Chris is in the living room with Steve and they’re fiddling with guitar riffs when his cell phone rings. He fumbles for a minute with the guitar, trying to keep it from falling over. He nearly misses the call, but manages to flip his phone open on the last ring without checking to see who’s calling.
“Chris. You gotta get over here right now.”
“Jared?” Chris says, his heart rate picking up at his panicked tone.
“It’s Jensen. Something happened.”
Chris stands slowly, the world falling out from under him. “What – exactly – happened?” he asks, deadly calm.
“I don’t know, man. He was fine and then he started hyperventilating and passed out. I already called 911, but get over here.”
“I’m on my way.”
He snaps the phone shut and heads for the door.
“What’s going on?”
Steve’s voice surprises him. He’d forgotten his presence in his panic. “It’s Jensen. Come on.”
Steve lays his guitar down and slips his shoes on. “Gimme the keys,” he says, “You don’t need to be driving.”
Chris clenches his jaw and shakes his head, the need to get to Jensen right now overwhelming all other thoughts. He tries to head for the door, but Steve’s blocking his way, holding out his hand and staring at him calmly. He’s almost ready to start a fight, but the tiny sliver of rationality he has left tells him that Steve’s right. Doesn’t mean he has to be gracious about it. He slaps the keys into Steve’s palm with a scowl.
They don’t speak for the entire drive and Chris’ feeling of impending doom is not helped at all by the ambulance in the parking lot of Jared’s complex. He jumps out of the car the second it stops moving and takes the stairs two at a time.
He hammers on the door. “Jared! Open up!”
Jared flings the door open in seconds. “Oh, thank God you’re here.”
Chris barely hears him as he shoves past and takes in the scene inside the apartment. Jensen is on the couch, wrapped in a blanket. He’s conscious – relief floods through Chris at that – but looks pretty out of it as the paramedics check him over.
“Jen, what happened? Are you all right?” He crosses to the couch as Jensen looks up at him.
“I’m fine,” he whispers, none too convincingly.
“Bullshit. The paramedics aren’t here ‘cause you’re fine.” Chris looks at them. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s doing all right now. It looks like he had a panic attack, but he should be fine if he gets some rest and takes it easy tonight.”
“A panic attack?” Chris looks back to Jensen. “Why?”
Jensen shrugs, his face drawn. His eyes flick momentarily over Chris’ shoulder before he resolutely stares at his lap, a flush rising on his face. Chris looks behind him and his eyes crash into Jared’s. He looks back at Jensen, cold rage filling him.
“Right. Okay, then.”
Chris turns around and goes to stand with Steve.
Steve wraps his arms around Chris’ shoulders, but Chris doesn’t relax against him. His whole body is thrumming with the need to do violence. Now.
Steve whispered in his ear. “You jumping to conclusions, babe?”
Chris clenches his jaw. “Not jumping,” he mutters back.
Steve makes a skeptical noise. “Whatever you say.”
They stay like that and Chris waits with saintly patience for the paramedics to finish their examination and pack up their things.
The click of the door closing behind them seems to echo through the silence of the apartment. Chris counts a slow ten, then does it again. Carefully he turns to Jared. He holds his voice under careful control when he speaks.
“What did you do?”
Jared eyes widen in hurt and confusion. “What? Nothing!”
“Yeah, right. Tell me another one. Seven years he’s fine, then suddenly he needs paramedics and he just happens to be at your place? Now I’m gonna ask you one more time. What. Did. You. Do?” Chris is right up in Jared’s face without really remembering how he got there. He punctuates his last question with sharp pokes to Jared’s chest.
Jared back up, palms out in front of him. “Whoah, man. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t do anything. We were just watching TV.”
Steve’s right behind Chris, laying a placating hand on his shoulder. “Come on, Chris. Leave it alone.”
Chris shrugs him off. “No. No, I won’t leave it alone.” He advances on Jared again. “Did you touch him? Did you hurt him?”
“No! Chris, man, you know me better than that.”
He’s raising his fists, fully prepared to take on all six feet infinity of Jared to defend Jensen.
“Chris.” Jensen’s voice is quiet, but it cuts through the angry noise in his head. He turns to the couch. Guilt fills him when he takes in Jensen’s wide eyes and pale skin. “He didn’t do anything to me. Leave him alone.”
Chris nods, deflating. “Right. Sorry.” He looks from Jensen to Jared, trying to convey his apology to both of them.
“Can we go home now?” Jensen asks.
Jared watches them maneuver Jensen up off the couch and to the door silently. He nods to them as they leave, his eyes shuttered.
Steve tries a little small talk in the car, but falls silent quickly when Chris and Jensen don’t respond. When they get home, Chris walks Jensen into his room.
“You want me to hang out tonight?”
Jensen shakes his head. “No. I really just want to be alone.”
Chris nods. “Okay. Get some rest.” He eases out of the room, shutting the door silently behind him.
Steve’s waiting for him in the living room. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah. Or he will be anyway.”
“So what was that tonight?”
