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Fear Is The Lock, And Laughter The Key To Your Heart - 1/?
jolieblon

Synopsis: Financial consultant Jensen Ackles wants a relationship but is too busy to meet people and leery of online dating. So he turns to a dating service with a high rate of success and is assigned a personal dating consultant. Jensen is surprised, and intrigued, by his consultant.

  Author's Note: In April of 2011 sadwinchfn asked me if I would beta the last chapter for one of her stories. After that successful collaboration she contacted me regarding an idea she had for a new J2 tale, asking if I would like to beta that one as well. I was excited to get to work with such a talented author from the beginning. After the first three chapters had been written and edited I received an email from Sue explaining that she was facing a surgery and lengthy recovery period. She asked if I would take over the story and complete it on my own. I was touched that she would let me ‘foster her baby’ and agreed to try. Sue had already sent a pretty detailed outline of her ideas and the direction she wanted to take the story, so I had a good base to build on. I completed chapter 4 and Sue was able to read and edit it before she went into the hospital. From chapter 5 on is all on me.


Rated: M
Categories: Jared/Jensen Alternate Universe
Characters: Jared; Jensen; Ellen Harvelle; Sandy McCoy; Christian Kane; Steve Carlson;
Fun Genres: None
Genres: Romance; First Time
Warnings: Jaren/Other; Jensen/Others
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1/?
Completed: No
Word Count: 3244
Published: 1/26/2012

Chapter 1

Jensen sat in the waiting room berating himself for being there. It was your typical waiting room; relatively uncomfortable, chairs too close to each other with horribly out of date magazines no one would ever want to read. Because really, how many people would be interested in a whole magazine about fly fishing? So although it looked like your typical waiting room, it was what he was waiting for that had him thinking he had lost his marbles.

What the hell had he been thinking? Maybe he should just get up and leave before they called him into the office for his appointment. He knew he could get dates on his own; he didn’t need these people to do that for him. He knew other people found him attractive. He was intelligent and successful with a nice personality. But it just never seemed to work out. The men and women he dated all seemed nice enough to start off, but inevitably either he would become bored by them, or they would decide he was too much work for them.

He grew tired of the whole dating scene. He told himself it was just that he was too busy to bother with the chore of trying to find his perfect match. And yeah, that’s what he wanted, what he was holding out for. He was going to be 30 years old in a few short months, and was feeling the desire to settle down and start a family. He wanted the whole suburban, white picket fence dream, and he wanted it with that perfect someone.

He couldn’t be bothered trying to weed out who he may or may not be interested in through those internet dating sites. It was just too much work and he didn’t have the time for searching those sites. And this place had a guarantee that they would find your perfect match. It was an old fashioned personal dating service. They assigned each customer a personal dating consultant. He had thought it was a good idea when he had read the brochure, but now, sitting here he was having second thoughts. But what did he have to lose? Still in the midst of arguing with himself he didn’t register it when the office door opened and the receptionist called his name.

“Mr. Ackles?” She called again.

Startled out of his reverie he looked up from the magazine he wasn’t reading.

Having caught his attention the receptionist smiled at him. “Mr. Padalecki will see you now.”

A little surprised over the Mr. appellation he got up to follow her. He had just assumed for some reason that any dating consultant was going to be female. Entering the office he was even more surprised when his dating consultant turned out to be someone so young looking. Jensen’s doubts that he was doing the right thing increased as he entered the man’s office. Or should he say boy’s office. He looked like he was in his early 20’s. What could this guy know about finding love?

“Ah, Jensen, come on in. Can I call you Jensen? Have a seat.” The consultant stood behind his desk, beamed a dimpled smile at him and reached out to shake his hand.

Walking up to the desk Jensen shook the other man’s hand and sat in the big leather arm chair opposite from the younger man. He watched while this Mr. Padalecki boy opened a manila folder and pulled a pen out of the desk drawer. He tried to calm his nerves as he sat back in the chair, hands clasped in his lap and his right ankle resting on his left knee.

