’s so angry, spraying raindrops over Misha’s face like an upright, angry dog. With hair gel. “You’re right,” he says. “We don’t talk. We don’t hang out, whatever the fuck that means. And like you said: we’re not friends.”
He’s taking up all the space in Misha’s apartment just being there, eating all the oxygen and making it impossible to breathe, and somehow he’s got Misha backed into the wall, got his head pinned between two sketches his mom did of a starling last year. And he looks hurt again, bruised, like a peach Misha accidently kicked down the stairs.
“You confuse the shit out of me,” Misha says, finally.
Jensen, he proves the damn point.
He laughs, leans all the way back like it’s heavy and makes a fuckton of noise.
“I confuse you?” he says. “Oh come on. That’s bullshit. What the hell do I do that’s confusing?”
“This!” Misha says. “You! Being here!”
“I told you I was coming!”
Misha waves his arms in a flourish and upends one of the prints. “Exactly!”
Jensen crosses his eyes, so hard it looks like it hurts. “It’s like talking to a toddler.”
“Says the grown man who’s pouting.”
“I don’t get it,” Jensen says. “Do you want me here or not?”
“Depends,” Misha says. “Why are you here?” He sounds like a smart ass, but in this case, ok, he’s so fucking earned it. “Like I said: is this a date? Because your whole body, your affect, coupled with whatever the hell that shit was you were saying last night; frankly, your whole package, Jensen, seems to be addressed to Dear Misha Collins, I want you, but I can’t tell if I’m supposed to sign for you or not.”
Jensen’s mouth is a sun salutation. “You done?” he says.
Misha takes a moment. “Yeah. The defense rests.”
What’s the horizontal version of vertigo, he wonders vaguely, because he feels it, whatever it’s called, as Jensen tugs him off the wall and over a fat stack of books and dumps him back onto the couch.
“Listen to me,” Jensen says, his drawl cutting corners on every syllable as he stands there, arms crossed and amused. “Misha. Let me be clear.”
Misha sits up on his elbows, his ass stuck into the damn saggy spot. “Please,” he says grandly. “Do.”
“You are a fucking mystifying bastard, is what you are,” Jensen says. “Oh, you talk a good game, ok. I can see that. And you’re a hell of a listener, I hear, when you’re not running off at the mouth. But”—he drops a knee on the seat, right next to Misha’s, much to the sofa’s dismay—“you don’t listen so good to me.”
His fingers are on Misha’s thigh and it should be heart-stopping, and it non-lethally is, but the guy’s also blushing, staring at his nails like he’s nervous, and oh shit, Misha realizes. He really is.
“You don’t talk,” Misha says, quiet. “Not to me. Not really. Not about anything that’s important.”
Jensen keeps his eyes on his fingers, on his nails, as they creep up and brush Misha’s belt. “I don’t need a priest, dude. Just a friend.”
“A, um, friend, huh?” Misha gets out, trying not to squirm. “Really. This what you do with your friends? Plant them in the upholstery and give ‘em a good feeling up?”
Jensen’s smiling, Misha can see it, even though he still won’t raise his head.
“This is what I want to do with you, Misha,” he says. He hooks his pinky in the nearest belt loop and pulls, tugs at it like a cat with a string. “Hence me calling this a date. And coming over to your house. At night. With booze. I thought—I thought I was being pretty fucking straightforward here, ok?”
“Ah,” Misha says.
He knows it’s coming, Jensen staring right at him when they’re so close together, but it’s still pleasantly blinding.
“So, um. Is that clear?” Jensen says, green green uncertain.
Misha leans back, reaching for the fucking corona that is that beautiful face. “Just for future reference,” he says, “when you think you’re trumpeting shit from the hills, Jensen, you’re actually being rather cryptic. Dare I say, Enigma-esque.”
Jensen winds his way up like a vine and parks his hands beside Misha’s head. “Dear Misha Collins,” he says, grinning, “I really like you. I want you. You got that? You hear me good?”
For all his bravado, he’s a sweet kisser, slow patient slow with his tongue and his teeth. He won’t let Misha direct him, no matter how hard Misha pulls his hair or how many languages Misha swears through in his frustration.
It’s infuriating, frankly, and a Crayola 64 of amazing. There’s a lot of magenta in Jensen’s kisses, Misha thinks. Turquoise smudged with burnt umber and gold.
In his head, Misha thanks his brother for being a дебил because their hips are trapped in the sag of the couch, snugged together by busted-up springs, and Jensen’s mouth may be part tortoise, but his dick has clearly not heard the same message.
Misha can so work with that.
He gets a fist in Jensen’s back pocket and nudges him, draws him, sneaks him into a rhythm of dumb hot dry humping until Jensen is gasping, open-mouthed and stupid right in Misha’s face. And when their eyes meet on a particularly fantastic thrust, he gives up the dirtiest noise Misha’s ever heard, ever had the pleasure to conduct, and—
“Bed,” Jensen says from his boots, barely. “Where is. Right now. We need to.”
Misha’s never been more grateful for his lack of square footage than he is now, when it only takes five steps to get Jensen flat back on his mattress, cheeks burning and biting his lip. His chest is flush as he yanks off his shirt and he’s moaning as he goes for his jeans.
Naked, he’s lovely, and Misha may or may not say that out loud, he’s not certain, because Jensen’s going to pieces all by his lonesome, jerking his cock and moving his mouth around what sure looks like please.
Whatever the word is, there’s no question as to what he’s saying.
Being a good listener has gotten Misha into trouble before.
But somehow, he thinks, his lips snaking over Jensen’s chest, his belly, the hot head of his cock, oh. Not now. Not so much.