Actions

Work Header

A Dark Secret

Chapter Text

Misha frowned as he watched his boyfriend, Jensen. They'd been goofing around in the kitchen, doing more joking around than cooking until Jen's cell phone had rung. Now he was pacing up and down the hall talking quietly with a look on his face that was either anxiety or fear. Either way, Misha didn't like it. There was only one person who could put that look on Jensen's face. Jared.

 

Although they'd been together for a little over a year, Misha had yet to meet Jensen's son. He'd seen plenty of pictures of the tall, shaggy-haired, hazel-eyed eight-year-old, but Jensen was wildly overprotective of the boy and Misha wasn't going to push about something that personal. He planned on being in Jensen's life for a long time. He could wait to meet Jared and it would make it that much more special when he finally did.

 

Jensen finally hung up the phone, but instead of walking back to the kitchen he sagged against the wall. Misha walked over and wrapped his arms around his trembling boyfriend just in time to catch him as his knees gave out. Half carrying him over to the couch, he sat them both down and rubbed Jensen's back in soothing circles.

 

"Talk to me, baby," he said after a minute. "What's going on?"

 

"No, I...I can't," Jensen was still shaking. Hard. "M-Mish, I..."

 

"Shhh," Misha soothed. "It's okay, hon."

 

"I have to go!" Jensen suddenly jumped off the couch. "I'm sorry. I have to get home."

 

Damn it was times like these that Misha almost wished for a drink. Sure, he technically could have one, but once had been enough to show him why that was a bad idea. His and Jensen's first date had started out similarly to this one. He'd invited Jensen over for dinner and had mixed some drinks to go with the meal. The night had been going well until he'd placed the drink in front of Jensen. He was honestly surprised he'd ever gotten another date after that. Jensen had started shaking almost as bad as he was doing now and had managed to choke out something about how he didn't drink. Ever. Seeing the violent reaction once was more than enough for Misha. He'd immediately dumped both drinks down the drain and locked the rest of his alcohol away so Jensen wouldn't have to see it.

 

"Where are my keys?" Jensen wondered, wide eyes jumping from place to place around the room.

 

"Counter," Misha pointed. His forehead scrunched up in concern. Jensen could be a little OCD about misplacing things, so he always left his keys in exactly the same spot every time he came over.

 

"Right," Jensen snatched them up. "Wait. Now where's my phone."

 

Okay, that was it. There was no way Misha was letting him drive in a condition like this. He quickly stood and grabbed the keys out of Jensen's hand.

 

"You're not driving," Misha told him.

 

"Mish, I'm fine!" Jensen insisted. "Give me my keys. I need to leave."

 

"I'll drive you home and catch a cab back," Misha crossed his arms over his chest.

 

"I'm seriously not in the mood for this shit right now, Misha," Jensen warned, his voice taking on a dangerous tone. "I'm leaving. Give me the damn keys."

 

"I already said no," there was no way Misha was backing down on this. "Jen, baby, look at yourself. You're frazzled beyond belief. You couldn't find the phone that is still in your hand. If you try to drive home you're going to kill yourself and how is that going to fix whatever's going on?"

 

Jensen looked down at his feet. He saw the logic in that, but he really needed to be left alone right now. Other than Jared. He needed to pull his son into his arms and just hold onto him and make sure he was safe. At the same time, Misha didn't look like he was planning to relinquish his hold on the car keys.

 

"Fine," he huffed. "Can we go now, though?"

 

In answer, Misha grabbed his jacket off of its hook and motioned to the door. The drive back across town to Jensen's apartment was uncharacteristically quiet, and Jensen felt guilty for being an asshole to his boyfriend. When Misha parked and shut the car off he turned.

 

"Mish, I'm..." he started.

 

"Don't, Jen," Misha leaned over and brushed a finger over his cheek. "You're upset about something. If I know you, my love, which I like to think I do, I know that this must have something to do with Jared. I'm not about to get upset with you for being concerned about your son. Go in and see him. Just call me later if you get a chance? Or tomorrow? Let me know he's okay?"

 

Even after all this time, it still surprised Jensen when Misha asked for updates about Jared. That was another thing he'd been a bit of an asshole about. There was no real reason to keep his boyfriend away from his son, but here he was doing it anyway.

 

"Do you, um, do you want to come in instead?" he offered. "I made us leave in such a hurry we never did get a chance to eat. We don't really have anything all that fancy, but I know there's enough to scrounge up some sort of decent meal."

 

"Are you sure?" Misha asked. He wanted to take Jensen up on his offer right here and now, but he wasn't about to take advantage of his boyfriend's current state of mind. "I mean, Jared..."

 

"It's past time," Jensen cut him off. "You've kinda become a really big part of my life, Mish. I'd love it to stay that way, and it's stupid to keep two of the most important people to me away from each other."

 

"I'm not going anywhere, darlin'," it warmed Misha's heart to hear that Jensen felt the same way he did. On some level he knew that, but Jensen could be a bit vague about showing his emotions.

 

Jensen wasn't so sure Misha would still be saying that if he knew the full truth. Hell, he'd be lucky if Misha didn't go running for the hills, never to return, if he knew the full truth.

 

The two of them linked hands as they climbed the stairs up to Jensen's apartment because the elevator was broken. Again. Misha frowned some more at that. He'd been trying for the past six months to get Jensen to move to a better part of town. He'd refused, saying he couldn't afford anything nicer and had absolutely refused to hear of Misha paying for an apartment for himself and his son. Misha had argued, pointing out that he did own one of the most successful restaurants in town so money wasn't an issue and that it would put his mind at ease to know that Jensen and Jared were in a better place. His stubborn, pig-headed boyfriend had still refused, claiming that they were perfectly fine.

 

"Dad!" a scrawny, chestnut-haired blur shot off the floor and towards them as soon as the door opened.

 

"Hey, baby," Jensen picked his son up and squeezed him tight. Jared was really too big to be picked up anymore, and had been for a while. He was tall for his age, but Jensen didn't care.

 

"C'mon, Dad," Jared rolled his eyes and wriggled to get down. "I'm not a baby anymore. Lemme down."

 

"Always my baby," Jensen refused to let him go.

 

"Jen?" Jensen's sister, Mackenzie was standing near the couch, looking concerned. "What's going on? I thought you and Misha were...oh! Hi, Misha."

 

"Hi, Kenzi," Misha nodded to her.

 

Although Jensen had been strict about him not meeting Jared for a while, his family had been just as strict about meeting him as soon as possible. It had almost felt a bit like he had to prove he was okay enough to date Jensen, but he didn't mind. He loved Jen and was willing to prove to anyone who needed it that he wasn't going to hurt him.

 

"Jay, bud, this is my...friend...Misha," Jensen finally set his son down only to get another eye roll.

 

"Really, Dad?" Jared asked. "You do know I'm not five anymore, right? You can just say boyfriend."

 

"Don't be fresh, mister," Jensen warned. "Yes, Misha is my boyfriend."

 

"Hi," Jared walked right up to Misha and scowled at him. "You better be good to my Dad and not hurt him."

 

"Jared Tristan!" Jensen yelped.

 

"It's fine," Misha laughed. "Apparently he's just as protective of you as you are of him. Don't worry, kiddo. You have my word. I'm crazy about your Dad, and I promise I'd never hurt him."

 

"Good," Jared seemed content with that answer.

 

"Hey Jens, can I talk to you?" Mackenzie asked, pulling him aside.

 

They walked a few steps away and started whispering, Misha assumed it was about whatever had happened during that phone call. He was really not liking the fact that Kenzi's face went almost as pale as Jensen's had.

 

"You want to see my room?" Jared asked after a minute or two. He was tired of all the adults around here acting so weird and it was the only thing he could think of.

 

"I'd love to," Misha smiled down at him.

 

"No!" Jensen's voice cracked across the living room, making them all jump. "I just mean, we're gonna be eating soon enough. I want you to stay out here, Jared."

 

"But..." Jared started.

 

"I'm sorry. Did I give the impression that I was asking?" Jensen's voice hardened again.

 

Jared huffed in annoyance and dropped onto the couch, fiddling with some sort of handheld game. Misha made his way over to where Jensen was standing with his sister, and they abruptly stopped talking.

 

"Go easy on him, babe. Please?" Misha asked. "I know you're upset, but he's just a kid."

 

"A kid who's been a holy terror all night," Kenzi admitted. "I think he's getting ready to hit another growth spurt, Jen. He's tried to eat everything even remotely edible in the house, he's been complaining that his joints are achy, and just kind of been cranky all around."

 

"Again?" Jensen asked. "Jesus, he's already in the eightieth percentile. Kid's gonna be taller than me by the time he's ten at this rate. I'm sorry he's been such a pain for you, Kenz."

 

"He's entitled every now and again," Mackenzie shrugged. "He's usually so well-behaved I figured something was going on."

 

"Still doesn't excuse bad behavior," Jensen disagreed. "I'll talk to him later. I appreciate you coming over to watch him. You want to stay for dinner?"

 

"Nah," Kenzi smiled. "I'll let you three have some time. And you know you don't have to thank me. Even when he's being a brat, he's still my favorite nephew."

 

"I'm your only nephew!" Jared reminded her.

 

"Exactly, which automatically makes you my favorite," Kenzi walked over and dropped a kiss on top of his head before ruffling his hair. "Keep up the attitude and I might have to find a new favorite nephew, though."

 

"Yeah, yeah," Jared laughed. "Bye, Aunt Kenz."

 

After Mackenzie left, Jensen and Misha headed for the kitchen to dig something up to eat. Misha had hoped that Jensen would settle down a little now that they were back at his apartment, but if anything he was even more stressed than before. He couldn't seem to go more than five minutes or so without stepping into the living room to check on Jared.

 

They'd decided on burgers since some ground beef was all Jensen had defrosted, but Misha had spotted a pretty good assortment of spices as well as a bag of potatoes and some olive oil. He smiled as he started to mix things together and slice potatoes. Jensen and Jared were about to have the best burgers and roasted potatoes they'd ever tasted. Once he'd gotten everything going, he spun around and grabbed Jensen around the waist before he could leave the kitchen yet again to check on Jared.

 

"Hang on, Mish. I just want to go look in on Jared and make sure he' s okay," Jensen tried to twist out of Misha's arms.

 

"He's fine, baby," Misha didn't let go. "I can hear that game he's playing. We need to talk, anyway. What's going on with you? I don't want to push, but it's obvious there's something really wrong and I want to be able to help."

 

"I wish you could, Misha," Jensen finally stopped struggling and laid his head on his boyfriend's shoulder. "This is something that's completely out of mine, yours, and pretty much everyone's control, though."

 

"Talk to me about it anyway," Misha pleaded. "You need to get whatever this is off of your chest. It's eating you up."

 

"It's not that easy," Jensen argued.

 

"A lot of times things can seem really complicated, but once you open up about them they start to get easier," Misha countered.

 

Jensen sighed. He loved Misha and loved the fact that he was doing everything he knew to help him feel better. He just didn't understand that this wasn't something Jensen could talk about. It had taken almost ten years for him to allow himself to get close to someone and he wasn't willing to risk it yet. Sure, they'd been together for over a year now, but this wasn't one of those things you just blurt out and hope that your boyfriend understands.

 

"Not this," he finally said. "Jared! Go wash up for dinner!"

 

"Gotta finish this last level," came the reply.

 

"What you 'gotta' do is go wash up for dinner, like I said," Jensen scolded.

 

"It'll take me like thirty more seconds, Dad!" Jared whined.

 

"Jared Tristan Ackles, last warning. Do not make me repeat myself anymore tonight," Jensen warned. He knew that would have the desired effect and it didn't disappoint. He heard scurrying feet almost immediately. He sighed again and turned back to Misha. "God, he really is being difficult tonight."

 

"I don't know," Misha shrugged. "He doesn't seem like he's being all that bad. I've never had kids, though."

 

"For a normal kid, maybe not," Jensen agreed. "But for him, he's definitely being a brat. I raised him to be polite, not to backtalk and harass his aunt all night."

 

Misha chose to remain prudently silent. He remembered the way he'd been at eight. What Jensen considered backtalk had been his normal tone of voice for about two years. He knew there was more to it, though. Jensen's nerves were on edge and it was making him a little snappish with everyone.

 

"Done," Jared sulked into the kitchen. "M'hungry."

 

"Dinner's up in about two minutes," Misha told him. "Hope you like burgers."

 

"Two minutes?" Jared scowled at his father. "I could've finished that level and still had time to wash up before it was ready, Dad!"

 

"Set the table, please," Jensen said through clenched teeth. He was trying really hard, but oh boy was Jared grinding on every last nerve he had at the moment.

 

"It's not fair!" Jared complained, folding his arms.

 

That was it. He'd given as many chances as he was willing to. Without a word he grabbed Jared by the elbow with one hand and gave him two quick, but sharp swats on his bottom with the other.

 

"Ow!" he danced away as soon as he was released. "Dad!"

 

"Are you ready to do as I asked or would you like to keep arguing?" Jensen asked. He noticed Misha whirl back around towards the stove to stifle a laugh and had to suppress a smile of his own. He'd seen his son react less drastically when he'd gotten a full spanking.

 

"Sorry," came the muttered apology. He moved to start setting the table when there was a knock on the door.

 

"Who the hell?" Jensen wondered. "I'll be right back guys."

 

As he left the kitchen, he took a second to admire the sight of his two favorite guys working together. Misha obviously loved Jared and Jared, despite his need of an attitude adjustment today, was clearly pretty impressed with Misha. Of course, that could've had something to do with the fact that Misha was making burgers. Give his son a burger and you had a friend for life.

 

He went to answer the door and was surprised to find Jeff standing there. Jeff was the lawyer who'd taken his case nine years ago. He'd already talked to him on the phone at Misha's house.

 

"Jeff? I thought you were going to come by tomorrow?" Jensen asked quietly.

 

"I was going to, but this has to be done now, Jensen," Jeff barged right in and started pulling papers out of his briefcase and spreading them around on the coffee table.

 

"Keep it down, would you man?" Jensen glanced towards the kitchen.