Chris sighs and glances back at Jensen’s door. “Let’s talk about it in the bedroom, okay? I mean, if you’re staying.”
Steve rolls his eyes. “Of course I am. Someone’s gotta take care of you.”
They undress and slip under the sheets. Chris curls up against Steve and lays his head on his chest. He listens to Steve’s heartbeat for a little while, trying to come up with a way to explain his behavior. Steve doesn’t push him to speak, just strokes his hair absently. Waiting.
“I think I pushed him into this.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just – Jared seemed different and I thought maybe Jen would – maybe he could get better.”
“Jared’s a good guy. He likes Jensen.”
“Yeah.” They’re silent a long time. Finally Chris speaks again. “He’s never going to get better, is he?”
Another silence. Chris can tell that Steve is trying to figure out what to say.
“Well, I wouldn’t give up hope just yet. And, Chris. None of this is your fault, okay?”
“No buts. Jensen is incredibly lucky to have you. You’re loyal to a fault and I know you would never do anything to hurt him. And hopefully he will get better one of these days, but even if he doesn’t,” Steve lifts Chris’ face to meet his eyes, “Even if he doesn’t, you’ll still love him. And I’ll still love you.”
Well there’s really nothing to do after that but climb up on top of Steve, press him down into the mattress and kiss him breathless. In moments Steve is moaning up into his mouth. Chris swallows every little sound, savoring the familiar taste of them.
He pulls away from Steve’s lips and kisses down the well-traveled landscape of his body, stopping at all the sensitive places that he knows will make his lover shiver and squirm. The hollow under his jaw, the peak of his collar bone. He licks and suckles on nipple and then the other while running his fingers feather-light up and down Steve’s arms.
Chris pauses to slide Steve’s boxers off, then places a gentle bite on one hipbone before addressing his cock, which is, by now, standing proudly at attention. He makes a few broad strokes with his tongue, then takes Steve in as far as he can. Steve thrusts shallowly into his mouth and Chris can feel him shaking with the effort of control.
He pulls off and crawls back up to kiss Steve again. Chris mumbles against his lips. “Want you inside. Now.”
Steve rolls them over and now he’s making quick work of Chris boxers and reaching for the lube on the nightstand. Chris gasps when the first finger slides into him, like always. Steve works him open efficiently, with the ease of long practice.
Chris groans as Steve slides into him slowly, sweat shining on his forehead from the effort of holding back. When he’s all the way in, he pauses, his hair falling around his face, his eyes only just far away enough to focus on. Chris kisses him briefly.
“Want it hard,” he whispers, “Want to feel you.”
Steve groans low in his throat and drops his head onto Chris’ shoulder. Then he complies, pulling back and thrusting hard. He sets up a rhythm that Chris’ matches eagerly. Steve’s brushing against his prostate on nearly every thrust and that’s more than enough to send the last of his rational thoughts skittering off in every direction.
Steve wraps a hand around his cock and pulls hard in time with his thrusts. Another minute or two and that’s all she wrote for both of them. Chris comes in spurts up between them, coating Steve’s hand and both their chests, as he feels Steve fill him up.
Steve collapses on his chest for a moment before rolling them both to the side and gathering Chris against his chest. “We should clean up,” he mumbles into Chris’ hair.
“Later,” Chris says, feeling far too bonelessly satisfied to move.
Steve huffs out a little laugh. “Yeah, later.”
Jensen is woken by the sun stabbing him in the eye. He moans and burrows under the covers, trying to escape the light. His first thought is that he feels like he’s been run over by a truck, then backed over, then run over again. His second thought is—
“Shit! I’m late!”
He jumps out of bed, wondering frantically why his alarm didn’t go off. He looks at the offending time piece and notes with horror that it’s nearly noon. He’s going to get fired and end up living on the street. And why hasn’t the office called? Even if he slept through his alarm, surely he would have heard the phone. He spins around, intending to sprint to the closet and throw on the first thing he pulls out.
That’s when he sees Chris standing in the doorway with two cups of coffee, one cradled against his chest, the other held out temptingly to Jensen.
“I called your office to let them know you were sick.”
“I’m not sick.”
“Jensen, you had a panic attack and paramedics had to come save you. Did you want me to tell them that?”
Oh. Right. He sort of forgot that part until Chris just brought it up. Well, not forgot exactly. It just hadn’t registered in his conscious mind yet. “No, I guess not.”
“We need to talk about this.”
Jensen doesn’t talk about things. Not real things. He even slides by with a minimum of sincerity in his quarterly check-in appointments with his therapist. Chris knows this. Okay, not the part about the therapist, but about the talking. He knows. “I’m fine.”
Boy, his best friend can pack a lot of guilt trip into a single syllable. “Coffee,” he insists, avoiding giving an actual answer.
Chris sighs and nods, handing him the cup. He takes it and savors the tingle that always accompanies his first sip of caffeine in the morning. He crawls back into bed and props himself up against the headboard, knees tucked under him. Chris perches on the end of the bed, nursing his own cup.
