Genre: J2 RPS
Pairing: Jensen/Jared, (mentions of Jensen/Danneel, Jared/Genevieve)
Rating: PG-13 (this chapter)
Warnings: Meh. Schmoop with a side of angst.
Word Count: 5,840
Disclaimer: Fiction not fact. Pretend it’s a movie starring JA and JP. Aight? Awesome.
A/N: Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing. Comments = Love.
Jensen walked quietly past the headstones; some sombre and minimal, just markers in the ground, while others were elaborate and ostentatious, solemn angels with wings aloft, watching over the dead.
First thing earlier that morning, he had gone to the hospital to see the twins, who were still being kept in specialized neonatal care under observation; they were to be released tomorrow. A smile flickered over his face at the mere thought of them: cherubic faces, soft chestnut hair, beguiling eyes full of wonder and innocence; Rhiannon’s green like her father while Riley had inherited Jenna’s hazel eyes. Jensen sighed. It had been love at first sight for him; it was certainly no secret how much he loved children and wanted a family of his own. Danneel wanted to wait, and with their wedding coming up in May, the topic was fast becoming a bone of contention between them. Although most of their discussions ended with Jensen deferring to Danneel; there was not much he could do if she was unwilling to start a family straight away.
His footsteps stuttered for a second.
With Jenna’s death, he realized with a pang that felt a lot like guilt, he had been granted his dearest wish. And what did people say about being careful what you wished for?
Jensen shook his head to clear it; he couldn’t follow that particular train of thought any further. He had already run the gamut of grief-stricken emotions and was exhausted, tired of accepting condolences with a sober smile from people who were lucky enough to have had Jenna in their lives.
He let his eyes wander amongst the gravestones; there was something oddly soothing about walking through a cemetery. Perhaps it was some sort of weird comfort thing associated with filming Supernatural. He slowed his pace as he approached the location of Jenna’s grave. She had, of course been laid to rest beside her husband, Jensen’s cousin, James Ackles. He spared a glance to once again read both the inscriptions before taking a seat next to Jared on the stone bench across from the two graves.
Some days he still couldn’t believe his cousin was gone, let alone Jenna; some days he still forgot and hit Jamie’s number, to call or text him, usually to share one of Jared’s latest escapades with Jamie and Jenna. Jamie had died just under six months ago and Jensen had been as close to him as Jared had been to Jenna, so he understood how Jared was feeling. It was just that now, nearly four days after Jenna had died on that horrible night, Jensen couldn’t handle it any longer.
He covered Jared’s hand with his when his best friend reached out to touch his knee, and then took a deep breath to brace himself before speaking. “Jared, I can’t... I can’t do this alone anymore.” Jared started next to him, almost wrenching his hand away. Jensen merely tightened his grip. “You haven’t even seen them yet...”
Jared struggled to get away but Jensen held firm. “I can’t, Jen...” he finally choked out.
“I’m... I’m afraid I’ll see her in their faces.”
“That’s only natural, Jay. Our parents live on in us; that’s the way of the world. You can’t escape it. Rhiannon and Riley will have Jamie and Jenna in their faces.” Jensen released Jared’s hand and gently stroked his back, rubbing in soothing circles, speaking in hushed tones. He had never seen Jared quite like this in their entire acquaintance and Jensen knew without a shadow of a doubt that he could not let him spiral further into despair. “They get out of the hospital tomorrow. We’re bringing them home, and in a few days, we’re heading back up to Vancouver.”
Jared looked at him as if he had forgotten their lives outside of San Antonio. He blinked. “I... I don’t even know where to start... or what to do.”
“Our moms have volunteered to come stay us; Mack and Meg too, for a little bit,” Jensen told him. “We’ve been making arrangements. Our moms are gonna stay until just before Thanksgiving, help us find a nanny for the twins. And I’m moving back in with you,” Jensen paused. “Huh. I guess I should have run this by you first...”
“No!” Jared exclaimed, as if it was crazy that Jensen felt he had to get Jared’s approval to reorganize his life. “I never wanted you to move out in the first place.”
