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Too Much To Ask

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THEN

 

 

It’s a blindingly sunny day. The heat soaks through the open car window and into Jared’s skin. He soaks it up, enjoying the slight burning sensation that he feels tinkling on his arm and face. He is so glad that it is the summer break. No school for the next couple of months. Thank heavens.

“Jared.”

He snaps out of his thoughts when his younger sister nudges him, yelling his name.

“What?”
Meggie huffs. “You’re taking up too much space. Move over.”

Jared rubs his forehead and squishes himself against the door, plastering himself to the boiling materials. At the age of 15, he is still going through his growth spurt. He is already as tall as his 19-year-old brother, Jeff. He smirks as he thinks about how much he can tease Jeff in retaliation to all the bullying his brother subjected him to whilst they were growing up. Payback is a bitch.

The melody twinkling through the speakers draws to a close and Meggie sighs as she unplugs her phone and hands the AUX cable to Jared. He plugs his cell in and hits shuffle. We Built This City by Jefferson Starship blasts out of the speakers and he grins as his sister groans and his mother grins. It’s a system they worked out years ago, when they first took a road trip. Each person gets a certain amount of time to play their music. Jared doesn’t mind the system – he loves most genres of music – but Meggie, who only enjoys compositions from the Romantic and Classical periods, and Jeff, who is a solid country boy, hate it.

They pull into a gas station and his parents head to the rest room whilst Meggie and Jeff head inside to buy snacks. Jared leans his head back and listens to his music, happy and content.

“Jefferson Starship. Good choice.”

His eyes shoot open and he sits forward, glancing out the window at the person who spoke. A teenage boy blinks back at him. Jared swallows hard. The boy has the greenest eyes Jared has ever seen. The stranger smiles.

“Got anything else good?”

Jared holds out his phone and watches the other boy’s growing smile as he scrolls through the music list.

“You got good taste, man,” green eyes muses, handing Jared back his phone as Take On Me starts playing.

“Jensen, we’re leaving!”

Green eyes glances over his shoulder, then back at Jared. “Nice meeting ya,” he drawls, before dashing over to a car where a family, similar to his own, are standing. He watches as the boy – presumably Jensen – ruffles the small girl’s hair, before climbing into the car. He tears his eyes from the scene when the car doors open and his family gets inside. Jeff throws a bag of crisps at him.

“Dig in, JT.”

Jared rolls his eyes, but opens the packet and shoves a handful of crisps into his mouth. Meggie rests her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes, sleep hitting her instantly. He smiles down at her until he hears his brother’s sniggers and sees the twinkle in his parent’s eyes.

“She has you wrapped around her finger, JT,” Jeff chortles.

Jared scowls and looks back out the window, ignoring his parent’s laughter. He stares unseeingly out the window at the empty land until a car pulls up next to him, blocking his view. He blinks. Focusing on the car and Is surprised to find the green eyed boy staring back at him. Jared grins and Jensen smiles back, laughter in his eyes. The woman in the front seat says something and the young girl next to Jensen lets out a shriek of laughter. Jensen rolls his eyes, shaking his head, keeping his amusement filled eyes on Jared. Then the car pulls forward and Jensen is lost from view. Jared keeps on smiling.

Three hours later they pull into another gas station. Jared leaps out of the car, stretching happily. His dad tosses him a few dollar bills and he heads into the shop, searching for his favorite candy. He grabs a load and then stumbles over to the drinks, tripping over himself and nearly falling. He rights himself and grins triumphantly. Then he eyes the the drinks happily. Then he frowns. His arms are too full of candy for him to pick up a drink. He bites his lip.

“Need a hand?”

He turns to find Jensen watching him, a twinkle in his eyes. Jared lets out a huff of laughter.

“Please. Can you grab me a bottle of coke?”
Jensen opens the fridge and grabs the bottle, before walking with Jared to the counter. He places his supplies down and watches as the cashier rings up the items, before slipping him the bill.

“You like sugar, huh?” Jensen asks.

Jared laughs picking up a sweet. “You see this? This is happiness.” He unwraps it and pops the candy into his mouth. “Want one?”

Jensen picks one up off the counter and grins. They pick up the two plastic bags and exit the shop, walking over to Jared’s car. His parents eye Jensen cautiously, but don’t say anything. They dump the bags on Jared’s seat before facing one another.

“I’m Jared, by the way.”

“Jensen.”

Jared’s dad winds the window down. “JT, we need to get going.”

Jared nods, getting into the car. Jensen leans through the open window, resting his elbows on the door. He smiles.

“See ya, Jared.” He looks over at Jared’s momma. “Have a safe trip, ma’am. Sir.” Then he pulls back and walks away. Papa looks over his shoulder and raises an eyebrow.

“Who was that?”

Jared feels a light blush coat his skin as he smiles and looks out the window. “Just a guy I met at the gas station earlier today.”

 

****

One hour later and they are finally pulling into the drive way of their holiday house. The house is situated in a small beach village and Jared can honestly say that coming here is his favorite thing in the world. The moment the car stops he is out the door and running up the steps to the front door. He kneels down and tugs the spare key out from under the plant pot. With a wide grin, he unlocks the house and steps inside. The house is dusty, but that’s okay. By tomorrow it will be cleaned and ready for living in.

“Jared, wait up!” Meggie yells, running towards him and gripping his hand. He smiles down at her and lets her tug him towards her bedroom.

“I love this place!” She squeals, flopping on her bed.

Jared laughs lightly, shaking his head. “Me to, Meggie. Me to.”
He wanders back through the house to help carry the bags out of the car. Momma just smiles at him as he walks towards her. She grabs a bag from the trunk of the car and hands it to him.

“You always loved this place,” she says, locking the car.

Jared shrugs, swinging the bag over his shoulder and leans over to take the cooler box from his mom. “It’s amazing here,” is all he says in response. They walk back into the house and he takes the bags to the correct rooms.

Once he is in his own bedroom, he rifles through his pack and pulls on a pair of swim shorts and a fresh t-shirt.

“Momma! Papa! I’m heading down to the beach!”

He doesn’t wait for an answer; just walks out the door and heads in the direction of the bay.

Jared is so glad that it’s the holidays. This past school year has been hell. His best friend, Chad, had moved to Kansas. His girlfriend had dumped him and school had been worse than normal, his grades dropping drastically. He is just so fucking glad to be free from it all. He wishes that he had graduated already. He just wants to be done with school and studying and being a goddam teenager. Although he will never admit it to anyone, he is just so damn lonely. Sandy and Chad had been his world. And now they are both gone.

“Shit, sorry!” A voice exclaims as a warm body collides with his own and knocks him to the pavement. He lands on hard on his ass and he groans, squinting up against the sunlight.

“Jared?”

“Jensen?”

The boys stare at each other before startled laughter escapes both their lips. Jensen reaches out and clasps Jared’s hand, yanking him to his feet.

“Sorry man. You alright?” Jensen asks, chewing his lip.

Jared nods, smiling. “Yeah. What ya doin here?”
“Summer holidays. Hired a house,” he states, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder to point at the building behind him.

Jared grins. “No way, man! My family owns a house just round the corner. Come here every year. It’s amazing. Hey, you busy? I was just heading down to the beach. Wanna come?”
Jensen nods. “Yeah. Sure. Lead the way, oh wise one.”

Jared laughs and shakes his head as they fall into step next to each other. It feels so natural and Jared can’t help the tingle that fills his body. Jensen is going to be here for the whole summer. He can’t fucking believe it.

“So where you from?” Jensen asks.

Jared flashes him a smile, showing off his dimples. He is so damn excited to spend the summer with the other boy.

“San Antonio. You?”

Jensen laughs. “Richardson. Usually go on summer camp but since I just graduated, momma wanted us to go on a family holiday before I move out to college.”
Jared swallows. “You 18?”
Jensen nods. “Yeah, and you?”

Jared shrugs and looks out at the sandy bay as they reach beach. “15. 16 in a month.”

Jensen just smiles and kicks of his shoes. Jared copies, dumping his next to Jensen’s pair. Then both boys reach up and tug their shirts off. With a bubble of laughter trailing behind them, they rush for the waves and plummet into the luke warm salty water. The waves splash around them and Jared grins, dipping his hand into the water to toss a hand full at the other boys face. Jensen splutters, rubbing his eyes, before casting a devious smirk at Jared.

“Shit,” Jay breathes a second before a lung full of salty water hits him. He falls back and disappears under the surface for a moment, before popping his head back up and laughing. Jensen joins in, wading deeper out into the water. Jared swims after him. They mess around for a while longer, before heading back to shore and collapsing onto the sandy shore to dry off, the sun still burning brightly. They don’t say anything for a while, just lie there with their eyes closed, soaking up the warmth as the sun dances across their browning skin. Then Jared tilts his head to the side so that he can look at Jensen and states, “I’m glad you’re here. It’ll be nice to have someone other than my sister and brother to hang out with.” It comes out as a whisper; a gentle caress of words in the still evening air.

Jensen shifts to look over at Jared, a smile playing at his lips. “yeah. I’m looking forward to this summer. Come on, we should head back. My mom will be worried. I didn’t tell her I was going out.”

They stand up, dusting themselves off and slipping their t-shirts back on. Then, together, they head back up the path and towards Jensen’s holiday house. When they reach the small picket fenced gate, Jared stops, gently touching Jensen’s elbow as he asks, “What’s your favorite music period and genre?”
The corner of Jensen’s lips tug up in a smile. “80’s and rock. I would kill to have been alive then. Why?”
Jared just shrugs. “Just wonderin’. After all, you did randomly start talking to me because of my music.”

The two boys grin at each other, before Jensen looks over his shoulder at the house, chewing his lip.

“Meet me here tomorrow around 10am?” The older boy asks.

Jared nods, lightly punching Jensen’s shoulder. “See ya tomorrow, Jen.”

Then he turns on his heal and jogs the last couple of blocks to his own home, a smile on his face the entire way.

 

*****

 

Jared is sitting in the kitchen bright and early the next morning, drinking his mango smoothie whilst doing a crossword puzzle. Meggie comes down stairs and takes a sip of his drink, before making herself a bowl of cornflakes. Their parents are already out for an early morning boat trip to the lake with Jeff and another couple that they meet up with every year. Meggie couldn’t go as she is going to the water park with a summer friend of hers and Jared, who usually would tag along with his parents, is meeting up with Jensen. His parents had evidently been surprised when he had sprung his plans upon them at supper last night, but they had schooled their features quickly and agreed. After all, whilst Meggie, Jeff and his parents have always had people their age to befriend for the summer, Jared hasn’t. The happy smiles on his parent’s faces had almost made him laugh at how pathetic he must seem to them, never having friends over the summer at their holiday house. Some years Chad would tag along, but usually only for a few weeks, not the entire holiday season. But now, now Jared has Jensen. 

“See ya, Jared,” Meggie says, and he looks up to wave at her as she slips out the front door. He watches to make sure she gets in the car with her friend and his parents, then he dashes upstairs to get his things. He shoves a towel in his back pack, his phone and headphones, some cash, a bottle of water. Then he glances at the clock on his wall and groans. It’s only 9am. He sits down and sighs. What should he do for an hour? Then he smiles and pulls out his laptop, scrolling through his music. He searches for the song, We Built This City and then adds it to a new playlist, labeled Jensen. He smiles, feeling stupid and sappy but he can’t help it. He has connected with Jensen more in the few hours he has known him than he has with majority of his friends. And making a playlist of songs that connect him to the older boy, well, it just feels like something that he wants, no, needs to do. He shuts off his laptop and then lies back on his bed, thinking. Jensen is unlike anyone he has met before. He isn’t sure what it is about the older boy that draws him in, but he knows without a doubt that he wants Jensen in his life, that he wants them to be friends.

He stands and hitches his back pack over his shoulders, before exiting the house and making his way to Jensen’s house. He reaches he small, picket fence just as Jensen is coming outside of building. He smiles as he leans on the fence, watching Jensen walk towards him. The older boy grins and swings his arm around Jared’s shoulder in a side hug, before stepping back.

“Mornin’ Jay,” the older boy drawls, winking.

Jared’s heart beats slightly faster, but he tries to ignore it. It’s hard when the boy before him is grinning at him and looking so damn beautiful.

“Heya, Jen. Anywhere in specific you wanna head to?”

Jensen shrugs. “I have absolutely no idea what there is around here. You got any favorite places?”
Jared pauses. “There is the waterpark, but my little sister is heading over with her friend, so… how about the theme park? You like roller coasters?”
Jensen grins. “Yep. Love em. Let’s do it.”
Jared starts walking and Jensen falls into step beside him. They walk in companiable silence, Jared’s heart soaring. He can already tell that this summer is going to be the best summer of his life. He shoots a curious glance at Jensen.

“So what college you going to?”

Jensen sighs and rubs the back of his neck. “I’m, uh, going to be studying music at Yale.”

Jared’s jaw drops and he stops walking, staring after Jensen. The older boy stops and sighs, turning to face Jared and holding his arms out, “What?”
Jared laughs gleefully, shaking his head. “You’re a music student! Let me guess, you play guitar, mainly electric and you love to jam away to your rock music!”

Jensen groans and lets his head hang back as he contemplates his existence.

“Yes, I play guitar. Acoustic, bass and electric. Can we not talk about this…?”

Jared steps closer to him, a teasing smile on his lips. “What aren’t you telling me, Jen?”

“Shut up!”

Jared chews his lip and then he pulls out the kicked puppy expression that helps him get out of practically any situation. Jensen’s eyes widen and he leans back, but Jared just steps closer, getting right up in his face.

