“Penalty to Sanditon!” the referee bellows, blowing enthusiastically on his whistle. “Number five: not releasing the ball when on the ground.” He points at the opposition flanker and blows his whistle again.
Jensen groans. His hands slide over the muddy grass as he struggles for purchase. He uses his elbows and shoulders to push away St Crispin’s tighthead prop, another heavy kid of hefty proportions. Why do the big ones always fall on top of him?
Shithouse grunts and crouches down, hooking his hand around Jensen’s forearm. He heaves him back to his feet in a show of caveman strength.
“You alright, Ackles? You got to take the penalty,” he growls. “This far in, we should go for it. Scrum wouldn’t be any bloody use now.”
Jensen nods, blinks, trying to clear his head. His chest is heaving up and down, that last tackle really took the wind out of him, and he’s vaguely aware of blood trickling down his right thigh from an old, reopened gash.
McKenzie yells something from the touchline and Jensen turns his head dazedly towards the sound. He sees Barlow, the scrum-half, take the ball and tee from McKenzie and come jogging towards Jensen.
“Here,” the referee intones, pointing to the spot.
Jensen takes the ball and tee from Barlow. Barlow claps him on the back.
“You can do it,” he says confidently. “We got this.”
Jensen glances at the scoreboard. Hutchings, the skinny third year who keeps score, is bouncing on the spot, holding the number cards in his hands. 30 - 32 the scoreboard reads. If Jensen makes this penalty then they go ahead for the first time this afternoon. They could actually win the match. So, no pressure then.
He feels better with the ball in his hands. He can do this. He does this all the time, and this kick’s relatively easy. He’s practically facing the uprights, no need to angle the ball.
He crouches down to place it, hears the referee blow his whistle again. He pushes out a breath, stands up, and takes his customary ten paces backwards. He glances between the ball and the uprights, seeing the trajectory it’s going to take. He runs and kicks. The ball flies into the air and he holds his breath as it swerves and arcs perfectly through the uprights.
There’s a roar when the referee raises his arms to confirm the points. Shithouse and Barlow are the first to clap him on the back. Jensen grins and glances into the crowd of parents, masters and fellow pupils, sees his father celebrating, his mother standing beside him looking cold but pleased, and there – Jared. Jared’s smiling, clapping his hands together. Jensen stares at him, thinks about Jared telling him, I used to watch you, I watched all your games. He never noticed back them, but he’s seeing him now.
He waits in the car park for his parents once the match is finished, kit bag slung over his shoulder, hair as wet as icicles. It’s freezing, not something that registered when he was playing, but he’s feeling it now. Coldest bloody winter in years, his dad had whinged when he’d greeted him before the match. It hadn’t stopped him from watching the game though, which is something, Jensen supposes. He shoves his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, and scuffs his trainers on the tarmac.
He sees Jared’s family come out of the school and walk towards a racing green Bentley. They’re all tall, even Jared’s mum and little sister. Jared’s mum is wearing a fur coat and it looks enormous, making her look twice as wide as she probably is. His dad has an overcoat and a pinstripe suit, people don’t wear pinstripe suits where he comes from, but it fits in here. Jared pauses with the car door open, one big hand resting on the door handle. He looks out across the car park towards Jensen. Jensen can’t make out his expression from that distance, but he can picture it in his head.
Jared raises his hand, gives him a jerky wave. Jensen waves back, he can’t help himself. He’s thinking about tonight, about Jared laid out on his bed naked, about being able to touch him, about Jared’s big hands and long legs and long neck and the way his sweat tastes when he licks his throat. He wonders if the sweat tastes the same in the crease of his thighs, or if it’s stronger, saltier perhaps. He swallows, feeling his whole body flush hot, his cock perk up in his trousers. He forces the thoughts away and watches Jared’s dad fold himself into the car. It’s probably a good thing that his family have such a huge posh car, they wouldn’t fit in something normal sized.
