If anyone had told Jared Padalecki that his bachelor party would start out with big red balls and end on a road trip with Keanu Reeves, he would have thought they were insane, but that’s exactly what happened, more or less, in a nutshell. Serves him right for getting freakin’-frostbitten-they-were-so-cold feet on the eve of his wedding rehearsal. He was supposed to be marrying Gen; Genevieve Cortese, that is. His fiancée. But all he could do was obsess about Jen; Jensen Ackles, that is. Best friend. Co-star. Dude. Something-that-couldn’t-possibly-be-love of his life. Except Jensen was happy, and Jensen was marrying Danneel in a few months, and Jensen wasn’t a fool like Jared was, picking now of all times to fixate on the past, to relive all those memories of them making out, in glorious detail, even if they had been drunk at the time. Or times, rather. There had been a lot of times. It just freaking figured that at some point during the three days before the wedding, between the big red balls and the Keanu Reeves Road Trip, that Jared lost Jensen. Like literally. Now suddenly the clock was ticking, he had a best friend to find, a wedding to get to and get through, and a goddamn mystery to solve in the midst of all the madness. Saying ‘I do’ should never be this complicated. Or this easy. Wedded bliss? He so did not sign up for this!
Jared Padalecki was one of that rare breed of grown men (emphasis on the men) who had always had a very clear idea of what his wedding day would be like. He’d pictured himself at the altar (looking handsome and debonair in his tux), with his brother and cousins at his side as his groomsmen (just like his daddy and Jeff had done), while he’d be deliriously happy (and probably a little teary-eyed) as he watched his bride (poufy white dress and all) walk down the aisle towards him on her father’s arm.
They’d exchange their vows (which he would’ve agonized over for hours, just so that every word was heartfelt and sweet), they’d kiss, then take a bunch of picture-perfect mementos to hang up in their home; they’d drink champagne and they’d eat cake (which would be amazing and sinfully delicious because this was something else he’d imagined for the longest time).
It would be the best day of his life (until the day his first kid was born) and he’d treasure the memory until his last breath.
He’d always intended to do this only once; get it right the first time and have it last forever. He was always going to marry the love of his life.
So he was a romantic, so sue him.
What he’d never (not in a million years) figured on was meeting Jensen Ackles.
He’d never have believed it if someone had told him five years ago that this here was the guy who’d turn his life upside down and inside out and leave Jared and his dreams fizzling in the dust. He’d never have thought that one person could ever come to mean so much to him. Well, he had, obviously, but he’d always expected that one person to be a girl so, you know, he could make his dreams come true and marry her. Then Jensen had come along and Jared had been bedazzled and then besotted and… yeah.
Well. Moving on.
The whole gay dilemma had been a little unexpected, both for him and for Jensen. But they’d gotten over it. Sort of. They’d worked it out of their systems. Kind of. They’d never talked about it, but it was understood that when it came to the future, they would both be spending it with women. So Jensen had hooked up with Danneel and after Jared’s relationship with Sandy had crashed and burned so spectacularly, he considered himself lucky to find someone as awesome as Genevieve to put up with him.
Then Jensen had to go and propose. To Danneel, and not to Jared, because the latter would be ridiculous and impossible, right? Except that it cut him deep. It had hurt. It had made him stupid enough to propose to Genevieve, much to her surprise, and to the shock of his family (and don’t even ask about the epic frown fest his momma had subjected him to). Only Jensen had been supportive and sweet, congratulating him, giving him a hug (they hadn’t shared one in private in a long while), smiling and looking happy and happy for him.
So... Jared was getting married. He couldn’t help thinking that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, his dreams weren’t really coming true. But while his heart was breaking and his life was spiralling out of control, he took comfort in the fact that Jensen was happy. Jensen wasn’t in unrequited love with Jared. Jensen was, in fact, in very much requited love with Danneel, and Jared was being an ass begrudging him the shiny, happy future his best friend deserved more than anyone else. Besides, Genevieve was a great girl and a good friend and Jared did love her; it’s just that he wasn’t quite in love with her, but he wasn’t one to get caught up in minor details. He could do this.
He could so do this.
It was easy to just let Genevieve and her family organize everything (well, everything but the cake, because if there was ever an area where Jared had earned his stripes, it was in having his cake and eating it, too) and then they all headed off to Idaho to get hitched, but what was that they said about the best laid plans? Something suitably notable, he was sure, but he was still blindsided when everything went awry.
Even now, if anyone had told Jared that his bachelor party would start out with big red balls and end on a road trip with Keanu Reeves, he would have thought they were insane, unless of course, the person doing the talking was Chad Michael Murray, because drunk, sober or high, that was the sort of inane shit that tended to spew from his mouth. That’s exactly what happened though, and even if Jared could have done without some of that drama, the story of how he got married was definitely one to tell his future grandkids.
Just after a lot of heavy editing and taking liberties with the truth to keep things firmly in PG territory.
But he digressed; as stated previously, the adventure began with big red balls.
Jared grinned wide and manic and let out a high-pitched girly squeak – uh, a deep, manly exclamation of delight (oh, he wasn’t kidding anybody, it was very girly, and definitely loud and squealy, like a stuck pig, Jensen would later say) – as Jensen whipped the blindfold from his head and he laid eyes on the four glorious, ginormous, bouncy red balls made famous (or infamous) on the TV show Wipeout.
And did he mention that Jensen was the best person ever, like, in the history of the universe?
Well, it was worth repeating: Jensen Fucking Ackles was the best person in the History of the Universe!
Jared had no idea how his best friend, co-star, (soulmate, his brain whispered, but he ignored it, as usual), and all-round fantastic, amazing guy had managed to swing this with the powers that be on Supernatural, but this was hands-down, the best thing ever.
“There’s a catch,” Jensen said, totally bursting his bubble of euphoric glee.
Jared shot him a pout of epic proportions and Jensen huffed out a laugh. “I cleared it with Sera, but then Eric stepped in, ‘cause of course he watches Wipeout, and he banned us from the Sweeper and the Wipeout Zone,” Jensen told him, pouting a little himself. “We’re only allowed to do the qualifiers: the Sucker Punch Wall, the Topple Towers, the Dreadmill, the Donut Run, the Dirty Balls…” he and Jared sniggered in infantile amusement, “and then, if we make it, we get to go on the Dizzy Dummy with the barrel crossing and the dock maze. With the mud, and the foam – the works, dude! The Wipeout crew have to deck us out in safety gear up to our freakin’ eyeballs, like we’re a bunch of pansy-assed sissies who can’t take a hit, but whatever.”
“Goddamn, Jensen, I don’t give a fuck,” Jared breathed, not wanting to look away from the big red balls (you know, just in case this was a dream and they disappeared on him), but his other option was looking at Jensen, and he would pick that option every single time, because Jensen was… well, Jensen. “We still get the Big Balls, right?”
“I pretty much had to promise Eric my first born, not to mention your first born, and several sexual favors to be named at a later date, but yeah,” Jensen grinned as he patted Jared’s back, his green eyes sparking golden under the hot California sun, “I got you the Big Balls, man.”
And holy shit, if Jared hadn’t known it before, he knew it right then in that moment as he engulfed Jensen in a bone-crushing embrace: he’d probably never love anyone as much as he loved Jensen Ackles.
Too bad he’d had that same epiphany the afternoon of his wedding rehearsal just yesterday.
It was damned inconvenient timing, but as he’d stood there in the small throng of his family, and Genevieve’s family, and Jensen, he was suddenly struck by how little he had actually wanted to be there. Truth be told, all he’d wanted to do was grab Jensen, jump in his car and drive; bolt for the border, get back home to Vancouver, back to the house that he and Jensen used to share, way back before their girls had become more or less permanent fixtures in their lives; back to their golden days.
He might have done it too, that’s how tempted he’d been. He’d stood there, in the aforementioned throng of people, feeling like he was statue-still while the world moved on around him, kept right on spinning, everybody going about their business, oblivious to the turmoil within him. He’d never felt more lost than he’d done in that ski lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho, Genevieve’s hometown.
Yeah, he was a Texas native getting married in a ski lodge, which was really fucking ridiculous, but as everyone and their future mother-in-law had pointed out, weddings were all about the bride, so if the bride wanted to get hitched and then go skiing, then that’s what the groom was going to shut up and do. He supposed a winter wedding was romantic, and yes, the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains was pretty breathtaking, and he maybe couldn’t have come up with a better venue to forever pledge his troth, even if it was to a woman he probably didn’t deserve.
He sometimes also wondered if she couldn’t find a better troth than his to hitch her wagon to, but whatever, he’s never claimed to understand the inner workings of Genevieve’s mind.
So, anyway, lest he digress even further, he might have done it, he might have pulled a Julia Roberts and gone runaway groom, but he hadn’t. Not because he was chicken, not because of the repercussions, and not because of the endless shit Jensen would have undoubtedly subjected him to (since Jensen had always teased him about his supposed similarities to the quintessential Pretty Woman), but really, because of Jensen himself.
And wasn’t that the kicker?
It was because when Jared was standing still in the midst of that maddening crowd, he’d seen Jensen, as he’d always done, because he tended to orient himself in a room by his proximity from Jensen, to Jensen, if Jensen was in that room with him. It was as if his best friend had some sort of invisible tether on him, a hold that Jensen would never admit to, and Jared would never attest to.
And so, there sat Jensen, on one of those cushioned wooden chairs that had been set out for the guests in preparation for the wedding, near the front, to the left of the altar. He’d sat there, in a wide splash of winter sunshine, his sunglasses perched on his freckled nose (not that Jared could see the freckles from where he’d stood, but he knew they were there, omnipresent and alluring), one ankle resting on the other knee, just staring out the big window framing the altar, smiling.
Smiling. In that soft, sweet way he did only when he was truly happy.
It was that smile that snuffed out the last glimmer of hope in Jared’s chest. It was that smile that told him, louder than words ever could, that no matter how cold Jared’s feet got, he would never be able to crash on his couch and wriggle them and warm them under Jensen’s thighs again, because if Jensen could smile like that when Jared was getting married to someone who wasn’t Jensen, then all hope was well and truly lost.
So he went on with the wedding rehearsal, going through the motions with the twin of Jensen’s smile pasted on his face, saying and doing everything exactly as he was expected to and looking happy about it, looking goddamn ecstatic, because he was a much, much better actor than most people gave him credit for.
He could do this, he kept telling himself, like a mantra in his mind. Just gird his loins and get married. All that was left to do was get through the next three days between the rehearsal and the real deal. All he needed to do was screw his courage to the sticking place and man up, because these three days were the last he would spend, as a single man, with Jensen. Well, Jensen, his big brother Jeff, his other best bud Chad, and his bodyguard Clif.
Fortunately for Jared, it had been Jensen who had made all the arrangements for his bachelor party (there had been a vehement veto from everyone against Chad organizing anything, let alone a bachelor party that involved a day stay in Vegas). Chad hadn’t made it to Idaho for the rehearsal, so the plan was for the rest of them to drive down to meet him in California for Jensen’s surprise – the brilliant Big Balls – and then head out en masse to Vegas for an epic night of revelry, before they ditched the rental vehicle and all of them flew back for the wedding.
That was the plan, and so far, it was off to a splendid start.
On his thirteenth try, Jared made it across the big balls without falling off; it had taken Jensen just five tries, the coordinated, well-balanced asshole. On this particular run, they both tumbled into the water together, in one giant splash, Jared already thinking of what he was going to do differently the next time around, when his train of thought was derailed by Jensen. Again. As usual.
Jensen, with his stupid (read: stunning) green eyes and ridiculous (really cute) freckles and preposterous (ooh, pretty) wet eyelashes all spiked together with moisture, the tee and shorts he wore clinging ludicrously (lovingly) to every inch of his dumb (dreamy) body.
God. He was shameless. He was gorgeous. And Jared was so fucking screwed. Not to mention screwed in the head.
And as Jared found himself (and Jensen and Chad and Jeff, but not Clif, the coward) drenched and covered in a layer of foam, with mud stuck in places he really didn’t want to think about, and dizzier than he could ever recall being, even whilst woefully drunk, he realized that he’d never felt this good, this great; heck, he was fantastic! It may have had a little something to do with watching Jensen roar with laughter as Chad stumbled off the Dizzy Dummy and spectacularly belly flopped into the water. Jensen looked so inescapably happy, so thrilled to be there, so good with everything that was going on over this past week leading up to Jared’s wedding, doing everything expected of his status as best friend of the groom.
It sucked then, that Jared was fairly certain that he himself couldn’t get any happier, just watching Jensen be happy, and wasn’t that depressing considering he was supposed to be getting married soon? And to someone who would never live up to every ideal that Jensen represented? Not that anyone could ever measure up to Jensen; the man was the epitome of perfection in Jared’s mind, faults, idiosyncrasies and all. Nothing left to do for it, though, so Jared decided to make the most of these last three days.
He carefully catalogued all those gorgeous Jensen moments, committed them to memory, and filed them away for further perusal, for the future when he would undoubtedly need a pick-me-up or a good wallow in self-pity (and he was pretty sure he would need one in exactly three days time).
Oh, and while he was at it, he wiped out. Over and over and over again, and he had the time of his life doing it.
Goddamn, his head felt like a thousand tiny men with jackhammers were pounding into his skull, drilling right down to his gray matter, obliterating his ability to think and speak and move.
Jared groaned and cracked an eye open, sure he was hearing the sound of faraway voices over the cacophony in his head, but it took too much effort to budge from his present position where he was draped over… well, some piece of furniture he couldn’t currently identify, so he just gave into the comforting darkness again and let his head loll to the side, falling quietly back into unconsciousness.
The second time he woke, he could barely remember the first time he’d woken, but this time, his bladder screamed at him, fit to bursting from where someone’s toes were pressed up against his lower abdomen, heel nestled snugly in his groin. The fact that the foot looked nothing like Jensen’s had him bolting upright in alarm, and then immediately regretting it when the pounding in his head amplified.
He found that the foot in question was attached to Chad, so he shoved it away, waking up a grumpy, seriously shit-faced Chad, who unaccountably had a black eye. Then again it was Chad; if they’d gone out last night, it stood to reason that someone might’ve taken a swing at him. Jared ignored his friend and went to take a well-deserved piss, brush his teeth and gargle with industrial strength Listerine (because it felt like something the Winchesters hunted had crawled in there and died), and grab a few aspirin.
By the time he exited the bathroom, his headache had been downgraded to a dull, incessant, but no less painful throbbing, and he was still scarily disoriented with absolutely no recollection of the night before, which meant it was time to find Jensen and get a recap.
Haphazardly uncovering bodies in their suite’s living area – and seriously, they dished out all this dough and no one slept in the actual bedrooms? – he found Clif and Jeff, but no Jensen. As Chad headed for the bathroom and his brother and his bodyguard started to show signs of life again, he checked out the rest of the suite; it totally figured that only Jensen would have the mental acuity to crash in an actual bed.
He was just starting to panic when he saw the Jensen-sized lump under the covers in the last bedroom, Jared’s room, and Jared’s bed, no matter how temporary, because the universe obviously liked to taunt him with teasing glimpses of a life he couldn’t have. Breathing a sigh of relief, however, he headed back into the living room to grab another bottle of water from the mini-bar, as well as the bottle of aspirin, before going back to rouse his ex-roommate.
Much later in the day, when he’d had a more cogent grasp on his mental faculties, he’d blame the alcohol for his folly, but in that moment, as he crawled up the length of the bed towards Jensen, carefully shaking his friend’s warm body, he wasn’t thinking about anything but joining Jensen under the covers, snuggling up close and forgetting the world and staying in this cocoon of cottony comfort for five minutes or maybe forever.
Then the cotton cocoon moved. It moved, and raised its head – a head that most certainly did not belong to Jensen – and pinned Jared with a placid, sleepy look.
Yes, like a girl, okay? Shut up, he was totally justified. And so he just kept on screaming until he fell off the bed, and then scrambled to get as far away from the fluffy, woolly animal – who didn’t even bear a remote resemblance to his best friend, apart from the fact that they were both awfully cute when they woke up – as he could.
“What the fuck, man?” Chad asked, stumbling into the room looking panicked. His eyes darted from Jared, to the bed, to Jared, and then did the quickest double-take back to the bed that Jared had ever seen. “Dude, why is there a baby camel in your bed?”
“It’s an alpaca,” Jared breathed, his brain working despite the alcohol-induced fog that still permeated it.
“The fuck do you know?” Chad asked, squinting at the animal, who squinted right back at him and then spat derisively, a loogie landing on the bedspread, completely grossing both of them out enough that they rapidly exited the room, slamming the door shut behind them. “Seriously, why is there a baby camel in your bed? And why do I have a black eye?”
“I don’t know why you have a black eye. And it’s an alpaca. Jensen and I saw a Discovery doc on them once.”
Chad fingered the dark bruise on his face, wincing a little. “Hurts. Speaking of Jenny, though, where is he?” he asked, and then glanced at the door behind him, looking vaguely impressed. “Dude, did he have sex with the baby camel? Dawg .”
Jared smacked Chad upside the head. “Maybe this is why you have that black eye! You’re totally disgusting!”
“He didn’t turn into a baby camel, did he?” Chad asked stupidly, blinking and rubbing his head.
It took a herculean effort on Jared’s part not to hit Chad again. “Chad, shut the fuck up. This is Vegas, moron, not Hogwarts. Have you seen my phone? I need to find Jen.”
“Saw it on the table,” Chad replied, still staring at the bedroom door in bewilderment, so Jared left him, passing his brother in the hallway as Jeff exited the bathroom and Clif disappeared into it.
“Is there coffee, bro?”
“Call room service,” Jared said over his shoulder, finding his cell and hitting one on his speed dial. A couple of seconds later, the familiar strains of Will Smith’s Getting’ Jiggy Wit It emanated from behind the bar in the room, Jared’s ringtone on Jensen's phone Na Na Na Na Na -ing until Jared got his hands on it and rejected the call. “Shit,” he muttered to himself. Where the fuck was Jensen?
“Dude, there’s some kind of big ass fluffy poodle in your bed,” Jeff told him, shit-eating grin on his face as he sprawled on the couch, scratching his balls.
“Charming, bro,” Jared muttered, willing his headache to give him a freakin’ break until he found Jensen. “And it’s an alpaca, not a poodle.”
“Looks like a poodle. I saw its fluffy butt.”
“Well, it’s not a poodle! Fluffy butt or not!”
“How would you know?”
“Because Megan and I inherited all the brains in this family!” Jared snapped, gritting his teeth when his big brother just smirked at him, in that godforsaken annoying way that only big brothers could; the way Dean looked at Sam sometimes, okay, all the freakin’ time. Shit. Jensen . “Did you see Jensen?”
Jeff sat up a little straighter. “No. Why? Did you lose Jensen?”
Jared sincerely hoped his bottom lip didn’t wobble much as he nodded. “I think so.”
“That’s nuts. Call him,” Jeff suggested, and when Jared waved Jensen’s cell at him, he stood. “You check all the rooms?”
“I’m hungover, not a moron.”
“Call the front desk, see if he left a message.”
So Jared did just that, but came up empty again. By the time their breakfast arrived, Clif had joined him in panicking over Jensen’s disappearance. Losing Jensen was bad for both of them; Clif because he could lose his job, and Jared because he could lose his… everything.
“Does anybody remember anything about last night?” Jared asked the others as they all sipped strong black coffee. And seriously, if Jensen had been hiding all this time, playing another prank on him, the scent alone would have brought him out of the woodwork, homing right in on a coffee cup. Jared groaned again and nearly scalded himself when his cell rang, causing him to startle and then fumble for the phone. “Jen?”
Wrong Jen. Or wrong Gen. Whatever. The hope that had briefly sparked to life in Jared’s chest died a swift and painful death.
“O-kay,” his fiancée laughed, “at least try and sound happy to hear from me, Jared.”
“No, no,” Jared back-pedaled. “I’m happy.”
“Right,” she said, still sounding amused, “so, how was your big night? You didn’t do anything stupid, did you?”
“Naw,” Jared drawled, easily. It wasn’t a lie if he had no memory of last night, right?
“Good,” Genevieve remarked a little suspiciously. “Are you sure, Jared? Chad was with you guys, right? So there had to be strippers involved somewhere. A Vegas showgirl or two, maybe?”