Jensen drains the mug and stares into its ceramic depths, really not wanting to talk about what Chris wants to talk about.
He looks up, reluctantly meeting Chris’ eyes. “Yeah?”
“What happened last night?”
“Nothing.” He looks down again, feeling the weight of his friend’s stare. “Okay, something,” he relents.
Chris chokes out a humorless laugh. “Yeah, I’m totally enlightened now.”
The corner of Jensen mouth twitches upward for an instant. He studies the mug for a couple minutes, trying to make his thoughts come out as words without panicking again.
Chris waits patiently.
“It’s just . . . Jared.”
Jensen sees Chris’ hackles go up instantly. “Did he do something to you?”
He shakes his head. “No. Calm down, Chris. It’s nothing like that.”
Jensen feels a slight tightening in his chest that reminds him of last night. He breathes in and out methodically to stave off the panic. Seven on the inhale, hold seven, exhale seven. Something he picked up from one of his many therapists or counselors. When he’s sure he’s not going to do a repeat performance, he opens his mouth to speak.
“I’m in love with him.”
He says it so softly he wonders if Chris heard him, but the sharp intake of breath gives him his answer.
“And last night?”
“I realized it.”
“Okay, well.” Chris processes for a minute while Jensen keeps practicing his controlled breathing. Having the words out in the world is strange and frightening.
“So what do you want to do about that?”
Jensen shrugs. “Nothing.”
“I don’t do this.”
“Yeah, I know, but Jen—“ Chris breaks off, a pained look on his face, seeming reluctant to say what he’s thinking.
“Just say it. I’m not gonna break, Chris.”
“That’s just the thing, though. I’m always afraid you will. Things were so bad after—I, um—after what happened. And I get it. I get that it was horrible. But are you going to let one awful thing fuck up the rest of your life? Because if you are, then he wins, Jen. I don’t want him to win. Do you?”
Chris pauses, looking like he’s waiting for a punch. Jensen’s far to shocked to make a sound and – he pokes at his reactions to be sure – he’s not actually angry. When immediate retribution isn’t forthcoming, Chris continues.
“Jared’s a good guy, Jensen. He’s been trying so hard for you, although I doubt you noticed. Do you think you could give it a try with him?”
Jensen thinks about that. And he thinks about his life for the past ten years. Then he comes to a conclusion.
Jared didn’t sleep at all last night. He tried – for like five minutes just as the sun was creeping over the horizon – but mostly he worried and watched TV without seeing. He wants to check on Jensen, but he’s pretty sure Chris will kill him if he gets within thirty feet of him.
In the early hours of the morning he cleaned up the mess the paramedics made, washed the dishes he and Jensen used for chips and salsa last night and barely restrained himself from vacuuming the already pristine carpet. When he has some free mental space he’s really going to worry about this new house cleaning tick he’s developed.
Sometime around midmorning he throws up his hands and goes out for a long run to burn off some of the excess nervous energy in his system. He gets back and makes coffee and still feels twitchy and bone-weary at the same time.
He throws caution to the wind and calls Jensen’s office, only to be told he’s out for the day. That does nothing for his worry. He paces around indecisively, plunks himself down on the couch and tries to watch something on TLC, then paces some more.
It’s late afternoon when he finally decides that Chris can kick his ass if he wants to. He needs to see Jensen. Just as he grabs his keys, there’s a soft knock on the door. He’s puzzled as to who would be coming to see him. He doesn’t really know a lot of people besides Chris, Steve, and Jensen.
He pulls the door open and gapes when he sees Jensen standing there.
“Oh my God, are you okay? I’ve been so worried.” Jared reaches out a hand to touch Jensen – make sure he’s real and alive and standing in front of him – but snatches it back just in time, remembering Chris’ freak out last night. “Uh, sorry. Chris isn’t here is he? ‘Cause I don’t really feel like dying today.” He leans forward to peer around the edges of the door.
Jensen’s lips twitch like he wants to smile at that. “No.”
Jensen shuffles a bit on the welcome mat. “Umm, I think we need to talk,” he says.
Jared nods. “Yeah. Come in.”
They move awkwardly around each other, unsure and skittish.
“You want to sit?” Jared asks, gesturing at the couch.
They settle, Jared on one end, Jensen curled protectively into the other.
“So what did you want to talk about?”
Jensen exhales slowly and Jared waits.
“There’s, uh, some things I need to tell you. I’ve never told anyone else this – um, except my therapist. I mean, people know. Chris, my parents. But I’ve never had to tell anyone.
Jared nods, feeling the weight of Jensen’s trust. “Okay.”
Jensen stares at his knees, but Jared can tell he’s seeing something else entirely. He’s silent for a little while. When he starts speaking, it’s like he’s not even talking to Jared. His voice is low and rhythmic, like he’s telling the story as it plays out in front of his eyes.
“My dad had this roommate in college. The guy got obsessed with him. He was convinced they were meant to be together. So he didn’t take it too well when my dad married my mom. By that time he’d already been in and out of a couple of mental institutions. My dad cut off contact with him and they thought that was the end of it.