"Okay, let's see. Full name is Jensen R. Ackles, age 29, Financial Consultant, income $125,000 yearly. Not bad for someone your age." Padalecki looked up from the papers and smiled at him. "So, how about we get into what it is you're looking for. Let's start with the physical characteristics you'd like in a partner".

Jensen was even less sure now, sitting in front of this young man, than he had been while in the waiting room. He thought he had done his due diligence before deciding on this company, but now, faced with a consultant who was practically a child, he felt he needed more information before this went any further. Frowning at the man across the desk from him, he asked, “Just how old are you?”

“Why?” Jared was surprised by the question. It’s not like he hadn’t heard that one before, but usually it came from older women, not young men. And yeah, Jensen was older than him, but not really by that much. At least Jared didn’t think five years was a big age difference.

Jensen let out a sigh, feeling a bit disappointed that he had let himself believe that this was going to be the answer to his problem. “Look, I think this was probably a mistake. Sorry for wasting your time,” he said as he started to stand.

Surprised once again, the only response Jared could think of was, again, “Why?”

“I don’t want to insult you, but you look too young to know what you’re doing. How can someone with so little life experience know how to find someone else “the perfect match” Jensen responded, using air quotes.

“Well, this session is supposed to be all about you and what you want. So, if you want some personal information to put you at ease I guess that’s okay. I’m 24 years old, and have been working here as a consultant since I was 20 as I’m also part owner of this business. I have a ninety percent success ratio in making matches that end in marriage. And yeah, I may be young, but I did manage to find my own match. I’m engaged to a wonderful girl. Anything else you feel you need to know?” Jared tried to keep his voice even, not show his irritation, but really, his personal life was not this guy’s business.

“I’m sorry, like I said I didn’t want to insult you. Not too many 24 year olds really have their shit together, you know.” Jensen shrugged his shoulders and looked over at the man across the desk from him. “Oh yeah, one more question. What’s your first name? If we’re going to be going over my personal preferences, I feel a little silly calling you Mr. Padalecki”.

At that Jared beamed another deeply dimpled smile at his client. “Jared. My first name is Jared.” Picking up his pen again he returned his attention to the papers in front of him. “Okay, now why don’t we start with the easy stuff, any particular requirements regarding height, hair color, eye color?”

Jensen was about to automatically say no, but decided to actually think about the answers. After all, if this was to be his perfect match, why not try for something physically perfect too. “Well, I usually pick someone who’s tall. I like dark, longer hair.”

Jensen watched, almost mesmerized as his consultant took down everything he said onto the paper, not just filling in blanks.

“And eye color? Any preference there?” Jared asked again.

Jensen tore his eyes from the paper and looked up into the eyes of his consultant, “Hazel is nice,” he murmured, not quite realizing he had spoken aloud.

“Mmhmm. Okay, how about careers? Any specific fields you would want to avoid, or to have your match be involved in?”

“Well, I don’t want to sound snobby, but I would prefer to have a match who has at least a Bachelor’s degree if not something more advanced. I want to avoid anyone I can’t have an intelligent conversation with. No bubble headed bleach blonds, you know.” Jensen was afraid he was coming across as a jerk, but he enjoyed being able to converse with his dates about a wide range of subjects, that most definitely didn’t include the latest episodes of whatever reality show was the current favorite.

And so it went, for the better part of an hour as Jared asked him questions and wrote down almost verbatim what he said. Finally he was unable to resist, “Why are you writing down everything I say. Wouldn’t this go a lot faster if it was just a form to fill in?”

He wasn’t really prepared to have Jared smirk at him. “Yeah it would. And all the other consultants use them.”

“Then why don’t you?” He was not only confused, but a little irritated. Why was this guy wasting his time like this? This could have gone a lot faster, he could have been out of this office half an hour ago if this schmuck had used the form instead of writing everything he said.