“Please, Jensen. I wuve you,” he teases, keeping his pout in place and using a whiny tone. Jensen groans.

“Fuck me,” he mutters under his breathe, before exclaiming, “Fine, fine! I also play the piano, clarinet, saxophone and I can sing. You happy?”
Jared drops his pleading expression, stunned. “Seriously? What are you a musical prodigy or something. You have to play for me sometime. And sing for me.”

Jensen kicks at the dusty ground, staring at the floor. “I don’t really play for people.”

“But you’re going to study music?”
Jensen just shakes his head. “Can we please just not…”
Jared nods. “Of course. I’m sorry.” Pause. “Got a girlfriend?”

Jensen snorts. “What is this? Twenty questions?”
The younger boy scowls. “Well I’m sorry for trying to get to know my new friend. I’ll just hang out with you for the rest of summer and not know anything about you other than your name then.”
There is silence for a moment and Jared sucks in a breath, feeling stupid. Then Jensen says, “No, no girlfriend. I’m gay.”
Jared nearly chokes on the air around him, but he manages to keep a straight face. Jensen doesn’t look at him. “Got a girlfriend?”

Jared shakes his head. “I did, but we broke up a couple weeks ago.”
They have reached the theme park and Jared can’t help the flood of relief that fills him. He casts a glance at Jensen, trying to picture the older boy with another guy. It’s not that he has anything against being gay, it’s just, he never imagined that Jensen would be. He shakes his head, clearing away his thoughts, and gets in the que, Jensen standing silently next to him. The park is busy, the que’s long. The heat is scorching and Jared can’t wait to get inside and hit the roller coasters and water slides. He squints up at the sky, before swinging his back pack off of his shoulders and kneeling done, searching through It until he finds his sun glasses. He pushes them on, standing up again. Righting his back pack, he pushes his messy bangs off of his sweat soaked forehead and looks over at Jensen, who is watching him with an unreadable expression on his face.

“What?”
Jensen shakes his head. “Nothing. So you have what, two more years of school? Got any idea what you want to do after that?”

Jared sighs and looks away, shaking his head. “I’m not really sure. I would love to go into acting. But it’s unrealistic, you know? I mean, I guess it’s the same with music. If you want to be a performer, I mean. Momma says I should follow my dreams but my dad wants me to do something more… stable. He wants me to do law at Stanford. I could do it, I’m smart enough. But I just don’t want to, you know? God, sorry, I’m talking too much. Feel free to tell me to shut up whenever.”
Jensen shakes his head, a soft smile on his face. “I don’t mind. You should give acting ago, if that’s what you want to do, Jay.”

“Yeah?” Jared shoots him a hopeful look.

“Yeah.”
They’ve reached the front of the que now and Jared reaches in to his bag to grab his wallet, but Jensen stops him, muttering, “I’ll pay,” before smiling at the girl behind the counter and slipping her the bills. The teenage girl blushes furiously and Jared scowls at her. Then he frowns, because firstly, why the hell is he angry with her evident attraction to Jensen, and secondly, the older boy is gay, so he doesn’t care about the girls display of want. Pushing his emotions aside, he heads through the gate and into the theme park. Jensen touches his shoulder lightly, making Jared turn to face him. The older boy takes Jared’s wrist in his hands and gently puts on the orange band. Once he has finished, Jared puts Jensen’s on. They smile at each other, all tension forgotten.

“What do you want to go on first?” Jensen asks, looking around the park with wide eyes. Jared grins. “Come on. I’ll show you my favorite ride. You’re going to love it!” Then he grabs hold of the other boy’s hand and drags him through the crowd.

 

 

 

Jensen sits down on the bench, placing his bag next to him so as to save the spot for Jared. He watches the younger boy pay for the fries and two bottles of coke, a smile on his face. Jared is unlike anyone Jensen has ever met. He is so damn real. He has this aurora that just pulls you in and soaks you up in a bubble of happiness and content. He bites down on his lip, hard. Today has been brilliant. They had been on nearly every ride in the amusement park and Jared’s laughter and screeches is still ringing through his ears. He can’t remember the last time he had this much fun. Things back home haven’t been the best over the last few months. His best friend, Steve, had found a girlfriend and spent most of his time with her. His other friends, well, aren’t really his friends. That’s what happens when you become popular. You are constantly surrounded by people, always laughing and putting on a show. But behind your back, they are whispering about you, hating on you, taunting you. He is so relieved to be away from it all. Away from that life. And thank God he doesn’t have to go back.

Jared is walking towards him now, so he puts his back pack on the floor so that Jared can sit next to him. He knows that the other boy is a few years younger than him, but God, he doesn’t think that he has ever seen anyone as beautiful. Yes, the kid is going through his growth spurt. H’s all limbs and skinny as a twig. But Jensen can see the beauty he is going to become. Those feline eyes and long shaggy hair. And damn, those dimples and infectious laughter. No, it is safe to say that he has never met anybody quite like Jared Padalecki.

“Here ya go,” Jared says, handing him the fries and a coke.

He watches as Jared unscrews the coke lid and takes a sip, his throat moving with the motion. Jensen swallows hard and shoves a handful of fries on his mouth. The younger boy grins over at him and snags a few fries.

“Thanks for coming with me,” he says, eyes sparkling.

Jensen laughs, butterflies swarming his gut. “My pleasure. It’s been fun.”

He glances down at his watch, chewing his lip. Then asks, “You wanna come to mine for supper? Mom said we’re eating at 7.”

Jared nods, liking the ketchup off his fingers. “Yep,” he responds, popping the p loudly. He grins. “I don’t want to go home yet any.”

Jensen grins and stands up, throwing the empty chip box in the rubbish bin. He is amazed by who quickly their friendship is developing. They only met yesterday, but it feels as though they have known each other for years.

They exit the theme park and start on the short walk back to Jensen’s house. They chat about stupid things. Like their favorite PS games, and bands, and food. Jared tells stories about his best friend, Chad, that leave Jensen in a fit of giggles, unable to breathe due to the amount of laughter flowing out of him. They are still laughing when they enter his house, drawing the attention of his mother.

“Jensen? Is that you?”

Both boys look up to see Jensen’s mom sticking her head out the kitchen doorway. Jensen stands up straighter and smiles.

“Mom, this is Jared. Jay, this is my mom.”
Jared flashes an innocent smile. “Hello, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Mrs. Ackles smiles and shakes her head. “Donna is fine, dear. Are you staying for dinner?”
Jensen nods when Jared shoots him a quick look.

“Yes please, ma’am – Donna.”

She flashes them one last smile, saying, “We’ll eat in half an hour,” before she is back in the kitchen. Jensen leads Jared through the house and into his room, flopping down onto his bed. He lies down on his stomach and folds his arms under his head. He glances over his shoulder and smiles sleepily at Jared, who is watching him in the doorway.

“Come ‘ere,” Jensen whispers, closing his eyes. The sun and heat has made him tired, and he would love to fall asleep right now. Then he feels the bed dip and a warm body touching him. He opens one eye and finds Jared lying on his back, his arm and leg pressed against Jensen’s. Jared must feel Jensen’s eyes on him, as he turns his head and smiles. A giggle slips from Jensen’s lips and Jared raises an eyebrow in curiosity. Jensen pushes up on his elbows and reaches over to his bedside table, pulling an old Discman and a set of earphones. He grabs a stack of CD’s and hands them over to Jared, blushing.

“I prefer the older, um, electronics,” he murmurs, holding up the Discman.

Jared just grins and starts looking through he CD’s, grinning when he sees the 1975 album. He hands it over to Jensen, who lies down on his back and places the disc into the machine. He hands Jared one of the ear buds, wincing. “I don’t usually use earphones. I prefer headphones.”

Jared laughs. “Same man, but you can’t share those.”
They both settle down comfortably and Jensen hits the play button. The Sound by 1975 starts playing and Jensen grins from ear to ear, starting to sing along. He laughs through the song, messing up the lyrics on purpose, before falling into childish fits of giggles. He feels drunk or high, maybe both. He doesn’t know what it is, but he feels so fucking light and happy. He belts out the final line of the sing and rolls onto his side so that he can see Jared better. He is surprised to find the younger boy staring at him, a soft smile pulling at his lips and this look in his eyes that he can’t explain.

“What?” he asks.

Jared shakes his head. “You have a beautiful voice.”

Jensen blushes. “Thanks.”
Jared looks like he’s about to say something else, but Jensen’s mom knocks on the door, before peeping inside. “Dinner,” she says, smiling.

They both sit up and Jensen feels his face turn even redder. “Coming,” he chokes out, ignoring his mother’s meaningful glances. He hates the fact that his mother can pretty much always read his emotions. No doubt she can tell that he is completely infatuated with Jared in a way that usually takes him awhile. Jared hands him back the ear bud and he shoves them in the drawer, along with the Discman. They exit his room and follow his mother to the dining room. Jensen’s sister, brother and father are already sitting. Jared smiles and takes the seat next to Mack. I sit next to him.

“Jared, this is my sister, Mackenzie, my brother, Josh, my dad, Alan. Guys, this is Jared.”
Mackenzie is looking at Jared with wide eyes and blushing severely. He wants to jab her with his foot, but he settles for glaring. At the age of 14, his little sister is crushing on anyone and everything that is in the tiniest bit attractive, and well, Jared is stunning. And Jared, completely oblivious to how his smile affects people, grins and flashes her a wink, before looking around the table.

“Thank you for letting me join you.”

Jensen’s family accept Jared without questions. Jared didn’t shut up the entire meal, and it made Jensen feel al fuzzy inside, seeing his new friend being so welcomed and accepted. As he’s eating and listening to Jay prattle on about God knows what, he gingerly hooks his foot around Jared’s ankle. Jared breaks off for a second, shooting a smile at him, before continuing to talk. Jensen smiles down at his dish. Today has been one of the best days of his life. Honest.

 

*****

 

“Come on, Jen. You’re taking forever,” Jared complains, lying on his friends bed, half asleep.

It’s three weeks into the summer and Jared can’t remember a life without Jensen. He smiles to himself, thinking about Jensen’s carefree nature and general adorableness. He thinks back to that night when he and Jensen first listened to music on the Discman. Jensen’s singing and playful teasing. The look of pure joy that was on his face is burned into Jared’s mind. He bites his lip, pushing away the unwelcome emotions that thinking about how fucking gorgeous Jensen is brings. He’s pretty sure that it isn’t normal to think such things about your friend. He sighs and climbs under the covers, burying deeper into the blankets and closing his eyes, breathing in the scent of Jensen. Yup, definitely shouldn’t be thinking about such things.

At that moment, Jensen steps into the room, his hair still dripping from his shower. Jared fixes his eyes on him, his lips slightly parted as he takes in the white t-shirt that clings tightly to the older boy’s skin and the black boxer briefs he is wearing. Jared swallows hard. Their eyes meet and neither moves, drinking the other in. Jared mentally curses himself. What is wrong with him? He takes a deep breath, and pulls the covers of Jensen’s bed up, squinting at Jensen. He yawns then.

“Come ‘ere,” he mumbles.

Jensen dashes over to the bed and climbs under the blanket, covering himself with it. The boys lie on their sides, staring at each other. Jared can’t help the giggle that slips from his lips.

“You have really nice eyes,” he whispers.

Jensen bites his lip and Jared’s eyes trail the movement, before flickering back up to Jensen’s eyes. Jen sniggers.

“Thanks.”

Unconsciously, Jared starts playing with the hem of Jensen’s t-shirt, his fingers brushing against the other boy’s stomach. He loves these nights, when their parents allow them to sleepover at each other’s house. He and Jensen can stay up until 3am, lost in conversations about music and life and everything. He knows he should feel weird about sharing a bed, sharing such closeness, with another boy, especially since they are both teenagers and he never did this with Chad, or any of his other friends. But it feels natural, normal, familiar. He shuffles a tad closer to Jensen, curling into his chest. Jensen’s arm drapes over his hip and his breath dances across Jared’s skin.

“Chad is coming to stay for a couple weeks,” Jared whispers, closing his eyes.

Jensen laughs lightly. “Great. I don’t know whether I want to meet him.”

Jared snorts, knowing that Jensen is simply teasing. Another yawn slips from his exhausted body. Jensen’s fingers run through his hair and he whimpers in content.

“Night Jen.”

“Night Jay.”

 

 

*****

Waking up to Jensen’s arms around him is something he never knew that he needed until he experienced it for the first time. Now, it’s a craving. Everything about Jensen is addictive. His new friend is like a drug and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He stares at Jensen’s sleeping face, smiling gently. The sun is flowing through the window and fluttering across the peaceful boys face. Carefully, he reaches out and lets the tips of his fingers brush against the older boy’s cheek.

“Jen, wake up.”

The boy stirs, blinking sleepily, a yawn slipping from his lips. Then his eyes focus on Jared and a grin breaks across his face.

“Happy birthday, Jay.”

They grin at each other and Jared feels a fuzzy feeling flood his chest. He couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend his 16th birthday than with Jensen. With a large, content sigh, Jared flings the blanket off of them and climbs out the bed stretching. He scratches his bare stomach absentmindedly and then looks over at Jensen. The other boys face is beetroot red and his eyes are wide. Jared tilts his head, confused.

“You okay, Jen?”
Jensen swallows hard and gets out the bed, muttering a quick yes. They get dressed quickly, tugging on swim shorts and t-shirts. Jared puts his sun glasses on and then makes his way towards the door, resting his hand on the door knob and looking over his shoulder.