“But it turns out he was still stalking them. When I was born he snuck into the hospital. Got all the way into her room and started talking crazy, threatening her and me. Security dragged him out of there pretty fast. My dad wanted him arrested, but he hadn’t actually done anything they could press charges for, so the police couldn’t help much. They got a restraining order, but that’s it.
“My mom and dad were scared he was gonna come back, so they moved from California to Texas. No forwarding address. And it seemed like it worked. They never heard from him again and they never told me any of this. Until I turned fifteen.”
Jensen breaks out of his reverie and looks up at Jared. His eyes are wide, dark, and frightened. He seems to be searching for something.
“It’s okay,” Jared says, “You can tell me.” Again he wants to reach out and touch, but instinct tells him this would be a very bad idea.
Jensen nods and breaks eye contact again.
“On my fifteenth birthday, I went out with Chris and some of our other friends. Uh, we went bowling and then we just ran around town for a few hours. There’s not a lot to do around here. Just being out way too late was pretty big excitement.
“We were messing around, playing some stupid game I don’t even remember. I got separated from the others.”
He trails off, his breathing started to come short and shallow.
“Hey, Jensen. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Jared says, not wanting a repeat of the night before.
That seems to focus him. He shakes his head. “No. I can do this.”
He takes a couple of deep breaths and continues.
“Next thing I know I’m being dragged into this alley. I thought it was my friends at first. I yelled for them to let me go. Then this dirty hand came over my mouth and he told me to shut up or he’d kill me.”
Tears streak down Jensen’s face and he swallows convulsively. Jared feels like he’s frozen, waiting for the rest of the story.
“Then he, uh—he—“ Jensen breaks off with a wordless cry and jumps up. “I can’t do this,” he says, like he doesn’t intend for Jared to hear. He heads for the door with tense, jerky steps.
“Jensen, wait! Please,” Jared calls and doesn’t care that he’s begging.
Jensen turns and backs up against the door like he wants to be sure of his escape route. He wraps his arms around himself protectively and Jared is intensely aware of how fragile he is, how one word out of place might shatter him.
“I’m sorry, Jared. I thought I could do this, but I can’t.”
Jared sees the shutters come down in Jensen’s eyes. It’s the same look he had the first time they met, like the lights are on, but no one’s home. But this time it doesn’t quite fit. Jared can see the anguish underneath.
“If not now, then when?”
Jensen shakes his head. “I don’t know. Never?” His eyes beg Jared to give him an out.
Jared steels his resolve. “Jensen, no. Let me help you. Please?”
Jensen presses back against the door like he’s trying to tunnel out with his shoulder blades. His eyes dart wildly, looking at everything but Jared. Then he sighs and eases away from the door. “Okay.”
They sit back down and Jensen curls even more tightly into himself. Jared watches him and Jensen watches a darkened alley. When he speaks again, his voice is high and strained, like a guitar string on the verge of snapping.
“The guy – he had this crazy look in his eyes. And this dirty, stringy hair. He said I looked just like him. My dad, I guess. Then he—“ Jensen breaks off to steady his breathing. Then he squeezes his eyes shut and speaks like he’s ripping off a band aid. “He pushed me down and made me suck his cock and then he fucked me and then he left me laying in that alley.”
Jared sucks in a breath through his teeth, horrified. Jensen opens his eyes and just stares at him with wide eyes. For a moment, Jared’s frozen. He doesn’t know what the right thing to do is. What single action can make a decade of misery go away.
Then he realizes that nothing can do that and there’s only one thing he can do.
“Jen,” he whispers. He can’t help it. He moves across the couch and wraps Jensen up in his arms.
Jensen stiffens for a moment and Jared’s about to pull back and apologize. Then Jensen’s arms come up and wrap around his neck and hold him there. Sobs wrack his body as Jared holds him. He murmurs comforting nonsense and rubs up and down Jensen’s back.
Jared can’t even comprehend that kind of awful. He doesn’t even know where to start with making it better. Jensen’s hands are fisted in the collar of his shirt and tears soak through the fabric, searing his skin where they touch. His whole body shakes under Jared’s hands and Jared feels tears of his own sliding down his cheeks. He keeps holding Jensen until the sobs turn to little hiccupping sniffles. Finally Jensen pulls away, his eyes sliding off of Jared’s.
Jensen nods. Eventually he speaks again, his voice rough. “They caught him in a bar a couple blocks away. He confessed. It was barely even a trial. Life without parole. But after that I was pretty messed up. Started drinking and getting into trouble and skipping school. I tried to kill myself. Um, a couple of times.
“My parents got me into therapy. They sent me away to this place for the real hard cases for a couple of months. That got me straightened out. I mean, sort of. I stopped trying to kill myself. Quit most of the self-destructive behavior. But I could never really deal.
“I convinced my therapists that I could, but I just shut everything out. I guess I thought if I kept everybody at arm’s length, I was safe.”