Jensen smiled softly at him, brushing his cheek with his knuckles. “Whatever help our mommas are gonna give us, I’m gonna accept, Jay. I don’t know the first thing about raising a child, let alone two. And they’re so tiny. I figure an ‘all hands on deck’ approach works well for all of us right now. Danneel isn’t ready for kids, so I don’t want to thrust her into this situation. I don’t know anything about Genevieve...” Jared snorted and Jensen smirked. “That’s what I thought. Maybe we could ask them to give us some space for the first little while when it comes to the twins, let us acclimate before they have to, you know?”
“Jen, I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Jay, you don’t have a choice,” Jensen held his hand up as Jared started to argue. “I’m not forcing you to do this now. I will do what I can to keep it all together, to keep us all together. But Jared, you only get this time of their lives once. This time when everything’s new for them... for us. I don’t want you to miss out on these moments... you’d regret it later, I know you would, and I’m just trying to pre-empt that, Jay.”
“I just... I didn’t know... I’m taking this way worse than I could have ever imagined. I don’t know how to stop feeling this way,” Jared sounded so broken, that Jensen didn’t know what to say or do. He had come here to talk some sense into Jared. Hell, he was willing to consider knocking it into him, if that’s what it took. But now he realized that this cut deeper than he had first imagined. Jared needed him. It was right there in the way his hand still gripped his thigh, it was right there in the way he relaxed into his touch, his head resting on Jensen’s shoulder, and it was right there, written into every tired line on his face.
Where Jensen had felt weak before, he now discovered a renewed strength. Jared needed him, and when had he ever denied Jared? He certainly wasn’t about to start now.
“We’ll figure it out,” Jensen whispered softly against Jared’s hair. “You take all the time you need to get over this, Jay. But you have to promise me something.”
“Don’t shut me out.”
Jared raised his head to look at Jensen in surprise. “I would never...,” he started, and then frowned. “Have I?”
“You’re here. Alone.”
“I couldn’t be with those people, Jen. I can’t talk about it right now.”
“All right, but this is me we’re talking about. I don’t care who else you give the silent treatment to, just don’t do that to me. Or your family. We love you, Jay, and it hurts to see you this way.”
“I won’t, I swear. Especially not where you’re concerned, Jen. Don’t think I don’t realize that you’re what’s holding me together right now,” he said so sincerely that Jensen’s heart ached for him.
“Don’t forget that I need you too, okay?” Jensen gently reminded him, and the look in Jared’s eyes told him that his friend had forgotten. This was a two-way street between; always had been, always would be.
“I’m sorry,” Jared murmured, pulling Jensen into a tight hug and holding him there. And maybe, Jensen realized, this is where I draw my strength from; and for the first time since Jenna died, he had hope that they would get through this, the way they did everything.
It took almost a week to get everything, and everyone, organized for the road trip back to Vancouver; there was no way the babies were allowed to travel by air yet. Jensen rented a big SUV for the trek; Megan and Mack with one baby between them in the back, their mothers and one baby between them in the middle row of seats. Jared did most of the driving, while Jensen tried to relax and not worry about him.
Not much had changed over the course of the week, and Jared’s continued silence was unnerving in the extreme for everyone concerned. True to his word though, he didn’t shut Jensen out, but it did put Jensen in the uncomfortable position of being the only one Jared really spoke to, even when his family was right there. Luckily, no one seemed to hold it against him. In fact, Jared’s mother, Sherri, had on numerous occasions, expressed her gratitude that he was there for her son. Jensen was worried though, and now he was wondering if maybe Jared needed professional grief counselling.
He could just imagine how well that conversation would go.
The thing was, Jensen understood his grief. He understood why Jared was taking this so hard. He couldn’t imagine what it had been like to see Jenna unconscious, hurt, pregnant, covered in her own blood, and to know now that she died from those injuries. He himself couldn’t wrap his mind around the tragedy that had struck that little Ackles-Padalecki family.
Watching the lines on the highway blur into each other as they drove through Utah, heading towards Salt Lake City, their next stop to spend the night, he let himself remember for the first time in a long time. He remembered the day Jenna and Jamie met, introduced by Jensen and Jared, who had been playing matchmakers. It had been a ridiculous, none-too-subtle endeavour on their parts, but it had worked out well, and Jenna and Jamie had hit it off almost immediately, connecting with each other much like he and Jared had when they had first met. He remembered how they had whooped with joy on receiving the news of Jenna and Jamie’s engagement; he remembered the young couple’s happiness at their wedding and their elation upon discovering that they were going to be parents.
