Jared/Jensen, kidfic (fml), 5000 words, AU. In which Jensen is Jared's kid's kindergarten teacher.
Jensen glances up at the knock on the door, and his breath catches in his throat as he sees the man standing outside his classroom, hand still raised toward the doorjamb. He's gotten pretty good at ignoring the pangs of lust he sometimes gets towards parents--after all, they're all married, to say nothing of his kids' parents. But this guy--he's just a few years younger than Jensen, tall and broad-shouldered, with this adorably awkward smile, like he's worried about being a bother. It's impossible to not want him.
"Mr. Ackles?" the man asks.
Jensen shakes his head slightly to clear his head; drooling at parents is never okay. He gets up and gives his best smile. "Hi. How can I help you?"
"I'm Jared. Padalecki? You've got my son Nate in your class?"
"Oh, yeah, Nate. He's a great kid," says Jensen automatically. "There isn't a problem, is there?"
"Oh, no, no," says Jared. "I actually," he rubs the back of his neck. "He's a really smart kid, right?"
"Yeah," Jensen agrees. "Very advanced reader, real whiz at math."
"Yeah. I don't really--I guess this probably isn't your job, but I didn't know who to ask. I don't really know how to, you know, nourish him at home, I guess. I mean, I give him all the books he wants, we go to the library, like, all the time, but--sorry, I'm rambling."
Jensen waves his hand. "I don't mind, and it's great that you want to help him out. But, honestly, Mr. Padalecki, he's five. Let him do what he wants. He's a kid, he should be playing. I've been giving him more advanced stuff than the rest of the class to keep him stimulated, but--he's not asking you for trig at home or anything, right?"
Jared laughs. "Not yet, anyway. He likes to read, but he likes Spongebob too. I figured maybe I was a bad dad if I let him watch that instead of making him get started on Shakespeare."
"He's a kid, he needs kid time. It's not all about studying and getting smarter for a five-year-old. But if he starts asking you about getting more academic work to do at home, you can let me know, I'd be willing to start giving him some homework or something."
Jared grins. "Really?"
"Yeah, it's no problem."
"I appreciate it. I know I must seem kind of neurotic, but being a single dad, I don't get anyone to bounce ideas off of or anything, you know? If I fuck him up, it's all on me." He flushes adorably. "I guess I shouldn't say that in here, huh?"
Jensen can't help laughing, trying to ignore the flare of hope in his stomach when he hears the words single dad. "Dude, there's no kids. I don't think the walls are going to be warped by your potty-mouth."
"You never know," says Jared. "I hear they have ears."
"It's a myth, I promise."
"In any case," says Jensen, "I really don't think you have anything to worry about, Mr. Padalecki. Nate seems happy and engaged, and he's doing great. You've got a smart, well-adjusted kid."
"Thanks," says Jared. "I really--it's good to hear." He rubs the back of his neck. "I'll get out of your hair."
"Actually," Jensen says, "I'm pretty much done here. I'll walk you out."
Jared grins. "Thanks, Mr. Ackles."
"Jensen," says Jensen, automatically.
"Jensen," Jared repeats. Jensen realizes he might have not even known the name until now. "I'm Jared."
Jensen shrugs on his coat. "Jared. Let's go."
Jared smiles at him again, and Jensen knows his life just got stupid complicated.
It's really hard, coming up with excuses to go to the school to check out Nate's teacher. Nate is pretty much a model student. He loves school, doesn't get in any trouble, and even assures Jared he can take the bus and doesn't need to be driven in, so Jared never needs to be there at all, pretty much.
Which is frustrating only because Jensen Ackles? Is the hottest guy Jared's ever seen in his life. Nate adores him and thinks he's awesome, and every day it's "Mr. Ackles this" and "Mr. Ackles that," so it's not like Jared can forget about him or anything. And he can't tell Nate to scope his teacher out for signs of bi and/or homosexuality or anything, because Nate is five and thinks romance is gross. He knows that Jensen is single and lives with his dog--he signed a permission slip at the beginning of the year to say he didn't mind if Nate played with her sometimes. Apparently everyone else agreed too, and the dog comes in for Friday recess, which Jared does not find at all adorable.