 

"Yeah, yeah, sure," Jeff agreed, speaking in exactly the same tone. "Listen, Shane's set to be released on Friday on parole. I told you that part already. But I just found out that he's already got a team of lawyers working on getting him a custody hearing."

 

"What?!" Jensen yelled before quieting himself. "How...I never...I didn't think he...I never told him about Jared! How does he know?"

 

"How he found out isn't as important as the fact that he did," Jeff told him. "Unfortunately, a lot of states do have laws allowing rapists to attempt to gain custody of any children that are a product of rape. The exception being in cases of pedophilia. Even more unfortunately, our state is apparently one of them. Because you were both seventeen when it happened, we can't fight it using the argument that you were a minor when you were raped."

 

"Dammit, Jeff keep your fucking voice down," Jensen hissed. "Jared's in the kitchen! I don't need him hearing any of this."

 

"Sorry," this time Jeff did lower his voice. "We need to file something by yesterday to argue that Shane is not competent to have any sort of custody of Jared. There's a chance - I'm not gonna lie, it's slight - but still a chance that we can get a judge to side with us. Shane's been in jail since he was seventeen, he's got no outside world experience, he's got no job right now, nowhere to go but a halfway house or to his parents. No judge in his right mind would grant him anything but supervised visits at this point, but if we can make him look bad enough, we might be able to avoid even those."

 

"He's not getting near my son," Jensen rolled his hands into fists. "I don't care what any judge says, that rapist son of a bitch isn't getting within a hundred feet of him."

 

"That's my boy," Jeff started putting papers in front of him and explaining things when they both heard a soft "ahem" from behind them.

 

"Misha!" Jensen tried to determine how much Misha might've heard. Judging by the look on his boyfriend's face, he was gonna go with pretty much everything. "Mish, baby, I-I can explain."

 

"Explain?!" Misha looked outraged. "How do you explain something like that Jensen?!"

 

So here it was. One of his worst fears. Misha now knew his biggest, darkest secret and found him disgusting because of it.

 

"I understand that you're upset with me for not telling you," Jensen looked down at his hands. "I should've. I know I should've. It wasn't fair of me not to tell you something that big, but I couldn't! It took me a long time to even start dating again after that and even longer before I found someone I really cared about. Before I found you. That asshole ruled my life for almost a decade and I couldn't face the thought of losing you. Like I'm doing now."

 

"Lose me?" it hit Misha in a flash what Jensen thought he was saying and he rushed over to hold his boyfriend, who had tears streaming down his face. "Oh, baby no. I'm not angry with you. Not at all. I'm angry at whoever this Shane is for doing that to you."

 

"But I'm filthy," Jensen argued. "Disgusting. How can you even want to look at me, let alone touch me?"

 

"Because I don't see you that way and neither should you," Misha said simply.

 

"I wish it were that easy," Jensen wiped the tears off of his face almost violently. "Where's Jared?"

 

"He's in the kitchen, eating," Misha assured him. "I heard you yell and thought that it was probably a good idea to distract him from whatever was going on. Food seemed to work."

 

"Always does," Jensen managed a weak laugh. "Excuse me a second guys. I need to go check on him."

 

While he went to check on his son again, Misha stayed in the living room with Jeff.

 

"Whatever it costs for you to fight this guy, I don't care," Misha said. "I'm covering it. Anything I can do, I'm going to do it."

 

"Honesty, if you have any say in what he does, a good first step would be to find someplace better to live than this dump," Jeff admitted, looking around.

 

"I've been trying to convince him to do that for the past six months," Misha agreed. "I have a feeling that it's going to work this time, though."

 

Jeff nodded in agreement and continued to organize the papers he was going to need Jensen to fill out when he got back.

 

Jared looked up guiltily as his Dad came back into the kitchen. He knew he'd totally deserved those swats and he felt pretty bad for being such a little shit today (and if Dad knew he was using words like that he probably wouldn't sit for a damn week). His entire body felt like it was being stretched, and everything was achy, but that didn't mean he should be giving his Dad attitude. One look at his face and Jared got out of his seat to wrap his arms around his Dad's waist.

 

"It's okay, Dad," he said. "Don't be scared."

 

"I'm okay, baby boy," Jensen kissed the top of his son's head and squeezed him back. "There's some stuff going on, but it's okay. I need you to be a little understanding for a while, though. We're gonna...we're gonna need to sit down and talk about things that I was hoping to put off for a bit yet, but that's not an option anymore. I promise I will explain things to you, but for now I need you to help me out and do as I say. Please?"

 

"`Course," Jared agreed. "I'm sorry that I was such a jerk today."

 

"Thank you," Jensen knew he needed to get back to the living room, but he didn't want to let go of Jared. "I should've been more patient with you. My nerves are shot right now and I wasn't being all that understanding myself. Forgive each other?"

 

"Absolutely," Jared grinned up.

 

"You about finished eating?" Jensen finally forced himself to let go.

 

"For now," Jared laughed. "Can I have more when you and Misha sit down to eat?"

 

"We'll see," Jensen laughed too. "For now I'd like it if you'd go play quietly in your room please. I have some things I need to talk about with Misha and Mr. Morgan."

 

"Kay," Jared agreed. "Could I have your phone to play a game?"

 

"May I," Jensen corrected.

 

"May I have your phone so I can play a game?" he'd agreed to be good, but Jared couldn't help a small sigh.

 

Normally Jensen tried to limit Jared's use of video games, TV, phones, and all that other stuff. It wasn't good for him to spend hours with his nose buried in electronic devices, but tonight he pulled his phone out of his pocket almost immediately. He punched a code in that would limit Jared to a few specific websites and games, and handed it over.

 

"Thanks, Dad!" Jared bounced up on his toes to kiss his Dad's cheek and then trotted off to his room.

 

Jensen made his way back out to the living room, feeling a bit calmer for now. He knew he'd be back up within ten minutes, feeling the need to look in on Jared again, though. Ever since Jeff had called to say that Shane had been granted parole, he felt like he constantly needed to be able to see Jared. As if Shane was just going to magically appear and try to hurt him.

 

When he got back, he saw Misha and Jeff whispering conspiratorially, and managed to make out the words "new apartment". He hesitated for a minute before choosing to sit in the recliner rather than on the couch next to his boyfriend. Misha could claim to be understanding about this, but it was possible that it was just a show for Jeff. Misha wasn't normally the type to do something like that, but this wasn't exactly a normal situation.

 

"Hey, love," Misha immediately got off of the couch and perched on the arm of the chair, running his fingers through Jensen's short hair. He knew that look on his boyfriend's face. No matter what he said, it didn't matter. He was going to need to ease Jensen's insecurity through actions rather than words.

 

"Hey," Jensen responded quietly. "Okay, Jeff. Let's get this done."

 

They got through the paperwork as quickly as possible, but it still wound up taking over two hours. Which meant that dinner was a bust. Again. When he'd finally ushered Jeff out the door, he turned back to Misha with a sigh.

 

"I'm sorry," he said. "You made a really nice meal and my shit ruined it again."

 

"Don't want to hear it," Misha walked over and grabbed Jensen's chin to make him look at him. "I don't care about dinner, I care about you. We'll re-heat it."

 

"I may have sort of promised Jared another burger when we eat," Jensen admitted sheepishly. "I'm pretty sure that kid's got two hollow legs."

 

"He's a growing boy," Misha laughed. "Go ahead and get him. I'll get everything heated back up."

 

Misha headed to the kitchen while Jensen went to get Jared, but he returned a few seconds later without the eight-year-old.

 

"Dead asleep," Jensen said with a soft smile on his face. "I should've known. He really is getting ready to grow again. I guess it's sort of a good thing, though. You, uh, you probably want to talk about all this."

 

"I'd like to," Misha said. "I'm willing to wait if you're not ready, though."

 

"How the hell are you so understanding?" Jensen wondered. "I mean, I've basically been lying to you the entire time we've been together!"

 

"Lying and avoiding talking about a past painful experience are two entirely different things," Misha soothed. "To be honest, I've always known that something bad had to have happened to you at some point, I just didn't have any idea what. The problem you have with alcohol, the way you get really nervous if you misplace something, your overprotective streak. Those aren't exactly the traits of someone who's had a nice, easy, comfortable life."

 

"Gee, thanks dear," Jensen couldn't help but laugh, but quickly sobered back up. "I...I don't want to talk about it."

 

"Understandable."

 

"But I think I need to," he finished. "I don't want you to look at me any differently, but I don't want to lie to you anymore either."

 

"No matter what you tell me, I'm never going to look at you differently," Misha assured him.

 

"Okay," Jensen took a deep breath to steady himself and then jumped up to start making coffee. He was going to need something stronger than water to get him through this and since he didn't do alcohol that left coffee. "Shane and I went to school together. We were both on the football team, and I actually had a huge crush on him at the time..."

 


~ Nine Years Earlier ~

 

"Hey, Jen!" a familiar voice came from behind Jensen.

 

"Shane!" he turned happily.

 

"Awesome job out there during practice," Shane leaned his shoulder against one of the lockers and let his eyes roam over Jensen's frame until he pulled his shirt back on.

 

"Uh. Thanks," Jensen basked in both the praise and the fact that Shane was looking at him in a decidedly inappropriate way. He had the monster of all crushes on the quarterback, so he didn't mind a single bit. Then again, who didn't have a crush on him? With his chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes practically every kid in school was falling all over themselves to get his attention.

 

"So," Shane drawled. "My parents are leaving tomorrow and to go out of town for the entire weekend. Naturally, I'm doing what any red-blooded, American seventeen-year-old would do and throwing a party."

 

"Naturally," Jensen echoed with a laugh.

 

"I'd love to see you there," Shane leaned in a little closer.

 

"Y-yeah," Jensen stammered. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Uh, yeah, absolutely. I'll be there."

 

"Perfect. Now I'm really looking forward to it," Shane leaned even closer and brushed his lips over Jensen's. "I'll see you tomorrow night, then."

 

Jensen was too much in shock to even respond. Shane had just kissed him. Barely, but a kiss was a kiss. Maybe, if he was lucky, there would be a lot more of that tomorrow night.

 

"See you then!" Jensen called, way too late. Shane wasn't even in the locker room anymore. Not like he could be blamed, though. Anyone would've responded that way to getting a kiss from the hottest, most popular guy in school.

 

The next night took forever to get there. Jensen made an excuse to his parents about going to spend time studying at a friend's house (and seriously, okay he was generally a good kid, but what parent actually believes their kid is going out to study on a Saturday night?) and left for the party. By the time he got there the party was already going full swing, complete with loud music.

 

"Jensen!" Shane spotted him the second he walked in. "I was starting to get worried that you weren't gonna make it!"

 

"No way I would've missed this," Jensen answered.

 

Shane immediately wrapped his arm around Jensen's waist and handed him a cup of something. Taking an experimental sip, Jensen coughed. Wow! He'd never tasted anything this alcoholic before. It wasn't that he'd never had a drink, but he wasn't even fully sure that this one had anything but alcohol in it.

 

"Holy god," he choked, getting a laugh from Shane.

 

"I tend to make `em a little strong," he said, unnecessarily. "C'mon! Let's dance!"

 

Jensen allowed himself to be pulled into what probably had been the living room before it had been cleared out to serve as a dance floor instead. He took another sip of the drink and managed to keep from coughing this time. Now that he knew what to expect, it was actually pretty good.

 

He was in heaven most of the night. Shane barely left his side the whole night and there was, indeed, a lot more kissing. At the moment he was sitting in Shane's lap on a couch that had been pushed against the wall, making out with him. He muttered a little to show his displeasure as Shane pulled away from him.

 

"What do you say? Want to take things upstairs?" he suggested.

 

For the first time, Jensen hesitated. Yeah, technically he should want to, but...well, honestly up until yesterday Shane hadn't shown any interest in him beyond friendship and being teammates. This was a complete one-eighty and while he wasn't going to say he didn't enjoy the change, he wasn't quite ready to take it that far yet. He had his reasons.

 

"Hmm, maybe later," Jensen offered, leaning back down. It was only a little white lie. He had no intention of having sex with him tonight, but he wasn't going to risk his chances for it another time by flat-out refusing now.

 

Shane seemed to be agreeable enough to that and started making out with him again, but started getting a little more handsy. His arms had already been around Jensen's waist, but now he moved his hands up under his shirt. One kneaded at the small of his back while the other came around to his front to tweak at one of his nipples. Jensen let out a little moan into Shane's mouth. Sure, he'd said no sex yet, but this wasn't sex. He was perfectly happy to let it continue until the hand started making its way south and brushed against the front of his jeans.

 

"Shane," this time it was Jensen who pulled away.

 

"Someone's enjoying themselves," Shane teased, trying to kiss him again.

 

"Shane, wait," Jensen put his hands on Shane's chest. "I mean, yeah. I'd pretty much have to be dead not to enjoy this, but I'm not ready just yet. I sound like a freakin girl saying that, but..."

 

"Don't worry about it, baby," Shane cut him off. He looked down at Jensen's cup. "Looks like you're empty. I'll go get you a refill, huh?"

 

He took a second to consider, but nodded. He'd already had a couple of drinks and was definitely feeling them, but one more wasn't going to hurt. It wasn't like he was drunk anyway, just well into the land of buzzed. Shane returned a minute later, handing Jensen his cup back, and pulling him back into his lap. Jensen was glad to see that his refusal hadn't seemed to change anything.

 

This time he drained his drink a little faster than he'd meant to. He was enjoying himself and every time Shane took a sip of his drink, which was often, Jensen took one of his. No sooner had he finished the last of it when he started to feel really lightheaded. Maybe one more hadn't been such a good idea after all.

 

"Shane," his voice was definitely slurred. "I dn't feel s'good."

 

"That last drink really took it out of ya, huh?" Shane asked. "C'mon, let's get you somewhere where you can lie down before you puke."

 

"`Kay," Jensen agreed, allowing Shane to help him off the couch and up the stairs. It was a good thing Shane was right behind him, too, otherwise he probably would've fallen right back down.

 

"Here," Shane led him to a bedroom and helped him lie down, reaching down to take his shoes and socks off. "You can spend the night here. No one's gonna come upstairs and bother us."