“You coming? We need to stop by mine to see my family. They insisted that we do presents before we go out.”

Jensen walks over to him and places his hand over Jared’s, resting his chin on Jared’s shoulder. “Okay.” Then he presses a quick kiss to Jared’s cheek and opens the door, sauntering out the room. Jensen stares after him, heart racing, pulse throbbing. He bites his lip. This is too much. Jensen is too much. And yet, at the same time, none of this is enough. He swallows hard as his eyes train down to Jensen’s ass and then back up to the back of his head. The older boy promised to give him the best birthday he could ever ask for, ending the night with his present. Right now though, all Jared wants is for Jensen to be in his arms, their lips pressed together and his hands in Jensen’s hair. He doesn’t know where these emotions and desires have come from. Up until he met Jensen, he has been one hundred percent straight. But ever since that day at the theme park, his heart has been pushing him to acknowledge that Jensen may just be the exception to the rule. He knows that he’s young, only 16 for heaven’s sake, and Jensen isn’t that much older, but there is something about the swirling emotions inside of him that are telling him to take the chance. This crush, if you can even call it that, feels more intense and intimate than anything else he has ever felt in his entire life. He just hopes that Jensen feels the same.

Realizing that Jensen is already out the front door of the house, he jogs to catch up with him, ducking away when Jensen swats him over the back of the head and then ruffles his hair, an affectionate smirk on his face. “Thought I’d lost you. Although, how you could get lost from my bedroom to the front door is beyond me.”

Jared shoves Jensen, smiling happily. “Be nice. It’s my birthday. You have to do whatever I want.” He sticks his tongue out, knowing he’s being childish, but too happy to care. Jensen slips his arm around Jared’s shoulders and tugs him close to his side, his lips touching Jared’s ear as he whispers, “And what, exactly, do you want from me?”

Jared blushes and bites back his retort. He isn’t sure what would happen if he answered that truthfully.

Thankfully, they have reached his house and moving away from Jensen, he runs up the porch steps and throws the front door open, yelling, “I’m home!”
His heart is racing, he can feel Jensen’s eyes on him, but he pushes it away and focuses on hugging his little sister back when she throws herself into his arms.

“Happy birthday, JT!” She squeals, clinging to him. She glances over his shoulder. “Heya, Jensen.”
Jensen nods and meets Jared’s gaze, grinning at him. They step into the house and they are immediately ushered to the living room, where Jared’s momma has truly out done herself. Balloons are tied to the chairs, streamers thrown across the room and a Happy Birthday banner is hung across the wall. The table is set for breakfast. Stacks of pancakes, bacon, sausages, waffles, eggs, croissants, muffins and other delights are placed carefully on the table. On a smaller table, a stack of presents are towered. Jared grins and walks over to his mother’s side.

“Thanks, momma.” He grins at his dad, not leaving his mom’s arms. “Thanks dad.”

His mom runs her hands through his hair. “You’re welcome, JT.”
Pressing a kiss to her cheeks, he slips out of her arms and takes a seat at the table, the rest of the gathering following his lead. Jensen sits beside him and they immediately hook their ankles together. They smile at each other, before loading their plates with food. Jared dives in with eggs and toast and bacon, deciding to save the pancakes and other deserts till last. His mom looks over at Jensen then and smiles.

“So, Jensen, you having a good summer?”
Jensen swallows what he was eating, nodding his head. “The best. Jared is truly amazing, ma’am.”

She smiles softly. “I’ve told you that you can call me Sherri. And yes, Jared is amazing. For the record, he won’t shut up about you.”

Jensen smiles over at Jared, blushing. Jared face palms.

“Momma! Please can we not?”

His parents laugh. Jeff shakes his head. Meggie grins over at Jensen.

“You dating anyone, Jensen?”
Both boys freeze. Jensen looks over at Jared, unsure. Jared shakes his head subtly. His parents have nothing against being gay, but he doesn’t think now is the time to share that.

“No, Meg. I’m not dating anyone.”
She smiles dreamily. “I think being in love must be so beautiful. One day, I want someone to look at me the way Baz looks at Simon.”

Jensen shoots a confused look at Jared, who shrugs and whispers, “It’s a book she loves. Carry On.”

Meg continues, “Jeff was in love once. He was pathetic. Like a lost puppy.” Jeff bristles and the rest of the family bite back their laughter.

“Meggie –” Momma starts, hoping to quieten her daughter, but the 12-year-old girl ploughs ahead.

“When Jared falls in love it’s going to be beautiful. He is the most loyal person I know. He gives the people he loves everything. He pours himself into his family and friends, always putting them first, and he does it happily.” She sighs deeply. “Whoever Jared falls in love with is going to be the luckiest person alive. Because when he does, he will literally burn up the sun in order for them to be happy.”

The entire table is silent for a few moments. Jared’s parents are staring at their daughter in awe and wonder. Jeff is shoveling food on his plate, uncomfortable, and Jensen is staring at Jared a soft smile on his face. Jared coughs and lets out a small laugh.

“Too many romance novels, Meggie. Maybe you should go back to reading Magic Kitten and Rainbow Magic.”

Jared tenses when he feels a hand on his thigh, but he looks over at Jensen, who offers him a small smile. Jared smiles back, relaxing. He bumps their knees together, and then continues eating. The mood lightens then and soon Jared’s mom is handing Jared a present, the entire table watching intently. He opens the first present and finds a few pairs of socks. He laughs and thanks his family. The next few gifts reveal a few novels (he wouldn’t let Jensen see the covers. He doesn’t want the older boy to know that he has a thing for soppy romance novels… like his music taste, he likes all book genres, ranging from Stephen King horror to John Green chick flicks to J.R.R Tolkien fantasy), a new pair of headphones, a few CD’s and a couple slabs of chocolate. Then his sister hands him the last box. He opens it hesitantly and looks inside, curious. A wide grin spreads across his face and he looks up at his parents, speechless.

“Did you really…?” he trails off. Jensen shoots him a curious look, eyeing his friend’s family, who are grinning like Cheshire cats. Slowly, Jared pulls the piece of paper out of the box and reads it out loud.

“Two tickets to Ed Sheeran’s concert in two weeks! How the hell did you get these?” he asks, shaking with excitement. Meggie grins. “We bought them months ago.”

Jared looks over at Jensen, wide eyed. “Tell me you like Ed Sheeran. Tell me you’ll come with me.”

Jensen laughs and looks around at Jared’s family. “I love Ed Sheeran. I’d love to go with you, if you’re sure that’s okay.”

Sherri nods, grinning. “Of course it is! Now, you boys best run along to enjoy everything Jensen has planned. Curfew is 1am. Okay?”

Both boys nod, clambering to their feet. They quickly carry all of Jared’s present sot his room, placing them on the desk, before leaving the house, yelling out goodbyes. The second they are out of the house and hidden from view, Jared turns and flings his arms around Jensen, pulling him into a tight hug. He buries his face into the crook of Jensen’s neck and takes a deep breath, breathing in the scent that has grown so familiar to him. Jensen’s arms hang limp beside him for a moment, before he wraps them around Jared and clings to him just as tightly. Jared doesn’t know how long they stand there, wrapped in each other’s embrace, only that it feels so damn good, so right, so perfect. He never wants to leave Jensen’s arms. Oh God, he thinks to himself, Jensen has turned me gay. It is official. He pulls back slowly, keeping his arms around Jensen, but keeping a distance so that he can see his friends face. He stares into those beautiful green orbs and a slow smile tugs at his lips.

“Thank you, Jensen. So far, this has been the best summer of my life. And it’s all because of you.”
Jensen swallows hard and then leans forward, pressing a kiss to the younger boy’s temple. “You’re welcome.”

They step apart and then, without thinking too much about it, Jared takes Jensen’s hand in his own. They start walking then, hands swinging between them and shy smiles etched onto both of their faces. After a moment, Jared looks over at Jensen, grinning mischievously. “Where are we going?” he questions, nudging his shoulder against Jensen’s. The older boy shakes his head. Jared swings in front of him, pouting slightly, making his eyes as wide as he can. He knows that most people can’t resist his puppy dog expression. Jensen groans, hanging his head backwards. Jared is now holding both Jensen’s hands, squeezing them along with pressing his kicked puppy expression right up to Jensen.

“Pwease tell me, Jen. Pretty please.”

Jensen sighs, tugging Jared closer to him, their chests touching. He leans forward and let’s his lips ghost over Jared’s ear. “Wait and see,” he whispers.

Jared’s heart starts pounding, his hands sweating. His stomach drops and his throat feels dry. He steps back quickly, face flaming. He drops Jensen’s hands and starts walking, calling over his shoulder on a slightly shaky voice, “Lead the way then, Jen.”

*****

 

Jensen falls back on the blanket, sighing contently when Jared snuggles into his side. They had spent Jared’s birthday at a secluded bay, swimming and tanning, before going for meal at Jared’s favorite pizza place. Now, they are at the open air cinema, relaxing on a picnic blanket at the back of the field so as to have some privacy. The introductory music of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is playing and Jared is shuffling about on the blanket, settling into Jensen’s arms. He presses a light kiss to the top of Jared’s head, biting back his ear splitting grin. He thinks it is safe to say that he is completely and utterly infatuated with the young boy in his arms. This past month has been perfect. Jared is perfect. And if Jensen didn’t know any better, he would say he was in love. He buries his face in Jared’s hair, breathing him in. God.

Jared moves then, leaning over Jensen, keeping himself propped up on one elbow. “Thank you, Jen,” he whispers. “For giving me the most amazing birthday ever.”
Jensen smiles. “Your welcome.”

Jared bites his lip and Jensen can’t help his eyes dropping to follow the movement. He wants nothing more than to tug Jared down and press his lips to the other boys. He thinks he might do it. He thinks he might take those luscious lips with his own. Heat is pooling in the pit of his belly and he holds back a groan.
“Jay-” he starts, but he never gets to finish his sentence.

The younger boy swoops down and forcefully presses his lips to Jensen’s. Jensen whimpers in surprise, before relaxing into it, kissing Jared back roughly. He slips his fingers into Jared’s hair and pulls him closer, slipping his tongue into the other boy’s mouth. Jared lets out a moan and Jensen tugs at the strands of hair in his fingers. He bites down on Jared’s bottom lip, drawing more whimpers from the other boy. Jared swings his leg over Jensen’s body so that he is straddling the boy. He pulls back from the kiss to smile briefly, letting his hands cup Jensen’s face, running his thumb over the older boy’s lips. He leans in again then, pressing his lips back onto Jensen’s, pecking them again and again. Then he retreats, burying his face in Jensen’s neck and pressing a kiss to his throat. Jensen moans, unconsciously jerking his hips upward, feeling incredibly turned on. Jared bites back a whimper, letting out a long, shaky breath.

“We’re in public,” he whispers, lying back down next to Jensen, his face flaming. Jensen laughs shortly, embarrassment filling him. He is so glad that he chose a spot at the back of the field. He tilts his head to look at Jared, breathing heavy. They lie on their backs, staring at each other in silence for a few minutes, both panting. Then Jensen whispers, “Why?” His heart is pounding rapidly and he hopes to God that Jared actually likes him, that it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. Jared interlaces his fingers with Jensen’s and grins.

“Best birthday ever.”

Jensen lets out a breathy laugh. “I’m glad.”
The younger boy looks away for a moment, before meeting Jensen’s eyes. “I – I like you, Jen. And I don’t want to ruin our friendship, because, God, it’s amazing. And I know that I’m just a little kid and that all this could just be seen as a summer fling, but I really, really like you. You’re so beautiful, Jensen. Your heart is the purest I know and I just – gosh, I’m babbling now, ain’t I? feel free to tell me to shut up, whenever you like.”

Jensen laughs loudly and the woman in front of them turns around, glaring. He holds up his hands in apologies, before shooting a sheepish grin at Jared, who giggles. Jensen rolls up on his elbow, brushing Jared’s hair from his face and smiles down at him with adoration. He presses a small kiss to the boy’s lips, before whispering, “I like you too, Jay. I like you a lot.”

Jared lets out a shaky chuckle. “I’m glad.” He squeezes Jensen’s hand. “What now?”

Jensen can’t help himself. He leans down and presses another, long kiss to Jay’s swollen mouth. He lets himself get lost in it, his body churning. Then he pulls back, barely an inch, not willing to let go of Jared. “Now, Jay, now I ask you out on a date.”

Jared smirks. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.” Then Jensen grins and shifts away, in order to lean over and pull out the small, wrapped gift box and place it on Jared’s chest. “Open it.”

Jared shoots him a curious glance, but does as he asked, gently untying the ribbon and opening the box. Jared reaches in and takes out the necklace. He stares at it, wide eyed. It is a real silver chain, with a J charm attached to it, made out of emeralds. Jared sits up and lets Jensen help him put the necklace on, before he turns around and presses a sloppy kiss onto Jensen’s lips.

 “It’s beautiful,” Jared whispers, lying back down and tugging Jensen with him. Jensen grins. He had liked the necklace as the J could stand for either Jensen or Jared or both. The happy, dazed expression on Jared’s face tells him he made the right choice.

Both grinning like maniacs, they snuggle closer, finally letting their eyes land on the film playing before them. Jensen absentmindedly runs his fingers through Jared’s hair whilst watching the movie, his heart hammering. Did that really just happen? Are he and Jared really going out on a date? He pushes it all to the back of his mind and tries to focus on right now, lying here, one of his favorite films playing on the big screen and the boy of his dreams sighing contently in his arms.  