He groans. It's not enough that Jensen Ackles has freckles and an adorable smile--he has to be a dog person who teaches kindergarten too.
Jared is thinking of just picking Nate up every day, objections be damned, when Nate comes home one Friday and says, "Dad, dad!"
"What, what?" asks Jared, grinning. "Fun day at school?"
"We're going on a field trip to the zoo and Mr. Ackles said we need chaperones and if we had an adult who was going to be at home we should ask them and you're at home so you should come!"
Jared has a little trouble processing the flow of words--hell, he taught the kid to talk, but he swears even he doesn't talk that fast--but once he puts it together, he starts grinning. "The zoo, huh?" He picks Nate up and tickles him. "Think I can get the monkeys to adopt you, huh? Huh?"
Nate laughs. "I'm not a monkey! You'll come, right?"
"Yeah, duh," says Jared. "How do I sign up?"
"Maybe you could drop me off on Monday and tell Mr. Ackles," says Nate, rearranging himself in Jared's lap so he's sitting comfortably. "Then he'll know you really really wanna go."
Jared ruffles Nate's hair and tries to keep from grinning too hard. "Yeah, I could do that."
"Morning Mr. Ackles!" Jensen hears, and grins as Nate Padalecki runs into the room. It's ridiculously early, way before the buses arrive, but Jensen's used to parents with weird schedules having to do strange drop-offs. Nate usually isn't one of them, but maybe his dad had something.
Jensen firmly tells himself he is not thinking about Nate's dad, or his schedule, or anything about him.
"Walk, Nate," he says instead. "No running."
"But I forgot my book," says Nate. "And I couldn't read it all weekend. Dad, come read!"
Jensen gulps and turns back to the door to see Jared Padalecki taking up most of it.
He sort of thought he must have exaggerated Jared in his mind--after all, no one could be as hot as he remembered Jared being, right? It isn't possible. Except there he is, dressed in a worn t-shirt and jeans, smiling at his son with warmth and affection, and, okay, Jared is that hot.
"One sec, Nate," says Jared. "I better talk to Mr. Ackles first, right?"
Nate pouts. "Okay."
Jared redirects his attention to Jensen. "Morning."
"Good morning," says Jensen. "To what do I owe the honor?"
"Nate told me you had a field trip coming up, needed some chaperones. He was afraid if I didn't come ask you live and in-person, you'd give my spot to someone else."
"You want to chaperone?" asks Jensen.
"Yeah," says Jared, glancing over at Nate. "He's really excited. And what's the point of being my own boss if I can't take a day off to hang with my kid?"
"Your own boss?"
"Well, kind of. I'm a software engineer," Jared explains. "Got it set up so I work from home. Pretty weird hours, honestly--when the kid's at school, then after he's asleep. But I didn't want my son raised by a nanny or anything."
Jensen nods, glances at the clock, reminding himself how early it is. No one else should be in for a while. Nate seems totally engrossed in his book. He can chat with Jared guilt-free.
"Hey, uh, if it's not too forward of me--what happened to his mom?"
Jared smiles, a little sadly. "Nothing. She wasn't ready to be a mom. We weren't that serious, and he wasn't exactly--well. I told her if she'd just--if she'd just have the kid, I'd take him." He looks at something Jensen can't see. "I love kids. And I wasn't--" he laughs. "I was pretty sure I was gay, so I thought I might not get another chance."
Jensen swallows. It's one thing to have a sort of crush on a straight guy. But Jared's gay and that makes it seem more real, even if he's still completely off limits. Because--parent.
He realizes he needs to say something to all this, but he doesn't quite know what. "I'm not sure if sorry is the right response here," he says, giving Jared a small smile. "You've got a great kid."
Jared smiles back, much stronger. "The greatest, man. And--yeah, I'm not sorry, you know? I love him, and I'm happy."
Jensen nods. "Well, we'd love to have you on the field trip. I can always use more chaperones."
