qblackheart (qblackheart) wrote in the8threalm,
qblackheart
qblackheart
the8threalm

The Courtship of Jensen's Co-Star: Fifteen








find me here and speak to me
I want to feel you, I need to hear you
you are the light that's leading me
to the place
where I find peace again



To say that Jared was a little upset with Jensen was like saying Jensen was a little bit in love with Jared.

“So you just came out and…came out?”

“Pretty much.”

“And outed me in the process?”

“Oh. Shit.”

“Yeah.”

Jensen’s mind scrambled for purchase. “It’s not like I said we were in a relationship, Jay. I just said I was gay and in love with you!” He huffed, and his shoulders slumped as he heard his words out loud. “I’m sorry, Jared. I wasn’t thinking. I was running my goddamned mouth and I’m so sorry…”

“It’s okay…”

Jensen grasped Jared by his shirt for emphasis. “You know they won’t say anything, right? I mean, they’ve been giving me shit for ignoring them lately, but they’re still my closest friends and I trust them.”

“I know, Jensen,” Jared said softly, sighing and stroking the side of Jensen’s face. “It’s just…not quite how I pictured us doing it.”

“What?” Jensen’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Wait. You pictured it?” He noted the puppydog expression on Jared’s face and rolled his eyes. “Jesus, and here I was thinking it was because you didn’t want to go public with this. I mean, go public to our friends.”

“I’m the one who told my family about us…”

“Hey,” Jensen interrupted, “I told my family, too – well, my mom, anyway – just with less flowers and rainbows at the end.”

Jared closed his eyes, as if suddenly recalling how well that had gone. He hugged Jensen close. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Jensen bumped Jared’s nose with his.

“How’d the guys take it?”

Jensen chuckled wryly. “I’ve never seen Chris stunned speechless. So that was awesome. Steve was…well, speechless. And Jason… Three for three, actually – he looked like he was gonna faint.” He sighed when Jared’s thumb brushed his cheek reassuringly. “They’re in shock, but they were supportive. Silently supportive. They’ll come around. I’m pretty sure.”

“They will. They love you.”

“Well, who could blame them?” They smirked at each other. “So…er, how did you picture us telling our friends?”

Jared flushed and ducked his head, not quick enough for Jensen to miss his bashful smile. “Kinda wanted to throw a little party. Just our closest friends. Beer and barbeque. Make an announcement, make it a little official, you know?”

“Official?”

“Yeah, like…” Jared gulped. “Tell everyone that we’re…together and that we’re…boyfriends. Then have some cake.”

Jensen bit his lip to keep from laughing, hugging Jared tight to his body. “You totally told me about the cake to distract me from the boyfriend thing, didn’t you?”

“Did it work? It’d be strawberry shortcake, just for you. The only time you eat the actual fruit. Besides what’s in jam, I know. Jesus. So high maintenance…” Jared looked so hopeful as he babbled on that Jensen couldn’t drag out his torture any longer. He grabbed Jared’s hand and pressed a kiss to the center of his palm.

“Boyfriends, huh? Like, hey, I’m Jensen and this is my boyfriend, Jared.” Holy shit, saying it felt really good. And hearing it was hot. And from the way Jared’s hazel gaze darkened to green in response, Jensen knew he wasn’t the only one thinking that.






you are the strength that keeps me walking
you are the hope that keeps me trusting
you are the light
to my soul
you are my purpose
you're everything




Australia was amazing.

They had a blast with Misha at the convention in Sydney, and after that, they hung out for a few days, soaking up the sun and sandy beaches, just enjoying their time together as they explored the city, promising each other that the next time they made the trip, they would explore the rest of the continent.

On a whim, they decided to stopover in Tasmania before flying back to LA, and that proved to be an unforgettable experience. They ended up staying longer than expected because Jared had insisted on trying to find a Tasmanian devil in the wild (they couldn’t, because the animals were borderline endangered, so Jensen had taken him to the Tasmania Zoo instead) and they loved every minute of it.

Going back to the States was a bit of a rude awakening, back to reality even if it wasn’t back to their daily grind, at least not yet. It was this part of the hiatus that Jensen had been dreading, because even if Jared had assured him that he was more than welcome at Casa Padalecki, he didn’t want to cut in on Jared’s time with his family and friends back home, and with Josh and Mack calling him non-stop to ask when he was coming home himself, he was in a bit of a dilemma. And then, just when he’d decided that the best thing for him to do was to stay in LA while Jared went to San Antonio, Jared pulled out that damned hangdog expression of his and booked Jensen on a one-way, all expenses paid guilt-trip back home to Texas.


