Word Count: 3107
Summary: Jensen's day is off to a rocky start when he finds a sick dog laying in his driveway. But when he meets the gorgeous vet, Jared Padalecki, he realizes that it just might be his lucky day after all.
Author's Notes: Written for nos4a2no9 in spn_j2_xmas. I went with your prompt of "Anything involving rescue dogs and/or animal shelter work. (I'm a sucker for a story with a puppy!)" All lovely art is from the talented and awesome ldyghst. Thanks to my girls for the encouragement.
“IT’S 8:54, AND YOU’RE LISTENING TO 95.2 WRCK!”
Jensen swore under his breath as he put his car in reverse to back out of the driveway. In theory he was supposed to be at work in six minutes but, as happened so often with him, there wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to be on time. He knew from experience that he had approximately twenty minutes before the look on his boss’s face went from indulgent exasperation to grumpy irritation. It was a fine line and he usually managed to stay on the right side of it.
Which is why Jensen was not amused to look in his rearview mirror and find his way blocked by a little ball of fur. It was a small, white, curly-haired dog, the kind he usually curled his lip at when their yuppie owners walked them down his street on their cutesy designer leashes and ridiculous miniature dog clothes.
“Get out of the way, mutt!” Jensen yelled, not deterred at all by the fact that his windows were closed. He slapped his hand on the horn, which gave a pathetic little “meep” that reminded him why he never, ever used the thing out in traffic. Damn imports. Clearly the little ball of fur wasn’t intimidated by the wimpy little horn either, since it didn’t even raise its head from where it lay on the cement of Jensen’s driveway.
Letting out a frustrated huff, Jensen put the car back in park and got out, intending to shoo the little dog away. When it just whimpered, Jensen felt a sinking in his gut that told him he was going to be more than a little late to work this time.
Crouching over the dog, Jensen reached out hesitantly. He hadn’t had much experience with dogs, and didn’t know if this one was going to take too kindly to a stranger reaching out and touching him. Moving slowly he rested it on the dog’s head, stroking the fur which was wiry and coarser than Jensen had expected from looking at the little puff ball. It was matted with from neglect and Jensen wondered how long it had been since he was properly cared for.
“What’s wrong, little guy?” Jensen asked, keeping his voice soft and low like he’d heard his friends talking to their babies and/or pets. He ran his hand around the dog’s neck, hoping to find a collar with a tag on it, but there was nothing. Figured. Sliding his hand under the dog’s belly he scooped him up and brought him close to his chest. He could feel the dog trembling and he wasn’t sure if it was due to pain or fear but it made him feel bad for the dog despite himself. He did a cursory check but couldn’t find any outward sign of injury. Clearly the dog was in distress, though, and Jensen had no experience with pets so he was going to have to take it in to a clinic or something.
“Great.” Jensen muttered. Keeping the dog close against his chest he let himself back into his house. First, he stopped to get a towel to wrap the dog up in to keep it warm. Then he called work and let his boss know he wouldn’t be in till much later. Finally he grabbed the yellow pages to look for nearby veterinary clinics.
The guy Jensen assumed was the veterinarian’s assistant swung around from where he was artistically stacking cans of cat food on the shelf. Jensen barely stopped himself from swallowing his tongue. The guy was all tall, tawny perfection and when he put his professional smile on Jensen could see miles-deep dimples in his cheeks. He was looking expectantly at Jensen with bright hazel eyes. When his smile began to falter Jensen realized he may have been staring a little longer than was socially acceptable.
“Hi, I found this dog in my driveway. I think he’s sick.” Jensen offered the towel-covered bundle to the guy. Dimpled Guy accepted the dog, his fingers brushing against Jensen’s as he did so.
“Hey, little buddy,” Dimpled Guy murmured, and Jensen felt a flash of heat at sound of his voice. Pitched soft and low and no doubt intended to be soothing, Jensen instead imagined that voice in his ear as the guy came over him and...ok, the guy was looking awkwardly at him again. Damn it.
