The Spark Next Door
Thanks to @jayankles for the graphic!
Summary: There’s always been a spark between you and the guy next door; when life takes a rough turn, things between you accelerate.
Pairing: Jensen x Reader
Word Count: 4450 (without lyrics)
Warnings: Trigger warning: Short assault scene; language, drinking. Mostly fluff-type stuff, despite the warnings.
Challenge: Kari’s Favorites Challenge with the trope of “Neighbors AU” and Bronwyn’s Double Birthday Challenge where my prompt was Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift. (I can’t be the only one who thinks of certain green eyes when you hear that song!) @thing-you-do-with-that-thing @jpadjackles
Your name: submit What is this?
“Let me guess - you need me to kill a spider?”
“That was one time, Ackles, and that spider was huge!”
Your neighbor flashed you an adorable smile, and you managed to keep the blush off your cheeks this time. His smile always reached his to-die-for green eyes, making you go weak at the knees. Jensen was nearly eight years your senior, the owner of a very successful brewery in town, and, even with the banter that had begun when you moved into the house next door after your grandmother passed away, you knew there was nothing more than friendship between the two of you.
With a soft laugh that made your stomach flip, he stepped out onto the porch and asked what he could help you with.
“My friend Kari brought her car over – needed the oil changed and whatnot. I’m trying to change out the oil filter now, but it won’t budge.”
Kari was leaning against the hood of the car, but straightened up quick when she saw you coming back to the driveway with Jensen.
“Hi, I’m Kari,” she introduced. You envied her confidence sometimes; it had taken Jensen coming to offer help to you and your brother on move-in day for you to even think about approaching him. “Thanks for coming to help.”
“Jensen, nice to meet you. Happy to help.”
He took the oil filter wrench from you and got to work. You and Kari sat on the porch while he worked, talking about hair and makeup, and before you knew it, the tune up job was done.
“You didn’t have to finish the job,” you said, “I really appreciate that!”
“Not a problem, sunshine,” Jensen assured, wiping the sweat from his face with a greasy rag. “Anytime. How’d you get roped into doing this anyway?”
Before you could answer, Kari interjected. “She’s got a hot date tonight, and I told her I would help her get ready if she would help fix up my car. It pays to have a friend whose dad and brothers taught her a thing or two.”
Your friend headed inside then, and you walked Jensen back over to his house. He asked about your date, and you told him about the guy from work you’d had your eye on for a while.
“He finally noticed me, I guess,” you shrugged. “I’m trying not to get my hopes up about it too much. I’m a hopeless romantic, and my head runs away with my heart sometimes. Or is it the other way around? Well, whatever it is – just keeping things low-key tonight.”
Jensen agreed that was a good plan. “Just make sure he treats you right, Y/N.”
“I’m sure he will,” you assured. “Thanks again for your help with the car!”
“No problem. I’ll be at the brewery tonight. Bring Mr. Wonderful in, I’ll get you guys a round on the house.”
With a thank you and a playful wink in Jensen’s direction, you headed back to your place to shower and get ready for your date.
Bryan was handsome, tall, successful – and apparently was well aware of the fact. Once the two of you got to dinner, he was no longer the nice guy from work you chatted and joked with every now and then. He was down right full of himself, and you couldn’t wait for dinner and the movie to be over so you could get home and never think about him again.
He had other plans, apparently. Once the two of you got back in his car, he immediately leaned over the console and pressed his lips to yours. The kiss was rough and sloppy, and not a gesture you wanted to be a part of in the first place. The whole night was turning out to be a disappointment, but now you were borderline disgusted.
“Look, I just want to go home, all right?” you told Bryan when you were finally able to push him away.
He snorted. “Oh, please. The other girls have told me how hot you’ve been for me. This is your only chance, Y/N. Sure you want to pass on it?”
Who the hell did he think he was? God’s gift, clearly. With a roll of your eyes, you got out of the car. You didn’t need him. You could call a friend or one of your brothers or even a cab to get home.
You were just a few feet down the sidewalk when Bryan caught up to you and gripped your arm so tightly, you yelped. Of course, the two of you were parked so far out in the lot, there was no one around to help you. You’d have to make a break for it if he was going to be this crazy.