He’d been there an entire day before he felt like he could breathe easy, finally sure that Jared’s parents weren’t about to castrate him for corrupting their precious baby boy, even though Jeff and Megan had been thrilled from the get-go, so happy that they had both finally come to their senses.

“I think I knew it the moment I saw Jensen in that towel,” Megan said. “JT couldn’t keep his hands off of you. Not that I blame him one bit. Y’all are hot together. And cute. Adorable, really.”

“I had an inkling when I read that damn story Chad sent me,” Jeff imparted. “It had you two down pat and totally in big gay love with each other and I remember smacking my head and thinkin’, well, I’ll be damned. It all makes sense now.”

Sherri was slightly more subtle. “It’s the way he looks at you, Jensen. Like there’s nobody better. Like you hung the moon and each and every one of those stars up there. Like every little thing you do is magic. Like the sun comes out every time you smile. Couldn’t be anything else but true love.”

Gerry was the pragmatic straight-shooter he always was. “Sure, I was shocked. I didn’t think falling in love with another man was an option where JT was concerned, but I’ll support my son, no matter what. ‘Sides, Sherri’s right. Once you see it for what it is, there’s no mistakin’ what y’all have is anything but love. Same as us, the kind that’s gonna last a lifetime and then some.”







Then, as if fate was flipping him the bird the whole time, all hell really did break loose, not in Sydney but in San Antonio.


Jensen woke to a lonely, empty bed, but that was normal; Jared rose at an ungodly hour to walk the dogs and then gossip with his mom and sister while they made breakfast in the main house. He and Jared were sharing the one-bedroom pool house the Padaleckis usually only used when they had a few too many people staying over, but they had opened it up for them this time, even though the guest bedrooms in the main house were empty; Jensen was grateful for the added privacy.

Just like every morning, he rolled out of bed, showered and changed, and stumbled out into the yard, skirting the edge of the pool before he bounded up the three steps to the back deck and through the patio doors into the kitchen for breakfast with his boyfriend.

Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t as if it was an obstacle course from Wipeout or anything. Except that twice already, he’d tripped over doggie toys in the back yard, face-planting painfully in the grass; he’d tripped over his own undone laces, or when he’d stopped wearing actual shoes, he’d tripped over his flip flops and landed on the deck, splinters digging painfully into his palms, and on one memorable occasion, much to the amusement of Jared’s entire family, he’d fallen into the pool with a mighty splash because his balance wasn’t at its best in the mornings, and perhaps his inner ear didn’t work so well without a shot of caffeine; at least that hadn’t been painful, unless you counted the pain of embarrassment.

This morning, he made it all the way to the back deck without mishap until he tripped on the steps, landing on his knee with a pained yelp. Jared was at his side in under five seconds.

“Jesus Christ, Jensen,” he huffed, helping Jensen sit back as he examined his knee; satisfied that all was well, he kissed it better.

“You keep kissing my knees.”

“They’re very sexy knees,” Jared said seriously and Jensen smiled, leaning his head on Jared’s shoulder.

“Good morning.”

“Good mornin’, darlin’. What have I told you about getting out of bed in the mornings?”

“What have I told you about calling me darlin’? M’not a girl.”

“But you are my darlin’, Clementine…”

“Oh God. Should’ve thrown myself into the pool. Can’t hear this crap under water.”

“You love it, and you know it. And tomorrow, I will bring you coffee in bed. And I’ll carry you to the kitchen if I have to,” Jared vowed, helping him to his feet this time, keeping his long arms wrapped around Jensen’s waist. It was the most natural thing in the world right then for Jensen to reach up, wind his arms around Jared’s neck and pull him down for a real good morning greeting.

The kiss was languid and deep and ended on a playful note as usual, good in the way it always was, filling Jensen up with warmth and fluttery feelings that made him sappy and happy, and he loved this, being able to show Jared exactly how much he meant to him.

What he didn’t expect was to look away, towards the patio doors that led to the kitchen, and see his mother standing there, staring at him in mute condemnation.





 


So apparently Jared, in his infinite wisdom, had decided to take matters into his own freakishly large hands and invite Jensen’s entire family over for a big get-together, a pow-wow, if you will, so they could all gather in a friendship circle and hold hands and smoke a peace pipe or sing kumbaya or some shit. Okay, granted Jensen was pissed and probably very politically incorrect right now, but he felt totally fucking justified.