Jenna and Jamie had personified what happily-ever-after looked like in Jensen’s mind. They had spent three beautiful years together, and had been thrilled to find that they were expecting twins. Jensen could almost hear their voices in his head as they called him and Jared with the news. But then barely a couple of months into Jenna’s pregnancy, Jamie had been deployed to Afghanistan again.
This time though, he hadn’t made it back alive.
Tears stung Jensen’s eyes as he recalled Jamie’s funeral; the sombre ceremony of his coffin being borne by his brothers-in-arms, the staccato shots of rifles being fired into the air in salute to a fallen soldier, the folded flag being handed to Jenna just before Jamie was laid to rest. At least with Jamie, Jensen hadn’t seen him the way Jared had seen Jenna; he didn’t even know how much there had been left of Jamie to see. He thought maybe that had something to do with the grieving process. Jared had been instrumental in helping him through that difficult time, and he needed to be there for Jared now. Not that he would even consider being anywhere else. Still, it bothered Jensen that Jared had not even really looked at the twins yet.
That bothered him most of all.
So it was a surprise then, later that night, when his mother walked through the open door between their adjoining rooms and thrust a fussy Rhiannon into his arms, that Jared, who had initially stiffened at Jensen’s side, reached out with a tentative finger and stroked the satin softness of the baby’s hair. He hadn’t really looked at Rhiannon, or Jensen for that matter, just at his own finger, as if mentally acclimating himself to the touch, to the feel of Jenna’s daughter.
It was a small thing, but to Jensen, it spoke volumes. And it made him smile. And it gave him renewed hope.
Just two weeks after their return to Vancouver, Jensen could hardly remember his life before the twins. Somehow, they had all managed to settle into a routine that seemed to be working for the most part as he and Jared went back to being Dean and Sam. The babies had just turned a month old, and they were growing so fast, Jensen was left awestruck, and more than a little spellbound. He found himself constantly thinking about them, and distracted and concerned and mesmerized in the way only a first-time parent could be. It meant the world to him to have Mack and Meg and his and Jared’s mothers there for support, and to help with the babies, because the hunt for a nanny was not progressing as well as he had hoped it would; both Sherri and his mother were giving persnickety a whole new meaning. Jensen tried not to complain though. Both mothers were worried, and about more than just the twins.
Jared was still... not right.
Jensen ached to share the twins with Jared, but he couldn’t. And it hurt. It hurt him, and it hurt their families, but he had no idea what to do. Sherri had tried to talk to Jared about therapy but that conversation had ended before it had even begun and Jensen had had to resort to getting advice himself, from a therapist the twins’ new paediatrician had recommended, and trying to apply it to Jared.
Surreptitiously, of course.
It wasn’t working really well. At least, Jensen didn’t think so. The therapist assured him that these things took time and Jensen just needed to be patient. Genius. It was then that he realized that no one knew Jared better than he did. That had been a bit of a revelation, and it filled him with a warm sort of fuzziness that he didn’t want to examine too closely. What it all meant, really, was that he knew what Jared needed. It was instinctive. Right now, Jared needed space. When the time was right – the time to approach Jared, to confront him, to comfort him, to help him – Jensen felt that he would know. He didn’t know how he would know, he just knew that he would. So he kept his distance for now. He gave Jared what he needed. It was mightily difficult to do, especially considering how close they were, but he focused on the twins and he managed.
He managed everything. The babies, their mothers, their sisters, their work, their home, their lives... Jared. It was physically exhausting and mentally draining, but he managed.
Then one night, Jared’s anguished scream rent through the quiet of the house and Jensen knew... it was time.
He met Sherri on the upstairs landing after taking the stairs two at a time to get to Jared’s room. “What is it?” They both asked each other just as one of the babies started crying. Jensen gave Jared’s mother a reassuring squeeze. “You check on the twins, I’ll check on Jared.” Sherri looked grateful and Jensen just hated to see the strain on her face warring with relief that he would go to Jared in her stead. She was at her wit’s end; Jensen sort of believed that when it came to Jared, his patience knew no limits.