“OK, well, I should be going...” Jensen said, easing towards the door.
“Wait!” Dimpled Guy interjected. “We’re short-staffed at the moment because my assistant has an appointment this morning. Would you mind coming in and holding him while I examine him?”
Jensen hesitated. He really did need to get to work but, hello, cute veterinarian, and for some reason he did want to make sure the little dog was going to be OK. So, looked like he was staying.
“Ok, I guess I can stay awhile,” Jensen conceded, and was rewarded with a brilliant, genuine smile from the veterinarian. “I’m Jensen, by the way. Jensen Ackles.”
“I’m Dr. Padalecki,” the vet responded, leading Jensen through to the examination room in the back of the vet’s office. . “You can call me Jared, though.” He winked, and Jensen felt a thrill of excitement. Was Jared <i>flirting</i> with him?
Whether he had been flirting or not, Jared was every inch the professional as he examined the little dog Jensen had brought in. Their hands brushed occasionally as Jared completed his examination, and though Jensen felt a little thrill every time Jared showed no outward reaction, other than a slight pinkening of his cheeks. The two men exchanged small talk as Jared worked, and Jensen tried to ignore the excited little flips his belly gave every time Jared smiled at him. Once or twice the little dog let out a plaintive whimper and Jensen felt compelled to soothe him with gentle strokes of his hand over curly white fur.
After a thorough examination, Jared stepped back and made some notes on a chart. Turning back to Jensen he motioned for him to take a seat, which Jensen did, bringing the little dog with him to huddle in his lap.
“OK, Jensen, this little guy is malnourished and appears to be running a low-grade fever, but I didn’t find any injuries. My guess is that he either ran away from his owners or he was abandoned, but judging by his condition he’s been on his own for a while. It’s actually a bit of a miracle that he hasn’t been hit by a car or attacked by other animals, with as small and weak as he is.”
Jensen’s grip on the dog tightened protectively at the thought of him being hurt.
“I’d like to keep him here overnight to watch the fever and see how he responds to the antibiotics I’m going to give him.” Jared continued. “You can pick him up tomorrow.”
“Wait, what?” Jensen said, finally distracted from admiring Jared’s muscular shoulders in the blue cotton button-down he was wearing. “He’s not my dog. I don’t have a dog.”
“Oh,” Jared said, the disappointment clear in his voice. “You looked like you were pretty attached to him; I was hoping you’d want to keep him. I’d hate to see him end up in a shelter.”
Jensen lifted his hands off the dog as though they were scalded.
“What? No, I’m not attached. I just wanted to be sure the dog was OK. I, uh, I gotta get back to work now.” Jensen lifted the little dog off his lap and handed him to Jared, then made his way to the door. He glanced back and wasn’t sure who looked the most disappointed at his abrupt departure; the dog or the man. Ignoring the mournful whine (definitely from the dog, not the man) Jared walked out of the vet’s office and made his way to work to brave his boss’ irritated scowl.
“So let me get this straight, you were scared off by a tiny dog and a vet?” Jensen’s usually awesome best friend, Cindy, asked. Jensen hadn’t planned on mentioning his morning adventures to anyone but between his late arrival and his obvious distraction Cindy had smelled a mystery and wouldn’t rest until she got full disclosure.
Jensen tossed a grape from his lunch at her, earning a playful scowl as it bounced off her forehead. “I wasn’t scared off,” he retorted. “I did the Good Samaritan thing, took the dog in, helped the vet examine him, and then I left. No big deal.”
“Uh huh,” she said skeptically, wrinkling her nose in a way that would have been adorable if he wasn’t currently finding her scrutiny annoying. “Did you at least ask the hot vet for his number?”
"No, I didn't ask the vet for his number." Jensen responded. "And who said he was hot?"