He watches Jared climb into the backseat. The two of them seem to spend a lot of time watching each other. Jared watches him playing rugby, he watches Jared during Pickford’s class. I can feel you watching me, Jared had said the last time they’d met. It’s very distracting. Jensen had grinned at him and shrugged, completely unapologetic. But that’s not the only time he watches Jared: in the common room, in the canteen, in the library. Watching Jared has become part of his daily routine.
Jared’s dad reverses the car neatly out of the car park. Jensen shivers and wishes that he’d brought his scarf and gloves. But they’re sitting on his bed in his room and there’s no time now for him to run and fetch them. Christ, what’s taking his parents so bloody long. It’s not like they actually talk with any of the other parents here. His mum is too shy and his dad’s got that ridiculous chip on his shoulder.
His heart sinks and any warm thoughts Jared might have stirred up immediately melt away when his dad’s Morris Marina finally does come around the corner and draw up next to him. His father leans out of the driver’s side window and shouts: “C’mon, Jensen! We’re ready to go!”
He should be grateful that his dad didn’t bring the van. ACKLES FRUIT & VEG would be social suicide, though the rusty orange Marina is not that much of an improvement. His dad likes to make a point, though, play up his working class roots in front of the stockbrokers and bankers and lawyers and doctors and politicians and peers of the realm in the case of Eggy’s family. Jensen’s the scholarship boy, he knows it, everybody knows it, but he could do without his dad rubbing it in.
He heaves his kit bag onto his shoulder and climbs into the back of the car.
His mum turns around in the front seat and smiles at him. “You did well today, love.”
“Yes, he did,” his dad says, speaking into the driver’s mirror, as he pulls out of the car park. He sounds proud and Jensen can’t help his own accompanying swell of pride. Rugby has always been the only thing he and his father have ever connected over. “Three penalties and three conversions, and you made two of those tries. You won that game for them. Barry John eat your heart out.”
To Jensen’s dismay, they don’t take the usual route to his father’s favourite chip shop; instead, he swerves the car into the entrance of the Danubius Hotel. Jensen winces as the car backfires loudly when his father kills the engine. Jensen sighs and steps out of the car, pulling his jacket tightly around him. The car park is full of Mercedes and Bentleys, including the Padalecki Bentley. At least, he’ll get the chance to sneak looks at Jared all the way through what he knows is going to be an uncomfortable meal.
He trudges behind his parents as they walk into the hotel and wait to be seated in the restaurant. He stares morosely at his dad’s back. He’s wearing his suede jacket with the tassels, beige polo neck and brown and green checked flared trousers. It’s one of his best outfits and he thinks he looks the dog’s bollocks in it, except this is so not the Royal George, and he’s the only man over thirty in the place not wearing a shirt and tie.
Jared’s family are just being seated as they wait for someone to notice them. They have a good corner table, and Jensen sees Jared’s dad slip the waiter a rolled up note when he disappears. He didn’t think people actually did that in real life. He watches Jared take off his duffle coat and hang it over the back of his chair. He’s wearing brown slacks, a collared shirt and tie and a navy blazer. He looks ridiculous, like a mini but still huge version of his dad. His mum is wearing a matching tweed skirt and jacket and a string of pearls around her neck. They’re probably real.
“You should’ve worn a tie, I told you to wear a tie,” his mum hisses under her breath to his dad as they wait for the waiter to notice them.
“I’m not putting on a bloody tie. My money’s as good as theirs,” his dad retorts, not bothering to lower his voice.
Jensen shoves his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket and bows his head to hide the flush of embarrassment.
“We should’ve gone to that other place, you know the one, the fish and chip place,” his dad says, still not lowering his voice.
His mum presses her lips into a thin line and shoots her husband daggers. She puts her hand on Jensen’s shoulder.
“We promised him we’d take him out for a nice meal,” she says.
“I don’t mind,” Jensen says quickly, looking up at them. “We don’t have to eat here. We can go and get fish and chips, I like fish and chips.”
He can feel several interested pairs of eyes looking their way, and he knows that Jared will be among them, probably feeling embarrassed for him. He wishes they had gone to the fish and chip place; he could murder a bag of chips.
“Sir, madam, sir,” the waiter says, finally appearing. “Would you follow me, please?”