Jared scrambled for an appropriate response. “You know what they say about what happens in Vegas, right?”
“All right, all right! Are you allowed to tell me what you guys are up to today?”
“Uh… I dunno. We just woke up.”
“Jared, it’s almost noon!” she gasped, and then giggled. “Maybe that’s pretty good, considering. I really don’t want to know what happened last night, do I?”
Instead of answering her, all Jared could think was that half the day – Day Two of his bachelor party extravaganza – had gone by, and Jensen was missing in action; Jesus, they were a man down. Why’d Jensen have to be the casualty? He’d have been totally fine if he’d lost Chad or Clif. Or even Jeff. Because, yeah, his momma would kill him, but at least then he’d have Jensen – who was smart as a whip – there to help him find Jeff. As it stood now? He was so, so, so screwed.
“Whatever, Jared,” Genevieve spoke over the voices in his head, “as long as you have a good time. Just don’t miss your flight tonight!”
“Flight? Tonight?” Jared asked, panic rising with the bile up his throat.
“It’s at seven, babe.”
“Right! Of course! Gotta go!”
Jared hung up on her before she could get another word in edgewise, and then proceeded to have a mild heart attack. Where was Jensen? Why couldn’t he remember anything from last night? Why couldn’t any of them remember last night? Okay, Chad was a given to get blitzed out of his mind. Jensen, and Jared too, could be counted on to get well and truly hammered on occasion. Heck, sometimes even Jeff ignored the giant stick up his ass and loosened up some. But Clif? It was his job to stay somewhat sober, but after interrogating him for the next ten minutes and hitting another goddamn brick wall, lead-lined no less, Jared was running out of options, not to mention ideas.
Someone had to have slipped them something, and since his number one suspect was also freaked the fuck out by the giant, gaping black hole where his memory of yesterday used to be, Jared ruled Chad out, and gave him the benefit of the doubt.
But God, Jared was a dead man. There was nowhere on the planet that he could hide from Donna Ackles once she found out that he’d lost her precious baby boy.
Fuck, there was nowhere he could hide from himself if anything happened to Jensen.
The inexplicable alpaca in the bedroom was the least of his worries.
The one thing they could all recall was that they’d had a rental vehicle, and so once they’d gotten sufficiently caffeinated, and ordered an extra large garden salad and a big bowl of full cream milk for the alpaca (the guy from Room Services hadn’t even blinked in wonder at their strange dietary requests), they hooked the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the doorknob and went downstairs to find their car, armed only with wallets, phones and sunglasses, still wearing the clothes from the night before because Jared hadn’t wanted to waste precious Jensen-finding time by showering.
Before heading to Valet Parking, however, they split up and checked as many of the public areas of Caesar’s Palace as they could: the pools, the spa, the gyms, the lobbies, the stores, and the gaming areas. With no trace of Jensen though, they finally headed to the parking lot, Jared hoping for a brainstorm and grateful to see someone manning the podium.
“Voucher, sir?” the valet attendant asked, and Jared panicked.
“Clif, were you driving, man? Check your pockets. Everyone check your pockets,” he instructed, and as they rummaged around for the valet voucher, first in their pockets, and then in their wallets.
Jared closed his eyes for just a second, and inhaled deeply. The sun was high in the sky, warm as it shone down on them, and even with the brisk breezes coming in from the desert, he was already starting to sweat, although he figured it was more from the fact that no one had a voucher, rather than from the fact that he usually ran a few degrees hotter than everyone else.
“Sir? Mr. Padalecki?” The attendant shyly touched him on the shoulder when he buried his face in his hands, resisting the urge to cry.
“It’s cool if you can’t find the voucher. I’m not really supposed to do this, but I know which one’s yours,” the kid told him, and seriously, Jared could’ve hugged him. In fact, he did.
“Thanks! Can you go get it for us?”
“Give me a few minutes,” the guy – Ethan, Jared saw, as he caught a glimpse of his nametag – hurried away to get the car. The truck? Fuck. Jared couldn’t even remember for sure, but it came back to him when he saw the black Lincoln Navigator pull up alongside them.
“Thanks, man,” Jared said, tipping the kid a twenty as the rest of the guys piled into the SUV, Clif taking the wheel.
“My pleasure, sir,” Ethan replied. “My boyfriend and I are big fans of the show. He couldn’t believe it when he saw you and Mr. Ackles last night!”
Jared almost bowled the kid over in his haste to get out of the SUV and back to his side. “You saw Jensen?”
“My boyfriend, Joe; he did,” Ethan stammered, looking more than a little startled at Jared’s reaction.
“Where’d he see us?”
“Right here, sir; he’s the night valet,” Ethan explained, getting a little dreamy-eyed. “We’re always meeting at the end of my shift and the beginning of his, like passing ships in the night,” he lamented.
Jared blinked. Then his left eye started to twitch alarmingly, but he took a deep breath and calmed himself enough to ask, “We left here? Jensen and I left here together? Do you have any idea where we were going?”
“No, sir.” Ethan looked at him quizzically. “But Joe said all of you left here together, and came back around three in the morning.”
“So Jensen was with us when we got back?” Jared said, more to himself than the kid. What the fuck had happened between then and now?
“Yes, sir. Joe recognized Mr. Murray too, and Mr. Kosterman, since we follow him on Twitter, although Joe said his tweets last night were pretty random.”
“Tweets? Clif was tweeting?” Jared repeated, eyes wide with hope. “Fuck, that’s fantastic! Thanks, Ethan!” Clambering into the passenger seat, Jared told Clif to check his Twitter account. Drumming his fingers in an impatient rhythm on his thigh, he waited as Clif fiddled with his iPhone.
“Dude, we headed to the Luxor at nine,” Clif told him.
“Great! Let’s go check it out!”
“Wait a minute, JT,” Jeff interjected as Clif kept checking his phone. “What are we gonna do at the Luxor, man? I mean, all these hotels are huge! Jensen’s gonna be like the needle in this huge hotel haystack! What makes you think he’s even there?”
“Half an hour later, we were at the Venetian,” Clif informed them before Jared could reply, not that he had any idea what he was going to say.
“I don’t know, Jeff. I don’t know what else to do,” he sniffed, biting his lip and frowning. Jeff squeezed his shoulder, and Jared tried not to cry, reaching into his pocket and closing his hand over Jensen’s phone.
They’d left a note for Jensen in the room, just in case he came back from wherever he was, but Jared had this nagging suspicion that Jensen was in trouble, and there was no way he was going to sit on his ass and twiddle his thumbs if there was something – anything – he could be doing to find Jensen instead. Even if they went to the police with this, they’d be asked to retrace their steps and it didn’t help Jensen that none of them could remember those steps to begin with! Never mind that it hadn’t even been twenty-four hours since Jensen’s disappearance, so there was fuck all the police would do at this point, celebrity or not.
“Dude, five minutes after that, we were at Planet Hollywood.”
“Christ,” Chad grunted as Clif spoke, “did we actually go inside any of those places? Because this doesn’t make any sense time-wise.”
Jeff nodded in agreement. “He’s right. Clif, you got anything better than us apparently cruising up and down the strip?”
As Clif kept scrolling through his tweets, Chad suddenly leaned forward. “I remember water. And pretty lights.”
“Could you be more vague, Chad? It’s Vegas! There are lights everywhere,” Jared muttered, rubbing his face tiredly.
“Here it is!” Clif suddenly exclaimed. “We were at the Bellagio at ten and we loved the fountain!”
“Hey,” Jeff blinked, “water and lights, man!”
Jared felt the tiniest spark of hope flicker in his chest again. “What else does it say, Clif?”
“The lobby was awesome,” he remarked, his eyes widening. “Dude, we went inside! And then we went to the bank. Huh.”
“I don’t know.” Clif frowned, and Chad and Jeff were just as confused.
“Fucking fantastic,” Jared muttered. “Look, just drive. The Bellagio’s right next door. Maybe we went to an ATM; we’ll ask the concierge or something. Those things have cameras.”
Ten minutes later, they were handing their keys to the valet at the entrance to the Bellagio’s lobby, Clif pocketing the voucher while Jared cornered a bellhop.
“Hey – do you guys have a bank here?”
The guy looked a little confused. “You mean The Bank Nightclub?”
“A nightclub in a bank?” Chad asked, his beady little eyes lighting up. “Sign me up, dude.”
The bellhop laughed. “No sir, The Bank is one of the premiere nightclubs in Vegas. But it’s closed now, though. Come back tonight!”
“That must be where we went,” Clif said, as the bellhop nodded at them and walked away. “Says here that the babes at the bank are bangin’! ”
Jared looked at the big man in shock. “ You tweeted that?”
“I’m gonna say Mayhem here stole my phone,” Clif hedged, flushing guiltily.
Jared chuckled wryly. “Got any other tweets on there?”
“Just one more.” But none of them could make any sense of Clif’s last tweet: Sammy rocks, Bobby rules!
“Fuck. Another dead end!” Jared spat, burying his face in his hands. “What do we do now?”
Jeff sighed in commiseration. “Josh is gonna kill me.”
“ You? This is my bachelor party, and therefore my fault! He’ll kill me first!”
“Oh, I know that. But right after he’s drawn and quartered you with Donna’s blessing, he’s gonna come after me. We have an understanding, he and I, if only one of us is around, he watches out for you, and I watch out for Jensen. Crap.”
“Dude,” Chad suddenly interrupted, eyeing a glass-encased poster of the Bellagio’s attractions on a nearby wall as his shoulders shook to the beat of Copacabana being filtered in through the hotel’s sound system, “would we have come all the way to Vegas and not hit the tables?”
Jared, Jeff and Clif looked at each other for a split second before they said, in unison, “No.”
Chad smirked. “I think I may have figured out what Cliffie’s last tweet meant,” he remarked, his finger pointing to the poster.
Jared leaned in to get a closer look. Bobby’s Room . Well, shit. It was the Bellagio’s high-stakes, signature poker room. “Dude, are any of us actually important enough – or good enough, for that matter – to get in there?”
“Who gives a fuck?” Chad shrugged. “If you’ve got a better idea, let’s hear it.”
They went to Bobby’s Room.
And about two minutes after they got there, Jared got punched in the face by Keanu Reeves.
When he came to, he found himself still standing – and how can someone knock you out but not knock you down? – and staring into Keanu Reeves’ irate face.
“Dude, where’s my car?” Keanu growled, his jaw ticking with barely suppressed fury. “Where’s my car, dude?”
“Man,” Chad scoffed before Jared could open his mouth, “I’m pretty sure that’s Kutcher’s line, Neo. Try: I am The One .”
Clif moved quickly to get Chad out of the way of Reeves’ flying fist before it could make contact with his face, too – and where the fuck had those reflexes been when Jared had been getting socked in the eye?
“Fuck off,” Keanu grunted at Chad, fisting his hands in Jared’s jacket and hauling him in close. “What did you do with my baby?”
“I don’t have your baby!” Jared squeaked – because who the fuck knew Keanu Reeves could be so scary? – and then drew up short. “Whoa, you have a baby? I didn’t even know you were married!”
“My car, asshole!” Keanu shouted.
“Oh,” Jared said, suddenly thinking of how Dean would react if he lost his baby, and that made him think of Jensen, and that just made his eyeballs prickle.
Keanu reared back in surprise. “Dude, are you crying ?”
“No,” Jared sniffled. “Maybe. I don’t know! I don’t remember meeting you or your baby!”
“The hell do you mean, you don’t remember?” Keanu blinked. “You were supposed to return her this morning at ten.”
“Her?” Jared asked stupidly. “Oh. You mean your car.”
“Yes. My car. My baby. Her ,” Keanu elucidated through gritted teeth, before leaning in close – and huh, Keanu Reeves’ breath was cinnamon-fresh – glowering as he threatened softly, “If she has even a scratch on her, I will rip your balls off and feed them to you, gigantor.” Jared didn’t doubt it for a second. “Now, where’s my car?”
Jared tore himself out of Keanu’s grip. “I told you! I don’t remember last night! None of us do! And dude, you lost your car, but I lost my Jensen , okay? That’s way worse!” Jared did a little shouting himself, and if he sounded hysterical doing it, well, he didn’t give a shit.
“You lost your boy?” Keanu asked, sounding surprised. “The pretty one?”
“He’s beautiful,” Jared mumbled inanely, ignoring the stupid giggly noises emanating from the general direction of his companions, “there’s a difference.”
“Apparently,” Keanu said, the corners of his mouth twitching. “You really remember nothing?”
“Not a damn thing,” Jared confirmed, “and I need to find Jensen, so if you could help fill in the blanks a little, that would be awesome.”
Keanu studied them and their identical earnest expressions – and really, bravo Chad – and sighed. “We met at the bar in The Bank. You guys were sharing a bottle of champagne, and talking to the Trinity.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Chad interrupted, goggling at Keanu, “Carrie Ann Moss was there, too? Was she wearing plether? Please tell me she was wearing plether, dude. I can’t believe I don’t remember that!”
“Would you stop fixating on The Matrix , asswipe?” Keanu huffed, rolling his eyes and looking at Jared. “Where’d you find this moron?”
“They were giving him away to a good home.” Jared shrugged as Chad sputtered in indignation. “What happened next?”
“We all got to talking and then decided to play some poker, so the Trinity got us this room.” Keanu eyed Jared up and down. “It was a good thing the Boss recognized you and your boyfriend. He loves your show, otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten in. Bobby’s Room is high-rollers only.”
Jared ignored the thinly veiled insult. “Jensen’s not my boyfriend, he’s my best friend.”
“Your beautiful best friend?”
Jared ignored the man’s teasing tone. “Yes. So we all played poker, then what?”
“No. You played poker. With us. Me and the Trinity.”
“Jared?” Chad squawked in alarm. “Jared can’t play poker to save his life!”
Jared bristled, taking offense, but Jeff held a hand up to stall his protests. “Admit it, little bro, your poker face is for shit!”
“Yeah, you pretty much lost over a hundred grand,” Keanu took great pleasure in informing him, “and I may have worked out a little repayment plan with you, but nobody fucks with the Trinity and lives to tell about it.”
“What exactly is the Trinity?” Clif asked timidly. And yeah, they were all pretty much thinking that same thing.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Keanu smirked, looking supremely pleased with himself. “Still, you had cojones , I’ll give you that much,” he continued, “you went all or nothing on the last hand. We all anted up with our most precious possessions: my baby, my beautiful, cherry-red ’59 Chevy Impala convertible, the Trinity’s llama, and your boyfriend.”
“It’s an alpaca!” Jared yelled at the same time as Jeff, Chad and Clif turned to him in shock, all of them speaking at once. “ You bet Jensen? ”
“Dude, you are dead meat,” Chad moaned, shaking his head, as the horror of his actions last night hit Jared like a bullet-train to his body.
“Fuck, Kripke's gonna kill me,” Clif practically whimpered, while Jeff just thumped his head against the closest wall, muttering something about Josh Ackles and justifiable homicide.
Jared was stunned into silence. Momentarily. Then he groaned. “I lost Jensen. Literally. In a bet. Jesus Christ.”
Keanu tapped him on the shoulder to remind him of his presence. “You didn’t lose, dude, you won.”
“I what?” Jared exclaimed, just as the other guys snapped, “He what?”
“You won. The car, the llama, and the… uh, Jensen. With a royal flush, no less.”
“I won? I won Jensen?” Jared whooped, gladly accepting euphoric high-fives from the guys. “I won Jensen!”
“Except that you obviously lost him again,” Keanu reminded him, and oh. Yeah. Fuck.
“Oh God. I don’t get it! What the hell happened?”
“Last I saw, you and your gang here left with my car keys and valet voucher, and the Trinity left with you. I’m guessing they gave you the llama…”
“Alpaca,” Jared corrected without thinking.
“What the fuck ever,” Keanu glared at him. “You guys left with your winnings, but you were supposed to return my baby and the llam… the alpaca , by ten this morning. When you didn’t show, I came back here to find out where you guys were staying. I was just on my way to Caesar’s to find you.”
“Well, that does explain the alpaca in our room,” Jared mused out loud, “so it stands to reason that your car is in the Caesar’s parking lot, right? We can go check.”
Keanu nodded. “I’ll meet you there. I drove here and once I drive my baby back to my hotel, I can ditch the rental I have now. Oh, give me your number, just in case.”
“All right, man,” Jared sighed as he narrated his number to Keanu before they dejectedly followed him back to the Bellagio's entrance.
They might have found a few more puzzle pieces, but they were still no closer to finding Jensen and that really, really sucked ass, Jared thought as the Lincoln was brought ‘round to the front of the hotel by the valet. He was just about to get in when he noticed a business card on the floor on the passenger side. He picked it up; it was a card for an all-night vet clinic. Eyebrow arching in surprise, Jared turned it over to find a name scrawled across the back of the card: Dr. Andrew Sherman.
“Huh,” he muttered.
“What?” Jeff asked him, curious, so Jared told him.
“What do you think?”
“We did have a baby camel,” Chad pointed out.
“Baby alpaca,” Jared absently mumbled.
“Dude, who died and made you a zoologist?”
Jared ignored him. “It couldn’t hurt to check it out, right?”
The guys agreed, so he quickly plugged the address into his phone and got directions. Of fucking course, they drove into another dead end. The doctor was not in, and wouldn’t be for another hour when his shift started, so they headed back to Caesar’s to meet up with Keanu.
Keanu, however, was nowhere to be seen, and the valet at Caesar’s – Ethan was apparently on break – very obviously thought Jared was a few cards short of a full deck when he’d mentioned that he was looking for Keanu Reeves.
“Look,” Jared finally said, “could you at least tell us if you have the car in the lot. It’s a Chevy Impala convertible. A ’59, and it’s red.” And Jesus, forget Keanu; Jensen would probably kill him if anything happened to that car!
“I’m sorry, sir,” the attendant informed him, “I did my rounds just before I relieved Ethan here. We don’t have any classic cars in the hotel lot.”
Then, just to prove that the universe was still fucking with him and loving it, his phone rang. Genevieve. Christ on a cracker.
He stared at it for a few seconds before he picked up the call. “Hey, Gen.”
“Jared,” Genevieve’s laughter tinkled across the cell signal. “How’s it going?”
“Fine,” Jared told her, succinct and annoyed.
“Uh oh.” She paused. “What happened?”
“I lost Jensen.”
“I lost Jensen.”
“What do you mean, you lost Jensen?”
“I mean I put him somewhere and now I can’t find him!” Jared snapped angrily and then immediately regretted it. “Sorry, sorry.”
“Jared, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know, Gen. Jensen’s gone and we can’t find him and…”
“Listen, Jared,” Genevieve said, using that tone of hers that Jared hated. The one she used when she was being right and rational and he was being a raving lunatic. “Jensen’s a big boy. Maybe he’s just doing his own thing because the rest of you were sleeping the day away.”
“Jensen would never leave me like that!”
“No! No, Gen. You know how we are when we’re together…”
“I need to find him.”
“Jared, Jensen’s not some damsel in distress that you need to rescue.” Genevieve sighed. “Look, if worse comes to worst, leave Clif behind until Jensen shows up and you and Jeff and Chad fly out here. I’m sure you’re worried over nothing.”
“I’m not leaving without Jensen!”
“Jared, we’re getting married the day after tomorrow!” she shouted, as if he needed a reminder. “Just don’t miss that flight!” Fuck the flight, Jared thought miserably. Fuck everything.
“Gen, I gotta go…”
He hung up on her and made himself turn around and walk away from the car to keep from screaming. Rage mounting in his chest, he was absurdly grateful when Jeff jogged up to him and pulled him into a crushing hug.
“Easy, baby bro,” he said softly, his big hand gently ruffling Jared’s hair, “we’ll find him. It’s not gonna help us any if you lose it right now.”
“What am I gonna do?”
“Let’s go check the room. Maybe he came back.”
“I have a bad feeling about this, Jeff.”
“JT, it’s Sam with the psychic mojo, not you. Don’t panic just yet. And hey, we need to go check on the giant fluffy poodle, too.” Jared sniffed, and Jeff prodded him with a finger, jabbing him in the ribs.
“It’s an alpaca.”