Cindy looked at Jensen pityingly. "Jensen, you've been mooney-eyed and distracted all day. Unless you're not telling me something, I'm pretty sure it's not the dog that's got you all worked up!" she waggled her perfectly arched eyebrows.
Jensen blushed. "Fine," he conceded. "he may be somewhat attractive. Doesn't mean I should ask every attractive guy I meet out, does it?"
"No, but you haven't been this obviously interested in anyone since you broke up with Tom. You should call this guy!"
"Look, something shiny!" Jensen said excitedly, pointing behind Cindy's head. She didn't fall for it, more's the pity, but Jensen beat a hasty retreat from the lunchroom anyway, her mocking laughter ringing in his ears as he left.
But sitting at his desk that afternoon Jensen couldn't stop thinking about the hot veterinarian. And, ok, maybe he was a little worried about the dog, too. So when work was over Jensen found himself back at the vet clinic. He was relieved to see they were open late that day, and after he walked in and asked the perky receptionist if he could see Jared, Jensen took a seat in one of the clinic's uncomfortably hard waiting room chairs.
After a few minutes of staring at the "SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!!!" posters decorating the walls, Jensen felt a flash of excitement as he heard Jared's booming laugh coming down the short hallway leading from the exam rooms to the front waiting room. Jared met his eyes and his grin widened a bit more before he turned back to the old lady carrying an ancient Pekingese dog that preceded him.
"OK, Mrs. Bornholdt, you just make sure to stop feeding Missy those cocktail weenies and she'll start feeling better real soon," Jared said, flicking a laughing glance over to Jensen as he spoke.
After Jared had seen Mrs. Bornholdt and Missy to the receptionist to pay her bill, Jared walked over to Jensen. He was standing close enough that when Jensen stood to greet him they ended up almost pressed against each other. After a pause, during which Jensen flushed and Jared smirked, Jared finally backed up a step to give Jensen some room to breathe.
“Well, if it isn’t the Good Samaritan,” Jared said. “What can I do for you?”
Jesus, what a question.
“Well, I was on my way home from work and thought I’d stop in and see how the dog I brought in is doing.” Jensen answered.
Jared’s smile softened. “Ah, Icarus.”
“Icarus? Did you find his owners then?” Jensen was confused by the pang he felt at the thought.
“Nah. I just didn’t want to call him ‘hey, you’ while he was here.” Jared winked. “Come on, I’ll take you back to see him.”
Jared led Jensen to a room at the back of the clinic. Jensen manfully kept his gaze from straying to Jared's tight ass - much, and was relieved that when Jared looked back over his shoulder to ensure that Jensen was following him, he didn't catch Jensen mid-leer. He walked over to a small cage and Jensen could see the little dog - Icarus - curled up on a soft fleece blanket. Icarus looked up and, seeing Jensen approach, started wagging his tail and Jensen could swear the dog was grinning at him.
Jared opened the cage and Jensen reached in to scratch Icarus behind his ears. "Hey, little buddy," he said softly. "You taking your medicine like a man?"
Jared chuckled, "Not just his medicine. He's eating as much as we put in front of him. For such a little guy he's quite a pig!" Icarus stood up and licked at Jensen's hand. "You can pick him up," Jared said, and so Jensen pulled Icarus out and held him up against his chest. He noticed the dog was looking much better, and he was wiggling excitedly and trying to lick Jensen's face.
"Dude, gross!" Jensen laughed, and he looked up at Jared and found the other man looking at him with an amused, almost tender expression. "Yeah, yeah, whatever," Jensen said good-naturedly. "so the little guy isn't <i>that</i> bad. Doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to take a random stray dog home with me."
Jared looked like he was about to say something but apparently thought better of it. Finally he said, "It's ok, Jensen. At least you came to see him, looks like that made him pretty happy! It’s time to close the clinic, though."
Jensen reluctantly returned Icarus to his cage, ignoring the pang of remorse he felt when Icarus gave a mournful little whine. He shook it off as they walked back to the front of the clinic. Now was his chance, if he was brave enough to take it.