 

Us? Jensen was trying to get his brain to focus, but it seemed to be happily on vacation at the moment. Once his feet were bare, Shane moved to help him with his shirt, peeling it off of him.

 

"Huh?" Jensen batted at his fingers. "S'okay. I c'n sleep with it on."

 

"No sense in you being uncomfortable," Shane argued. "Or covering up all that sexiness. How about we get rid of your jeans, too?"

 

Right about now he knew he should probably be getting nervous. The fog in his brain was just so damn thick, though. He still had enough of his wits about him to struggle a little, but Shane quickly had his jeans and underwear off of him anyway.

 

"Shane," he said weakly.

 

"Shh," Shane replied. "Settle down. It's okay. You're fine. I'm gonna take care of you."

 

"No," it was barely a whisper. He heard rustling and suddenly there was another naked body pressed against his.

 

"It's all good," Shane assured him. "I know you wanted this. I just had to loosen you up a little first. Trust me, you're gonna love it."

 

Loosen him up? The drink! Jensen actually managed a few seconds of clarity before the fog closed back in. Shit. His last drink must have been spiked with something and now his fucking head was floating somewhere up in space while the rest of him was lying here. Shane started to roll him onto his stomach and he was just too weak to fight back.

 

He whimpered when he felt Shane slip a finger into him. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. He'd been fully intending to sleep with Shane, and probably soon, but not just yet. He never in a million years would've thought Shane could be capable of something like this. This was beyond past the line. It was...he couldn't even bring himself to think the word.

 

"God!" Shane exclaimed. "Are you a virgin, Jen? Feels like it. Jesus, this is gonna feel so good."

 

Okay yeah, so what if he was? It wasn't that he was a prude, he just hadn't found anyone he'd been attracted to enough to do it with. He was attracted enough to Shane to have had sex with him, but that attraction had dropped dead the second he realized Shane had drugged him.

 

Way before he felt like he was ready (as if he was ready for any of this) Shane slipped a second finger into him along with the first and he couldn't stop the groan of pain. Shane either mistook it for pleasure or simply didn't care because he pressed closer to grind his hips against Jensen. He was betting it was the latter.

 

Only a minute or two later, Shane pulled his hand back and Jensen's fogged-up brain had a minute to think that it was over and he was off the hook. Right up until he felt something much bigger than two fingers start to press against him. He whined and tried to push Shane off of him, but he was too weak. Shane forced his hands up above his head and pinned them both there with just one of his hands while he continued to push in.

 

A tear leaked out and rolled down Jensen's face. He wasn't a weak person. He wasn't! The drugs coursing through his system had him all but paralyzed, though. More tears, mostly of shame, coursed down his face, but there were definitely tears of pain mixed in there. He felt like he was being split in half.

 

"Jesus!" Shane gasped. "Holy shit! You are so beyond tight, Jen. Feels so fucking good!"

 

Glad one of us is enjoying himself, Jensen thought dimly. He wriggled, trying to struggle, but it only got another groan out of Shane. Finally, when he was absolutely sure that Shane was so far in he could feel him in his damn stomach, he finally stopped. All movement stopped for a minute before Shane started to move his hips in a smooth, steady rhythm. It didn't take long after that until Shane started getting rougher, fucking him in earnest.

 

"Shane!" Jensen complained as forcefully as possible, which wasn't saying much. His arms were still trapped above his head and he was pretty much helpless in this entire situation. At this point it was too late to reverse what had happened anyway, so he stopped struggling and laid there, not even bothering to try and hide the tears streaming down his face.

 

Thankfully, the thick curtain of fog in his brain kept him from having any real grasp on time. It allowed him to sort of float away and before he knew it Shane's hips stuttered and he groaned even louder than he had been. Finally the intrusion left him and he felt Shane get out of the bed. All too soon, he climbed back over and started cleaning Jensen with a cloth. Which was the moment he realized that the most popular guy in school, who had probably had more sex than some rock stars, hadn't used a condom. He didn't know that it was possible, but he felt even more disgusting than ever with that realization.

 

His entire body shuddered in revulsion and he finally managed to sit up and put his feet on the floor. He wasn't sure they'd hold him just yet, but at least he wasn't just lying there anymore. Where were his clothes? Looking around the room didn't immediately reveal them, and he figured he was going to have to try standing after all.

 

"Don't worry about your clothes, baby," Shane pulled him back and forced him to lie down again. "I'll give `em back to you in the morning. You won't need them tonight anyhow."

 

The ice cold knife of fear and revulsion that plunged itself into his heart at those words felt like a physical thing. Shane wrapped an arm around his waist and he let himself fade, hoping to god he'd pass out before anything else happened.

 

~ Three Months Later ~

 

"We the jury find the defendant guilty."

 

Those had to be some of the best words Jensen had ever heard. Shane was glaring at him in fury, as if all of this were his fault. Right, because he'd asked to be drugged and raped repeatedly throughout that night. He dropped down into his seat next to Jeff as his parents both hugged him and cried their eyes out. Josh, his older brother, was glaring equally ferociously at Shane and Mackenzie was crying right along with their parents.

 

A few minutes later they were all allowed to file out of the courtroom and Jensen raced straight for the bathroom. Obviously this had been the outcome they were all hoping for, but the last three months hadn't been easy by any means. First off, he hadn't managed to drag himself home until the next afternoon and had walked into the kitchen where his father had been talking frantically on the phone to the police. Then he had to face the fact that he needed to tell them what had happened. Up until that night, he'd thought he had some pride, but as he woodenly asked Josh and Mackenzie to leave the room and explained things to his parents he realized it didn't matter as long as Shane paid for what he'd done.

 

Of course, that had gone over about as well as anyone would expect. His father had called the police right back and then taken him to the hospital. Again, he knew he should be embarrassed as hell, but it was almost like the drugs were still in his system because all he felt was numb as the doctor gently explained and performed the rape kit. After that they'd gone on a search to find a lawyer who wasn't too expensive or would at least take payments. JD Morgan, one of the newer lawyers at one of the firms they looked into had overheard them talking and agreed to take the case for free. It had definitely boosted his credibility within the firm and they all knew it was going to be an easy win with all of the evidence they had.

 

Shane had tried to claim that it had been consensual of course, but they'd been prepared for that. When Jensen's father had taken him to the hospital, they'd also insisted on a drug test, which turned up traces of the drug Shane had used on him. Jeff told them that the only reason it took three months was because Shane's parents could afford to hire every lawyer in the damn county to protect their "baby boy" who clearly could never have done anything so horrible.

 

Jensen dropped to his knees in front of one of the toilets and threw up until he felt like his stomach was just going to turn itself inside out. He slowly started to realize that someone was rubbing his back gently and without thinking, he spun around and lashed out. He'd had a habit of doing that lately and thankfully Alan Ackles wasn't offended that his son had just tried to break his nose.

 

"I'm sorry, Dad," Jensen sat and dropped his head onto his knees. The floor was nasty, but not any more filthy than he already felt.

 

"Don't apologize, honey," Alan pulled his son in close to him. "It's over now. You can put this all behind you."

 

As much as he wanted that to be the truth, he was starting to wonder. For one thing, he wasn't entirely sure anymore that the nausea he'd been feeling almost constantly for the past three months was entirely stress-related. He knew there was a carrier or two in his family, but since he'd never shown any symptoms and wasn't sexually active, he'd never seen any reason to get himself tested. Doubt was definitely nibbling about that decision now.

 

"Maybe," he mumbled.

 

"Maybe?" his Dad asked. "What do you mean, bud?"

 

"I think..." Jensen swallowed. "I think I need to talk to Mom."

 

"Okay," Alan agreed. "Let's get you home first, though. You're pale and you feel a little warm."

 

Jensen was agreeable enough to that, but still insisted on talking to his mother the minute they got home. He dragged her up to his room and paced back and forth while he asked the questions he felt needed to be asked.

 

"Oh my," Donna put a hand to her face. "I hadn't even thought about the possibility..."

 

She looked across the room to her pacing son. His face was flushed and he was alternating kneading one hand in the other in a way that was very familiar. She also thought back to the way he'd been over the past months. His emotions had been wildly fluctuating but they'd all, Jensen included, chalked that up to what had happened and the trial. He'd been sick almost every day, but again they'd blamed it on the constant stress and changing emotions. Now, as she looked closer, the hand-rubbing and worry he'd just voiced put the final pieces of the puzzle together. In all three of her pregnancies, one of the first symptoms had been stiff, painful, swollen hands.

 

"Oh baby, come here," she opened her arms and pulled her son in to her. "We'll get you tested at the hospital, but I think you may be right."

 

"What am I gonna do, Mom?" Jensen sobbed. "None of this was supposed to happen!"

 

"Well, if you are pregnant, then you'll have a few options," Donna soothed him. "Let's take it one step at a time, though, okay?"

 

Nodding, Jensen let his Mom continue to coddle him. She took him to the hospital as soon as he assured her that he was calmer and then insisted on waiting for the results instead of returning home and letting the doctor call them. It took about two hours, but there was finally a knock on the door and a kind-looking blonde doctor walked in with a file.

 

"Hello," she smiled. "I'm Dr. Samantha Smith."

 

"Hi Dr. Smith," Donna smiled back, but it was strained. "Are my son's results back?"

 

"Please, call me Sam," the doctor offered. "Or Dr. Sam if that makes you feel a little better. I do have the results here. They're positive."

 

Jensen sagged and pulled his knees up to his chest. His hands were shaking and, oh for the love of god, he felt nauseous again.

 

"Jensen?" Dr. Sam was looking at him with concern and he realized she'd probably called his name more than once.

 

"What?" he asked.

 

"I said that if you'd like to talk about your options with the baby, I'd be more than happy to do that with you," she repeated gently.

 

Right. There was that word again. Options. He didn't know why, but it made him uncomfortable. Still, this doctor had been very kind to him, so he nodded.

 

"The first is the most obvious," she sat on a stool in the room. "You can choose to carry the baby to full term and then keep it. The second option is to carry the baby to term and then place it for adoption." The doctor hesitated for a moment before continuing. "And the third option being to terminate the pregnancy."

 

He finally looked up in shock. He'd only found out about the baby five seconds ago and now they wanted him to think about getting rid of it?

 

"You don't have to make a decision just yet," Dr. Sam assured him. "Go home, think it over. I'll give you my card so that when you do make your decision you have my number. I'm one of the midwives here at the hospital, so if you decide to carry the baby to term I'd be more than happy to work with you."

 

"Okay," Jensen took the doctor's card with a shaking hand. That numb feeling was back as his Mom led him out of the hospital and drove them back home.

 

Once they got there, he headed straight for his room. Mom could tell the rest of the family if she wanted. He had too much to think about right now. Throwing himself on his bed he felt a tear roll down his cheek and he brushed it violently away. The most logical thing to do would be to have an abortion, he knew that. He certainly hadn't asked to be raped, and a baby would just be a constant reminder of it. Even if he took Option #2 and gave the baby up for adoption, he would have to spend the next six months watching his body change and being reminded every single day of why it was doing that. Option #1 shouldn't even be a consideration. He was only seventeen. A kid himself. No way could he be responsible for raising one. Hell, before all of this he'd still picked fights with his little sister for no reason other than to annoy her.

 

His stomach rolled over and he sat up in preparation to haul ass to the bathroom. Thankfully it didn't feel like he was going to lose it just yet, so he sat and waited and thought. The feeling came again and he realized it wasn't nausea he was feeling. Frowning down at his stomach, he considered. When was a baby finally big enough in there to start moving around? He had no idea, although a quick internet search could fix that. Said internet search revealed that since it was his first, he probably wouldn't feel anything until about 25 weeks. The line beneath that spooked him a little, though. During a second pregnancy and, in rare cases of first pregnancy, the baby can sometimes be felt moving as early as 13 weeks.

 

Jensen shot across his room to where he had a calendar hung on the wall. He counted back, getting a sinking feeling. It had been fourteen weeks. He glared down at his stomach. The last thing he needed while he was trying to make this decision was to feel the damn thing moving around inside him. It made it all a little too real. Of course, it took that moment to move again. Obnoxious little bastard.

 

Strangely, he found himself brushing a hand over his still-flat stomach in a way that was almost gentle. He considered his options again. Abortion was still holding the place of honor as the most logical choice, but that didn't necessarily make it the right one for him. After a minute to think, he decided that he couldn't do it. Ten minutes ago he probably could've convinced himself that the baby was just a test result. Feeling it move had changed everything and now he couldn't. One down, two to go. Now he had to decide if he'd keep the baby or give it up for adoption.

 

The baby did another flip and he laid back on his bed. He was tired, and the doctor had said he didn't need to decide just yet anyway. Maybe his head would be a little clearer after a nap. Drifting quickly to sleep, he didn't hear his parents come into his room. They both looked at their son, sprawled out on his bed with one hand on his stomach and a small smile on his face and gave each other knowing looks. Leaving the room quietly, Donna went straight to the attic to see what sort of baby things she still had left and if any of it was salvageable.

 


~ Present Day ~

 

"Obviously, I chose to keep him," Jensen said needlessly. "I've never once regretted that decision, either. To me, Jared became the one good thing in that entire situation. On days when it got really hard to deal with what happened, all I had to do was look at the ultrasound pictures and it would remind me that no matter how bad it had been, there was still a silver lining to it. After he was born and I could actually look at his tiny face, I felt that way more than ever. Not that I had wanted what happened, but I managed to get an amazing gift out of it. I never have and never will forgive him for what he did, but if it weren't for him I wouldn't have Jared. It's all sorts of messed up."

 

"I don't think it's messed up," Misha had moved himself and Jensen back to the couch about halfway through. He was sitting with Jensen's back against his chest, running a hand up and down his boyfriend's arm. "Jared's an easy kid to love. He didn't ask to be conceived that way any more than you did, but you two have made the best of the situation you were given."

 

"All of that probably helps you to understand most of my other issues, too," Jensen said. "Why I can't stand to be around alcohol, why I always need to know where my things are, why I'm always hyper-alert."