Why his parents had come in the first place, why they had even agreed to show up, let alone be a part of this peace brokering process, was a mystery for someone smarter than him to decipher.

Needless to say, once he’d gotten over the initial surprise and greeted his dad and siblings, things got incredibly awkward. He felt his father’s gaze on him like a gun pointed between his eyes, especially when he gave his mother a half-hearted hello, not sure if she would welcome a hug. The initial easy camaraderie vanished, and the atmosphere in the kitchen became oppressive, and the conversation strained as the Padaleckis tried to defuse the tension between him and his parents.

Jensen put up with it for as long as he could, his blood boiling, because how could Jared do this without consulting him, or at least giving him a heads up? He dug his nails into the skin of his palms as he strove to keep calm. He stayed for as long as he could stand it, until it was either leave or spontaneously combust, finally rushing out with a murmured excuse as he went back to the pool house, throwing the door open and then slamming it shut behind him.

Struggling to remember how not to hyperventilate, he didn’t hear his father until he was standing right behind him.

“You want to tell me what the hell is going on here, Jensen?”

Jensen clenched his teeth. “Sorry for leaving like that.”

“You’re a grown man, you can storm out of any room you want,” Alan huffed. “I just want to know why you did it, and why you and your momma have some sort of silent feud going on that I’m not privy to.” Jensen stared at his father in shock, and Alan elaborated. “Obviously it started over the holidays, I just have no idea what happened.”

“She didn’t say anything?”

“Not a word.”

And now Jensen didn’t want to say anything either.

No wonder his father hadn’t changed in his behavior towards him; he hadn’t known. In a few seconds he went through an entire argument in his head: to tell, or not to tell. Telling meant that everything from here on out would change, and probably for the worse. To keep living the lie would, more likely than not, create a rift anyway, especially seeing as how stalwart his mother was being in her disapproval, and while hiding it from the world may have been okay for him and Jared, hiding their relationship from the people they loved the most? That wasn’t an option for either of them.

“I’m in love with Jared,” he told his father, looking the stunned man right in the eyes, sincere and serious. “Which means I’m gay. Momma guessed a while back, and over Christmas, she asked me up front, and I told her.” Jensen drew in a deep, fortifying breath. “She then told me that she – both of you, actually, which is why I thought you knew – would be against...that, and I had to make a choice. All of y’all, or Jared.”

“That’s why you haven’t been home so far this summer?” Alan asked, although he seemed to be saying it to himself, piecing together a puzzle only he could see. “So, you’ve made your choice.”

“I have.”

“I take it Jared feels the same way?”

“I didn’t know it at Christmas, but I found out later. So, yeah. We’re together.”

“In sin.” It was said baldly, and Jensen was proud of the fact that he didn’t flinch.

“If that’s the way you want to see it.”

“We raised you a certain way, Jensen,” Alan said, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe he was even having this conversation. “How can you be okay with this?”

“I wasn’t at first…”

“But you got over that real quick, huh?”

Jensen gritted his teeth at his father’s jeering tone. “Guess I did.”

“What’ll people say?”

“I imagine that’s what Mom was thinking, too, but I don’t give a damn.”

“Don’t get smart with me, son.”

“Sorry.”

“Donna should’ve told me.” Alan shook his head again, scrubbing a hand down his face as he did it. “You and your momma are a lot alike. Stubborn and proud to a fault. You don’t budge once you take a stand, even if that stand you’re taking will surely lead to ruin.” His father huffed out a breath. “I don’t know what to do here, Jensen; I’m a little out of my element.” They studied each other in silence. “You sure this isn’t a phase? Maybe, given time and distance, like when the show’s done, it’ll pass, whatever it is.”

“It’s love, dad. I love Jared. I’m in love with Jared. I want to spend the rest of my life loving him. When I think about a life without him, I honestly think death would be a better option. He means the world to me – he’s everything to me.”

His father’s eyes widened in shock with every word Jensen said, when he spoke, his voice was rife with disbelief. “You can’t know that!”

“Why not?” Jensen asked, only to hear his voice echoed by his brother’s, and he spun around to see Josh and Mackenzie standing behind him, although how long they’d been there, he didn’t know.