Jared let out a big sigh. This client was high maintenance. “What we offer is a guarantee to find you a perfect match. In order to help me do my job I write down everything the client tells me in our initial consultation, because it tells me not only what you are looking for, but the exact phrasing you use, the tone of voice you use, your body language all help me to determine what kind of person you are, and what kind of person would be your match” he explained, trying once again not to let his irritation show.

After a few more questions Jared put down his pen, folded his hands on the desk top and gazed at Jensen. “Now, I’ll take this information, review all of our files and determine who I think would be a good first date. I want you to understand that in all probability this will not be your perfect match. After this date I want you to make a return appointment so we can go over what you did or didn’t like about your date so we can zero in further on your perfect match. Do you want me to send your date’s information to you by e-mail, snail mail, telephone or text?”

“E-mail will be fine” Jensen replied. He felt drained after that in-depth, personal interrogation.

When Jared stood and walked around his desk Jensen stood as well. “Well it was nice meeting you Jensen. Make sure you call me after your date, even if it turns out that this was the perfect match, okay?” He held out his hand for Jensen to shake.

Standing next to the young man Jensen was surprised when he had to look up as much as he did. He had been able to tell that the guy was tall when he was across the desk, but now standing next to him he realized just how tall he really was. Jensen wasn’t normally towered over like this. At 6’1” he was taller than average, but Jared had to be around 6’5”. Broad too, at least in the shoulders, but pretty slim though in the hips. Jensen took his hand to shake, noting the long, graceful fingers and firm grasp. “Yeah, nice to meet you too,” he replied, feeling a bit disoriented from the whole experience. That feeling might contribute to why he was kind of looking forward to his next consultation.

Jared closed this door behind Jensen’s retreating figure. Well, he was an interesting one anyway Jared thought. Not your run of the mill divorcee looking for a new husband, or the sad wall flower looking for her first one. Although the man was a bit high maintenance, at least he was interesting. “Ellen” he called out to his receptionist, “can you get me the file on Cindy Sampson. I think she might make a good first date for Mr. Ackles.”

Ellen Harvelle was a pretty woman, single mom who appeared to be in her late 30’s, maybe early 40’s. She walked into Jared’s office with a thick file in her hand. Cindy was another high maintenance client. Jared had long ago given up on finding her perfect match, had offered to refund her fee, but she was persistent. She said even if he never found her a perfect match, at least she had a lot of interesting dates. Ellen placed the folder on the desk, raised her eyebrows at Jared “Cindy! Really?”

“Hey, they actually have a decent amount in common. She would be a good first date for him.”

“If you say so boss. And Sandy called, said to tell you she’s on her way and should be here anytime now.” Turning her back on her boss she rolled her eyes, not thrilled with the prospect of having to entertain ‘Miss Perfect’ while Jared finished his paperwork.

Jared finished typing his e-mail to Jensen with all of Ms. Sampson’s contact information. He put all his files away, locked his desk and cabinets, turned off his phone and computer then locked up his office door on his way out to the reception area. Sandy was waiting for him there, thumbing through one of the out of date magazines, being ignored by Ellen who was studiously doing apparently nothing other than tapping a pencil and staring at the clock, waiting for it to hit 6:00pm so she could leave. Given that most of their clientele worked during the day, their office had business hours from 10:00 til 6:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and noon til 8 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Jared usually also had office hours on Saturday mornings 8:00 til noon to accommodate those few clients who absolutely could not get in any other time.

“Okay, that’s it, I’m off, see you tomorrow boss.” Ellen gave him a smile as she darted out the door.

“You ready to go?” Jared asked his fiancé, picking his jacket off the coat rack as he headed towards the door.

“Well it’s about time you got out here,” she pouted at him, not moving from the chair, her arms crossed in front of her.

Turning back to her he rolled his eyes, “Come on Sandy, it’s just only 6:00 now. I know you haven’t been out here more than a couple of minutes”. Jared stared at her, waiting for her to join him, wondering what was up with her today. Why was it that everyone seemed either to be high maintenance or just down right grumpy today. “Are you coming?” He was getting grumpy now.