“Let me go!” you demanded.
Bryan squeezed tighter. “You’re nothing special, you know that? Girls like you are a dime a dozen. But if you think I’m gonna let you go back to work and tell them anything about tonight, you’ve got another thing coming.”
“I don’t want to tell anyone anything, I just want to go home!”
“After you give me what I took you out to get.”
He started to drag you back towards the car, but you dug your heels in and refused to move your feet. Bryan’s open hand came down hard across your face, shocking you momentarily, until you saw red. He was facing you now, and one hard, swift kick to the family jewels loosed his hold on you and brought Bryan to the ground, writhing in pain.
Your cheek stung like a bitch, and your feet was sore by the time you walked the five blocks to Jensen’s brewery. Constantly looking over your shoulder, expecting Bryan to be right behind you at any moment, got you to your destination in record time.
It would have been easier, you supposed, to go back into the theater and call a friend or your brothers or a cab. Your brothers would have gone to jail after hunting Bryan down, though, and any of your friends would have made it into far more drama than you wanted to deal with just then. That left the cab, but you didn’t want to go home and be alone, either.
So here you were, standing at the bar of the brewery with bruises forming on your arm and face. Tear stains formed streaks from your eyes to your jaw. You found an open spot at the corner of the bar against the wall; you didn’t see Jensen immediately, so you sent him a text. If he didn’t answer in a few minutes, you’d ask someone to track him down for you.
Are you still at work? I’m sitting at the bar.
You wanted to somehow warn him of your current state, but you didn’t know how to word it. A minute after you sent the text, Jensen appeared from the back. He spotted you instantly. His smile turned to a look of concern, and he made a beeline for where you were sitting.
“What the hell happened?” Jensen asked, his voice laced with the same concern in his expression, plus a touch of anger.
Your chin quivered and your eyes watered all over again. Being here, with someone familiar, was the relief of safety; for that reason, you couldn’t stop yourself from crying. Jensen took your hand and told you to follow him to the back. He led you to his office, sat you in his comfy desk chair, and told you he would be right back.
By the time Jensen returned, you had composed yourself. He handed you an opened bottle of your favorite beer, then carefully set an ice pack against your face.
“Wanna tell me what happened?” Jensen asked, this time much more calm than his initial inquiry.
You bit your bottom lip. “Mr. Wonderful turned out to be Mr. Not-So-Wonderful.”
Jensen nodded as though he had figured as much. “Just your face?”
“He slapped my face,” you explained. “And he grabbed my arm.”
Jensen gently rolled up your sleeve to inspect your arm. It was already bruising, but there wasn’t much ice could do for you there. At least on your face, it kept the swelling down.
“What do you wanna do?” Jensen asked.
“I just want to go home, but I don’t want to be alone. And I don’t want to make a crazy big deal out of this.”
Jensen caressed the uninjured side of your face before leaning back on the desk. He must have been considering whether or not to go with what you wanted, or make you call the police.
“All right. Stay here. Give me ten minutes, then I’ll take you home.”
You nodded and kept the ice on your face. The stinging had turned to a burn, so the ice was soothing. It had started to melt and you were dropping the bag into the trash can when Jensen returned.
“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “Had to rearrange some things.”
You were suddenly self-conscious. “Jensen, you didn’t have to do that for me …”
“I did,” he replied quickly. “I mean, you’re my friend and you came to me for help. C’mon, sunshine. Let’s get you home.”
As you followed Jensen out to his truck, you thought about what he had said. It had never occurred to you that the two of you were more than neighbors and acquaintances, but Jensen saying the two of you were friends certainly made you feel less regretful about going to him for help. That didn’t mean, of course, that you didn’t try to explain yourself the moment you were seated in the passenger seat.
“It’s just that my brothers would have been way pissed, and Kari would have made it a bigger deal than it needed to be. I just wanted to go home and be safe.”
“I can understand that. We’ll handle this your way, but for the record, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a big deal or that I’m not pissed. You don’t deserve to be treated that way – nobody does.”
The rest of the ride home was silent. Jensen parked his truck in his driveway, then asked for your house key.
“I’ll go in first. Can’t be too careful.”