He was cautious as he approached Jared’s bedroom door, his knock tentative as he called out. “Jay?” He couldn’t hear anything, so he drew in a deep breath and opened the door, the dim hallway light quickly illuminating a path to Jared’s bed with its crumpled sheets and the curled up body atop them. Jensen moved to Jared’s side and reached out to gently put a hand on his shoulder. “Jared?”
“Jensen.” Jared sounded tortured, and even in the dim light, he looked utterly wrecked.
“Jay, what is it?” Jensen asked, and try as he might, he couldn’t keep the slight edge of panic from his voice. Even his hand as he brushed the sweaty strands of Jared’s hair from his face, was shaking. Jensen sat down on the bed beside him, alarmed when Jared rose up and clamped onto him, arms tight around Jensen’s body as his head found its now familiar spot and nestled in the crook of Jensen’s neck.
Jared didn’t say anything for a long while, so Jensen just held him, but the slight shivers that still coursed through Jared’s body concerned him more than he would have ever admitted to anyone. “Did you have a bad dream or something?” Jared nodded into his neck, and Jensen sighed with sudden understanding. “Has this been going on for a while, Jay?” He asked, brushing his fingers through Jared’s hair and using that light grip to tug Jared’s face out into the open, until sad, bleary brown eyes looked straight at him. “Has it? Is that why you look like shit recently?”
“Yeah,” Jared replied gruffly. “Almost every night since... almost every night,” he paused at the look on Jensen’s face and hastily spoke to reassure him. “I’m used to it! I can even sleep through most of it, I think... It’s just that...,” he trailed off, staring at a spot on the floor until Jensen tilted his head up and swiped a soothing hand down his cheek.
“Tell me, Jared. Is it Jenna? Do you see her in your dreams?”
“Yeah... the way they brought her in... Oh God, Jen... there was blood everywhere... the sight, the smell... it was awful.”
“Some nights I see her, but lately... I see others lying there, covered in blood,” he shuddered violently and Jensen wrapped his arms tightly around his friend’s big body, holding him close until the shaking abated. Jensen had already made up his mind when Jared finally pulled away slightly. “I’m okay now,” he said, so obviously lying that Jensen felt a smile tug at the corners of his mouth.
“We’re best friends, right?” Jensen asked him, and Jared seemed a little nonplussed by the randomness of the question. He just nodded. “So what’s a little cuddling between friends?” Jensen asked with a grin as he stood and clambered over Jared and settled into the big bed beside him. The covers were all over the place, so it took little effort to settle himself in. Jared blinked at him. Jensen just smirked and held his arms out. “C’mere.” He was gratified when Jared took all of a split second to move, his head coming to rest on Jensen’s chest as he snuggled in close.
How long they lay like that, he wasn’t quite sure; all he knew was that he felt strangely bereft when Jared lifted his head. The feelings of emptiness were short-lived, however, and the warm fuzziness inside – that feeling he uniquely associated with Jared – returned when Jared laid his head down on the same pillow as Jensen, so close that their noses were barely an inch apart. Jared looked at him for a long while, just staring into his eyes. It should have made Jensen uncomfortable, held captive like that, figuratively pinned by that intense scrutiny. Had it been anyone else in the world, it would have been unnerving, but it was just Jared. Just Jared in a class all by himself where Jensen’s regular code of behaviour didn’t apply.
Jensen smiled at him, quite unable to keep the affection out of his gaze. He leaned into Jared’s hand when it cupped his cheek, exhaling lightly, letting out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding in.
“It was you tonight.” Jared’s voice was as soft as a sigh but there was a wealth of pain beneath the words, just barely held at bay.
Jensen didn’t really need him to elaborate any further, he just placed his hand over Jared’s heart and leaned in closer until their foreheads touched. “I’m right here.”
Jared bit his lip and inhaled deeply. “One second it was Jenna, just like I always see her... but then, it’s as if I blinked and suddenly it was you on that gurney...”
“I’m right here, Jay,” Jensen assured him.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life, Jen... thinking it was real...” He drew in a shuddering breath. “You... you’re... God, Jen – I can’t lose you.”
“You’re not going to lose me, Jay. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep us together.”
“Bad things happen in threes: first Jamie, then Jenna...”
“I know I’m being stupid, but it’s just how I feel.”