“That’s m’boy,” Jeff laughed, “let’s go see how much you’re gonna owe the hotel. That thing probably pissed in your bed. Or worse.”
“Shit,” Jared groaned.
It figured then, that just as Jared was starting to feel marginally better, when they got to the room, there was still no Jensen, but now, there was also no alpaca.
There was, however, a knock on the door, and Jared rushed to open it, hoping and wishing and praying with everything he had in him that he would see Jensen on the other side.
It wasn’t Jensen.
It was Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and that’s all Jared was able to register, before Ben Affleck’s fist said hello to his face.
This time when Jared regained consciousness, he was flat on his back on the floor, and Chad and Clif were helping Jeff to his feet, while Matt Damon rubbed his sore knuckles.
Why the fuck was everyone hitting them? Jesus.
He groaned and stood, rubbing his throbbing eye, the same one Keanu had punched – and hey, the pain in his face had now surpassed the pain in his head from the hangover, so you know, bonus – he grimaced as he watched a bruise start to bloom on Jeff’s face, too.
“First Neo, now Loki and Bartleby,” Chad ranted. “Man, we’re having the most freakin’ awesome day ever and we can’t even enjoy it ‘cause you lost Jenny. That douchenozzle isn’t even here and he’s still raining on my parade!”
“Shut up, Chad,” Jared grumbled, warily eyeing Damon and Affleck. “Do we know you? You know, apart from the obvious?”
The two men looked at each other, eyes squinty and suspicious. “You knew us well enough last night,” Matt finally said, sounding a little peeved. “Well enough to screw with us, and no one screws with the Trinity.”
“Yeah,” Ben snarled menacingly, but he was still Ben Fucking Affleck, so Jared wasn’t all that menaced. “Where’s Max? What’d you idiots do with him?”
“Oh my God,” Jared moaned, waving them inside and heading to the mini-bar to grab the coldest thing in it; a can of club soda. He pressed it to his injured eye and tossed another can of something to his brother. Once the cold started to numb the pain a little, he peered at the two newcomers with his good eye. “Who’s Max?”
“The alpaca,” Ben told him, speaking slowly, like Jared was an idiot not to get that right off the bat.
“Oh,” Jared said, kind of absurdly pleased that someone had gotten the species right, despite the condescending manner in which it was done. “He was in the bedroom, but he isn’t now. I don’t know where he went.”
“What’d you do, leave the doors open?” Matt snidely asked. “’Cause he ain’t exactly got opposable thumbs, you know?”
“We went to the Bellagio,” Jared sighed, “when we got back, Max was gone.”
“Well, considering you were supposed to return Max to us at ten this morning, and it’s three now,” Ben gleefully informed him, “your ass is grass, man.”
“The Boss isn’t gonna be too happy, I can tell ya that.” Matt agreed, laughing maniacally. “No telling what he’ll do to your boy now.”
“But it’s not our fault!” Jared was quick to point out. “How the hell do I know how the alpaca got out? This is fucked… Wait a minute.” Jared paused, his heart stopping as his brain finally registered what his ears had heard just a moment ago. “What he’ll do to my boy?”
Jared saw red.
In a split second, he had a fist at both Damon’s and Affleck’s throats, their bodies thrown into the closest wall. Jared’s nostrils flared as he tightened his grip on them, both Jeff and Clif trying – and failing – to pry him off the men who had Jensen, and he felt a certain smug satisfaction to see real fear in Matt and Ben’s faces. He snarled rather than spoke. “Where is Jensen?”
“We took him this morning,” Ben choked out. “He pretended he couldn’t remember anything about last night.”
“He wasn’t pretending, asshole!” Jared shouted. “None of us remember anything!” He tightened his grip, the muscles in his forearms bulging and his veins popping under his skin in stark relief as the two men he had pinned against the wall turned an interesting shade of red.
“JT,” Jeff warned, still trying to get him to let go, “there are gonna be a heckuva lotta upset people out there if anything happens to these two.”
“I think y’all should be more worried about the one very upset person in here who will kill you both – slowly – if anything happens to Jensen!” Jared baldly threatened, his voice increasing in decibels with every word. “Where is he?”
Chad tapped his shoulder, and tried to distract him. “Dude, they’re famous actors! They’re not gonna hurt Jenny, come on – let them go.”
“You’ll get him back when we get Max,” Matt sputtered, his hands still grappling to get Jared off him. “That’s the deal. Your boy is fine; the Boss is a fan.”
“Who the fuck is your boss?”
“We’re not at liberty to say,” Ben sneered and then coughed as Jared throttled him. A little. You know, just to make a point.
“JT!” Jeff yelled, and when Chad, the sneaky little fucker, jumped on his back with an arm around his neck cutting off his air, his brother and bodyguard finally managed to get him to release the other two men.
Matt rubbed his neck and eyed Jared sullenly. “You really don’t remember last night at all, do you? ‘Cause no one forgets the Boss, man, and you and he had a whole conversation going on last night,” Matt imparted, acting like talking to the Boss was taboo or something. Jared sincerely hoped a strong, silent Bruce Springsteen wasn’t going to show up and suckerpunch him next. "About incest, no less."
And wait... "What?"
"We were pretty hammered," Matt elaborated, "so don't even ask. The Boss's mind works in mysterious ways, and not all of them are legal. Or ethical."
“Tell me Jensen’s all right.”
“Jensen’s all right,” Ben parroted, and Jared still wanted to punch his smug face, but he sighed instead, slowly letting the fight seep right out of him. “Last night is a big, black hole,” Jared told them. “I think someone must’ve slipped us something, because none of us remember a goddamn thing.”
Ben frowned, a faraway look in his eyes. “Huh.”
“Was it you guys?”
“Dude!” Matt looked affronted.
“Don’t even,” Jared warned, “this has been the shittiest day of my life and nothing so far has made a lick of sense!”
“It had to be those pricks at the bar,” Ben muttered, nodding when they all looked at him. “These three dudes at The Bank, you know? Your typical preppy frat boys cashing in their inheritances on booze and blow? We – all of us – started talking, but these guys came up to you earlier. They were eyeing your boy and the pretty little blond one here,” he nodded at Chad, who fucking preened, “like they were sex on legs or some shit. Then you,” he pointed at Jared, “went all caveman over your boy and they backed off.”
“But not before they sent over a bottle of bubbly to apologize,” Matt said, snapping his fingers as an apparent lightbulb went off over his head.
“Keanu did say we were sharing a bottle by the time he joined us,” Jeff added. “Makes sense, ‘cause we don’t all drink the same shit.”
“Yeah,” Clif agreed, looking a little relieved, “I knew I wasn’t planning on getting drunk. I can’t believe I would be that fast and loose with you guys’ safety.”
“We’re not blaming you, buddy,” Jared reassured him, realizing that even though the big man wasn’t showing it, he was pretty upset about Jensen’s disappearance, too. In fact, he thought, considering his brother and Chad, they had all been concerned in their own way and all of them had been doing their best to help.
Chad grimaced. “What happened to those douchebags at the bar?”
“Bobby’s Room was invitation only,” Ben explained, “no way they were allowed in with the Trinity there, and we escorted you guys out. They must have been long gone by then.” He snuck a look at Matt. "We should have a little chat with the bouncers at the Bank, just in case those boys try a repeat performance. Give 'em a little surprise, courtesy of the Trinity."
Matt grinned, and he looked a little evil doing it, but then he looked at Jared and sighed resignedly. “Look. We answer to the Boss just like everyone else. I can guarantee your boy’s safety, but you need to get Max back to us, man, and pronto.” He took a look at his watch. “We’ll give you a couple of hours. Take my number, keep in touch,” he said, grabbing the phone Jared held out to him. “Meanwhile, Benny and I will keep looking too.”
“Now what?” Jeff asked, a few minutes after they’d taken off. “Focus on Keanu’s car and leave Max to those two?”
Jared had to agree that that was the best course of action for the moment. He didn’t even know where to start looking for the lost alpaca, and he didn’t want to go get hotel security just yet. He supposed he could breathe a sigh of relief now that he knew that Jensen was someplace Ben Affleck and Matt Damon knew about; better them that those assholes who had tried to drug them last night.
They were back in the Lincoln just about to drive to the vet clinic when Jared’s cell rang; he didn’t recognize the number. “Hello?”
“I have the llama,” a voice growled in his ear.
“Shit. Didn’t think you’d recognize my voice.”
Jared actually pulled the phone from his ear and stared at it in disbelief. “You realize you’re a famous movie star, right?”
“Yeah, but have you talked to me on the phone before?”
“No. But I’m not an idiot and you’re doing a piss-poor job of disguising your voice, man,” Jared argued. “Some actor you are,” he continued, mumbling more to himself before Keanu’s first words penetrated his still befuddled brain. “Wait. Why did you take the alpaca?”
“Because I got to Caesar’s and you guys ditched me, and my baby is still missing, asshole!”
“We didn’t ditch you! How the hell did you even get into our room?” Jared asked, motioning at Clif to keep driving.
“I got the guy at Valet Parking to help me.”
“Ethan?” Jared shook his head; the traitor.
“Yeah, Ethan,” Keanu laughed derisively, “turns out, he’s a fan.”
“Whatever, man. We found another clue as to where we might have gone after the Bellagio last night. We’re following it up now, and hopefully, it’ll lead us to the car.”
“Good,” Keanu gritted out, “get my baby back and I’ll give you the llama – Jesus Christ – the alpaca, okay? Before you correct me again! Asshole. Bye.”
He hung up before Jared could say another word. Jared jumped when his phone rang again, not a second later. He answered it, ranting before Keanu could hang up on him again. “Just don’t hurt Max, okay? I mean if you hurt Max, the Boss’ll hurt Jensen and then I’ll have to hurt him and really, I’ll hurt just about everyone if anything happens to Jensen. Including your baby!”
He hung up on her. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
His phone rang again, his fiancée’s name flashing across the screen, but he just rejected the call, wanting to turn his phone off but knowing that with Jensen in the Boss’ clutches, he didn’t have that luxury. Genevieve could wait; Jensen couldn’t.
Luckily, they pulled up in front of the vet clinic just then, and leaving Clif in the car, the rest of them headed inside, Jared spending the twenty minutes they were kept waiting, pacing the lobby like some sort of caged animal – which, huh, appropriate – before they were allowed to see the vet who’d scribbled his name on the back of the clinic’s business card.
“Oh,” Dr. Sherman commented with a laugh and roll of his eyes as they entered his office, “you guys again. What, is your alpaca hungover this morning?”
“What?” Jared, Jeff and Chad chorused.
“Last night, you brought in your supposedly drunk alpaca,” he told them with a smirk, “it’s only fair that I assumed Max was hungover.”
“Holy shit,” Chad looked at the vet in horror. “Was he really drunk?”
Dr. Sherman shook his head. “He was a bit unsteady on his feet, but he’s just a baby, more or less. I think he was tired and a little scared and confused by all the bright lights and loud noises.”
“Oh, thank God,” Jared muttered, feeling a wave of sympathy for Max, poor big little guy. Plus, he didn’t know where or how to start explaining a drunk, or worse yet, a hungover, alpaca to this mysterious Boss of the Trinity.
“Yeah,” the vet chuckled. “Once I checked Max out, I showed you guys the door.”
“Do you know where we went afterwards?” Jeff asked. “Did we say anything?”
“No.” The man looked a little perplexed. “You guys got a little trashed last night, huh?”
“We may have been roofied,” Jeff told him, his no-nonsense tone sobering, for the rest of them and the vet. “Anything you remember would really help us out.”
“Umm…” Dr. Sherman frowned, clearly going over the events of the previous night in his head. “No, I’m sorry. You guys seemed pretty lucid when you left here. Just really happy, you know? I can’t think what else I can tell you.”
Crap, Jared thought. “Thanks anyway, doc,” he said dejectedly, following the other guys out. They’d made it to the parking lot and had waved Clif over to pick them up when the vet caught back up with them.
“You were singing,” he panted, slightly out of breath from running after them, “you were singing about going to the chapel and getting married! Does that help?”
Jared tried but he couldn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice. “I’m supposed to be getting married the day after tomorrow. This was my bachelor party.”
“But you and your boyfriend – uh, fiancé…”
“Best friend,” Jared clarified again, because the last thing they needed was the press, or the fans – Christ – getting wind of any of this.
“Whatever, to each their own,” the vet said, waving a hand like he couldn’t care less. “It was that old Dixie Cups song, you know? We’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get ma-a-a-rried. Going to the Chapel of Love.”
“What the actual fuck?” Chad asked, snorting with laughter at the vet's off-key singing.
“Seriously,” Dr. Sherman rolled his eyes again. “You and your…whatever you want to call him – you two were going to the Chapel of Love to get married!”
“The Chapel of Love?” Jared asked, his heart thudding in his chest, slow and loud, until it was all he could hear. Oh God. There went the universe again, sticking it right to him.
“You must be mistaken,” Jeff laughed at the obviously deranged veterinarian, “my brother’s getting married the day after tomorrow. In Idaho. To a girl.”
“Then what was he doing kissing that guy he was with last night?” the good doctor asked Jeff, and oh shit, Jared slapped a hand to his face and groaned.
Jeff turned on Jared in shock. “You were kissing Jensen?”
Jared backtracked in a hurry; no one actually knew about him and Jensen, except for him and Jensen.
Although, a few (thousand) astute and way too observant fans had made some astonishingly accurate guesses.
“Jeff, I was roofied just like you! I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing,” he hedged, trying to look earnest, but Jeff still looked suspicious. And as if that weren’t bad enough, now Jared could feel the weight of Chad’s squinty-eyed stare on him, too. He didn’t say a word though, and Jared was grateful for his silence. He looked back at the vet. “Look, thanks, but that doesn’t really help us much.”
“But what if you did get married?”
“Married?” Jared scoffed; the very word, especially in the context of Jensen, was like a harsh punch to the gut. It was everything he wanted and couldn’t have and… Holy shit, stranger things had happened in Vegas. Plus, they’d been flying higher than kites last night, so perhaps it wasn’t such a longshot. “But how would we find out which chapel we went to?”
“I told you,” Dr. Sherman huffed, “you were going to the Chapel of Love. I’m pretty positive.”
“Wait,” Jared frowned, “that’s actually what it’s called?”
“Yes! It’s on Vegas Boulevard! You know the one – it’s world famous. The one with the ‘Say I Do’ Wedding Drive Thru?”
“Good grief,” Jeff groaned, doing an abrupt one-eighty on this whole wedding thing, “I hope you had better class than to marry Jensen in a drive thru, baby bro. Dude deserves better than that!”
Shit. Jared hoped so, too.
“Wait. Is gay marriage even legal in Vegas?” Chad, ever the voice of practicality, asked the vet.
“No, but same sex civil unions are. Our receptionist, Melanie? She and her girlfriend got civil-unioned last year.”
Jared scrubbed a hand down his face. It was like being screwed left, right and centre; a total clusterfuck of a day. “Thanks, doc. We’ll check it out.”
He was getting directions on his phone by the time Clif pulled the car up to where they stood. “To the Chapel of Love, my good man,” Jared tried to joke. It fell flat. He resisted the urge to bang his head on the dash and settled for calling out directions instead.
“Dude, why are we going to the Chapel of Love?” Clif asked.
“Apparently Jensen and Jared went there to get married last night,” Jeff supplied before Jared could say a word, and the look Clif’s face was a unique mix of flabbergasted and so fucking proud that Jared got a little teary eyed. Again. At this rate, if he didn’t find Jensen soon, he was going to turn into a big fucking girl.
“About damn time,” Clif mumbled under his breath, so low that only Jared heard him. He clutched Jensen’s phone in his pocket again and gave it a squeeze.
We’re getting closer, Jen; wherever you are, just hang in there.
Elvis was in the building.
Well, a very flamboyantly gay Elvis-impersonator in a baby pink sequined jumpsuit, circa somewhere in the seventies, was in the Chapel of Love. And because this day was a fucking day from hell, he recognized them right away.
“You boys are late!” he sing-songed, wagging a finger at them, and then did a double take when he saw Jared’s face. “Lordie, baby – what happened to you?” It was really sort of ridiculous that a dude dressed as Elvis should sound so much like a southern belle, but anything goes in Vegas, so Jared just went with it.
“I walked into a fist. Twice,” Jared said, not bothering to mince his words like he’d done at the vet’s office, since his and Jeff’s bruises were just beginning to darken into what was sure to become spectacular shiners to rival the one on Chad’s face, and wasn’t that just what they needed?
Black eyes at his white wedding.
Elvis tsked in sympathy, his cowlick falling across his face. “I thought you weren’t comin’, and that would’ve been a cryin’ shame considerin’ y’all didn’t leave a forwarding address. Wait here!”
Before any of them could say anything, he disappeared into the back office behind the reception and came back a minute later with a large, flat, brown paper-wrapped package that measured roughly around three feet square. Carefully placing it on the counter in front of them, he gingerly began unwrapping it, talking a mile a minute as he did so. “You know, not many people go for this type of wedding portrait anymore – it’s fallen out of style, I s’pose – but I’ve always found something so classy about pictures on black velvet, and this one’s a doozie, darlin’. You boys make such a lovely couple. Lookie here, look!”
Jared, who had cringed at the word velvet and had yet to stop cringing, wasn’t inclined to look but like the proverbial train wreck, he couldn’tnot look as Elvis unveiled his – and Jensen’s – wedding portrait, a faux oil painting version of their picture impressed upon black velvet.
To reiterate: it was them. On black velvet.
Clif full out guffawed.
And Jared? Jared stared at that picture and – damn his soul to hell like his on-screen alter ego’s – he loved it.
Sure, it was kitschy and ridiculous, but the more he looked at it, that collage of three pictures, from the largest central one of him and Jensen – smiling, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders, looking so goddamn happy that he felt a sharp, hot pain pierce his chest – to the two others with faded edges that flanked the main image, one of him and Jensen hugging, and the other of them… kissing, the more he fell in love with it.
“Wrap it up for me, please,” he said quietly. “Do I owe you anything?”
Elvis blinked at him. “No, y’all paid last night, sugarplum. You were just pickin’ it up today.” He clucked at Jared sympathetically. “Where’s your honey?”
Of all the things that had happened so far that day, it was that little, softly spoken question that did him in, a sob suddenly bursting out of him before he could catch it, before he could hold it back. Tears welled in his eyes and spilled over onto his face, causing Elvis to gasp in alarm and then walk quickly around the reception desk, gathering Jared up in his arms for a hug, and considering the fact that he barely came up to Jared’s clavicle, it was a little like hugging a hobbit.
“There, there, poppet,” Elvis soothed, “tell the King what happened. You boys seemed so sweet, I can’t believe your darlin’ boy would do something to hurt you.”
“He didn’t,” Jared sniffed. “I lost him.”
“Sweet baby Jesus!” Elvis looked taken aback, hand clasped over his heart as he stepped away. “He left you?”
“No, I literally lost him. I don’t know where he is,” Jared explained, not quite sure why he was explaining, but he was running his mouth unheeded and without discretion, “or well, I sorta know where he is, but I can’t get to him – he’s kinda been kidnapped by the Trinity,” Jared paused as Elvis gasped and crossed himself, “and unless I find Keanu Reeves’ car, he won’t give Max back to us…”
“Who’s Max?” Elvis asked, intrigued.
“Ah, your four-legged guest from last night,” Elvis nodded sagely, waving his hand. “Go on.”
“And if I don’t give Max back to the Boss, I won’t get Jensen back, and…” Jared stopped, interrupted by his cell phone beeping at him for the umpteenth time since he’d hung up on Genevieve. “And I have to fly back to Idaho in,” he glanced at his watch and swore, “a couple of hours because I’m getting married…”
“Again?” Elvis blinked, looking both hurt and insulted. “What? Are we not good enough for you?”
“No, no… It’s not that!” Jared argued, vaguely aware that Jeff, Chad and Clif were probably considering having him committed, but dammit – this is why he needed Jensen around. He was never this stupid with Jensen’s calming presence to guide him. His shoulders slumped and he couldn’t help frowning. “I’m getting married to someone else.”
“That’s preposterous!” Elvis exclaimed. “Isn’t that like bigamy?”
“Does this marriage even count?”