 

 

 

*****

 

Jared laughs loudly to himself, belting out the lyrics to Love Is Strange in time with the music pouring out his CD player. He’s home alone and using it to his advantage. He shimmies his hips and prances about his room, tripping over his own feet. He flops on his bed and tries his best sexy pose, pouting playfully and moving in what he hopes is a seductive manner. Then he mouths out the words,

Silvia... 

Yes Mickey? 

How do you call your loverboy? 

Come 'ere loverboy!! 

And if he doesn’t answer? 

Ohh loverboy! 

And if he STILL doesn’t answer? 

I simply say 

Baby, 

Oohh baby 

My sweet baby 

You're the one

 

A loud ray of laughter comes from his door way and he tilts his head to see Jensen standing there, a wide grin and twinkling eyes trained on him. Now, any normal person in this situation would be mortified, but Jared just fixes his position on the bed, lying back, propped up on both elbows and continues with his song.

 

Baby, 

Oohh baby 

My sweet baby 

You’re the one

 

Jensen shakes his head, a soft smile on his face. Jared pushes himself up properly then and crawls across the bed, before sitting crossed legged at the end of it, lifting an eyebrow. Jensen bites his lip, eyeing his lover, before walking over to Jared and tilting his chin up so that he can press a kiss to his lips. Jared moans and tugs at Jensen, falling back on the bed and pulling the other boy on top of him. Jensen cups Jared’s face and kisses him lazily, smiling through it.

“Hi,” he whispers.

Jared grins, biting his lip playfully. “Hi yourself. I didn’t know you were coming over.”

Not that he minds. He loves spending time alone with Jensen, with his boyfriend. Jensen shrugs.

“Wanted one last day alone with you before Chad gets here tomorrow.”

Jared groans and tugs at Jensen’s hair, pressing another kiss to his lover’s lips. He can’t keep his hands off Jensen. It’s impossible. He slips his hands down Jensen’s back under the thin fabric of his black t-shirt, resting his fingers against the small of his boyfriend’s back. Jensen tears his lips from Jared’s and kisses down his neck, sucking on the flesh, determined to leave a mark. Jared whimpers and moans, wriggling under his boyfriend’s body. He jerks his hips upwards, groaning when their crotches rub against each other. Jensen pushes up slightly, so that the pressure is gone, and gazes into Jared’s eyes. Jared breathes heavily, his fingers drifting from Jensen’s back to his hips, slipping his thumbs under the waistline of Jen’s shorts.

“Beautiful,” Jensen whispers, gazing down at the turned on boy.

Jared stares back up at him, taking in Jensen’s wild hair and red, kissed lips. The flush of his skin and the raw desire in his eyes. Jensen may think that he looks beautiful, but Jared has never seen anything more glorious than the boy above him in all his life.

He gently reaches up and lets his fingers trace over Jensen’s jaw and cheeks. His heart flutters and he feels the swell of love burning in his chest.

“I never thought that I would fall in love with a boy,” he whispers.

Jensen freezes, mouth dropping open and eyes widening. “You… you love me?”

Jared stares up at Jensen, a smile fluttering across his face. “Yeah,” he replies, “I do.”

Jensen’s face splits into a wide grin and he dips down to press a harsh kiss onto Jared’s lips, pulling back to mumble, “good,” before kissing him again. Jared giggles, before moaning loudly as Jensen slips his tongue into his mouth.

“God, Jen,” he whimpers.

Jensen gently brushes Jared’s hair from his face, before rolling off his boyfriend and onto his side and tugging Jared towards him. “I love you too. So damn much.”

Jared giggles then. “You make me so happy, Jen. This year has literally been the worst of my life and you show up here, all handsome and charming and gosh, I am so in love with you. As cheesy as it sounds… you complete me.”

Jensen lets his fingers trail down Jared’s collar bone, then shoulder, then arm, then lets them rest on the other boy’s hip. He closes his eyes, just enjoying being in Jared’s presence. Jared watches Jensen for a while. He watches his breathing even out and allows the gentle noise to lull him to sleep.

 

 

*****

 

Jared sits on the porch steps of his house, waiting impatiently for the arrival of his best friend, whilst absentmindedly playing with the necklace around his neck. He hasn’t seen Chad since he moved to Kansas seven months ago. He hasn’t spent more than a month away from his best friend since they were three years old up until this year and although he would never admit just how much he has missed the guy, he has, more than he thought possible. He chews on his nail as he eyes the road, waiting for any sign of Chad. He is so focused on the road that he doesn’t hear his sister sit down next to him, until she jabs him in the ribs with her elbow.

“Shit,” he curses, before looking at her, wide eyed. “Don’t tell momma I said that. And for heaven’s sake, don’t you say it.”

Meggie laughs and rests her head on his shoulder. “I would never dream of it, brother of mine.”

He lets out a puff of air and wraps an arm around her shoulders, squeezing her to his side. She tilts her head and presses a kiss to his cheek. “You love him, don’t you?”
He sighs, smiling down at the floor. When he told his parents that he was dating a guy, that he was dating Jensen, they had been surprisingly calm about their very straight son suddenly being not so very straight. In fact, his mother had laugh and said, “Yes, I know dear. You should really learn to control your facial expressions. Honestly, the second you see Jensen your entire face lights up and it’s hard to ignore the love in your eyes.”
He nods slowly. “Yeah, I love him. More than I thought possible. Is that crazy? We’ve only known each other for five weeks and we’re so young, just kids. How am I supposed to be sure that this, this feeling that’s coursing through my blood, is even love?”

Meggie shakes her head. “And in those five weeks you have spent nearly every single second of every single day together. Jared, if what you and Jensen have isn’t love, then I can’t even imagine what it must look like. And as for being young, as Wiz Khalifa once said, ‘they say we’re too young to love but maybe they’re too old to remember.’ Follow your heart Jared, and screw everyone else.”

Jared shakes his head in disbelief. “You, my darling sister, are twelve. When did you become so wise?”

She giggles and stands up, grinning broadly. “I read. And as Lisa Kleypas said, ‘a well-read woman is a dangerous creature.’” With that, Meggie winks and disappears back into the house. Jared stares after her, eyes wide. His little sister is truly growing up. He isn’t sure how to handle that. He stares down at his feet, thinking about life and how much it sucks, having to grow up, having to change. He is dreading the end of this summer. He doesn’t want to leave Jensen. He doesn’t want to go back to school and he doesn’t want to face reality. He is so busy staring at the floor and thinking that he doesn’t notice the black van that pulls up outside his house. He doesn’t see the men who get out the car until it’s too late. He opens his mouth to yell, but something hard hits him over the back of his head and the world fades into darkness.

 

 

*****

Jensen frowns on his walk to Jared’s house. He knew Chad was supposed to arrive today, but Jared promised he would call. He hasn’t. He can’t help the swell of jealousy he feels at the thought that Jared is so engrossed in Chad that he forgot to call him. He kicks a stone with the toe of his shoe and sighs, running a hand through his hair. Maybe he shouldn’t disturb Jared. After all, he hasn’t seen his best friend in months. They probably have a lot to talk about. Just as he’s about to turn back around and head home, he hears someone calling his name. he looks up to see Jeff and a blonde haired boy running towards him. Jeff’s face is drawn and blondies cheeks look red and tear stained. Jensen frowns and feels the panic rising.

“Jeff, what’s wrong?”
Jared’s brother takes a shuddering breath. “Have you seen Jared today?”
Jensen shakes his head. “No, he said he was hanging out with Chad.”

Blondie shakes his head, looking helpless. “Yeah, except when I rocked up at the house I found blood on the porch and no sign of Jared. No one can find him.”

Jensen freezes, panic filling him. “What?” he whispers. “No, he, he was supposed to stay home all day. He said he was…”

Jeff runs a hand over his face. “He isn’t there. And there is so much blood. The police are looking for him and… and…”

Jensen shoves past Jeff and Chad, dashing towards Jared’s house. He just needs to be there, to see it. There has to be some mistake. Jared can’t be gone. He just can’t be. He reaches the porch and immediately notices the bloody patch, soaking into the white paint. He steps around it, swallowing back the bile rising in his throat. He makes his way straight towards Jared’s bedroom, pushing the door open slowly, almost expecting to see Jared lying on his bed or dancing around the room to stupid songs, but it is empty, dark. He hits the light switch and looks around, eyes wide and tear filled. No… he slowly walks over to the bed, sitting down and looking around. Everything is quiet, too quiet. His eyes fall on a CD lying on top of Jared’s laptop, which is on the floor by the bed. He leans down and picks it up, startling at the words written of it. For Jensen. A sob chokes its way out of his throat and he falls back on the bed, curling up in the Jared scented blankets, hugging the CD to his chest. His body judders with every cry that slips from his mouth and he tries to calm himself, breathing into the blankets and soaking up Jared’s scent. They’ll find him, he tells himself. The police will find him and bring him home. Everything will be okay. That night, he falls asleep in Jared’s bed, wearing one of Jared’s favorite t-shirts and the CD held tightly in his hands.

 

 

 

 

 

NOW

 

Jensen is having a lovely dream, completely content and at peace in his warm fluffy bed whilst the wind and rain howl outside, when a large bang wakes him from his slumber. He rolls over and peels his eyes open, confusion filling him. What…? He sits up in bed, rubbing at his face and peering into the darkness of his room. Another bang causes him to jump and he grumbles, climbing out of his bed. He looks around for something to stick on over his boxers, tugging on a pair of dirty sweat pants and a hoodie from the floor. He stumbles out his room and down the corridor, the insistent banging on his front door getting louder and louder. He stalks over to the door, swinging it open in annoyance, expecting to come face to face with Steve or Chris or maybe his boyfriend, Tom. But when the door opens, a splattering of rain wetting him and the cold air hitting him in the face, he is to be greeted by a person he has never seen before. He blinks, staring wide eyed at the man before him. He is dripping wet, water running down his face and his messy brown hair tapering to his forehead and sticking to his neck. He is gripping his arm tightly and Jensen can see the red liquid flowing between his fingers and soaking into the material of his tight t-shirt. Jensen gawks.

“Um, hi?” he questions, unsure.

The bleeding man grins and for a moment, Jensen is transported back to his teenage years and the face of another person, a 16-year-old boy, smiling, floods his mind. Even after 12 years, the memory of his lover is painful, so he pushes it away and raises an eyebrow, a cool and collected mask flooding his features.

“Can I help you?”

The stranger smiles. “Can I come in? I need to stitch this up,” he explains, holding up his arm.

Jensen frowns. On the one hand, this man might genuinely need help. But on the other hand, he could be an axe murder. How did he get the wound in the first place, Jensen wonders?

“Jensen, please.”

Jensen’s mouth drops. “How… how do you know my name?”

The man sighs and shoots a pleading, kicked puppy expression towards him. “Jen, please, it’s not safe out here. Let me in, then we’ll talk.”

Jensen eyes the man, confused and uncertain. Jen… only one person ever called him that. He peers into the darkness, trying to make out more of the man’s face, but is unable to see. Sighing, he opens the door wider and steps to the side. “Come on in.”

The man is inside instantly, and Jensen closes the door behind him, before turning to face the man who is now dripping rain water all over his floor. He swallows, staring at the man’s feet, before letting his eyes trail up the lean, tall body and finally rest on the face. He stares into the man’s eyes and his heart plummets, his face draining of all colour.

“J-Jared?” he stammers.

The man grins. “Yep. The one and only. Got any needles and thread so that I can stitch this up? And some liquor?”

Jensen watches as Jared tugs his shirt off, revealing a toned, well-developed chest. Jared starts inspecting his wound, frowning a little.

“Y-yeah,” Jensen gets out, going to the cupboard and pulling out Jared’s requests. Jared sits down on the couch and Jensen stands, staring and watching as he pours alcohol onto his arm, hissing with pain and spilling it all over Jensen’s couch, before threading the needle and stitching up his wound. Jensen’s mind is whirling. What. The. Hell. He blinks a few times, checking to see if the man on his couch is truly there. He is. Confusion and shock swarm through his system and he stands as still as a statue, dumbstruck. Jared looks good. He’s grown up a lot, considering the last time Jensen saw him he was only 16. Now he is a broad shouldered 28-year-old, his hair longer and less kept. A slight smattering of scars that definitely weren’t there before are splattered across his chest and there is a hardened look in his eyes as he stares intently down at his arm, inspecting the stitches.

“Oh my God,” Jensen whispers, before promptly passing out.

 

 

 

When he wakes up, he is lying in bed in just his boxers and he is almost positive that everything that happened last night was a dream. He’s about to roll over and open his eyes, when he feels calloused fingers running across his forehead and down his cheek. His breath hitches and he slowly opens his eyes, coming face to face with Jared’s hazel orbs. The other man smiles.

“Mornin’ Jen. It’s time to get up. I made you pancakes, your favorite.” Jared hesitates. “They are still your favorite, right?”

Jensen just stares. Jared is here, Jared is alive. He lets out a choked sob and tugs at the other man’s hand that is still pressed to his cheek. Jared falls forward and Jensen takes the opportunity to wrap his arms around the other man and pull him down half on top of him, hugging Jared fiercely. He’s crying, his face buried in Jared’s neck and snot dripping, but he doesn’t care. Jared is here and alive and okay and it is everything Jensen could ever wish for. Jared’s arms go around him and they lie there in the bed for several minutes, just breathing each other in. Jensen pulls back slightly, running his fingers and hands down Jared’s arms and over his chest, letting them rest over his steady heartbeat.