You had no problem with that. Never in your life had you been treated the way Bryan had treated you, and it scared you shitless, quite frankly. Having Jensen there was a welcome comfort.
“I think you’re good,” he said, handing back the key. You placed it in your purse, which you went to put in your room.
When you came back, Jensen was still standing near the doorway, looking somewhat nervous. You cleared your throat.
“I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight. Have you eaten? I’ll cook for you,” you offered.
“I ate.” He finally pulled his hands from his pocket. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable with what you’ve been through tonight, but I don’t really want you to be alone. Somehow next door doesn’t seem close enough.” He chuckled, nervously. “If you want me to crash on the couch or stay up with you, I will. Or we can go to my place. Whatever will make you feel safe.”
You breathed a sigh of relief. “I wasn’t sure how to bring that up, so thanks for doing it for me. I’m gonna take a shower, then maybe we can watch a movie or something?”
Jensen nodded. “Sounds good.”
You disappeared into the bathroom with your favorite fluffy towel, and started the water as hot as you could stand it. You cried a little again, just from the emotions of what had happened, when washing your tender face brought everything rushing back as though it had happened just a few minutes ago, and not an hour or so. You wrapped up your shower pretty quick, dressed in sweats and a tank top, and went back out to the living room.
Jensen was sitting on the couch, playing on his phone. He looked up at you and smiled. “Feeling a little better?”
“A little,” you nodded. “You changed?”
“Yeah, ran home real quick while you showered. Grabbed a six pack of locals, too.”
You smirked when he handed you a longneck of beer from his brewery. It was pretty delicious, so you took a good long drink after that initial sip to taste.
You answered Kari’s text message about how the date had went while Jensen debated between a couple of funny movies for the two of you to watch. You kept your answer relatively vague, but promised to tell her the whole story at work the next day.
Thanks to half the six-pack and the shock wearing off, you were asleep before the movie was over. Without realizing it, you dozed off against Jensen’s shoulder. He covered you with the comforter you had dragged out from your bedroom, switched from the DVD player to the TV, and fell asleep with an arm around placed protectively around you.
When the two of you woke the next morning, stretched out on the couch together, your cheek against Jensen’s chest, you were only a little embarrassed. A potentially anxiety-and-paranoia-filled night had turned into a quiet, comforting evening. You got up and made a pot of coffee before dressing for work. As you got ready, you were quiet as you could be so you didn’t wake Jensen until you needed to leave.
“Hey,” you said softly, sitting next to him. “I’m leaving for work. You can stay as long as you want, just lock the door on your way out.”
Jensen nodded and made you promise to be careful before falling asleep again. It was strange in a very pleasant way to leave a man you didn’t know extremely well but felt so safe and familiar with asleep on your couch.
When you got to work and told Kari the whole story, she made about as big of a deal out of it as you expected, but you quickly shushed her.
“I don’t want a lot of people to know, all right? I’m not embarrassed I just – I don’t want to talk about it. And other people are liable to talk anyway.”
Kari didn’t like it, but she promised to keep quiet. Your workday went on as usual, until Bryan found you sometime after lunch.
“Hey Y/N,” he greeted, as though nothing had happened. “I really enjoyed last night.”
You rolled your eyes and otherwise ignored him. He made himself comfortable; you used all of your willpower not to make eye contact. Your heart was racing. Not even twenty-four hours ago, this same smiling, pleasant man had slapped you across the face and would have likely done far worse if you hadn’t gotten away.
“I will have you, you know,” Bryan said, leaning forward so that anyone passing by wouldn’t be able to hear him. “I always get what I want. I’m sure you still want me – no one lets go that easily.”
Thanks God for Kari, who had been checking on you periodically throughout the day as it was. She frowned when she saw Bryan talking to you, but the moment he spotted her, he simply winked at you and left.
“What was that about?” Kari asked.
Attempting not to have a panic attack, you went ahead and told her what Bryan had said.
“You can’t keep on with this, Y/N,” she said sternly. “Sounds like last night was just the start. If he isn’t taking a kick to the junk as a hint, Lord knows what he is capable of.”
You ran a hand through your hair. “I know.”