“It counts if you want it to,” Elvis told him with a shrewd look, and then shook his head as if to clear it. “So let me get this straight. You’re taking on the Trinity and Keanu Reeves to rescue your lovemuffin, only to dump him and marry another man?”
Elvis gasped. “Jiminy Cricket! It’s like I don’t even know you anymore!”
“You don’t know me,” Jared felt compelled to interject.
“I know the man who came in here last night!”
“That man was stoned out of his gourd,” Jeff helpfully pointed out. “It was obviously a mistake!”
“Regardless!” Elvis frowned disapprovingly at Jeff. “The man who came here last night was happy and in love…”
“He was blitzed,” Chad argued, “we all were!”
“…and happy to be in love,” Elvis continued, as if Chad hadn’t spoken, “and positively ecstatic to be marrying the man of his dreams and the love of his life!”
“Holy shit,” Clif groaned. “If there was ever a night to remember… Christ.”
“A love like that doesn’t come along every day,” Elvis said, taking a deep breath and looking Jared steadily in the eye. “Do you know how many couples we’ve married here? Thousands. More, even. Do you know how many of them were drunk or otherwise inebriated at the time? Hundreds. Definitely more. We see all kinds here, but occasionally, very occasionally, we see the real deal.” His dark-eyed gaze bore into Jared’s, and not unkindly. “We’re in the business of love here, sugar pie, no matter what kind of love it is, the fleeting kind or the forever kind. I, for one, can recognize it right away; I have it down to an artform, drug-induced stupor or not. Yours, my dear boy, was the forever kind, and I have a feeling you know it.”
Jared didn’t know what to say to that, so he just kept his mouth shut. In retrospect, it was probably the wrong thing to do.
“JT?” Jeff yanked on his elbow, and he reluctantly turned to face his brother, feeling clawed open, raw and bleeding every emotion he felt out to the surface for all of them to see, and of course, Jeff saw it. Jeff saw it and then blinked furiously, as if wanting nothing more than to unsee it. “Aw, shit.”
Chad’s response was… earthier. “Fuck me.”
Clif just patted him on the back, awkward but supportive.
But this wasn’t exactly the venue to come out of the closet and air his sexually-confused, dirty laundry, so Jared sighed and nodded at Elvis. “Thanks. You know, for everything.”
Elvis nodded and handed Clif the velvet portrait when he reached out for it. “Oh, I almost forgot!” Elvis remarked with a sudden snap of his fingers. Rifling through a drawer behind the reception desk, he pulled out a small envelope. “Here’s the video from your wedding. And your rings. I had them engraved just like y’all wanted.”
Jared wondered if he should take a moment to salt the thing and set it on fire. Instead, he just slipped it into his jacket pocket and drew in a deep breath. Okay. Okay. He could do this.
Elvis smirked. “By the way, about Keanu’s car? Is it a red, 1959 Chevy Impala convertible?”
Jared and the guys exchanged shocked looks. “Yes!”
“You left it here last night.” Elvis grinned, trying for smug and failing miserably since he was bouncing up and down and clapping his hands in excitement. “You said you were picking it up with the portrait…”
“And you couldn’t have mentioned this before?” Chad hollered, as Jared gripped the reception countertop before his legs gave out from under him, he was so relieved.
“Oh, hush,” Elvis smirked, “all good things come to those who wait.”
“Thank God,” Jared moaned, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Why the fuck would we leave it here?” Jeff mused.
“We didn’t let you drive anywhere,” Elvis informed them, dangling the keys in front of Jared’s face. “None of y’all were steady on your feet, so my assistant agreed to drive you to Caesar’s because she has a second job in one of their gaming rooms. You left the car here because your little snickerdoodle wouldn’t hear of anyone but him driving it.”
“Of course not.” Jared smiled, feeling a fierce rush of affection for Jensen. His snickerdoodle. Also, his husband. Kinda, sorta.
He lost his grip on the counter and fell to the floor in shock.
Jeff and Chad picked him up and kept him upright as the world swam before his eyes, pink sequins and all, and together they hauled ass out to the parking lot, Elvis waving them off with a pink handkerchief.
“Remember,” he called out as Jared took the wheel of the Impala, Jeff sliding in next to him, “it’s just like your wedding song, you and him! It’s true blue, baby, he loves you too!”
By the time Keanu pulled up to the front entrance of Caesar’s Palace, Jared and the guys had cleaned up some, packed up and checked out of their room, which had been in surprisingly good shape. Jared figured Max must have been house-trained or something, because he’d peed in the tub (which was obvious from the stench in the bathroom when they’d gotten there) and he hadn’t messed up the bedroom at all, except for shedding a bit all over the floor. By the time Clif had returned the Lincoln to the rental company, Keanu had spent several minutes of quality time with his baby, checking her out for scratch marks, and Jared had bonded with Max; the alpaca was really freakin’ adorable now that it wasn’t hocking up loogies.
Still, he tried not to have a panic attack as he looked at his watch again. It was just past five in the evening. They really should have been at the airport by now, but he supposed they had a little window of time to work with, since the airport wasn’t all that far away, but he hoped that Matt and Ben would step on it; he couldn’t wait to see Jensen. These past few hours without him had felt like an eternity, and Jared vaguely wondered what he would do without Jensen around once he was married.
Then again, he was now married to Jensen.
Or civil-unioned to Jensen.
Christ. Danneel was going to kill him. Hell, Jensen would probably kill him, too.
It was another twenty minutes before Affleck and Damon showed up in their Escalade, and Jared almost mowed them down in his haste to get to Jensen.
Who wasn’t with them.
“The fuck?” Jared saw red again, but before he could move, Clif and Jeff restrained him. “Where the fuck is Jensen?” he spat, incensed beyond measure.
“He’s at the hacienda,” Matt told him, looking surprised by his outrage, “it’s almost an hour and a half drive out there, man. In Mesquite. And we told you we were staying in the city until we got Max back!”
“You assholes!” Jared yelled. “We’re all supposed to be on a fucking flight to Idaho in a couple of hours!”
“You did not mention that before,” Ben tried to reason with him, all polite now that the alpaca was in the back seat of their SUV, snuggled down in a pile of blankets and plush toys.
“Let me hit him,” Jared begged his brother, and when that didn’t work, he turned on his bodyguard.
Clif shook his head. “Dude, you couldn’t afford the lawsuit. Take a deep breath, and let it out. That’s right. Easy does it.”
When Jared was sufficiently calmer, they released him, Chad breaking off his Matrix-themed conversation with Keanu to address him. “Jare. You and Jeff go, man. Clif and I will go get Jenny and get the next flight out. Neither of you can afford to miss this flight.”
Keanu looked impressed at Chad’s offer. “So you do have some redeeming qualities.”
“You bet your bitch ass I do.”
Keanu rolled his eyes as Jared cast his friend a grateful look. “Thanks, Chad, but I’m not leaving without Jensen.” He sighed. “But you make a good point. You guys go catch the flight, and I’ll go get Jensen with these two.”
“Actually,” Keanu interrupted, “I could take my baby for a bit of a drive. You can ride with me, and we’ll follow these guys. I had Max in my rental earlier, and I’m not sure you’d appreciate his… unique body odor. He stinks. And that’s putting it mildly.”
“No, JT,” Jeff shook his head, “Momma will kill you if you’re late to your own wedding.”
“When is the wedding?” Keanu asked.
“The day after tomorrow. In the morning,” Jeff replied, still looking at Jared, trying to make him see reason.
“And where is it again?” Matt asked. “Can’t you get another flight out?”
“We could try,” Jared supposed. “It’s in Idaho. Sun Valley.”
Ben crooked a dubious eyebrow up at Jared. “You’re getting married in Idaho?”
“My fiancée’s from there.”
“But last night, you said you were both Texas boys.” Matt looked totally confused.
“I’m not marrying Jensen!” Jared shouted, scrunching his eyes closed at the insanity of it all.
“Let me get this straight,” Keanu held a hand up, commanding everyone’s attention, “you and your boyfriend…”
“Best friend,” Jared stated, sighing; seriously, that was the absolute last time he was correcting anyone on anything.
“Best friend. Huh,” Keanu mused. “Oh. Hence the fiancée.”
“Yes. Gen,” Jared mumbled.
Ben sputtered. “But you just said he was your best friend, not your fiancé!”
And those little guys with the jackhammers? They were back in Jared’s head in full force. “Gen, as in Genevieve Cortese. My fiancée. Not Jen, as in Jensen Ackles. My best friend.”
Matt and Ben and Keanu all looked at each other in silence for all of ten seconds before the laughter started, and Jared threw up his hands in defeat. “Shut the fuck up and take me to Jensen!” Then he rounded on Ben. “And you! You don’t get to laugh, all right? You banged one Jen after another too, asshole.”
That shut them up.
A few minutes later, after yet another heated discussion with Jeff about their travel plans, Jared hugged the three of them and shunted his brother, Chad, and Clif into a cab. He joined Keanu in the convertible, and they followed Matt and Ben out to Mesquite, a small town practically straddling the Nevada/Arizona border; apparently the Boss owned property out there.
By the time they got to the hacienda (which was obviously just a quaint little nickname for the freakin’ mansion they were pulling up to), Jared’s one-track mind had pretty much annihilated every other thought but: find Jensen now.
He hastily pushed aside Ben and Matt when they led him into a guest bedroom. One with a humongous four-poster bed in it. A humongous four-poster bed that had Jensen tied down on it, his hands and legs – Jesus Christ – tied to each of the posts by what looked like red silk scarves, a matching scarf gagging him as he lay there on the black satin sheets, looking disheveled and furious and so fucking sexy and right at Jared as Jared strode into the room.
If Jensen could have shouted, he would have. As it was, there was an angered muffled protest emanating from his vocal cords, his eyes – one of which was bruised because wasn’t that the recurring theme of the day? – flashing green fire as he agitatedly tugged on his silken restraints, and huh, who knew the flimsy material could be so strong?
Also, who knew that Jared may have a little bondage kink? Not Jared, that’s who.
Jensen stared intently at Jared for a few seconds, then stopped moving and rolled his eyes.
Jared could hear the unspoken word resonate through the room. Oh, right. At some point, the sight of Jensen tied to that bed had resulted in Jared becoming frozen to the spot. He hurried over to Jensen’s side and gently untied the scarf binding his hand to the bedpost.
And yeah, in hindsight, he should have seen it coming, since you know, no one had hit him in a couple of hours at least.
Jensen was quick to rectify that though, and as Jared got punched – in the jaw this time, thanks to Jensen’s spectacular left hook – he thought, that of all the hits he’d taken so far, this was the one he probably deserved.
“Ow,” Jared moaned as Jensen wrenched the gag from his mouth, those pretty lips of his chapped and swollen, and seriously, Jared was going to kill Matt and Ben’s goddamn Boss when he found him, but right now he concentrated on leaning over Jensen to untie his other hand.
“What the fuck took you so long?” Jensen asked, looking totally incensed, and really, who could blame him? “Seriously, that asshole tied me to the fucking bed, Jared! And you couldn’t get off your ass and come get me sooner? Untie my feet, man.”
“’Kay,” Jared mumbled, not looking at Jensen as he continued to rant, threatening bodily harm to the dude who’d tied him down. Jared nodded and grabbed one of his waving hands as Jensen bent and stretched his legs, trying to work the kinks out of his cramped muscles as Jared gently rubbed the reddening patches of his skin where the scarves had held his hands immobile.
“Hey,” Jensen finally said, trailing off mid-sentence, his voice suddenly so soft that Jared drew in a deep, shuddering breath and pulled Jensen’s wrist up to his mouth, kissing the bruised flesh just over his pulse, trying to stop himself from getting all choked up. Jensen’s other hand gently cupped the side of his face while his thumb brushed over his injured jaw and Jared felt the dam inside him burst open. “Hey, hey – don’t do that. Jared, please don’t. I'm sorry I hit you. Jared? Jay, man, c’mere. C’mere.”
And then Jensen was hugging him, those strong, muscled arms of his wrapping snugly around Jared’s neck, pulling him close, chest to chest, even if their bodies were twisted at awkward angles from Jensen still sitting up in bed and Jared perched at his side.
Jensen shushed him, the fingers of one hand carding through his hair, soothing him, making him almost forget that his stupid tears were wetting the skin of Jensen’s neck, soaking into the collar of his shirt. But Jared couldn’t let him go just yet, not when he’d only just found him again, not when it felt so damn good just to hold him like this, just like this, close and tight and fiercely possessive. Sure, he had no real right to be so covetous, but he wasn’t exactly thinking straight and it had been a horrible day, and his head still ached, his heart felt splintered, his eye still throbbed and, God, he never wanted to move from this spot, ever, ever again.
“I’m okay,” Jensen whispered right into his ear. "Are you okay?" he asked, his warm breath puffing against Jared's neck, sending tremors through his body as he just held on tighter. “I didn’t appreciate that giant asshat tying me up but I’m good. And you’re here now, I’m golden.” Jensen sighed. “Matt Damon punched me in the face, dude,” he said and pulled back when Jared still couldn’t get his mouth to work. “ Jason Bourne punched me in the face!” He said it like it was something cool, something to remember, but Jared’s stupid heart clenched at the sight of him and he cupped Jensen’s face, his thumb tenderly stroking the discolored skin around Jensen’s eye. “Jared?” Jensen huffed this time. “You know I love you, Francis, but suck it up. We’ve got some ass to kick.”
And with that, he suddenly shoved past Jared and leapt off the bed, moving so quickly that Jared barely had time to turn around to see Jensen’s mean right uppercut get Matt right in the gut, hard enough to bring the smaller man to his knees. In the blink of an eye, his right elbow connected with Ben’s solar plexus and sent him reeling into a wall, and not a split second after that, the left hook that he’d introduced Jared to a few minutes ago was amped up and making nice with George Clooney’s jaw.
George Clooney .
Well, shit. Of course. Who else could be the Boss?
Jared suddenly wondered if they were still a little stoned, because this shit was surreal.
“That’s what you get for tying me up, fucker,” Jensen spat angrily, once again derailing Jared’s train of thought. “Just be thankful I spared your moneymaker any more damage.” He turned to look at Jared. “Do I need to beat up Keanu Reeves for anything?” Jared decided not to mention Keanu’s swing at him; they’d kind of bonded on the drive over and he actually liked the guy, who, after being reunited with his baby, was back to being mellow and zen. He shook his head and Jensen smirked. “You’re safe, Neo. But I’m watching you. Don’t try and be a hero.”
Then Jensen, because hell, Donna Ackles had done such a goddamn bang-up job raising her baby boy, helped Matt and Ben to their feet, and none too gently, and yet surprisingly apologetically, tapped George Clooney’s jaw.
“That hurt,” George pouted.
“It was meant to hurt.”
George worked his jaw to ease the pain there. “You were getting a little antsy there, Ackles. I did it for your own good.”
“Water under the bridge now, man,” Jensen muttered, looking back at Jared. “Huh. Jay, why is there an alpaca licking your hand?”
Jared was pretty sure his lopsided grin made him look like a lovesick fool, but Jensen was so smart under all the pretty; of course he’d know an alpaca when he saw one.
“That’s Max.” George smiled at Jared. “He likes you, and he’s a good judge of character, so I guess I’ll forgive you for keeping him so long.”
“Wait just a goddamned minute. That’s Max?” Jensen sputtered. “That’s who they were looking for? Jesus, Jared – where’d you find him?”
“He was in your hotel room the whole time,” Keanu supplied when Jared stayed silent.
“Fuck.” Jensen glared at Matt and Ben. “You two losers couldn’t search the suite before kidnapping me?”
“We thought you were pretending not to remember.” Matt shrugged.
“Yeah.” Ben smirked, completely unrepentant. “Our bad.”
“Fuck you,” Jensen growled at him, and then sneered at Matt for good measure. “Fuck you, too!” He glanced over his shoulder at Jared again. “Jay, let’s blow this joint.”
“No, wait!” George interrupted. “I had nothing to do babysitting your ass all day while I worried about Max, so I cooked. It calms me. I was pretty stressed, so there's a ton of food. Stay for dinner.”
That snapped Jared out of his stupor faster than probably anything else could have, and in less than a second, he had George Clooney in a chokehold, and was snarling in the moron’s stunned face. “You get your goons to punch out and kidnap my husband, you keep him tied up in your bed all damned day long and you want us to stay for dinner ? Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“Jay,” Jensen rested a hand on his bicep as Jared took great pleasure in watching George Clooney’s air supply dwindle down to practically nothing, “let him go.” Jared’s nostrils flared as he desperately tried to control his erratic breathing. But then his senses registered the feel of Jensen’s fingers on his skin, right where his sleeve was stretched tightly over the bulging muscle there, and as Jensen gently squeezed, Jared released George, who sputtered and fell to the floor in a graceless heap.
“Don’t mess with Texas, asshole,” Jared muttered, still staring him down as Matt and Ben helped George to his feet. Once everyone was breathing normally again, Jensen turned to Jared with a suspiciously nonchalant expression.
“Your husband ?”
“Yeah,” Keanu piped up, “thought you’d decided to keep that little tidbit to yourself.”
And yeah, Jared had spilled his guts to Keanu on the drive over and had sworn the other man to secrecy regarding his drug-induced nuptials from last night, so of course he had to go and screw this up all by his lonesome. He tossed Jensen a sheepish look that had Jensen rolling his eyes. Hard.
“Start at the beginning, Jay,” Jensen ordered, his no-nonsense tone sending a little thrill down Jared’s spine, “and don’t leave anything out.”
“Could we talk and eat?” George ventured, keeping Jared well in his sights, “I mean, this sounds interesting, but I haven’t eaten all day because he refused to eat, so… I'm hungry and I’m guessing you guys didn’t stop for a bite either.”
“Lead the way, kemosabe,” Jensen jeered. “I could use a drink, too.”
And that’s how Jared ended up having dinner – and George Clooney was a damn fine chef – with four (okay, more like three and a half, because Gigli , hello) of the biggest movie stars around these days. Of course, it would have helped if he could actually look at them, but his body and mind had reverted to orienting themselves in congruence with Jensen again, and he couldn’t stop looking at him, or touching him, or making moony eyes at him like a teenager with Bieber fever.
As it was, he was sitting next to Jensen at the glass table in George’s huge kitchen, his left side pressed all perfectly up against Jensen’s right side, from feet to shoulders, more or less as usual. Belatedly, he realized that the other guys at the table weren’t exactly used to them and the way they were with each other, and their less than subtle looks were really starting to piss him off. When Ben sneered again, whispering something in Matt’s ear, Jared put down his fork and lost his patience.
“What?” he snarled.
“Forget him, Jay,” Jensen said as Ben just smirked at him and really? Jared wanted to wipe the floor with his face. “Now that you’ve got a few calories in you, spill. You might wanna start with why I can’t seem to remember anything from last night.”
“It’s not just you,” Jared explained, trying not to let Jensen’s glittering green eyes distract him. “We don’t know for sure but from what we’ve been able to establish piecing this puzzle together,” he gestured to the gang around the table, “we may have been roofied last night. You, me, Jeff, Chad and Clif.”
“What? By whom?”
“We don’t know, and we probably never will.” Jared sighed, and Jensen’s face went from staggered to shocked to stunned as Jared related the events of the day back to him, from the moment he had woken up to find Jensen gone and Max in his bed, right up to waving the guys off to catch their flight back to Idaho.
“That still doesn’t explain why you referred to me as your husband ,” Jensen reminded him, ‘cause yeah, he’d tried to skip over the part where they’d gotten freakin’ married to each other.
“Uh… when we went to the Chapel of Love, we might’ve gotten a little… ma-a-a-rried . Like the song.”
“Oh my God,” Jensen moaned. “Fuck, Jared!”
“I don’t know what to tell you, man.”
“Was it legal? Can you get gay married in Nevada?” Jensen baulked after sneaking a peek at his watch. “Jesus, Jared! In a little over twenty-four hours you’re marrying Genevieve! What the hell are we gonna do? I cannot believe you weren’t even going to tell me!”
“I didn’t know what to do!” Jared couldn’t help but emphasize, and very vehemently too. “You weren’t there! I was freaking out! You know I don’t think straight when you’re not around!”