"Yeah, no, I love the zoo," says Jared. "Any time you need help for this kind of thing, you can count me in. Always happy to be of service."
Jensen bites his lip. "You mean that?"
Jensen rubs the back of his neck. "We've got the book fair next week, I'm organizing. We had some last minute cancellations for the weekend, and I needed some help with the selling. It's pretty boring, but--"
"Dude, are you kidding?" says Jared. "Nate makes me come to those for hours anyway. It's like his idea of heaven. If I can help out while I'm around, that's great. We were already gonna be here for most of Saturday, so just tell me when you want me."
The most honest response to that is Right now, in the coat room if necessary, but Jensen thinks that really wouldn't be appropriate, so he tells Jared ten a.m. on Saturday, if it's not too early.
"Doors open at nine, right?" asks Jared.
"Yeah, but I don't wanna make you--"
Jared waves his hand. "You underestimate my kid. He thinks it's like concert tickets. He asked if we needed to spend the night to get a really good spot in line. He'll wake me up at six and try to get me there as soon as I've had my first cup of coffee."
Jensen laughs. "If you wanted to help me open up, I could probably get you in early."
"Advance tickets? He'd love you forever." Jared grins. "I could definitely be there to help you open."
"Yeah, definitely. We'll be there."
"Daaaaad," Nate calls. "I want to show you my book!"
Jared smiles apologetically. "You mind if I stick around and let him read to me? I swear, I'll be out of your hair as soon as another kid shows up."
"Yeah, no, go ahead. No problem."
Jensen fails utterly at doing any of the stuff he was planning to do before class. Every time he tries, he hears Nate's careful enunciation or Jared's earnest questions about plots and characters, and instead of working, he just grins so hard his face hurts.
Jared wasn't actually trying to make Jensen feel better when he said Nate loved the book fair. Nate wakes him up at seven and makes them leave early, even though Jared patiently explained that they were opening the place up, so it was actually impossible for anyone to get in before them.
Still, Jared's sitting outside with Nate in his lap, letting his kid read to him. He doesn't even notice that Jensen is there until he clears his throat and Jensen looks up to see him standing back, watching them with warm amusement.
Jared's only seen him dressed for school before--pressed slacks and ties--and seeing him in a soft sweater and jeans is almost too much to handle. He's got a pair of glasses on too, and Jared really just wants to to push him up against the wall and do things he shouldn't think of with Nate sitting in his lap.
"Morning," says Jensen.
"Hi, Mr. Ackles!" says Nate, grinning. A confused look crosses his face. "Why are you wearing glasses?"
Jared pokes him in the side. "Nate," he says. "Rude."
"Nah," says Jensen, "it's fine." He crouches down so he's at Nate and Jared's level. "You know what contact lenses are?"
"Yeah," says Nate.
"I wear contact lenses over the week, because that's easier for school. I don't have to worry about them getting broken or anything. But I have really sensitive eyes, so I wear glasses on the weekend to give them a break."
"Is it hard to wear contact lenses?"
"No, but it can make your eyes dry out." He gets up. "You guys want to go in?"
"Dad said I could see all the books before anyone else!" says Nate. "Is that true?"
"Yeah," says Jensen. "Your dad's helping me out, so you get special privileges."
Jared pushes Nate to his feet and then hauls himself up as Jensen unlocks the door. Nate charges into the gym like it's a candy store, and Jared laughs. "Where are you gonna be?" he asks. "Pick a section."
Nate looks around, thinking hard. "Second grade," he decides.
Jared nods. "You got your notepad?"
"Okay. If you have an emergency words, you can come find us setting up."
"I'll be fine, dad," says Nate, rolling his eyes. He runs off and starts browsing, and Jared turns back to Jensen with a nervous smile.
"He writes down the words he doesn't know," Jared explains. "He guesses what they mean. If he has no idea and needs to know to understand, it's an emergency word and he can come ask me."
Jensen looks amused. "I know. He does the same thing in class."
"Sorry about that. If it bothers you--"
Jensen hands him a lock-box. "Are you kidding? Seriously, there's no such thing as teaching your kid problem-solving too soon."