 

"It does make a lot more sense now," Misha squeezed his boyfriend. "But even if you'd decided not to tell me, I never would've judged you for them. You don't owe me an explanation for anything that may have happened in the past. I'm gonna love you no matter what baby."

 

"I'll never understand why," Jensen murmured. "You know, there are some times when I wonder if what happened was sort of, I don't know, justice? For sneaking out and lying to my parents. Like I brought it all on myself."

 

"Hey, you listen to me," Misha made Jensen turn to look at him. His eyes made it clear that he was not happy right now. "I don't want to hear you say anything like that again. Understood? There is no such thing as 'deserving' to be raped. Millions of teenagers lie to their parents and sneak out of the house every day. Hell, I did my share of it. That doesn't mean you deserve to have your life torn apart."

 

"Mostly I know that," Jensen dropped his eyes to his hands. "Knowing it and knowing it can be two different things, though."

 

"Dad?" a small voice called from down the hall.

 

Jensen sprang up to rush down the hall while Misha followed, slightly slower. He remembered Jensen's outburst from before, when Jared had wanted to show off his room. Of course, that was yet another thing that made a lot more sense now. If he'd been raped multiple times in one night he wouldn't let his son alone in a bedroom with anyone, either.

 

"What is it you need, tiger?" Jensen brushed hair off of his son's forehead.

 

"Bad dream," Jared said shakily.

 

"I'll go get some water," Misha offered. By the time he made it back to Jared's room with the water, the eight-year-old was up and walking out of the bedroom with his father. Jensen smiled apologetically.

 

"Thanks, Mish," he said. "I don't usually do this, but I think I could use comfort just as much as he can right now."

 

"I don't doubt that," Misha smiled back. "If it's okay with you, I think I have something I want to ask him anyway."

 

Jensen frowned a little at that. It wasn't that he didn't trust Misha. After tonight, the complete opposite was true. He trusted him more than ever. Old habits apparently died hard, though. His overprotective streak didn't seem like it was going anywhere anytime soon.

 

"I don't mean alone," Misha quickly added.

 

"Sorry," Jensen apologized. "I'm gonna work on that."

 

They all settled on the couch again, but this time it was Jensen holding Jared against his chest. The boy had a wounded puppy look on his face, and Misha immediately knew that he was going to be a sucker for that look. Jensen let out a small chuckle when he saw.

 

"Don't look directly into the puppy-dog eyes," he warned.

 

"Too late," Misha replied. "Hey Jared, do you mind if I ask you something."

 

"Okay?" Jared looked a little more alert now that he was being talked to directly.

 

"It's really important," Misha told him. "So, I need you to know that I really love your Dad."

 

"Yeah?"

 

"Well, I was wondering," he paused. "I wanted to see if it was okay with you and if you'd approve of me...asking your Dad to marry me? It's important to me that I asked you first because I know how important your Dad is to you. He's really important to me, too. And I know I just met you, but so are you. I don't have any family, so I'd love it if you two would be my family for me."

 

Jensen was floored. This was the last thing he'd expected, and it touched his heart beyond belief that Misha was asking about Jared's feelings first. He loved Misha beyond a shadow of a doubt. But Jared was and always would be the most important person to him. For the man he loved to care so much about the child he'd give his life for...it was a wonder he wasn't a puddle on the floor.

 

"You're really important to my Dad, too," Jared said. "I can tell. He talks about you all the time and he always gets this look on his face when he does. Like he's really actually happy. He's sad a lot, but I think if he married you he wouldn't have to be so sad anymore. He could get that happy look a lot more because he'd be with you."

 

Was he really like that? Jensen wondered. If so, what in god's name had he been doing to his poor son, putting him through those kinds of emotions?

 

"I hope he could, too," Misha answered. He caught Jensen's eyes and could practically see what the other man was thinking. He shook his head slightly. Jared clearly was a well-adjusted and happy child and Jen needed to understand that he hadn't done any damage to his son with his emotions.

 

"Looks like I'm outnumbered," Jensen finally joked.

 

"Does that mean you will?" Misha asked hopefully.

 

"Of course I will, you dork. I love you," Jensen leaned forward and they kissed over Jared's head, getting a scowl from the boy.

 

"Eww! Dad!" he complained.

 

"Get used to it, kiddo," Jensen warned with a laugh. "Misha and I are probably gonna be doing a lot of that in front of you."

 

Misha nodded happily in agreement.

 

"You and Papa are going to scar me for life, aren't you?" Jared fixed them both with mock glares, but neither noticed. They were both processing what he'd said and now he was nervous that he'd done something wrong. "Is that okay? I didn't mean to be disrespectful. I just thought it would be kinda weird to keep calling him Misha."

 

"Well, a lot of kids call their step-parents by their first names," Misha considered. "You don't have to call me Papa if Misha is more comfortable for you."

 

"But I never had another Mom or Dad," Jared pointed out. "So it's more like you're my actual father instead of just a step-father."

 

"You have no idea how amazing it feels to hear you say that," Misha reached out to ruffle the boy's hair and gave Jensen all the credit in the world that all he did was stiffen up a little. Nope, those overprotective instincts weren't going anywhere soon. "You call me whatever you're most comfortable with."

 

"Okay, good," Jared visibly calmed.

 

As Jared calmed, Jensen tensed even more. "Are you sure about this, Mish? These next few months, or possibly even years, are bound to be difficult."

 

"Then you're going to need all the support you can get," Misha wanted to wrap his arms around both of his boys but knew Jensen wouldn't allow that just yet. "It doesn't matter to me if I have to tell you every day for the rest of my life. I love you and I'm not going anywhere. There's not a force on this earth that could take me away."

 

Jensen looked like he wanted to cry, while Jared rolled his eyes again. He safely kept his face pointed away from his Dad, though.

 

"Now for our first order of business," Misha announced, suddenly gleeful again.

 

"Uh oh," Jensen looked down at Jared. "Never, ever trust that look, Jay. Mark my words, and never trust him when he looks like that."

 

"Dad just sold you out, Papa," Jared giggled.

 

"Snitch," Misha smirked at Jensen. "Seriously though, first things first. Here's my plan. There's no point in having you two in an apartment way across town when we'll all fit more than comfortably in my house. Plus I have a nice big yard to run around."

 

"A big yard?" Jared perked up. "Does that mean there's room for a dog? Can we get a dog? Please?"

 

"I don't see why not," Misha shrugged, but looked to Jensen who was shaking his head in amusement.

 

"You're never going to be able to say no to him, are you?" he grinned.

 

"Probably not," Misha admitted happily. "But I wouldn't have it any other way."

 

"Neither would we, love. Neither would we."

 

Chapter Text

“No, wait! That’s not ready to go yet. Misha, get him to bring that back here. Jared Tristan if I walk back there I had better find you packing, young man! Where the hell is that marker I was using to label boxes?”

 

Jensen was racing around the apartment, trying to keep everything organized. He hated moving. Hated it with a passion. It seemed like there was no such thing as organization when you were packing and it sent his OCD into hyperdrive. Misha had hired a moving company to help, but Jensen was micro managing everything.

 

“Babe,” Misha set the box down that he’d been ordered to retrieve and wrapped his arms around his fiancée’s waist. “Take a breath. We’ll get everything. I know moving is always a little crazy, but you have things as organized as you possibly can.”

 

“I’ll relax when this is all over,” Jensen tried to pull away, but Misha held onto him. “C’mon, Mish, let go. I have to…”

 

“You have to calm down,” Misha said sternly. “Go for a walk. Check on Jared. Get a cup of coffee. Doesn’t matter as long as you calm yourself down a little.”

 

“Things are too stressful to calm down,” Jensen argued.

 

It had been a week since the proposal and Misha would be the first to admit that things had been stressful. Between the proposal, his insistence that Jensen and Jared move into his house as soon as possible, and Shane being released it was a lot. They hadn’t sat Jared down to talk to him yet, either. Jeff had been by almost every day with more paperwork, but there was almost no doubt that the custody hearing was going to happen. Shane’s father was the CEO of a large business and his mother was a senior accountant for the same company, meaning they were well off to say the least. They’d hired Mark Sheppard, the best lawyer in the area. Jeff was a damn good lawyer, but everyone knew that Sheppard hadn’t gotten the nickname “King of the Courtroom” for no reason.

 

“I know,” Misha finally said. “You’re going to make yourself sick if you don’t settle down, though.”

 

“I’ll be fine,” Jensen insisted. His eyes suddenly blazed and he whirled on one of the movers, who had started down the hall. “You! Hold it! I thought I was clear, no one goes back by the bedrooms unless I’m with them or my son is out here.”

 

“Sorry, Mr. Ackles,” the mover looked sheepish. “We’re about through with the kitchen and dining room, and with you and Mr. Collins working on the living room I just thought…”

 

“Don’t worry about what you thought,” Jensen snapped.

 

“Jensen!” Misha scolded. “Sorry Andy.”

 

“No problem,” Andy waved the apology away. “We still have a few things in the kitchen to get out to the truck. I’ll go back to helping the guys in there.”

 

Once the wayward mover had made his way back to the kitchen, Misha turned to Jensen with his arms crossed.

 

“That was uncalled for, Jen,” he said sternly.

 

“I won’t apologize for what I said,” Jensen crossed his own arms. “I was more than clear. No one near the bedrooms while Jared’s back there. Be glad all I did was snap at him instead of taking his damn head off.”

 

“Honey, I understand why you put that rule in place and I agree with it, but the kid was just trying to do his job,” Misha sighed. “Why don’t you go help Jared pack his room? I can handle what’s left of the living room, and being near him will help to calm you down.”

 

“I will, I just have to chart what’s in this box and label it first,” Jensen tried to move to do just that, but Misha grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him down the hall instead.

 

“I can do that,” he’d long ago given up trying to convince Jensen that making a list of everything that was in every single box was overkill. It made his fiancée feel like he had just a little more control, and he wasn’t going to argue it. “You’re going to spend some time with our…your son.”

 

“You know he loves you, babe,” Jensen planted his feet so that Misha couldn’t keep pushing him, and turned to face the slightly shorter man. “Hell, he already considers you his father. Neither of us mind if you call him our son.”

 

“Can’t tell you how much that means to me,” Misha kissed him quickly and motioned down the hall. “Honestly. I know that it’s affecting Jared to see how upset you’ve been this past week, though. It’ll make both of you feel better to spend some time together.”

 

“How did I get lucky enough to find someone who puts up with all my craziness?” Jensen wondered.

 

“Eh, I have low standards and a weakness for hot, green-eyed men,” Misha laughed.

 

“Really low standards,” Jensen corrected, smirking. “Okay. As long as I’m back here, you might as well tell the movers that they can start taking the boxes out of my bedroom without fear of me skinning them alive.”

 

“They’ll be glad to hear that, at least,” Misha smiled slyly at him, slapped his butt (just because he could), and headed back for the front of the apartment.

 

Jensen laughed as he walked the few steps down the hall to Jared’s room. He raised an eyebrow, leaned against the doorjamb, and waited for his son to notice him. His son who was supposed to be packing, but was sitting cross-legged on the floor reading a book instead. When he realized that the end of time would likely come before Jared actually noticed him standing there, he cleared his throat.

 

“Crap!” Jared nearly jumped out of his skin. He leapt to his feet and chewed on his lip nervously, hiding the book behind his back. “Uh, hi Dad. Sorry. I was, um, just taking a break?”

 

“A break, hmm?” Jensen looked around the room. “You needed a break after packing one box?”

 

He walked forward and plucked the book out of Jared’s hand. Cuffing him lightly on the back of the head, he pointed to the stack of empty boxes in the corner.

 

“Let’s go,” he ordered. “Most of the rest of the house is packed. I’ll help you back here.”

 

“Sorry,” Jared repeated miserably. He didn’t like it when Dad was disappointed in him. He really had been packing, but then he’d found this book, which he’d been looking for and had thought he’d lost. And he’d been so excited when he found it that he decided to flip through it just for a second. And then “just a second” had turned into…he glanced at the clock and winced. Almost an hour. Oops.

 

“I’m not mad,” Jensen pulled Jared in for a quick hug and dropped a kiss on top of the eight-year-old’s head. “We do need to get moving on this, though. The sooner we get through this and settled in at the new house, the sooner we can relax.”

 

“You mean the sooner you can stop freaking out every ten seconds,” Jared giggled.

 

“Hey! Watch it!” Jensen swatted at Jared again, who jumped out of the way, still laughing.

 

“This is your idea of helping?” Jared teased.

 

“Okay, that’s it,” Jensen looped his arms around his son’s waist and lifted him clear off the ground. Tossing him into a heap on the bed, he dug his fingers into Jared’s ribs and started tickling.

 

“Stop, stop, stop!” Jared shrieked, wiggling to try to get away from the tickling fingers.

 

“Nope,” Jensen continued. “This is what happens to smart alecky little boys when they mouth of to their Dad’s. They get tickled.”

 

When Jared started hiccupping from laughing so hard, Jensen finally let up on him. He threw his arm around Jared’s shoulders and laid back on the bed next to him. He’d been too hard on his son over this past week. Actually, if he was being honest, he’d been too hard on everyone this week. Jared, Misha, Jeff, the movers. No one had been safe from his stressed out, over-anxious attitude it seemed. For the millionth time he thanked god that he had a fiancée and a son who were willing to overlook all of his faults and forgive him, usually before he even realized he’d been an ass in the first place.

 

“I take my eyes off of you for five minutes,” a weary sigh came from the door.

 

“Uh, we were taking a break?” Jensen tried Jared’s excuse from before, sending the eight-year-old into a new fit of giggles.

 

“Sure you were,” Misha moved to take a step into the room and then thought better of it. Jensen seemed a hell of a lot less stressed than he had a few minutes ago, but he wasn’t willing to stake his life on that. Which is exactly what he’d be risking if Jensen was still in hyper, overprotective mode and he got too close to Jared at the moment.

 

“I promise not to bite your head off if you come in,” Jensen knew that look on Misha’s face and appreciated the discretion. Misha was trying hard to be respectful of his boundaries with Jared, which wasn’t always easy considering that Jared loved his new Papa and tended to smother both of them with affection.