"No kidding," Jensen scoffed as the others all snorted in amusement, and then patted his chest in a manner that was all at once soothing and condescending. “All right, all right. Just breathe, you big baby.” He bit his lip in thought as he stroked Jared's forearm. “Maybe we can get an annulment or a divorce or something.”
Keanu cleared his throat. “Even if it was legal, it’s going to be Saturday in a couple of hours. You’re getting married on Sunday. Courts don’t work weekends.”
And Jared didn’t do annulments or divorces or something s. He wanted Jensen. All to himself. For keeps.
Yeah, best not to mention that to anyone else right now.
“Are you sure we really did it, Jared?”
Jared nodded. “I even have proof.”
“Proof?” Jensen frowned, looking more than a little scared. “What sort of proof? Like a marriage certificate?”
Keanu snorted, and Jared shot him a warning look, but he just shrugged, the asshole. “You’re the one who spilled the beans, dude,” he laughed, turning to look at Jensen. “No certificate, but you should see the wedding portrait. It’s very, uh… tasteful.” Jensen groaned and Keanu laughed. “And I heard tell there’s a DVD. Jared?”
Matt spewed out his wine all over his plate. “There’s a DVD?”
“Dude,” Ben chuckled, making grabby hands at Jared, and Jared seriously hated him. “We have to see it. Please! You can have my Jen too, since you seem to be collecting them.”
Jared turned to his best friend. “Please, can I kill him? Please, Jensen? Neither Clif nor Jeff would let me.”
“No, Jared,” Jensen wryly admonished, “leave the nice, Oscar-winning multi-millionaire alone. Jennifer Garner may be all cute and shit, but she’s got some badass moves that I don’t wanna be on the receiving end of, dude.”
“Yeah,” Jensen agreed, “can we get back to the part where you have a DVD of our alleged wedding?”
“You still don’t believe me, do you?” Jared stared Jensen down. “That’s why you haven’t freaked out yet.”
“We were roofied, man. We can’t be held accountable for shit we did under the influence!”
“What about the shit you do… er… un influenced?” George blinked at them.
“The hell are you talking about, Clooney?”
“I mean, look at you two,” George said with the signature smirk he made famous, “how many ways can you say homoerotic undertones?”
“Are you kidding me?” Matt scoffed. “What under tones? I hear their tones loud and clear! Do you guys realize that you haven’t stopped touching each other since Stretch got here?”
“We’re best friends, douchebag,” Jensen gritted out.
Ben laughed. “Yeah. Mattie and I are best friends, too. Since we were kids. We’re practically brothers, really, and do you see us sitting here and fucking cuddling?”
“We’re like brothers, too!” Jensen argued.
“No, dude,” Ben sneered. “You just play brothers on TV.”
“They play gay brothers on TV,” George corrected, and then elaborated, “as in gay for each other. Subtextually speaking.”
“Wow,” Ben looked impressed, “how have I missed this show?”
Jared and Jensen stared at each other for a split second before Jensen thumped his head on the table. Repeatedly. Jared wrapped a conciliatory arm around his shoulders and pulled him in closer, gently rubbing the nape of his neck, smiling a little when Jensen relaxed into his side, just about melting at his touch.
“The prosecution rests,” Keanu stated, smiling indulgently at them.
“Hey,” George shrugged nonchalantly, “shit happens. We get it. I probably get it more than these guys.”
Jensen blinked at him. “What exactly is it that you think you get?”
“The… uh, codependency .” He smiled benignly at them, and Jared rolled his eyes. “I was in an ensemble cast on TV, I know how it is. Day in and day out, always seeing the same people for eight, ten hours at a time.”
“Eight, ten hours, Jay,” Jensen ridiculed, “dude, that’s like a short day for us.”
“No kidding, Clooney,” Jared informed the older man, “try sixteen to eighteen hours a day. And it’s not an ensemble cast, not really. It’s all us, pretty much all the time. We’re in each other’s faces 24/7. It stands to reason that we’re close.”
“Whoa, that’s impressive, and you did it for five years?” Keanu whistled softly. “How have you not killed each other yet?”
“T’ain’t nothin’,” Jensen mumbled, his Texas showing a little, “we’re a lot alike. And, we live together too, so…”
“ What? ” the four other men at the table chorused in shock, as Jensen blinked, only just realizing that he’d dug them deeper into this hole they’d been pushed into.
“Fuck. We’re roommates, okay? That’s it.” And perhaps that would have been it, except that they both knew it wasn’t, and for some reason, Jensen was dropping the ball with their standard set of lies. He flushed guiltily, and George noticed.
“We all have our co-dependent moments, man,” he imparted, lazily sprawling in his chair. “Noah Wyle and I may have had a moment or two on the set of ER .” He sniffed dispassionately, as if he hadn’t just dropped a gay bombshell on them. He hooked a thumb in the direction on the two idiots sitting beside him. “You can bet these two went at it. Can’t be teenage boys growing up with all those rampaging hormones and not experiment and shit, you know?”
Ben and Matt shared a long sideways look before dissolving into giggles. “Yeah, okay,” Ben chuckled, “but what’s a blowjob or two between best buds?”
“Dude,” Keanu held his hand up, his face scrunched in disgust, “you’ve scarred me for life.”
Matt snorted. “Like you’re such a saint.”
“Never claimed to be.” Keanu stretched and leaned his head back, surveying them with a look of supreme cockiness. “I mean, come on, have you seen my co-stars? Carrie was… bendy. Sandy’s an animal and Charlize? Mmm.” He had a sappy, blissful look on his face as he (and doubtless every other guy at the table) pictured those lovely ladies in their heads. “And on one memorable occasion, I was maybe a little co-dependent with Patrick.”
“The late, great Swayze ?” Ben asked, gasping. “Man, I will never watch Point Break the same way again.”
“Not gonna lie, fellas,” Keanu smirked, “he may have taught me a dance move or two, and it might’ve have gotten a little dirty.”
“Shit,” Matt sniggered, “all those wet t-shirt scenes make sense now.”
“Laugh all you want, assholes,” Keanu grinned, like a damn tom cat with a canary, as he looked at Jared and Jensen. “Our point, gentlemen, is that you need never be ashamed of love; it’s a beautiful thing. Now, let’s watch the DVD. I have a feeling we won’t find a more entertaining way to spend the night.”
“Be that as it may,” Jensen reminded them all as Jared tried not to hold it against him, “I do believe Jared has a wedding to get to and it kinda can’t start without him.”
“So?” George waved his hand dismissively. “I’ll book you guys a flight while we watch. It’s on me. It’s probably gonna be in the morning anyway, so you may as well spend the night.”
“I’ll drive you to the airport in the morning,” Keanu offered. “Or, if you’re real good, maybe I’ll even let you drive my baby, Jensen. You were drooling over her last night, and if you did drive her, you probably don’t remember it.”
Jared grinned at Jensen’s look of confusion. “He has a ’59 Impala convertible,” he said, amused as Jensen’s eyes goggled, “and it’s red with red leather seats, man. It’s a sweet ride, I’ll give you that much.”
“Wow, count me in,” Jensen acquiesced so easily that Jared had half a mind to buy Keanu’s baby off of him, just so he could dangle it in front of Jensen like a carrot and get him to do stuff like, you know, stay married to Jared.
In the next few minutes, they helped George clear the table and load the dishwasher, and while Ben fired up a laptop and searched for flights, George regaled Keanu and Matt with tales of Wincest he’d randomly read online, and Jesus, Jared would’ve never pegged George Clooney for a fangirl.
Apparently, there was no sense to be made of this mindfuck of a day; thank goodness it was almost over.
“You guys aren’t gonna like this,” Ben called out as they were about to make their way to George’s home theatre room. And Christ, what now? “There are no flights to anywhere in Idaho tomorrow. Well, there were a couple of domestic ones, but they’ve been cancelled due to poor sales.”
“Fuck,” Jensen said as Jared’s heart did a little happy dance in his chest, “now what?”
“You could drive, I suppose,” Ben mused out loud, fingers tapping away at the keyboard. “Sun Valley, you said? It’s like a ten hour drive from here, give or take an hour. That’s doable, right?”
Jensen nodded consideringly as Keanu leaned over Ben’s shoulder to look at the route mapped out on the screen. “We could make that in my car. If we head out in an hour or so, we could stop in Salt Lake City, grab a few zzz’s while my baby cools down and then head out to Idaho in the afternoon. She’ll do better with two shorter trips than one long haul.”
“You’re gonna drive us all the way to Idaho?” Jensen asked, totally floored by the offer; so was Jared, truth be told.
“Sure, why not? My baby has all-season tires, so even if it snows a little, we’re good to go with the top up.” Keanu brushed it aside as if it was no big deal. “Just as long as I get invited to the wedding. I really like cake. What kind are you having?”
Jared grinned enthusiastically; he’d spent hours working on the cake with the baker. “It’s this five-tiered cake, all different flavours…”
“Christ, here we go again,” Jensen groaned.
“The top one is vanilla sponge with mango mousse filling and French vanilla buttercream on top, the second one is vanilla sponge with cappuccino mousse, ‘cause Jensen, you know, he loves coffee-flavored everything, the third is banana cake with chocolate chip icing, the next one is marbled sponge with caramel icing, and the biggest one is red velvet with cream cheese icing which is my favorite. It’s to die for, man! And they’re all covered in this soft pink fondant with these gorgeous sugar flowers…”
“This is why everyone thinks you’re gay.” Jensen smirked at him affectionately, dissolving into laughter and fondly ruffling Jared’s hair when Jared frowned at him.
“No, dude,” Matt chuckled, “ that’s why everyone thinks you’re gay. Both of you. The touchy-feely shit. Jesus.”
“Shut up,” Jensen groused, “you haven’t seen his pink shirt collection.”
“Well, he’s not his wife, apparently,” George teased. “Exactly how much time do you spend in his closet, sweetheart?”
Jensen bared his teeth menacingly. “Do I look like a girl to you, you overpaid asshole?”
“Hey!” George looked affronted. “I am worth every red cent!”
“I said overpaid, not overrated,” Jensen goaded.
“Just so we’re clear.”
Ben snorted. “Talk about a back-handed compliment.”
“More like a bitchslap, if you ask me,” Matt quipped.
“Which totally makes him the girl, so I was right.” George grinned.
“A circular argument,” Keanu remarked, “how very feng shui.”
Jensen peered at him in suspicion. “Dude, do you know Misha Collins? ‘Cause I’m thinking you two were separated at birth.”
Jared had to agree with him. “Man, if this is what happens to actors who go A-list, I think I’m pretty happy where I am.”
“I keep telling you, but no,” Jensen shook his head emphatically, “Jared wants to be a big movie star.”
“You shut up.”
“Jesus, all of you shut up,” Keanu rolled his eyes, “and play the DVD.”
They played it, and as Jared watched in mounting horror and disbelief, the other guys didn’t bother to hold back, not their poorly disguised sniffles, nor their unbridled giggles. Except for Jensen, of course, because if anything, Jensen looked even more horrified and disbelieving than Jared ever could.
He should’ve done a salt-and-burn on that damned DVD when he’d had the chance.
A voice off camera started the matrimonial madness.
“Welcome to the wedding of Jared Ackles and Jensen Pada… uh, ...lecki.”
“No, no, no, dude,” Chad’s face suddenly appeared on the screen. “It’s Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki.”
“My bad,” the faceless cameraman apologized, “what he said.”
The camcorder zoomed in on the happy couple as they stood side by side facing each other at the altar, while Elvis in the pink-sequined jumpsuit presided over the nuptials, Clif on Jensen’s side, and Jeff on Jared’s side, while Chad... flirted with the woman playing Mendelssohn’s Wedding March on the keyboard.
Elvis pointedly cleared his throat to get her to stop playing so that he could start the ceremony. “Gentlemen and friends…”
“Dude, get to the good part,” Jensen urged with a grin, “you’re cutting in on my wedding night.”
Elvis looked positively gleeful at that. “Do you…?”
“Wait, wait,” Jared interrupted this time. “I wanna say my own vows.”
“You go right on ahead, sugarpea.”
“Jensen,” Jared smiled at Jensen adoringly. “Jensen Ross Ackles. You’re my best friend, my brother…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Elvis held a hand up, “gay civil unions are one thing, but I am not about to condone an incestuous gay civil union!”
Jared snorted. “Brothers in spirit. You know, spiritually.”
“Oh. Okay then. Proceed.”
“’Kay. Jensen. You’re my best friend, my brother… uh, in spirit, and the love of my goddamn life. You’re my everything, Jen, and you always will be. You’ve been the best thing in my life practically since the day we met. I didn’t really know it then, but I figured it out now. I know it’s been five years, but you know better than anyone how slow I am on the uptake sometimes. I’m so happy to be your husband, I swear I’ll do everything in my power to love you and honor and cherish and protect you until the day I die. I promise.”
“I’ma hold you to that,” Jensen said softly, the camcorder focusing on the way his sweet smile lit up his face, making him almost ethereally beautiful.
Elvis grinned like a proud papa. “And Jensen, what about you?”
Jensen blinked and gave Jared’s hands a squeeze, pulling them a little closer to each other. “Jared Tristan Padalecki. You’re my best friend, my brother in spirit and the love of my goddamn life, too. You make me feel ten feet tall every time you smile at me with those damn dimples. I love them, and I love you. I can’t not love you, Jay, and believe me, I’ve tried. I tried so damn hard, but you make it impossible because you’re so amazing and so good… I’ve never met anyone like you before. You make my life brighter just by being in it, and I can’t think of another person I’d want to spend the rest of my life with. I’d sell my soul to save you in a heartbeat, and I will love you forever. I promise.”
Elvis sniffed, and pulled out a pink handkerchief to dab at his eyes. “Do you have the rings?”
“Right here.” Jeff handed them to Jared.
“Repeat after me,” Elvis began. “With this ring, I promise you my love, my life, myself.”
“With this ring, I promise you my love, my life, myself,” Jared and Jensen said together, their expressions solemn yet joyful, and as they placed the rings on each other’s fingers, the picture zoomed in on the action.
“Excellent,” Elvis beamed, “I now pronounce you Partners in Life, for life. You may seal your vows with a kiss.”
“Wait,” Jensen stalled, pulling back from Jared just as their lips were an inch apart, “what about our no kissing, no sex rule?”
“I hate that rule,” Jared pouted, as Elvis glared at Jensen.
“Honeychil’,” he drawled, “y’all are life partners now, husbands in almost every sense of the word! Kissing and sex kinda come with the territory, baby.”
“Oh,” Jensen chirped happily, “awesome!”
He grabbed Jared by the lapels of his jacket and hauled him close, both of them grinning stupidly at each other in the instant before their lips met, and the lens came in for a close up of their faces as they kissed, slow and sure and sensual, their mouths opening as the kiss deepened, neither of them coming up for air, even as the camera jerked suddenly to the left, now focusing on Chad kissing the woman who’d been playing the wedding march.
“That’s my girlfriend, asshole,” the faceless cameraman yelled, the picture shaking and distorting into static snow as the camcorder dropped to the red-carpeted floor, only to be picked up a few seconds later by Jeff.
“Crap,” he muttered, slapping the camcorder against his palm a couple of times before the picture returned to normal, Jeff’s confused face filling the screen as Clif edged into the frame.
“Is it working?”
Jeff nodded. “S’far as I can tell, yeah.”
“They’re still kissing,” Clif said, “you filming that?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jeff assured him, even though the lens was still pointed straight at them and not at the newlyweds. “Man, all this lovey-dovey shit is boring. We should totally film ourselves. We were like their best men, dude.”
“Yeah,” Clif agreed, and Jeff turned the camcorder around, so it went back to filming the still-kissing couple, just as Elvis was trying to pry his cameraman off of Chad at the altar. The cameraman let his fist fly, and in the background, Chad dropped like a pile of bricks as the guy punched him in the eye.
Off screen, Jeff and Clif continued their conversation.
“Dude,” Clif chuckled, “we could be like Regis and Kathie Lee.”
“No way, man,” Jeff argued, the view shaking as he riled himself up, “I like Kelly better. She’s pretty. And perky.”
“Did you just call me perky?”
“Cliffie, you’re Regis, old and crabby,” Jeff patiently explained, the camcorder now zoomed in on the carpet at his feet, and Max’s hooves, “ I’m the pretty, perky one.”
“Dainty, too,” Clif teased.
“You know it. Aw, shoot, missed the shot, man…” And then, the picture was back on Jared and Jensen, Jared smiling and kissing Jensen’s nose, Jensen shyly ducking his head, both of them hugging as the seconds on the screen ticked by, while Chad was still trying to dodge the furious cameraman in the background.
Suddenly, a shrill whistle pierced the air as Elvis glowered at the cameraman, who nodded sheepishly and came back to claim the camcorder from Jeff.
“Right,” Elvis breathed, now that some semblance of order had been restored, “as much as you boys are adorable an’ all,” he told Jensen and Jared, “I do have other couples to wed, so just sing your song and go on and get started on your wedded bliss.”
“We don’t have a wedding song,” Jared lamented.
“Well, just hit shuffle on the karaoke machine,” Elvis instructed, “let the universe pick for you.”
They appeared to like that plan, so Jensen pressed the shuffle button and then Jared pulled him close, winding his arms around Jensen’s waist as Jensen looped his arms around Jared’s neck, Chad and Jeff grabbing the mikes and squinting at the lyrics on the screen as the first notes of the song blared out of the speakers on either side of the altar.
“ Hey! ” Jeff started it off, his hips shimmying to the music, Chad and Clif keeping up with the rhythm he set.
“ What? ” Chad responded cheerily.
Jeff kept working his hips. “ I’ve had other guys – wait a minute – no, I haven’t. This is about my baby bro and his boy.”
“Bitch, sing the damn song or I will.”
“Okay, okay, can we start it over? No? Okay,” he spoke over the music, “ He’s had other guys – wait – have you had other guys, JT?”
The camcorder zoomed in on Jared. “Nope, just Jensen.”
“‘kay. He’s had other girls , he’s – hey – what rhymes with ‘girls’?”
“Pearls,” Clif helpfully suggested with a snap of his fingers, and Jeff was about to start singing again but Chad held a hand up to stop him.
“That makes no sense in the context of this song, dude,” Chad declared in a rare lucid moment, either drunk or sober, “mostly songwriters tend rhyme ‘girl’ with ‘world’.”
“’World’ – yeah, I can make that work. But seriously, King, I want a do-over,” Jeff pouted, and Elvis threw his hands up in the air and restarted the song. Jeff grinned, and the shimmying started again as he sang. “ He’s had other girls, he’s lived in their worlds, but he never knew love before, ‘til you, ” he pointed at Jensen, “ walked through his door .”
Chad did a little twirl and took over. “ He’s had other lips, ” Chad made a kissy face at them, “ he-he-he’s sailed a thousand ships, but no matter where he goes you’re the one for him, Jensen, this we know, cause it’s… ”
Clif shook his massive hips while Jeff and Chad harmonized, or tried to rather, “ True love, you’re the one he’s dreaming of… Your heart fits him like a glove… and it’s gonna be true blue, Jensen, he loves you! ”
Jeff looked a little soberer as he looked at Jensen and started the second verse. “ He’s heard all the lines, he’s cried oh, so many times, those teardrops they won’t fall again, he’s so exited ‘cause you’re his best friend .”
Jensen grabbed Jeff’s mike and took over, smiling into Jared’s eyes as he sang, in perfect tune, “ So if you should ever doubt, wonder what love is all about, just think back and remember, Jare, those words I whispered in your ear, I said – hit it, boys…”
“ True love… ”
As the entertainment drew to a close, Keanu, tears streaming from his eyes as he guffawed, gasped, “Fuck me, this should be a movie!”
Matt and Ben, who had fallen off the couch laughing, hopped up to their feet, dancing as they chorused in time, and in tune, with Clif, Chad and Jeff on the screen, busting out Madonna’s moves from the classic music video. “ True love, you’re the one he’s dreaming of… Your heart fits him like a glove, and it’s gonna be true blue, Jared, he loves you too! ”
Keanu suddenly stood too, and pushed in between Matt and Ben. “ No, whoa, more sadness, just kiss it goodbye! The sun is bursting right out of the sky, he’s searched the whole world for someone like you ,” he pointed at Jensen, “ don’t you know, don’t you know, oh baby… True love, oh baby, true love, oh baby, true love, oh baby, true love... it’s true love, baby …”
George slapped his thigh and threw his head back, howling with laughter, as the three men la-la-la-la-la'd the rest of the song with the guys in the video, their hips shimmying hard enough to give Shakira a run for her money, all of them looking like the idiots they were.
