A fight isn’t over just because you’ve been knocked down.
Jensen of all people knows this – has been hearing it from his coaches for years along with the other pieces of sage advice that have brought him here. They’re the reason he’s where he is today – collegiate wrestling All-American, Olympic silver medalist, former UFC middleweight champion.
The first time he met Jared, he wanted to punch him in the face. He almost did when a scuffle broke out during the weigh-in, but an official managed to get between them. Save it for the ring he’d said, and that they did – with Jensen winning by submission halfway into the third round after a bloody and vicious fight up to that point. They fought three more times after that – one win, one loss, and one draw – until tonight when they went the distance, all five rounds.
Jensen’s coaches have always said never leave it in the hands of the judges, and they’re right obviously. The decision did not swing in Jensen’s favor this time, but it’s been an amazing run and in all honesty, he’s only a little disappointed that he lost the belt tonight. If there’s anyone who deserves the title, it’s Jared.
He remembers vividly the day that everything changed between them. It seems so cliché, almost like a fucked-up love story in a movie starring Jean Claude van Damme, but this is their story and Jensen wouldn’t have it any other way. They ran into each other at the gym a couple of days after Jensen won a hard-fought match over the holidays last year. Jensen almost turned and walked out of the locker room as soon as he spotted him, but there was something about the look on Jared’s face that stopped Jensen dead in his tracks.
“Hey man,” Jared had said, giving him a small smile. “I, uh- I mean, congratulations. And happy new year.”
“Happy new year,” Jensen replied, a smile tugging at his lips despite himself.
They talked for a few minutes there in the locker room before going out to grab a bite to eat, getting to know one another and realizing that they had more in common than not – finding something in each other that neither of them had known they were looking for. Jensen had been guarded at best these last few years, protecting his heart with a ferocity even greater than when he was in the octagon. But Jared was different. He was sweet and genuine, and so passionate about everything he cared about, especially those he loved. Jensen might’ve fallen in love that first night over beer and sushi, but he’ll never admit it – not out loud, anyway.
Jared is still holding an ice pack to his eye when he pulls the front door open, glancing over Jensen’s shoulder to be sure no one followed him there. They’ve both become household names around town and it’s not uncommon for overzealous fans or paparazzi to snap photos now and then. That’s why it’s even more critical for them to keep their relationship a secret now, to keep up their bitter rivalry for appearances sake.
Jensen carefully grabs the ice pack and pulls it away from Jared’s face, instead reaching up to press a kiss to his cheek where the skin is tinted an angry purple-red. “Hey babe,” he murmurs. “Congrats on the win tonight.”
“Did that really happen? Kinda thought I might’ve dreamt it. Could be the Percocet, though.” Jared laughs wryly but then winces, rubbing gingerly at his side where Jensen landed a solid kick to his ribs during the first round.
“It happened all right,” Jensen smiles. He’s hurting too – bruises all along the inside of his legs, a deep gash over his left eyebrow and a bruised rib or two – but somehow being together with Jared now makes him forget about all of that. “So how does it feel?”
Jared hums thoughtfully as he moves toward the sofa and sinks down next to the shiny gold belt draped over the back of it. “Hurts like a bitch, actually,” he remarks, setting the ice pack down on the coffee table in front of them.
Jensen can’t help leaning in to brush his lips over Jared’s, a shiver racing down his spine when he tastes the remnants of blood from Jared’s split lip. It shouldn’t be this arousing, but it totally is – and Jensen suddenly can’t wait kiss every inch of Jared’s bruised, aching body, work him open until he’s begging for it, fuck him until he forgets about everything and everyone else but Jensen.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Jared murmurs. “I wanted to see you right after, but… I just wish we didn’t always have to…” he trails off when his throat tightens with emotion, but he still shakes his head and raises his eyes to meet Jensen’s.
“Shh, it’s all right,” Jensen soothes. “I’m here now.”
“Can you stay the night?”
At Jensen’s answering nod, Jared practically melts into his embrace, leaning down to rest his head against the crook of Jensen’s shoulder. Jensen instinctively runs his hand gently up and down the length of Jared’s spine, whispering soft, soothing words against the shell of his ear. It doesn’t make any sense – logically, he knows damn well why they’re both beat to hell at the moment – but it’s almost as though those were different people out there in the ring tonight.
This, right here and right now, is who they truly are: Jared and Jensen, just two boys from Texas who were supposed to hate each other, but fell in love instead.
They slowly make their way into the bedroom, taking their time as they carefully undress one another, being mindful of the fresh cuts and bruises marring their skin. Jared is still the most beautiful thing Jensen has ever seen – perfectly bronzed skin over miles of long, lean muscle, barely an ounce of fat on him. But it’s his eyes that Jensen loves the most – gold-flecked hazel sparkling with love and trust and a million other emotions that he keeps stubbornly hidden from the rest of the world, from everyone but Jensen.
He urges Jared to lie back on the bed and smiles when he goes willingly, sighing softly in contentment as soon as his head hits the pillows. It’s so quiet between them – just the soft rustle of the wind through the trees outside – as Jensen brushes his fingertips over the bruise high on Jared’s cheekbone and the even darker delicate skin beneath his eye. He swipes the pad of his thumb gently across Jared’s pink, swollen bottom lip before tracing over the black-and-blue along his jawline. If only he could do something to take the pain away, to make sure that Jared never, ever hurts like this again.