“Why not, Dad?” Josh repeated, coming to stand at Jensen’s side. “Just because Jared’s another man? ‘Cause let me tell you, I knew Allie was the one for me from the first moment I saw her. I’m reminded of it every single morning I wake up to see her pretty face on the pillow next to me, I’m reminded every time we have a fight, every time we talk about the kids, every good moment, every bad one… I remember that I chose her, and I love her, and that’s something I will never change my mind about.” Josh blew out a frustrated breath. “You know it was the same way with you and Momma. It’s the same for Mack and Nick, never mind that they’re so much younger than us. Why can’t it apply to Jensen too?”

“You’ve see Jensen with Jared, Daddy,” Mackenzie added quietly. “Have you ever seen him happier?”

“This just isn’t done…” Alan started.

“So be the first to do it, Dad,” Josh finished, the vehemence of his words raising his voice a little, but not loud enough to distract them from the appearance of Donna Ackles in the open doorway.

She didn’t look anywhere but at her husband. “I’m ready to go, Alan. You should bring the car around.” That tone of voice didn’t brook any argument, especially not in a moment like this one, and Alan finally moved, stopping before he left, staring hard at Jensen.

“Give me some time to figure this out,” he said, and it was more than Jensen had hoped to get, so he nodded. “I’ll call you.”

Alan left, and Donna turned to follow but she, too, stopped and turned at the last moment, looking at a point over Jensen’s shoulder. “Your father has always been a little lenient where you kids are concerned. I don’t approve. I...can’t,” she said, her voice cracking a little on the word.

“Momma…”

Donna froze in the act of turning away. “You can come back to us anytime you like. We will welcome you back with open arms. You know what you need to do first, though.”

“Please, Mom…” Jensen took a tentative step towards her. “I love Jared. He’s the man I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with… Why is that so wrong?”

Donna’s mouth thinned, her calm façade momentarily slipping. “You know very well why it’s wrong. Marriage is between a man and a woman.” She paused and composed herself, her spine stiffening. “Joshua and Mackenzie are adults and they will make their own decisions about…you, but what I said about your choices still stands. I…I’m not sorry. Goodbye, Jensen.”

And as his mother walked out on him, his brother and sister hugged him, and for the first time since his unplanned exit from the closet, he tucked his head into his older brother’s shoulder and cried.

“We’ll talk to her,” Mackenzie said, minutes later when she stopped sniffling, when Josh had brushed at his own wet eyes, when Jensen didn’t have any more tears in him to let out. “We’ll talk to both of them. They love you, you’re their favorite, you’re everyone’s favorite. They’ll come around.”

Jensen huffed out a wry laugh as Josh ruffled his hair. “It’ll be okay, baby bro. We’ve gotten through some rough shit in the past, we’ll get through this too.”

“How’d you two find out?” Jensen asked.

“Like Megan can not tell Mack everything,” Josh scoffed, wincing as their sister punched him in the arm, “and like Jeff can keep a secret.”

“See?” Mack said, rubbing his back soothingly, “our two families are already intricately entwined. Daddy’s a shoo-in. Momma’ll come around. Just give her some time to get used to the idea.”

“And if it takes forever?”

“Well,” his sister drawled, “then at least you’ll have us.”

“Win-win,” Josh agreed sagely.

Jensen rolled his red-rimmed eyes. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”







you calm the storms and you give me rest
you hold me in your hands
you won't let me fall
you steal my heart and you take my breath away
would you take me in
take me deeper now




It was only when his brother and sister left, Josh and Allie heading to Jeff’s place to spend the night while Mack and Nick stayed in the main house with Jared’s parents and Megan, that Jared returned to the pool house, with a big plate piled with food; a peace-offering.

“I’m sorry,” Jared said, putting the platter down on the coffee table and sitting on the opposite end of the couch from where Jensen had settled. “For whatever it’s worth, Jensen, I am so goddamn sorry.”

“Why’d you do it?” Jensen asked, jumping to his feet as he vented his anger. “Why, Jared? What the fuck possessed you to poke your big ass nose into something that is so not any of your goddamn business?”

Jared’s head jerked back like he’d been slapped. He stood, nervously shifting from foot to foot as if he couldn’t decide whether to stay or run. “It was mom’s idea. She’d been talking to your mom and then suddenly Donna stopped calling. She wanted to know what happened, so I told her. She thought – and I agreed, I guess – that if we could just get y’all in a room together, you’d all talk it out…”

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me about this?”

“Because I know you, Jen. You’d never have gone for it.”

“Of course not. ‘Cause it worked out so well the first time! And now, my mother still won’t talk to me, or even look at me any more. Now, I’ll be waiting for a call from my dad that’ll probably never come, so yeah, Jared. Thanks for that.”