His dad shoots them a triumphant I told you so! look as they shuffle behind the waiter to a small table in the corner of the room, half hidden behind a plastic pot plant. They’re obviously being hidden away, but Jensen can’t spare the energy to be upset, he’s too busy feeling relieved. He doesn’t want to watch the entire restaurant see his dad eat a bowl of soup.
“Should we order wine? I feel like we should order wine?” his mum says as they take their seats.
“You can order what you like, love, I’m going to have a beer,” his dad says.
“I’ll have a beer too, Dad,” Jensen says.
“Will you now?” His dad gives him an amused, smirking look that’s uncannily like his own.
His dad laughs. “Yeah, course you are, I keep forgetting that. I’ll get you a beer, son. Mary, order what you like. We’re celebrating. Oh wait - you didn’t give the boy the letter?”
“Oh yes, sorry,” she says. She reaches for her handbag, starts to root around inside it. She pulls out an envelope, it’s torn open, already read. “Sorry, love, we opened it already. Your father thought it was for him.” She gives her husband a reproachful look.
“Mr J Ackles, what am I supposed to think?” he says. “Still, well done, son.”
Jensen feels his mouth go dry. He reaches to take the envelope from his mother’s hand and pulls out the letter. It’s just a couple of sheets, typewritten, the London School of Economics logo in the right hand corner. He reads the first two paragraphs, then reads them again.
“Congratulations!” his mum says, her eyes are shiny with emotion, just like she looked when he passed the scholarship. “Our boy, going to university.”
“Knew there was a reason we let you go to that poncey school,” his dad says. “I know it’s not Oxford or Cambridge, but it’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
Jensen nods; his heart is still in his mouth, he can’t believe it. He rereads the letter.
“You just have to keep up your marks now,” his mum says. “Get all A’s. I hope you don’t mind, love, but I already told your Auntie Joyce and your Nan, they’re so proud of you. Your Uncle Kevin’s talking about giving you a party, but you know him, any excuse for a knees-up.”
“Yeah, I know,” Jensen says, giving her a faint smile. He still can’t believe it, he wants to read the letter again. He did it. He really fucking did it. Though, his mum is right, he does have to remember that the offer is still conditional, he still has to actually get the grades he’s been predicted. But if he does do it then he’ll have a grant, and he’ll be able to get his own digs. Somewhere in the real city, somewhere that isn’t boring, shitty, suburban Welling.
He folds up the letter, slides it into his coat pocket.
“Where the hell is that waiter?” his dad says. “We need to do a proper toast. To our Jensen, the first Ackles to go to university.”
“Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home now, so co-o-old, let me in at your window-o-ho-ho...”
Jared waves the sheet around, arms flailing and body writhing in a vague interpretative version of dancing. On Jensen’s turntable, Eggy’s 45 inch of Wuthering Heights spins around for the third or fourth time in an hour.
Jensen clutches the bottle of whiskey in his hand and falls sideways into his bed, laughing hard. His sides hurt, his throat aches. “Stop it! Stop it! No more!” he pleads.
Jared stops with his arms in the air, his hair is dishevelled, his cheeks are bright pink and he’s wearing a fucking sheet - one of the Fitzgerald family bed linens no less - over his boxer shorts, vest and socks. He looks ridiculous.
“Stop it, you look ridiculous,” Jensen tells him. “I’m not sure I even fancy you anymore.”
“Bollocks!” Jared exclaims and dives on top of him.
The bed squeaks as Jensen tries to fight him off, but Jared is a giant and has very long arms and legs and Jensen is really drunk. Jared pins him to the bed, his fingers around Jensen’s wrists, his legs curled around Jensen’s hips.
“You fancy me,” Jared says, looking pleased with himself. And drunk. “I know you fancy me, you’re always looking at me. You can’t stop yourself.”
Jensen looks up into Jared’s face, his flushed cheeks and dark eyes – they look brown tonight – and messy hair. He does fancy him, too bloody much.
The record finishes and the hiss-hiss-scratch of the needle skimming across the vinyl fills the room.