“Please, at least go talk to the boss. Get yourself or Bryan re-assigned so you don’t have to see him.”
You hated the idea of being a victim – that was part of the humiliation of all of this. Kari was right though. With her encouragement, you went right to the boss’s office and spilled the whole story.
Your boss sighed. “I’m sympathetic with you, Y/N, really. Unfortunately, as the incident happened away from company property, our policy is not to get involved.”
She leaned forward on her desk. “Without a restraining order of some kind, my hands are tied.”
You nodded, feeling full confidence for the first time that day. “Fine. Then I am officially handing in my resignation. I’m sorry, but I can’t work in an unsafe environment.”
She didn’t bother calling you back to her office or anything; for that reason, you were even more comfortable with your decision. Another job would come along and until then, well, you would figure things out.
You weren’t going to be a victim of this thing that had happened to you.
Kari offered to cancel her date that night to hang out with you, but you assured her you would be fine. It was clearly all for the best, and you had some things to figure out, anyway.
It didn’t help that the easiest distraction from your problems was your neighbor’s green eyes and devastating smile. When you thought about the way he had cared for you the night before, how protective he had been, you got butterflies in your stomach. The idea embarrassed you only a little; surely he wasn’t into younger women. Whatever had gone on last night had been because you were friends, like Jensen said.
That didn’t stop you from putting on your most casually adorable outfit and driving over to the brewery. Jensen had texted you earlier in the day that he would be working the bar if you needed anything, and that planted the seed in your mind. Even if you didn’t expect anything to happen, it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple drinks while you ogled your crush. You know, to cheer yourself up.
The smile he gave you when you took a seat at the bar erupted even more butterflies in your stomach. You gave a little wave and smiled bigger when he came over to see you.
“Your face looks better,” Jensen commented.
“Wow, thanks,” you teased him.
Jensen laughed. “You know what I mean. What’ll be?”
“Same we had last night, please. I really liked that.”
“Ah, my favorite.” He filled a pint glass and set it in front of you. “Not too much. You’ve got to work in the morning.”
You shook your head as you drank down a good portion of the beer. “I quit.”
Jensen’s eyes went wide, but you explained about Bryan’s remarks and your boss’s reaction. When you were done telling the whole thing, he said he was proud of you.
“I’m glad you stood up for yourself.”
“Even if your friend is an unemployed loser now?” you snorted. It had been meant as a joke, but fell just shy of humor.
Jensen chucked you under the chin. “You’re not a loser, Y/N. I don’t care that you’re unemployed, but if you want, you can work here for a while, till you find something else.”
“Jensen, you don’t have to do that. You’ve helped me enough – more than enough.”
He shook his head. “I told you when you moved in next door that I was here to help with whatever you need, and I meant that. Now, you’ve already been drinking so you can’t start tonight. How about Monday?”
You could have hugged him across the counter, you were so excited. You agreed to meet him there Monday morning to get started.
“I find it interesting that he is so quick to help you all of the sudden,” Kari commented when she came over the next day. “Like after he found out you were dating someone.”
“I wasn’t dating someone, I went on a date with somebody and it turned out awful,” you corrected.
Kari rolled her eyes. “Not the point, Y/N/N.”
“Your point is invalid. Jensen had helped with a lot of things since I moved in.”
Kari nodded. “How many times before all of this did you two fall asleep on your couch together before all of this?”
You didn’t want to answer her. You knew what she was getting at, but if you allowed yourself to go there, even just in your mind, you were setting yourself up for disappointment. Just like that hadn’t stopped you from dressing cute and going to the brewery to see him when you needed cheering up, it didn’t stop you from dressing to impress to meet him Monday morning, either,
After giving you a full tour of the place, Jensen went through the office duties that would now be your responsibility. You had expected to be waiting tables or washing dishes; Jensen warned you there would be some of that but mostly you would be working as his office manager.
You sat on the counter of the bar while he put away glasses, teasing him about taking advantage of the new help, when he looked at you with an expression that fell somewhere between amused and curious.
“What if I did take advantage?” he asked.
Your smile quickly faded. “Seriously? Of me?”