 

Misha accepted the invitation, ruffling Jared’s too-long hair before twining his fingers through Jensen’s. He wasn’t about to sit on the bed, though. That was one step further than Jensen was willing to let him go even on the best of days.

 

“Tell you what, I bet if the three of us can focus for more than three seconds we could have this room packed up in no time,” Misha offered. “Then all we have to do is get it across town and unpack it all.”

 

“Gee, is that all?” Jensen asked sarcastically. “Well then, if that’s all…”

 

“What exactly was it you were saying about smart alecky boys?” Misha wondered.

 

“Nothing, nothing at all,” Jensen was suddenly the picture of innocence. “Come on. I thought we were packing.”

 

“The things I put up with,” Misha raised his eyes to the ceiling like it had answers.

 

Despite their reactions, it took less than half an hour for them to pack Jared’s room. It was something else Jensen felt guilty about. He’d never really been able to afford to buy Jared a lot of things. Against his parents’ wishes, he had dropped out of high school during the trial. Shane had been the star quarterback of a Texas high school’s football team. Word had quickly gotten around about the rape accusation and he’d immediately become public enemy number one. There were a lot of vicious people out there and Jensen was pretty sure he’d met every single one of them in the two months he’d tried to stick it out. Eventually it had gotten to be too much and he’d quit.

 

Not having a high school diploma had seriously limited his job options, and although he was happy working at the small garage in town, there wasn’t always a whole lot of money left over for non-essentials. Maybe now that he and Misha would be living together, it would be possible to start studying for the GED test. Maybe he could even conceivably entertain the idea of taking a few college classes on his days off. Before everything he’d thought about going into sports medicine or something of that sort. If he was honest, now he’d love to get some sort of psychology degree and become a counselor for kids and teens who had been the victims of sexual abuse. That was an “in a perfect world” scenario, though. Getting the kind of degree he’d need for that at a part-time rate? He’d probably be seventy before he was done. If Misha was on board with the whole thing he’d most likely just start with some basic college courses and figure out what he wanted to do from there. Maybe something that would help him help Misha with the restaurant? Misha would appreciate him being interested in that. It was a good thought, though. For the first time in nine years, he finally felt like he might be getting control of his life back.

 

__________

 

“Ugh, I am beyond beat,” Jensen groaned as he dropped into bed.

 

“You and me both, baby,” Misha draped an arm over his fiancée. “Gotta love moving, huh?”

 

“Love? No,” Jensen sighed. “Hate. Hate would be a much better word for it. Loathe. There’s another one. Despise. What are some other words for hate?”

 

“We can have a language arts class in the morning,” Misha laughed. “Tonight I want to relax.”

 

“Yeah?” Jensen eyed him slyly. “Got any good ideas on how we might be able to do that?”

 

“I might have one or two,” a slow grin bloomed on Misha’s face. “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

 

“Hmm. That depends,” Jensen said. “Were you thinking of getting into some comfortable sweats, going peacefully to sleep and…”

 

He broke off with a yelp as Misha grabbed him around the waist and flipped them so he was pinned. It wasn't a move that Misha could pull off all the time, considering their size difference, but if he managed to catch Jensen off guard, it was sometimes possible.

 

"Shut up, you idiot," Misha growled claiming Jensen's mouth in a fierce kiss.

 

"You keep doing things like that and I may never be able to speak again," Jensen gasped.

 

"Good," Misha nibbled at his jaw as he ground his hips down into Jensen's. They both groaned.

 

"Fuck!" Jensen threw his head back.

 

"That's pretty much the idea here, love," Misha grinned.

 

"Then get on with it, wouldja. Ya damn tease," Jensen whined.

 

"Bossy," Misha scolded, still grinning.

 

He backed away, pulling his own clothes off while Jensen did the same. It might've been sexier for them to undress each other, but unfortunately that was another thing Shane had ruined. Jensen had tried, for Misha's sake, but every time invariably ended with Jensen huddled in a quivering ball, having a panic attack.

 

Once they were both naked, Misha draped himself over Jensen again. He rolled his hips down and Jensen grabbed him around the waist to pull him down even tighter against him. Both men were already breathing heavily, kissing and nipping at any skin they could get to. Misha tried to reach for the bottle of lube they kept in the nightstand drawer without moving away from Jensen and groaned in frustration when he couldn't quite reach.

 

"Dammit," Misha snarled.

 

He moved away, grabbed the lube, and made his way back in less than a second, which he figured had to be some sort of record. Quickly coating his fingers, he started licking and nipping at one of Jensen's ears (one of the spots that made him absolutely wild), and pushed two fingers into him. It was probably too much, too fast, but Jensen just pushed back against him, pushing his fingers deeper.

 

"God! Fuck!" Jensen moaned. "Misha!"

 

There might be a sound that Misha liked better than hearing Jensen going crazy because of him, but he doubted it. Having his fiancée reduced to just a few basic curses and his name made him crazy with lust. He twisted his fingers, finding what he was looking for and rubbing them over Jensen's prostate.

 

"Christ!" Jensen's hips shot up off of the bed and Misha's free hand pushed them gently back down. "It's enough! I'm good! Please!"

 

"Uh-uh," Misha slipped another finger in along with the first two. "I'm not gonna rush things and hurt you. I like taking my time with you anyway, baby."

 

"You make me wait much longer and I swear I'm leaving you," Jensen scratched his fingernails down Misha's back. They both knew it was an empty threat, but Misha only waited another few seconds before withdrawing his fingers and wrapping them around Jensen's cock instead. Dripping lube onto his own, he pushed into Jensen in one long, slow stroke.

 

Jensen was pretty sure he was dying. He was dying and fuck if this wasn't the way everyone should wish to go. Misha had stopped to give him time to adjust, and that was about enough of that.

 

"Move babe, please," Jensen begged.

 

He already knew he wasn't likely to last long. He threw his head back against the pillow again as Misha started to thrust in a slow, steady rhythm. The slow pace didn't last long, especially once Jensen started pushing against Misha. Every thrust got harder, more needy, and Misha's cock brushed against his prostate with every one.

 

"Mish, I...I'm gonna...I'm..." Jensen struggled to form the words.

 

"Come on," Misha snapped his hips forward again. "Come for me, baby."

 

With a cry, Jensen came. Misha followed almost immediately, the pressure of Jensen bearing down around him too much to resist. He collapsed down on top of Jensen, both of them panting and sweating.

 

"Jesus Christ that's amazing," Jensen finally gasped. "Fuck. You're gonna kill me with that one day."

 

"Right back at you," Misha laughed.

 

He got up and came back with a cloth to clean them both up. Once they were both clean, he tossed it towards the hamper and dropped into bed. Neither wanted to bother with clothes, it was too much like work at that point, but with Jared just a few doors down that could get awkward fast so they pulled sweatpants on and wrapped their arms around each other, foreheads touching.

 

“I’m sorry I’ve been such an ass to you lately,” Jensen apologized, looking into his fiancée’s impossibly blue eyes.

 

“You haven’t been an ass,” Misha assured him. “You’ve been stressed…over stressed. I think you’re dealing with it about as well as can be expected. Better, really.”

 

“Sure as hell doesn’t feel like I’m dealing with it very well,” Jensen sighed.

 

“Well let’s see,” Misha rolled his eyes. “What’s all happened in the past week? You found out that the man who raped you nine years ago is being released on parole, you have a hyperactive eight-year-old. Granted, he’s a well-behaved, hyperactive eight-year-old, but still. Said rapist man wants custody of our son just because he happens to be biologically related to him, you got engaged, you packed and moved an entire apartment…did I miss anything?”

 

“You forgot the part where I have no fucking clue how to tell said eight-year-old that his other biological father - who I’ve barely ever mentioned - was just released from prison,” Jensen reminded him.

 

“One step at a time, love,” Misha kissed his forehead. “First things first. Sleep. The rest can wait until tomorrow. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own anymore, Jen. I love you.”

 

“Love you more.”

 

“Not possible.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. I still love you more.”

 

Both men fell asleep arguing with smiles on their faces.

 


 

 

 

The next morning Jensen and Misha were happily unpacking most of the boxes scattered throughout the house while Jared was less happily unpacking his room. Jensen was carting a stack of boxes they had just emptied into the basement when the doorbell rang.

 

“I’ll get it,” Misha offered. He’d never admit it out loud, but Jensen’s OCD list taped to every box really had sped up the unpacking process. He opened the door to see Jeff standing on the front porch with a vicious scowl on his face.

 

“Morning,” Jeff greeted him. “Is Jensen around?”

 

“He’s taking a stack of boxes down to the basement right now,” Misha told him. “Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like what you’re here to say?”

 

“I don’t even like what I’m here to say,” Jeff answered as Misha waved him inside.

 

“Jeff?” Jensen came back up from the basement empty-handed. He took one look at the lawyer’s face and the playful attitude he’d had most of the day disappeared. “Shit. This is bad, isn’t it?”

 

“Sheppard got an initial custody hearing with a judge scheduled,” Jeff didn’t waste time beating around the bush. “He’ll most likely be here within the hour to serve you the papers, but at least he had enough decency to let me be the one to tell you.”

 

“This is just perfect,” Jensen snapped. “Really, it’s fucking great. I still haven’t found the right way to tell my son ‘yeah, I was raped when I was seventeen and the guy who did it is your father and now that he’s out of jail he wants to be allowed to see you on a regular basis’ but…”

 

“Jensen!” Misha looked up the stairs quickly to be sure that Jared hadn’t decided to come down. “You need to keep your voice down unless that’s the way you want Jay to find out about this. I told you last night, we will deal with this together, but you need to quiet down. You’re going to scare him if you don’t.”

 

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” Jensen took a deep breath and lowered his voice. “I guess I was hoping to put it off a little longer. Never really considered myself a coward, but I’ve been doing a hell of a job proving that theory wrong lately.”

 

“Stop,” Misha ordered. “Jensen Ross Ackles you are the furthest thing from a coward. I don’t want to hear you say anything like that again.”

 

“Looks like someone’s been taking notes on dealing with stubborn Ackles men,” Jeff was trying to hide a smile.

 

“Shut up,” Jensen squirmed. “Fine. After Sheppard gets here with the papers I’ll call Jared down and we can talk with him.”

 

“Speak of the devil,” Jeff scowled as the doorbell rang for the second time.

 

“Hello boys,” Mark Sheppard greeted them as Jensen opened the door with Jeff and Misha hovering next to him. “I suppose you know why I’m here.”

 

“Just hand over the papers and leave,” Jensen ordered.

 

“A bit squirrely are we?” Mark asked, but pulled papers out of his briefcase and handed them over anyway.

 

“I get that way when someone is trying to take my son away from me,” Jensen snatched the papers away and rudely slammed the door in the short, smug, British-accented lawyer’s face.

 

“Dad?” this time Jared did come down the stairs. He’d held his curiosity off about as long as any eight-year-old could be expected to with the doorbell ringing every thirty seconds.

 

“Yeah, bud?” Jensen sighed and dropped the papers on the entryway table.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Something Papa and I are going to need to talk to you about,” it was the last thing Jensen wanted to say right now.

 

“Am I in trouble?” Jared instantly froze halfway down the stairs. He couldn’t think of anything that he might be in trouble for, but...well, okay yes he could. So maybe he’d been reading (again) when he was supposed to be unpacking. He was pretty sure Dad and Papa had been downstairs this whole time, but they could be awfully sneaky.

 

“Should you be?” Jensen’s gaze sharpened. His son was sly, but he wouldn’t be much of a parent if he didn’t know his own child’s tells, now would he?

 

“Uh, no sir,” Jared replied, further solidifying the fact in Jensen’s mind that the boy had been doing something he wasn’t supposed to.

 

“I’ll leave you three alone,” Jeff was trying, and failing, to hide his amusement. “Jen, I’ll give you a call tomorrow, alright?”

 

Jensen agreed and after a quick round of goodbyes, he and Misha waved Jared towards the couch. The poor kid was getting more anxious by the second, and now Jensen wanted to talk to him about this even less than he had a second ago.

 

“I promise you’re not in trouble,” he started, sitting next to Jared and turning him so that they were looking at each other. Misha sat on Jared’s other side and started rubbing the boy’s back soothingly.

 

“Are you sure?” Jared asked. “It looks like I’m in trouble.”

 

“You’re not,” Jensen promised. “Not even because you were reading instead of unpacking your room the way you were supposed to.”

 

“What? How did you know?!” Jared’s eyes went wide.

 

“I didn’t,” Jensen smirked. “Until right now, that is.”

 

“Dad!” Jared whined.

 

“Quit stringing him along, babe,” Misha reached past Jared and poked Jensen in the side. He’d never admit to being just as ticklish as his son, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t.

 

“Stop that,” Jensen swatted at his fiancée’s hand and then sobered back up. “Like I said, Jay, you’re not in trouble but we do need to talk to you about something pretty important. You know how I’ve never really talked about your other biological dad?”

 

“Yeah, you always said that he wasn’t part of our lives, so I didn’t need to know,” there was a bit of a scolding tone to Jared’s voice.

 

“Right,” Jensen winced. “I was wrong to say that. I guess I just didn’t want to talk about him. We need to now, though.”

 

“Why now?” Jared asked.

 

“That’ll be part of the explanation,” Misha stepped up, seeing that Jensen was stumbling and still trying to avoid actually saying anything that meant anything.

 

“Uh…so…I…” Jensen fidgeted and twisted his hands together. “Jay…I...”

 

“Jen?” Misha raised an eyebrow, concerned.

 

“Right. I'm fine,” Jensen cleared his throat. “There’s not a great way of explaining this, but part of the reason I never really wanted to tell you about your other biological father is because he’s been in jail.”

 

“For what?” Jared asked. Why was Dad making such a big deal of that? Lots of people were in jail for lots of reasons.

 

“I’d rather not go into detail about that for now,” Jensen was starting to steady himself. He’d always hoped not to have to have this conversation, but he’d known that eventually it was going to happen and had planned accordingly. Now that he’d managed to spit the first few words out, his plan was coming back to him. “I will tell you that he’s been in jail for the past nine years, though. I didn’t even know I was pregnant with you the last time I saw him.”