“Eurgh, c’mon, geroff me. Have to--” Jensen jerks his head towards the record player. “Eggy’ll kill me if I ruin his precious record.” Jared tilts his head to the side, regards the record player curiously, like he’s never seen one before.
“I’ll rescue it,” he says. He climbs off Jensen and the bed. He removes the record and hesitates with the record sleeve in one hand.
“Not again!” Jensen calls out from the bed. “Please, not again!”
Jared laughs and pouts at him. “Spoilsport.”
Jensen rolls his eyes and heaves himself off the bed. The blood rushes to his head and he stumbles, steadies himself against the edge of his desk.
“You’re so pissed,” Jared tells him.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are!”
“Least I’m not wearing a bloody sheet. You look like a dickhead.”
“I look ace!” Jared trills. He spins around, preens at Jensen, ruffling his hands through his hair to make it all stand up. He grabs the ends of the sheet and flings it around himself in a dramatic flurry, like a bad actor doing a bad Dracula impression.
Jensen wrinkles his nose at him. “You shouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol.” He sinks back onto the bed, on his back. He reaches for the packet of Bensons and Bic lighter on his nightstand. He sparks up a fag, takes a long drag, exhaling the smoke upwards to cloud above him. He rests the cigarette against his lips, turns his head when he hears Jared move again. Jared takes a couple of steps towards him, trips on the trailing edges of the sheet and falls onto the bed. The cigarette jogs in Jensen’s hand, ash scatters on his shirt. Jensen curses and brushes it off.
“Sorry,” Jared says, making an apologetic face.
Jensen puffs out a breath and scrambles around to get out from underneath him. Jared is all skin and bones and sheet, but he still manages to take up a stupid amount of room. They shuffle around until they’re lying side by side on Jensen’s bed, sharing the pillow. Jensen leans over Jared to rest his smoking cigarette in the ashtray on the nightstand. He yanks on the monogrammed corner of the Fitzgerald family linen.
“Take this off,” he says.
Jared complies, flailing around in an attempt to get free. Jensen angles away from him, avoiding sharp elbows and long fingers and knobbly knees. Finally Jared gets free and flings the sheet aside, half of it landing on the floor, half on the end of Jensen’s bed. He’s in just his underwear now, while Jensen’s still wearing the jeans and shirt he wore when he was with his parents. Jared’s completely unselfconscious like this, and Jensen thinks again about that first time, about what Jared had done to him in the showers, and how much courage it must’ve taken for Jared to even approach him.
Jared steals Jensen’s fag from the ashtray, props himself up on one elbow and takes a long drag, staring down into Jensen’s face.
“You have such a perfect face, I want to draw you all the time,” he says.
Jensen feels his whole body flush at the compliment. Usually he doesn’t like people commenting on how he looks, it makes him feel awkward, and he doesn’t believe any of it anyway. It’s not really him, just outside, surface stuff, the kind of thing girls go for. But with Jared it feels different. Jared always stays stuff like he means it.
He makes a face at Jared, sticking out his tongue and crossing his eyes.
“Even when you do that,” Jared says, smiling in a fond sort of way that makes Jensen feel weird and soft inside. He holds out the cigarette and Jensen takes it from him, grateful for the distraction.
“You know, the plan was for us to have sex here,” Jared says, waving his hand around to encompass the bed, the room, Jensen... “Then you went and got drunk like a profligate.”
“Ooh, profligate, get him with the fancy words,” Jensen mocks. “No wonder they advanced you into our class. I bet your parents were so fucking proud.”
“Actually, my dad’s still pissed off with me ‘cause I told him I definitely wasn’t taking the Oxford entrance exam. He says I’m being selfish and inconsiderate. He thinks art is a waste of time and that artists are all parasites. As you can imagine, dinner was just lovely.”
Jensen turns his head to look at him. “Hasn’t he seen your stuff? You’re really good. I know sod all about art, but even I can see that you’re talented.” He stretches over Jared’s chest to stub out the fag in the ashtray and then turns onto his side, folding one arm under his head. It feels very intimate like this. He can smell the alcohol and smoke on Jared’s breath and see the pores in his skin. He’s got small moles on his cheeks and top lip, like little freckles, like he’s been splashed with tiny flecks of brown paint. The one on his top lip is very inviting, Jensen wants to flick his tongue over it, feel the tiny little bump of it on the end of his tongue. Jared blinks and Jensen stares at his eyes. Today, they look brown, but flecked with gold, his eyelashes look long, like millipede legs. He’s the one with the perfect face.