“You’re not stupid – I don’t ever want to hear you say that. This... what you’re feeling... it’s normal for people dealing with tragedy and grief. Everyone’s a little different; everyone deals differently.”
“How are you so strong?”
“Because I have to be.”
“So I’m a wuss is what you’re saying.”
“Hey! Don’t go putting words in my mouth – that is not what I meant. So you need a little more time to deal with this than I do. So what? We’re still good. ‘Cause it’s us; you’re my strength when I’m weak, Jay. It’s give and take. If you need me, I’ma be there for you. I hope you feel you can rely on me that way too. The way I count on you.”
“Of course I do, Jen. You know I do.” Jared did that intense staring thing again. “I don’t even know what you are to me anymore. Best friend seems inadequate after all this time... after what we’ve been through this past year alone. You’re... you’re everything, Jensen.”
“Exactly.” Jensen smiled at him. “That’s exactly how I feel about you.”
“Do we need to talk about this?”
“Have we ever?”
“If it ain’t broke...”
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.” Jared snuggled closer, his arm winding around Jensen’s middle and pushing him back down onto the bed, he resumed his former position, head resting on Jensen’s chest, his ear pressed close to Jensen’s steadily beating heart.
Jensen lay flat on his back on the blanket on the grass, face tilted up to the sun as he looked for familiar patterns in the fluffy white clouds in the endless blue sky above him. The day had dawned gorgeous and unseasonably warm for what was supposed to be the first Fall day of the year, but hey, if Vancouver wanted to go Indian for the summer, he wasn’t about to start complaining. He smiled slightly when he felt Sadie’s raspy tongue lick at his bare big toe, and he affectionately nudged her flank with his foot, chuckling when she woofed indignantly. Harley scrambled to his feet, flailed around for a bit and flopped back down onto his belly, barking his support, whether of Jensen or Sadie, Jensen couldn’t really tell; Harley was as big a goofball as his daddy.
Jensen sat up, thoughts of Jared bringing to mind the events from the night before. He wished that he had known how much Jared had been plagued by those debilitating nightmares. No wonder he was having such a hard time recovering; he had an almost daily reminder of what had happened that night. It just wasn’t fair, Jensen thought to himself, frustrated, and wondering what it would take for Jared to overcome the hell his subconscious was putting him through.
He was momentarily distracted by Rhiannon toeing off her bootie. Again. For the umpteenth time, Jensen put it back on her foot as he playfully admonished his baby daughter. He looked up when a shadow fell across his body.
“Hi,” Jared greeted him softly, almost shyly. “Got room for me down there?”
“Always, man. Shove one of your beasts outta the way first.” Jensen smirked as Harley was unceremoniously usurped from his spot in the sun. The dog ended up snuggling against Jared’s back instead. “You sleep okay?”
Jared smiled at him, the first genuine smile he had seen in a long while. “Yeah. I did. I feel really rested for the first time since... well, you know, the nightmares started.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about them?”
“What good would it have done?”
“You wouldn’t have had to deal with it alone.”
Jared leaned in closer until he bumped Jensen’s shoulder with his. “Thanks, Jen.”
“I’m here for you, whenever; whatever it is, Jared. You promised not to shut me out, so don’t.” Jensen slung his arm across Jared’s shoulders, giving him a hard squeeze and ruffling his hair. Then he huffed as Rhiannon’s bootie ended up in the grass again. He released Jared and picked it up to put it back on her foot.
“I swear you’re like your daddy, pumpkin. No shoes if he can help it,” Jensen told her as he tickled the underside of her foot. She kicked her response at him and he laughed, turning smile at Jared. “Your new daughter is way too much like you.” Jared looked positively shell-shocked, and Jensen could have kicked himself. “Jay...”
“She really is my daughter, isn’t she?” Jared asked him breathlessly, his eyes glued to Rhiannon’s now bootied foot.
“They’ll always be Jenna and Jamie’s kids, but they’re ours too, now,” Jensen tentatively rubbed the back of Jared’s neck. “We’re all they’ve got. For parents, I mean. We’re pretty blessed, man.”
From the way Jared’s eyes shone as he digested Jensen’s softly spoken words, Jensen could almost feel the shift in his best friend, like suddenly, things were aligning, shifting into place, settling into the right slots, finally where they belonged. Jared’s hand reached out and touched Rhiannon’s foot, but his eyes sought Jensen’s. “Will you introduce me to my daughter, Jen?”