Jensen meets Jared’s eyes with an intense stare. “I don’t get close to people, Jared. I don’t have strong feeling about anything. I go to work, and I play in the band, and I fuck any guy who’s willing, but only once. I’ve never had a relationship that lasted longer than a day.
“And then you come along and crash through all my defenses without even trying—I was scared. I thought if I slept with you it would prove you were just like any other guy. But you weren’t and that just made it worse and I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I didn’t know what to do. Can you understand that?”
Jared can. Now that he has all the horrible details he really can. He nods, not trusting himself to speak past the lump in his throat.
Jensen looks at him with shining eyes. His long lashes are wet with tears and the freckles across his cheeks stand out in stark relief. Jared takes in these tiny details and imprints them on his memory. There’s something momentous about this moment that makes him pay attention, like’s he’s going to want to remember everything about it. When Jensen speaks, he’s proven absolutely right. “I am so tired of being scared, Jay. I want to stop being too afraid of everything to live my life. I just want to be happy. And you make me happy. Jared Padalecki, I’m in love with you.”
Tears are streaking down Jared’s face again and he grins so wide he’s worried his face might crack. “Jensen Ackles, I have loved you since I first laid eyes on you. Can I please kiss you now?”
He leans forward and is a bit disconcerted when Jensen leans back and puts a hand up between them.
“I really, really want you to, but I’ve, uh, never done it before.”
Jared blinks. “You’ve never kissed anyone?”
Jensen shakes his head and looks away, shy again. “I hadn’t before – you know – before. It was like the one thing I could keep for myself, you know?”
“That makes sense. But you want to? Now?”
Jared moves in slowly. Jensen stares at him intently. He angles his head a bit, but at the last second Jensen shifts that way too and they bump noses.
Jensen ducks his head in embarrassment. “Sorry.”
Jared shakes his head, smiling softly. “It’s all right.”
He gently tips Jensen’s head up with a finger under his chin. He leans forward again, holding Jensen still. Their lips meet. It’s not the world’s most amazing kiss. It’s kind of awkward, as first kisses tend to be, but Jared kind of thinks time stops anyway. Because it’s Jensen. He’s kissing Jensen, who has never kissed anyone else before him and that really is the best thing in the world.
A hundred years later they pull back. Jensen looks at him with eyes Jared has never seen before.
“Yeah. So, how was it?”
“It was like waking up.”
Obviously, the only appropriate response to that is to kiss Jensen again.
Some time later they’re flushed and breathless and rather less vertical than they’d started out. Jared catches Jensen stifling a yawn between kisses and pulls back.
“Hey, it’s been a long day,” he says, “You wanna maybe go to bed?”
Jensen goes still against him and Jared realizes how that might come across.
“I mean, to sleep,” he amends quickly.
Jensen smiles, soft and relaxed. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
They make their way to the bedroom and strip down to just boxers before flicking off the light and crawling under the covers. Jensen holds himself still, a few inches of space between them until Jared takes a hold of his wrist gently.
“Hey, get over here,” he says and Jensen comes willingly, cuddling into his side and tucking his head against Jared’s shoulder. Jared grins into the darkness, thinking that he has never been as happy as he is right now and praying to whatever higher power may be listening that it will last.
Jensen feels a momentary surge of panic when he wakes up to find himself held against a broad chest by ridiculously muscular arms. Then he remembers. Jared. He relaxes. It’s sometime past one in the morning if the blurry numbers of the clock are anything to go by.
He’s almost drifted back to sleep when the shrill ringing of his cell phone cuts through the silence of the bedroom. He squirms out of Jared’s arms and tries to figure out where his jeans hit the floor. He finds them and yanks his phone out on the last ring.
Jared, obviously awake by now, turns on a lamp. He blinks at Jensen, sprawled next to his discarded jeans on the floor. Jensen shoots him a smile and watches the warmth fill Jared’s eyes.
“Jensen, where the hell are you? It’s the middle of the night!”
“Still?” Chris is silent for a moment and then asks, “Did you—?”
Jensen’s brain takes a moment to catch up. “Did I—? Oh! Oh, no! No, no, no! Absolutely not. Um. Yet?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“You heard me.”
“Yeah, but what?”
“I, um, took your advice.”
“Oh. Oh. Wow. This is big, Jen.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Sure. We’ll talk.”
“Yeah. Bye, Chris.”
Jensen flips the phone shut and climbs back into the warm bed.
“What advice was that?” Jared asks.
“Hmm?” Jensen says as he curls up against Jared, “Oh. He told me I should give you a chance.”
Jensen feels Jared grin against his temple. “Remind me to buy that man something expensive.”
Jared wakes up before Jensen in the morning. He lies very still, savoring the moment. Jensen is warm and relaxed in his arms, drooling a bit on Jared’s shoulder. Then he stirs awake and lifts his head. His hair is sticking up in every direction and he looks adorably disheveled.
“Morning,” he says, his voice gruff with sleep and one eye cracked open.
“Morning,” Jared responds, unable to suppress a grin, “How’d you sleep?”
“Awesome,” Jensen answers, flopping back against the pillow, “Coffee?”
