J2 AU, 1500 words, PG, holiday-y schmoop. In which Jared sells Christmas trees, and pottery, and crushes, and has an excellent holiday.
It's the Saturday before Christmas, three in the afternoon, and Jared is getting antsy.
He's worked weekends during the season at his neighbor's Christmas Tree farm since he was in high school, more out of a sense of general concern than because he needs the money. His neighbor, Mrs. Holland (who isn't actually his neighbor anymore), is a fierce old woman, stubborn and capable as anything, but Jared doesn't like the idea of her traipsing around a frozen wilderness cutting down trees all on her own, so he helps out.
The past three years, this same day, and usually a lot early, the hot guy and his son have come in.
Jared isn't a stalker--he's not, honestly--but it's a pretty small town, and it's rare that someone comes in who's unknown to both him and Mrs. Holland. And when it's someone as unbelievably gorgeous as hot guy is, Jared sits up and takes notice.
He's pretty sure it's someone's son--he's never seen hot guy any time of year other than Christmas-- coming in for the holidays and then leaving. They always come in just the two of them, hot guy holding his son's hand, and they deliberate for a while and eventually come back with a tree they've cut themselves. Jared respects this, because he likes a guy who can use a saw, but it means his contact with the two of them is fairly minimal.
He's starting to give up hope, drumming his fingers on the counter and counting the chili lights on Mrs. Holland's decorative tree in the corner, when someone says, "Hi, could I get a saw?"
Jared looks up and, yeah, there's hot guy, wearing a black pea coat and this ridiculous pink hat with a pom-pom and reindeer on it that looks home made. He's still inhumanly hot.
"Oh, yeah, sure, sorry," says Jared, giving him a smile. "It's been slow, I'm zoning out."
"No problem," says hot guy, with a movie-star smile. His son's there, probably seven by now, looking around with the excitement that might be Jared's favorite part of this job. "Logan, you want to go scope out the trees? I'll be along in a sec."
"Yeah!" says the kid, and takes off.
"He's cute," says Jared. "Very enthusiastic."
Hot guy laughs, looking after his son fondly. "Yeah, he's a handful. But he's great."
"Just bring the tree back here when you're done and I'll help you load it. Prices are by tag color, the white tags are $25, the red tags are--"
"I've been here a couple times before," hot guy says, not unkindly. "You don't have to give me the spiel."
Jared smiles. "Okay, well, I'll see you when you're done," he says, handing over the saw.
Hot guy smiles back. "Thanks."
They're back about twenty minutes later, with a big, nice, perfect tree, and Jared helps them load it and sends them off with a wave and a Merry Christmas and is left wondering, as with every year, why he's so excited for that. Apparently he's really hard-up for eye candy.
The next Monday and Jared's real job is packed. He owns a gallery that showcases and sells local artists, painting and pottery and even some clothing items, although it's mostly hats and scarves and gloves this kind of year. The weeks leading up to Christmas are always hellishly busy, and while it's great for Jared, it's also completely exhausting. He's got a blessed lull around four o'clock, and only an hour 'til close, and he's thinking he might have to call Genevieve up for drinks to vent. Genevieve is the manager at the clothing boutique across the street, and if he was straight, he'd probably propose to her, but as it is, he just goes to bars with her and they bitch about how much they hate their lives.
The ringing of the bells over the door is almost enough to make him slam his head against the wall. His seasonal help is a great girl named Miranda, who's home from college for Christmas break, but she can only work mornings, so Jared's on his own from about two on, and that seems to be when the crazies come in.
"Hey, it's Christmas tree guy!" says someone, and Jared blinks and sees--oh shit--hot guy and his son.
"I usually go by Jared," he says, grinning at the kid. "But Christmas tree guy is okay too. Are you guys liking your tree?"
"It's awesome!" the kid enthuses. "Mom thought it wouldn't fit in the house, but it totally did."
"Once we sawed off most of the top," hot guy says, with a conspiratorial wink at Jared. The gesture is appreciated, and even adorable, but Jared can't help being disappointed by the mention of mom. Which is really dumb, but Jared's never claimed to be rational.
"That can help," he says, with a smile. "Can I help you guys buy anything?"
"We're looking for something for my mom!" said the kid.
"I su--I'm bad with presents, so Logan's helping me out," says hot guy, grinning at Jared. It's a lot of concentrated pretty. "We're doing a joint present this year."
"Okay," says Jared, "well, what kind of stuff does your mom like?"
"Pretty stuff!" the kid says promptly. He makes a face. "But she says she has enough clothes, so no clothes."
"We were maybe thinking something for the kitchen?" says the guy. "I really failed at presents last year, so I'm trying to redeem myself," he tells Jared, dropping his voice lower.
Jared nods. "Well, maybe something like--"
"Uncle Jensen, look at this!" calls the kid from near the display of animals made from soda cans.
Jared's shock must show on his face, because hot guy--Jensen--gives him a slightly confused smile.
"Sorry, I just figured you were shopping for--your wife?"
"No," says Jensen, laughing a little and looking away. "Nah. My sister-in-law."
"Oh. I just, uh, don't get a lot of kids coming to get trees with their uncles."
Jensen smiles. "Yeah, I guess that would be kind of a surprise. The first year I came here for Christmas, I was ragging on my brother for not getting a real tree--they had one of those white ones that are supposed to look snow-covered, I guess? I think they're ugly as shi--sin," he corrects, with a glance to Logan. "Anyway, the kid heard me talking about real trees, and decided he wanted one, and his parents told me if I wanted a real tree, I had to go cut it myself. So now it's kind of a tradition."
"You showed them," says Jared, feeling stupidly hopeful.
"I did. Logan, don't touch that."
"So you guys aren't local? Are local?"
"They're local," says Jensen, and Jared's heart sinks. "I've been living in California, but I actually got a job over in Buffalo, so I'm now, well, not exactly local, but pretty close."
Jared tries not to smile. "That's cool. It must be nice for them to have you around more."
"Yeah," says Jensen. "It's been great. I'm thinking of moving a little closer, I've never been much of a city guy, and the commute wouldn't be too bad."
Jared nods. "It's a nice town, no doubt about it."
"Yeah?" asks Jensen. "What's your favorite part?"
It could be an innocuous question, but the way Jensen is looking at him, he suspects it isn't. "Oh, I got tons of favorite parts," he says. "I could give you a whole tour."
Jensen's grin kicks up a notch, and Jared wants to drag him into the back and grope him, which would be wildly inappropriate.
"Yeah?" Jensen asks.
"Yeah. In fact, I know this great restaurant, best burgers in town. If you wanted to get started over dinner."
Jensen ducks his head, but his smile is still huge. "Yeah, that would be awesome."
"You busy tonight?"
"Not at all."
"Uncle Jensen! You're not helping," says Logan. "Come on, you don't want mom to hate your present again."
"He makes a good point," says Jensen ruefully. "Um, I could meet you here? Like six?"
"Perfect," says Jared, grin wide on his face. "I can also help you guys find the perfect Christmas present."
"Definitely," says Jared. "Kind of a specialty of mine."
Jensen laughs. "I'll prepare to be dazzled."
Jared just grins.
That night, they have an awesome dinner, and then walk a little around the main street of town. Jensen is clearly cold, so Jared nobly wraps his arm around his shoulders, and Jensen rolls his eyes but leans in anyway. Jared sees him off with a kiss, and another date lined up next week, and grins all the way home.
It's shaping up to be a fantastic Christmas, and a very happy new year.