Author's summary: Renowned chemist Jensen Ackles used to be a fun guy. He used to be witty, charming, and would love to go to parties.
For the past three years, he’s been different. He can’t sleep without waking up feeling like he’d done something unforgiveable. Sometimes he goes nights without sleeping because it’s better than having nightmares he can’t remember. It’s been going on for so long it’s become normal.
It all comes to a head when a semi-blind date goes horribly wrong. Jared, a man he’s never met, hates him down to his core. The problem is, Jensen’s never met Jared in his life.
Sweetly, achingly written. Jensen's disorientation is palpable and painful in all the best ways. What really makes this fic stand out, to me, is the author's handling of the slow reveal: it's clear from fairly early on what happened, but the important thing is how, and what it means for each of the characters involved. Because the readers already know the what in broad terms, we can learn the how by watching the other characters (esp. Jared) react, and trace their journey to dealing with it, long before the p.o.v. character (Jensen) has any idea what's going on. Effectively, we're getting the poignancy from all sides at once, without having to re-read it to make sense of the actions of the antagonist. Most authors have difficulty balancing just how much readers know/guess with slow reveals, either revealing too much too quickly or leaving us mystified too long, but mia6363 strikes that balance perfectly.
Jensen found himself being led into an elevator; Misha tapped his foot, each beat sprinkled with a merry jingle. When the doors opened again, Jensen was overwhelmed by the smell of rubbing alcohol and the painfully bright fluorescent lights. Misha waved at people Jensen didn’t know, other nurses and doctors, and then Jared was coming out of a room.
In his jeans and white coat, he was like a pin-up. Jared turned, Misha’s name on his lips, when he saw Jensen. The carefree smile that Jensen had imagined before their first date vanished, replaced by a worried crease between his eyebrows.
“Jensen?” It was times like those that reminded Jensen why he didn’t go out and try to meet people anymore. “What are you doing here?”
Misha must have figured out that Jensen was a freak because he didn’t say anything; he just rocked back on his heels so his silver bells chimed. Jensen’s arms ached from holding the bags and he should have excused himself, said he was sorry, but his brain betrayed him.
“There’s nothing wrong with the recipe.” Jensen lifted the bags a little. “I’ll show you.”
Author's summary: All Jensen has ever wanted to do is see the ocean. Unfortunately, that's kind of hard to do when your dad won't let you leave your house in the forest because of your magical powers. So, Jensen spends most of his days with no one but his pet hedgehog to keep him company. At least, until a guy named Jared stumbles along and offers to help him realize his dream. (A J2 spin on Disney's Tangled.)
I went into this with reservations - that movie irritated me no end, and the "one character is all cutesy and innocent and needs protecting/introducing to the world" genre goes sour very easily. But this is all charm and adorableness, which is totally a word, and the fairy-tale elements are woven beautifully with the modern world. Jensen manages to be naive without being over-vulnerable, and Jared balances the charming-rogue-with-heart-of-gold role effortlessly with the enthusiastic youthful bounciness we're more used to seeing in him. Plus Misha is fantastic, and who doesn't want a fantastic Misha?
“Look, I’m sorry that I stumbled upon your lair, or whatever, really.” Jared curls his hands into fists and rocks the chair back and forth, testing his bonds. They’re fucking tight. “I’ve seen the way this horror movie ends, but it doesn’t have to go down that way, alright? I am like, the best at keeping secrets. Just let me go and – “
“Horror movies? I like horror movies.” That makes Jared pause. Those words in his invisible captor’s voice should be terrifying, should be getting him prepared for some Saw type shit, but Jared doesn’t feel like that at all. The voice is boyish and young, tinged with apprehension and a cautious excitement, like he was just as afraid of Jared as Jared was of him. “Like Hitchcock? Those are good. I just saw Dracula last week. Spooky stuff, right?”
“What? No.” Jared shakes his head. Dracula? “I was thinking more of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre type situation.”
“Oh.” A pause. “I haven’t heard of that one.”
One of the longest, most awkward silences that Jared has ever experienced in his long, awkward life follows, and he clears his throat just to break it.