Jared laughs. "I wish it was that noble. I just needed to make sure I had time to work. So I told him it could be like a game, and every hour he could come check with me."
"Hey, whatever works," says Jensen. "Okay, prices. This is really simple. It's all color-coded. Just look at the spine, match the color of the dot to the price, and add it up. You got a calculator and a box of cash. No cards, checks are okay but we need a phone number and an ID with them. All the proceeds go to the school."
Jared nods. "I am pretty familiar with this from the other side." He glances over at Jensen. "I don't remember seeing you at this last year." And he knows, if Jensen had been there, he would have noticed him.
"This is actually my first year in town," says Jensen, grabbing a folded table from against the wall.
Jared immediately goes to help. "Really?"
"Yeah. I had--a bad breakup," says Jensen, a little awkwardly. "Wanted to get away. My best friend was moving up here, so I tagged along."
"How do you like it?"
Jensen shrugs. "Okay. Teaching doesn't mean I've got much of a social life, but my best friend does, so I get out. And the kids are great."
"I hear you on the social life. My idea of an exciting Friday night is watching Disney movies with my kid."
Jensen passes him a chair. "Sounds pretty awesome to me."
"Yeah, but he likes the lame ones."
Jensen laughs--he's got a great laugh. "Like The Little Mermaid?"
"I love that one!"
"I think he might be the one with good taste."
"Shut up," says Jared, but he's smiling.
"How old was he when he started reading?" asks Jensen, glancing over as Nate settles down with one of the books.
"Three," says Jared. "My mom's an English teacher, so she was always telling me how important it was to read to him. So once he started talking, he started getting curious, asking me what the words were, and we went from there."
Jensen nods. "Your mom's a teacher?"
"Yeah, high school."
Jensen looks like he's about to say something else, but then a voice interrupts them. "I guess you really didn't need my help."
Jared looks over and his stomach plummets. The woman approaching them is gorgeous--red hair, killer smile, long legs. Jensen smiles ruefully as she comes over.
"I told you I didn't," he says.
"I thought you might just be lying because you felt bad asking me to come."
Jensen laughs and shakes his head. Jared feels jealous, which is dumb, because Jensen is his kid's teacher, and he has no claim to him at all.
The woman turns to Jared and looks him up and down. "Hi," she says, sounding amused.
Jared gets to his feet and holds out his hand. "Hi, I'm Jared, you must be Jensen's girlfriend."
The woman laughs. "Please, Jensen couldn't be gayer if he tried."
"Parent," Jensen hisses. Jared barely hears it over the roar in his ears. Because Jensen is gay. Jensen turns to Jared, flushing, gorgeous, and Jared knows it would be completely inappropriate to kiss him. "Um, I'm--the principal knows I'm gay, but I'm not supposed to really mention it to parents. Not like they'll fire me, it's just. Yeah."
"I won't tell anyone," Jared manages to say, which is better than will you marry me?
"Anyway," says the woman, sounding amused. "I'm Danneel."
"Nice to meet you," says Jared.
Jensen looks between the two of them like he doesn't trust what could happen here. "Jared, can you go unlock the doors and put out the open sign?"
"Sure," says Jared agreeably. Danneel continues to look amused, giving Jensen a look like this is the best day ever.
"You doing okay?" Jared asks Nate as he passes.
Nate holds up a piece of paper. "Three," he says.
Jared laughs. "Great. If you need me, just come up to the table, okay?"
Nate rolls his eyes. "I'm fine."
Jared ruffles his hair. "Have fun, kid. Don't hurt your eyes."
"If I do, can I get glasses like Mr. Ackles? I like those."
"Nah, you'll just be blind."
Jared grins and opens up the doors for the day.
Jensen stretches and pops his shoulders. Jared glances over and smiles. "Tired?"
Jensen tried to convince Jared he didn't have to stay the whole day, and every time Jared shook his head like Jensen was insane, went over to Nate, had a short conversation, and said Nate wanted to stay anyway. So Jared's helping him close up, and Nate is continuing to work his way through every book he can find.