Sandy could tell by the tight line his mouth was forming that Jared was getting impatient with her. She hopped off the chair and slinked her way over to him. She stuck her bottom lip out in an exaggerated pout she knew would lighten the mood “I just missed you, I’m sorry” she batted her eyelashes and tiptoed her fingers up his chest and finally smiled at him.

That had Jared shaking his head and laughing at her. She might be trying at times, but he supposed he was too. They knew each other so well. Not only how to push each other’s buttons, but also how to diffuse a situation with just a look or a phrase. It helped that, like Jared, Sandy was bubbly, intelligent and driven.

They had been dating since they were freshmen in college and Jared had finally asked her to marry him two months ago after Sandy had dropped enough hints to sink a boat. She wanted to get married and he supposed he did too if that was what Sandy wanted. He wanted her to be happy, and if that made her happy, then why not. After all, it’s not like it was going to change his life in any major way. He would still have his career, the same woman he had been with for the last four years and they would live in his condo, with his two dogs. So instead of dating Sandy, he would just come home to her every night.

“Come on; let’s get out of here and go to dinner,” he pulled her into a hug and bent down to place a kiss on her cheek.

*****

Jensen was sprawled in his oversized arm chair, scowling at Chris and Steve who had taken up residence at each end of his sofa. The sofa he wanted to be lying on watching TV alone.

“So how was it? Some old biddy with a niece who has a nice personality?” Chris smirked at him around the mouth of the beer bottle he had just finished off.

Jensen groaned, trying unsuccessfully to ignore his friends. “I told you this is a real business, with offices, employees and clients. And she wasn’t an old biddy. She was a very hot young guy.” Shit, Jensen hadn’t meant to say that but Chris had rattled him.

“A hot young guy huh,” Chris leered at him. “I thought you went there to get hooked up with a female. So you could have that perfect little family you want so much.” Okay, now he was sneering at him.

“Yes, the consultant was a hot young guy. A hot young guy who is engaged, presumably to a hot young girl. And he will be e-mailing me the contact information on another presumably hot young girl for me to date. So get off my back.”

Jensen was about to throw his friends out when Steve chimed in, “So you can bring her to the show on Saturday and we can check her out.”

“What are you, fifteen? Bring her somewhere for you to check out. I don’t think so, especially not on a first date. No, I’m not going to bring her to the show. As a matter of fact you keep this crap up and I won’t be going to it either. Now go home, it’s late and I have to go to work tomorrow.” Jensen was trying to herd them out the door when he heard the e-mail tone ding from his computer. Unfortunately so did his friends. Steve and Chris immediately crowded in front of the computer screen, waiting for Jensen to open the mail. “Come on, let’s see what this girl looks like. If you’re not going to bring her to the show the least you can do is let us see her now.”

Jensen scrubbed his hand down his face and huffed out a big sigh “Fine, but then you guys leave, I don’t want to hear any more crap about this from you tonight.” Jensen clicked the e-mail open and up popped a picture of an attractive female. She had long dark hair, big brown eyes, and a nice smile. The picture accompanied her name and contact information with no other personal details. “Alright, get out. I need to call her and set up a date.”

The date on Friday night went smoothly but Jensen knew he wouldn’t be calling Cindy for a second date. She was pretty, intelligent and well spoken, but there was also a hard edge to her, and the fact that she told him she was not interested in having any more children. She already had a 10 year old boy, and being in her 30’s she said she didn’t want to go through a pregnancy and caring for an infant again.

Feeling oddly relieved that the date was not a match, he dialed Jared's number to set up their next meeting, already looking forward to their next date. Oops, he didn't mean that. It was a consultation, not a date.

TBC



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Ah you are sticking your toe in the writing waters... Good for you!!!!!! A little nerve wracking at first, but so satisfying! Congratulations!

Nerve wracking indeed. Hopefully posting the chapters that I edited first will get me more comfortable for the stuff that's all mine.
Also, posting was no picnic. Apparently it takes more than just cut and paste. Spent a good few cursing moments before I got it to do what I wanted.
Thank you for reading and commenting.

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