Jared chuckles. “Sure, I’ll make some.”
“Thank you,” Jensen says with the reverent tone of the truly addicted.
A couple of teeth brushings and cups of coffee later, they’re back in bed, propped up against the headboard. Jared leans over and brushes his lips lightly across Jensen’s.
“Good morning,” he says again.
“It really is,” Jensen answers.
They kiss again, deeper. It’s not long before they’re clutching at each other and sliding down to the mattress. Jensen breathes in sharply when Jared’s quickly hardening cock slides against his hip. Jared pulls back immediately.
“Is this—is it okay?” he asks, not wanting to rush anything.
Jensen tugs him back down, lifting his hips so that Jared can clearly feel that he’s not alone in his enthusiasm.
“So much more than okay,” he says, before drawing Jared into another kiss.
Jared pulls away and kisses up the center of Jensen’s chest, running his hands over the firm muscles there. He drops a kiss on each eyelid and one on the tip of Jensen’s nose. That makes Jensen laugh. It might even be called a giggle. Jared thinks he knows how game show contestants feel when they win something really big and shiny.
“You are so beautiful, you know that?”
“You’re crazy, Jay.”
“So I’ve been told, but that doesn’t make me wrong.”
Jensen laughs again, then he presses his lips together, suddenly tentative.
“Do you want to—um. You can—you can top. You know, if you want,” he says.
Jared stares. “Jensen, are you sure?”
“That doesn’t sounds sure.”
“Look, Jen. You don’t have to do this. I’m perfectly happy to bottom. Or we don’t even have to do that. There are lots of other things we can do.”
“Jared, I want to. This is just one more thing he took from me and I want it back. With you.”
Jared nods decisively. “We’ll go slow. If you want to stop at any time, you say so and we’ll stop. Okay?”
They slide out of their boxers and then there’s a moment of mutual staring. Jared’s delighted to see a pink flush creeping up Jensen’s chest. He pulls him in for another kiss.
“All right,” he says, trying to get everything just right, “Roll over. It’ll be easier the first time.”
“Well, it’s not exactly the first time.”
Jared kisses the words away. “Yes it is.”
Jensen rolls over and Jared trails kisses down his back. When he gets to the hollow at the base of his spine, Jensen props himself up on one elbow and looks around warily.
Jared carefully spreads Jensen’s cheeks apart and swipes his tongue over Jensen’s opening. Jensen gasps at the intimate contact. Jared teases over the entrance until Jensen is moaning and shifting his hips against the mattress. Then he finally pushes inside. Jensen yelps. “More,” he begs and Jared is more than happy to comply.
He licks in and around Jensen’s hole until Jensen is loose-limbed and nearly incoherent with pleasure. All his trademark control falls away under the onslaught of sensation. He moans and gasps and pushes back against Jared’s mouth and Jared is absolutely delighted. When he thinks Jensen is as relaxed as he’s going to get, he finally reaches for the lube.
Jensen hisses at the first touch of Jared’s slick finger against him.
“Still trust me, Jen?”
“Yeah, go on.”
Jared pushes his finger inside and starts to stretch Jensen out. He hasn’t found the spot he’s looking for and Jensen isn’t protesting, but he’s taking carefully controlled breaths. Jared rubs his back between the shoulder blades with his other hand.
“Shh,” he murmurs, “You’re doing so good, baby. Just hold on and trust me.”
Jensen nods against the pillow.
When one finger starts to feel easy, Jared adds another. That’s harder and Jensen whimpers a little. He’s barely hard anymore. Jared reaches around and strokes Jensen’s cock while he stretches him open.
Adding a third finger takes longer, but they get there. And finally Jared finds that sweet spot. Jensen cries out and pushes back against him.
“So that’s what that feels like,” he mumbles.
Jared laughs. “Damn straight. So to speak.”
When three fingers are sliding inside easily and Jensen is rocking back against him, looking for friction, Jared figures they’re ready. He pulls his fingers out.
“You can still change your mind, Jen,” he says softly.
Jensen shakes his head. “No. I’m ready.”
Jared grabs the bottle of lube. He slides a condom on and slicks up his cock. He’s hard and aching, but this really isn’t about him. He lines up and enters Jensen slowly, sinking in a fraction of an inch at a time.
He can tell it hurts, but Jensen breathes deeply and tells Jared to keep going. Finally he’s all the way in. He stays there for a minute, letting Jensen get used to him.
From there it’s slow and sweet. Jared exerts every ounce of control he has to make this good for Jensen. If the sinful little moans and nonsense words are anything to go by, he’s not doing an awful job. Jensen comes first, and then Jared lets himself go, coming so hard his vision whites out. He pulls out carefully and grabs a handful of tissues for a haphazard cleanup. Then he gathers Jensen against him and they drift into post-coital sleep.
A few weeks later, once the relationship doesn’t feel as much like a soap bubble ready to burst in a light wind, Jensen decides it’s time to introduce Jared to his parents. Jared is not at all sure that’s a good idea.
“Don’t be stupid. They’ll love you,” Jensen assures him.