"So you're closing up, huh," Jensen said, the immediately regretted the lameness of his segue. But he persevered anyway, knowing if he didn't ask now he'd never have the courage to do it again. "Would you be interested in getting a bite to eat with me?" he tried not to cringe at his delivery, but it mustn't have been <I>that</I> awful because Jared's dimples made an appearance and over the sound of his wildly beating heart he heard Jared say "Yeah, I'd love to. Why don't you have a seat in my office while I close up and we can go from here."
Jared then left Jensen alone to try not to hyperventilate at the thought that the hot veterinarian had actually agreed to go out with him.
They agreed on a nearby mid-range steakhouse, and drove there together in Jensen's car. The conversation was surprisingly easy, with none of the awkward little pauses and desperate searches for common ground that Jensen had experienced on other first dates. The two men had a lot in common, loving the same sports (if different teams, which resulted in some good-natured trash talking) and sharing similar tastes in music and movies. They stayed at the restaurant for several hours, until they were the last diners left and the glances from the waiter became too baleful to ignore.
At the end of the night, Jensen drove Jared back to the clinic to get his car. Once he had put his car in park, Jensen was debating whether or not to go in for a kiss, but Jared took the guesswork out of it by leaning over and taking his lips in a gentle, exploratory meeting of mouths. After a few seconds the tip of his tongue stroked questingly over the bow of Jensen’s lower lip, and Jensen parted his mouth slightly to allow Jared’s tongue entrance. Jared’s hand came up to grip the back of Jensen’s head as he deepened the kiss, his tongue stroking deep and sure over Jensen’s. After several minutes he pulled back, and they were both breathing fast and hard.
“I sure hope we can do this again soon,” Jared said, grinning crookedly, and Jensen allowed himself only a brief flickering glance at Jared’s arousal before forcing his gaze to remain steady on Jared’s face.
“Yeah, I’d...I’d like that,” Jensen stuttered. His insides were doing a victorious jig. He drove home in a fog and couldn’t believe how a day that had started off so poorly had ended so damn well. Maybe finding that funny little white dog had been a lucky charm of sorts for him.
The next day Jensen waited a reasonable amount of time - despite Cindy’s henpecking - before calling Jared’s clinic. The receptionist put him through to Jared right away, and Jensen found himself smiling goofily when he heard Jared’s warm tones through the phone.
“I was hoping you’d call,” Jared said. “I realized this morning that I forgot to get your number last night.” Jensen felt a jolt at the thought that if he hadn’t had the guts to call Jared this morning Jared would have had no way to contact him.
“Write this number down now!” Jensen said urgently, making Jared laugh. He rattled off his cell phone number and his home number just in case, and Jared dutifully repeated them back to him. In exchange Jared gave his personal numbers, and Jensen punched them into his phone. Crisis averted, he got back to the reason he called.
“So, in addition to letting you know what a great time I had last night -”
“Me too,” Jared interrupted, and Jensen gave a silent fist pump that he prayed nobody else saw.
“-I also wanted to check on my buddy, Icarus.”
“Your buddy, huh,” Jared chuckled. “Well, Icarus is feeling much better today. He’s probably well enough to go to the shelter. Unless, of course, someone wanted to take him home.” He waited expectantly, and Jensen had the sense Jared already knew what his answer was going to be. Damn him.
“Fine, I’ll adopt the damn dog,” Jensen grumbled, "but I'm not dressing him in yuppie little sweaters." Jared just laughed at him.
“Ok, I gave him all his shots and you can take him home tonight. And,” his voice lowered teasingly, “if you play your cards right, you can take me home tonight, too.”
Jensen laughed, knowing that Jared was being deliberately over the top, but now that the idea was there, he didn’t think it would be leaving his head anytime soon. Yep, finding that little furball was possibly the luckiest thing that had ever happened to him.