Jared hasn't mentioned Danneel's revelation about Jensen's sexuality, which might be because they've been surrounded by kids all day. Clearly, Jared's not homophobic, and it's not like just because they're both gay, they're instantly going to be attracted to each other, but Jensen still feels like it's hanging there, strange and awkward.
"A little," he says, cracking his neck. He smiles sheepishly. "I'm used to sleeping later on weekends."
"I can almost remember sleeping in," says Jared wistfully.
Jensen looks sideways at him. "You must have been pretty young when Nate was born."
"Twenty-six," says Jared. "I was done with grad school, had a good job--it wasn't like I planned it, but I felt ready. Is that weird?"
Jensen shrugs. "I don't think there's a set rule about this stuff."
Jared laughs a little. "I guess you're right."
Jensen blames the way Jared's laughter brings out his dimples for what he says next. "Hey, man, let me get you guys some dinner or something. I owe you for helping me out."
Immediately, he wants to hit his head on the table. He pretty much just asked Jared out on a date. With his son.
Jared laughs. "Man, how many times to I have to tell you I don't mind doing this? We'll have dinner with you, but you're not paying for us. Padaleckis can put it away, we'd eat you out of house and home."
"Fine, fine," says Jensen, because he can't very well back out now. "I at least get to buy you a beer."
"I can live with that," says Jared. "Let me go collect my kid and I'll be ready to go."
They grab some burgers and let Nate do most of the talking at dinner. He explains about all the books he read, and the friends he hung out with when they showed up, and it makes something pang deep in Jensen's chest.
He's never felt like he's really missing a child in his life--he's a teacher, he sees kids every day. He sort of figured he and Scott might--but they didn't, and that's fine.
It's just strange, feeling like a family.
He thanks Jared again for his help, and Jared promises he'll see them again tomorrow because, as Nate points out, they didn't actually buy any books today. Jensen laughs and tries not to get too excited.
Danneel's still home when he gets in, which is surprising. She usually goes out Saturday night, but he realizes as soon as he sees her expression why she's there.
"So," she says, smirking, "Jared."
"Look, Jensen. You haven't dated anyone since Scott, and then I come to your thing that you've been bitching about for weeks and you're laughing and smiling with this gorgeous guy, who lights up like a fucking Christmas tree when I tell him you're gay."
"His son is in my class," says Jensen.
"So it'd be weird."
"Jensen," says Danneel, sounding exasperated. "You like him. If he doesn't like you, I'll eat my entire wardrobe. Just call him, ask him out."
"He's coming to the zoo," says Jensen. "Chaperone."
"Molest him in the reptile house," says Danneel sagely.
"I'm going out with Sophia," she says. "You want to come?"
"I'm going to sleep for a week."
"And dream about your kid's dad?"
She looks at him seriously. "Jensen. I really think--he'd be good for you."
"Based on all of ten minutes."
"Just think about it, okay?"
"If it didn't work," says Jensen softly, "his kid'd have to see me every day. I don't want to do that to him."
Danneel kisses him on the cheek. "So tell him that. Don't just decide it won't work and never let him know you want to try."
Jensen swallows. "I really like him," he admits.
Danneel looks at him pityingly. "Duh."
Jared and Jensen end up hanging out kind of accidentally at the zoo--they split up into smaller groups, and their groups just keep heading the same places, so finally Jared just laughs and tells Jensen they should go around together. Their kids seem pretty okay with the idea, and Jared gets to chat with Jensen the whole time, which is awesome.
In fact, hanging out with Jensen is so awesome, Jared really thinks he should try to make it something more regular. He doesn't really know if it's okay to ask your son's kindergarten teacher out, but Nate adores him, so Jared figures there probably isn't an ethical problem there or anything.
Nate falls asleep on him on the bus home, a warm little pile of kid in his lap, and he catches Jensen watching from across the aisle with a fond expression.
"He loves the zoo," Jared explains, "but he always gets exhausted."
Jensen smiles. "I think about half the bus is asleep. It's naptime."
Now is not the time to ask Jensen out, so Jared just smiles. "It was fun," he says.