“I thought you were dead,” he croaks out, “cause the police never found you and there was so much blood. God, Jared, what the hell happened?”

The younger man lifts one of Jensen’s hands and kisses his fingers. “It’s not important. Missed you, Jen.”

Jensen whimpers, about to protest that, hell yes it is important considering Jared’s been gone for twelve fucking years, when there is a knock on his door. He frowns for a moment, before his eyes grow wide.

“Shit, that’ll be Tom.”

He pulls away from Jared and swings out the bed, tugging his sweat pants on, but not bothering with a top. He catches a look of himself in the mirror and his face is red and blotchy. He winces there is no way to hide that he has been crying.

“Who’s Tom?” Jared asks, sitting up on the bed.

Jensen bites his lip. “My boyfriend.” He doesn’t want to leave, scared that if he lets Jared out of his sight for even a moment, he will be gone again. But he knows that he can’t answer his door for his boyfriend with another guy holding his hand. He swallows. “I – I need to go get him to leave. Promise you’ll still be here when I come back. Please…”

Jared smiles softly, but Jensen notices a cold glint in his eyes, so unlike the Jared he knows, the Jared he loves.

“Promise.”

Jensen sighs and quickly makes his way to the front door, tugging it open. Tom smiles at him, before taking in his appearance and frowning in concern.

“Babe, are you okay?” He steps forward, as if to come in, but Jensen remains in the doorway, blocking his entrance. He doesn’t want to lie to his boyfriend, but Jared is waiting for him in his bedroom and right now, that is more important. He lets out a sob.

“Freddie died,” he wails. He tilts his head slightly and notices Jared standing half hidden around the corner, watching them. Eyes wide, Jensen flings himself into Tom’s arms, spinning them around so that his boyfriend won’t notice the other man in his apartment. He glares at Jared, but the man just smirks. Tom hugs him back, whispering, “Who’s Freddie?” in his ear.

Jensen chokes as Jared starts walking towards them, stopping barely a meter away.

“My – my fish,” he stammers out. “So I don’t really want company right now. I just want to be alone.”

Tom pulls back, frowning. “You don’t have a fish.” He starts to turn, and Jensen grabs at him, not wanting him to turn around and see the shirtless man. It looks bad, Jensen can’t deny that. A shirtless, attractive man standing in his apartment looking to all who see him as though he fucking belongs there. And he’s not sure Tom would believe him if he told his boyfriend the truth. Tom stares down at where Jensen’s hand lies on his arm, then lets his eyes rise to meet Jensen’s.
“What are you hiding from me?”

Jensen shakes his head. “Nothing. I’m just sad over Freddie. I bought him yesterday. Didn’t live long, ya know.” He glares at Jared some more and the other man rolls his eyes and vanishes back into the bedroom. Jensen lets out a sigh of relief and lets go of Tom, stepping around him to get back inside his flat. “I’ll call you,” he promises, before closing the door and running back to his room. Jared is back in the bed and he grins over at Jensen, lifting the covers. Jensen climbs under them, huffing.

“What the hell did ya do that for?” he grumbles.

Jared presses his lips to Jensen’s temple. “Wanted to see Tom.” He’s silent for a few moments, before asking, “Do you love him?”

Jensen rolls onto his side so that him and Jared are lying face to face. He lets his eyes trail over Jay’s face, taking in and soaking up every inch. Jared is even more beautiful than when they were kids. His heart beats faster and he tries to shake off the confusion about all this, about Jared being here, in his bed, just like Jensen always wanted. He wants to ask questions, about the wound on Jared’s arm and where he’s been and what the hell fucking happened to him, but he knows Jared well enough to know that he will simply dodge the question. He needs to wait, get Jared comfortable. He needs Jared to trust him, like he used to. He leans closer to Jared, letting his finger run over his ex-lover’s bare chest.

“No,” he whispers, never taking his eyes off Jared’s, “I don’t love him.”

Jared swallows hard and Jensen can feel his heart pounding. Then Jared rolls over, getting out the bed quickly. Jensen watches as Jared tugs his bloody t-shirt back on, wincing as the movement pulls at his stitches.

“How’d you get hurt?” Jensen asks, getting up and changing into clean jeans and a white t-shirt.

Jared shrugs carelessly. “Got shot.”

Jensen’s mouth drops open. “But… but you didn’t take a bullet out or anything…”

Jared walks over to him, leaning down and pressing a kiss to Jensen’s cheek. “I pulled it out before I got here.”

Jensen can feel his face heating up. He watches Jared walk out his room, yelling, “Ya coming?” over his shoulder. Jensen forces his feet to move, following Jared into the kitchen where the now cold pancakes are laid out on the table. Shrugging, they both sit down at the table, digging into the food. Jensen picks up a pancake, loading it up with cream, berries and cinnamon sugar. Jared just shakes his head at Jensen’s eating habits and makes up his own pancake. Jensen watches as the younger man eats, this whole situation feeling surreal. Once they’ve finished eating, Jared offers to wash up whilst Jensen dries. As Jensen’s drying a plate, he looks over at Jared.

“Jay… where were you? What’s going on? Last night… you said it wasn’t safe outside?”
Jared places the last dish on the drying rack and then plucks the plate from Jensen’s hand, putting it on the counter. Jared backs Jensen up against the counter, and Jensen swears his heart plummets from his chest when Jared’s one hand reaches around him, gripping the counter, and the other reaches up to caress Jensen’s face.

“Do you have to ask questions?” Jared whispers, his lips grazing Jen’s ear.

Jensen leans back to meet Jared’s gaze, eyes wide in disbelief. “Do I have to…? Jared, you’ve been gone for 12 fucking years then you show up on my doorstep and act as though everything is fucking normal. As though you were never gone in the first place. Jared, I fucking loved you and then you went missing and God, do you have any idea how much it hurt? How much it still hurts? And then you ask why I have to ask questions… please, just tell me. Please.”

Jared is staring at him, eyes wide and lips parted. Then he steps back, holding out his hand for Jensen to take. He does. Jared guides him to the lounge, where he tugs Jensen down onto the couch next to him. They keep themselves a reasonable distance apart. Jensen can feel the swirl of butterflies inside of him. This is it, he thinks. Jared is going to tell me what happened. Jared is going to tell me why.

 

 

 

 

THEN

 

Jared comes to several hours later. He can tell, because it’s dark. Then he realizes that it isn’t dark. He’s blindfolded. He attempts to reach up to tug it off of himself, but finds that he is unable to. His wrists are bound behind his back. Panic starts to set in. His breathing hitches and he opens his mouth to scream, when the blindfold is ripped off. He looks up, petrified, to meet the harsh gaze of a man holding a gun to his head. The man snarls.

“Listen here, pretty boy. You belong to me now. Bought you this morning.”

“What?” Jared whispers, fear swirling.

“Mark took ya, I bought ya. You are now my property. You call me Mage, like the rest of them. Now get up.”

Jared stumbles to his feet, finding it difficult with his hands bound. Mage tugs a knife out of the waist band of his pants and leans forward, slicing the ropes. Jared shivers.

“Get used to it here boy. There’s no escaping this place,” Mage says over his shoulder as he walks away.

Jared looks around the dimly lit room – a prison really. Completely empty except for a bed and a bucket in the corner of the room. He swallows hard.

‘W-what is this place?”

Mage stops at the door and smiles wickedly, eyes glinting. “This, my child, is the Home of the Assassins. And you’re our newest recruit.”

Then the door is slammed shut in his face.

 

****

 

Jared lands on his back with a loud groan, cursing. Sandy lands next to him, nimbly on her feet. She grins and reaches out to help him up. He lets her, rolling his shoulders back to get out the tension. She dusts him off, stepping back to examine him.

“Well, you’re getting better, at any rate,” she mutters.

Jared shakes his head. It’s been one year. One fucking year since he was brought here. Training to be an assassin isn’t the easiest job in the world. Especially when you don’t want to be an assassin. He’d tried to escape. 32 times to be exact. But Mage was right when he said there is no escaping this place. The training is brutal, the people harsh and the methods they use to get you to submit to their ways are inhuman. Jared learnt a while ago that it’s easier to just accept his fate and do as Mage demands. He flashes a smirk at Sandy.  

“Well, I have been trained by the best, after all.”

She grins wider, stepping up on her tippy toes to press a kiss to his lips. He swallows back the vile feeling and the bile he can taste swelling his throat and kiss her back, putting everything into it and imagining that she is Jensen. It’s the only thing that gets him through all this, thinking about his love. Saying no to being with Mage’s daughter would be like signing his own death warrant. So he kisses her, pretends to love her, and in return the Mage favors him. For example, he’s managed to scrape by a full year without having to actually kill anyone. And if he can get out of that by sleeping with the boss’s daughter, well, that’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make, even if it hurts and causes him to feel nothing but utter disgust of himself.

 

 

*****

 

Jared slices the woman’s throat, smirking. She had been so useful, practically singing everything Jared asked her. Of course, he’d had to use a little persuasion first. He looks over at the limp body of the dead woman’s 13-year-old daughter. He feels the familiar sense of guilt and hatred and pain try to push its way to the surface, but he shoves it back down. The only way he can survive this is if he pushes his emotions aside. He doesn’t have to do this forever. Just whilst he plans how to escape. How to find Jensen. It’ll be hard, he knows it. But he has to get through this. Even if he only ever gets to see Jensen one more time. He just needs to see him. To know that he’s alive. To tell him he’s sorry.

 

 

*****

 

 

He tosses his bloody blade on the desk and sighs, looking over at the dead man he has tied to a chair. He’s almost lost count of the amount of people he has killed over the past ten years. Almost. But the figure is still stuck in his mind, so he silently adds plus one to the digit. That makes it 312 people. Dead. At his hands. He hates himself for it. He truly does. But at this stage, he is just so damn numb. It’s almost like he isn’t alive anymore. He tried running away again last month. Mage found him after three hours and had him locked in Cell 9 for one week. No food. No water. Just him, the rats, and Aiden. He shudders, not wanting to think about Aiden and the things that man does to people who are put in Cell 9. The things he did to him. On the bright side, he was supposed to get two weeks, but Sandy bailed him out. He’ll always be grateful to her for that.

 

 

 

*****

 

Jared runs. His legs hurt and his eyes are watering and the throbbing in his arm is agony, but he runs. He knows where to go, has been watching the flat for a few weeks now. He just had to be sure. He knows that it won’t take Mage long to find him, find them. And he knows that Jensen will have to leave with him, that if he stays, Mage will take him away. But he is too selfish, to hungry for the boy he loves, to stop and think about consequences. So he runs. And he doesn’t stop until a sleepy, grumpy looking Jensen flings open his front door and he watches as the older man’s eyes nearly pop out of his head. He grins. Finally. He’s home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOW

 

Jensen watches Jared’s face the entire time he’s talking. The younger boy leaves out chunks of the story, but Jensen doesn’t push him, just takes what he can get. He wants to ask about Aiden. About who he is and what he does, but he can’t get the words out. So he just listens, holding onto Jared’s hand tightly. The younger boy’s expression remains blank, not a single emotion showing on it. Jensen can’t believe the words coming out of Jared’s mouth. He was kidnapped and trained to become an assassin? Why? He will ask that one day, but not now. Not when Jared’s body is sagging and his voice is starting to waver – from emotion or exhaustion, Jensen isn’t sure. When Jared finishes, he looks over at Jensen with wide eyes.

“They’ll be here soon, Jen. I’m so sorry. But we have to go.”

Jensen stands, turning his back to Jared as he runs his hands down his face, shaking his head slowly. How can he leave? He has his teaching job at the local high school, couching in voice and guitar. He has Tom, his boyfriend of three years. And his best friends, Chris and Steve live here. His parents and sister and brother will be worried sick. And Alona and Danneel will wonder why he’s stopped going to the coffee shop every Saturday with a wad of paper and his laptop as he researches possible solutions as to where and what happened to Jared. He has an entire life here. He’s lived here for seven years. And now Jared is back and he has to decide whether the boy he loved, still loves, is worth it.

He looks back at Jared, sighing in resignation. “What’s the plan?”

The smile that grows on Jared’s face is worth whatever happens next. The younger boy leaps from the couch and folds himself around Jensen, hugging him tightly.

“Thank you,” he breathes right next to Jensen’s ear. 

Jensen lets himself relax into the hold, taking in Jared’s scent. He has missed this. Missed Jay. But he still can’t believe that this is real, that the boy is back, holding him, just like when they were young. He steps back, smiling shakily.

“How much can I pack?”

“Just one duffle, I guess. We can’t take your car the whole way. They’ll track it.”

Jensen nods. “Right.”

He goes into his room and pulls out his duffle bag from under the bed. He shoves in underwear, a few hoodies, jeans that look big enough for Jared, a couple t-shirts. He slips the mix CD Jared made him that summer into the side pocket of the bag. Jared doesn’t need to know that he still has it, that he never let go. He walks back out into the lounge, bag in one hand, phone in the other. He looks down at the device, before back at Jared.

“I’m guessing this can’t come with?”

Jared shakes his head, eyes full of sorrow. “I’m so sorry about all this Jen. I know it was selfish of me to come here. But I missed my real life. I missed being normal. I missed you.”

“I missed you too, Jay. More than you’ll ever know.”

Jared doesn’t need to know that he still researched possibilities on his kidnapping, that he spent ten years in therapy, that he’s never even slept with anyone. He doesn’t need to know that Jensen is broken, that Tom is the first person he’s been with since Jared and that it took two years to let Tom so much as kiss him. Jared really doesn’t need to know that he only started dating Tom because he reminded Jensen of him.