“I was just trying to help.”

“It wasn’t your place to help!”

Jared blinked rapidly, and Jensen’s hands fisted at his sides as he turned and stalked towards the door.

But then he stopped.

If the person he was leaving behind had been anyone but Jared, Jensen knew he’d be long gone, probably never to return. But it was Jared, so this was different, and every rule Jensen had ever made up to live by for dealing with situations like this suddenly didn’t apply; he knew he was hurting Jared with his words, but he didn’t know how to get his point across any other way.

It was Jared’s sad little sigh that got his attention again a second before Jared spoke.

“I know this is new to you, I know that,” Jared started, sounding scared and uncertain and despite his anger, Jensen just wanted to console him, “and I’m sorry that I stuck my nose where it didn’t belong, but you have to realize that this is new for me too, Jen. I’m used to wanting to protect and take care of every little aspect of our lives, and yeah, okay, sometimes I forget that what we have isn’t like being with a girl, so my just taking over, maybe that’s not cool…”

Jensen snorted and turned to stare resolutely at Jared. “So not cool,” he grumbled, his ire already starting to fade, “even with a girl.”

“Yeah, okay, you’re right. But all that aside, you’re the person I love the most in this world, Jensen, and when you’re hurting, it hurts me too.” He wrung his hands as he stared down at them, biting his lip. “So yeah, we called – conned, really – your mom here to try and patch things up, and yeah, it backfired and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish that I’d stayed out of it…”

“You can’t make everything better, Jared,” Jensen said with a sigh. “Sometimes shit happens and no matter how much we may wish otherwise, there’s no getting around it.”

“Well, see, that’s kinda my point. The good, the bad, heck, even the ugly – I want to share it all with you. I want everything you have to give me, and maybe that’s selfish of me but that’s how I roll,” Jared explained, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “Although, in hindsight, maybe it’s time I stop doing that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That way of thinking might have worked with the girls I’ve been with, but let’s face it, I haven’t had a successful relationship. Ever. It starts off great, the sex is amazing, the chemistry is cool, but then, tick tock, time goes on and suddenly there’s a breakdown in communication and everything changes, until boom, crash and burn, and I’m left reeling without a clue as to what I did wrong.” He paused to pace in front of the couch as Jensen absorbed the weight of his words. “I play the blame game, do whatever it takes to sleep at night…but the bottom line is that all my relationships tend to end badly, and maybe that’s a good thing, because I was finally free to be with you, but you’re also the one person I want to make this work with, and I want this to last, I want us to last, and I want you to be happy, and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you happy, and that’s why I did what I did, and…”

“Jesus Christ, Jared, stop and take a breath.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry…”

“No, no! You’re right, I should’ve talked to you first. It’s your family, your call, and none of my damn business! I’m a horrible person.”

Jensen huffed out a breath and strode forward until he was standing in front of Jared. “You’re my family, too. I think, for a minute there, I forgot that.”

“That’s what I’m saying!” Jared exclaimed, gesturing haphazardly. “Every time someone asks me how we clicked right from the word ‘go,’ I think, it’s because we never made a conscious decision to bond, just ‘cause we started working together. It wasn’t like friends had set us up on this blind date and we were obliged to make the best of it. It was more like we were already in a relationship, and we were just continuing it, even if we’d never met before. No rhyme or reason to it.”

“Babe, I know you think you’re making sense here, but you’re not getting your point across. At all.”

Jared blew his bangs off his forehead. “We’re both approaching this relationship wrong, Jensen. We had the friend thing – nah, the best friend thing – down from day one. This is just an extension of that, it should be easy as pie, but if we keep messing it up anyway, I say we go back to doing what we do best.”

It felt like every cell in Jensen’s body froze in fear. “You wanna go back to being best friends?” Oh, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

“No,” Jared nodded, then blinked and shook his head, “I mean, yes, not just friends – I just meant we shouldn’t forget that we’re friends first. Jesus Jensen,” he breathed, cupping Jensen’s face in his hands and tilting his head up until there wasn’t anywhere else they could look but into each other’s eyes, “you are the fucking love of my life. I want you more than anyone else I’ve ever been with. So we do this, we do it the way we do everything. That’s what I meant.”

“Oh,” Jensen managed softly, his racing heart rate slowly returning to normal, as the debilitating fear in his mind subsided. “Fifty-fifty?”

“Exactly.”