Jensen swallowed, rendered completely mute. He blinked rapidly and breathed in deep and slow until his pulse settled, until he let the blazing smile he felt on the inside show on his face. He nodded and reached out to gently lift his daughter – their daughter – out of her carrier. He soothed her when she fidgeted, pressing a kiss to her downy head before leaning in closer to Jared, holding their baby out to him. Jared looked nervous at first, but he steeled himself and accepted the warm, little bundle Jensen placed in his arms.
Rhiannon blinked up at her other daddy, looking for all intents and purposes as if she was studying him, to see if he would pass muster as a potential parent. Jensen chuckled and Jared looked at him, eyes welling and then overflowing as tears slid down his face. Jensen thumbed the wetness away and leaned in closer, one hand on Jared’s back while the other came to rest over Jared’s hand supporting Rhiannon’s head.
“She looks...” Jared breathed in deep, “she looks just like you. You both have the same eyes.”
Jensen felt his face heat up in pleasure. “The Ackles green eyes. Jamie’s eyes.”
“No. Jamie’s eyes were lighter, not like yours at all. Rhia’s got your eyes.”
“Rhia?” Jensen sounded out the nickname on his tongue, liking the sound of it.
“Is that okay?” Jared sounded anxious.
“Of course it is. Don’t be afraid, Jay. They’re yours just as much as mine.”
“Yeah,” Jared agreed quietly. “Except that I’ve been a crappy daddy and you’ve been amazing.”
Jensen frowned at him. “None of that – I won’t allow it. Just be the best dad you can be right now. It’s not too late. Besides which, it’s you. You’re one giant kid – the twins are gonna love you and soon you’ll be their favourite daddy.”
The frown Jared gave him was priceless. “There’s no way that’ll ever happen. You’re so great with them. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. You’re like a Mama Bear. If I’ma be their favourite daddy, it’ll be only ‘cause you’re their momma.”
“Dude.” Jared giggled. It was a sound Jensen hadn’t heard in way too long, and it made his fingers brush and tuck Jared’s long hair away from his face, just so Jensen could see that smile better. “I got them first, I call dibs on ‘Daddy’. You can be their ‘Momma’. Makes sense – look at these lustrous locks.” He ruffled Jared’s hair again, smirking when Jared turned to him, smiling without restraint, without those shadows masking the warmth of his eyes.
“No way! You’re the Momma. You’re prettier,” Jared smiled down at their daughter. “You have the prettiest Momma on the planet, honey,” Jared told her, chuckling when Jensen poked him in the ribs. “She lost her bootie again, Jen.”
“Reminds me of when Sammy lost his shoe. Put it back on, will you? It’s warm out but those little toes are gonna get cold.”
“Maybe she likes to feel free – like you said, just like me.”
“You have ugly man feet. My baby girl has cute little toes that are gonna grow into pretty little toes that boys will soon be ogling, so I’d like her to keep ‘em covered, thank you very much.”
Jared paused in the act of nibbling at Rhiannon’s toes and looked at Jensen in horror. “Boys?”
“Boys like us?”
“We can only hope.”
“Arghh! What if she falls for boys like... Chris? Or Chad? Or if Chad and Kenzie had a son, and she fell for him?” Jared laughed at the horror-stricken look on Jensen’s face, cradling Rhiannon closer when she started at the sound, cooing softly to her and kissing her plump cheek.
“We’re moving to Nunavut.”
“Canada’s northernmost territory. We’re moving there.”
“Dude. You can’t handle Vancouver and you wanna move to the freakin’ Arctic?” Jared asked, his voice rife with amusement as he nuzzled the side of Jensen’s face with his nose.
“I’ll do it to keep my daughter away from Mayhem’s little minion,” Jensen kissed Rhiannon’s head, and leaned in to whisper in her ear. “If you so much as look at a Murray, munchkin, I’m grounding you for life.”
“You gonna be this over-protective of Riley, too?” Jared asked, glancing at their blissfully dozing baby son.
“Absolutely,” Jensen affirmed. “No double standards here. I’ll be quite happy if both of them didn’t date until they’re thirty.”