“That doesn’t matter,” Jared says. “Teachers have been telling my parents that I’m good at art for years. They’re not interested in that. My dad only cares about making money. He’d like me to follow him into the business, or if not that, then to become a doctor or a lawyer, something proper. But, I don’t care what he thinks, I’m going to art college whatever he says. And, well, the way I see it, we’re going to end up falling out and never speaking again at some point in the future. It’s inevitable. It may as well happen now rather than later.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jensen, come on, I’m not going to lie to them about what I am. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. They’re already asking me about girls and girlfriends.”
“You don’t need to worry about that here,” Jensen says, “this place is wall to wall dick. Most of the tossers here don’t have a girlfriend, and the ones that say they do are all fucking liars.”
“Yeah, but what about when I go to college? Then later on? I’m never going to get married and I’m never going to have kids. It’s just not going to happen.”
Jensen makes a face. “God, who fucking wants to think about stuff like that now?”
“My parents,” Jared says with a shrug. “There’s this girl who goes to Queen Charlotte’s, she’s the daughter of one of the other partners at my dad’s firm. They want me to ask her to dance. They keep going on about it. They want to set up a bloody dinner with her family. Sometimes, I have this urge, right here.” He taps his chest with two long fingers. “Just to tell them the truth, to see what they’d say if I told them that I’m homosexual and that I don’t want to fuck girls and get them pregnant and produce grandchildren like they want. I want to fuck boys and that’s never going to change.”
Jensen blinks up at the ceiling. He’s not sure what he’s supposed to say to that. Jared likes talking and sharing all this big deep stuff that makes Jensen’s insides twists up into knots when he tries to think about it properly. He doesn’t have Jared’s certainty about what he is and what he wants in life. He honestly doesn’t know if he likes boys in the way Jared’s talking about, or if it’s just Jared that makes him feel like this. He’s been looking at other boys recently, since this thing started up with Jared, trying to imagine touching them or kissing them or wanking them off, like he does with Jared. He takes surreptitious glances at their mouths and lips and tries to imagine them on their knees with his cock shoved down their throats. The picture does nothing for him, not even a twitch. But when he thinks about the times that Jared has done that for him, when he thinks about Jared’s lips glistening pink, and Jensen’s own spunk on his chin, and, the way Jared wipes his mouth off with the back of his hand, then his cock fattens up with a rush of need and want that’s fucking terrifying.
He pushes the thoughts away. This evening is definitely not going as planned and now he’s not even feeling drunk anymore. Still, Jared is here, and he’s in his underwear and they’re not going to get an opportunity like this again for a long time, if ever. If Jared would just bloody shut up for long enough they could have a really good time.
“We should put on some music,” he says.
He climbs over Jared and onto the floor. His head feels heavy and he can feel the blood beating loudly, drumming against the inside of his skull. He kneels on the carpet, pulls out the box of his and Eggy’s records from under his desk.
“What do you like?” he asks, turning his head to look at Jared.
Jared sits up, leaning back against the wall. He brings up one knee, rests his chin on it, smiles lazily at him. Jensen stares at his long legs, at the dark thick hair on his legs, not coarse like his father’s, but finer. He wants to run his fingers over it. Sometimes the urge to touch Jared is just overwhelming.
“Come here,” Jared says, crooking his finger at Jensen.
Jensen stares back at him, licks his lips. He watches Jared’s eyes dart to his mouth, his expression getting more intense, his eyes darker.
“Come here,” Jared says again.
Jensen grabs hold of the hem of his shirt, yanks it up and over his head, and throws it over his shoulder towards Eggy’s bed.