 

“So he doesn’t even know about me?” Jared asked.

 

“He didn't for a long time,” Jensen stopped wringing his own hands and reached out to brush hair out of Jared’s eyes. “I need you to trust me a little when I say that I had my reasons for not telling either of you about the other.”

 

“Why tell me about him now, then?”

 

“I won’t lie. It’s because I have no other choice,” he admitted. “Your fa…your…his name is Shane. We got word last week that he was getting out of jail. He found out that you’re his son and he’d like to be allowed to see you.”

 

“How come?” Jared felt like the more Dad explained things, the more confused he got. He knew how to read Dad like a book, and right now he was signaling loud and clear that he was scared of whoever this Shane guy was. “I don’t want to.”

 

“We’re going to have to go see a judge,” Jensen continued. “I’m sure he or she is going to ask you some questions and they’re going to have the final say.”

 

“But…I don’t want to,” Jared repeated. He glanced over his shoulder at Papa, who was still rubbing his back, but not looking at him, and anxiety hit like a tidal wave. “Oh god, you don’t want me anymore. Now that my other father is out of jail you don’t want to be with Dad anymore and you don’t want to be my Papa anymore and…”

 

“Whoa, hold on,” Misha pulled the hyperventilating child to him. “No, that’s not what this is at all, honey. I still love you. That doesn’t change just because Shane is out of jail now. You and your Dad are stuck with me until you two decide you don’t want me anymore.”

 

Jared looked over to Jensen for confirmation and he swore to himself. He was supposed to know his son! How could he not have even considered the possibility of this sort of reaction? He pasted a confident smile on his face and nodded.

 

“No one’s going anywhere,” he assured his son. “Papa knew about all of this before we moved here.”

 

Misha hugged Jared tighter as the boy continued to cling to him. He had a feeling that it was going to take more than a few encouraging words for Jared to really feel like he wasn’t being abandoned. An idea popped into his head and he silently apologized to Jensen for not discussing it with him first, but went ahead with it anyway.

 

“Hey,” he dropped a kiss on the top of Jared’s head. “Remember how we promised to get you a dog? There’s a shelter just a few miles away. We can go if you want.”

 

“A-all of us?” Jared asked cautiously.

 

“All of us,” Misha agreed. He smirked. “Besides, I can’t very well trust you and your Dad to go to an animal shelter all on your own. You’ll come back with every animal in the place!”

 

“Ass,” Jensen muttered fondly.

 

“It’s settled then,” Misha nodded. He stood, pulling Jared up with him.

 

Since it was a nice day and the animal shelter was close, they decided to walk. Jensen and Misha each took one of Jared’s hands. On any other day, the eight-year-old might have protested that, feeling like he was being treated like a baby. Today he just clamped down on his parents’ hands, as if Shane was going to pop around the nearest corner and try to drag him away right now.

 

"Well hi!" a cheerful redhead greeted them as they walked into the small building.

 

"Hi," Misha was nowhere near as cheerful, but he did manage to smile. "We're here to look for a dog for our son."

 

“Can it be a big dog?” Jared asked shyly. “Like a guard dog?”

 

Both men winced at that. No child should have to be concerned enough about his safety that he felt the need to ask for a guard dog.

 

“Any kind of dog you want, baby,” Jensen cleared his throat to hide the hitch in his voice.

 

"You're in luck then," the redhead said. "We have big dogs, little dogs, medium sized dogs, puppies that are going to grow into big dogs. All sorts. What's your name?"

 

"Jared," he wrapped both arms around one of Jensen's and hid behind it.

 

"Well, I'm Felicia," she stuck her hand out. "Nice to meet you.”

 

Jared turned red and ducked his head down. Jensen and Misha shared an amused glance. It was pretty clear that Jared was taken with the redhead’s looks. He wasn’t exactly known for being a shy kid, even if his emotions were a little out of whack right now.

 

Felicia led them to the back, where the loud barking became even louder once the door opened. Dogs were bouncing around their kennels like crazy, all begging for attention. Jensen had to admit, Misha had been right. He wanted to adopt them all.

 

"No, babe," Misha warned.

 

"What?" Jensen asked innocently.

 

"We're not bringing them all home," Misha raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you really going to try to tell me that you weren't just thinking that?"

 

"No, but I do wish you wouldn't read my mind that way," Jensen grumbled.

 

"No mind reading required," Misha joked. "I just know you that well."

 

"Who's this one?" Jared abruptly stopped in front of a kennel.

 

Jensen and Misha both looked over, surprised. There hadn't been any barking coming from this one, so they had just assumed it was empty. A second look showed a big tan dog curled up into an impossibly tiny ball considering his size.

 

"Oh," Felicia looked at the little tag on the kennel. "This is Harley. He's a mastiff mix. You know, mastiffs make pretty good guard dogs and they're great with kids."

 

"How come he's so sad?" Jared frowned.

 

The dog finally seemed to realize they were talking about him. He picked his head up and thumped his tail against the floor a few times.

 

"Harley's actually a return here," Felicia told them sadly. "A family adopted him for their son this past Christmas, and when the little boy got tired of him, they returned him. He's such an affectionate dog, so when he was dumped back here about two weeks ago it was really hard on him. Do you want to meet him a little closer?"

 

"Yes, please," Jared said politely. What kind of person did you have to be to do something like that? He already knew this was the dog he wanted. Poor dog hadn't asked to be given to some spoiled kid who didn't deserve him.

 

The kennel opened and Felicia clipped a leash to Harley's collar. She led him out, and his tail started wagging harder when he stopped in front of Jared.

 

"How old is he?" Jensen asked. "Looks like he's not much more than a pup."

 

"He's two," Felicia answered. "So he's young, but at least he’s not likely to grow any more than this."

 

"That's a relief anyway," Misha smiled, patting the dog on the head. For a mastiff mix he supposed the dog could be a lot bigger, but he wasn't small by any means.

 

"I want him," Jared announced, to no one's surprise. He already had his arms around the dog, who looked ready to wiggle out of his skin he was so happy.

 

"I think Harley wants you, too," Felicia grinned. "I'm glad he's getting the family he deserves this time around."

 

"Can I hold his leash?" Jared asked.

 

"Not sure that's such a good idea," Jensen jumped in. "You're both big, but he's stronger. We don't need him dragging you all the way back home."

 

"All I need you to do is fill out a couple of forms and you'll be good to go," Felicia explained.

 

Once everything was done and Harley was officially theirs, they said goodbye to Felicia and started back home. Jensen was still holding Harley’s leash while Jared walked alongside of the big dog with a hand on his back, chattering happily at the dog. He bumped Misha lightly with his shoulder.

 

“This was a good idea, babe,” he said softly.

 

“I always have good ideas,” Misha joked.

 

They came around the corner, into sight of the house and both adults frowned. Misha because he didn’t recognize the car currently sitting in his driveway. Jensen because he did.

 

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath as the man in the car spotted them and climbed out.

 

Although Misha had never seen Shane, it was impossible not to recognize the man. The slightly too-long chestnut hair, the slanted hazel eyes, the tall lanky frame…it was like looking at a future version of Jared.

 

It wasn’t hard for Jared to put two and two together, either. People had been commenting his entire life about how he must look like his other father because he didn’t look a thing like Dad. The guy standing there was solid proof of that. His hand twined into Harley’s collar and he was scared all over again. Dad and Papa had sworn that they weren’t sending him away, but all of this seemed a little too convenient. Oh god, what if Harley had just been a bribe to get him to lower his guard and get him out of the house so that this Shane guy could come in without him freaking out? The logical part of his brain tried to tell him that Dad would never do that to him, but logic didn’t tend to win out in a situation like this.

 

“Jen…” Shane took a few steps towards them before his eyes fixed on the miniature version of himself.

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but should someone who literally just got out of jail on parole be anywhere near his victim?” Misha asked in what sounded like a casual tone.

 

“Fine. You’re wrong,” Shane snapped. “There’s no restraining order in place. Technically there’s nothing stopping me from being near him or my son.”

 

“Right, because common sense doesn’t dictate that you’re the last person I want to see right now,” Jensen shot back. He looked down at Jared. “Jay, go on inside. Straight to your room. Take Harley with you.”

 

“Dad? What does he mean ‘victim’?” Jared asked. “What’s a restraining order?”

 

Misha winced. He’d been so angry that Shane had the nerve to show up here that he hadn’t thought before he spoke.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Jensen covered for him. “Inside, Jared.”

 

“But Dad!” Jared protested.

 

“Jared Tristan you know how I feel about repeating myself,” Jensen warned. “I’m starting to lose my patience. Now please take Harley and go inside.”

 

“Whatever. I’ll just go look it up for myself,” Jared muttered under his breath.

 

Under his breath or not, Jensen’s sharp ears still caught it. He scowled and hurried Jared along towards the house with a sharp swat. Jared yelped and shot forward, not willing to risk stalling any longer.

 

“You shouldn’t hit him, Jen,” Shane scolded. “He was just being a kid.”

 

“I don’t recall asking for your input on how to raise my son,” Jensen snarled.

 

“Our son,” Shane corrected. “And I don’t know, I think I might be entitled to a say in how he’s raised.”

 

“Oh really? Care to explain why you think you might be entitled to that?” Jensen asked sarcastically. “Just because you happen to have contributed some DNA to his makeup, doesn’t make you his father. If, and this is a really big if, but if the judge grants you some sort of custody then I might consider asking for your input. Until then, how about you get the fuck off of my property?”

 

“Wait,” Shane’s tone changed from slightly irritated to pleading. “Just please, wait. I understand that you’re upset with me…”

 

“Upset?!” Jensen yelled. “Upset doesn’t even come close to covering it! You damn near ruined my life! If it weren’t for Jared, I’d say you completely ruined it. It’s taken me nine years to come anywhere close to getting over what you did to me, and just when I think I’m finally getting some semblance of control, you turn back up to ruin it all over again!”

 

“Ruined your life?” Shane asked, looking legitimately confused. “Okay, yes, I made a mistake that night by rushing you, but can you honestly look me in the eye and say that you didn’t really want to?”

 

"Are you...do you actually...I don't believe..." Jensen was so furious he couldn't even complete a thought. He took a deep breath and attempted to steady himself enough to answer. "Did I have a crush on you? Yes. Did I make out with you half the night? Also yes. Did I want to have sex with you eventually? Probably. But I made myself more than clear that night. I did not want to then. I didn't just need to be 'loosened up' as I seem to recall you saying. I was a goddamn virgin and I wasn't ready at the moment. You were the one who decided you didn't want to wait, so you took what I wouldn't give up willingly. So yes, I can honestly look you in the eye and say I didn’t want to.”

 

“It’s time for you to leave,” Misha stepped between Jensen and Shane, trying for Jensen’s sake to be the calm voice of reason in all of this. He was surprised at how even his voice came out.

 

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because I’m focused on Jensen and Jared right now means I’ve forgotten about you,” Shane warned. He looked back to Jensen. “I’m not sure how crazy I am about someone not related to Jared living with him.”

 

“Do. Not. Go there,” Jensen clenched his teeth so hard he almost expected to hear them cracking. “Jared adores Misha and so do I. He’s stuck by me through a lot and was patient through it all. Unlike you. I don’t want to see you again until the court date. Leave. Now.”

 

He didn’t wait for Shane to say anything else. He just turned on his heel and stormed into the house. Misha took advantage of Jensen being gone to stalk right up into Shane’s face. He was a good three inches shorter than the other man, but he didn’t care.

 

“Don’t let me catch you anywhere near my fiancée or my son again,” he said. “Because make no mistake, Jared is my son, not yours, DNA be damned.”

 

That said he followed Jensen, leaving Shane to get rid of himself. The sound of sobs coming from Jared’s room hit him as soon as he came through the door and had him racing up the stairs as fast as he could go. He skidded to a halt just outside of Jared’s room and his hands rolled themselves into fists at his sides.

 

Jared was curled up on his bed with his face buried in Harley’s short fur. Jensen had himself wrapped around Jared’s other side, running his fingers through Jared’s hair. He saw Misha out of the corner of his eye and motioned him in.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jared wailed.

 

“Sorry for what, baby boy?” Misha knelt next to the bed, resting one hand on Jensen’s thigh and the other on Jared’s back.

 

“For being bad!” Jared sobbed.

 

“Shhh,” Jensen gripped Misha’s hand tight enough to hurt, but the fingers in Jared’s hair stayed loose and soothing. “You weren’t being bad. Remember, I told you that? You’re just stubborn, like your Dad. I shouldn’t have lost my patience with you. This has been hard on all of us.”

 

“We’re all only human,” Misha reminded them gently before either one could beat themselves up any more than they already had. “The important thing is that we all still love each other, right?”

 

That got a small smile from Jensen and a tearful nod from Jared. Misha lifted Jensen’s fingers up to his lips and kissed them, looking up into his fiancée’s eyes. It killed him to see his boys hurting like this, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to do everything in his power to make this better. No matter what it took.

 


 

 

“Hey boss!” shouts rang out as Misha walked into the kitchen of his restaurant.

 

“Hey there, mini boss,” Misha’s best chef, Rich, caught sight of Jared clinging to his boss.

 

For the past three days, Jared and Misha had been all but inseparable. Although he’d assured Jared over and over that he wasn’t going anywhere or sending anyone away, he knew they were just words. The eight-year-old needed more than that right now.

 

At first Jensen had been hesitant to let Misha take Jared along with him into a fast-paced kitchen. He’d relented after Misha had left the house the morning after their confrontation with Shane, though. Jared had immediately broken down. His panicked brain simply wasn’t letting him differentiate between Misha leaving for the day to go to work, and leaving for good. Of course, he’d broken down even further, embarrassed at being unable to control his haywire emotions. Ultimately, it had turned into an easy decision to let Jared stick as close to Misha as he wanted to.

 

“Here,” Rich dug into his pocket and brought out a piece of candy. The goofy man was an amazing chef, but he had one hell of a sweet tooth. At any given time, Misha was pretty sure he had at least three bags of candy scattered throughout the kitchen or in his numerous pockets.

 

“Rich…” Misha warned.