He sighs and dials his boyfriends number, guilt eating away at him. He listens to the dial tone, and then Tom’s concerned voice.

“Hello? Jen? You feeling better? Want me to come over?”

Jensen sighs and shakes his head, before speaking. “No. I – I have to go away, Tom. Probably forever. I’m... sorry.  Tell Chris and Steve that I’m sorry, and can you please call my parents and let them know that I’m okay… I’m fine. I just… Jared needs me.”

Tom’s breath hitches. “Jensen? You’re scaring me. Who’s Jared?”

Jensen closes his eyes. “Just tell them. Goodbye.”

He ends the call, fighting back tears, before taking off the back of the phone and pulling out the memory card. Jared raises an eyebrow.

“This has all my music and photos on it, I am not leaving it behind.”

Jared just nods. Jensen drops the phone onto the floor and stands on it, smashing it along with the sim card. He tucks the memory card into the same pocket as the CD and then nods at Jared. “I’m ready.”

They exit the apartment and Jensen stands there in the doorway, looking around one last time, heart pounding and full of sorrow. All his books, photographs, memories… At least he knows that his friends or parents will probably keep most of his belongings. He locks the flat, dropping his keys in the dustbin. His mother has the spare set for emergencies. They quickly get into Jensen’s car, Jared instructing him to head towards LA.

“I have something I need to get from there, before we can go any further,” is all he says in explanation. “Plus we need to ditch this car and find another one.”

BY find, Jensen assumes he means steal. The journey is mostly silent, both lost in thoughts. Jensen casts several glances at Jared as he drives, still in awe that the young man is here. Next to him. Alive. If Jared notices Jensen’s staring, he doesn’t mention it.

 

 

 

 

When they finally pull up next to a seedy looking building in Downtown LA, Jensen is tired and his eyes are demanding a break from the strain of driving. Jared leans over to grab the bag from the backseat and gestures for Jensen to get out the car. He tosses Jensen the bag, then he walks over to the empty gas station across the road and grabs a canister of gasoline. He empties it onto the car, before pulling out a lighter and tossing the flame inside. The car is alight in seconds. Jensen stares at it, wide eyed.

“We can’t leave them any clues as to what we’re doing next,” is all Jared says.

They leave the burning car and walk a couple blocks, before they are standing outside a bank. Jensen eyes it, worried.

“Jay...”

Jared turns to him and grips his shoulders. “Do you trust me?”
Slowly, Jensen nods. Jared lets go. “Good,” he whispers. “Good. Stay close.”

Then they stroll inside the bank. Jensen watches Jared’s confident movements, taking in the way he holds himself, as though he owns the place. Jensen tries to mimic the confidence, but he feels small, out of place, like a fake.

Jared saunters over to the counter, leaning forward and resting his elbow and the surface. He smiles at the pretty blond woman behind the desk, who’s face flushes brightly. He tugs out a wallet and hands over an ID card. Jensen watches this in fascination, stunned by the events unfurling before him.

“I need to access the vault,” Jared says.

The woman nods, typing away on her computer, before standing. She steps into the back room and Jensen watches as she grabs a keycard from a safe. Then she walks over to them and gestures for them to follow her. They are led down a hall way and down several flights of steps. The voices of other customers fade away and soon they are alone. That’s when the woman turns, lunging at Jared with a knife. Jared dodges, seemingly to have suspected it. He easily gets the knife off of her. She laughs.

“They will find you, Padalecki. You can’t run forever. Mage will make sure you suffer.”

Jared swings the knife forward and lodges it in her neck. Jensen watches in horror as blood splatters and oozes from the wound.  He watches as Jared carelessly steps over her now sagging body and picks up the keycard. Then, he continues walking. Jensen stares at the body for a moment longer, before gulping and following after Jared. The younger man swipes the card and Jensen watches as the door slides open and reveals the treasure within. He scoffs in disbelief.

“We came here, for a gun?”

Jared laughs and takes the weapon, slipping it into the waist band of his pants. He steps out of the vault and closes the door. He leans in, pressing a kiss to Jensen’s cheek.

“It’s a special gun. It’s the gun I used on my first victim.”

Jensen gulps, trying not to think about a 17-year-old Jared murdering an innocent. He shudders at the image. Once again he is struck by the fact that this Jared before him, this man that he has blindly followed into a path of disaster and destruction, isn’t the same Jared that he fell in love with. He can only hope that the man he is with isn’t too different from the boy he knew, because, if he is, Jensen knows that he is royally screwed.

 

 

 

They make it out the bank without any problems. Jensen can feel the relief fall from his tense shoulders. But his relief is short lived. Before he can even begin to think about what they are going to do next, Jared has him pinned up against a wall in an alley way, a finger pressed to his lips.

“Aiden,” he whispers, peeking out from behind the wall.

Jensen swallows audibly and Jared glares at him. He watches Jared’s face carefully as the younger man looks around, the gears in his brain churning. Then he grabs Jensen’s hand and tugs him out the alley way and towards a car parked on the curb. He stares as Jared breaks into the car with carefully familiar skill, before leaning over to unlock the passenger’s side for Jensen to get into the car. Once they are both inside, Jared cautiously hotwires the car, a grin spreading across his face when the engine purrs into life. He shoots Jensen a triumphant grin, before pulling the car out of the lot and speeding away. Jensen lets his head rest against the headrest, closing his eyes. He cannot believe everything that has happened in the past 24 hours. He honestly just can’t.

Jared hits the radio and they both flinch at the sound that starts playing. Jensen swallows hard and looks over at Jared, who’s face is tort with tension. He hasn’t listened to this song since the first and last time he listened to the playlist Jared made him.

 

 

 

 

THEN

 

 

Jensen tugs at Jared’s hand, making the younger boy face him. Jared avoids his gaze, heats aflame with embarrassment. Jensen giggles at his boyfriend’s adorableness and tilts Jared’s chin up so that he is forced to meet Jensen’s gaze.

“Are you really a virgin?”

Jared shrugs. “I am only 16, Jen.”

Jensen nods. “I know. Just you and your ex had been together for over a year. I guess I just assumed…”

Jared chews at his lip. “I wanted it to be special. And she just… wasn’t.” He winces at how harsh that sounds but Jensen understands. Jensen glances around the starlit park and over at the band that is busy playing by the fountain. Smiling, he yanks Jared behind him, jogging over to the twinkling fountain and the band comprised of a saxophone, trumpet, guitar, violin and flute. The song they are playing fades out and gives way to I Found Love by Amber Run. Jensen holds Jared to his chest and the boys gently start to sway, moving to the rhythm. All around them, other couples decide to join in and others choose to watch. Jensen stares into the eyes of his boyfriend, overwhelmed by the happiness he is feeling in that perfect moment.

“I wish we could freeze time, right here,” Jared whispers.

Jensen holds the other boy a little bit tighter. “Me too.”

 

 

 

NOW

 

The motel they pull into is dingy and the ceiling is covered in stale mold. Still, Jensen knows better than to push Jared into stopping somewhere else. They check into a room and the second they step inside it, Jared has the door locked and the blinds drawn. Jensen sighs, sitting down on the edge of one of the bed’s.

“What are we doing?” he asks, shaking his head.

Jared doesn’t stop pacing, acting like a caged animal. “Hiding. Waiting. I don’t know. We’ll head to Sam’s. yes, she will help. I have a plan; I just need to get you safe first.”

Jensen frowns, not liking the sound of this. “What plan? Jay, look at me. Please.”

Jared stops pacing and turns to face Jensen. “I came up with a plan years ago. But I wasn’t strong enough to pull it off. But now I am. I’ve been training. Preparing. And I’m ready. The second last step was to make sure you would welcome me back into your life. And now that you have, I can go through with the final phase.”

Jensen stands, cautiously walking over to Jared and resting a hand on the other man’s arm. Jared’s breath hitches and he stares down at Jensen with wide eyes. “I will always let you into my life,” Jensen whispers. “No matter what.”

Jared opens his mouth to reply when the door flies open and a dark clad figure steps inside. Jared shoves Jensen to the side and he falls against the bed, hurriedly clambering back to his feet. Jared is circling the figure – Jensen can now see that it is a man – a dark look on his face.

“Who are you and how did you find me?”

The man snickers. “Wasn’t too hard to guess you’d go for the gun. And after you killed our inside girl, well, Mage sent me.”

Then the man lunges for Jared. Jensen closes his eyes, not wanting to watch. He can hear grunting and coughing and yelping and gasping and then silence. He peels his eyes open and takes in the dead body and the blood. Jared staring down at it, expression blank.

“We have to go,” Jared says, voice emotionless. “Now.”

Within a minute they are back in another stolen car and soaring down the highway.

 

 

*******

 

Several hours later and Jensen is in desperate need of the bathroom. But Jared is dead set on driving right through to wherever the hell they are going without stopping. The sky has faded to a dull gray and the heavy clouds look ready to open. Jensen sighs. He can feel Jared glance over at him, but he leans his head against the window and closes his eyes. He is so tired of this feeling of shock and helplessness. He still can’t believe that Jared is right fucking there. He can’t believe any of this.

“I’m sorry.”

Jensen peels his eyes open and eyes Jared cautiously.

“I’m sorry,” the younger man repeats. “I know you moved on and had a life and I stepped right back into it and screwed it up. And I had no right to do that. We only knew each other for a few brief months and yes, we loved each other and I wanted to spend eternity with you, but that was 12 years ago. I should have let you be.”

Jensen’s eye lands on a sign post and a grin spreads across his face. “Turn left.”

Jared frowns. “What?”

Jensen leans over and hits the indicator, smiling at Jared with mischief filled eyes. “Turn left.”

Jared does. Within another twenty minutes they have reached the parking lot of a location Jensen has wanted to see his whole life. The area is abandoned due to the drizzle and evening dullness, but Jensen doesn’t care. He jumps from the car and runs over, taking in the sight before him.

“I can’t believe that I’m standing at the Grand Canyon.”

Jared laughs lightly, stopping next to him, their shoulders brushing. “It’s beautiful.”

Jensen glances up at Jared and for the first time he realizes just how tall, how beautiful and how broken the man is. His smile, whilst present, is nowhere near the wide open grin he used to sport as a teen. There are shadows under his eyes and the pain hidden in his expression is subtle, but there. Jensen gulps and then, chewing on his lip, slips his hand into Jared’s and squeezes. Jared inhales sharply and looks over at Jensen with wide eyes.

“You were wrong,” Jensen whispers softly, “about the fact that I loved you twelve years ago.” He can see the hurt in Jared’s eyes and feel his hand slacken. Jensen turns so that he is completely facing Jared and reaches up, brushing his hair behind his ear, before letting his hand rest on Jared’s cheek. “You see, that summer, I knew that there would never be anyone else. And that, without a doubt, I loved you. And the truth is, that never changed. See, I still love you, Jay. And I can promise you that that is never going to change.” Then he reaches up and presses his lips against Jared’s.

Jared’s lips are just as soft as he remembers. The younger man remains frozen for a split second before gripping Jensen’s hips in his large hands and pulling them flush against each other. Jensen gasps as Jared opens his mouth and their tongues mesh together in a heated mess. He lets his hands run over Jared’s face, his shoulders, his back, his neck. They are touching far too much and yet far too little. His skin is on fire and his heart feels like it’s about to explode. He tilts his head back, exposing his neck as Jared’s lips trail down his jaw and suck at his throat, definitely leaving a mark. Then Jensen is tugging Jared’s lips back to his and biting on Jared’s lips, drawing whimpers and moans from his mouth. He is breathless and happy and content. Then Jared is stepping back abruptly, eyes wide and lips plump and red. His hair is a wild mess from where Jensen’s fingers had been crushed in it. Jensen gulps.

“Jay?”
Jared seems to snap out of his daze and grabs Jensen’s hand. “We need to go. Now!” He exclaims, yanking Jensen towards the car.

Stunned and confused, Jensen follows. “What?”

Jared shoves him into the car and then runs to the driver’s side, hurriedly starting the car and speeding in the opposite direction from where they came. “There are two cars coming our way, Fast. They’re assassins.”

Jensen’s eyes widen and he looks out the window quickly, spotting the cars Jared is talking about.

“shit,” he breathes, still breathless from the kisses.

Jared presses his foot down on the accelerator, cursing under his breath. The other cars are quickly gaining on them and Jensen stares out the mirror, helpless. Then there is a loud bang and Jared curses louder, turning the wheel hurriedly to make it around a sharp corner. Jensen is positive he is about to pee himself. Then Jared is yelling at Jensen, telling him to move the fuck over and drive the fucking car and Jensen is doing it without realizing, leaning over to steady the wheel while Jared clambers into the backseat and then he is sliding over to the driver’s seat and stepping on the peddle. He drives like he’s never driven before, faster than he thought humanly possible and he panics that he’ll lose control and kill them both. But then Jared is leaning out the window and shooting down the other cars. Jensen blocks it all out and focuses on getting them the hell out of here. He thinks he’s going to throw up. How the hell did he go from making out with Jared to this in a matter of minutes? He blinks when he notices that the road in front of them is coming to an end and that the only thing left is a drop into the fucking Grand Canyon. Yelling loudly, he hits the breaks, the car skidding as he spins the wheel as fast as he can, turning the car around. Then he is driving straight towards the assassins, Jared shooting the tires of the cars, stopping them from following. Jensen laughs hysterically as they speed away from the now unmoving cars, the three men inside of them standing on the road and shooting after them. Jared laughs too, leaning out the window even further and shooting each of the assassins. Jensen watches as they drop to the floor. He can’t find it in his heart to care.