“Okay. Okay.” Jensen took a moment to breathe. “Okay. Since we’re coming clean, you should know then that being with me is gonna suck sometimes. I’m a dick. I have a short fuse. I say and do stupid shit all the fucking time, and if you’re gonna be with me, you need to brace yourself for that. At least until I learn to be a better man.”

Jared kissed him, smiling that little smile of his, just a hint of dimple poking into his cheeks like the worst tease ever. “Jensen – you’re the best man I’ve ever met.”

“Yeah, as a friend!” Jensen sputtered. “I know how to do that. And you taught me what I didn’t know. But this…love – it’s never worked for me before either, Jay. I mean, at least you had relationships. I just had sex.” He paused and put his hands on Jared’s face too, anchoring himself a little and keeping Jared close. “I’m sorry about what I said before. You were right. I’d never have made the first move with my family, and it’s not fair not to tell them the truth, not when that truth means so much to me. To us. And this is about us, my business is your business, just…”

“Talk to you before making grand sweeping gestures that are bound to blow up in my face?”

Jensen smirked. “Glad we’re finally on the same page.”

“So?” Jared asked, his smile mirroring Jensen’s. “Partners?”

“Partners,” Jensen agreed, and they both pulled back to shake on it. “Right. Relationship in progress.”

“Love and learn.”

“I can live with that,” Jensen said, and even if they’d already closed the deal, they went one step further and sealed it with a kiss. Or many kisses, just to make sure it was done right, no loopholes, and certainly no take-backs.






how can I stand here with you
and not be moved by you?
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this?




After that spurt of personal growth was done with, Jensen’s stay in Texas got a lot better.

His dad did end up calling, and they had a stilted, awkward conversation, but hey, at least they were talking, so Jensen hoped it was a sign of good things to come. His mom, however, maintained her silence. It hurt, but it was nice that he could talk to Jared about it when it got him down, which was often when he hung out with Jared’s family, all of whom were sweet and supportive, but they weren’t really his. Not until Jared had reminded him that yes, really, they were. What’s mine is yours, Jensen. That had been true since they began their friendship and it had taken some getting used to, but Jensen found it easier to apply it to their relationship now. And really, he could get used this new full disclosure thing; it was kind of refreshing.

It was even better when they returned home to Vancouver – because it was truly home now, his and Jared’s, theirs in a way nothing else was – dogs in tow, their own little family.

Harley and Sadie, thrilled to be out of the car after having been cooped up on the longest leg of their drive back, eagerly explored the house again, sniffing out what could possibly be new and different. Leaving them to it, Jensen brought the last of the bags in while Jared took the groceries they’d picked up into the kitchen.

By the time Jensen had joined him, he’d put most of the things away and was warming up their store-bought dinner in the oven; lounging leisurely against the sink, he smiled as Jensen picked up and sorted through the pile of mail that had arrived in their absence.

Jensen found out the reason behind that smile about midway through the pile of envelopes: Postcards.



















































 


Jensen blinked at cards in his hand, and when he looked up, Jared was standing right in front of him, smiling just as sweet as he was, so Jensen reached up and poked him in the dimple.

“Thought I’d add to your collection,” Jared said, putting his hands on Jensen’s hips and pulling him close, “and show you that I was thinking of you every step of the way.”

“Idiot. I was with you every step of the way.”

“So?”

“So…” Jensen cleared his throat. Not that he was choked up or anything. “Chunder means vomit.”

Jared gagged a little at that and then scrunched up his face in thought. “Well, it makes sense in the context of the song, I guess.”

“Mmm-hmm, where’s my present?”

Jared chuckled and pointed to the little brown box on the kitchen counter, so Jensen grabbed it and, putting his hand into Jared’s jeans pocket, retrieved his keys and the pink Swiss army knife attached to them, getting the box open in seconds to find a plush Tasmanian devil inside, a cute replica of the vicious little beast nestled in packing peanuts.

“I figured with that little white collar in his fur – it kinda looks like a bowtie, y’know? Or a priest, but whatever. I figure he could be the referee for when Kangaroo Jared and Koala Jensen go at it.”

Jensen dissolved into laughter, collapsing against Jared’s chest. “I hope you mean when we fight…”

“Nah, we’d never fight.”

“So when we fuck, then?” Jensen joked, squeezing the toy Tasmanian devil around its pudgy belly. “Pervy little devil.”

Jared covered the toy’s tiny ears with his gigantic hands. “Shh! Quit corrupting him. He’s just a baby!”