 

“What?” he asked innocently. “This kid is skin and bones! Sweets are just the thing to fatten him up.”

 

“You’re dealing with Jensen when I bring our already hyper son home all hopped up on sugar,” Misha threatened.

 

“Can I?” Jared hesitated before taking the candy. He’d taken an instant liking to Rich the minute he’d met him the other day, but Dad and Papa did tend to limit his sugar intake, which meant he wasn’t always sure if he was supposed to take the candy Rich offered him every few minutes.

 

“Go on,” Misha sighed. “Keep it to a minimum today, though.”

 

“Yes, Papa,” Jared chirped happily.

 

“I was talking to him,” Misha jerked a thumb in Rich’s direction.

 

“Yes, Papa,” Rich sassed.

 

“Why in god’s name do I put up with you?” Misha wondered.

 

“Because I’m awesome, right champ?” Rich nudged Jared, grinning. “You want to help me finish this order?”

 

“Umm…” Jared glued himself to Misha’s side again.

 

“That’s alright,” Rich added quickly. He mentally kicked himself. He considered Misha to be more than just his boss, but he man was being very tight-lipped about whatever had been going on lately. All of the restaurant staff knew Jensen by sight and to talk to a little, but they’d all just met the anxious-looking little boy three days ago. Even in that short amount of time, they all knew that it took at least a few hours for Jared to feel comfortable enough to leave Misha’s side.

 

“Maybe later, Rich,” Misha combed his fingers through Jared’s hair. “C’mon, kiddo.”

 

He found himself an apron and folded another one up to fit Jared, then brought him over to an empty station. There wasn’t a lot that Jared could do other than hand him things (Jensen had threatened to painfully remove certain anatomical parts that Misha would prefer to keep attached should Jared get cut or burned while in the kitchen) but the boy seemed content enough to help as much as he was allowed.

 

Jared finally started to get restless once the lunch rush slowed a bit. Since it had been a few hours, he was also starting to be comfortable enough to wander more than a few feet away from Misha at any given point. He was pretty sure he’d seen Rich sneak the boy candy at least half a dozen times despite his warning not to overload the already hyper eight-year-old with sugar but since he hadn’t actually managed to catch him, he couldn’t yell at the overgrown child of a chef for it. Now that things were a little calmer he was going to watch Rich like a hawk though. At least that was the plan until there were suddenly two calloused hands spinning him around and he found himself staring up at his grinning fiancée.

 

“Maybe it’s not such a good idea to do things like that when I have a multitude of spatulas and wooden spoons to whip at your head for scaring the hell out of me,” Misha tried to sound stern, but Jensen only laughed.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked innocently. “I’m not allowed to surprise my two favorite guys at work?”

 

“Well, since you put it that way,” Misha smiled. “Although speaking of work, I thought Jim needed you at the garage until late tonight.”

 

“Originally he did,” Jensen explained. “We had someone reschedule though and then one of the lifts decided to quit working so he’s got to deal with that for the rest of the day. I’ll check in again in a couple of hours to see if he needs me back, but for now I’m all yours.”

 

“You’re all mine anyway,” Misha growled.

 

“You’re adorable when you go all possessive,” Jensen teased. “So where’s Jared in this behemoth of a kitchen anyway?”

 

“Smart money says he’s over with Rich,” Misha motioned in that direction. Jared had taken off over there just a minute or two ago.

 

Jensen’s smile got a bit strained at that, but he managed to stay calm. He liked Rich well enough and while he might not trust anyone other than Misha to be completely alone with his son, the kitchen was crowded so technically Jared wasn’t alone with him. Still, he couldn’t help taking a few steps over until he could see the two of them.

 

Judging by the amount of bouncing around the eight-year-old was doing, it was clear he’d been pretty well sugared up. Jensen turned a scowl onto Misha, who looked back at him sheepishly.

 

“Lunch was really busy?” he tried.

 

“Sure it was,” Jensen sighed. “You literally learned nothing from the other day, did you?”

 

The first day Misha had brought Jared to the restaurant with him, he’d made the mistake of letting him spend too much time with Rich. By the time they’d made it back home Jared was so wound up that even Harley had had a hard time keeping up with him.

 

“Dad!” Jared finally caught sight of him and started bouncing and waving. He bounded full speed across the kitchen towards him.

 

“No running in the kitchen!” Jensen, Misha, and Rich all yelled at the same time.

 

Jared tried to slow down, but he was just passing the dishwashing station and tried to put the brakes on too fast. Almost as if it was happening in slow motion, they watched Jared slip in a puddle of water and his feet shot out from under him. Naturally, he threw his hands out to catch himself and the snap that radiated throughout the kitchen sounded like a gunshot.

 

Despite what had just happened, Jensen raced over to where Jared was sitting on the floor, staring as his wrist which was now bent at an unnatural angle. He wasn’t crying, but Jensen had a feeling that was only because everything had happened so fast that he was still in shock and barely even feeling it yet.

 

“Let me see,” Jensen grabbed Jared’s arm gently and held it so that the eight-year-old couldn’t see his wrist anymore. “Look at that. It’s okay, it’s fine. It isn’t even that bad.”

 

A small crowd of kitchen staff was starting to circle and Jensen waved them angrily away. A bunch of scared-looking adults weren’t going to help him convince Jared that he was fine. Misha snapped at them – something he didn’t do all that often – and they all thankfully backed away except for Rich.

 

“Hey, little boss,” Rich knelt down with some ice wrapped in a towel while Misha shot out of the kitchen to bring his car around back so they wouldn’t have to bring the boy all the way through the dining room. He put the ice on Jared’s wrist and smiled at him. “That was an awesome spill. Looked like a move stunt, y’know?”

 

“R-really?” Jared’s eyes were wide and he was starting to shake a little.

 

“You bet,” Rich nodded.

 

“It h-hurts, though,” Jared tried to pull his hand back, but Dad had a pretty good grip on it. A gentle one, but he definitely wasn’t getting that arm back. If Dad didn’t want him to see, it must be really bad. Great, now he was freaking out again. Probably for no reason like he had been for the past couple of days.

 

“Really? You’re being a lot braver about it than I would be,” Jensen saw Jared starting to lose it and made his voice as light as he could. “Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was hurting you at all. You, Rich?”

 

“Nope,” Richard agreed.

 

As quickly as he’d run out, Misha darted back into the kitchen. Jensen scooped Jared into his arms and Rich helped pull him to his feet because he certainly wasn’t going to be able to do it all on his own with Jared being as big as he was for eight.

 

“Here you go, champ,” Rich slipped one more piece of candy into Jared’s non-injured hand as Jensen carried him out the back doors. “One for the road for being so awesome through all of this. If you get a cast, I totally call first dibs on getting to sign it!”

 

That got a small giggle out of Jared, and even despite his almost constant exasperation with the short man, Jensen was grateful to him for helping to keep Jared’s focus off of his wrist.

 

Misha thought it was a miracle that they made it from the restaurant to the hospital without being pulled over. Granted, it was only a ten minute drive anyway, but he’d made it in five. This was his first taste of having an injured child and he was ashamed to admit that he didn’t feel he was handling it very well. When they arrived at the ER and a nurse came to get Jared and bring him for x-rays, he’d snarled at the poor woman, which had only served to scare Jared even further.

 

“Sorry,” Jensen apologized quickly. “Go on, Jay. It’s alright. Your Papa and I will be right here waiting for you when you get back.”

 

“It should only take a few minutes,” the nurse informed them nervously. Jensen gave her another apologetic smile and dragged Misha across the waiting room and forced him down into a chair.

 

“How are you staying so calm over this?” he moaned.

 

“Because Jared broke the same wrist when he was five because he thought that just by tying an old towel around himself as a cape, it turned him into Superman and he could fly,” Jensen managed a half-smile. “He was at a birthday party for one of the kids in his kindergarten class and he climbed up on the roof of the garage and jumped before anyone had time to register that he’d gotten up there to begin with. That time I had a major meltdown. This time was much less dramatic.”

 

“Lord, what am I going to do when he gets to be a teenager and does crazy shit on purpose instead of by accident?” Misha wondered.

 

“By the time we get there, you’ll have some experience as a parent,” Jensen leaned back to rest his head against Misha’s shoulder. Damn but he was tired for no reason today. Guiltily, he realized he was actually starting to doze off when a familiar voice greeted him.

 

“Jensen! Hi sweetie!” Dr. Sam rushed over to give him a hug. “Everything okay?”

 

“Had a little mishap,” Jensen explained, smiling at the little blonde woman. “Jared slipped, broke the same wrist that he did a couple of years ago.”

 

“Poor thing,” Dr. Sam’s face tightened a little. “So I heard that Shane…”

 

“Yeah,” Jensen cut her off abruptly. He felt bad doing it, but he didn’t want to think about Shane right now. “He did. We’re dealing with it. This is my fiancée, Misha. Misha, this is Dr. Sam. She was my doctor when I was pregnant with Jared. She delivered him, actually.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Misha,” Dr. Sam looked Misha up and down, assessing. Of all the many patients she’d had over the years, Jensen and Jared would always be her favorites. She had actually found herself staying a bit after shift just go to go the nursery so she could hold and rock Jared right after he’d been born. He’d just been such an adorable, agreeable baby. It had been impossible not to love him.  “You make sure to take care of my boys here.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Misha mock saluted the small blonde woman.

 

A few minutes later the same timid-looking nurse who had taken Jared to have his wrist x-rayed, retrieved Jensen and Misha from the waiting room and led them to a little ER cubicle where Jared was waiting with a hospital ice pack strapped to his wrist. He was sitting with his feet dangling off the edge of the bed and to anyone else it would’ve looked like he was kicking them just as casually as any other eight-year-old might have been doing, but there was no mistaking the relieved look Jared gave Jensen and Misha the second they pushed through the curtain. He immediately jumped down and slammed into Jensen’s arms, reaching out for Misha’s hand with his uninjured left hand.

 

“S’okay, honey,” Jensen brushed his fingers through Jared’s hair. “How’s that wrist feeling? Still hurting?”

 

“A little,” Jared admitted. “They said they couldn’t let me have anything to make it stop hurting until they talk to you first.”

 

“That’s how it works, kiddo,” Jensen ruffled his hair one more time before sitting back against the propped up section of the bed and tucking Jared under his chin.

 

Thankfully it seemed to be a pretty slow day at the ER. Not that they’d really expected anything else. They did live in a fairly small town, after all. It was only a few minutes later that a cheerful doctor who introduced himself as Dr. Benedict bounded into the room, slapped the x-rays up on the light-board thingy, pointed out the break (a nice clean one, thank god), and whisked Jared off to set and cast his wrist up. The whirlwind of a doctor had all of their heads spinning a little and before they knew it they found themselves walking back through the parking lot to Misha’s car.

 

“So I guess we can add running through a busy kitchen to the list of things to never do ever again, huh?” Jensen teased.

 

“How about next time we add to that list, we do it without any broken bones, though?” Misha suggested.

 


 

 

“Remember, just answer the judge honestly when she asks you something,” Jensen straightened Jared’s shirt outside of the meeting room of the courthouse and went over his spiel for what had to be the fifteenth time in the past two minutes. “This isn’t gonna be some big thing like you see on TV. It’ll just be...”

 

“Us, the judge, Shane, and his parents and lawyer,” Jared finished for him. “I know, Dad. You already said all that.”

 

“And he’ll probably say it another ten times before we make it out of this hallway,” Misha took Jensen’s hands gently away from Jared’s dress shirt. The damn thing was as straight as it was ever going to get while being worn by an eight-year-old.

 

“Ten?” Jeff put in. “When have we ever known Jensen to do anything halfway? He’ll probably say it at least twenty more times.”

 

Misha laughed and squeezed Jensen’s hands a little tighter which made Jensen wince and pull his hands back. The closer they got to this custody meeting, the less Jensen had liked being touched, Misha noticed. There were times over the past week that he’d sworn the look on Jen’s face was downright painful.

 

“Hi guys,” a friendly, but stern-looking woman opened the door to the meeting room. “I’m Judge Rhodes. Come on in. Jeff, good to see you.”

 

“You too, Kim,” Jeff greeted her.

 

Misha and Jensen both looked cautiously around the room as they walked in and the judge pointed towards the chairs at one end of the long table. There was no sign of Shane yet.

 

“I asked you here a few minutes before the Parker’s,” Judge Rhodes explained, taking her seat. “I wanted a chance to talk to Jared before we really get started. How old are you, honey?”

 

“Eight,” Jared said proudly. “I’ll be nine in a few months.”

 

“Awesome. Do you have a big party planned?”

 

“No, there’s only a few people who come over. We can’t really afford to do big things like the other kids, so…” Jared’s eyes widened. Crap. He shouldn’t have said that. Now the judge was going to think they were poor and that Dad shouldn’t be allowed to keep him. “I mean, I don’t have a lot of friends anyway, so there’s no point in doing anything really big.”

 

Goddamn it, that sounded even worse. Now the judge was going to think that they were poor and that Dad didn’t ever let him out of the house to make friends. He had to fix this fast.

 

“Jay,” Jensen could practically see the gears spinning in his son’s head. “It’s okay.”

 

“Calm down there, kiddo,” the judge gave him a friendly smile. “I promise, I’m not going to ask you any trick questions and I’m not trying to make you say the ‘wrong thing’. There’s no such thing here. Just simple, straightforward questions, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Jared replied timidly.

 

“My girls always think I’m trying to ask them trick questions, too,” Judge Rhodes confided in him. “So tell me, what kinds of things do you like to do?”

 

“I have a dog I like to play with,” Jared cheered up a little at the thought of Harley. “We got him when Dad and I moved over to Papa’s house. I like to read a lot, too.”

 

“You do pretty well in school?”

 

“Yeah. My teacher said that she thought I could even skip a grade, but Dad said he thought that was a bad idea,” Jared felt another twinge of fear at that. Maybe that had been the wrong thing to say.

 

“He’s definitely got the brains for it, I was just worried how he’d do with the older kids,” Jensen brushed those damn wayward strands of hair out of Jared’s eyes.