Jensen set down the glass in his and moved closer to where you were sitting. He settled himself between your knees; you weren’t offended but … well, you weren’t exactly sure what you were feeling at that moment.
“I mean, not really take advantage of course,” Jensen clarified. That wasn’t something you were worried about, but you appreciated the effort. His fingers pushed your hair behind your ear. “But I was already thinking about you probably way more than I should. Then everything went down with that guy, and you came to me. It got me thinking about more things I probably shouldn’t be thinking about.”
The uncertainty fell away and you knew exactly what you felt and exactly what you wanted. When Jensen’s hand carded into your hair before gently guiding your mouth towards his, a daydream you had indulged in time and time again became a reality.
When Jensen parted from you, he did so slowly; somehow, he must have known that you wouldn’t be able to hold yourself upright immediately after he broke that perfect kiss. A million things were running through your head. When you were able to form a coherent sentence again, you decided to just be honest with him.
“A few days ago, I had a date with a guy I’ve ha d my eye on for a while. It didn’t turn out so well.”
“I know,” he said softly, not moving from where he stood. His hands ran up and down your thighs, and the movement sent shivers up and down your spine.
Deep breath. “I’ve had a thing for you since I met you pretty much. With you being older than me, and my neighbor who helped me every now and then, I never expected anything to come of it. Then all of that happened, and now we’re sleeping on couches together and you’re telling me things and we’re kissing on your bar.”
“I know,” Jensen said again.
“Say something besides ‘I know’.”
He kissed you, a soft, chaste peck this time. “I don’t want to rush this. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. I know it didn’t work out for you so well last time, getting the guy you wanted. But I want you too, Y/N. I want to get to know you better and be your best friend and take care of you. Maybe though, we can start with dinner tomorrow night? You know, a proper one. Kari can come over to help you get ready, I’ll put on some expensive cologne. That kind of thing.”
“I’d like that,” you said with a light laugh. “Thank you for understanding.”
Jensen nodded and helped you off the bar. “I’ve got you, sunshine.”
Monday and Tuesday were usually the days the brewery was closed, so that everyone could recover from the weekend. You and Jensen had gone in the day before so he could finish up the paperwork from the weekend and show you how things worked. With all of your nerves over your date that night, you appreciated that you had the day off.
With all of that nervous energy, you decided it would be a good day to deep clean the house before you had to get ready to go out with Jensen later that night. You opened the windows and let the early summer breeze air out the place.
Always careful about bothering the neighbors, you had your music quietly playing as you moved about the house. A lawn mower revved up outside in the early afternoon, so you turned up the volume on your music.
You were in a pair of jean cutoffs and a thin, loose tank top. No shoes on your feet, and your hair in a messy bun on your head. You’d washed your face that morning, but the glow of the sweat build-up from working in the house had added a sheen to your exposed skin.
Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
‘Cause I see, sparks fly, whenever you smile
Get me with those green eyes, baby
As the lights go down
Gimme something that’ll haunt me whenever you’re not around
‘Cause I see, sparks fly, whenever you smile
You didn’t care one bit about that when one of your guilty pleasure songs came on and you immediately thought of Jensen.
It didn’t matter that you were a mess or that you were going to see him later. You had something to tell Jensen, and you needed to tell him now.
You jogged out the front door, the screen slamming behind you. You looked over towards Jensen’s house and saw that he was the one mowing. He was shirtless, sweat dripping down his face and chest, and that only made your heart quicken. Summoning up the courage, you stood in front of the mower.
Jensen came to an abrupt stop and took the headphones from his ears. “Y/N, you all right?”
You nodded. “I know this must sound crazy, but I couldn’t wait until tonight to tell you. I want to get to know you better and be your best friend and take care of you, too. I don’t want to do this slow dating thing. I want us to do this, for real.”
He stood to the side of the mower. “You sure?”
“As sure as I’ve ever been of anything. I’ve spent way too long just being the girl next door. I want to be your girl.”
Jensen grinned. The connection between the two of you became magnetic; you met in the middle of the distance between you. Jensen pulled you up into his arms, and your legs wrapped around his hips. You pressed your mouth hard against Jensen’s, but forming that pucker to kiss him was difficult.
All you could do in that moment was smile.