Jensen stared up at him, feeling the hearts in his eyes. That’s what he got from hanging around with Jared 24/7. “God, I love you so much.”

“Love you too, Jen.” Jared smiled, that same knowing little smile that meant he saw right through Jensen, and then leaned down and kissed him. “Always and forever. I promise.”

Jensen cupped Jared’s jaw and slowly traced the valley of Jared’s dimple with his thumb. “You remember that story you made me read? The one before we kissed for the first time?”

“Remember it? Think I have it memorized.”

Jensen laughed. “Yeah, I might’ve read it a time or two or ten,” he admitted. “I always liked the fact that it ended with a new beginning.”

“Every ending is a new beginning. That’s life, man.”

“No happy endings?”

“Can you really call it an ending when we’re living in the middle? There’s not gonna be an ending with us, Jen.”

“So, happy middles?” Jensen pursed his lips in thought. “Happy middlings?”

Jared laughed. “Yeah. I kinda like the sound of that. Stuck in the middle with you.”







‘cause you're all I want
you're all I need
you're everything




The rest of the summer passed in a blur.

They’d managed to take a couple of weeks in between all their promotional obligations to head out to Europe, first on a tour of Ireland, and then to Warsaw before trekking through the Polish countryside, where Jensen went nuts with his camera and Jared sent him some more postcards. They had a great time, but it also felt incredible to get back home and just relax before work started again, and they fell back into that old routine they had, both of them savoring the quiet, domestic side of life.

When Kane played a gig in Seattle, his friends came up the rest of way to Vancouver and it was awkward at first, but then it was good; it was great. Chad came up for a few days, teased and taunted them for becoming an old married couple, then insisted that, no wait, they’d always been an old married couple, now they were just pathetic, and on and on he went until Jensen and Jared tag-teamed and took him down, tickling and noogie-ing him within an inch of his life, the dogs getting in on the action and slurping and slobbering all over him. Danneel called often, Misha and his wife dropped by a lot, and they went over to Clif’s place at least once a week for some of his wife’s home-cooking.

They talked about coming out to the Supernatural team, because the producers, writers and the crew were their family too, and they deserved to know the truth about them. That decision hadn’t been made yet, but it was on the table and both of them were still weighing the pros and cons.

All in all, Jensen figured he could get used to being in the middle. After all, both he and Jared had spent their entire lives living in the middle, as middle children, not A-list, but not two-bit actors, not Hollywood high-society but not recluses either, so who knew, maybe this was exactly the sort of relationship they’d both been made for.







“Hey, did you grab the paper?” Jared asked as he walked into the kitchen, leaving the dogs in the backyard, letting them enjoy the last of the summer sunshine.

“Yeah.” Jensen sighed, shutting down his laptop, done with his big brotherly duties for the day, and stood, cracking his back. He couldn’t believe how time had flown; in a couple of months, they’d be breaking for winter hiatus and the holidays. And trust Mack to want a Christmas wedding; Jensen didn’t even want to think about how he and Jared were going to get through the pandemonium of it all with his mother still giving them the arctic shoulder.

“What does Ms. O’Malley have to say today?”

Jensen’s expression brightened; reading their favorite kook’s predictions together was a still a highlight of his day. “Well, let’s see,” he said, leafing through the paper until he found the right page. He grinned when Jared drive-by kissed him as he grabbed an orange from the fruit bowl. “Here it is. Cancer… Huh.”

“What?” Jared asked, tossing the orange in his hand up in the air and then letting it bounce on the back of his hand before catching it again, unable to stay still, as usual.

“You’re gonna drop that,” Jensen said, although why he bothered, he didn’t know. “It’s just really short.”

“What’s it say?”

Ask.

“Ask what?” Jared, well, asked and then dropped his orange. He bent to pick it up as Jensen refrained from rolling his eyes.

“Beats me – that’s all it says.”

“Ask?”

“Ask.”

“O-kay. What does yours say?” Jared asked – again – as he dropped his orange – again. Jensen sighed.

“Fuck, she’s being cryptic today. Pisces. Say yes.”

“Huh.”

“I know, right?” Jensen laughed, putting the paper aside and absently wondering if they should switch kooks. Then he saw Jared in front of him.

Kneeling in front of him, and that immediately made his dick twitch, except that Jared was…on bended knee, actually, orange in his hand and that stupid, sphinx-like smile on his face that looked nothing like how he looked just before he was about to do very dirty, sexy things to Jensen.