Chris nods. “It’s true.”
“Um, they’ll love the guy who’s sleeping with their son?”
Chris laughs as Jensen turns red. “You have no idea,” he says.
Jared remains convinced that this is a very bad idea, but he really can’t say no to anything Jensen asks him to do. Which is how he finds himself on the doorstep of a charming, suburban house, dressed for Sunday dinner.
A middle-aged woman with Jensen’s eyes and hair just starting to gray at the temples opens the door.
“Jensen!” she cries, throwing her arms around him.
She pulls back, holding him by the shoulders. “Let me get a good look at you. How are you doing. Are you eating?”
“Fine and yes.”
“And who is this fine young man?”
Jared freezes as she turns her attention on him.
“Mom, this is Jared Padalecki. My boyfriend.”
Mrs. Ackles makes a small “oh” sound and claps her hand over her mouth, tears coming to her eyes. “You darling boy,” she declares and gathers him into a hug. Jared hugs back awkwardly. “Welcome to the family.”
Jared has to work hard to keep his jaw from dropping. Never in a million years would he have expected this kind of reception from parents – any parents. Mr. Ackles is just as welcoming, if slightly less effusive.
Jensen’s mother and father treat him like their own, long lost child. It doesn’t make up for his own parents throwing him out, but it helps. He becomes a frequent visitor in the Ackles household. Sunday dinners, cookouts, nothing in particular. Between them and the band, Jared cobbles together a new family. This one he chose, because they love him. And they love each other.
It’s October and starting to be slightly less sweltering when Jared decides to risk bringing up the topic that’s been on his mind.
“So,” he says, right in the middle of a furious Madden battle.
“So?” Jensen answers.
“I was thinking.”
“Don’t hurt yourself,” Jensen teases, slanting him a quick smirk before looking back to the screen.
“Shut up! I’m trying to be serious here.”
“In the middle of playing Madden?”
“Well, what is it then?”
“I was thinking maybe we could, um, move in together. You know, if you wanted.”
“Huh,” Jensen says, going very still except for his fingers moving on the controller.
“Or we can just forget I said anything,” Jared says quickly. ‘
“Mmm,” Jensen says, still not looking at Jared, but he relaxes back against the couch and in a few minutes it’s almost like the weird moment didn’t happen.
Nearly a month later they’re in the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store. Jensen pushed Jared out the door when he discovered Jared had nothing but mustard and a couple of beers in the refrigerator. Jared is expounding the merits of Chunky Monkey when Jensen lays a hand on his shoulder and says, “Okay.”
Jared grins and grabs the ice cream. “I told you,” he says, “Bananas and chocolate. It’s an irresistible combination.”
Jensen shakes his head, looking strangely nervous for a conversation about ice cream. “No, I mean, okay.
“Okay, what?” Jared asks, completely mystified.
“Okay, I’ll move in with you,” Jensen says.
Jared just stares at him for a moment, feeling a smile spreading slowly across his face. Then he lets out a whoop and gathers Jensen up in his arms.
Jensen squirms against him. “Let go of me, you giant dork!” he protests, but he’s laughing and Jared just tightens his arms and shakes his head.
“Uh uh. Not ever.” He drops a kiss on the tip of Jensen’s nose and pulls back far enough to meet his eyes. “You’re sure?”
Jensen bites hip lip and nods shyly.
“Good,” Jared says and kisses his boyfriend in the middle of the grocery store.
Steve’s pocket starts buzzing in the middle of the five o’clock after work rush and he nearly causes a coffee disaster trying to answer his phone with one hand and keep foaming milk with the other.
“’Lo?” he answers, tucking the phone into the crook of his neck.
“Pack your shit and get over here!” Chris crows in his ear.
Steve’s sure that he’s missed something because he has no idea what Chris is talking about. “Um, what?” he asks intelligently, finishing off the cappuccino and sliding it across the counter.
“Jensen’s setting up a happy little love nest with Jared and you know what that means.”
Steve can practically hear his face splitting grin through the phone. His jaw drops. “Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack,” Chris says, “Only without the death and with way more sex. And maybe a puppy! Do you want to get a puppy?”
Steve laughs. “Dude, did Jared infect you with his ADHD or something? You sound like you’re on a sugar high.”
“Ass,” Chris shoots back, “Excuse me for being excited that my boyfriend is finally moving in with me.” He pauses. “You are right? I mean, you still want to?”
“Idiot,” Steve answers affectionately, “Of course I do.”
“Yeah,” Chris says, “I knew that.”
“Is Saturday too soon?”
The band has been playing more and more lately. Chris has been running himself ragged schmoozing and distributing demos and it seems to be paying off. They play regular gigs at a few places in Richardson and some of the other Dallas suburbs.
He bribes Jared with gummi worms to talk the Entertainment reporter at the Gazette into coming to a show. The guy loves them and after that they finally get to play a couple of shows in the city. Then heaven smiles down and they get a good review in the Dallas Morning News. Chris manages to parlay their good fortune into a summer tour.