 

“I think that would most likely be my decision, too,” Judge Rhodes nodded. Not that she was likely to need to worry about that though. Claire and Alex were smart girls, but Claire was firmly in the land of pre-teen hell and Alex, who was Jared’s age, was more interested in her friends.

 

“Judge Rhodes?” a woman cracked the door open and poked her head inside. “The Parker’s are here. Would you like me to send them in?”

 

She considered for a second and then nodded. They were a bit early, but the real reason she’d wanted this group to come early wasn’t necessarily to ask Jared questions, but to observe him around his father and his father’s fiancée. More than once in her career, Judge Rhodes had learned more in a few minutes of observation than in an hour of talking.

 

The way that Jensen and Misha tensed up as Shane, his parents, and the smug little lawyer filed into the room wasn’t lost on anyone. Nor was the way that Jared tried to burrow as far into Jensen’s chest as possible. Shane’s face lit up when he saw Jared and he moved to take the empty seat next to Jensen. A stern look from the judge sent him back to the other side of the table, so he compromised for taking the seat directly across from Jared instead. There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment.

 

“Well, since we’re all here now, let’s get things moving,” Judge Rhodes finally said. She shuffled some papers in front of her. “Mr. Parker, you’re petitioning for joint custody of Jared, correct?”

 

“Yes,” Shane answered.

 

“And Mr. Ackles, you’ve filed for sole custody.”

 

“That’s right,” Jensen clenched his jaw. He had to admit he got a decent amount of satisfaction from seeing the irritation that crossed Shane’s face at that.

 

“Enough you two,” the judge ordered. A blind person couldn’t have missed that little exchange between Jensen and Shane. Of course she’d read the files from the trial nine years ago in preparation for today, and personally she didn’t blame Jensen one bit for any sort of hostility towards the other man, but she needed to stay professional. “Let’s focus here. Now…”

 

“Excuse me? I’m sorry to interrupt,” Shane didn’t look the least bit sorry. He waved a hand towards Misha. “Shouldn’t this be a ‘family only’ sort of thing?”

 

“Papa,” suddenly Jared was torn between trying to get as close as possible to Dad and trying to get as close as possible to Papa. Since he was sitting between them, it wasn’t exactly possible to do both at the same time.

 

“Mr. Ackles is Jared’s primary guardian, and he and Jared do live with Mr. Collins,” Judge Rhodes explained. “He may not be ‘family’ per se, but he does have quite a bit to do with this. So now that’s out of the way, are we all ready to start?”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Shane ducked his head sheepishly. It didn’t stop him from shooting a fierce glare at Misha, though.

 

“Good,” Judge Rhodes sighed. She could already tell that this was going to be a long day. “I’m going to tell all of you right now, I ask blatant questions and I don’t tolerate bickering. I ask, you answer, that’s the end of it. Got it?”

 

“Yes ma’am,” every person in the room responded.

 

“Since we’re all on the same page now, let’s start with you Mr. Parker,” the judge narrowed her eyes at him. “After nine years in prison, do you honestly think that you have the ability to care for an eight year old boy?”

 

“Absolutely,” Shane answered, straightening in his seat. “I may not have as much experience as Jen…uh, I mean Jensen…does, but no first time parent ever really has experience with raising a child. Jensen didn’t, and Jared seems to be growing up pretty well.”

 

Jensen had to bite down on his tongue, hard, to keep from snapping at that. Pretty well? He didn’t necessarily consider himself the best parent in the world, but he’d still put himself as doing better than pretty well. Misha saw the angry flush making its way across Jensen’s face and squeezed the back of his neck gently.

 

“Since I’m still on parole, I’m staying with my parents,” Shane continued. “We have more than enough room for a growing boy to run around in.”

 

“I’m not s’posed to run inside,” Jared snipped, burying his face into Jensen’s shoulder while rubbing absently at his wrist.

 

“Is that how you got your broken arm?” Sheppard asked.

 

“Maybe,” Jared shrugged. “Not your business.”

 

“Jared! Don’t be rude,” Jensen scolded. He didn’t want to. In fact, what he wanted was to laugh at the way Jared could somehow manage to be so timid, yet flippant at the same time. Still, disrespect was a big pet peeve of his.

 

“Actually I think the broken wrist is very pertinent to this,” Sheppard said to the judge.

 

“How’s so?” she asked.

 

“My client mentioned that when he attempted to speak with his son approximately ten days ago, he saw Mr. Ackles strike the child,” Mark said with fake concern. “Now there’s a broken bone in question.”

 

Jensen’s jaw dropped open. Of all the…did they actually think he would ever…he would never lay a hand on his son that way!

 

“Is any of that true, Mr. Ackles?” Judge Rhodes asked. She was pretty sure she knew what the answer was going to be, but she did have to cover all the bases.

 

“My Dad didn’t do this to me!” Jared shot up in his seat. “I was running in Papa’s kitchen and I slipped!”

 

“It’s okay, baby boy,” Jensen forced his voice to stay calm. “Yes, I did give him a swat on the butt when Shane showed up - uninvited I might add - at our home. It was disciplinary only, and Jared and I talked about what happened later. The broken wrist is just what he said. My fiancée owns a restaurant in town, and he’s been taking Jared along with him as a sort of father-son bonding type of thing. Jared got over excited and started running and slipped in a puddle of water on the floor by the sinks. We took him straight to the ER to get it looked at.”

 

“I still see that as a problem!” Shane insisted. “There shouldn’t have been a ‘father-son bonding type of thing’ going on because he’s not Jared’s father. Honestly, I’m concerned about the fact that Jared calls him Papa.”

 

“I asked if I could,” Jared argued.

 

“Honey, it’s okay if you didn’t,” Shane lowered his tone and leaned across the table. “If it’s something he told you that you had to do, you can tell us. You don’t need to lie.”

 

“I’m not lying,” Jared all but leapt into Misha’s lap. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to go home.”

 

“I still have some things I need to talk to your Dads about, but you don’t need to stay for the rest of this if you don’t want to,” Judge Rhodes tried to soothe him. Normally in a custody hearing she would ask the child their opinion on who they wanted to live with. If they were old enough, of course. In this case, she didn’t feel it was necessary or appropriate to ask. Jared had only ever lived with Jensen, and now Misha. Asking him if he wanted to spend a couple of weekends a month with Shane was akin to asking if he wanted to spend a couple of weekends a month with a complete stranger.

 

“I’ll sit with you out in the hall,” Misha offered, gently nudging Jared off of his lap to stand.

 

Once they were gone, the judge fixed everyone with a look that made them all cower back into their seats.

 

“I seem to recall saying no bickering,” she scolded. “Mr. Parker, I can assure you that from what I’ve seen it’s clear to me that Jared is not being abused. Believe me when I say children have a tendency to be able to hurt themselves walking down a padded hallway. If you’d like any sort of custody of your son, you had better get used to that idea.”

 

Jensen bristled again at the judge calling Jared Shane’s son, but a fierce look from Jeff settled him back down. It was clear that Judge Rhodes was not going to tolerate any more from either side at this point.

 

“Mr. Ackles,” she focused on him next. “I do understand your hesitance and the trust issues you have with Mr. Parker. That being said, I’m not in the habit of granting sole custody when both parents are in the picture, have the means to support the child, and don’t seem to be a danger to the child.”

 

“Judge, if I can point out,” Jeff spoke up cautiously. “Given Mr. Parker’s…history, we are concerned about him being a danger to Jared.”

 

“Shane and Jensen were the same age when that happened,” Shane’s father slammed his fist down on the table. “And Jensen was seen being, well I guess intimate would be the polite word for it, with Shane all night at that party. It seems to me that things may have just gone a bit futher than Jensen was comfortable admitting, so he made ridiculous claims against my son.”

 

“We went through all of this nine years ago,” Jeff reminded him, motioning for Jensen to stay quiet. “There’s no point in making anyone re-live the hell that all of that was. The fact is, Shane is a convicted sex offender, which makes his proximity to Jared a concern.”

 

“Again, while I understand the concern, I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Parker does not pose a threat to Jared,” Judge Rhodes explained. “What happened nine years ago was regrettable, but it doesn’t indicate that Jared would be in danger.”

 

Jensen had a very bad feeling worming its way into his gut, almost making him feel nauseous. Or wait…no, he was nauseous. Whatever.

 

“Having covered all of that,” the judge looked severely at all of them. “I’m suspending both of the custody claims for the time being. Mr. Ackles, you will remain as Jared’s primary guardian, but I’m granting Mr. Parker supervised visitation twice a month, starting next month. After six months, we’ll meet back here to discuss the possibility of unsupervised visitation. If things are still going well six months after that then, and only then, will we discuss the possibility of an actual joint custody agreement. I want you to be crystal clear on one thing, Mr. Parker. The supervisor assigned to you for your visitation with Jared will report back to me. At any point in time, if I feel it’s necessary, I will not hesitate to pull this agreement and give Mr. Ackles sole custody. Are there any questions?”

 

“No ma’am,” Shane agreed happily.

 

“No, ma’am,” Jensen mumbled.

 

“Good,” looking at Jensen’s face, Judge Rhodes wanted to take it all back. Damn, she didn’t usually let her emotions get the better of her in a custody case, but it had just been so easy to look into Jared’s big puppy dog eyes or Jensen’s anxious face and want to cuddle them up into a big hug.

 

Jensen didn’t realize he’d been squeezing his hands together until a sharp pain made him look down. He shook them out and looked helplessly over to Jeff.

 

“If it were up to me, I’d suggest waiting until you get home to tell Jared,” Jeff said quietly. “Here isn’t the place to do it.”

 

“You’re right,” Jensen agreed. He tried to make his face as blank as possible as he slipped out of the meeting room, but Misha had known him too long for that.

 

“Jen?” he asked.

 

“Not here, Mish,” Jensen said shortly. He ran a hand through Jared’s hair and tried for a smile. “Ready to go home? Maybe we can even stop on the way for some ice cream?”

 

If Jared hadn’t known something was going on before this, he definitely did now. Dad hated ice cream. Yeah, what kind of person hated ice cream, right? Even so, Dad did, so his offer of ice cream had to mean something bad.

 

“I think I just wanna go home,” Jared said softly.

 

The ride home was awkward, to say the least. Misha kept looking over to Jensen nervously. Jared was trying not to make eye contact with either of his parents. And Jensen had himself twisted into a pretzel in the front seat, trying to hold both Jared and Misha’s hands.

 

Jared jumped out of the car and raced for the backyard almost before they’d come to a full stop. It was nice enough that they’d left Harley out in the fenced yard to run around while they were gone. Misha waved Jensen inside, figuring it was better to let Jared play with the big dog for a bit while they figured out how to tell him.

 

“The judge gave Shane joint custody,” Misha said once they were inside. It wasn’t a question.

 

“Not exactly,” Jensen sighed. “She gave him supervised visitation for the next six months. If things are going well after that, she’ll think about unsupervised.”

 

“Well, as things go, it probably could’ve been a lot worse,” Misha winced when he saw the look on Jensen’s face at that. He’d just been trying to make him see the upside of things. Looked like he was going to be spending a couple of nights on the couch. “I mean, what are the chances that he’s going to impress the supervisor enough to let him having unsupervised visitation, right?”

 

“The way my luck’s going? Probably pretty good,” Jensen snapped, rubbing at his fingers again.

 

Another twinge of pain flared up and somehow it was like it blew all the clouds out of his brain. He looked at his hands like he’d never seen them before. Opened and closed his fingers a few times. Oh boy.

 

“I’ll be right back,” he jumped to his feet, raced up the stairs, and locked himself in the master bathroom.

 

Misha was even more concerned now than he had been a minute ago. When they’d first started dating, it had been Jensen’s style to shut him out like this, but not so much anymore. He gave Jensen about five minutes and then got up to start up the stairs after him. Like it or not, they needed to have a conversation about how they were going to tell Jared. Preferably without him freaking out and thinking that they were sending him away for good, although the odds of that were slim.

 

He’d barely made it three steps across the living room when Jensen came back down the stairs, eyes faraway and shocked. There was something clenched in his fist, but Misha couldn’t quite make it out.

 

“Baby?” he moved towards Jensen cautiously, like he was a skittish horse. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

 

“Okay,” Jensen agreed.

 

“So, whatcha got there?” Misha’s tone was one that he’d normally use with Jared, but Jensen clearly needed to be handled gently right now.

 

“Huh? Oh!” Jensen seemed to have forgotten he was holding anything. He looked down at his hand and a lopsided little smile crept onto his face. Instead of answering, he held it out.

 

At first Misha wasn’t sure what he was looking at. Well, more like his brain wouldn’t let him comprehend what he was seeing. He tried to tamp down on the three thousand emotions running through his head as he lifted his eyes up to Jensen’s.

 

“Really?”

 

“We’d need a blood test to be one hundred percent sure, especially because it’s early, but yeah,” Jensen answered. “I’ve got all the signs from last time. My hands hurt, I’m nauseous pretty much 24/7, I’m always tired. We’re gonna have a baby, Mish.”

 

Misha pulled Jensen into a hug and had to stop himself from squeezing too tight. He quickly backed away and moved to take his hands instead, before remembering that Jensen had literally just said his hands were hurting. Okay…um.

 

“I won’t break, baby,” Jensen stepped closer, but hesitated. “Tell me you’re okay with this?”

 

“Okay with it?” Misha asked. “Baby, I’m so excited I’m ready to explode! I guess I’m just a little in shock.”

 

“You and me both,” Jensen laughed. “Apparently that birth control I’ve been on doesn’t work worth a damn.”

 

“Good!” Misha grabbed the front of Jensen’s shirt and pulled him in for a kiss.

 

This may have just complicated things with Jared, Jensen knew. If they told him that he was going to have to visit with Shane twice a month, and then immediately told him that there was going to be a new baby, it would solidify it in his mind that Jensen and Misha were replacing him. This was going to take some creative explaining. His concern for his son was just as strong as his excitement for his new baby. Their new baby, he reminded himself, wrapping his arms around Misha.

 

Just a few short weeks ago Misha had assured him that whatever came, they’d face it as a family. He brought that promise back to the front of his mind. It still applied. The situation with Jared was hard, but they’d face it together, plus one.