Instead, Jensen leans down and presses a playful kiss against the tip of Jared’s nose, smiling at the chuckle that bursts from the younger man’s lips in response. The irony doesn’t escape either of them, but they’ve somehow figured out how to find the humor in it – to smile through the pain and laugh because it’s easier than crying. The mattress dips slightly under his weight as Jensen shifts over to spread out beside his lover, carefully draping one arm over his torso when their lips meet once again. They make out for a few more moments, mouths meeting again and again, tongues eventually twisting together until they’re breathless, desperate for more.
A startled sound of protest escapes Jensen’s throat when Jared pulls away abruptly and moves further down on the bed, but he moans his approval when the younger man dips his head and sucks Jensen’s dick between his lips. He’s so hard already – they both are – and Jared’s mouth feels amazing, all warm and wet and tight as he bobs his head, bringing his hand up to work in tandem with his lips. Jensen pushes himself up onto his elbows and lets his gaze sweep down the length of his own body, watching keenly as Jared continues to suck him, his lips stretched wide around Jensen’s stiff shaft.
“Hang on, sweetheart,” Jensen murmurs. He reaches down to push Jared’s sweat-damp hair away from his forehead and cradles his face for a brief moment. “I wanna fuck you. Please, Jay. I need you.”
Jared merely hums in agreement, the vibration sending a tremor of pleasure racing down Jensen’s spine before he pulls up and swipes the back of his hand over his spit-shiny lips. He reaches toward the nightstand to grab the bottle of lube they keep stashed there and pushes it into Jensen’s hand before lying back on the bed again, looking expectantly up at him. He’s utterly vulnerable like this – and beautiful, so goddamned gorgeous – his cock hard and leaking, his knees drawn up close to his body and his tiny, puckered hole just barely visible beyond the heavy swell of his balls.
Jensen tugs his lip between his teeth as he carefully swirls just the tip of his finger over the furled muscle. It’s been a while and Jensen would sooner die than hurt him like this, so he takes his time – pressing and swirling the pads of his fingers against the tight ring of muscle until Jared relaxes enough to let him in. Jensen dips just one finger in at first, twisting and teasing until Jared is cursing under his breath almost non-stop, his hands clutching white-knuckle tight at the bed sheets. Jensen grabs a hold of Jared’s cock and squeezes gently as he dips another finger into him, his eyes flickering up to the younger man’s face to gauge his reaction.
“Oh my God, just do it already, Jen,” Jared grumbles, huffing out a quiet chuckle at his own impatience. “You know I could kick your ass right now if I wanted to.”
“Lucky for me you don’t want to,” Jensen easily replies, playfully quirking an eyebrow.
Jared grins, settling back against the pillows when Jensen shifts over to kneel between his spread thighs. They both moan softly through it – that first slow, deep thrust as Jensen sinks into him, not stopping until their bodies are pressed flush together all the way from shoulders down to ankles. It feels incredible like it always does with Jared, but tonight Jensen’s whole body is alight with arousal, the adrenaline and emotion of the evening thrumming just under the surface of his skin.
“I love you so much,” Jensen murmurs. He drops his forehead to rest against Jared’s, taking comfort in the warmth absolutely radiating from the younger man’s body.
They move together with practiced ease – like they’ve been doing this for years, yin and yang, puzzle pieces cut from the same piece of clay. Jensen reaches between them, fingers curling loosely around Jared’s hard, swollen flesh as they continue to move. He says Jared’s name over and over again like a whispered prayer, a mantra of everything that defines Jensen’s love for him.
“Jensen… babe, I’m close,” Jared manages to say.
“It’s all right, Jay. Let go,” Jensen says.
It’s almost as though the words alone push Jared over the edge, his body seizing and jerking as his inner-muscles flutter and pulse around Jensen’s cock, his orgasm rippling violently through him. Jensen bites back a groan and loses his rhythm entirely, just instinctively thrusting into Jared’s wet heat, chasing desperately after his own release. His eyes slam shut as his climax tears through his body, sending sparks of pleasure up and down his spine. He doesn’t stop until the sensation and emotion become too much and he shudders slightly, collapsing against Jared’s chest.
He’s drifting along in that comfortable place between asleep and awake, but Jensen is still keenly aware of Jared’s fingers trailing idly over his hip, tracing the dark lines and curves of his tattoo – the symbol and words that they both have inked into their skin there, hidden away from everyone but each other.
“I want you to move in with me,” Jared says thoughtfully, almost as though the notion just occurred to him. “Will you?”
“Yes,” Jensen replies. In a relationship that’s been nothing but complicated, it’s the easiest decision they’ve ever made. “Yeah, I’d love that.”
“I love you,” Jared whispers.
The press conference is already scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning. Suddenly Jensen is not nervous about it at all, has no qualms about what this means for him, for both of them ultimately, someday. When he announces his retirement, the mixed martial arts community will certainly be surprised but they’ll understand that at age thirty-six, it was only a matter of time.
Every day he’s had to hide his relationship with Jared has been harder than any other fight he’s endured.
It’s time to stop fighting, to stop hiding – to start living.