Steve is having kittens about leaving the shop alone for weeks at a stretch. Chris reminds him that Sophia is more than capable of keeping things running and frequently repeats the phrase “opportunity of a lifetime” until his boyfriend stops panicking.
Jared’s practically jumping out of his skin with anticipation. Jensen tells him on more than one occasion to “lay off the sugar, Sasquatch,” before kissing him still. And really, how can Jared be expected to change his behavior with that kind of positive reinforcement?
In order to give his nervous energy a direction, he helps Chris work out all the logistics of the tour. Travel arrangements, hotels, selling their firstborn for gas money, the usual.
“Uh, Chris, you do know we’re gay, right?”
By the end of April there’s nothing left to do but throw a party and invite everyone they’ve ever met. Chris wants to buy a grill for the occasion and he pouts comically when Steve reminds him that there’s no point in spending the money when they’re not going to be home to use it all summer. Jensen dissolves into giggles at the exchange and Jared can’t resist scooping him up in a bear hug.
They end up having the party at the Ackles’ house because they already have a grill, not to mention a really nice backyard. It’s the first Saturday in May and the weather is obligingly gorgeous. The heat hasn’t quite reached surface of the sun levels yet, and that counts as downright mild for Texas in May.
Jared surveys the chaos in the backyard with a deep feeling of contentment. Friends and relatives seem to have sprung from the ground in the crowd is any indication. He feels a brief twinge that none of them are his before reminding himself that they actually are. His family is here now and he never thought he’d be lucky enough to have such an amazing one.
He shakes his head, already bored with the introspection. There are burgers to be inhaled and friends to embarrass with his hyperactivity. Sophia took over the manly art of grilling after Chris nearly started a brushfire with his first attempt. He pouted, but she brandished a barbecue fork and forcibly shooed him away with Steve’s relieved assistance.
He bounces up to her and says, “Feed me!”
She glances up at him skeptically. “There’s not enough beef in the world.”
“Oh, come on! Just a couple of little, tiny, enormous burgers, please?” he says, pulling out the puppy dog face.
“You’ve had like six!”
“I’m a growing boy.”
“Whatever,” she says, rolling her eyes, but she hands him a plate and plunks a couple of patties on it anyway.
“And one for Jensen?”
“No way! You’ll just have to share.”
“Fine, I’ll starve then!” he exclaims, grinning mischievously as he carries his spoils away.
He looks around for Jensen and spots him brandishing a water pistol at Allie. She’s shrieking and laughing as she runs away. Jared puts the burgers down next to the condiments and grabs his boyfriend as they careen past him.
“Hey, no terrorizing the guests,” he teases.
Jensen pouts. “Aww, you’re no fun.”
“Got you a burger,” Jared says.
They eat in companionable silence, observing the festivities, until Jared realizes who he hasn’t seen in a while.
“Hey, where are Chris and Steve? We’re supposed to play in a little while.”
Jensen tenses slightly. “Umm, I dunno,” he answers, shrugging.
Jared is instantly suspicious. “Okay, what’s the secret?”
“Secret? What are you talking about?” Jensen says in a completely unconvincing attempt at innocence.
Jared was about to start the interrogation in earnest – tickling might even be necessary – when he was distracted by a high pitched squeal that dogs would probably recognize as his name.
He whirls around to see a tiny brunette standing on the patio, flanked by a very smug Chris and Steve.
“Sandy?” he cries in astonishment.
She just smiles big and bright and opens her arms. He launches himself at her, picks her up and spins her around. “What are you doing here?” he asks.
She gestures over his shoulder and he turns around to see Jensen grinning at him.
Jensen shrugs, turning a bit pink. “You remember that morning you couldn’t find your cell phone?”
Jared’s eyes widen in realization. “Oh my god.” He grabs Jensen and pulls him into the hug without letting go of Sandy. “Thank you so much.”
He drags his best friend to a secluded corner and spends some time just catching up and letting it sink in that she’s really here. After a little while, though, he decides he’s ready to share her. Less than five minutes after being introduced, she’s swapping war stories with Allie and Sophia about gay men and being the women who love them.
The last of the guests finally trickle out sometime after midnight and Jared breathes in the quiet night air. Jensen comes back outside after saying goodnight to his parents and they decide to test the weight limit on the Ackles’ patio furniture by curling up together on the chaise lounge.
“Pretty awesome party,” Jared says, carding his fingers absently through Jensen’s hair.
Jensen sighs and butts his head up into the touch like a cat. “Yeah, my parents really know how to throw a rager.”
“God, how did I ever get lucky enough to find you?” Jared asks, recognizing the randomness of the topic jump and not really caring.
Jensen twists his head around to look at Jared. “You?” he replies, “I’m the lucky one.”
Jared pulls him in closer. “Maybe we’re both lucky.”
“I didn’t think things ever worked out like this except in romance novels.”
Jared grins. “More like fairytales.”
“So what happens now?” Jensen asks, half teasingly.
“Don’t you know?” Jared answers, “We live happily ever after.”