Jensen blinked and wondered if he looked like he felt: like a deer caught in the tractor beam of an incoming Jared.

“What?” he asked, when the suspense and the silence became too much to stand, Jared looking at him like…like there was no one else on this planet that he’d rather look at. Then, without taking his eyes off Jensen, he put the orange on the table, reached into his back pocket, and pulled out a box.

A light bulb materialized and went supernova over Jensen’s head.

Ask.

Say yes.


Jesus Christ.

Screw masculinity, Jensen thought, completely incapable of speech. He couldn’t bring himself to care, not when Jared looked like he was having trouble breathing and talking and blinking back his tears, all at the same time, and then he was opening the box and showing Jensen the gorgeous platinum ring inside, and Jensen found himself staring at it, entranced by the intricate Celtic knot design around its circumference.

Jensen swallowed past the lump in his throat and locked his gaze with Jared’s. “So ask already.”

Jared smiled and took a deep breath, taking Jensen’s hand in his and squeezing tight. “Will you marry me, Jensen? Please?” he asked, the hopeful, sweet smile on his face fading the longer Jensen remained in stunned silence – because knowing the question was coming and hearing it were two different things entirely – and suddenly Jared was talking a mile a minute as his nerves got the better of him. It reminded Jensen of the first time they’d met. “We don’t have to tell anyone, or do anything about it just yet, but I wanted to ask…‘cause I love you…God, so much, and there’s no one else I wanna be with, and I wanted us to make a promise to each other… Actually, I was kinda hoping you’d be cool with getting married next summer, on a beach somewhere maybe, but if you wanna think about it, that’s cool too… Jensen? Jen? Say something, dammit!”

Jensen dropped to his knees. “Yes,” he breathed, laughing as Jared hugged him, clinging to him as a huge sigh of relief gusted out of his lungs. Jensen smacked him upside the head – adoringly, of course. “As if I would ever say no, moron.” Before he could say anything else, Jared, grinning like a loon, pulled him into a kiss as he slid the ring on his finger. Jensen stared at it for a long while, blinking back to attention only when Jared spoke again.

“I got one too,” Jared said, taking another box out of his pocket, one with a matching ring inside that Jensen carefully lifted out and slid onto Jared’s finger, tears springing to his eyes as his thumb traced over the never-ending pattern carved into it. Jared watched him, his fingers curling around Jensen’s and holding on tight. “I just… It just felt right, you know? To get these rings. To ask now. Not because everyone else thinks it’s time, but because I want to. You’re it for me, Jen, you have been probably since the day we met. We were just a little slow on the uptake.” Jensen nodded, struck dumb as he held on to Jared’s hand, unable to let go, incapable of looking away, barely able to breathe, really, especially when Jared smiled at him, so bright that it was like being blinded by the sun. “And because if I wait for you to do it, I’d be waiting for fucking ever…”

“Hey!” Jensen socked him in the stomach. “I was working up to it, asshole.”

“Sure you were, slowpoke.” Jared chuckled, soothing Jensen’s pout with a kiss, and as usual, they got a little carried away. “I got the rings in Ireland,” Jared confided quietly as he pulled away but not too far. “They had a bunch of different designs but I liked these best, because the knots looked strong and unbreakable. I thought it was appropriate for us. Do you like them?”

“I love them. They’re exactly what I would’ve picked out for us myself. They’re perfect,” Jensen said, wholeheartedly agreeing with Jared on the sentiment behind his choice as he cupped Jared’s beautiful face in his hands, his ring glinting in the morning sun. “Ireland, huh? You’ve had these for months…”

Jared grinned. “I was working up to it…”

Jensen laughed and taking Jared’s big hands in his, he laced their fingers together, staring down at their rings, entranced. The rings symbolized everything they were perfectly; a Celtic knot was the only one with a beginning you couldn’t really pinpoint, even if it was there, somewhere in the middle, but most importantly, those interwoven lines, just like their love, just like their friendship, would always be without an end.

“I can’t wait to be married to you,” he said, staring at his future husband, pretty sure that every emotion he was feeling was written all over his face. “Just… You’re everything to me.”

Jared blinked rapidly and swallowed a couple of times. “You’re my everything too, Jensen,” he whispered huskily. “Love you, babe.”

“I love you too, Jay.” And to prove it, Jensen kissed him, and kept kissing him, their hands still entwined as they both got used to the gentle graze of their rings on each other’s skin.







   
 
 
 
Tags: j2, qbfic, rps, the courtship of jensen's co-star
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