“Ouch! I see now why I’m gonna be their favourite daddy,” Jared smirked, “you know, on account of you being not right in the head.”
“Shut up,” Jensen grumped. “I’ma remind you of this conversation when they hit their teens.”
“I can’t wait,” Jared told him, his gaze softening with affection as he looked at him.
Jensen couldn’t help himself, leaning forward until their foreheads touched. “Me neither.” Jared brushed their noses together, and Jensen smiled, sending a prayer of thanks heavenward. Jared drew back and shifted Rhiannon to his other arm, reaching out to place a big hand on Riley’s tummy. “He’s got your eyes.”
Jared looked fascinated. “Really?” He bit his lip when Jensen nodded. “I wanna see.”
“He’s asleep, Jared.”
“So? Let’s wake him up.”
“Spoken like a parent who hasn’t had to be up at night yet.”
Jared looked momentarily guilty but was reassured by the smile Jensen flashed at him. “Aww, come on! He’s gonna be up at night anyway.”
“He gets grumpy when you wake him up before he’s ready,” Jensen informed him.
Jared laughed and hugged Rhiannon closer, as if vicariously hugging Riley through her. “So what you’re saying is – he’s just like you.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Grumpy when woken. That’s you in a nutshell, baby.”
“Shut up. And quit picking on my son.”
“Uh huh. I see how this is gonna go,” Jared sniggered and tickled Riley’s belly until the baby frowned in his sleep.
“Come on, baby boy,” Jared murmured softly as he leaned in over Riley’s carrier. “Wake up! Don’t you wanna meet your new daddy?”
“Oh look, he’s awake!” Jared looked mightily smug and Jensen glared at him for a good long time before Riley’s irritated mewling distracted him. He turned to coo softly at his son, picking him up and snuggling him close.
“It’s all right, Riley,” Jensen reassured him, “Your other daddy’s being mean, let’s just ignore him. You go back to sleep...”
“Wait, I wanna see his eyes,” Jared’s breath huffed out at the side of Jensen’s neck, sending goosbumps skittering across his skin. They disappeared when Jared pressed his warm body against his, his free arm wrapping around Jensen’s back until his hand came to softly stroke Riley’s head.
Riley, to his credit, frowned at them. Jensen sighed. “Now see what you did?”
Jared chuckled, muffling the sound in Jensen’s shoulder. “He has my eyes, true – but dude, that look is all you.” His big body actually shook with laughter. Jensen was torn between happiness to see him like this and just plain exasperation at his antics. Happiness won out. It wasn’t even close.
Jared’s grin widened until the dimples Jensen hadn’t seen in well over a month delved deep into his cheeks. “Yeah. Absolutely.”
They exchanged babies with little effort and Jared looked down at their son, mesmerized, as he spoke to him in hushed tones, soothingly rocking him back to sleep. Riley’s eyes drooped shut but the pout was still prominent on his tiny mouth, bottom lip pushed out as far as it would go. Jared’s fingers reached down and gently pinched that little pout before his gaze caught Jensen’s and pinned him in place.
“He pouts just like you do.” Then he reached out and pinched Jensen’s pouting lower lip too.
“Ow!” Jensen yelped, and Jared laughed and leaned in until he kissed Rhiannon and then, for good measure, smooched Jensen on the cheek.
“This is gonna be fun,” he sighed happily, his head snuggling onto Jensen’s shoulder as he got comfortable leaning against him. And that warm fuzziness was back in full force, Jensen realized; maybe it had never left him in the first place. His arm automatically reached behind Jared, first patting both dogs’ head in quick succession before anchoring Jared in place, right there, at his side.
He figured they could stay right there on that quilt on the grass, the six of them, forever, never moving, and he would be happy.
He pressed a kiss to Jared’s head, revelling in the softness of his hair, when his eyes caught a movement at the patio doors overlooking the back yard. It was Sherri, her palm pressed against the glass as she looked right at him.
Thank you, she mouthed, her hand swiping at her eyes, smiling when Jensen nodded, her smile widening when Megan came up behind her and hugged her. Jensen’s mouth quirked in response when Mack and his mother joined them at the window, all of them clearly thrilled with this turn of events.
Jensen could relate. He was thrilled too. The twins had their other daddy now and he - he finally had his Jared back.