Jensen buried his head in a cushion, groaning. “Jesus Christ. Kill me now.”
As the grandfather clock in the room suddenly struck midnight, Jared fervently hoped that the insanity had finally come to an end with the day.
“Dude, there’s a sheep on your front lawn,” Jensen calmly commented as the animal in question bleated when they all walked out of George’s hacienda a little after one in the morning.
“Oh,” George smiled fondly at the fluffy white animal now nuzzling the baby alpaca who had exited the house with the rest of them, “that’s Max. The Third. I got him when he was a little lamb.”
“The Third?” Jared, Jensen and Keanu chorused.
Jared bit his lip. “What number’s the alpaca Max?”
“He’s the Fifth.”
“No, Jared,” Jensen pleaded, “don’t do it. Let’s just get in the car and leave the madness behind.”
But Jared had to know. “George?”
“Max the First was my pet pot-bellied pig.” George pouted, sighing a little. “He died in 2005. Then I got Max the Second, a peregrine falcon with a broken wing. Once he’d healed up, we re-released him into the wild and I got the lamb. Then, I adopted one of the goats from the set ofMen Who Stare at Goats; he’s the Fourth.” George took a look around. “He’s probably chewing on my begonias in the back. They don’t sleep at night until I do.”
“Awesome,” Jensen muttered, imploring Jared with his eyes, “let’s go before the crazy starts rubbing off on us.”
“I’m with him.” Keanu nodded, quickly getting behind the wheel and starting the car, her engine rumbling loudly in the tranquil night.
Jared turned to the Trinity. “It’s been a trip.”
“An acid trip,” Matt snickered.
Jared agreed. “Let’s not do this again anytime soon.”
With one last wave, they drove off into the night, Keanu’s GPS steadily tracking them through the rest of Nevada, up through the tip of Arizona and right on into Utah, about a billion stars and a sliver of the crescent moon lighting their way in the inky sky.
Jared fell asleep sprawled out in the back seat that felt more like home that it should’ve, and didn’t stir until they pulled into a gas station in Cedar City, Utah, the ping of the pump rousing him from his slumber as Keanu filled the tank up. He went to take a leak while Jensen, who’d paid the porcelain a visit before Jared had, went inside the convenience store to grab coffee and junk food, and he was lazily leaning against the car when Jensen handed him a cup, and they both silently watched Keanu disappear inside to pay for the gas while they sipped the hot brew.
Then Jared found himself alone with Jensen for the first time since the shit had first hit the fan.
“Waited five years to kiss you and I don’t remember a fucking thing,” Jensen whispered suddenly, just like that, breaking through the dark and their comfortable silence, just like that, shattering the shields surrounding Jared’s heart.
Jared barely had a moment to draw in a shuddering breath before Keanu was walking back to the car, and they all piled back inside again, this time with Jensen crawling into the back to catch a little shuteye. Jared leaned his head against the window – they’d pulled the top up to ward against the cool desert air a while back – and watched the asphalt blur beneath the tires, his gaze flickering in the direction of the driver’s seat every so often, thinking how wrong it felt to not see Jensen right there, at home behind the wheel.
“Dude, I know I’m hot,” Keanu declared huskily, a smirk tugging at his mouth, “but your boy only just passed out. Don’t want him getting all jealous. He’s a little scary where you’re concerned.”
Jared smiled. “Character bleed.”
“Yeah,” Keanu agreed, “Max and I watched the pilot online in my hotel room while we waited for you guys to get your act together. Looks like a good show. I already ordered the box set.”
“Eric’ll be thrilled. He’s the creator of the show, and he’s a total fangirl when it comes to you.”
“Awesome,” Keanu chuckled. “You know, it’s shotgun’s job to keep the driver awake on the road. You suck so far, brooding in the corner over there.”
Jared sat up straighter. “Sorry, man.”
Keanu shot him a considering sideways look. “It’s not too late, you know.”
“Not too late for what?
“To stop and turn around. Or to just keep going down this road you’ve found yourself on.”
“Sometimes it is.”
“Nah, man. It’s never too late.”
“You don’t understand, this shit’s complicated.”
“Doesn’t have to be,” Keanu reasoned quietly. “Life is as simple, or as complicated, as you yourself make it.”
Jared sighed, Keanu kept driving, and Jeff Healey’s voice rasped out of the radio and into the night, as his guitar gently wept.
Jensen took two steps inside the room Keanu had booked them into for the night – well, for the morning – and came to a sudden standstill, Jared heedlessly barrelling into his back.
“Motherfucking Matrix asshole booked us into the honeymoon suite.”
Jared peeked around Jensen and took in the giant rose-petal strewn bed and the champagne on ice flanked by twin crystal flutes. The drapes were drawn and candles lit the entire room. Even awestruck, all he could do was laugh.
“Should’ve seen it coming.”
Jensen reluctantly agreed. “Should’ve booked our own damn rooms.” He sighed. “I’ma take a shower, Jay. Need to wash this godforsaken day right off of me.”
“I hear ya, man,” Jared stated, trying to keep his eyes away from that big, tempting bed. “You hungry?”
“Just wanna crash. I’ll have something in the morning. Or in the afternoon, when we wake up.”
Jared looked around as Jensen disappeared into the bathroom, blowing out the lit candles and turning on a bedside lamp before finally settling on the couch and flicking through the TV listings. There wasn’t much to watch at just past six in the morning, apart from cartoons, so he turned the volume up on an episode of Scooby Doo, the original ghost-busting, monster hunters, and tried not to think of anything along the lines of Jensen wet and naked just a few feet away from him.
He didn’t think much of the knock on the door either, except to go see who was there, so he blinked in surprise to see no one at the doorstep and instead, a convenience store bag hanging from the doorknob. Hadn’t that been in Keanu’s hand when they’d left the gas station earlier? He snorted out a laugh when he looked inside, the sound derisive and biting in the big, empty room.
“Yeah, right,” he muttered to himself, tossing the bag onto the couch.
When Jensen came out of the bathroom, already toweled dry and dressed in a tee and boxers, Jared fled into the shower to clean up and take the edge off a little. It was always hard being around Jensen, pun wholeheartedly intended, and it got harder seeing Jensen scrubbed clean and minty fresh; the least Jared could do was return the favor.
After he jacked off, of course.
There was no talk about sleeping arrangements, just Jensen shaking the rose petals off the covers and slipping in under them on one side, Jared sliding in next to him on the other, their bodies turned away from each other and yet, strangely, gravitating towards each other too.
It was strange sharing a bed with Jensen, and he could count on one hand how many times they’d done it in the past five years. Most of those times had been when they’d crashed at each other’s parents’ places back home in Texas; otherwise, the one doing the crashing, did it on the couch.
After Jared's split with Sandy, the rules changed.
Jensen moved into his house, and this thing between them had been suddenly dragged out into the light. They got drunk, they’d both pass out on the couch together, pressed into each other, the lithe, lean lines of Jensen’s body slotting into and fitting right up against Jared’s lankier, harder body, yin and yang in a way that was uniquely them.
On one fateful night, crashing on the couch had led to grinding against one another, rutting like wild animals seeking release, Dutch courage allowing them to give in to the inexplicable attraction that had been building and growing between them since the very beginning.
It hadn’t been without its repercussions, of course, but by then, they’d been too dependent on one another already, and no manner of drunken escapades could sully their friendship. They’d struggled against doing it again, they’d fought hard, because sure, they’d fooled around in the past, discreetly with guys and carelessly with girls, but this was different, and they both knew it.
It figured that instead of talking about it, they resorted to the Winchester Way.
When they couldn’t fight it anymore, they got drunk and went at it again, always bizarrely in tune with each other. The occasional handjob led to sporadic blowjobs which led to them finally hashing out an agreement: no kissing, and no full-on sex. This was all about relieving a little stress with a trusted friend.
Then Jensen had hooked up with Danneel, and in the aftermath, Jared found himself hanging on to Genevieve to stop from falling into an abyss of crushing loneliness – even with Jensen right next to him – that always left him feeling like he couldn’t quite breathe right. When Jensen announced his engagement, serious and sure, Jared found himself wanting that same feeling, craving certainty and security in his own life, the one he saw stretching out for miles ahead of him; a life without Jensen in it. Gen was the likeliest candidate, and even now, all these months later, he still couldn’t believe she’d agreed to his proposal.
His eyes cut to the jacket he’d draped across the back of the couch in the darkened room; in that right hand pocket was a set of matching rings that now bound him to Jensen.
He still hadn’t looked at them.
Jared scrubbed a hand down his face and sighed. He was so completely lost, and the only person he could talk to about this was also the one person he couldn’t talk to about this.
“Dammit, Jay,” Jensen growled into the dark, startling Jared, “you’re thinking so damn loud, even I can hear it. Just go to sleep!”
“Sorry,” Jared mumbled quietly, his chest aching.
Jensen was silent for a few seconds before he huffed and turned over, his fingers suddenly buried in the still damp hair at the nape of Jared’s neck. “Talk to me.”
Jared couldn’t. But he could turn and burrow his face into Jensen’s shoulder, he could hold on for dear life. So he did.
It surprised him to feel the touch of Jensen’s mouth moving over his hair, the brush of his lips on his forehead. He held his breath as Jensen moved again, rising up over him as he bent to press a trail of kisses down his cheek and along the cut of his jaw, his heart hammering in his chest when Jensen’s mouth covered his – finally – in a perfect, perfect kiss.
They cupped each other’s faces, as if afraid they’d disappear on one another, as if this were a dream they would wake up from, but instead it was real and wonderful; the feel of Jensen’s plush lips pressed against his, Jensen’s tongue curling with his, Jensen’s body covering his, Jensen’s erection hard and slotted with his.
“Please,” Jared begged, wrenching his mouth free. “If tonight is all I get, then please, Jensen, I want all of you. I want it all. I want you.”
Jensen nodded shakily, especially when Jared reached down between their bodies and palmed his cock through his boxers, squeezing, taunting, fighting dirty. Although, the problem with fighting with Jensen was that he gave as good as he got, and suddenly he was moving again, shuffling down Jared’s body in a flurry of activity that culminated with his mouth on Jared’s cock and oh, yeah, right there.
Jared let him go to town, head lolled back against the pillows as Jensen slurped and licked and sucked his dick, teasing the sensitive underside with his tongue while he jacked the base with his fist. It wasn’t enough though, and Jared’s addled brain reminded him that Jensen had agreed to the whole deal, so he reached down and pulled Jensen off his cock, yanking him back up the length of his body as Jensen blinked at him in surprise.
“I need to fuck you, Jensen,” Jared growled, “now.”
Jensen gulped and nodded and that’s all Jared needed to see. He was up and out of bed in the next second and back before Jensen could even turn over.
Jensen raised an eyebrow at him. “Well, aren’t you a regular boy scout? You plan this, Jay?”
“Wasn’t me,” Jared replied, getting his fingers lubed up. “Keanu left it at the door earlier,” he told Jensen, as he spread his legs and slid a finger into his body. The breath punched out of Jensen’s chest with the intrusion, his tight heat making Jared delirious enough to shove another finger up there, stretching his hole wider.
“More,” Jensen moaned, “I’m good, gimme more.”
Three now, Jared thought, his eyes riveted to the spot between Jensen’s ass cheeks, watching as his fastidious fingers worked him open, frantically trying to get that tiny, pink, perfect hole big enough for Jared to fit through. Jared scrunched his eyes shut against that mental image; it was going to be a tight, goddamn spectacular squeeze.
“Please tell me you’re ready,” Jared wheezed, and Jensen, always more a man of action over conversation – unlike Jared – batted Jared’s hand out of the way and grabbed his cock instead, guiding him closer. Jared took over, rubbing himself slick, and then pushed inside, inch by inch, watching Jensen’s hole unfurl around him, then cling to him, and then suck him all the way in, balls deep, as if welcoming him home.
Fuck, if he died right now, he’d be dying happy.
“Stop thinking and fuck me, Jared,” Jensen groused, and a chuckle escaped Jared’s mouth unbidden.
“Getting fucked and still so goddamn grouchy.”
“In case you missed it,” Jensen huffed, “I’m not exactly getting fucked here. Move, jackass!”
“Just gimme a minute, jerk, I’m trying to savor the moment here!”
“I’m the one who’s s’posed to need a minute!”
“Jared!” Jensen mocked, his eyes narrowing as his body moved just the tiniest bit, his muscles clenching even tighter around Jared’s cock inside him.
“Exactly,” the smug bastard replied as Jared humped into him, stuttered and uncoordinated. “In and out, baby, and if you can get my prostate while you’re at it, that’d be awesome. Let me know if you need pointers, ‘cause I don’t mind switching this shit up.”
Jared stared down at him, a little stunned before he realized what Jensen was doing. If they made this fun and frivolous and them, then it wouldn’t be important and life-altering and so far from the them that they were used to, there could be no turning back.
Unfortunately for Jensen, Jared had already reached the point of no return.
Time enough for revelations later though, Jared thought, biting his lip against a broad smile as Jensen rolled his eyes and drummed his fingers against the sheets, feigning boredom and impatiently waiting for him to get on with it, so Jared, obliging guy that he was, got on with it, and with every hard thrust, he swore to himself that this would not be their last time together.
He lost himself in Jensen’s body, delighting in the feel of Jensen’s hands gripping him just as tightly as his body held Jared inside, and he knew that no matter what front Jensen tried to put up, he was just as needy and desperate for this as Jared was, for this completion, them coming full circle.
Jensen’s hands, with those beautiful blunt-tipped fingers of his, slid across Jared’s sweat-slicked skin, rubbed deliciously over his nipples, spiking his pulse as Jensen’s arms wound around his neck, Jared giving in and leaning down to capture Jensen’s spit moistened lips in a feverish kiss, Jared’s own arms tucking themselves in under Jensen’s body, pulling their chests flush against each other, Jensen’s erection squashed between their bellies as he wrapped his legs around Jared’s hips.
Jared fucked into him mindlessly, mercilessly, soaking up all the little sounds Jensen was making, all those sexy moans and whimpers that went straight to Jared’s dick, while the look in his gorgeous green eyes went straight to his heart. Fuck, it was intense. The sound of sweat-soaked skin slapping skin seemed to fill the air around them, making it humid and cloying but in the best way possible, the scent of their sex permeating Jared’s senses like a drug.
As Jensen came, back arching, keening and without a hand on him, just from Jared inside him, his ass clenching around Jared’s dick again made him lose what little grasp he had on reality as he came so hard his vision whited out at the edges, and he collapsed against Jensen.
“Awesome,” Jensen panted, a little later when he could speak, “now get off me. We need to hit the road in a few hours and I wanna drive, so I need my rest.” And as Jared blinked at him in disbelief, Jensen turned away, yawning for fuck’s sake, and just like that, he fell asleep.
When he woke up again, Jared was spooned around Jensen, his morning wood snug in the cleft of Jensen’s ass, and considering what a dick Jensen had been before they'd fallen asleep, Jared had no qualms whatsoever fucking right up inside him again, Jensen still a little loose and more than a little wet from a few hours earlier.
Jensen jolted to awareness of course, but Jared paid his half-hearted protests no heed, not when Jensen was grinding back into him, rolling his hips in a way that had Jared seeing stars, as he fisted Jensen’s hard cock and quickly brought them both to orgasm.
Soon as they were done, Jensen shoved him off and, grumbling about Jared’s come leaking from his ass, he stumbled into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind him. Jared grinned up at the ceiling, waiting to hear the shower turn on before he padded into the bathroom to take a piss. The calculated flush fucked a little with the water temperature in the shower though, and Jared smirked as Jensen swore, distracted enough to let Jared wrench open the glass enclosure of the shower and join him inside, Jared quickly dropping to his knees on the wet tile. Jensen appeared to be stunned speechless, so Jared took the opportunity to suck his cock back to hardness, lovingly massaging his ass as he did so, his fingers thrusting in and out of Jensen’s hole, as he let the water sluice through his fingers and wash Jensen clean of his come.
When his knees started protesting, he rose, turning off the water without a word, instead grabbing Jensen’s hand and dragging him back into the bedroom, Jensen moving as if he didn’t know what else to do. Jared laid him out on the bed and languidly, tenderly kissed and licked and nibbled and sucked practically every inch of him, taking his time until Jensen was a writhing mess under him.
“Turn over,” Jared rasped finally, staring deep into Jensen’s eyes, pleased when Jensen did his bidding without putting up a fight.
He took a minute to admire the view and then paid slow, sweet homage to Jensen’s gorgeous, sinewy back, laving the smooth, supple muscle, dragging his tongue down the groove of his spine, peppering kisses across the freckled skin. When he got to Jensen’s ass, firm and perfectly rounded, he leaned back on his knees where he straddled Jensen and moved the man beneath him until he had a pillow pushed under his hips lifting Jensen’s ass in the air, ready for his attention as Jensen panted and ground into the pillow.
Jared flattened himself on the bed and got comfortable, spreading Jensen’s ass cheeks with his hands as he just looked. Jensen moaned, his hips jerking, trying to get some friction against his cock, but Jared just smiled to himself. He leaned in close, blowing a warm, moist breath over Jensen’s hole, causing him to shiver and emit the prettiest fucking whimper that Jared had ever heard.
“Jared,” Jensen gasped, and it sounded like he was begging, and that made the fierce, possessive caveman in Jared frantic.
He licked over the pink pucker, still a little stretched from earlier, and the first taste of Jensen’s skin, right here in the most intimate place on his body, went right to his head. Before he knew it, he was licking around the rim and then fucking into Jensen with his tongue, dipping into his hole as far as he could reach, slicking it with spit as he savored every scent and flavor, every sound and image, everything.
Jensen clawed at the sheets, grunting as he pushed back against Jared’s tongue as filthy words spilled from his lips, urging Jared on, until Jared couldn’t hold back any longer and he rose, slicking his dick with pre-come, and pushing into Jensen just like that, harsh and amazing.
When Jensen gazed at him over his shoulder, the look in his eyes positively incendiary, Jared leaned in enough to kiss him hungrily, Jensen’s hand holding him close by the back of his head as they practically fucked each other’s mouths with their tongues. Jared pulled him back then, his big hands spanning Jensen’s trim waist, until Jensen was seated on his lap, impaled on his cock in the best way imaginable as Jared pressed sucking kisses along the nape of his neck.
“I hate you so much,” Jensen whispered, his muscles pulled taut as Jared pistoned into him, fevered and frenzied.
Jared kissed him again, pouring every emotion he was feeling into that kiss as they both came, one after the other, resplendent and replete. “Not as much as I hate you, baby.”
Jensen didn’t really say much afterwards, not even when he slid in behind the wheel of Keanu’s car, hovering over the seat before he gingerly settled, causing Keanu to grin like the lunatic he was.
“You’re welcome,” Keanu quipped, Jensen flipping him the bird in the rearview mirror as he punched on the gas and got back onto the interstate.
Jared decided to take the rest of the drive to try and plan out his next move, because no way in hell was he getting married to Gen now. He was drawing a blank though, mostly because he had no idea what stupid thoughts were going on in Jensen’s head, since as he’d already proved, Jensen could be a bit of an idiot sometimes.
Unfortunately, he was bombarded by his family and Genevieve and her family as soon as he arrived, all of them talking at once, cooing in concern over his bruised face and his Vegas escapade, and in the melee, sometime after his momma had made sure that Jensen was fine too, her hands gentle and soothing on Jensen’s face as he tried to shyly duck out of her way. She glared at him and he gave her a hug instead, and then Jared lost sight of him.
Sure, they had agreed that Jensen would keep Keanu’s presence under wraps until the wedding, but when Jeff mentioned that they were all heading out for dinner and Jared tried to follow, he was stopped by his fiancée and her family. Every jagged nerve he had left thrummed agitatedly all through dinner with them, until he couldn’t bear it anymore, and he pleaded exhaustion and ran to hide in his room.