Jared clambers back into the front, settling into the passenger’s seat. Jensen slows down and then breaks, stopping to catch his breath. He pants, looking over at Jared to find the younger man already watching him, a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. Jensen laughs again, shaking his head.

“What the fuck just happened?” he gasps, eyes watering as he chuckles.

Jared leans over and places a sloppy kiss on Jensen’s cheek. “That, my friend, was your first ever real life car chase. Congratulations. You fucking survived it.”

Then they are both crying with hysterical laughter. Once they have calmed down, Jared switches places with Jensen and drives them back to the high way in silence.

They drive for an hour before they hit Flagstaff and they only stop long enough to steal another car and dump the wrecked vehicle. It’s weird how quickly Jensen has gotten used to this. Gotten okay with this. The rest of the journey is relatively uneventful, only stopping when Jensen insists on peeing or getting food. They drive through New Mexico, Oklahoma, up to Missouri and then right through to Ohio. Jared agrees to let them spend the night there before they continue on with their journey to heaven knows where. Jared still won’t tell Jensen.

They check into a motel and go to sleep right away, both exhausted. The next morning, bright and early, they are in the car again. Jensen watches the sights pass by as they drive through Pennsylvania. He wishes they weren’t on the run and had time to stop and enjoy the road trip. Jared smiles over at him when he says this.

“One day. I promise.”

Jensen likes the sound of that.

 

 

*****

 

“Jared, why the hell are we at a cabin in the middle of the Pocono Mountain range?”

Jared grins. “I have a contact. She can help us.”
Jensen eyes the run down cabin. “With what?”

Jared shrugs. “We need to lay low for a while. And we need fake ID’s, we need to change our names, whilst I work on my idea. My plan.”
Jensen bites his lip. “I really have lost my life, haven’t I.”

It’s a statement, not a question. Jared doesn’t say anything. Jensen doesn’t want him to. Together, they hike up the pathway to the cabin and Jared flashes Jensen a confident smile, before knocking on the door. A few moments later the door is opened to reveal a middle aged woman, glaring fiercely.

“Go to hell, Jared Padalecki. I don’t do jobs for that lot anymore, you know that. So get the hell off my property.”

Then the door is slammed in their faces. Jared just laughs and knocks again. The woman opens the door and shakes her head.

“I told ya, get.”

Jared pulls out the kicked puppy expression he used to use on Jensen and it tugs at his heart strings. Why the hell couldn’t they have had a normal life, with the teenage romance and picket fence house and kids and a few pets? Jensen had wanted it. Always had. But it never felt right, except when he imagined it with Jared.

“I ran, Sam,” Jared tells the woman. “I want out. You know I never wanted in in the first place.”

Sam opens the door wider. “You better come inside.”

Once they are in the cabin, Jared gestures to Jensen. “Jen, this is Samantha, but you can call her Sam. Sam, this is Jensen Ackles.”
Sam’s eyes nearly pop out of her head. “Jensen Jensen? The one you were in love with Jensen?”

Jared nods, blushing crimson. “Yeah, that Jensen.”

Sam eyes Jensen up and he feels the need to hide away from her intense and calculating stare, but he holds still, face flaming. Then Sam smiles. “What can I do for you boys?”

Jared sighs. “We need some time to hide out and figure out what we’re going to do next.”

Sam nods. “Alright. We can talk more in the morning. I bet you’re both tired. I have some left overs in the fridge of you want to eat somethin’.”

Nodding in thanks, they follow her into the kitchen and delve into the food, devouring it in seconds. Then they say goodnight and Jensen follows Jared into the guest room. There is only one bed, but it’s a queen size and will be big enough for both of them. Silently, they undress, stripping to their boxers, before climbing into the bed. Jensen lies on his back, staring at the ceiling.

“Jen?”

“Yeah, Jay?”
“I love you.”

Jensen smiles. “I love you too.” He rolls onto his side and presses a quick kiss to Jared’s lips. “God, I missed you so much,” he whispers, kissing him again.

Jared snuggles up to him, curling into Jensen’s chest. “I haven’t felt this safe since our last day together as teenagers,” Jared whispers. “I’ve been so scared, Jen. And I missed you so much.” He sucks in a jaggered breath. “Tell me about your life.”

Jensen smiles, combing his fingers through Jared’s hair. “What life? You’ve been away.”

Jared laughs and nuzzles closer. “Misquoting Sherlock.” He giggles at Jensen’s surprised look. “Come on, Jen. I’ve been an assassin for the past 12 years, not living under a rock. I have watched TV you know.”
Jensen nods. “Right… where to begin. So, after you went missing, I dropped out of college.” Dropped out being the operative word, since he never started in the first place. He feels Jared tense, but he keeps on talking. “Didn’t want anything to do with music anymore. It reminded me too much of you. I got your mix tape, you know. The one you made for me. It’s… in the bag. I never go anywhere without it.” He chuckles softly. “I spent every minute of my days on the internet, scouring for possibilities, for clues, as to what could have happened to you. My parents sent me to therapy for 10 years, didn’t do much good. I eventually moved out of my parents’ house and got a job as a bartender. Then four years ago, I met up with my old friends from high school, Chris and Steve. They forced me into joining their band for small, local gigs. They convinced me to go to college and get my music degree. I did a short, one year course at a local college and then got a job teaching music at the primary school near my flat. That’s where I met Tom. He’s a History teacher there. We hit it off right away, but it took a while for me to open up and start a relationship with him. Even now...” He trails off. “I haven’t been with anyone, you know, intimately, since you. I just couldn’t. I could never let you go.”

Jared kisses his cheek, letting his lips linger. “You really cared that much about me?” His tone is incredulous.

Jensen rolls over so that they are facing each other, hooking his leg over Jared’s and letting his fingers trail up and down the younger man’s arm. “Still do.”

They lean towards each other and kiss slowly, the desperation from the Grand Canyon gone, but the love and need still there. Then Jensen pulls back and grins.

“Jared Tristan Padalecki. Would you do me the honour of becoming my boyfriend, again?”
Jared grins. “Oh honey, I thought that you’d never ask.”

 

 

 

 

*****

 

 


They are sitting at the kitchen table, three weeks later, enjoying the casserole that Sam has cooked, when Jared says something completely unexpected.

“I need to leave tomorrow morning. Early. Mind if Jensen stays here until I return?”

Jensen chokes on his food, downing his water hastily. “What?”

Sam frowns. “Jared, what are you up too?”

Jared sighs. “We can’t stay here forever. We need to put my plan into action, it’d the only way to be free, to get back to our lives. And the only way we can do that is if I am no longer a priority to Mage.”

Jensen shakes his head. What the actual hell? “Jay-“

“I have an idea,” Jared interrupts, glancing at Jensen as he squeezes his thigh under the table. “The assassins work as unit, the body following the brain. Without their leader, they collapse.” He turns to Jensen. “How do you kill a snake?”
Jensen frowns, confused. “By chopping off its head?” He questions. Then his heart plummets. “No. No way. That’s insane. You can’t, Jay. He’ll kill you. Or force you to join again. No, no, no. I forbid it.”

Jared laughs. “Forbid it, huh?”

Jensen closes his eyes. “I just got you back. I can’t lose you again. I won’t.”
He feels Jared’s lips press gently against his forehead. “I have a plan. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

Sam coughs. “What the hell are you both on about?”
Jared grins at her. “I’m going to kill Mage. With him dead, I won’t be on the hit list. Sandy will become the next leader and she won’t hurt me. She’ll grant me freedom.”

Sam nods solemnly. “Great idea. But how the hell do you plan on killing Mage?”

Jared just smirks. “Oh honey, don’t fret. I have a plan.”

Jensen groans.

 

 

 

******

 

 

Jared stares down at Jensen’s sleeping form, smiling slightly. He doesn’t want to leave behind his lover, but he knows that this is something he has to do. If he doesn’t kill Mage, he and Jensen will be on the run for the rest of their lives. And he is finished with it. With the hiding. With the running. With the fear. He wants to see his family again. He wants to move in with Jensen and have that normal life he had dreamt of when he first fell in love with Jensen all those years ago. He wants to go to sleep each night and wake up every morning with Jensen right next to him, and not be petrified that one day he’ll wake up to the stench of blood and the dead figure of his lover. He wants to do trivial things like grocery shopping and trips to the park. And most importantly, he wants to be with Jensen, for eternity.

He reaches out and caresses the sleeping man’s cheek. He can’t believe how beautiful Jensen has become. He always was gorgeous, with those dazzling eyes and kissable lips, but he has hardened, in a good way. He has gone from being a pretty boy to being ruggedly handsome and muscular. His hair has darkened and his face is now coated in stubble instead of the baby soft skin Jared remembers. He wonders what he looks like to Jensen. He knows that Jensen found him attractive when they were young, but what does he think of him now, with his scars and past?

He knows that Jensen loves him, would never doubt it. But he isn’t sure whether Jensen is still in love with the teenage boy he met or with the man he has become. He hopes it’s the latter, because he doesn’t know what he will do if Jensen decides that he doesn’t want him anymore once all of this is over. He doesn’t think he could handle that sort of rejection, at least not from Jensen.

Leaning down, he kisses Jensen’s forehead softly. “Love you, Jen. I’ll be back soon. Promise.”

Then he straightens up and, taking a deep breath, slips out into the night.

 

 

*****

 

 

Four weeks and two days. It’s been four weeks and two days since Jared left, but to Jensen it feels like years. He misses Jared and sometime times, when he wakes up, he feels as though it’s all a dream and that Jared never returned. But then he wakes up enough to take in his surroundings and focus on the sound of Samantha singing in the kitchen and he knows that it all happened.

The worst part is not knowing whether Jared is alive or not. For all he knows, Mage could have killed Jared weeks ago and his body is busy rotting in a ditch. He tries not to think like that, but some days, it’s hard not to imagine the worst case scenario.

He glances out the window and is pleased to see a blue sky, cloudless. The weather is finally starting to warm up for the summer and he can’t wait. He tugs on his sneakers and tells Sam he’s going out, before stepping into the wilderness. The cabin is surrounded by trees and a small river flows a few feet away. He walks towards it, following it further into the trees, taking in the beauty of the area. The sun is glistening, reflecting off the water, and he smiles, content. Jared is alive. He can feel it.

 

*****

 

Jared is dead. Well, not yet, but he will be soon. The ropes tying his wrists are chaffing at his flesh and he winces every time he moves. So maybe his plan didn’t exactly work out and he is currently tied up and waiting for Mage to appear and kill him, but hey, at least he is about to be locked in a room with Mage. Alone. He can work with that. Right? Right. He tugs at his bindings again, whimpering at the pain, but he pushes past it. Jensen. Jensen. Jensen. The name is a mantra in his head, in his heart, pushing him forward and past the pain. He needs to get free and he needs to kill Mage. He needs to, for Jensen. Taking a long, shaky breath, he once again starts tugging at the ropes.

 

 

*****

 

Four weeks and four days. Jensen rubs at his eyes wearily and curls up into an even tighter ball, refusing to leave the safety of his bed. He misses Jared so much, it’s unbearable. Crying softly, he squeezes his eyes shut and wills himself to sleep.

 

*****

 

 

Jared watches Mage carefully. The man is busy cleaning knives, planning on torturing Jared some more. But Jared is ready this time. He has managed to pull free from his bindings, but he keeps his hands carefully behind his back so that Mage won’t see it.

His chest is bare and bloody due to the wounds that Mage has already inflicted. It hurts, but it is nowhere near the worst thing he has experienced, so he’ll deal. He moves his eyes from Mage for a moment when he hears the door click. He glances over and his heart plummets to the floor. It’s Aiden. The man grins at Jared cheerfully.

“JT, my man. How are ya? Long time no see. You ready for me, baby?”

The bile is rising in Jared’s throat and he feels as though he is going to throw up. Mage just smiles and winks at Jared.

“Have fun sweetheart,” he tosses over his shoulder as he reaches the door, then he looks over at Jared one last time, saying, “Don’t you dare think you can outsmart me again. You belong to this place, to us, to me. And Sandy was most upset, especially that you went back to that lover boy of yours. She won’t be helping you this time.” Then he leaves the room, shutting the door behind him.

Jared’s eyes dart nervously over to Aiden, who is leaning against the wall, smiling. Jared can remember all the things that man has done to him quite clearly. The pain, the torture. Aiden is a specialist in that division, in making people ache in ways that Jared didn’t know was humanly possible. Aiden saunters over to Jared, stopping a few inches away.

“You know, JT, you always were one of my favorite play things. Oh how I loved fucking you, making you scream as I slit your skin and burnt your flesh. You are always so pretty when you cry.”

Jared feels pure and utter disgust for the man in front of him. “Go to Hell.” Then Jared dives at him.

They tumble to the floor in a mess of limbs, scrambling and clawing at each other. Jared manages to pin Aiden to the ground and he grips the other man’s neck, raising his head to bang it down against the concrete floor again and again. When Aiden is weakened, Jared stands quickly and grabs one of Mage’s knives. He turns back to Aiden, who has scrambled to his feet, grinning through a bloody mess. Then he lunges. Jared ducks to the side, bring the knife around to plunge it through Aiden’s chest, but Aiden sticks his hand out and the blade nicks his arm instead. Jared dodges when Aiden takes a swing. He charges at Aiden, ramming him into the wall. They scramble and kick and punch and Jared can scarcely tell whose blood is whose anymore. Then Jared is on the floor and rolling and Aiden is on top of him and the shiny silver of a blade is pressed to his throat. He pushes against Aiden’s arm but it doesn’t budge.

