A/N: Hey, all. I needed a break from Campfire Tales, so I decided to throw a little one-shot out there. It's a summer fic, because I needed something to warm me up, what with all this snow in the mountains. That's understandable, right? Anyway, enjoy. I actually edited and reposted it, because hey, I missed a few details. Silly me.
It was nearing time for his lunch break when Jared started to think that he had picked the wrong summer job.
Of all of the 'character building' positions the amusement park offered, the baby pool lifeguard had seemed like the best job. After all, it was basically sitting around and getting a tan while people played with their babies in a wading pool. He didn't think he'd actually have to do anything.
Jared was, of course, wrong about that.
He was only on his second day, and he was already considering quitting for a simple minimum wage job in a burger joint, because one kid had already thrown up some sort of vegetable medley by one of the lawn chairs, and they were still waiting for maintenance to come take care of it.
The worst part was that he didn't even really see anyone his own age, because the other teenagers stuck to the roller coasters and wave pools, and the baby pool was pretty much in the back corner of the park. All he got was bored parents and over excited toddlers.
Eight dollars an hour was so not worth it.
Roller coaster duty was rumored to be the best job in the park, because those kids got free ride coupons by the handful, and they didn't have to do much more than smile and point. Just watching a roller coaster in motion was enough to make Jared's stomach flip three times over, so he'd settled for something where he could finally cover his winter pale with a tan.
The only thing he was really worried about was his scalp, because he'd shaved his hair down to a quarter of an inch, and he didn't know the protocol for protecting one's head from the sun. There were also the sunglasses that may or may not cause an awkward tan around his blue-grey eyes.
Jared glanced over at the clock hanging above the locker room doors. Ten minutes until his one hour break, and hopefully the temporary guard would show up soon. He fiddled with the whistle around his neck. They were going to be the longest ten minutes of his life.
"Hey," a voice chirped, and Jared turned to see a girl that was probably a few years older than him bouncing towards his chair. She had on the real lifeguard uniform, a red outfit with the park name on it, while Jared's swim trunks were blue with a small cross on them. Hers was much better, but he refused to give in to uniform envy.
He flipped his glasses back onto his head. "Hey. You my temporary guard?"
"Sure am! I'm Stacy," she said, throwing out her arms as if putting herself on display. "Head lifeguard."
Jared hated her instantly. "Cool. So is it okay if I bail for lunch?"
"Well, technically, you're supposed to wait it out, but I'm not one to keep a guy from food." She was the kind of girl that could steal any guy Jared might want with her dark hair and bright green eyes. "Go on," she said cheerfully, and flashed a smile at all of the parents, none of whom were paying attention to her.
"Okay, um, I'll be back in an hour, then." Ignoring her chipper reply, Jared scooped up his t-shirt pulled it on. He still had the park map in his pocket, because while he'd gotten the new employee tour a week before starting, he hadn't been paying too much attention.
He pulled the map out and flipped it around until it made some kind of sense, and almost missed a group of young girls looking at him and giggling. He rolled his eyes, but smiled at them, grinning when they began to squeal.
Somehow, he took a wrong turn after the longish bridge from the water park to the main park, and ended up in front of The Gift Shop. There were four in total, but three were only minor stores scattered around the park. The one Jared stood in front of was like the mother of all shops.
Which meant he was no where near the eating station, and his map totally sucked.
There were usually guides stationed in random places in case people got lost, because the park was pretty much one big maze, but none were in sight.
All Jared could see was a massive crowd of tourists moving in the general direction of what he suspected were the roller coasters. He looked at the gift store and sighed.
If there was one thing Jared hated more than being lost, it was asking for directions. Especially if it meant asking other kids his age who would act smug over knowing all of the secret routes around the park.
Jared's growling stomach didn't give him much choice, though; he needed a hamburger a.s.a.p. So for the sake of his stomach, he took a deep breath and marched into the gift shop. There were tons of people, women and men buzzing around the t-shirts and disposable cameras, and kids playing with cheap plastic toys.
There was only one girl behind the counter, and she was swamped with a long line of customers. When he looked around the shop again, he caught a glimpse of one of the park hats over a shelf in the back, and he immediately started towards it.
The hat belonged to a guy, and it was twisted backwards on short, messy black hair. He had his back to Jared, and was carefully lining coffee mugs along one of the shelves.
Hat guy didn't even acknowledge him.
Jared scowled at the guys back. "Hey."
"I heard you the first time," the guy muttered. "What do you want?"
The other boy was shorter than Jared by more than a few inches. Jared stalked over the guy's side and glared at him. He cocked his hips for good measure. "I'm kind of lost."
His name tag said 'Casey' in bright letters with two exclamation points. His face was turned down. "The door is straight ahead."
"Thanks," Jared said brightly, "but I was really looking for the food court."
Casey (!!) finally turned to look at him, and he had some of the brightest green eyes Jared had ever seen. His mouth was set in a thin, hard line as he glared up at Jared, and his cheeks were pink with aggravation. Jared brushed a hand across his mouth just in case he was drooling.
"Look, I'm not one of the guides. If you go outside, you'll probably find someone more than willing to help you." Unlike me was left unspoken.
"You must be employee of the month with that attitude."
"Store manager, actually. And I'm busy. So hey," he lowered his voice, and for a small guy he was really kind of intimidating, "screw off."
Jared had made a list of possible good things to come out of working at an amusement park. He mentally knocked off making friends. "You don't have to be an asshole, man."
"Whatever." Casey was like a vicious pygmy—total exaggeration on Jared's part—on a rampage. He grabbed at another two mugs and slammed them onto the shelf, and when he reached down to get more, when he came back up the two original mugs went crashing to the floor.