Hindsight being twenty-twenty, he should’ve really sucked it up and spoken to Gen, and then Jen, right then and there, but he didn’t and so he only had himself to blame the next morning when he was woken and pushed into the shower without preamble, and then practically dressed in his designer tux before he could lodge a formal protest.
Once he’d escaped his captors, the wedding planner’s minions, who had put make-up on him (at his mommy-in-law-dearest’s bidding) to cover up his goddamn shiner, he went to find Jensen, but everywhere he looked, he came up empty. Just like the other day in Vegas. Like he’d gone and lost Jensen all over again. Only now he was more fucked than ever because the clock was suddenly ticking down the last three hours to his wedding.
To the wrong Gen.
Speaking of whom, Jared needed to man up and talk to her. It was easier said than done though, and seriously, Fort Knox would’ve been simpler to get into than a bride’s room before her wedding, but he’d gotten Megan to distract Sophia, Gen’s sister, and the mother of the bride, and before they could reappear, Jared ducked into Gen’s dressing room at the lodge, taking a second to smile at the image of her in her white silk slip, sitting in front of the mirror as a woman styled her hair.
She screamed when she saw his reflection in the mirror, and the woman next to her followed suit, promptly dropping her curling iron.
“Jared!” Gen shrieked. “What the fuck are you doing here?” she asked, and then smiled sheepishly at the stylist. “Sorry. But really, Jared, it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding!”
“I need to talk to you, Gen,” he said, trying not to let too much of the guilt he was feeling seep into the expression on his face. He nodded at the stylist when Gen asked her to step outside for a few minutes.
“What?” Genevieve turned to look at him as soon as they were alone. “God, you look like you’re gonna puke. You’re not gonna puke, are you Jared? Because if you are, please take it elsewhere. Please?”
“I need to tell you something, Gen.”
“Jared,” she whined, “seriously? You want to do this now? Can’t we talk after the ceremony, baby? I’m nervous enough as it is!”
“I can’t find Jensen,” Jared told her suddenly, and that hadn’t been quite what he’d meant to say, but there was no undoing it.
“God. You two… I don’t even…,” she grumbled, then sighed. “He’s probably gone to get his family.”
“His family? His family?”
Gen smiled sheepishly. “So when you told me you’d lost him? I might have mentioned it to Megan and she may have called Mackenzie who may have gotten the whole family riled up enough to try and book tickets out to Vegas,” she explained hastily, her words tumbling over each other. “Don’t be mad, okay? But when Chad and Jeff got here, Megan called the Ackles’ and said Jensen was fine, but apparently Jensen’s mother wanted to make sure herself, so they all flew up here and… yeah.”
Jared opened his mouth to say something – what, he would never know – when the door was thrown open and Gen’s mom, Marianne, stormed into the room, staring him down disapprovingly.
“It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, big guy,” his no longer future mother-in-law (thank goodness) ranted.
Genevieve stepped in to save him. “Mom, it’s fine. I don’t believe in that stuff anyway! Ask the stylist to come back in, will you? Jared, talk already.”
Jared darted a nervous look from Gen to Marianne to the stylist, and then to Sophia when she walked back into the room. Fuck, it would be nice if the universe gave him a goddamn break once in a while. Gen’s sister blinked at him, but then shrugged and turned to speak to her mother.
“They’re using the wrong centerpieces again,” she said.
“Oh my God,” Marianne huffed, “Genny, I don’t know why you insisted on this florist. The man’s incompetent.”
“Danneel was going to use him,” Gen argued. “He’d done a really terrific job at her best friend’s wedding, so…”
“Well, he’s doing a rather lackluster job here, at your wedding,” Marianne scoffed. “And now I have to go and save the day. Again. Come along, Sophie.”
Sophia pulled a face behind her mother’s back and winked at him as she trailed after Marianne, and Jared suddenly stopped, Gen’s careless comment playing back in his mind.
“Danneel was going to use that florist?” he asked. “She change her mind?”
Gen gaped at him. “Duh!” She rolled her eyes heavenward. “Why would she need a florist, Jared?”
“Because you can’t have a wedding without a florist?” Jared ventured, feeling a little like the village idiot.
“True, but she’s not having a wedding, ergo, no florist. Jesus. Are you still hungover?” Jared’s heart thudded in his chest, sounding so loud to his own ears that he wondered if Gen and the stylist could hear it too. Something of what he felt must have shown on his face though, because Gen suddenly stopped and stared at him in the mirror. “Yes, Danneel told me, all right?” she confessed. “I know we’re not exactly what you’d call close, but we were making an effort for you and Jensen. When I called to wish her for New Year’s, she told me that she and Jensen had called it quits.” Jared’s knees buckled and he held himself upright only by sheer force of will. “I kept her confidence, okay? I didn’t say a word to anyone. And I guessed you were taking care of Jensen in your own way, so I didn’t mention it. I didn’t want to embarrass him by bringing it up, even to tell him how sorry I was that it didn’t work out for them.”
Jared found a chair and sat down in it, and it gave Genevieve pause as she stilled the stylist’s hand with her own.
“Jared?” Her voice quivered a little, and Jared’s shocked gaze collided with hers in the mirror. “Oh my God. Oh my God! You didn’t know?”
“I didn’t know,” Jared whispered, hope soaring in his chest even as he watched Gen’s expression shatter a little.
“I… I thought Jensen…” She stopped and the stylist muttered something and excused herself, obviously picking up on the not-so-jovial vibes in the room. “Jensen tells you everything,” she whispered, twisting the engagement ring they’d picked out together on her finger. “He tells you everything, but he didn’t tell you this?”
“Gen,” Jared suddenly leapt to his feet, because he couldn’t not. “I need to find Jensen.”
Genevieve sighed, her face expressionless. “Sure, you do,” she said, but Jared was already moving, so he didn’t hear her next softly spoken words. “Good luck.”
Somehow, because the universe was still screwing him sideways, he couldn’t seem to find Jensen anywhere.
He’d managed to send Chad, Jeff, Clif and Keanu on a search-and-rescue mission, while he called Jensen’s cell over and over again, texting him at least thirty times, but even as all the guests were being seated, he didn’t panic.
When his mother cornered him and demanded to know why he was running around like a headless chicken, he dodged her, but he didn’t panic.
When the minister and the groomsmen took their places at the altar, Jeff staying close to him while Chad, Keanu and Clif continued to scan the place for Jensen, he didn’t panic.
When the string quartet picked up their instruments and started playing, he didn’t panic.
But when the side doors of the lodge suddenly banged open and a snazzily dressed Ackles clan walked into the wedding hall – Alan, Donna, Josh and Allie and their boys, and Mack – with Misha and a pregnant, cranky-looking Vicki coming in after them (and weren’t they were supposed to be busy this weekend?), while Jensen pulled up in the rear, shutting the doors behind him, Jared panicked.
He and Jensen stopped and stared at each other for endless seconds while his momma hurriedly tried to find seats for all of Jensen’s family, even as she and Donna tried to catch up, and Jared tried not to look like a spastic fool beckoning Jensen over to his side.
The stubborn asshole instead took his place in the line of groomsmen between Jared’s cousin Rob, and Gen’s brother Marcus.
Jared pursed his lips and tried to channel his anger into more useful avenues, like calling off this wedding, although considering where they were, standing at the altar, as if they were all just hanging out, waiting on the bride, he thought that perhaps he could have thought this through a lot better.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Jared just didn’t think straight without Jensen there to guide him.
“JT,” Jeff whispered harshly in Jared’s ear, “the fuck are you doing?”
“Trying to get Jensen to get his ass over here!”
Jeff rolled his eyes and elbowed the guy next to him. “Get Jensen over here,” he whispered to their cousin Eddie. Eddie nudged Gen’s other brother Elliott, who tapped his brother Marcus on the shoulder, who shyly tugged on Jensen’s sleeve.
Jensen (and did Jared mention that he was a stubborn little shit?) refused to look at him.
“Jen!” Jared stage-whispered loud enough for people in the fifth row to look at him in surprise. Jared toned it down. “Jensen, get your fucking ass over here now!”
Finally, Jensen huffed and moved closer down the line, although he still kept Jeff in between them, like a solid six and a half foot wall. “What, Jared, what?” he muttered furiously. “Did it slip your mind that you’re getting married right now?”
“Did it slip your mind that you’re not?” Jared retorted angrily. That made Jensen look at him in a hurry, stricken and speechless. “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you and Danneel broke up, Jen?”
“You and Danneel broke up?” Jeff asked in shock.
“Jeff, stay outta this a sec!” Jared warned. “Jensen?”
“I didn’t want to rain on your parade, okay?”
“What the fuck, Jensen?”
“You were happy, Jay! Happier than I’d seen you in a long, goddamn time and that was all on Gen!” Jensen snapped, still agitated and upset. “And Danni and I – we just weren’t working out as well as I thought we would. We broke it off.”
“Over New Year’s.”
“And you didn’t tell me? Jensen – you’re a fucking moron!” Jared groaned and buried his face in his hands. Peeking through his fingers at the first row, he saw his family staring at him questioningly, as if not quite sure they should intervene, and he tossed his them a half-hearted smile and stood up a little straighter, keeping that smile pasted on his face so as not to draw the attention of the rest of the guests.
Even though he was pretty damn sure he’d have their undivided attention in the very near future.
“I can’t do this to Gen,” Jared mumbled, more to himself, but Jensen’s sharp ears picked up on it.
“The hell are you talking about?”
“In case you missed it, I’m in love with you, dipshit,” Jared growled at his best friend. “I’m calling off the wedding.”
“Jared!” Jensen quietly shrieked, this time reaching past Jeff and grabbing his arm before Jared could take off down the aisle. “You cannot do this to Genevieve! She loves you and you love her. You were happy! You’re just confused by hormones right now, you’ll get over it!”
“Are you over it?” Jared snarled in Jensen’s face as Jeff tried unobtrusively to hide their little spat from the guests with his big body. “Are you, Jensen? Can you look me in the eye and tell me you don’t love me?”
Jensen appeared to find his shiny black wingtips suddenly very fascinating. “I do love you,” he whispered so softly that Jared had to lean in closer to hear him. “That’s why I feel for Gen. She loves you. If I was in her shoes right now, Jay, it would kill me to lose you! I can’t do that to her!”
“But you can do that to you?”
“I’ve done it for five years, what’s a few more?” Jensen joked lamely, swallowing hard as he looked up at Jared. "I'll get over it."
“So you can just give me up, just like that? It’s so easy for you, right?”
They stared at each other, both of them hurting and uncertain and in love; it was written all over their faces for the world to see, and Jared was certain they would have seen, had Jeff not been standing in front of them.
“You were happy, Jared. You and Gen. You’re happy with her.”
Jared looked Jensen right in the eye as he enunciated every word. “It’s a little thing I like to call acting, asshole. God! You can be so stupid for someone so smart!”
Jensen’s swift intake of breath had Jeff turning to stare at them. “There’s also the tiny matter of you two being civil-unioned, and this being akin to bigamy, which is a felony,” he reminded them. “Has that come up in conversation, boys?”
“Shut up, Jeff,” both of them said at once, their combined whispers loud and sort of echoing in the sudden quiet.
All three of them turned as one when the quartet began to play the 'Here Comes the Bride' and suddenly, there was Gen, on her dad’s arm, standing in the arched entrance to the hall, because at some point during their little tiff, all her attendants had already made their way down the aisle.
“Fuck,” Jeff breathed. “JT, you’re fucked.”
Yeah, Jared thought as a minute later, Maurice Cortese gave him his daughter’s hand; that was pretty much it in a nutshell.
“Dearly beloved…” the minister began, and if ever there was a deer-caught-in-the-headlights moment in Jared’s life, this was friggin’ it.
His breath seizing in his chest, Jared desperately wanted to say something to stop the ceremony, but the words stuck fast in his throat as he stared down into Genevieve’s lovely face.
She winked at him slyly, leaning up on her tiptoes when he frowned at her. “Relax,” she whispered, for his ears only as the minister rambled on, and she squeezed his hands, “I got this.”
Got what? What had she got? Christ, Jared felt like he was having a stroke of some sort because his brain-mouth connection was short-circuiting, his synapses firing all over the place, all that sound and fury in his head doing bupkis when it came to prodding his power of speech.
When Genevieve’s smile turned wicked, he drew in a deep breath, his ears suddenly picking up on the minister’s words.
“If there is anyone present who can show just cause as to why these two should not be wed,” the man droned on, nasal and monotoned, while Jared’s heart threatened to beat right out of his chest, “let them speak now or forever hold their peace. Is there anyone here who objects to this union?”
There was pindrop silence in the big hall for all of a second, and then seven – yes, seven – voices cried out in unison, “I object!”
He was pretty sure he’d heard Jeff object too, just as Jared himself had done, and a quick look at their stunned guests showed Chad, Clif and Keanu on their feet, looking embarrassed and sheepish, but still standing their ground.
Jared didn’t give a fuck about any of them though – well, with the exception of Genevieve; she was awesome – because above all the other voices, loud and proud, and maybe a little terrified, he’d heard Jensen’s objection.
He bit his lip to try to contain his smile as the minister stared at them in shock.
“I’ve been marrying people for fifteen years,” the man gasped, “and that has never happened in one of my weddings before!”
“Yeah well, shit happens,” Gen muttered under her breath, still looking at Jared, “c’est la vie.” Then she looked at the minister. “Give us a moment, will you please?”
And Jared was going to get to her, really, he thought as he held up a tentative finger in her face. “Just give me one second, okay?” Gen smiled and nodded, and he turned to look at Jensen who was still tucked in behind Jeff and now trying to blend in with the decorative foliage around the altar.
“I thought you didn’t have a problem with this,” Jared murmured, his voice carrying just as far as Jensen’s ears.
The corner of Jensen’s mouth tipped up in a self-deprecating manner. “I thought so, too,” he gulped, his green-eyed gaze boring into Jared, open and honest and hiding nothing of what he was feeling, “I was wrong.”
He looked broken and beautiful and Jared really needed to kiss him, but he figured he had a lifetime left to do that, and he didn’t want to add insult to injury where Gen was concerned, at least not any more than he'd already had. With just a nod at Jensen, he turned to look at his ex-fiancée.
“I’m sorry, Gen.”
She sighed. “Well, you should be, but it’s not entirely your fault.” She looked over Jared’s shoulder as Jensen sidled closer, also looking apologetically at her. She shook her head at him. “Jensen, why didn’t you tell him about you and Danneel?”
Jensen gasped. “How’d you know about that? Wait, you’re the one who told him?”
“Yes,” she huffed, “and it should’ve been you, dumbass.” She rolled her eyes. “Danneel told me over New Year’s, and there I was, just waiting for Jared to dump me, now that the line to you was free and clear, but no. He didn’t say a word, he was just his usual happy self.” She darted a look up at Jared’s stunned face. “It’s not like it’s a big secret, you know? Either this shit between you two is the most epic bromance in the history of the known universe, or it’s true love. And only an idiot stands in the way of true love!” She poked Jared’s chest with her pointy little finger. “When you didn’t break up with me, I thought, maybe I’d read the signs wrong and I just went with the flow, until an hour ago when I found out that you didn’t know.”
“Oh God,” Jensen groaned.
“FYI?” Gen stepped a foot closer and gave Jensen’s cheek a conciliatory pat, “I am not an idiot.”
“Gen,” Jared whispered, pouring all the gratitude and love he felt for her in his heart into his next two words, “thank you.”
“Don’t mention it, Padalecki, I’ve kinda always wanted to speak now and not hold my peace.” She smirked up at him, as Jared choked out a half-laugh, half-sob. “Just pay for the party, okay? I’m not leaving without cake.”
Jensen grabbed her wrist before she could move away. “Genevieve… you don’t know how much this means to me. To us.”
“I do know, Jensen,” she mumbled, biting her lip and swallowing, tears springing into her eyes, “but I didn’t stand a chance.” She included them both in her smile. “He was never mine to begin with, just like you never belonged to Danneel.”
“Thank you.” This time it was Jensen who said it. Genevieve nodded and grinned.
“I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Ackles,” she teased, “if you don’t hang on to him, someone else is gonna come along and steal him from right under you, and you might not get so lucky next time.” She turned to go and then froze for a second, carefully leaning into Jared as she whispered, “Is that Keanu Reeves?”
Jared chuckled. “Yeah.”
“Why is Keanu Reeves objecting to my wedding?”
Jensen popped up by Genevieve’s other side. “I think he’s another believer in the power of love.”
Gen tossed him a lopsided grin before looking up at Jared. “You think he’ll give me his number?”
“If he doesn’t?” Jared grinned down at her. “I will.”
“Awesome.” She smiled in satisfaction. “Let me handle them, all right?” she asked nodding at their guests, before she sighed. “At least your mom will be happy, she never liked me.”
Jared darted a quick look at his mother, who was sitting there gaping at them. “She likes you plenty,” Jared hedged guiltily.
Gen snorted. “Yeah, right. Save me a piece of cake, Padalecki, or I’m kicking your ass. And you can have the ring back, but I'm keeping the dress.”
And with that, Genevieve, the lovely, well-versed little lady that she was, proceeded to break the bad (good) news to the confused guests. It was a thing of beauty, her ease and charm and way with words, and in no time at all, she had everyone up and out of the hall, and shepherded into the reception area for the meal and revelry and cake, just sans the actual wedding.
And then, in a matter of a few minutes, the only ones left in the hall were the Padaleckis, the Ackles', and a few of their assorted friends and relatives.
“What the fuck just happened?” Josh asked, his cuss-filter very obviously malfunctioning. “And why didn’t either of you tell us that you knew Keanu Reeves?”
“It’s a long goddamn story,” Jensen huffed, collapsing in a heap on the altar step, leaning his head against Jared’s knee as he sighed.
Jared couldn’t help the smile on his face as he looked down at Jensen’s dark head. He sat down too, taking his place at Jensen’s side, long arm draped over Jensen’s shoulders as he tugged him close. Jensen looked a little startled, a little shaken, and a lot relieved as his green eyes collided with Jared’s, and this time, there was no holding back.
Jared leaned in and Jensen tipped forward and then they were kissing, slow and sweet and everything Jared had ever wanted, finally right there in his arms.
It was the collective gasp of shock that had them breaking apart, everyone talking at once as Jeff and Chad tried to calm them down.
“Jeff,” Josh glared at his friend, “am I gonna have to kick some ass?”
Jeff, who was bigger than Josh on any given day, looked like a frightened little girl (not that Jared blamed him; Josh could be really, really scary when he put his mind to it). “Hold that thought.”
“Hold everything,” Jensen’s father spoke up sternly, “and start from the beginning. What the hell happened out there in Vegas?”
“Forget what happened in Vegas,” Sherri piped up, the look in her eyes daring anyone to overrule her (no one did; she put Josh to shame in the fear-mongering department). Then she turned that no-nonsense look on Jared. “I want to know why you’re kissing Jensen Ackles.”
Jared gulped, squeezing Jensen’s hand in his, but it was Jensen who rose gracefully to his feet in front of her, tugging Jared up with him, and it was Jensen who spoke. “I love Jared, ma’am,” he said softly, and so sincerely that Jared sighed, “with all my heart, with everything that I am, I love him. I have for a long time now, and I know this may come as a shock to y’all, but we’ve been… we’ve been dancin’ around this thing for years, and we’re good with each other, you know?” Jensen blinked and Jared noticed it was because there were tears in his eyes and now – goddamit – there were tears in Jared’s eyes, too. Jensen drew in a deep breath. “We’re happy. I mean, Jared’s happy. I think I make him happy…” Green eyes glanced shyly in his direction and Jared couldn’t stop himself from wrapping his arms around Jensen, wrapping his whole body around Jensen until his face was buried in the soft hair at the nape of Jensen’s neck and all he could breathe in was the warm scent of Jensen’s skin.
“You make me so happy, Jensen,” Jared breathed.
Jensen’s hands gripped his, but he looked back at Jared’s momma, and then, for good measure, at Jared’s daddy too. “Can I keep him? Please?”
“Oh, baby,” Sherri whispered, her eyes tearing up as well. Jared was pretty sure he saw Donna sniffling a little too. “It’s ‘may I.' And of course, you may. I was always rooting for you, Jensen.”