Jensen leans back. "I wish I could go to sleep."
"You can't?" asks Jared. As soon as they get back to school, the kids are just going home; the field trip took up most of the day. "I mean, you're done, right?"
Jensen snorts. "I wish. Even kindergarten teachers have paperwork, man."
"So you're going back to school?" he asks, trying to make it sound like nothing but academic interest.
"For at least two more hours," says Jensen, leaning back against his seat. "Feel my excitement."
Jared laughs softly, but his mind's somewhere else entirely.
He doesn't wake Nate up when they get out, just picks up his sleepy pile of kid and carries him to the car. Nate barely even budges as Jared puts him down and straps his belt on. When he looks up, Jensen's watching them again, and Jared has to bite down on a smirk. Instead, he gives Jensen a sunny grin and a wave, and grins even wider when Jensen waves back.
"You weren't kidding," Jensen hears as he tries, unsuccessfully, to do his lesson plan. He's having trouble concentrating, thinking about Jared, and what Danneel said, and how much he doesn't want to never see Jared again.
Apparently, that's not going to be a problem, because when he looks up, Jared's hanging in the doorway with a paper bag.
"Jared?" he asks, thinking that, maybe, he's hallucinating. Or something.
Jared comes in and grabs a chair--it's a kid chair, so it's tiny for him and he looks totally ridiculous.
"So, I wanted to ask you out," says Jared, and Jensen honestly wasn't expecting him to cut directly to the chase like that. "But then I thought you were probably already tired and hungry, so if I just brought you some takeout, there was no way you'd say no to having dinner with me."
Jensen stares at him for a minute, then snaps out of it. "You brought me dinner?"
"I brought you dinner. Chinese. I just got an assortment and hoped you'd like something."
"I love Chinese," Jensen admits. Then, "This is you asking me out?"
Jared starts unloading boxes onto Jensen's desk. "Yeah, pretty much. I like you, and I'm hoping you like me."
"Yeah," says Jensen. "I do. But--"
Jared raises his eyebrows. "But?"
"But Nate's in my class."
"Is that not allowed?"
"It's not particularly encouraged. Other parents could accuse me of favoritism."
"It's kindergarten," says Jared. "He doesn't even get grades on his assignments, he just gets stickers that say wicked cool."
"None of my stickers say that," says Jensen, slightly affronted.
"You know what I mean," says Jared.
"And then there's--look, Nate likes me. If I got more involved in his personal life, he'd like me more, get more attached, and if we broke up, not only would it suck for him, he'd still have to see me every day in school. He's a smart, mature kid, but that would be tough for anyone."
Jared nods, slowly, like he's thinking it over. Then he puts down his box of Chinese, stands up, takes Jensen's Chinese out of his hands and puts it on the table, and leans down to kiss Jensen.
Jensen makes a kind of helpless noise, something stuck between surprise and pleasure, and kisses back. It's as good as he hoped it would be--awkward and exploratory, but something right coursing underneath it all, and he whimpers when Jared pulls back.
Jared nods, more to himself than to Jensen. Then he grabs his food and sits back down. "That's pretty much my counter argument."
"Okay, okay," says Jared. "If you really think it'd be that detrimental, I'd be willing to wait," he continues. "If you want, I'll be here the last day of school, take you out then, and we'll go from there. But I've pretty much spent the last month trying to come up with more excuses to see you, and if I don't start dating you then I'll probably start volunteering to be a substitute teacher or something. Because--I like you. Like I said. And Nate's good, you know? I'm not saying it wouldn't be tough if that happened, but--I don't introduce him to guys I'm dating until it's serious. So we could--see," he says, a little lamely, like he's run out of steam for this.
Jensen looks at him, at this gorgeous, funny guy who brought him Chinese food and pretty much put his heart on the line, who Jensen knows loves his kid so much that he'll never let the two of them hurt him.
He thinks of the feeling he gets when he's with Jared, something like belonging, and how it multiplies when Nate's there, becomes better, stronger.
He thinks about feeling happy.
"Yeah," says Jensen, a smile breaking out on his face as he says it. "Let's see."