Like a pack of spooked animals, almost everyone in the store turned to look at Jared, including Casey.
"Look," Casey hissed, face red all over, "could you just leave?"
"Yeah, okay." Jared wondered how it was his fault, but he didn't want a kick from the shins from a really hot store manager, so he bit his tongue to keep himself from saying anything.
There wasn't a line at the counter anymore, so Jared walked up to it after making sure Casey wasn't looking. The cashier looked at him expectantly. Apparently working in the park really did suck out your soul. "Hey, I broke those two mugs back there. How much is it?"
There went his hamburger.
When it was finally time to close, Jared knew for a fact he had chosen the wrong job. He figured he'd at least try a few more days before quitting, though, because he really didn't want his parents to find a mature way to call him a whiney baby.
He'd spent his lunch break wandering around the park, and had lifted a pen off of one of the guides so he could mark his map. He now knew all of the shortcuts and secret ways around the park. Not that he expected anyone to come all the way to baby pool just to ask for directions. But if they did, he could totally pull off the smug act.
Apparently, Stacy knew how to pull in more customers, because when Jared had gotten back early from his lunch-less break, there were a lot more families than there had been to begin with. The best part of his day was watching them all file out when he blew his whistle, and after he made sure everything was in some kind of order, he was good to go, even though he technically had to wait until the clock hit five.
And everything was in order, with five short minutes to wait. Not that he was going to.
When he turned to leave, the angry manager from the gift shop was standing there. Casey, his memory grudgingly provided. Of course Jared knew the guy's name. He didn't look as pissed off anymore. In anything he looked nervous, and a little embarrassed. He had ditched the backwards cap, but still wore his park uniform.
"Hi." Jared looked around at the empty wading pool. "You lost?"
Casey blushed, and it was completely different than when he was mad. It was a lot more charming. "Jenna told me that you paid for those mugs." At Jared's blank look, he added, "The cashier."
"Oh. Well, I didn't really need lunch that bad."
"Aw, jeez, you skipped lunch because I was an asshole?"
Jared ducked his head to hide his grin. "Maybe I just wasn't hungry anymore."
People began to scream on the other side of the park. Casey's lips pulled up into a small smile. "Roller coasters. For some reason, the most popular job position in the park. Anyway, I came to apologize."
"Just like that? You're not going to burn down the gift store or anything, are you?"
"Nah. I'm more likely to burn down the pool."
"I think you actually got the most boring job in the park."
Jared smirked. "And you got the most annoying one, right?"
Another blush snuck up Casey's cheeks. "Actually, my sister has been trying to steal my job. She's a lifeguard, but she wants to work the gift shops, because she likes to take my things, and she's been trying to get me fired. It's been a long week. I'm working double time to convince the bosses that I'm the right person for the job. It's kind of been wearing at my nerves."
"Please tell me your sister isn't Stacy." He really, really, hoped she was, because he needed a good laugh.
"Yes, our names are Casey and Stacy. Laugh it up." Jared did. "We're twins."
"I am so sorry to hear that. I'm Jared, by the way."
"So I heard through the work grapevine. Here, you have no secrets."
"Well, my deepest condolences concerning your twin."
Casey finally allowed a full blown smile. He had dimples. "Thanks. She's not that bad all of the time, except when she gets competitive. You know, stealing boyfriends, stealing jobs, that kind of thing."
"Oh, wow. I knew there had to be a reason I didn't like her."
"You must have felt the same about me."
"Strangely, not so much. I just figured she was hiding an inner bitch. You weren't really hiding anything."
"Oh. Uh, thanks?"
"I guess I'd have a bad week too. Well, I mean I am, because it's only my second day, and no offense, but I really expected people to be nicer."
"I learned not to expect that my second year here. I'm on my third, now."
"So why do you come back?"
Casey grinned. "I'd like to tell you that it's a rewarding job in the sense that I'm learning important life lessons, but it's really more rewarding in the paycheck sense."
"So should I expect this job to make me slightly cynical, but still able to afford nice things every now and then?"
"Well, I started out cynical, so maybe there's hope for you."
Jared glanced at the clock, and in two seconds, his shift would end officially.
"Aw, shit." Casey scuffed his shoe on the pavement. "You probably want to get home. I would too if an asshole deprived me of my lunch. Anyway, I really came to say thanks, and show you I'm not always so bad."
"So anyway, stop by the gift shop anytime," Casey said, and turned to leave.
Casey turned around, eyes glittering in the late afternoon sun. "Yeah?"
"You want to grab a burger sometime?"
"Um. I'm actually a vegetarian."
Jared's shoulders dropped with relief. "Well, you want to grab some veggies sometime?"
"Maybe I should ask you, seeing as you ending up buying today."
They were about a foot apart. "Okay."
Looking just past his shoulder, Casey asked, "Would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?"
"Yeah, that sounds okay."
Casey stood on his tip toes and pressed his lips to Jared's. It lasted barely two seconds, but when Casey fell back on his heels, Jared knew he had a goofy grin on his face. He bent down and stole another kiss, letting his lips play against Casey's, dragging the seconds out longer than Casey had.
When they broke apart, they were both blushing. Casey fidgeted a little bit. "Okay. I have to admit, I'm not usually that nice."
"Well, thank god for exceptions to the rule."
Casey laughed, but his cheeks were still pink. "So, um, you want to get some cotton candy and wander around? I could give you a tour."
"Yeah," Jared said, as if he hadn't spent an hour giving himself a tour. "I'd like that."
So maybe it wasn't the worst job after all.
So, crap? Not crap? Let me know!