Well, if his momma was correcting Jensen’s grammar, then he’d been well and truly accepted into the Padalecki family, Jared thought with a chuckle, but Jensen just nodded seriously. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“Just bring him back home to us for holidays and special occasions, y’hear?”
“Well, now that that’s settled,” Sherri smirked, “c’mon over here and give me a hug, boys.”
They ambushed her. Then the rest of the family jumped on them, everyone chattering happily and thumping both Jared and Jensen on the back and offering their congratulations.
It stood to reason, then, that Jeff had to go and ruin it all.
“Dude,” he grinned, poking Jensen in the chest, “you’re supposed to ask for the bride’s hand before the wedding, not after!”
Jensen froze. Jared froze. Jeff slapped a hand to his face.
“JT?” Sherri turned to him in shock.
“It’s a long story?” Jared ventured sheepishly.
“Well, then I suggest you get started on it,” Donna butted into the conversation, and shit, she was just as scary as his momma, “’cause I don’t want to hear that you didn’t do right by my baby boy.”
“No, ma’am. I mean, yes, ma’am. Shoot,” Jared panicked. “Jensen, what do I mean?”
“He means he loves me, momma,” Jensen smiled, sweet for his mother, who all but melted at that look, “he’ll always do right by me.”
“I will,” Jared nodded hard, digging into his trouser pocket to pull out the pair of rings there. “I promised,” he told them all, holding the rings, one slightly bigger than the other, in his palm for everyone to see.
Jensen blinked at them. “I wondered where they were.”
“We gave them to Elvis to get them engraved.”
“What do they say?” Jensen leaned in close enough to touch their foreheads together as Jared showed him: J & J, in life, for life. Jensen smiled.
“The rings are cheap…” Jared started, unable to stop staring at the simple gold bands resting on his palm.
“They’re perfect,” Jensen argued, taking the larger one from Jared and sneaking a peek up at him through his lashes, shy and so damn sweet that Jared’s chest ached with it. Then, in front of their families and friends, they slid their rings onto each other’s fingers.
“My God,” Sherri shook her head at Donna, “our sons got hitched in Vegas. And Elvis had something to do with it.”
Gerry damn near guffawed.
“Actually,” Jeff interrupted, “they got civil-unioned in Vegas.”
Donna blinked, her eyes widening before a smile broke out onto her face as she and Sherri shared a look. “That means we can still have a realwedding!”
“In Canada,” Jeff agreed, “where it’s legal and they can do it right.” And Jared stared as his big brother winked at him.
“Thanks, bro,” Jared remarked, smirking, “although I don’t know how you’re gonna top your performance from the Chapel of Love.”
Jeff frowned. “What performance? You remember something from that night?”
“Nope,” Jensen drawled, “but we have the DVD, remember?” It was really comical how everyone froze, and then started talking all at once, finally sending a posse of Jared’s cousins out to go hunt down a DVD player or a laptop. “Should’ve kept that to myself,” Jensen muttered with a wry smile.
Jared kissed his cheek. “S’okay, pumpkin, everyone already knows you’re gone for me.”
“I am,” Jensen admitted quietly, sighing as he leaned into Jared’s embrace, both of them enjoying their closeness while Jeff and Chad filled everyone else in on the nitty-gritty details of their trip to Vegas.
“What’d we miss?”
Jared and Jensen jumped as Misha suddenly appeared behind them, Vicki and Keanu in tow, and huh, Jared hadn’t even noticed that they’d gone, but looking at their cake-laden plates, he rolled his eyes.
“Good job with the cake, gigantor,” Keanu mumbled, licking cream cheese frosting from his fork.
“Mmm,” Vicki agreed, moaning lustily as she rubbed her pregnant belly, “I’m taking the mango mousse tier home, I swear to God.” She looked at her husband. “Make it happen, Misha.”
“Yes, dear,” Misha was quick to agree.
“And get the name of that bakery,” she ordered over her shoulder as she went to find a chair.
“As you wish,” Misha called out, pinning Jared with a sullen stare. “Thanks. Now I’ll have to make craving runs trying to find mango mousse cake in the middle of the night.”
“Dude,” Jared grinned unrepentantly, “you’re welcome. What are you doing here, by the way? Thought you couldn’t make it?”
“Clif’s tweets these past couple of days were too intriguing to pass up,” Misha confided with a smirk as Jared and Jensen groaned. “I had to come check it out myself.”
“The hell did Clif say?” Jensen frowned.
“Something about love, drugs and the king of rock ‘n’ roll,” he muttered, nodding to his wife as she waved him over. “Excuse me. I’m needed to go get Vicki more cake. At this rate, my kid’s gonna have a secret candy stash bigger than Jared’s. Coming, honey!”
“You guys are weird,” Keanu commented, “I think that’s why your show works. I mean, that dude said he plays an angel who has a profound bond with Dean.”
“He does.” Jensen shrugged.
“Does that make Sam jealous?”
“A little,” Jared quipped, “but he was banging a demon - incidentally one played by Genevieve - so we figure they’re even.”
“I really need to watch this show,” Keanu mumbled, taking another bit of cake. “This is good cake. We should go get some more before Vicki eats it all.”
Since that sentiment was one they could all agree on, they started in the direction of the reception room, only to jump back in shock when the doors leading there were thrown open and the Trinity suddenly stood on the threshold, panting and wheezing, as if they’d run there all the way from Nevada.
“Stop the wedding!” George shouted, and then seeing the nearly empty room, his shoulders slumped dejectedly. “Fuck.” He turned on his compatriots. “I told you we shouldn’t have stopped for pie! Who stops for pie on the way to break up a wedding?”
“It was good pie!” Ben yelled back. “And look! Jensen and Jared, but no bride!”
Matt was the first to stalk up to them. “Did you get married?” he asked Jared.
“Just to Jensen. In Vegas.”
“What happened here?” Ben asked.
Jensen and Jared looked at each other and laughed. “It’s a long story.”
“Awesome, I’ve got time to kill,” George drawled, winking at Donna and Sherri as they swooned and clung to each other at the sight of him, “and a hankering for cake.”
Jared pushed Jensen up against the door as soon as – his best friend? Life partner? Husband? All of the above? – Jensen shut it and they finally left the madness behind them. He trapped Jensen there with his hands and elbows pressed against the wood, keeping no space between their bodies to even breathe. Jensen smirked up at him through his lashes, and really, that’s all it took for Jared to get hard in his pants.
“Never, ever stop looking at me like that, okay?” Jared pleaded, dipping his head to nibble at Jensen’s earlobe, nuzzling the soft, sensitive shell of his ear as Jensen nodded. “Wanna take a shower with me? Wash all this make-up off?”
“Yeah,” Jensen breathed, his hands rubbing up and down Jared’s sides, before un-tucking his shirt from his pants.
They did a good job getting each other naked – and needy – as they stumbled through Jared’s room at the ski resort and into the bathroom. There was no shower stall here, just a bathtub with a showerhead that Jared was already intimately familiar with, considering how many times he’d banged his head against it.
“Let me take pole position,” Jensen chuckled when Jared glared at the offending showerhead; he was quick to turn on the water and adjust the temperature before he stepped under the spray and… got wet. And gorgeous. Or, you know, more gorgeous.
Jared tried not to drool. Or come. It was a close thing on both fronts.
“C’mere.” Jensen tugged on his hips, until they slotted together, their cocks hard and sliding against each other. Jared ducked his head under the spray and captured Jensen’s plump, wet lips with his, sucking on them like a starving man grapples at sustenance. “Goddamn, you feel so good, Jay.”
“And you were about to give this all up,” Jared muttered into the skin over Jensen’s collarbone, working his way to the point where shoulder met neck, and he settled there, sucking a bruise into Jensen’s skin, marking him, making Jensen his in a whole new way. But Jensen had gotten very quiet. “What?” Jared asked, pulling back and shoving a hank of wet hair off of his forehead.
“I’m sorry,” Jensen said, his eyes not wavering from Jared’s, “I never meant to…”
“To ever tell me how you felt?”
“Yeah,” Jensen nodded, scrubbing water out of his eyes, “I really did think you were happy.”
“I had to be happy, Jensen,” Jared said, cupping Jensen’s face in his hands as his thumbs brushed across his spiky, wet eyelashes. “You seemed happy with Danneel, and I dunno, I guess I wanted that too.”
“I wanted you.”
“Well, now you’ve got me. No refunds, no exchanges.”
“I think I can live with that,” Jensen told him, laughing a little as he reached up to drag his fingers through Jared’s wet hair, pushing it back again before he trailed his hand down the side of Jared’s face, cupping his jaw. “I’d like to promise not to be such a wuss when it comes to you, but I will always put you and your feelings first. I’m going to always want to do what’s best for you.”
“You think I won’t do the same for you?” Jared asked. “But you need to talk to me, okay? I need to know what’s going on in that head of yours. I can’t lose you again, Jensen, not for nothing. I can’t.”
Jensen pressed into his body at that, rising up onto his toes when Jared’s arms tightened around his waist, as he reached up to kiss him, their mouths moving languidly under the stream of water cascading down over them. “You’re not going to. I won’t let you. Not ever gonna let you go now that you’re mine.”
“Mine,” Jared agreed, grabbing Jensen’s ass cheeks and squeezing possessively.
Jensen smirked into his mouth. “I think you should fuck me now.”
Jared groaned, completely on board with that plan. In two minutes flat, he had them out of the tub, towel-dried more or less (him, more; Jensen, less – because, hello, wet Jensen!), and tumbled into bed, and goddamn, Jensen looked fucking stunning all spread out against the soft white sheets, and as soon as they got back to Vancouver, Jared was tossing all his old sheets and buying new ones… in white.
Jensen sighed with exaggerated patience. “I’m not getting any younger, Padalecki.”
“Shut up,” Jared pouted, “I like looking at you.”
“Well, I need you to touch me, so c’mere already.”
Jared reluctantly – and happily – complied, moving with languid ease until every part of him was pressed against every part of Jensen as he settled on top of him, their faces so close together that their noses brushed. “You’re so beautiful, Jensen,” Jared said right into his mouth.
Jensen blushed, a riot of color blooming up from his chest – Jared could feel the warm flush against his own skin – right up into his face; it made the bruised skin around his eye look purple. Jared carefully kissed around the bruise, licking the skin there, kitten-soft and tender. Jensen sighed, tightened his grip around Jared and suddenly flipped them over until he was on top.
“My turn,” he drawled, the Texan in him showing a lot in those two little words, while the feral, possessive look in his eyes sent a shiver ricocheting through Jared’s body, one that he could feel from his toes all the way to his scalp.
Jared tried not to squirm as Jensen slithered down his body, the moisture left over from their shower easing his way as he paused first to suck on Jared’s nipples. Goosebumps peppered Jared’s skin at the sensation – and the visual – of those sensual, full lips of Jensen’s pursing over that tiny, brown nub, assaulting it with the coarse surface of his tongue as he laved over it in broad stripes, before going back to suckling at it, and then lavishing the same glorious attention to Jared’s other nipple. Christ, but Jensen and his exceptionally gifted mouth were working wonders on Jared’s libido.
Not that Jared’s libido really needed much to begin with; just Jensen, however he could get him.
Jensen hummed softly as he moved down Jared’s body, not in any hurry at all, sounding like he was enjoying himself, which made Jared smile like a fool. He teased them both as he licked down the cut of Jared’s abs, his tongue dipping into Jared’s belly button, making that smile on his face turn into a laugh, because that tickled. He could feel Jensen’s answering grin against his skin as he mouthed at the divot of his hips, sucking fiercely at one spot where hip led to groin.
“So sexy,” Jensen murmured. “Jared, your fucking body…” Jensen’s voice trailed off as he pressed a series of soft licks and kisses along Jared’s inner thigh, his tongue so close to Jared’s cock but ignoring it in favor of licking along the groove of his groin, that sensitive, paper thin area of skin that Jared never considered an erogenous zone before. “Almost had a fucking heart attack when I first saw you after hiatus last year,” Jensen muttered, and Jared had to shake his head to focus on his words, “you suddenly went from this cute kid to this hot, ripped manand I… I don’t even know…”
Jared didn’t know either; he had no idea. Because now Jensen had his dick in his fist, tight and firm, and was lapping at the precome leaking from it like it was a sugary sweet treat. Fuck, it was hot. It was beyond hot, and Jared was going to blow like a geyser if Jensen didn’t let up soon.
Time enough for blowjobs later; right now, he needed to fuck Jensen.
“Jensen,” Jared panted as Jensen slurped on the head of his cock, “Jensen, shit, grab the lube, dammit. I need you.”
The bastard smiled around his cock instead, then went back to sucking it with gusto so Jared couldn’t help but manhandle him – and Jared was going to treasure that look of surprise on Jensen’s face for an eternity – pulling him easily back up the length of his body as Jared devoured his mouth, tasting himself and Jensen, the combination heady and addictive. Jensen wrenched himself away though, and with Jared directing him, he found the plastic bag with the lube.
“You had condoms?” Jensen sputtered. “You had condoms last night and you didn’t use them?”
“Sorry, sorry, Jen,” Jared apologized, his heart in his throat, “I’m sorry, but I promise you I’m clean. I never have sex without a condom. Well, except for yesterday obviously, but that was you and I wasn’t thinking and…”
“Jesus, Jay,” Jensen snorted, “I don’t care about that! I mean, I do, but I know you’d never not take care of me.” Jared breathed a sigh of relief and sagged back across the pillows pushed up against the head of the bed. “I just meant… you came inside me. That shit is gross,” Jensen complained as he crawled up the bed, stopping only when he was sitting in Jared’s lap, straddling his thighs.
Jared raised an enquiring eyebrow. “My come inside you is gross?”
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, princess.” Jensen rolled his eyes. “I just meant that it’s squelchy and uncomfortable. Use a condom.”
“Squelchy and uncomfortable?”
“Are you gonna bitch me out, now?” Jensen asked with a sigh, flipping the bottle of lube open, grabbing Jared’s hand and squirting some slick over his fingers. “’Cause there are better things you could be doing with your time.” He waggled his brows suggestively. He grunted and wriggled a little as Jared reached around him to stick two fingers up his ass, no warning, no hesitation, just intrusion. Jensen laughed as he bore down on Jared’s fingers, holding Jared’s face between his palms and forcing Jared’s gaze up to his. “You try it next time and see how you like it.”
Jared had to huff out a laugh, and he got rewarded with a kiss on his nose, on his forehead, and on his mouth. “Yeah, okay.”
“Condom,” Jared agreed, a little disappointed, because Jensen felt so mind-blowingly incredible on his bare cock, “and you call me a princess.”
Jensen grinned, a harsh breath punching out of him as Jared added a third finger. “It’s these lustrous locks,” Jensen teased, tousling his hair playfully, kissing the bruise around his eye.
When he declared that he was ready, Jared reached for a condom and put it on while Jensen hovered, and then, fucking then, he lost himself in the rapturous feel of Jensen sinking down over him, impaling himself on Jared’s cock, in what was going to be Jared’s new definition of perfection.
Jared blinked his eyes open to find Jensen squinting at him. “What?”
“Nope,” was all Jensen said, “this isn’t gonna work.”
“Wha–?” It was working for Jared! It was working awesomely! And then it wasn’t, because Jensen pulled himself off Jared’s cock with a slick, obscene plop. He knee-crawled backwards until he had Jared’s dick in front of him and then got rid of the condom, tossing it aside, and as Jared watched it fly in an elegant arc to the floor, Jensen slicked up his bare cock, fast and furious and before Jared could say or do anything, he was sinking back down on him with a soft, very satisfied sigh.
Oh. Ohhhh. Sonofabitch.
“Don’t say it,” Jensen grunted, fucking himself on Jared’s dick with abandon.
“Wasn’t… uh, gonna say… a word,” Jared panted, admiring the sheen of sweat on Jensen’s upper lip as he exerted himself. An imp of mischief made Jared add, “I can pull out before I come… if you like…”
“Shut… up… Jared.”
“Can come on you… your belly,” Jared stuttered, “lick it… lick it off.” Jensen’s breath hitched and he did that pretty little whimpering thing again, and Jared was gone. He grabbed Jensen and with some nifty maneuvering – and who said big guys like him weren’t bendy? – he had Jensen flat on his back on the bed, their feet on the pillows instead. “Or…” Jared gasped, as Jensen’s ass clenched him like a vise when Jared pounded into him, “or I could come inside you again, and lick you clean… Would you like that, Jensen? Huh?”
“I have… never… been with some…one as chatty as you in bed, I swear,” Jensen groused, biting Jared’s shoulder hard enough to bruise.
Jared nipped Jensen’s bottom lip in sweet retaliation. “I’d rather you… not talk about sex with other people when you’re having sex with… me.”
“I’m not having… sex… with you.”
“You’re not?” Jared chuckled, licking across Jensen’s upper lip now, sweeping all those salty little droplets of sweat into his mouth. “Jensen… I hate to be the one to break it you… but if this isn’t sex… then you’ve been doing it wrong, baby.”
“This isn’t sex,” Jensen insisted, his feet wrapping around the backs of Jared’s thighs and holding on as he canted and undulated his hips up towards Jared with every other thrust.
Jared scoffed. “Then what is it?”
“This… is… love.”
Oh. Oh, fuck. Jared’s hips stuttered to a standstill.
“Uh, Jay?” Jensen wheezed. “Can you get a fucking move on? I got things to do.”
Jared smiled down into irate green eyes. “Shut up and let me love you.”
But Jensen, because he was an ornery bastard like that, shut him up instead, kissing the very breath from his body, making Jared’s already hard dick surge stiffer inside Jensen, making him lose his mind a little. There was no more talking after that, not for another few minutes, not until Jensen came, splashing warm and sticky between their bodies, not until Jared came, long and hard and deep inside Jensen’s body.
And because he was a man of his word, he licked every inch of Jensen clean.
Sated and sleepy, Jensen pleasantly pliant and spooned into his front, Jared spoke again. “Hey, Jen?”
“You think maybe Max the Fifth has a sibling?”
Jensen groaned. “No, Jared. I’m already letting you keep that black velvet monstrosity.”
“Hey, I love that picture of us!” He poked Jensen in the side, and when he yelped, Jared sucked a little on his earlobe in apology. “Come on, Jen. He was awful cute.”
“No, he was awful stinky.”
“I think Harley and Sadie might want a little brother or sister…”
“Oh God.” Jensen buried his face in the pillow they were sharing, so Jared soothed him with soft kisses along the back of his neck.
“And as their new daddy, you’re obliged to give them one.”
“I’ll talk to George in the morning,” Jensen huffed, grabbing Jared’s jaw between strong fingers and crushing his mouth to Jared’s in a brutal, brilliant kiss. “Also, I hate you.”
Jared squeezed him until neither of them could breathe. “Liar.”
When Jensen and Jared got married for the second time, a few months later in the spring, sober and in full control of all their faculties, both of them looking handsome and debonair and besotted with each other, it was just as heartfelt and charming as the first time, Elvis, the alpacas, Max (Clooney) and Maxine (Padalecki-Ackles), Harley and Sadie, and all. They counted Keanu Reeves, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and their significant others amongst the wedding guests, as well as almost everyone from their real families and their Supernaturalfamily, and each and every one of their friends.
Only this time they didn’t do it in a ski lodge or in the Chapel of Love; this time, they tied the knot in a beautiful lakefront resort on the coast of Nanaimo, British Columbia. This time, they were flanked by their groomsmen at the altar, their brothers at their sides, and they’d walked down the aisle together, hand in hand. They said the same vows, they got teary-eyed (okay, Jensen cried prettily and Jared cried sloppily), and they used the same rings, because they were both sentimental and sappy and smitten with one another like that, and they didn’t need to hide it anymore, now that everyone and their mommas-in-law knew the truth about them. This time they were pronounced husband and husband, and they reveled in the sound of it before they kissed, sweet and perfect and so in love, and at the end of the night, they still danced to True Blue.
This time, pretty much just like last time (because if it ain’t broke, don’t fuck it up by trying to fix it), they did it right, and as Jared watched Jensen smile and laugh and love him, he figured he’d finally found the wedded bliss he’d spent all these years looking for, and as Jensen’s hand slipped back into his, warm and snug and a perfect fit, he knew that Jensen had found his bliss too.
Sometimes, like this time, dreams, though they may get tweaked a little, do come true.