He watches the corners of Jared’s mouth turn upwards, that lazy smile again.He shuffles forward on his knees, puts his hand on Jared’s bare foot, bracelets his fingers around Jared’s ankle. The hairs on Jared’s calves feel soft under his fingers and he strokes his thumb over Jared’s ankle bone. There’s an old bruise there, faded to yellow now and he circles it with the pad of his thumb. He looks up at him through his eyelashes, sees the slip-slide of Jared’s throat when he gulps.
“Jensen,” Jared mutters, low and throaty, then again, “Jensen.”
Jensen smiles slowly, caresses his fingers over the narrow bones of Jared’s foot. Jared’s leg shakes and he arches his foot into Jensen’s hand. Jensen drags his hand slowly up Jared’s leg, skimming his fingers up the back of his calf, the hairs sitting up fine and static in his wake. He slips his fingers into the soft damp hollow behind Jared’s knee, feels Jared shudder, moan, say, “Jensen, you’re tickling me, stop,” in a low, throaty voice. But Jensen doesn’t stop, just shuffles up on his knees, until his hips are pressing up against the hard edge of the mattress. He has a perfect view of Jared’s cock from this angle, and he can see it take shape, getting thick and fat in Jared’s underpants, until it’s straining at the fabric, a small wet patch forming where the head pushes against the thin material. The sight makes a shiver of heat ripple through him and he feels his own cock stiffen.
Jared slides his foot off the edge of the mattress, hooks it around Jensen’s back, pulling him into the V of his thighs. Jared rears up and over him, cups the side of Jensen’s face with one huge hand. He bites his lips, stares down into Jensen’s eyes, dragging his thumb tenderly over Jensen’s cheekbone. Jensen closes his eyes, he can’t look at Jared like this, he feels so exposed. He hears the wince and creak of the bedsprings and then both Jared’s hands are cradling his face, tilting his head back as Jared leans down to kiss him.
“What the bloody hell... Ackles, you tart! You in there?”
Jensen jerks away from Jared so fast he stumbles, falls over, head hitting the edge of Eggy’s bed. He swears, whips his head up, blinking at the head rush.
The door handle is rattling up and down, and on the other side, Eggy is calling his name. “Unbolt the fucking door! What you doing in there? You better not be wanking off in my bed again!”
“Shit,” Jensen curses. He stumbles to his knees, reaches to scoop up his shirt from Eggy’s bed. On his bed, Jared is looking around him wildly, trying to find his clothes. “Here!” Jensen snatches up Jared’s discarded clothes and throws them at him. They scatter on the bed and floor and Jensen watches Jared tug on the brown corduroy trousers and green t-shirt before he staggers to his feet and goes to open the door.
“I’m coming! Stop fucking doing that! You’ll break the handle!” he snaps as he shoots the bolt back. He darts a look back at Jared before he unfastens the second bolt. Jared is sitting perched upright on the edge of Jensen’s bed, hands folded in his lap and looking as guilty as sin.
Oh well, there’s not much he can do about that now.
The door thrusts open and Eggy comes barrelling in, carrying his satchel and a couple of LP’s under his arm. He dumps the bag on the floor and turns to face Jensen, and then, Jared.
“What the bloody hell’s going on in here?” he asks. Then more suspiciously: “Who the fuck is he?”
Jensen rolls his eyes at him. “You know who he is, he’s in Pickford’s class with us.”
“Oh, yeah. Didn’t realise you two were so matey.” He raises his eyebrows at Jensen.
Jensen sighs and leans down to pick up the half-drunk bottle of whiskey from its spot by his own bed where he dropped it earlier. “We were drinking.”
“You nick that off that fucker McKenzie again?”
Eggy makes a gimme gesture with his fingers and Jensen hands the bottle over.
“So, what’s your name, tall kid?” Eggy says, taking a swig, and eyeing Jared with the kind of superciliousness that would do his father, Sir Gerald Fitzgerald proud.
“Jared Padalecki,” Jared says.
“Jesus. Really?” Eggy says, making a face and taking another long swig. He swishes the liquid around his mouth before swallowing. “What kind of a fucking name is that?”
“Polish,” says Jared, a shade defensively. “My granddad was a refugee.”
“On the run from the Nazis, was he? So you’re a yid.”