“So pretty,” Aiden purrs.

“Fuck you,” Jared spits, twisting Aiden’s arm and grabbing the knife. Without a hesitation, Jared lets the knife slide into Aiden’s neck. Aiden spasms, chocking, blood sputtering.  Then he collapses limply on top of Jared. Jared shoves the body off of him, breathing heavily. Slowly, he sits up, looking over at the bloody mess beside him. He smirks. Pushing himself to his feet, he grips the knife and tugs it out of Aiden’s neck. Then he slowly walks over and opens the door. The hallway is empty. Judging by the lack of people, it must be around midnight, when the meetings take place. Everyone is required to gather in the conference room and give updates on the kills of the week. Straight after, Mage will ge going to his room to drink a bottle of brandy. That’s Jared’s chance to strike.

He slips down the corridor and towards Mage’s room. He hesitates outside it, before quietly opening the door. He is relieved to find it empty. He steps inside, creeping into the shadows and out of view.

He doesn’t have to wait long.

Moments later, the door opens and Mage walks in, alone, as predicted. Jared keeps his breathing even, silent, his grip on the knife tightening. He prepares himself, ready to lunge, when the door flies open and another figure stumbles into the room. It’s Sandy.

“Aiden is dead. Jared’s missing.”

Jared mentally curses, slipping further into the shadows. He watches Mage’s face.

“Is he really? Sandy, close the door, would you. And lock it.”

Sandy frowns, but does as her father asks. Then Mage turns and looks directly at Jared.

“Come out of the shadows, son.”
Jared can feel the panic rising, but years of experience have taught him better than to let it show. Confidently, he steps out into the light. Sandy’s face falls, fear filling her features. He knows it isn’t fear of him, but rather fear for him. She is afraid of what her father will do.

“Jared,” she whispers, stepping forward as though to hug him, then seeming to realize he is a traitor, steps back.

“So you are here to kill me.” Mage states. “Here’s a deal,” he steps forward and hands Sandy a dagger, “kill my daughter and you may kill me. Or, she will kill you.”

Sandy looks horrified. “Father, you don’t mean… I could never… not Jared… Jared.”

Mage faces her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “The Jared you loved is dead. He left us. This man is a traitor, and you know what we do to traitors.”

He stares helplessly at Sandy. He never loved her, but he was – is – fond of her. She is the reason he survived his time in this place, with these people and doing these things. How is he supposed to kill her? He closes his eyes, breathing deeply. Jensen floods his senses. Jensen lying in bed and listening to music with him. Jensen at the theme park, laughing. Jensen kissing him that first time at the movie theatre. Jensen, Jensen, Jensen. And in that moment, he knows that he will do whatever it takes to protect and be with the man he loves, even if it means killing a woman that he owes his life to. He opens his eyes, swallowing hard.

“Okay,” he whispers.

Sandy’s eyes widen. “What? You’re okay with this?”

Jared shakes his head. “No. But I love Jensen. You know that. And I need to protect him, no matter what. That’s what you do for the people you love.”

Sandy’s face closes off. “Alright then.”

Then she leaps for him. Jared dodges her easily. She spins around to face him again, glaring. They dance around each other, both leaping forwards occasionally, only to be blocked and disarmed. Mage sighs.

“Get on with it, would ya!”
Sandy scowls, but makes a quick dive at Jared, ramming him to the floor. They scramble with each other until Sandy is settled comfortably on top of him and has her dainty hands wrapped around his throat, constricting his breath. He thrusts his hips upwards, dislodging her. She huffs as he tosses her to the floor. He is on top of her instantly, holding her down, a knife to her throat. She stares up at him with wide eyes. He softens his grip for a moment and suddenly their positions are reversed.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, drawing a thin trickle of blood from his neck.

He smiles softly. He understands. He understands her pain, but that this is something she has to do. He closes his eyes, preparing himself, silently apologizing to Jensen for failing him, when the pressure on his flesh is realized and her body lifts from his. He opens his eyes to see Sandy standing above him, dagger hanging limply in her hand. She’s staring at him blankly. He sits up.

“Sandy?”
She blinks, before looking over at her dad. “Jared was right. Protecting people – that’s what you do for the people you love.”

Then she runs the dagger through Mage’s heart.

Jared isn’t sure who is more shocked by her actions: him, Mage or Sandy. It’s as though time freezes. They all stare at each other, shocked, as blood gushes out of Mage’s body. Sandy has tears in her eyes.

“I’m sorry father. But Jared is right. This life isn’t good. It isn’t happy.”

Then she lowers her father’s heavy body to the floor, brushing his greying hair from his forehead. His eyes are closed, his chest still. No life left in him. Jared is silent, still stunned by everything that happened. They sit there for a while, neither making a noise. The smell of blood and death hangs over them like a blanket. Jared gulps, reaching out to rest his hand on Sandy’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

Sandy doesn’t let her eyes stray from the face of her father. “I loved him. He was harsh, brutal, unkind, but he was my father and I loved him.”

“I know.”

She gulps, fingers trembling as they stroke Mage’s hair. “I love you. I know you never did – and never will – love me, but I love you Jared Tristian Padalecki. And you deserve to be happy. With him. With Jensen.”

Jared helps her to her feet, brushing her hair out of her face, leaving another bloody streak on her flesh.

“What now?” he asks.

She shrugs. “I’ll reestablish the leagues regional values. No more killing for a sum of money, but, rather, killing those who need to be killed in order to protect our country. I know you never enjoyed the death, but killing is in my blood. It’s who I am.” She sighs. “Jared Tristian Padalecki, you are here by freed from all duty and responsibility owed to the Home of the Assassins. I release you.”

Jared grins, throwing his arms around Sandy. “Thank you,” he whispers, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Thank you.”

 

 

 

******

 

Jensen cracks an egg, watching the yoke drip into the frying pan. It’s been five weeks since Jared left, and there has been no word, not a single hint, that he is alive. He stares down at the simmering egg, frowning. Footsteps echo into the kitchen and he sighs, closing his eyes, not turning around.

“Sam, I told you, I’m okay. I just want to eat my breakfast in peace and not have to think for a moment, okay?”
A deep chuckle fills the room. “Sounds lovely, Jen. Mind if I join you?”
Jensen spins around, eyes widening as he nearly collides with Jared’s broad chest. He gazes up into his lover’s eyes, taking in the dimples and unscathed skin.

“Jay,” he gasps out, flinging his arms around the taller man and hanging on for dear life. Jared laughs deeply, clinging Jensen back with just as much force. Jensen peppers kisses all over his boyfriend, on every single piece of him he can find. Jared grins, stepping back slightly, running his hands over Jensen’s cheeks.

“I love you,” Jared states.

Jensen sobs, leaning up to press their lips together. “Love you too,” he whimpers between kisses, not letting go.

They cling to each other, both overwhelmed by the feeling of each other’s arms and breath and heartbeat. Jensen can feel his tears falling, but he doesn’t care. Jared, his Jared, is here and alive and free. And there is no word in the world that can explain the force of the emotions he is currently feeling.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Mom?”

“Jensen! Honey, are you okay? Oh gosh, is it really you? I’ve been so worried! Tom called me months ago! And why did he mention Jared? Are you hurt? Oh God, are you in trouble? Do you need-”

“I’m fine, mom. Can I come visit in a few days? We need to talk.”
“Of course. Oh honey, I was so worried about-“
“I’m fine, mom. See you in a few days. Jared, get off me! I swear if you don’t I’ll-“

“Jared? Jensen, are you with Jared!? Jensen, what is going-“

“Bye, mom.”

Click.

 

 

*****

 

Jensen grips his boyfriends hand tightly. He can see the nerves flowing out of Jared. They are sitting in a car, parked outside Jensen’s parents’ house. And inside, Jensen’s mom, dad and sister are waiting, along with Jared’s mom and dad, who have no idea Jared is with him. In fact, Jensen himself hadn’t know that the Padalecki’s were going to be there. But their car is parked in its usual spot in the drive way, much to the men’s surprise. They hadn’t planned to reunite with Jared’s family today, but over the years, the two families have grown close and it seems that the Padalecki’s were just as worried about Jensen’s disappearance as his own parents were.

“We don’t have to go in,” Jensen says reassuringly.

Jared shakes his head. “No, no I need to see them at some point. It’s just all a bit much, you know” He takes a deep breath. “I’m ready.”

He drops Jensen’s hand and climbs out the car, only to grip onto Jensen’s hand against he second the other man is at his side. Slowly, they walk up the pathway, stopping to ring the doorbell. Jared is trembling. Jensen reaches up and presses a kiss to his cheek. “It’s okay. They still love you.”

They wait patiently. When the sound of a key turning reaches their ears, Jared stiffens, but Jensen just runs his thumb over Jared’s hand reassuringly and smiles widely when the front door opens to reveal his mom and dad staring out at them.

“Heya, mom, dad. Sorry about the impromptu vacation, but, you see, Jared and I had a lot to catch up on.”

“Oh. My. God.” Donna manages to gasp out, whilst Jensen’s dad stares blankly at them.

Jensen stifles a laugh. “Can we come in? I’m sure Jared’s parents would love to see him.”

Jared smiles brightly, although Jensen can see the hidden nerves. “Ma’am, Sir. Long time, huh. It’s really good to be back.”

Then Jensen is tugging him through the front door and past his still stunned parents, and into the lounge where the Padalecki’s are sitting.

Gerald and Sherri look up when they hear the men enter and the utter look of shock and disbelief on their faces would have made Jensen laugh at any other time. But Jared is gripping his hand painfully like a scared child and Jensen bites back his amusement and gently leads Jared over to his parents.

“Sherri. Gerald. It’s okay. It really is Jared. He’s alive.”

Sherri is the first to react, leaping to her feet and throwing her arms around Jared, sobbing hysterically. Jared is frozen for a moment, before he drops Jensen’s hand and hugs his mother back fiercely.

“My baby,” she whispers over and over again. “My sweet baby boy.”

Gerald stands, tears flowing down his cheeks. Jensen places a hand on his shoulder and squeezes gently. Gerald smiles at him, before stepping forward. Jared lets go of his mom and looks over at Gerald.

“My son,” the older man gasps out. Jared chokes on his tears and steps into his father’s out stretched arms, gripping him tightly.

Jensen swallows back his tears, overwhelmed by the amount of emotion in the room. Jensen’s parents have wandered into the room and they stand beside Jensen, grinning from ear to ear.

After many emotional hugs and kisses, they sit down on the couch, Jared between his parents, happiness lighting up his face.

“What happened?” Sherri asks, running her fingers through Jared’s hair.

Jared just smiles. “Nothin’ that needs talking about. It’s over. It’s finished.”

Jensen grins, standing up. “Anyone else want a drink” he asks, walking towards the kitchen.

Jared stands. “I’ll help.”

They quickly step into the kitchen. The second they are out of view, Jared has Jensen pressed against the fridge, kissing him passionately. Jensen moans softly, gripping Jared’s hair in his fingers as he tugs the taller man closer.

“Love you,” Jared breathes, kissing down Jensen’s neck.

“You too,” Jensen gasps out, breathless.

He tugs Jared’s head up so that they are eye to eye. “I mean it. I love you, Jay. Always have.”

Jared smiles adoringly, caressing Jensen’s cheek. “Always will,” he responds.

“I knew it!”
Both men jump and spin around quickly to find Sherri and Donna watching them from the doorway.

“I knew it,” Donna repeats, smirking. “You two were always to close to be just friends. Didn’t I tell you, Sherri!”

The two women laugh. Jensen and Jared blush, smiling shyly at each other. Jared leans over to whisper in Jensen’s ear.

“You never told them we were together?”
Jensen shrugs. “I thought they knew. It’s not like we were subtle about it.”

Jared blushes. “I guess not.”

They quickly fill a few glasses with water and carry them back to the lounge, handing them to their still giggling mothers and confused looking father’s. Jensen grins, squeezing Jared’s hand.

“Alright, yes, Jared and I are dating. We were dating back then and we are dating now and would you stop looking at me like that,” he protests, glaring at his mother, who just smirks.

“Perfect,” she says, “you two are just so perfect.”

Jared shoots Jensen a grin. “Yeah,” he replies, “we are.”

 

 

 

*******

 

 

 

Jared sticks the CD into the player, grinning over at Jensen, who taps his fingers against the steering wheel in time to the music. It’s been thirteen years since the summer they first met and, after some debating, they have decided to spend their first summer together since then on the road. The past few months since Jared’s return have been busy, but pleasant. Jared has been accepted on a writing course at the local college that will begin after the summer. Jensen has decided to try performing instead of teaching, joining Chris and Steve’s band full time.

He still feels bad about Tom, but when Jared and Jensen arrived back at Jensen’s apartment and found a startled Tom fucking some chick in Jensen’s bed, well, he lost that small ounce of guilt he had felt.

Jensen glances over at Jared, grinning. “You know I love you, right?”

Jared leans over and takes Jensen’s hand, Don’t Stop Believing blasting out the speakers.

“Of course. And I love you too. Always have.”

Jensen laughs, overwhelmed with happiness. “Always will.”
Then he guns the engine and speeds up down the highway, ready to start the next chapter of his life, with the man that he loves beside him and the entire world waiting to be explored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jared’s Playlist for Jensen

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc0S8_4OXkjtcmdbwXAGNkRZcunf1YFWC