“Shut up,” Jensen tells him. “You’re acting like a twat.” He pries the bottle from Eggy’s hands again and drops down onto Eggy’s bed.
“My granddad’s Jewish,” Jared says, “but I’m not.”
Jensen glances surreptitiously at Jared; he looks about as uncomfortable as it’s possible for someone to look. He’s still sitting on the edge of the bed, curled over and into himself with his hands on his knees, trying to hide the fact that his trousers are still unbuttoned. He thinks about the Jared who walked into the shower with him, the one who’d had the balls to actually touch him, to start all this. Jared doesn’t look like that person now, he looks scared, and the look on his face makes Jensen’s chest feel heavy.
“I should go,” Jared says quietly.
“Yeah, you should,” Eggy says.
Jensen stretches out with his foot and kicks the back of Eggy’s leg. “Stop being such a twat. I invited him here to hang around, we were working on our essays for Cockford. I thought you’d be out all night. Why the fuck are you here anyway?”
“Had a row with the crumblies,” Eggys answers.
Behind Eggy, Jensen sees Jared fumble with his trousers, doing up his flies. He stands up when he’s done and looks around for his shoes.
“Well, I’ll be going then,” he says lamely.
Jensen nods at him. “Yeah, okay.”
“Hey, don’t forget this. This is yours, right?” Eggy snatches up Jared’s sketchpad where he left it on Jensen’s desk. He looks down at the drawing there and Jensen feels his breath catch. He glances across at Jared, sees the flush in his cheeks, the ripple up and down of his adam’s apple as he swallows nervously. The soft swish of Eggy flicking through Jared’s sketchpad seems to echo in the room.
Eggy closes the pad and holds it out to Jared, his expression is suspicious, contemptuous even and Jensen feels his heart sink. “Very impressive,” Eggy says, the sneering obvious in his voice, “what a great talent you have.”
Jared blushes and grabs the sketchpad out of Eggy’s hands, cradles it against his chest, glaring defiantly at Eggy. He turns to look past Eggy, at Jensen, still sitting on the bed like a coward.
“Bye then, Je - Ackles,” he says, and Jensen feels his heart skip a beat at the near miss. No one calls him Jensen here, not even Eggy and he’s supposed to be his best mate.
“Bye,” he says, watching Jared bend to pick up his shoes and back out of the room.
“He definitely fancies you,” Eggy says as the door closes behind Jared. He’s speaking loudly enough for Jared to hear it, which is no doubt deliberate. “First class poofter, that one. You can see it.” He waves two fingers in front of his face. “It’s in the eyes.”
“What absolute bollocks you talk,” Jensen says.
“I can’t believe you don’t bloody see it too. Did you know he’s got drawings of you? Tons of them - all of you - he’s obsessed with you, the disgusting pervert. Like that little kid, whatisname--”
“It’s for an Art project,” Jensen interrupts him.
“The drawings, dickhead. They’re for an art project. We got talking after P.E. one time. He’s alright, you know. He said he needed to draw someone for his art school application, I said he could draw me. That was me volunteering, so you’re talking shite. As usual.”
“Thought you were working on an essay?”
“We were, as well,” he answers hastily.
“Right. So you’ve been working on an essay, drinking and posing for him? How fucking nice and cosy and not at all queer of you.”
“Oh give it a rest,” Jensen says. He rolls off Eggy’s bed, cradling the bottle under his arm as he shuffles towards his own bed. He drops back onto his bed, rolls his head into the pillow. It smells a bit like Jared and he tries not to inhale it. He still feels jittery, nervous and not quite right. Beside him, tucked under his armpit, the bottle sloshes with his squirming, the sound making him feel queasy. He reaches for the packet of cigarettes on his nightstand. He pops one in his mouth, lights up. He closes his eyes and wishes Eggy would just leave him the fuck alone.
“You want to watch The Sweeney?” Eggy says.
Jensen turns his head to look at him. He knows this is Eggy’s olive branch. Fitzgeralds don’t actually say sorry after all and they never admit to being a dick.
“Yeah, fine, alright, then,” he says.
On to Chapter Four